Opinion | Sustainability: What, where and how

Published by , Date: September 12, 2021

You have heard it all before, the eco-friendly slogans telling us to “Go green!” and “Live life sustainably.” Maybe you think it’s too daunting, maybe you don’t understand what it means or maybe you just do not agree.

I became interested in sustainability, or the process of avoiding depleting natural resources for future generations to use, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world was going through an incredible amount of turmoil, I was asking myself how I could make a difference in some way. As I moved back to the Slippery Rock community, I have continued trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle that works to support the Earth we inhabit.

To keep it simple, living an eco-friendly lifestyle is living in a way that is not harmful or limits the amount of harm done to the environment, which includes making decisions during your everyday routine that consider the environmental impact your actions have.

Sustainability at Slippery Rock 

There are already efforts to make our community more sustainable. The Office of Sustainability works to help SRU reach carbon neutrality by 2037, which is a goal outlined by the Climate Action Plan crafted for the university in 2012.

Carbon neutrality is when carbon emissions released would be equal to the removal of carbon dioxide. Carbon emissions released would cancel out with carbon conservation efforts such as carbon offsetting or reduction of emissions. Coinciding with the Climate Action Plan, there are recycling efforts, which stop 200 tons of material from being placed in landfills each school year, around the campus. There are filter water bottle refill stations in all buildings, which promotes reusing water bottles and avoiding single-use plastic.

The Macoskey Center for Sustainability Education and Research was named after the SRU professor Dr. Robert A. Macoskey in 1990. This 83-acre property offers community gardens and greenhouses, chickens, hiking trails, classroom settings, composting opportunities and a solar PV system. The Macoskey Center offers sustainable education and demonstrations for the Slippery Rock community. The philosophy of The Macoskey Center centers around creating “an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable and just future.”

Another place to catch The Macoskey Center is at the Slippery Rock Farmers Market. Located in the Gateway Park right off of Main Street, the farmers market operates every Saturday from May to October from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. All participating businesses supply only locally grown or hand-crafted items. You can find fresh vegetables, fruits, baked goods, bread, beautiful wildflowers and unique crafts. Not only are there direct-to-consumer sales occurring, but relationships with community members and SRU students form, too.

Simple Switches You Can Make 

Clearly, the Slippery Rock community is full of sustainable opportunities, so what can you do to participate in them? Start small! Changing and adapting to new ideas is never easy, but The Rock community can be a guide.

On the most basic level, turning off the lights when you leave a room and turning off the water when it is not in constant use can have significant impacts on energy and water conservation efforts. Bring your own reusable water bottle to campus and use the water refill stations. There are hundreds of great water bottle companies, so you can absolutely find one that works best for you.

If you like using a straw, try ditching the plastic ones and carry your own instead. There’s a set by Ello that can be found at Target and includes a carrying case that can go right on your key chain, four straws and a cleaning brush. If you have a dishwasher, an added bonus is that this product is dishwasher safe.

During the next two months, the Slippery Rock Farmers Market will continue to be open on Saturday mornings. Gather some of your friends and make a morning of it. Consider buying local, fresh products that you can use to cook with during the next week. This action promotes local business and helps to avoid carbon emissions that come from transporting imported produce to grocery stores.

Along the same line, eating your leftovers helps reduce food waste. Who knew that just simply eating a meal twice can help you live sustainably? If you do happen to have spoiled leftovers or food scraps from fruits and vegetables, consider composting. All you have to do is collect the scraps, as The Macoskey Center has a bin where community members can drop off their compost piles and leave the process of developing soil to The Macoskey Center staff. To start this, as you need to do is email The Macoskey Center at macoskey.center@sru.edu.

To help change your mindset and learn more about eco-friendly living, follow sustainably focused social media pages and sign up for daily sustainable newsletters. These online resources become accounts you see every day, which serves as a reminder to live sustainably. A great site to start with is The Good Trade. This online platform has social media accounts, blog posts, and a newsletter that centers around sustainable and holistic living. Consider looking on your own, too. There are hundreds of people blogging and posting about eco-friendly lifestyles and tips and tricks to help you make a lifestyle change that betters the world we call home.

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Kaitlyn is a junior professional writing major with a minor in gerontology. After her time at SRU, she hopes to do content writing and advocate for older adults. This is her second semester on staff and her first serving the copy/web editor. Around campus, Kaitlyn is a member of SPARK club, Best Buddies and is on the e-board for the Honors College. In her free time, she can be found listening to music, reading or working out.


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