We are excited to announce our new Environmental Studies Concentration, being offered to students as of this fall. This 19-semester-hour program provides an interdisciplinary framework that promotes understanding of humanity’s impact on the natural environment and how the natural environment impacts human development; a critical appreciation of the importance of sustainability; and the central importance of integrating the work of the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities for a holistic and meaningful understanding of any environmental issue or problem. For more details, visit: www.oakton.edu
Over the past two years, our waste diversion efforts have really ramped up. We were able to increase our zero-waste events from one to six, implemented a new waste/recycling collection system, and successfully completed a composting pilot project at our Skokie campus in the kitchen and early childhood education centers. This year, we have expanded our composting efforts to the dining area of Skokie’s campus and the early childhood program at Des Plaines. From 2014 to 2016, our diversion rates increased by 55% and our total waste kept from landfills was nearly 80 tons.
Ban the Bottle Campaign
This past spring, after over a year of research and campaigning on the part of students, our President accepted their challenge to “Ban the Bottle” on Oakton’s campuses. Bottling water turns a public resource into a private commodity, reducing the availability of fresh water available for ecosystems and community use. The end product also costs up to 2000% more than filtered tap water from the source. In addition, bottling water uses a number of resources and the plastic bottles often end up in landfills and waterways rather than being recycled. Beginning winter 2016, single-serve plastic water bottles will no longer be sold on campus in our dining areas, vending machines, or catered events. In order to ease this transition, all new students began receiving a reusable aluminum water bottle at orientation and other student events this past school year (thanks to a generous grant by Oakton’s Educational Foundation). We have added three new water bottle refill stations at drinking fountain locations and plan to put at least two more on each campus this semester. We will also sell the bottles in our bookstores and dining areas for visitors who do not have their own. We hope this will draw attention to the social and environmental impacts of single-use plastic bottled water and reduce our waste on campus.