Winthrop’s campus is a place where many students start thinking about their personal futures, but the Winthrop Sustainability Office hopes that students will also begin to think about their impact on the future of the world.
According to Winthrop Sustainability Coordinator Chris Johnson, sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.”
Johnson believes that fostering an environment where students begin to think about sustainability is important because that choice impacts the future.
“Everything we do has an impact and to what extent that impact has on the future is the ultimate consideration,” Johnson said. “What we do today does impact future generations, therefore we must ask ourselves what will the quality of life be for our great-grandchildren’s future in regards to economic vitality, ecological integrity and social welfare.”
As head of the department, Johnson has set a few sustainability goals that he hopes to accomplish in the new school year. His first goal is to strengthen the recycling program around the entire campus in order to get students submerged in the recycling culture.
“As we increase the number of recycling collection stations that are easily recognizable, we will be able to be more aggressive in our efforts to educate the community about recycling,” Johnson said.
Johnson notes that recycling will be more accessible all around campus, especially in Courtyard, Wofford and Richardson. The school received several grants that have allowed for an increase in the number of locations where recyclables can be collected, which Johnson believes will lead to an increase in recycling on campus.
“Expanding our recycling infrastructure will ultimately increase recycling rates simply because recycling collection locations will be more readily available to the campus community,” Johnson said.
Although recycling is a big part of how the Sustainability Office hopes to improve campus, Johnson stresses that sustainability is about more than often-discussed issues like recycling and climate change.
One of Johnson’s main goals is to support and develop sustainability education in order to teach the Winthrop community about behavioral changes that will lessen each individual’s negative impact on the globe. Johnson has implemented sustainability advertisements all around campus in order to try to educate students about their impact.
“Students will see advertisements from the moment they arrive [on campus],” Johnson said. “There will be electronic messages in many of the buildings and they will see messages when logging onto the computers in the labs.”
Not only will the program rely on advertisements, but the Sustainability Office also has plans for some campus events. The office is working on planning an event for national Campus Sustainability Day, and the Center for Career and Civic Engagement is working on a program for Make A Difference Day, both of which take place in October.
Johnson believes that participating in national events like these give Winthrop an opportunity to compare its efforts to other universities and to learn how other universities try to educate their students about sustainability.
This process will ultimately help Johnson in his final goal for the new school year, which he says is “to evaluate and pursue opportunities and strategies to advance sustainability at Winthrop.”
However, Johnson does not want to limit the actions of sustainability to the Sustainability Office. He hopes to host several programs that will integrate his goals with the new common book which has messages about the importance of energy efficiency and behavior changes.
Johnson also encourages all students to take matters into their own hands by actively pursuing the goal of better sustainability on campus.
“Join a student group that focuses on educating the community about unsustainable practices and grassroots efforts to move us to a more sustainable future,” Johnson urges students. He recommends students join groups like Winthrop’s Student Environmental Action Committee.
He also hopes that students involved with nonenvironmental organizations, like Greek Life, will sponsor events to teach students about sustainability and he encourages students to attend all events that deal with sustainability.
For a more detailed look at sustainability, Johnson urges students to enroll in Intro To Sustainability (SUST102), which is offered in the Spring semester.
Johnson leaves students with the advice to visit the sustainability website on a regular basis in order to update themselves on what the Sustainability Office is doing around campus at http://www2.winthrop.edu/sustainability/Default.asp.