Augustana strives to boost its sustainability plans

Feven Zewdu

After the review of the 2008 Environmental action plan, a campus-wide advisory group decided to address and improve Augustana’s sustainability plans. This is due to the rise of new information regarding the environment and the actions taken to sustain it in April of 2021.

There are 11 areas that this report focuses on, such as the solar project, revamped campus recycling, reduction in dining waste, and environmental studies class tour. The other eight can be found in a report sent out by the school on Oct. 20.

Kai Swanson, a member of the sustainability task force, said that one of the main goals of the task force is to maintain and improve sustainability around campus by finding ways to significantly change the use of energy and resources.

One of the issues Augustana faces is the use of energy. Most of the buildings on campus are old; they use a substantial amount of energy for heating and cooling which wastes energy.

Another issue that the task force and the presidential initiative are trying to improve is the wastage of food. By implementing new systems, the campus is trying to minimize food waste.

One of the ways that this is being done is by reusing the Grab-and-go boxes so that students can get food and bring back the boxes to reuse them in the dining hall.

“Today, if you want a grab-and-go from the Gerber Center, you’re encouraged and incentivized to bring back the container,” Swanson said.

Another way that the dining service is trying to reduce waste is by reusing the leftover food in a healthy and safe way. The pandemic caused a halt in this system because it made it difficult to reuse the tools again, but now that the majority of the campus is vaccinated, the system is coming back.

“We had to step back on our environmental concerns due to the public health concerns,” Swanson said.

Augustana is also trying to use solar power by adding panels on the roofs of buildings on campus. Up to 10 percent of the buildings’ energy is expected to come from these panels once they get installed.

The sustainability task force also aims to educate the student body to use environmentally safe options when it comes to transportation to stay eco-friendly. By giving students the option to use buses for free when going places near campus, the school is making it easier for the students and also protecting the emission of harmful gases.

The recycling bins that are put all over the buildings on campus also show that the school is trying to improve its carbon footprint. Despite this, sophomore Clemencia Patino believes that students need to focus on utilizing the recycling system more effectively.

“I personally think the administration as a whole does a good job implementing recycling bins and different types of recycling around the school,” Patino said. “However, the student body does a terrible job of being sustainable. They take way too much to eat. The trash cans at Erickson are overflowing, there’s no separation of things that can be recycled and things that can be thrown away.”

However, Patino also believes that students are taking steps in other areas to improve their sustainability.

“We also have clubs like Augie Acres and the Sierra Club which helps educate students about sustainability,” Patino said.

Swanson believes that the systems Augustana is creating will allow the college to become more sustainable for the future. The programs and systems in place were created to ensure fairness towards the environment.

“Environmental justice is generational, we do these things not so much for just you but also for your kids and grandkids,” Swanson said.