I do my best to neutralize my carbon footprint by commuting on public transit, using a travel mug instead of buying non-recyclable coffee cups twice a day, refraining from buying bottled water, bringing reusable bags to Jewel, and I plan to buy a solar cell charger for my phone. I even bring my lunches in Tupperware to keep from using plastic wrap and baggies.
However, I am very bad with regards to energy consumption; I’d be much better off hanging up my clothes to dry and hand washing my dishes than using those enormous appliances. Many of my friends do both to save electricity, and I intend to get into those beneficial habits. I’m working on it, though; I bought an expandable drying rack I can use in my room the next time I do laundry!
I did some research about green initiatives in Chicago, and learned that our upstairs neighbor Loyola is working really hard to make its way into my Google search as many times as it possibly can. Loyola is among the greenest schools in our country, based on a ranking that considers a Uni’s Academics (how many sustainable literacy courses they offer and their quality), Engagement (how actively students and staff participate in these green efforts), Operations (the small-scale plans that grow from student contributions and ideas), and Planning and Administration (how effectively the administration communicates this important message) (Bestcolleges.com). I like that they include Operations as a factor, because “decision makers at every level unconsciously use mental models to choose among policies that will shape our future world” (Medows et al 53). It’s important that students are educated to recognize the importance of their contributions. We may occupy a lower level, but our decisions reflect our behavior and communicate how we perceive our future world.
UIC reflects many of these values and the Office of Sustainability is working hard to get them implemented. Their Climate Action Plan “ may outline strategies but unless these actions are implemented, UIC’s greenhouse gas emissions will remain the same or more likely increase over time. The success of the UIC CAP depends on the individual actions of its faculty, staff and students. The UIC CAP provides the opportunity to use the campus as a laboratory, an educational tool for UIC faculty, students and staff” (Sustainability Office). Our university recognizes the importance of each of the levels considered in ranking a campus’ environmental-friendliness.
I’m glad I attend a school where so many of the students are science-focused and attentive to their city-scape, and as a result, are dedicated to urban sustainability. I’m sure many of the students at UIC would be excited to take part in local initiatives promoting things like green architecture and urban agriculture. Eliza Barclay of NPR reports that Chicago is on its way to becoming the city with the greenest roofs. The energy and space saving potential of rooftop farms and gardens is catching fast—everyone from city hall to local restaurants has caught on (Barclay 1)! Perhaps allocating, designing, and creating a rooftop green space could be our class’s biggest contribution to UIC’s sustainability and our own efforts to curb our carbon.
Barclay, Eliza. “Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground.” NPR. NPR, 25 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
“Climate Action Plan | Office of Sustainability.” Office of Sustainability. N.p., 24 Sept. 2009. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
Meadows, Donela, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and William W. Behrens, III. “Perspectives, Problems, and Models.” The Limits to Growth, 1972. Web. <perspectives-problems-and-models_meadows-et-al.pdf>.
“The 39 Greenest Universities of 2016 | BestColleges.com.” Best Colleges. Bestcolleges.com, Jan. 2016. Web.