Opinion: Sustainability and the Armstrong Student Center, Please Walk the Talk

As students of Miami University, we are beyond thrilled to have a brand new student center on its way to LEED certification. The building utilizes natural lighting, employs smart heating and cooling systems, and uses water efficiency measures, among many things. We are proud Miami students and we are thankful for a beautiful space to learn and thrive.

Miami is doing a wonderful job transforming Armstrong’s big picture plans into a reality. However, there are indicators of disconnect between the “big picture” of a LEED certified student center and the day-to-day implementation of this title. Armstrong is able to “talk the talk.” Now let’s focus on “walking the walk.” To do so, improvements can be made to reduce Armstrong’s initial amount of waste, and to responsibly dispose of the waste the student center will naturally create. In doing so, students will be able to develop their own responsible and sustainable habits.

At the moment, dining stations regularly use disposable materials for all students. Instead, we propose Armstrong use reusable dining ware for students who are dining within the facilities and reserve disposable materials for those who are taking their food to go. Despite measures to reduce, waste is inevitable in any facility. Knowing this, improvements must be made to more responsibly dispose of the waste created. There is a concerning lack of recycling bins in the building and those that are present are not easily accessible. Dining stations offer compostable silverware but do not offer composting bins to properly dispose of these items. Increasing access to responsible waste disposal bins will drastically decrease Armstrong’s environmental footprint.

As the day-to-day functions of Armstrong become more sustainable, students using the student center will be given more opportunities to make responsible decisions. While there are very few composting/recycling bins in the building, there are no water bottle re-fill stations. This discourages students from carrying their own reusable water bottles and forces them to buy bottle water. Increasing access to water fountains will encourage students to adopt more sustainable routines as they utilize the many benefits that Armstrong already offers.

As an institution for higher learning, Miami should be educating and instilling responsible habits in their students. Among these should be the “reduce, reuse, recycle” habits. In creating a space to actively engage in education, Miami has provided students an incredible opportunity to become more active and responsible participants in our larger society. It is clear that the new student center has a solid foundation for the big picture idea of sustainability. Moving forward, we would like to see improvements so students will be able to not only talk the talk that Armstrong is sustainable, but also walk the walk. We are invested in helping students develop responsible and sustainable habits and we believe that adding more recycling bins, water fountains, and reusable dining materials can be a significant contribution.

Sincerely,

Members of Green Oxford

GreenHawks Media

GreenHawks Media is Miami University’s first environmental publication. Our goal is to unite green initiatives on campus and in the community. We hope to make a difference in a journalistic fashion by spreading news and information as well as educating our readers. We would like to present GreenHawks Media as a central place for groups and individuals to share their ideas, concerns, and initiatives. Individually and in small groups, efforts are made to make a difference and promote change. While one person may have a concern, another is researching it and needs assistance. While one initiative is being made in a science department, a similar idea is being discussed in a local business. GreenHawks Media provides the opportunity for shared visions to come together. We are journalists, writers, photographers, and scientists. We are students. We are motivated to use media to contribute to the change that our generation needs to make in order to protect and understand the planet we call home.

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