Since sustainability became one of its core values in 2008,UNM has pushed for a greener campus, but student apathy has hindered efforts.
Mary Clark, program specialist at the Office of Sustainability, said UNM has an award-winning recycling program with a 40 percent diversion rate (the percentage of waste that is recycled). She said students think the department isn’t doing enough to encourage participation in sustainability efforts.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of that is because we’re an ever-changing population, and we need to keep educating them,” she said.
Linda McCormick, the resource conservation manager, said the recycling program that began in the early 90s didn’t involve students, but she has taken steps to curb the issue.
“It was set absolutely without students. It just serviced all the buildings and departments — didn’t have anything to do with the dorms,” she said. “So, we’re playing catch-up now, trying to include the dorms and students in the program.”
Student Jennifer Wright said no one has approached her about getting involved in sustainable efforts. She said more can be done to make the University eco-conscious.
“All I really see is recycling bins around school, and occasionally I’ll hear about little events that are happening that are green-friendly,” she said.
Yet the problem isn’t easily fixable.
Jeff Zumwalt, associate director of Utilities, said some students’ sustainability ideas are implausible. He said there are alternative solutions that are not costly.
“Some say, ‘There should be solar panels in all the buildings,’” he said. “Well, where are we going to get that kind of money? If they don’t see a wind turbine on campus, then we’re not doing our job.”
Student Austin Morrell said recycling has improved since he’s been on campus, but students show little concern for sustainability efforts.
“I think most people aren’t completely indifferent to it, but day-to-day, it’s not something that crosses their minds,” he said.