The 2019 Campus Sustainability Survey report is now available. Overall, we find that student knowledge of sustainability continues to grow, though poor performance on a few key items suggest important areas for improvement in the coming years.
Given the findings of our report, we make 3 key suggestions:
1. Emphasize reduce, reuse, and recycle. Students are very supportive of recycling, which is an important part of sustainability on campus. However, the reduction of consumption along with reusing items or purchasing used instead of new goods can make an even larger impact on the overall waste produced at Ohio State. It takes all three!
2. Link diet with sustainable behavior. Students as a whole continue to miss sustainability knowledge questions related to food, and dietary choices are a behavior where we see no change from 2018 to 2019. Making that linkage clearer for students and providing ample opportunities to make more sustainable dietary choices on campus would support several Ohio State sustainability goals.
3. Make water quality every Buckeye’s responsibility. Natural areas with public access were a priority for students, and at Ohio State, areas such as the Chadwick Arboretum, the Olentangy River Trail, and the Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park are all associated with water. Unfortunately, less than half of students knew that surface water runoff is the biggest contributor to water pollution. We can all work to improve water quality and our natural areas at OSU by doing our part, like properly disposing of household waste, keeping cars from leaking fluids, and picking up pet waste.
The ESS Lab continues to work with OSU campus partners to answer critical sustainability questions, provide insights to some of our challenges, and mark our progress toward a more sustainable campus. With the unique challenges of 2020 in mind, we look forward to the next iteration of the Campus Sustainability Survey, and welcome questions or interest from others on campus.