UH Mānoa works toward sustainability: Part one: student and faculty - Ka Leo O Hawaii: Campus

UH Mānoa works toward sustainability: Part one: student and faculty

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Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 6:19 pm | Updated: 2:02 pm, Fri Feb 3, 2012.

"People aren't environmentalists until it affects them," stated Nicole Ferguson, president of Sustainable UH.

Student groups such as the UHM Sustainability Corps, Student Organic Farm Training, Sustainable UH and the O‘ahu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation have been working to help make the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus sustainable for everyone.

One of these initiatives is First Green Friday, taking place today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sustainability Courtyard.

Maureen O'Malley, the co-chair of the UHM Sustainability Corps, is heading the event.

"[The] plan is to make the whole campus more sustainable ... [to have] students working on projects," said professor Tony Kuh, chair of the electrical engineering department.

These groups are working to improve communication between students, faculty and administration on sustainability issues. They are also working to provide feedback opportunities for faculty and students and to get more students engaged in sustainability projects with real-world applications.

Various organizations and departments within UH Mānoa have also put together the Kukui Cup challenge, a three-week sustainability competition involving more than 300 freshmen in the residence halls.

The Student Organic Farm Training group has been working on getting food-producing plants planted around campus. There had previously been issues with the initiative, but now there is a system for what happens with the food produced.

Sustainable UH is currently working to reduce single-use plastics on campus. As a part of that initiative, it worked with Andy Lachman to bring in a chilled and filtered water-refilling station to Kuykendall Hall via the locally based company Flo Water. The station will give students an affordable alternative to traditional bottled water while also cutting down on disposable water bottle use. It cost UH Mānoa no money and is the first part of a potentially larger network of stations.

According to Tyneski Quintel, an intern with the Surfrider Foundation, group members will be circulating a petition to ban plastic bags from campus at First Green Friday. The foundation's current campaign is called Rise Above Plastics.

"It's about getting all of these people to work together," said Sam King, co-chair of the UHM Sustainability Corps.

Part two of this column will cover administrative actions and plans for sustainability at UH Mānoa.