Are we really a Green Campus? Examining our eco-friendliness

By Jade Belzberg

I may hail from a town whose college students walk to class in bare feet and the preferred weekend activity of choice is dumpster diving, but that’s not to say I’m as environmentally conscious as I should be.

I drive to class each day, and sometimes I take the tram to the top of campus. Occasionally, I’ll order a drink to go at Aroma’s, only to throw out the plastic cup when I finish the tea fifteen minutes later. Heck, I even shower every day. Then again, it’s probably best that I do.

I’ve noticed that it isn’t just me that’s not that green. USD isn’t as green as they proclaim to be, either. Plastic water bottles are brought to classes and thrown into the trash an hour later; paper napkins are taken by the handful at the SLP; even uneaten food is needlessly thrown away, so fortunately we have our BioHiTech Food Digester that transforms 3,200 pounds of food waste into water each week.

Sure, the Office of Sustainability is responsible for diverting a huge amount of our waste away from landfills, (that $6.00 kombucha from Tu Mercado will be recycled, thanks to the placement of recycling bins around the school) and true, a student-run electronic waste center is now open for both the USD and local community.

They’ll take your suddenly outdated phone, laptop, or any other unfashionable gizmo – but what are we doing? Aren’t the USD community, faculty, students – heck, even alumni – responsible, too? Mother Earth News published an article last summer, entitled “The 10 Greenest College Campuses.” While the schools themselves are leading projects like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, solar power, and farm-to-dining-hall menus, many are located in communities that have a strong record as environmentally-minded cities: Davis, San Francisco, Seattle and Santa Cruz are only a few of the mentioned areas. But what do they have in common, if anything?

Growing up near Seattle, I can attest to the prime location for water or land-based activities. A thriving local foods movement is ingrained into its attractions, such as Pike Place Market. Santa Cruz, too, is well known for its clean beaches and bountiful bike trails.

And yet San Diego has all of this and more.

We have stunning beaches, year-round farmers’ markets and despite our proximity to desert, greenery in the form of Balboa Park.

USD clearly has all the tools to become a green campus, but is lacking the initiative from students and faculty to use them. With the San Diego community and its beach town landscape, we should be more hard-pressed to transform our campus into being more energy and waste efficient.

I’m going to just say it: USD isn’t green. In fact, it’s blue, and that’s downright depressing. Why is the Torero Store still selling plastic water bottles? Where are our low flush toilets? Why aren’t we growing more fruits and vegetables instead of sculpting immaculate lawns?

Maybe USD will take this tirade to note; maybe plastic water bottles will be banned from campus; maybe I’m just a grouchy hippie, but it’s worth a shot.