It’s hard not to notice Loyola’s environmental sustainability projects around campus. From recycle bins at the Water Tower Campus to the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Lake Shore Campus, Loyola wants to show people it cares about the environment.
So far, it looks like they are doing a pretty good job and students should match that effort. The university has made the “Top Ten Greenest Colleges in America” list on Sierra — an environmental magazine — in 2014 and 2016. Loyola’s various sustainability programs aim to reduce the amount of waste the university produces and make it easy for students to play their part in helping the environment.
PlasticFree LUC is a program that reduces the amount of material the university consumes by limiting the number of plastic products on campus. This year, Loyola has eliminated plastic trays, containers, cups, straws and stirrers from all dining halls. Some of these products can still be found in the cafes around campus but their absence from dining halls is a big step forward in reducing the amount of waste produced.
When it comes to products bought from on-campus vendors or brought in from outside campus, students need to be aware of how to dispose of these products. Recycling containers are located next to almost every trash can around campus which makes it inexcusably convenient to separate trash. It only takes a few seconds to throw recyclable materials such as bottles and containers in the recycling bin and the rest in the waste bin. Loyola is working to make this even easier for students.
Aaron Durnbaugh is Loyola’s director of sustainability. Durnbaugh, along with the rest of the Sustainability Committee, review and consider implementing proposed student projects and initiatives for the university.
“When we think of single-use plastic we think of food, containers, cutlery, so we have to step away from that to make sure everything in the dining halls could be used in the dishwasher,” Durnbaugh said.
PlasticFree LUC also eliminates the sale of plastic water bottles on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, with the exception of flavored and sparkling water.
These changes don’t apply to all campuses, according to Durnbaugh. Depending on where the campus is situated, there might be some exceptions to the sustainability programs put in place. For instance, Loyola’s University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, is comprised of multiple buildings and some aren’t completely owned by Loyola, so bottled water is sold in some areas. The same goes for some parts of Water Tower Campus, which Loyola rents to private vendors including Chick-Fil-A.
Regardless, implementing these initiatives on Lake Shore Campus — where most of the university’s undergraduate students reside — results in a big reduction in waste. But Loyola doesn’t only cut back on the amount of waste they produce.
The university also has many student-run projects to turn waste into useful products. It’s hard to miss the biosoap — soap created from the byproducts of biodiesel production — Loyola produces and uses in many of its restrooms on campus. The soap is part of the Biodiesel Program that works on utilizing waste to create usable energy. The long-term goal of the program is to establish a Zero Waste Process, which will continually recycle a product to produce as much energy possible.
“We plan on getting all our energy from clean sources,” Durnbaugh said. “In the 2017 to 2018 school year, 50 percent of our electricity came from wind. This year is about 59 percent. We plan by 2025 to be at 100 percent.”
There’s a lot of effort being put forth to make Loyola an environmentally sustainable campus. From clean energy to water-bottle usage, there are steps being taken to minimize the harmful impact byproducts can have on our environment.
When we leave Loyola, these programs won’t be there to make eco-conscious decisions for us. It’s up to students to follow Loyola’s lead and protect the environment.