By Andrew McGill

Only about a year old, the Sustainability Club is a relatively new student organization that is already making a significant impact on the UWS campus.

The Sustainability Club is directed by advisor Rachel Portinga, who is a biology professor at UWS, and Michaela Schar is the primary student who leads meetings for the club.  Professor Portinga stated, “the organization is dedicated to making the UWS campus more environmentally and socially sustainable by working with and educating students, faculty, administrators, and community members.”  

The Sustainability Club promotes environmental sustainability or ecological balance, which is the state where demands placed on the environment do not reduce the capacity for people to live well now and in the future. A few examples of sustainable living include recycling, buying from companies that use sustainable methods or materials, buying things that are used, not eating meat at every meal, and planting trees.

The examples of sustainability set forth by the club have included educating students by creating recycling signs in campus buildings, such as Swenson Hall and the Yellowjacket Union. Michaela Schar also stated that students have been offered free bamboo straws as an alternative rather than using multiple plastic straws in a day. Over 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States.

The future goals of the Sustainability Club include projects placing recycling bins and containers into Curran-McNeill-Ostrander and Crownhart residence halls. Currently, there is no recycling in the dorms. Many students want to make a difference by recycling.

The club is working with the Residence Hall Association to increase many different sustainable efforts on campus, including donating unclaimed dishes left in the dorm kitchens to Goodwill instead of throwing them away.  This project decreases trash waste and helps those in need.

Abandoned clothes that are left in the laundry rooms in the halls would also be donated to Goodwill or other organizations that could use clothes donations. Again, this greatly decreases trash and helps others at the same time.

The club also plans to list sustainable businesses in the Superior and Duluth area so that students will be informed, and then they can make choices about where to spend their money.  

For something students could use every day, the club is also creating a reusable wrap that covers and keeps food fresh. This would reduce the number of plastic bags used to store food.  

One major future goal of the Sustainability Club is to attend the University of Wisconsin system sustainability meeting to learn new techniques about how more earth friendly efforts can be implemented on campus.   

Students who are interested in learning about sustainability and how to use ecologically friendly practices in their daily lives should join the Sustainability Club.  Anyone who is a student or faculty member at UWS is welcome to join. Schar stated, “The club is a great way to meet new people and learn about sustainable practices.”  

The Sustainability club meets every Tuesday at 5:30 in the Yellowjacket Union in room 203.