When thinking of green states, California, Colorado, remote Alaska, or even tiny Rhode Island come to mind, but not Texas. In a Forbes magazine survey, Texas ranked No. 34 out of the 50 states, that's a 32nd percentile ranking!
The City of College Station has numerous environmental policies and programs on their website
, but the effect of these initiatives is hard to measure given every day practices witnessed on and off the Texas A&M campus, which forms a major portion of the city.
A few things I've observed:
- Paper towels instead of air dryers in restrooms
- Flush systems in restrooms that don't manage water for solid and liquid waste separately
- Student areas lack a separate bin for recycling paper or other reusables
- Lack of separate recycling and waste bins in many classrooms
- Local stores hand out plastic bags for groceries (such as CVS and HEB)
- Drinking water fountains that lack a separate filter for filling water bottles
- Lack of bike friendly paths around the city
- Inadequate public transport in and around the city
- Lack of environmental awareness in the general population, especially among international students
- Many eateries on campus give out plastic utensils instead of washable steel utensils, as well as plastic bags
The Aggie Green Fund
received a huge grant in Spring 2016 for environmental projects on campus and around $100,000 alone are going into improving recycling on campus. While it's encouraging to know the university is working towards promoting environmental friendly facilities, the success of these projects depends on the students actively following environmental friendly habits.
While some things we as students cannot control, there are still many things we can do to make the university and the city a green place:
- Bring your own shopping bags. Coming from California, I've gotten in the habit of bringing my own cloth grocery bags to the store and refusing plastic bags, even if it means I have to dump half my groceries in my backpack on the walk home.
- Turn tap water off when scrubbing dishes and only turn it on to wash/rinse them.
- Make sure the AC, lights, and plugged in devices are off when you leave the house or when not in use
- Recycle, recycle, recycle! If your apartment or house doesn't have separate bins, assign separate bins yourself or talk to the manager. Educate your roommates on the importance of recycling.
- Carry a handkerchief to avoid using paper towels. You might bring them back to fashion, who knows?
The environment is an extension of our homes. We vigorously clean, maintain, and organize our homes. Why not do the same for the environment?
Teja Gambhir | Industrial Engineering
is a first year Master of Engineering student in the department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE).