This year the Volunteer Action Center is zeroing in on the Sustainable Development Goals to better understand how our projects and partners help to advance these global causes. Our Vice President of Education and Inclusion is tackling each goal and sharing how students, volunteers and community members can take make more informed decisions based on the issues outlined by each goal.
September’s goal is Climate Action, but we’ll also look at some of the other environment-based goals.
Goal 13 is included in the UN’s SDG scheme because climate change is one of the greatest threats facing all nations and societies on the planet. The rise in greenhouse gas emissions and widespread pollution threatens long-lasting, irreversible changes to our climate system if governments, corporations and individuals don’t take action.
Myth Busting: The Plastic Straw Cure-All
9 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. That’s plastic which contributes to toxic waste runoff and harms wildlife from birds, fish and sea mammals
and disrupts delicate ecosystems.
Only 0.025 percent of that plastic comes from straws.
So, while using a paper straw or, even better, a reusable metal one is beneficial, this change is incremental. But environmental groups say the plastic straw is emblematic of the larger waste generated by single-use plastics.
Both plastic bags – which comprise 12 percent of the United States’ plastic waste – and paper bags contribute to pollution. Plastic bags can’t be recycled in municipal waste recycling facilities and often end up creeks, streams, rivers or the ocean. Paper bags are also taxing on the environment- they need more energy to manufacture and generate triple the amount of carbon emissions as a single-use plastic bag.
The solution: Reusable shopping bags are a good choice but only if we actually reuse them and often (about 131 times for a cotton bag to make up for its manufacturing impact)
Experts say consumers should also think about what they put in their shopping bag. A pound of beef bought at a supermarket will have 25 times the environmental impact as the plastic bag used to hold it. The food industry (mainly meat and dairy) contribute to a quarter of overall greenhouse gas emissions.
So How Can I Reduce My Impact?
- Understand and notice the materials you use and dispose of daily.
- Make a habit of recycling properly.
- Think about incremental changes – from reusable straws, to shopping bags to walking, biking or using public transportation if necessary.
- LEARN! The biggest impacts that contribute to climate change and pollution don’t happen at the consumer level – local, state and national government policies set standards for waste management, natural resource protection and emission guidelines.
- Seek out organizations that conserve and educate on the importance of the environment.
Recycling – The UofA recycling center is located on the west side of campus at 434 Eastern Avenue. Most university buildings have recycling bins for white paper, mixed paper, cans/bottles and trash. The campus bookstore also recycles alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries (all types), Inkjet and LaserJet toner cartriges and personal cellular phones.
Most apartment complexes have recycling options in the city, there are also drop off centers in Fayetteville:
- City of Fayetteville Recycling Drop-Off 1420 S. Happy Hollow Road Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Marion Orton Recycling Center 735 W. North Street 6am-5pm M, Tu, W, F, & Sat 6am-7pm Thursday
Know what you can recycle:
- Glass bottles and jars
- Aluminum and metal cans (only the cans)
- #1 and #2 plastic bottles (#3 – 7 plastics not accepted)
- Cardboard and paperboard
- Mixed paper (newspaper, notebook, etc.)
Find local organizations who are doing their part to fight climate change and encourage learning about the environment on GivePulse! And if you’re interested in working with sustainability here on campus find out more about our signature program Razorback Food Recovery.