Taking responsibility

Sustainability efforts should be prioritized among students

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 2/22/17 10:21pm


The idea of climate change has been a topic of contention for decades. Whether it's the vast majority of scientists proving through data and facts that climate change is happening, or if it's people who oppose it and insist it isn't real, the talk of our planet becoming warmer has been on our minds.

Recently, former mayor of Grand Rapids George Heartwell visited Grand Valley State University to talk about his work in advancing the sustainability of Grand Rapids. We want to applaud Heartwell's work and encourage others to follow in his footsteps. 

GVSU is well-known for its prioritization of sustainable practices on campus. From the Office of Sustainability Practices to the Sustainable Agriculture Project, we have both student and administrative representatives advocating for sustainability, but there needs to be more. It's one thing to brag about the LEED-certified building at GVSU, and it's another to make personal efforts to help the environment. 

Typically, college-aged students are the most vocal and passionate about climate change. Unfortunately, we are also known for having a strong sense of social media activism instead of actual, physical efforts. There are people out there who are doing great things to reduce the wasteful and harmful influences on our planet, but they can only do so much without having the majority onboard. 

While social media can be a very powerful tool for disseminating ideas instantaneously and to a lot of people, our activism needs to go much further than that. What use is it to repost climate change articles and rant about President Donald Trump's pick for the Environmental Protection Agency on Facebook and Twitter if we are not backing up our commentary with concrete actions? Although spreading awareness is a worthy undertaking, it must be coupled with tangible efforts.

So, what can you do? The answer is simple: Get involved. Join or volunteer for a campus or community organization that looks at environmental issues, take public transportation, print on recycled paper. Even small changes can make a big difference. The options are out there, and it's our job to take advantage of them. 

In order to do our part, the Lanthorn is published on recycled paper and printed with soy bean ink to ensure that our entire paper is compostable. We encourage GVSU students, faculty and friends to recycle or compost the paper after reading to limit waste. 

We shouldn't have to be fighting to prove that climate change is real. It's a present threat and if we don't wake up soon, it's going to be too late. The planet and our future lives are what we make of it. If we treat the earth like trash, there will be consequences for us and for our descendants. We want all Lakers to live a sustainable life, and that starts with us and what we do right now to protect the environment.

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