One of the biggest factors I considered when looking for a college was its commitment to sustainability. As our environment continues to change, it is important to support institutions that recognize the need for anthropogenic change. Colleges and universities are responsible for housing, feeding, and the upkeep of facilities/land; they provide the necessities for students residing on campus. Because students rely on the university for their basic necessities, they can’t maintain as many personal sustainability practices. But luckily, they don’t need to worry because OU continues to implement eco-friendly choices. Here are five of my favorite ways OU tackles sustainable living:
1. Local dairy and produce
OU partners with local farms to keep foods local. Foods that are grown/raised and processed within 100 miles of the school have priority over non-local foods. Local and neighborhood food vendors account for 39% of its total vendors. OU also has a student farm where students can grow local produce in their classes and for fun; some of this produce is offered in the dining halls. Practicing sustainable farming is so important and it cuts down carbon emissions from travel. Partnering with local food providers is also great for local economies and supports smaller, local farms.
2. Athens Beautification Month
Every spring the Ohio Center for Campus and Community Engagement and the Office of Sustainability partner to organize Athens Beautification Month. It takes place in April, for Earth Day of course. During Athens Beautification Month, there is a wide range of volunteer projects geared toward cleaning up Athens. Activities include Hocking river sweeps, recycling sorting, landscape projects, gardening and so much more. It is a great way for students and residents to actively maintain a clean and gorgeous community.
3. Habitat restoration areas
Across campus, there are areas marked with tiny white signs that read, “Naturalized area.” These plots of land are untouched by groundskeepers on purpose to protect local plant species and pollinators. Naturalized areas include wildflowers and plants that attract pollinators, a group desperately in need of human help. Pollinators are suffering from population drops due to a lack of pollinating plants. Habitat restoration areas allow wildflowers to thrive and thus pollinators too.
4. OHIO Sustainability and Climate Action Plan
In 2021, OU adopted the OHIO Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, a roadmap to carbon neutrality and sustainability goals. It documents specific and nonspecific ways the university will implement greener technologies and systems to reach carbon neutrality. The plan also includes actions to expand research in carbon neutrality. The plan includes three important categories of focus: living, infrastructure and administration. Living encompasses food, transportation, student life and grounds; infrastructure includes water, waste, buildings and energy; and administration includes investments and procurement. The plan guides OU’s sustainability in all categories.
5. Athens Public Transportation
Stuck without a car on campus and need a ride to Walmart or Kroger? The APT has you covered. All OU students have free access to the APT with their student ID card. Not only is this great for students who don’t have cars or other means of transportation, but it’s a great way to reduce carbon emissions. Even students with cars should consider the APT for short trips uptown. These buses have scheduled routes that run once every hour and they will already be out burning gas, so you might as well take advantage of it and not burn any of your own.
Overall, Ohio University is a leading school for sustainable practices and implementation. The Washington Post named OU as a “standout school” in climate-friendly universities. OU holds the largest in-vessel composting system of any college or university, and it received a Platinum Ohio EPA Encouraging Environmental Excellence recognition. This is to list only a few of OU’s many environmental recognitions. If environmental consciousness is important in your college decision, feel confident becoming a bobcat.
Taylor Henninger is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Taylor by emailing her at email@example.com.