Push for more by next Earth Day

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DePauw's interdisciplinary environmental awareness is growing. And we hope that between today and next year's Earth Day this campus will minimize its ongoing, and obvious, wasteful practices.

We also hope the institution focuses more and more on several broader goals: long-term financial efficiency; minimal destruction to local, national and international ecosystems; healthier, planet-friendly food and an ongoing drive for social justice.

Those goals are lofty. But real people, places and things around campus are reaching them already.

Dining Services is among the most visibly responsive departments. For example, DePauw's Sodexo customers use reusable dish ware, eat locally sourced meat, and compost and recycle when they remember. Dining Services stopped replenishing its bottled water stock last summer. 

With this encouraging track record, we're confident Dining Services and the administration will keep trimming back wasteful consumption. Many of the Hub and the Den's products are still single use, from cups to cutlery to packaged food and drink. Reusing more and wasting less are ongoing challenges. 

Other institutional departments can keep building onto sustainable upgrades. Facilities Management will install additional water and electricity usage trackers on more campus dorms and a live monitor in the Hub soon. 

They've talked to students about fertilizer, actively participated in composting, and started to plant more native plants. We echo Stephen Hesterberg's call for that practice to continue. And we hope the constructive relationship between Facilities Management and students only grows. 

Numerous other initiatives would benefit this institution. An environmental fellows program could help recruiting and structure in campus environmental issues. Students should keep pushing to learn more about ecological impacts of the university's complex investment picture. The ongoing conflict-free electronics initiative also merits attention, careful questions, and potentially, action. 

Whether it's a standardization of double-sided printing or waterless urinals in the Hub, every small step matters. But the decision making behind each of those steps forward is difficult, as well it should be. These are complicated issues. We hope the university will rid itself of wasteful practices first, and push for the loftiest of goals — carbon neutrality, minimal impact in terms of pollution and support of unjust practices, cultivating a deep planetary awareness among its students — for a long time to come.