Environmental issues continually bubble up in public discourse, raising the question of how our choices affect the planet and our quality of life. As an environmentally minded generation, it is important to know the positive and negative results of our actions. Pepperdine has a strong commitment to sustainability and recycling, but many students are totally unaware of what Pepperdine does in the direction of sustainability. Students who are already conscious of their environmental impact are left feeling as if living a sustainable lifestyle at Pepperdine is too difficult, while students who are not as in tune with sustainable living do not see how they are already involved.
In reality, both groups of students that are helping Pepperdine have a positive impact without knowing it. Beyond the fact that all the water used to keep Pepperdine a lush oasis is reclaimed water stored in the lakes in Alumni Park, students are either directly or indirectly involved in other sustainable practices. For example, all the trash deposited on the Malibu campus is sorted by Crown Disposal, Pepperdine’s recycling vendor. Only 22 percent is sent to landfills, while 78 percent is reused or recycled.
The reason students are either left hoarding their recyclables or never paying it a second thought when they toss them in the trash is not that they are incapable of making sustainable choices, but it is due to a lack of awareness about their options.
As we graduate and move off into the world, it is important to be aware of our decisions and the impact they can have. Our years in college are the first chance many of us get to live away from home and make our own choices about how we want to live, and they are very important in building the habits that we will carry through the rest of our lives.
Though Pepperdine’s trash is already sorted for recycling, there are many other things that we can do to build sustainable habits and realize that very little work is actually involved to have a large positive impact. Everything from turning off the lights when you leave a room to purchasing used books whenever possible can save money while also reducing the amount of waste generated.
Pepperdine has a number of opportunities to promote personal sustainable living habits. At the end of every semester, donation bins are set up around campus so items no longer needed can be repurposed. The Salvation Army has bins set up around campus as well for clothing donations, which are used to help the homeless, abused or disadvantaged. Used cell phones, batteries and printer cartridges can be dropped off on the second floor of Payson Library and other places on campus. These are measures taken to avoid tossing used items in the trash, allowing them to be reused or recycled.
Another little-known project, undertaken by the Pepperdine Green Team to promote sustainability, is hosting a community garden on campus just below the practice soccer field, which is open to everyone at no cost.
Pepperdine provides a number of incentives to provide sustainable transportation for students living both on and off campus. Shopping shuttles, Hertz rental cars on campus and carpool parking passes for students who drive to campus reduce the number of cars on the road during peak hours and the environmental impact of students driving to campus.
As we move on from Pepperdine and into the real world, it is important to make decisions that will affect the Earth in positive ways, and now is the best time to start. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can also promote Pepperdine’s values of purpose, service and leadership and benefit our pocketbooks. It is not nearly as difficult as some people think it is and will help us leave a better world for our children.
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