Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

What sustainability looks like at UT

Renee Xiong

Most residents in Austin know it as a walkable city, but many don’t realize they can do more than just walk to help the environment. Organizations at UT, such as the Campus Environmental Center, hope to educate students about their eco-footprint and how to do their part to make Austin a more sustainable city.

The CEC, under the Office of Sustainability, stands as the largest student-run sustainability organization on campus. The center houses four different project teams: Micro Farm, which focuses on sustainable agriculture, Trash to Treasure, which hosts pop-up thrift sales on campus, Green Events, which handles waste management on campus and the Environmental Justice Collective, which focuses on environmental injustice, intersectionality and education in environmentalism. 

Johan Rodriguez, an arts and entertainment technology senior, believes UT does have certain practices that make sustainability accessible. Rodriguez said UT’s placement of recycling and compost bins beside regular trash cans makes it easier for students to use and find them.  

However, when it comes to large sporting events, Rodriguez said UT could step up its sustainability game.

“The school is sustainable when it comes to most things but lacks when it comes to sports events. I ride the bus so I’m always by the stadium, so I usually see them setting stuff up — there’s a lot of electrical and plastic waste,” Rodriguez said. “UT could use more recyclable materials or have the option (to recycle at the stadium).” 

Campus-sponsored and student-led initiatives promote not only recycling but composting as a form of waste management. Green Events practices industrial composting and collects fruit and vegetable peels, garden waste, bones, moldy bread, paper towels, non-coated paper products, leftover food and more.

“You’ll see people either talking about (sustainability efforts) or actually (being) involved,” Rodriguez said. “It should be talked about more and endorsed by the campus so we can look at these individuals and these groups who are actually making a difference.”

On Sept. 7, Green Events hosted its first Campus Compost drop-off of the semester. They will have a compost drop-off every Thursday from 2:30-4 p.m. on Speedway outside the William C. Powers Student Activity Center. At the event, students can learn about composting, get a free compost bag and drop off their compostable waste. Kenna Jones, an intern at the Office of Sustainability, said many students who live off-campus don’t have compost bins in their apartments, so they make the Green Events compost drop-off part of their weekly routine.

Organizations like the CEC and its project teams advocate for accessible sustainability and education.

“We try to provide an avenue for students to find their niche in sustainability while providing them with socials, a community to connect with, volunteering opportunities and education,” said Caroline Gamble, a sustainability studies and economics junior, who serves as the center’s internal relations director. 

Lindsey Walker, a sustainability studies and geography senior, believes student and campus-led organizations help with on-campus initiatives, but there is more that can be improved at UT as a whole.

“A lot of it has to do with energy. Relying on renewable sources and incorporating green spaces and walkability into campus as much as possible, (because) people need areas to congregate and be in nature,” Walker said. “I would love to see more places where people can actually walk around and feel like they’re outside.”

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