While our enrollment may have seen a 16 percent increase in the incoming freshmen class (welcome new tigers), it feels as though the MU Sustainability Office has seen an even bigger increase in support for sustainability this semester. Our BRC mechanics are frequently kept busy with students waiting in line for basic bike repairs, several of our food vendors at the Campus Farmer’s Market have sold out this season and Tiger Tailgate Recycling has had a surge in volunteers.

The Sustainability Office is grateful for the continued support from the students, staff and faculty. We have dedicated this article to providing you with information on frequently asked questions and ways you can continue your sustainable efforts on or off-campus.

Why is sustainability an important topic for us to discuss?

“Sustainability is super important for us to be talking about because it touches so many various aspects of our lives,” said MU Sustainability Student Intern Brock Andreasen. “Everybody loves something that is impacted by sustainability! Like art? Having healthy communities that can come together and share things like art are a product of sustainability.”

“Like spending time helping others? Volunteerism is a great starting block to being sustainable and building a better community.”

“Personally I love to fish, and what screams sustainability quite like standing in the middle of a nice pristine river?”

“Sustainability should be an integral part of our everyday communication because when one aspect of sustainability suffers, the things we love suffer as a result.”

“One personal story of this for me has been the battle over the establishment of what would be the largest North American mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. If I can convince more people to recycle or use less metal through our Sustainability Office, then I can do my part to help stop mines from invading pristine wilderness (and great fishing spots!).”

“The more we talk about sustainability, the more we can start to see the inter-relatedness of it all, and how the economic and social affects the environment,” Andreasen added.

“Because of all this relatedness, there are a plethora of everyday things each and every one of us can do to help out sustainability and the things we love! But none of that happens if we don’t get out and talk about sustainability in the first place! This office has been like a megaphone for me, and I strongly encourage everyone reading this to utilize it as such in a way that shows everyone how sustainability really is important to them!”

There are many different solutions to the problems we face as a society, however many of these solutions simply act as band-aids. To me, it’s only the sustainable solutions that are worth discussing. – MU Sustainability Student Intern, Kathryn Kidd.

What all does MU Sustainability provide for campus?

The mission of MU Sustainability is to ingrain sustainability principles of social equity, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity while integrating campus operations, academics and research.

When MU Sustainability isn’t providing mentorship to students, staff and faculty who are interested in expanding their sustainability efforts, the team is giving sustainability-focused presentations, teaching sustainability-focused classes, providing a large list of programs, hosting sustainability-focused events, writing about others’ sustainable efforts found across campus, and collaborating with organizations/student clubs who are hosting sustainable events.

Additionally, MU measures its sustainability progress using a tool called STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System). STARS has 65 categories by which to measure such progress. Our office collects data for each category by working with the various departments and offices on campus.

Currently, MU is rated STARS Gold and ranks second in the SEC behind Texas A&M!

If I want to learn more within the classroom setting, does MU offer courses in sustainability?

Yes, we sure do! The University of Missouri offers various undergraduate and graduate sustainability-focused courses. Please speak with your adviser to learn more about such opportunities!

What programs and volunteer opportunities do you offer for students?

  • Bike Resource Center – free bike repairs for students
  • Campus Farmers Market – yummy food, plants, art, retro finds and so much more can be found at our campus markets.
  • Tiger Tailgate Recycling – volunteer to hand out recycling bags to tailgaters before a home football game begins to spread environmental awareness
  • Student Ambassadors – students offering presentations for fellow peers, departments and organizations who would like to learn more about various aspects of sustainability
  • Tiger Treasures – help us divert TONS of great items from the landfill at move-out by shopping at our huge rummage sale that occurs after the school year has ended
  • MU Clothing Swap – a great way to recycle your gently used clothing for new to you pieces
  • Waste Audits – volunteer to help us measure the recycling and waste rates of campus buildings so we can find our areas of weakness and boost our recycling rates
  • Sustainability Library – learn more about sustainability by checking out one of our 80+ sustainability-focused books
  • Recyclemania – an 8-week competition amongst 300+ colleges across the nation where we measure how well we are recycling
  • Water Bottle Reuse – need a reusable water bottle? Stop by our office to grab one, free of charge.

For more information on each program, such as times, dates, locations please visit: https://sustainability.missouri.edu/programs/

Our office also promotes sustainability across campus and in our community by offering students the option to earn a Green Volunteer Certificate. For more information on qualifying events and how you can add this to your resume visit: https://sustainability.missouri.edu/get-involved/green-volunteer-list/

I’m seeing news articles, podcasts and videos talking about the state of our planet and I’m overwhelmed. Where do I start or what can I do to make a difference?

When seeing news article after news article about the shape of our environment, our society and our economy it can become daunting on how to make a positive change. The question may become, “What can I do?”

However, whether you’re a student, staff, faculty or community member there are a variety of ways that you can make a difference.

Take a peek at our article from this past June titled Set Sustainable Goals This Summer for a more comprehensive list, but here’s four bullet points of possibilities to get you started:

  • Become more involved in civic engagement. Whether you are participating in MSA, LBC or City government, civic engagement can help us understand and contribute to ourselves as well as our community.
  • Be a conscious consumer when and where possible. Before you throw out your ripped shirt or that broken cell phone ask yourself, can this item be repaired by me or someone I know?
  • Cut back on non-reusable products by replacing them with reusable options that you can take on the go. For example, consider taking a reusable thermos to grab your morning coffee. Often times, coffee shops even offer a discount when you bring your own thermos/water bottle, whether you order inside or at the drive-through.
  • Consider joining one of many campus or community organizations dedicated to helping others and/or helping the environment. From Mizzou Eco Racing to MU’s Tiger Pantry, there’s something for everyone.