By Christine Cooley, Sustainability Manager
I am delighted to see The Mooring Mast plans on running a weekly sustainability column this year. I’d like to help explain what sustainability is exactly, and what it means to Pacific Lutheran University. Sustainability is the ultimate form of efficiency, a self-renewing system that can nurture and support the environment, the people within that environment and the economic structure built from it.
Sustainability is about evolving the concept of success to include the well being of the people and environment involved in generating prosperity.
The mantra for this has become “people, planet, prosperity.” These areas are equal to and dependent on each other. They form a triad where having achievements in any area without addressing the others does not constitute success.
Sustainability is not about high-minded rhetoric. It’s a pragmatic tool for getting the most out of ourselves and our environment in a way that will last indefinitely.
The reason for viewing our endeavors through this lens is that it better represents reality. Without prosperity and wealth in a society, there is little ability to improve quality of life.
In turn, a kind and healthy society can create a stronger, fairer economy, and a diverse and rich natural environment forms the foundation for a healthy society.
PLU has done a fantastic job incorporating this concept into its culture and has become a national leader in the sustainability movement.
Our vice president of finances and operations is one of the co-founders of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Former President Loren Anderson was an original signer of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a pact among college presidents to attain carbon neutrality as well as to begin incorporating sustainability into the curriculum.
Upon becoming our university’s president, Thomas Krise reaffirmed this commitment with added enthusiasm.
The hard work of faculty and staff across the university has made PLU the first in the nation to be Sustainable Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) accredited. PLU has also been one of the few to attain a gold rating.
Universities are the ideal place to experiment and develop these concepts. The world looks to them for their innovation and wealth of perspectives when it comes to problem solving.
PLU’s Sustainability Office provides resources and support that will strengthen the environment and community.We provide the Bike Co-op, the SurPLUs store, habitat restoration, recycling and programs like unPLUgged.
These help bring us closer to the goal of being a carbon neutral and zero waste university that others can use as a model.
The Sustainability Office cannot make PLU sustainable though. That’s for the members of PLU’s community to do. It’s the actions of all of the Lutes together that will achieve that goal.
So please, be involved on some level. Whether it’s as simple as recycling your waste and drinking from a reusable mug, or as intensive as a habitat restoration work party, be a part of what makes PLU great.
Use this column as inspiration and choose to do something to improve Pacific Lutheran University now and preserve it for the future. ◼︎