There are many issues that may pop into your mind when you see or hear the word “sustainability,” “environmental conservation,” or “environmental justice.” Perhaps it’s something related to energy, water, transportation, recycling and waste, or quality food, the list can get long quickly and all of them are important. However, as we begin a new school year – I will be focusing a lot of my time and energy as sustainability director on the topic of waste – or as I prefer to call it, “materials management.”

Materials management looks at the whole lifecycle of items we use: where did it come from, how did it get here, how is it used or reused, and what happens to it at the end of its life. There are a few powerful data points we have to help illustrate various issues associated with materials management at CSUMB. First, paper. It is a widely used material for both academics and administrative needs on campus. An analysis by Information Technology Services, Business and Procurement Services and the Sustainability Office shows that CSUMB uses over 18 million pieces of paper every year- clearly an opportunity to reduce paper-use on campus.

The campus monitors and tracks landfill, recycling, and compost materials that leave campus. This is partially to meet reporting requirement to the state of California, as well as to monitor progress towards achieving the CSU Sustainability Goal of diverting 80 percent of materials from the landfill by 2020. That means 80 percent would go to compost or be recycled, and 20 percent would go to the landfill. The graph below shows current progress towards that goal. As a campus, we have a long way to go.

Every person who lives, works, studies or visits this campus has an opportunity, and indeed a responsibility, to ensure we are meeting these targets. The best thing you can do is say “no thanks” – I don’t need to print this article, I don’t need a coffee if I forgot to bring my reusable cup, I don’t need that free give-away.

Sustainability@CSUMB – This year The Lutrinae and the Sustainability Office are teaming up to bring you a regular article about sustainability at CSUMB. Any comments or questions can be directed to [email protected].

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