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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Higher Consciousness in Higher Education

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Throwing an empty water bottle in a blue recycling bin instead of the nearest garbage can is an easy way to take responsibility for the amount of trash created. But large universities face the bigger challenge of not only reducing the amount of campus garbage that finds its way into landfills, but also of conducting business operations that utilize resources in an environmentally friendly and cost effective way.

That’s where sustainability comes in. Aditi Pain, Manager of the Office of Recycling and Sustainability at UMass Boston, quotes the U.N. in her description of sustainability: “Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

Pain explains that UMass Boston has always had a keen interest in environmental social issues and “is one of the few universities nationally that has a comprehensive sustainability program.” The program was recognized by the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection, and Operational Services Division, which named UMass Boston 2004’s Sustainable Public Agency of the Year.

The school is noted as being the only public university in Massachusetts to sign the Tallories Declaration, a 10-step program designed to incorporate sustainability and environmental awareness into the teaching and operations of the university.

Additionally, this year UMass Boston became the only public university in Boston to join the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. This organization works to minimize the greenhouse emissions of schools and advance higher education’s role in research and education to re-stabilize our planet’s climate.

To make sure that UMass Boston is not “compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” a lot of programs take place. Aside from the extensive recycling done across campus, including everything from compost to hazardous lab waste, Pain points out that UMass Boston uses water conserving faucets and EnergyStar copy machines to save energy, and low emission paints and carpets inside buildings.

The Campus Center was built with environmental considerations in mind in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, guidelines. Even the latest UMass Boston watercraft is eco-friendly; last year the school launched the research and educational vessel the M/V Columbia Point, a 64-foot boat with low wake wash, “green” engines and ultra-low sulfur fuel.

For Pain, it is important that the university offers students a campus environment where they see sustainability in practice so they can realize an active engagement in reducing their ecological footprint. Interested students can get involved by volunteering or applying for internships at UMBeGreen.