Findings from Sustainable Clark survey anticipate changes to campus
by Michelle Scott
This semester Sustainable Clark wanted to hear from us. It did! Whether in the form of the Green Mentality Survey or various talkback events,
we Clarkies weren’t quiet when it came to green on our campus: what we care about, what we know about, and what we can do about it.
Surprisingly (or not), we have lots of good ideas. Although the great minds at Sustainable Clark are still processing your loud responses and finding ways of working them into future plans, I am here to give you a sneak peak into your own answer sheets.
Exactly 553 of you responded to the Green Mentality Survey (well, 552 not including myself). That’s around 15% of those whose inbox received the e-mail invitation, and that’s awesome. If you are administration, staff, or faculty, give yourself another pat on the back, because you comprised 1/3 of those answers. So this survey was talking to a large chunk of our population. What did we have to say back to it?
The majority of respondents care most about climate change (and I don’t blame you), with a whopping 21.12% ranking it as their top priority. Renewable energy was a close second, claiming 18.38% of responses. With 12.32% of the vote, recycling came in as lucky number three. If your favorite didn’t make it into our top three, don’t fret. Even the bottom ranking priority, urban agriculture, came in with 1.65% responses. That means nine people think urban agriculture is their number one sustainable calling in life. That’s a garden crew right there if I’ve ever seen one.
People are really active in recycling (82.6%), waste reduction (58.36%), and local/organic food (44.73%).
Those percentages make sense because respondents were able to choose more than one response; I’m not that bad at math. But, more shockingly, 34.91% of respondents have never heard of Clark’s Climate Action Plan. Please visit our “Clark University Climate Action Plan” tab on the Sustainable Clark: Office of Sustainability homepage for more information on the sustainable goals and policies of our campus. About 12.73% have never heard of urban agriculture which is the cultivation of food inside of a city, but you might want to talk with some Herban Gardeners for a more knowledgeable answer and 12.18% have never heard of Environmental Justice (for that you will definitely want to ask someone in the IDCE program).
According to the survey answers, Sustainable Clark is doing a number of things right. The dual-flush toilets are a big hit, and the ease and accessibility of our recycling program is much appreciated. Sustainable Clark makes it easier to be green. But perhaps you, reader, are more interested in what needs improvement. While recycling was praised, it also received some criticism in regards to unlabelled bins and classrooms without bins. We want to see more compost, more meat free options, and more alternate sources of energy. Sustainable Clark is listening loud and clear.
Now, I personally can’t promise anything. But Sustainable Clark got a lot of interesting and exciting proposals when it asked the students what kind of changes they want to see. Just to show you what smarties we are here at Clark and maybe get you a little excited about the future, here are some of the responses. In regards to waste reduction, people want to see free e-books, reusable and washable coffee mugs at Jazzman’s, and no more junk mail.
For additional urban agriculture on campus, individuals suggested flowers everywhere (native, I assume), more edible green space, and expanded student farming. In a quest for renewable energy sources, some said solar power, some said wind power, and some said grow ivy on the buildings for additional insulation. When it comes to our dining options, answers included student involvement in food, an herb garden in the cafeteria, and discounts on reusable items. Even in the area of transportation, someone suggested a rickshaw escort! And the list goes on.
Hopefully these ideas will at least partially combat some of your end of the semester blues. And if you like the sound of these suggestions, don’t be afraid to push for them. Personally, I say free books for all! Although I might be a little biased as an English major…