It’s not easy being green
sick serif; font-size: small;”>Dawn Lonergan investigates environmentalism in UCD
“the general consensus about the environment in UCD is bleak”
“UCD is currently in the process of taking steps towards improving its clandestine environmentalism”
“UCD’s green steps are being put to shame by Dundalk IT, Ireland’s premier green campus.”
The US Green Building Council defines a ‘Green Campus’ as: “A higher education community that is improving energy efficiency, conserving resources and enhancing environmental quality by educating for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments.” Do we have energy saving light bulbs at UCD? Do we conserve our paper on campus? Is our lake polluted? Do you even know what reduce, reuse and recycle actually means? Can UCD call itself a Green Campus?
Compared to the huge environmentalism in primary and secondary schools that many of its students attended, where is UCD’s environmental awareness? If you attempts to google UCD’s environmental policy, you won’t find it. Surprisingly, UCD does not have one. Even the general consensus about the environment in UCD is bleak. Kate Courtney, a second year Arts student, describes how “there pretty much are no recycling facilities at UCD”.
UCD’s environmentalism seems to take place undercover as Conrad Richardson, UCDSU’s Environment Officer, explains.”Almost all the dry rubbish that is disposed of gets recycled. People aren’t aware of this, but all the rubbish collected in UCD is brought to a sorting plant where the recyclables are sorted and recycled.” On one hand, this extremely beneficial, but he says that: “recycling is very energy intensive, so ideally we should try to avoid creating waste altogether.”
UCD is currently in the process of taking steps towards improving its clandestine environmentalism. Richardson is setting up a society called “Young Friends of the Earth UCD” which will work in association with “Young Friends of the Earth Ireland”. According to their website, they “campaign for environmental justice and sustainability.” Richardson also plans to introduce a green scheme including “where if you bring your own ‘reusable’ cup/mug for your tea or coffee, you get a percentage off or say 15c back.” However, during recession times, you could ask whether this idea is economical and if any of the outlets in UCD would implement the scheme.
UCD’s green steps are being put to shame by Dundalk IT, Ireland’s premier green campus. They do an enormous amount for the environment, such as using an electric van to transport waste products and promoting car pooling schemes for staff members. On top of that, every campus computer turns off at 10 pm, which decreases energy consumption by 60 %. DkIT’s most significant achievement has been its huge wind turbine. The turbine averages 1.5 million units of electricity a year, providing approximately 50% of the institute’s electrical needs. It reduces DkIt’s CO2 emissions by about 900 tonnes every year and it has also saved the college thousands of euro in energy bills.
Conrad Richardson believes that UCD’s students are not as green-orientated as those in other third-level institutions. “At the moment, in terms of the student body, I feel there is a lack of interest in environmental issues, at least in comparison to other Universities in Ireland.” The lack of interest could be down to many things. One Law with Politics student believes it to be a matter of simple logic: “Some students feel that the damage may have already been done. If the lakes are already polluted, the icebergs have already melted and the animals have already become extinct, how can we change that?”
In response, one can’t help but think of Margaret Mead’s famous quote: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”