Eco-Friendly YSU

By Zach Srnis 

Earth Day is a day that is set aside to show support for environmental protection. In light of Earth Day having been April 22, Youngstown State University faculty talked about what the university does to protect the environment.

Colleen McLean, professor of Environmental Sciences at YSU, said that it’s important to be environmentally friendly.

“The Earth has limited amount of resources,” said McLean. “We only have so much fresh water, metals, soils, timber, oil, etc.

Society is currently using resources faster than they are regenerated, according to McLean.

“This includes destruction of land, overuse and contamination of water (oceans, lakes, rivers, groundwater), loss of biodiversity, and climate change,” said McLean. “This destruction can come about by removing the resource too fast or by destroying land or habitat through pollution.”

Felicia Armstrong, professor of Environmental Science at YSU, describes the relationship between earth and humanity as a give and take.

“To be environmentally sustainable means that you are using resources responsibly so that they are available for future generations, this includes not degrading the environment so that it is able to function to provide environmental goods and services,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong, said YSU began programs about 10-15 years ago that allowed the university to be more environmentally friendly.

“Recycling program was ramped up, lighting in buildings were changed to a higher efficiency non-PCB ballast, solar panels were put on Moser Hall, and composting of food waste was started in the dining halls,” Armstrong.

Daniel Kuzma, manager of materials exchange and recycling at YSU, said that the mission of the recycling program is to implement waste reduction.

“We meet our recycling objectives through accessibility: recycling bins in buildings on campus, event containers and outdoor bins,” said Kuzma. “We also handle other recycling generated from campus departments like electronics waste, scrap metal, and pallets.”

The recycling program also seeks waste minimization efforts through education and awareness by giving talks to students and supplying campus departments with information on how to create less waste, according to Kuzma.

All those actions promote the reduction of waste generated and reduces energy use from fossil fuels, Armstrong said. However, she said YSU and the campus as a whole can do so much more.

“Irrigation, or watering of the grassy areas, should only happen at when it hasn’t rained for a significant time and only at night, because it reduces evaporation,” said Armstrong. “YSU should also reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemical products on the grounds.”

Classroom and hallway lights should be turned off or reduced to save energy and heating and air conditioning should be better controlled to reduce energy use, Armstrong said.

Armstrong said that YSU should also use products that are more sustainable such as green cleaners, compostable plates, utensils, recycled or recyclable paper products.

Individuals can make a difference by making good decisions about what they buy and the cation that they take

“Make changes where you can, and the environment will be better for it,” Armstrong said.