Sustainability at SIUE

If we’re going to become a more sustainable world, we’re going to have to collaborate in our efforts.–Connie Frey Spurlock

New ideas surrounding sustainability at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have started to germinate. Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Connie Frey Spurlock, recognized a need for restructuring the University’s Sustainability Advisory Group into more of an action-oriented group.

“A student contacted me regarding food waste on campus, and I began to think, what if we reconsidered the group’s function?” stated Spurlock.

Previously, the group had more of an advisory approach but as concerns began to rise across campus regarding nutrition, food waste, and composting, Spurlock saw a need for change. Earlier this year, the group reformed into the Sustainability Action Group (SAG), with Spurlock chairing the steering committee at the request of Vice Chancellor for Adminstration, Rich Walker.

“We really needed a group to start connecting all of these initiatives together. We plan to start meeting and bringing shape to all of these different interests” (Spurlock).

The first meeting of the fall semester was held on September 24 and Spurlock says she plans to hold monthly meetings for the group. She emphasizes that the meetings are for everyone on campus, “This requires collaboration between faculty, staff, students, facilities management…these meetings are intended to bring more people and therefore more ideas together.”

Through a program dedicated to advancing sustainability in higher education–Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)–SIUE was ranked as a ‘Silver Institution’ in 2016 for achievements in sustainability. Originally projected to be certified silver by 2018, and achieving it two years prior, the University hopes to hit gold by April 2019.

Alongside sustainability efforts, each year, SIUE participates in EcoChallenge, a three week sustainability engagement program developed by Northwest Earth Institute. The event is free and anyone can participate simply by joining a team. Teams can also engage further by challenging other teams.

“Last year we decided to challenge Southern Illinois University Carbondale…this year, we decided that we wanted to work together. If we’re going to become a more sustainable world, we’re going to have to collaborate in our efforts. The challenge really demonstrates the effect of a collective impact–that of an entire campus as opposed to one person. Last year, we diverted nearly 21,000 bottles from the landfill,” commented Spurlock.

Anyone can join the team on campus and participate in EcoChallenge. The collaborative team effort between SIUE and SIUC can be found under the team name, SIUnited Green Action Team. All on campus are encouraged to join! The event will be held from October 3-24.

Learn more about SIUE’s Sustainability Action Group (SAG) here: Sustainability at SIUE

View SIUE’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report here.

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