The creation of a new position within the Associated Students of The University of Arizona – the student government organization on campus – will add to the student-run sustainability effort already underway at the UA.
Lesley Ash, a veterinary science senior, has been named ASUA’s sustainability director. Ash will be responsible for developing projects and initiatives that work to reduce waste at the University.
At the moment, her main objective is to develop a sustainability committee within ASUA that will involve student clubs and organizations in projects and also to figure out how to develop a composting system at the UA’s student unions and markets.
“Going into this project, I think it is doable for the University and think it’s something that can have a fairly large impact over time,” said Ash, who is also a student in the UA’s Honors College.
Tommy Bruce, ASUA president, said creating a greener campus has long been a priority at the UA and it is one that will continue to grow and expand. “We’re taking a strong approach to making sure the University is as sustainable as possible,” said Bruce, who serves on the UA’s campus sustainability committee.
“She (Ash) has been doing research about the possibility of composting,” Bruce added. “We figure, we throw these things away every day. Why don’t we recycle these products?”
In addition to research on water, energy, land use and other topics related to conservation, the UA has a number of sustainability efforts on campus. They include course offerings, a fuel-efficient UA vehicle fleet, water harvesting and the use of solar energy. Also, staff in Residence Life support educational projects surrounding green efforts and recycling programs in the residence halls.
Ash said she is eager to see more work done in the area.
“My passion for sustainability also, in part, stems from what I think is a natural survival instinct,” she said.
Ash added: “Climate change and the utilization of renewable energy sources are the serious challenges of my generation. Whether you believe climate change is a natural occurring process or man-induced, it is no longer a question of, if the climate changes, or when the climate changes but a question of to what extent will the climate change and to what extent will the negative impact be on humanity?”
Ash said everyone – and that includes institutions – have a responsibility to improve sustainability.
“While diverting only one university’s waste from a landfill may not seem big in the grand scheme of things I am a firm believer in the importance of even the smallest effort,” Ash said. “The bottom line,” she added, “is that an investment in sustainability is an investment in the survival of humans as a species in the long run.”