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Sustainability booklet enters the market

BY LILY ABROMEIT | SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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To better coincide with recently enacted measures, local student government officials are hoping a new information platform can be the desired driving force in encouraging further day-to-day sustainability practices.

But the efforts, they say, are not exclusive to a college campus setting. Rather, they hope awareness will extend to the greater Iowa City community.

Since the University of Iowa created seven targets for sustainability in 2010, aimed at reaching the goal of 60 percent waste-diversion and 40 percent renewable-energy consumption on campus by 2020, UISG has constructed numerous projects that embrace these targets.

The group’s latest project, “20 Steps to Sustainability by 2020,” an informative booklet, centers on one target, student success in sustainability.

“What we want is to put information in the hands of students that’s locally specific,” UISG President Katherine Valde said.

To make this possible, Valde worked under the Summer of Solutions umbrella to create one comprehensive document that would outline various sustainability measures.

That grass-roots organization develops locally focused endeavors aimed at educating and encouraging citizens to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

Making this project relatable to students was an important part of getting them to engage, Valde said.

“I think a lot of students are environmentally conscious and if not, a lot of students are conscious about saving money and I think often times the two go hand and hand,” she said.

Elizabeth Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability, said she thinks showing students that money and sustainability are linked will provide an incentive for them to be more environmentally conscious.

“In many cases, the dollar is the most effective tool [students] have and … by making smart choices regarding what they buy [they] can really reduce their carbon footprint,” Christiansen said.

An effective tool is exactly what UISG is attempting to accomplish with this booklet, UISG sustainability liaison Jeffrey Ding said.

“… It’s basically just a resource … whether it’s weatherization, just buying different appliances for your apartment or your home, how to recycle, how to compost, how to monitor electricity use,” he said.

Taking steps every day to live a more conscious life, Valde said, is what she hopes to see students do as a result of this project.

“Well, I just hope that if people have that information that they can use it and at least be aware in their daily choices that they make,” Valde said. “I just think that it’s a really comprehensive tool.”

Roughly 100 booklets have been printed on 100 percent post-consumer content paper as of Sunday and should be available to students on Wednesday.

Plans also call for online availability.

Eventually, Valde said UISG plans to hand the project completely over to the sustainability committee, which will in turn, work on a campaign that should launch sometime in April.

In the meantime, Valde said, the booklets would be available for students to thumb through at upcoming UISG events, including a Wednesday bike-sharing information event.

For Ding, having the booklet accessible will help people hone in on a more concentrated sustainable way of life.

“It’s an easy way to connect the big picture with ‘what can you do locally, what can [you] do every day, what can you do right now,’ ” he said.


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