Tag Archives: sustainability

When Sustainability Becomes a Mere Buzzword

By JAMIE HENDERSON

Sustainability. It’s on everyone’s lips. From the UN Sustainable Development Goals to the new campus ASC and UCSA board members. But what is it really, and why is it gaining such traction?

Continue reading When Sustainability Becomes a Mere Buzzword

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Black Plastic Cups

By Clemens Schally

As an enlightened, educated student of a good, Western European University, you are without a doubt aware of the acute ecological crisis our planet is facing. While global capitalism might try to convince you that a futuristic ‘green-economy’, in which everything you consume is ‘50% recycled’ or ‘20% more fuel efficient’, is the solution, it takes little more than common sense and a bit of critical thinking to recognise that this is nothing other than moral relief for rich people rather than a sustainable solution for a dire and imminent situation. Summarised in a nutshell, the brand of capitalism we are living every day is simply not able to create sustainable solutions for the future. We cannot combine a sustainable society with an economic system that relies on people consuming more and more, with products getting cheaper and more fragile in order to ensure a higher turnover. Such is consumerism in short. Continue reading Black Plastic Cups

Standing Up for Sustainability

By Ben Norbu Bultrini

At UCU we are taught to think critically, take a variety of perspectives into account and act according to our ideals. We are supposedly given a voice with our GAs, and can be involved and influence our community by joining committees. However, the UCSA lacks the bargaining power to influence certain crucial decisions.

This is supposed to be a place where leaders with progressive, well-founded ideas are educated, but the average student is not given a voice or a realistic way to enact real change. The people here are constantly changing but the campus feels the same. There has been stagnation in our living conditions, our catering, and in progress towards sustainability. The upcoming campus renovations are evidence of the administration’s inadequate efforts to involve students in decision-making.   Continue reading Standing Up for Sustainability

Turn Off the Heat, Fill Your Wallet

The Environmental Impact of Campus Life

By Sofia Banzhoff

Climate change. Water shortage. Piles of plastic that will outlive us by centuries. Being concerned about the environment is no longer frowned upon or reserved for hippies. It is chic; even H&M now sells organic cotton. Sustainability is becoming a magic word, and we are the first generation to grow up on a planet that is not considered an infinite treasure chamber anymore. But are we doing our part, or are we leaving the heavy lifting to politicians and policy makers? How does our life on campus affect the environment?

According to housemaster Maarten Diederix, students do not live in an environmentally friendly way, the biggest problem being the energy used for warm water and heating. “Most students use the same amount as a small house because windows are open with heaters on, or the heating is on 24/7, even at night or over the break.”

Other issues are laundry and general use of electricity. “Ten students in a unit, each doing their own washing and drying is a bad thing. We have seen a washing machine with one T-shirt in it, or computers that were turned on on August 28th and have never been turned off,” says Diederix. “These small steps times a thousand students makes it big.”

Tim Kroezen, Chair of the Facilities Group, is concerned about this as well. “Our electricity costs are double or triple of what the average student pays, which is mainly due to student misuse. We pay about 50€ a month for wasted energy.” Every year the prices are raised based on last year’s expenses, so using less energy now would already lead to small financial benefits next year. These would increase with more years of closed windows and cold heaters.

Then, of course, there is the R-word: recycling. Readings you only glanced at, wine bottles you don’t remember emptying, plastic wrappers you tore off of Albert Heijn products. Do they all end up in one bucket, or do you separate trash and know where the individual buckets should be emptied?

Recently, a new underground garbage disposal system was built, which will end the confusion that (new) students face. “I wanted to organize recycling in my unit, but I had no idea where and how,” says first-year Ivo Dimitrov. The Environmental Working Group promised to provide a map of recycling points on campus. Hopefully, this will end the one-size-fits-all mentality many students have when it comes to trash.

But what can individual students do? According to Marina Lazëri of the EWG, attitude is the biggest problem, because wasteful behavior only indirectly influences prices and many seem to focus on getting their money’s worth instead of saving the environment. A fallacy, since this will lead to higher payments in the future.

So, do the environment and your wallet a favor and listen to Maarten Diederix: “Regulate the heating better, put on more clothes, shower less or shorter, turn off electronics on standby, and don’t put the heater on five.”

Aye, aye, Sir.