Environmental engineering professor Rick Appleman, along with two environmental engineering students, are all working hard to produce Montana Tech’s second greenhouse gas inventory report, which will be for the fiscal year 2011 (For Tech this is July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011). The greenhouse gas inventory reports are just the first steps towards becoming carbon neutral. The reports will help Montana Tech analyze where it can reduce green house gas emissions and look at what areas on campus need the most improvement.
However, reducing green house gas emissions doesn’t just mean that Montana Tech would implement less driving or turn it’s heat down at night. Other ways of reducing carbon emissions include campus building lighting and heating upgrades, campus building weatherization’s, recycling, supporting local food production and much more.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is just one step on the path towards sustainability that includes environmental, economic and social dimensions. Sustainability is literally something that can sustain itself, or something that can endlessly work. When sustainability is used in an environmental context, it means to live and act in a way that could be sustained over time with negative but acceptable impacts to the environment. You’ve heard this packaged in several ways through various media and scientific claims –climate change, global warming, and “going green” just to name a few.
Sustainability is really much more than these claims. It’s a choice to live a responsible and mindful lifestyle. It’s being conscious that all of our actions, large and small, do have an impact on the environment. It’s realizing our impacts make differences, from driving a car when we could have walked to throwing away something when it could have been recycled. We are the educated workforce of the future, and it is our responsibility to be leaders in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advocates for sustainable living.
You as a student can start helping Montana Tech get on track for sustainability! For starters, start recycling aluminum and plastic containers at sporting and major events. For the homecoming football game alone, Aware Butte Recycling reported that Montana Tech was able to recycle 50 pounds of aluminum and 20 pounds of plastic. These numbers don’t sound very high, but when you consider that there are 35 cans in 1 pound of aluminum, you realize that these recycling efforts alone collected over 1700 aluminum cans!
If you are interested in helping Montana Tech get on track for becoming more sustainable be sure to keep an eye out for future articles in this paper and updates on the Digger Central website!