Home Campus Here’s how the Office of Sustainability wants to improve campus

Here’s how the Office of Sustainability wants to improve campus

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Ohio U recycling bin

Reusable to-go containers in the dining halls and a proposed bike sharing program are just two of the environmental initiatives the Office of Sustainability is considering.

First, a penny tax was placed on plastic bags in the markets. Then, the dining hall trays disappeared. From ranking second in the state for RecycleMania to making Athens Public Transit free with an Ohio University ID, the Office of Sustainability has pushed the campus community toward greener prospects. Here are two initiatives in the works to cut down on waste from dining halls and encourage transportation that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases.

Reusable To-Go Boxes

The office is continuing to partner with Culinary Services to work on their reusable to-go box program in the dining halls. The initiative was proposed by the students who won last year’s Eco-Challenge.

There has been an ongoing problem with the amount of non-compostable waste being produced at campus eateries, especially at West 82. Sustainability Project Coordinator Samuel Crowl said the reusable box program is a way to cut down on the overall waste generated by dining locations.

Students who wanted to take part in the reusable container program would pay a fee up front for a box. After each use, participants would bring it back to a dining location to receive a clean box.

One concern Crowl has regarding the program is whether students will want to carry their reusable to-go containers with them throughout the day.

“My generation, we didn’t carry around water bottles, but I think for the current generation, it’s just a part of life,” Crowl said. “I think once the mindset changes, and it becomes a part of the student experience, people will just get used to doing that.”

One other logistical factor being considered is the cleanliness of the to-go containers, especially in complying with health and safety regulations.

“These are containers that are coming in and out of dining facilities. We can’t have someone bring in a container and just say ‘Load me up in here,’” Crowl said. “The health code won’t allow them to do that.”

This requires Culinary Services to devise a system to wash every to-go box used by a student. The program is being evaluated in order to avoid using excessive amounts of water, Crowl said.

Students were able to sign up this past year to take reusable to-go boxes for a test run, but the program needs tweaking before it can be introduced in its entirety.

Bike sharing bike rack

Bike sharing

Another sustainability project being developed is the bike sharing program. Part of the implementation process is the debate of whether to use a docking system for the bikes or let riders leave them at their destination.

“When bike sharing first started it used a dock system, but dockless systems have been spreading,” Crowl said.

One factor inhibiting the introduction of a bike share program is funding. The dock system is ideal because it offers the benefit of tracking the location of the bikes, but the dockless system is less costly because the university would not have to fund construction of docking sites.

“If 20,000 students are saying ‘We want this,’ the university will pay more attention to that and respond to that,” Crowl said. “I think in the coming years there will be more money for sustainability.”

Freshman journalism major Noah Wolf uses his bike on campus to get to his classes when the weather permits it.

“I make biking a priority because I enjoy it and it’s a quick, easy way to get around,” Wolf said. “It’s tough to make a school like OU bike friendly, simply because of the hills and the broken paths.”

Crowl is hoping that an official bike sharing program will encourage students to bike around campus and to class as opposed to driving their cars. But issues like potholes and rough terrain may cause a problem for new bikers.

“They do their best despite that with bike racks throughout campus, and I appreciate that effort,” Wolf said. “But bricks are really not conducive to biking.”

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