Dig Baton Rouge

Down to Earth: LSU works to make strides in sustainability

According to Keep America Beautiful, “The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash per day, adding to the grand total of about 254 million tons of trash the United States accumulates per year.”

Several states throughout the nation are taking actions to combat this problem, and some of that work is being done on college campuses.

LSU Campus Sustainability is one organization working to reduce waste in Louisiana. The team has several events and programs each semester for students to learn how to become more environmentally responsible.

Sarah Temple, sustainability manager for Campus Sustainability, is in charge of moving forward with those initiatives.

The campus committee on sustainability, made up of people from all around campus, makes short and long-term goals focused on sustainability.

“One goal we have so far is to consistently have a recycling rate of 50 percent or higher every month,” Temple said. “We tend to hover in a typical month around 40 percent, which is not awful, but we could do better.”

Temple said her office eventually wants to add composting to the list of sustainable actions LSU is a part of.

“We want to get to the point where we have an option for composting food waste…There are no commercial composting options around,” Temple said.

She hopes that the sustainability fee recently passed by student government will partially be devoted toward composting.

Another modern way LSU is reducing waste is through bottle refill stations around the Baton Rouge campus. Situated at several locations, the stations are like a water fountain made to refill reusable water bottles.

LSU has 30 bottle refill stations on its campus, and those stations have had more than 300,000 refills total. Temple said those refills avoid greenhouse gas emissions because plastic isn’t being used.

She said about 165 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided by using the refill stations. Using an EPA calculator, she estimated those tons to be equivalent to:
• 34.7 passenger vehicles driven for one year
• 59.1 tons of waste sent to the landfill
• 135 acres of U.S. Forests for one year (the carbon sequestration from these trees).

There are some things students should recycle that they aren’t necessarily aware of, Temple said. When students empty out their dorm rooms or apartments at the end of the semester, they should recycle electronic waste, such as cell phones and computers. Batteries also should be recycled.

For more information about how you can get involved with campus sustainability, or where you can locate campus battery recycling locations, visit lsu.edu/sustainability.

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