President Krise and Pacific Lutheran University faculty can sleep soundly knowing that some of their students took sustainability to heart this past weekend.
While spelunking in Ape Caves on an Outdoor Rec trip, PLU students decided to take it upon themselves to clear out as much trash as they could from the caves.
If the trash is not picked up, it will ultimately sit in the cave forever. The only way plastic is broken down at all is through a process which involves sunlight, and caves are in short supply of sunlight. The garbage that explorers carelessly toss aside will sit in that exact spot on the trail for a very long time and make Ape Caves less fun for everyone.
Other people wishing to enjoy the cave will not have as good of an experience if they are trying to avoid garbage as they climb through it. First-year Daniel Richards, one of the students on the trip, discussed how the trash affected his experience and why he was compelled to pick up the garbage.
“It was like our experience was being taken away by the trash,” he said ,“We wanted to potentially remove that for the next people who came into the cave, make it a better a experience for them.”
It is especially important that moveable trash be taken out of the cave because some parts of it have already been permanently damaged. In some portions of the caves, people have written their names, profanity and symbols that will most likely never fade away. There was even toilet paper and human waste. That is one brown package not even a college student wants to see while exploring these amazing caves.
The Outdoor Rec guides Sophomore Sam Altenberger and Senior Sarah Henderson were ecstatic that these Lutes decided to leave the cave better than they found it, especially since many of them were first year students.
“That was super exciting. There’s hope!” Henderson said,
Even after just a few weeks of being on campus, Lutes have already adopted sustainability. Altenberger really felt that sustainability is just an important part of PLU’s identity. “It is really ingrained in the culture,” he said.
Henderson mentioned that this was the first time she had seen PLU students go so far out of their way to clean the area they were exploring on an Outdoor Rec trip. Both of the guides felt that PLU students are in general more respectful towards the environment, but this was above and beyond what they would normally see.
PLU can be proud of how these students have reacted to sustainability. The students are not only taking in the lessons they learn about sustainability on campus, but going out and making the world cleaner and more enjoyable for everybody. With young Lutes already joining in the effort to sustain our world, the potential for PLU students to make positive changes on campus, in their community and in the world is promising and exciting.
Hear it from the students themselves: