Hidden behind the Interim Design Center and past the fields of orange trees stands Facilities Management (Building 81), which holds the Office of Sustainability. This team, though small in number, takes large strides to ensure Cal Poly Pomona is a sustainable campus, and is planning to make notable changes this academic year.
In 2014, the California State University Board of Trustees revised its system-wide sustainability policy. Along with goals to conserve energy and reduce the environmental impact across the 23 CSU campuses, the revised policy proposed all universities should aim to incorporate sustainability practices in educational settings and students’ academics.
In meeting the policy, the Office of Sustainability at CPP is responsible for various improvements on campus, such as the increase in recycling units, the “Skip the Straw” campaign, Los Olivos Dining Hall selling locally sourced food, and becoming a Fair Trade-certified campus.
The team also works on educating students about sustainability. The student assistants in the Office of Sustainability created a Sustainability Course Guide that outlines which CPP courses integrate environmental factors, social equity issues and economics into the curriculum.
Arbyn Olarte, geography and environmental studies graduate and Office of Sustainability student assistant, hopes to raise awareness through starting sustainability-focused clubs on campus.
“We’re starting these clubs to get more students involved,” Olarte said. “Building 81 is very far, so we don’t see many students and not a lot of people know we exist. We’re taking steps to increase exposure.”
The Office of Sustainability plans to start a council of sustainability-related clubs and programs this academic year.
Maintaining the campus’ Fair Trade certification is another focus for the Office of Sustainability. To be certified with Fair Trade practices, CPP needs to offer products such as tea, coffee and candy that support the farmers who produced them.
“[The products] take consideration of workers’ rights, consumers’ rights [and] producers’ rights. It’s holistic; It’s an integrated initiative,” Olarte said.
Fair Trade-certified products can be found at the convenience stores located on campus.
The Office of Sustainability is also working to improve the trash can to recycling bin ratio on campus. The ultimate goal is to have a recycling bin attached to, or nearby every trash can.
Victoria Stumpf, a third-year English student, believes having recycling bins near trash cans is a great way to encourage students to choose to recycle.
“It’s a really good idea. It might not get every person to recycle, but at least people who do, will have every opportunity to recycle,” she said.
In addition to the recycling bins, the Office of Sustainability is also implementing Cora Balls for every laundry machine unit on campus and at the University Village.
Cora Balls are designed to catch the microfibers that shed from clothes, which typically end up in public water. There are over 80 laundry machine units across the residential suites and halls and 26 at the University Village.
Through clubs and their initiatives, the Office of Sustainability aims to encourage students to be active about their own sustainability practices. They hope to offer a sustainability minor or certification course in the future if enough students show engagement and interest.
“This is our longtime goal. It’s something we’re planting the seeds for,” said Kaila Moraga, a fourth-year environmental biology student and Office of Sustainability student assistant.
Currently, regenerative studies is the closest thing CPP offers instead of a sustainability minor.
For more information about the Office of Sustainability’s upcoming initiatives, as well as the complete Sustainability Course Guide, visit its website at http://sustainabilitycpp.weebly.com/.
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