We share rides, Bernd Rossa and I. It’s no big deal. But now that it has become a habit, we both agree that it seems a good and responsible thing to do. Plus we enjoy it.
Since I?ve been at Xavier, I?ve had two experiments with meal sharing, both of which have been helpful and positive. Food cooperatives are a terrific way to accomplish multiple goals: saving time on food preparation, saving money in food purchasing, gaining support and reinforcement for one?s own ideological commitments (e.g., organic ingredients; low-fat, healthy meal preparation, vegetarian or vegan commitments, using only locally grown produce, etc.), and, depending upon how it?s done, building community. There isn?t a right or wrong way to put together a dinner co-op. The most important thing I?ve found is that keeping lines of communication open and doing regular assessment of the program that a group establishes is important to success, both short and long term.
Department of History
To help put all this in perspective, the average American generates about 41 pounds of CO2 a day. Sustainability estimates put the world’s ability to continuously absorb carbon emissions at about 9 pounds/person/day. By keeping lights off in my office and classroom (most of the time), I can reduce that “average” number by about 1.8 pounds a day, a 4.3-percent decrease from the average of 41 pounds/day.
Scholars may disagree over how many laborers were needed to build Egypt’s pyramids. But no one?except those promoting alien theories?appears to argue that it required many people working together, one small step at a time. It seems to me that this approach is generally mirrored in many of the actions we take in the name of sustainability: It’s in the aggregate that the true value of the effort is revealed.
McGrath Health and Counseling Center
I am really proud of the way the staff of the McGrath Health and Counseling Center embraced recycling. All of our staff is committed to the effort, and we now recycle approximately 50 percent of our waste. But that wasn?t always the case.
Just two years ago, many in our office bypassed the few-and-far-between recycling bins for the trash can. When I wondered aloud why this happened, I heard comments indicating confusion about what could and could not be recycled, worries about unsightly bins and empty pop cans attracting bugs, and a common disbelief that anything was truly being recycled.