Importance of environmental service

The environment is the basis of all life on earth. Without it, we simply would not survive as humans. Our entire environment is a series of cycles and systems. Each aspect, whether it be an earthworm underground or even a fearsome lion, has its own small contribution (or niche) that ultimately benefits the greater good. Service is a lot like the environment. Service is a way people can contribute to a greater cause or purpose through a series of small actions. For instance, removing invasive species prevents the native plants form being overrun and becoming extinct in a certain area. And marking storm drains and giving homeowners pamphlets on lawn use can prevent them from creating habits that can pollute the local waterways.

How to become more sustainable

Sustainability is key to having a greener, healthier environment. Sustainable living can not only benefit yourself, but also everything around you. The average US resident will contribute 20 metric tons of CO2 into the environment per year and most people don’t even know they’re doing it! By simply driving your car to work, you are adding numerous emissions into the air. Sustainable living encourages public transport, carpooling, or even biking. On average, public transportation reduces carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. Sustainable living also involves smaller changes like bringing a reusable bag with you to the grocery store or expanding the amount of waste you recycle. Small changes here and there help to reduce your carbon footprint and make a difference, help the environment, and make a difference. When numerous people make small contributions, it amounts to something much larger.

What You Can Do

Waste

  • Reduce the amount of waste you take in or produce, Reuse that waste (containers, plastic bags, etc.), THEN Recycle it.
  • Buy in bulk, and bring your own reusable containers to eliminate wasteful packaging.
  • Installing a recycling and composting system at home and work
  • Educate your peers by showing them how to compost and recycle
  • If purchasing disposable food ware, make sure they are compostable
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle to reduce waste and save money

Energy

  • Installing energy efficient lighting fixtures (use fluorescent light bulbs)
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as light’s and TV’s
  • Look into renewable energy for your home such as solar panels for your roof!

Water

  • Planting native plants for landscaping
  • Installing low-flow appliances (Fill a water bottle with water and put it in the tank of your toilet to displace the water so the toilet uses less water each flush).
  • Irrigating at night/morning so less water is evaporated
  • Mulching garden beds
  • Eat less meat. The amount of water needed to feed a meat eater for a month is the same amount needed to feed a vegetarian for a year.

Transportation

  • Riding your bike to work, home, or play
  • Taking public transportation and utilize UCF Shuttle Service
  • Carpool with friends, family, and coworkers
  • Turn off your vehicle when in idle!

How have we gotten here today with climate change

Climate Change is not a hoax. It is very, very real and is making a huge impact on our environment. It’s a well known fact that the earth’s climate naturally cycles. In fact, it cycles in 100,000 year intervals going from cold period to warm period and back. However, it is also a fact that today’s climate change has never been as drastic as it previously was. Take the 500,000-year-old great barrier reef, which has experienced natural climate change at least 4 times throughout its lifespan. Parts of the great barrier reef have become bleached- meaning the coral is dying- and this has never happened before…and worst of all, the coral are not dying of natural causes. The gradual warming of the ocean is what’s killing these corals and the culprit is human consumption. Oil drilling, coal mining, fracking, mass food production, the list goes on and on. For years, we have been contributing to this phenomenon without even knowing. And now, we’re beginning to see its effects. Each action has a huge, detrimental effect to our ozone layer, which in turn can make the temperature hotter. In fact, 2016 has been the hottest year in recorded history with each month throughout the year breaking records. With global warming also comes unreasonably long colder winters and more drastic, unpredictable weather. This is why climate change is such a significant issue in today’s world. If we don’t take action now, our future could be filled with unpredictable and drastic natural events.

Burnett Honors  bench at sunset

Importance of education and political involvement

Political involvement is a major role player when it comes to our environment. When politicians address climate change and spearhead laws regarding this event, more gets done. Furthermore, our government provides tax breaks for those who live a more sustainable life style. For instance, if you have a green car, whether it be hybrids or electric cars, the government will give you tax credit- meaning you will pay less taxes than you would if you had a normal car. Not to mention, for those who live off the grid and use solar panels, while paying no cost to energy companies, you could even sell back the extra energy you’re not using to those energy companies. This is a great way to make some extra cash. The government also provides tax incentives to companies who opt for more environmentally friendly practices over those who don’t. Although these tax breaks provide incentive, there are still many people who don’t understand the grave ramifications of climate change. This is why education Is so important when it comes to this topic. If more people knew about the negative effects that come with climate change, the science behind it and how this could personally effect people, there would be more action and need for change.

What UCF is and can do to improve its sustainability

The University of Central Florida is a diverse, innovative university that prides itself on research and achieving excellence. While UCF strives to become more sustainable by updating buildings to be more environmentally friendly, there is still much more that can be done. For instance, adding more recycling bins to campus so that we can reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills, or employing the use of more renewable energy to help power the university. Although UCF is taking action, there is still much more that can be done.

Buildings

Buildings represent one of our greatest sustainability opportunities and challenges. To evolve as a center of learning, pursue world-changing research and respond to pressing environmental concerns, UCF designs and creates buildings that use resources wisely and provide healthy, productive environments.
Energy use: Reducing our energy usage is integral to creating a sustainable campus. As a premier research institution with a voracious energy appetite, this can often times prove to be challenging. However, with UCF’s growth, we have experienced a steady reduction. In the State of Florida, UCF has made unprecedented steps to deploy the latest energy efficiency technologies and implement energy conservation strategies.

Transportation

Once considered a small commuter and technology school, UCF now claims the second largest student population in the country. As our population increases, we are taking pointed steps to reduce transportation carbon emissions. Our Black and Gold line, off-campus Shuttle Service, Bike Share program and Car sharing network are moving us towards a greener tomorrow.

Food

UCF Dining is committed to providing sustainable, locally-produced foods whenever possible. These efforts help decrease pollution from pesticides and chemicals, reduce energy use, support local small businesses, and provide fresh and delicious meals.
Waste: The EPA estimates that the average American generates 4.3 lbs of waste a day and more than half is sent to the landfill. In the next five years, our goal is to divert 75% of waste from the landfill. Reducing the amount of waste UCF generates not only preserves land but also saves energy and water, reduces our greenhouse gas emissions and preserves natural resources.

Water

Surrounded on three sides by water bodies, Florida also has thousands of lakes, and several streams and rivers. With water seemingly in excess, many may not readily recognize our need to conserve. Water plays a vital role in our quality of life, recreation, agriculture and economy. Having enough water to meet our needs while protecting our environment is critical.

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