(Rock Hill, S.C.) –- Winthrop University has been recognized in The Princeton Review’s 2018 Guide to 399 Green Colleges for being one of the “most environmentally responsible” schools in the country.
The Princeton Review surveyed more than 2,000 schools to measure their commitment to sustainability, based on academic offerings, campus policies, initiatives, activities and career preparation for students.
The free annual guide highlights Winthrop’s efforts to incorporate recycling into residential halls and promote environmental science degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
“Sustainability is the understanding that social equity, environmental integrity and economic vitality are simultaneously considered as we make decisions that impact future generations,” said Chris Johnson, Winthrop’s sustainability coordinator.
Johnson said Winthrop has introduced a number of new initiatives to increase sustainability.
For example, the school removed trash disposals in classrooms and added centralized stations for recycling.
“The idea here is to make it as convenient as possible for people to have a choice. I’ve got a group of people that are going to recycle, a group of people who aren’t and a larger group of people who will if it’s convenient for them to do so,” he said.
Another initiative includes the school’s Weigh the Waste event that takes place throughout the academic year in the Thomson Dining Hall. During the event, volunteers take left over food after students are done eating and weigh it to show how much food is actually being wasted.
“We get a lot of students that are kind of shocked or they come around the corner annoyed at us for doing this again. That tells me they are aware of it at some level,” said Johnson.
He said the event has helped to lower the amount of food that is wasted and there is usually a decrease in waste from fall to spring.
Winthrop has also partnered with Comporium to promote bike sharing, which provides students with rentable bikes on campus.
“It’s just so convenient. I feel like it’s the new thing to do now. You can rent it for an hour or two and ride it to class. I use it to go get food from nearby places off campus and it’s not that expensive,” said Ryan Jesus, an active bike rider and Winthrop student.
Students are also using the bikes as a source of entertainment.
“My friends and I sometimes get together and all rent out the bikes and ride around campus. It can also be a good first date,” said Jesus.
Students have started to notice the changes around campus, including the size of the plates and trays in the dining hall, which were downsized.
However, Dr. Marsha Bollinger, former chair of the Environmental Sciences and Studies department, said some students were initially annoyed.
“People tend to take more than what they actually consume or perhaps need to consume. So if you present someone with a smaller plate, then they’re going to be less wasteful hopefully,” she said.
Bollinger said Winthrop has also started collecting food waste from its cafeterias to create compost, which the school uses to fertilize plants on campus.
Additionally, the university has partnered with Goodwill Industries to pick up unwanted clothing and furniture, left behind after students move off campus, and make it available to someone in need.
Officials said they hope their efforts will encourage students to make better choices and recognize opportunities to reduce their impact on the environment.