Not knowing much about sustainability myself, I began to wonder what it means to be sustainable on a college campus, particularly here at Elon University. From daily observations and research, it has struck me that sustainability initiatives are present; however, students might not always follow them or care enough to partake in them. 

Annemarie Bonner

At Elon, sustainability is considered to be of high importance. Elon has a Sustainability Living Learning Community on campus, which according to the school’s website, “brings together students from any major who are interested in learning how to personally live in a manner that supports ecologically, socially and economically healthy environments and communities.” This is especially resourceful for students interested in this topic; however, it’s apparent that the number of students who care enough about the environment is slim. 

As someone who had never been interested in sustainability, I now realize how many of the things I do can hurt the environment, such as wasting food. However, I have noticed several initiatives at Elon that I did not have in high school. 

Eco-friendly cups at all retail dining locations and reusable to-go containers reduce waste and provide eco-friendly alternatives. Another thing I have observed are compost waste bins located across campus, something I had not seen before coming to Elon. 

The reusable to-go containers are a hot topic of discussion around campus with students questioning whether or not they are actually helpful. To me, this addition is beneficial to the environment because it is Elon’s attempt to reduce waste. Whether or not this is statistically beneficial, it is the effect that matters. 

Besides these two initiatives, Elon has launched other campus-wide sustainability movements. There are various categories on the sustainability website, including, but not limited to, buildings, climate, dining services, energy use and technology. While there are many initiatives, it almost does not feel like they’re there.

Even though these initiatives are listed on Elon’s website, they do not seem to be advertised at all around campus. Elon may be doing enough, but why is it that I only knew about the obvious initiatives? This lack of promotion has resulted in students not caring and questioning whether or not the initiatives in place like the to-go containers, are truly effective. 

Even if we are still trying to navigate our place in helping the environment, the attempt and thought is what matters. While I am only a freshman and may not know a lot about campus and the school itself just yet, the fact that we’re trying is what I believe is important. Solving environmental issues is not something that can happen overnight, but with baby steps like the ones we’re taking, the school can contribute greatly to protecting the environment. 

Due to the lack of promotion, students are unaware as to how the university’s efforts have affected the environment. In order to keep doing enough to protect the environment, Elon needs to advertise their efforts more clearly to the student body.