Despite recent strides, sustainability efforts ‘nowhere near where we need to be,’ co-director says

Baldwin Wallace has made efforts towards a more substantiable campus; however, some critics are questioning whether the steps go far enough.

Baldwin Wallace University has been making efforts in previous months to create a more environmentally friendly campus through increased recycling opportunities. Despite this, BW is “nowhere near where we need it to be,” David Krueger, co-director of the University’s sustainability program, said.   

Krueger said the sustainability program strives to communicate their pro-environmental efforts through increased opportunities for students to engage in environmental action. For example, with newly founded organizations, such as Students for Environmental Action, and groups that are returning to campus soon, such as the Fair-Trade Campaign, students can now engage in environmental action more easily.   

Students also have the option to participate in environmental action with the new recycling stations that the University provides inside the dining hall and the dorms.   

However, there are concerns about the contamination of recycled materials due to the lack of signage at these designated recycling stations.  

“If anything in a bin is contaminated, the whole bin can be scrapped,” said Claire Fischer, a sophomore graphic design major and the president of S.E.A. “So, when people throw trash in a paper recycling bin, it may not get sorted out by whoever picks up the recycling, and all that paper goes in the trash.”    

There is also criticism of the recycling system in general.    

“Recycling isn’t a perfect solution,” Krueger said. “It is less ‘bad’ than just throwing plastics and other materials into the trash but is not really ‘good’ insofar as it does not decisively get us away from waste and carbon emissions.”    

As classes shift toward using online methods to turn in classwork, the university is using less paper in the classroom. This means that the need for printing services has become less crucial. Regardless of the need for the printing services being reduced, the problem of paper waste endures; WEPA, BW’s cloud printing service, defaults individual print jobs to print single-sided pages rather than double-sided.  

Despite these criticisms, there are certain actions that students can take to build a more environmentally friendly campus. According to Krueger, if students try to minimize their use of plastics, then the campus will be a more environmentally friendly place than it is now.    

Additionally, students can check the bottoms of plastic containers to make sure they are properly recycled to be effective on campus. They can also participate in environmental action by going to student government meetings and voicing concerns.  

“I understand that it’s hard to make large environmental steps as an institution and university, but there are many little things that they could do to reduce their environmental footprint,” Fischer said. “BW could also stress more the importance of recycling and recycling the right items.”