Sustainability Week coincides with Homecoming celebrations

By on October 16, 2015

By Kyeland Jackson–

The leaves are finally changing, signifying fall on the University of Louisville campus. Regardless of the change in weather, and fascination with everything pumpkin, the university’s Sustainability Council aims to keep the campus green.

Oct. 19-25 marks the eighth annual Sustainability Week. The campus-wide event raises awareness for sustainable energy, organic food alternatives and healthy lifestyle practices for students.

Initially, the event was a single day of the year. It now boasts 19 events over a full week and hosts events such as a bike maintenance workshop, a farmers market and a sustainability fair. Local vendors and organizations participate and contribute farm-fresh organic food and local produce for the event.

The Sustainability Council expects more student involvement this year with a week of events, which are a collaboration between students, faculty, staff, alumni, local vendors, organizations and more. This will be the first year the event overlaps with homecoming week as well, resulting in a many events on U of L’s campus.

Justin Mog, assistant to the provost on sustainability initiatives, organizes the event. “It’s really starting to hit people in the face—especially climate change,” Mog says.

The university has already implemented green initiatives on campus. The student recreation center and natatorium use green energy for heating and cooling, and solar panels were installed on the garden commons in 2012. In 2011, the university started its “Earn-a-Bike” program, which allows students to trade parking passes for bike rentals.

Fruit gardens and rain collection barrels are outside of Mog’s department building. Starkly contrasting these, the words “Standard Oil Company Incorporated” are embedded in stone over the building’s doorway. This building, also home to the School of Urban and Public Affairs was once the headquarters of the oil company. The new home of U of L sustainability serves as an accurate representation of the obstacles Mog and his council have to hurdle.

Awareness of sustainability often seems to escape students, although that is slowly changing. “A lot of this stuff happens, and it’s invisible to students, maybe faculty and staff too,” Mog says.

Caroline Miller is a communication intern for the Sustainability Council. She says spreading awareness to students has been an arduous process. “It’s something we have struggled with, but are getting better at,” Miller says.

Students have become more aware of sustainability, recognizing the green-energy options available to them. Miller predicts relationship growth with the community in the upcoming years and can see a city-wide sustainability week being a reality someday.

Mog and Miller exude excitement and anticipation for this year’s sustainability week. Hoping to cultivate sustainability practices and raise awareness in the university and community, the process will be hard to accomplish but important to champion.

“It’s all starting to add up to a highly unsustainable society,” Mog says. “They don’t see a way forward in their own lives. ‘How could I possibly live in a world without fossil fuels? I’d have to live in a cave or something.’ It’s not like that, and U of L is here to show you what the sustainable future looks like.”

Sustainability Week will begin Oct. 19 with the “Weigh the Waste” event at the Ville Grill. It concludes Oct. 25 with the “Waste Stock Challenge.”

There will also be a competition during the week to submit photos via Twitter or Instagram to @uoflsustainable, @uofldining and #greencardscare. Winners earn a Ville Grill To-Go-Club membership. Students are advised to join the festivities and contribute to a green campus and a sustainable homecoming.

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