Universities, while benefiting thousands of students in many ways, have a large impact on the environment and sometimes a bad one.
Universities have a wide range of needs required to sustain the campus. They need large supplies of energy, water and paper—these are the most prevalent environmentally impacting resources.
Students, teachers and faculty use about 900,000 tons of paper per year. Though this is decreasing with the rise of technology, paper is still a staple on the college campus. This aspect of universities’ effect on the environment is often overlooked because of what is thought to be a necessity for hard copies of any sort of writing or assignment. To combat this use of paper, recycling is the main tool. By recycling one ton of paper, seventeen trees can be saved and sixty pounds of air pollution can be avoided.
A UW-L sophomore sees these environmental effects and argues, “there are some necessary things we do that aren’t the best for the environment, but paper use can be greatly reduced. Teachers and students just have to be willing to trust in technology and go beyond the hard copy.”
Energy is also a large part of campuses’ environmental footprint. Universities need energy to provide a number of services to students: food services, maintenance services, good lighting in classrooms and so on. With the advancement of technology and its prevalence, an increasing amount of power is needed by universities, especially considering many students have their own technological devices.
Lastly, just as energy, water is widely used. Water is not only needed for cleaning, personal use, drinking and other student related things, but campuses must also irrigate water to care for on campus green areas and sports fields that require water to preserve aesthetically pleasing looks.