By Robert Hill
Being a student at Nelson Mandela University, we are very lucky to have our main campus situated on a nature reserve, with plenty of flora and fauna right on our doorstep. However, with such a pristine campus comes certain responsible actions that we should take to look after our environment. One of the values that we as students at NMU hold is Environmental Stewardship – so how do we practically implement this in order to keep our campus a clean and healthy environment?
The first most important aspect is to make sure that all your rubbish is thrown away in the bins provided, instead of left out where it can blow away and looks bad. Where there are recycling bins provided, these should be used, and rubbish should be split into the appropriate bin. It is important to set an example and make sure to tell others that are littering that what they are doing is wrong. Together we can have a much cleaner campus.
Another way to reduce your environmental impact on campus is to be wise about the mode of transport used to get to campus. The best ways to get to class are to walk or cycle, as these have no emissions of greenhouse gases. However, of course this is not possible for all students. The next best way to get to campus is to use public transport, as this has a much lower impact than a car. But even if you have a car and feel you need to use it to get to campus, you may be able to carpool and pick up friends along the way, meaning that less cars are driving to campus, reducing your individual environmental impact.
You can also reduce your environmental impact by bringing your own lunch to campus. This will mean you do not need to buy lunch in disposable containers, which increases waste.
Besides these individual actions we can take to reducing our environmental impact, NMU itself has many programmes and initiatives in place to ensure that the value of environmental stewardship is lived out. In the current situation with a long-term drought in Nelson Mandela Bay, the university has embarked on awareness campaigns to reduce water usage. This includes the putting up of posters and stickers in an attempt to create awareness among all water users. This also includes detailed information on how much water is used on campus, while highlighting successes in reducing water usage using modern technology in all new buildings, particularly the new residence buildings on campus.
In terms of electricity, in recent years there has been a move towards photovoltaic (solar) panels to generate electricity and move away from non-renewable sources of energy. This has, most notably, included the construction of a large 2-hectare site of solar panels on South Campus in 2018, which delivers around 10 percent of the campus electricity needs. Furthermore, messaging about the importance of saving electricity is conveyed through the university’s communication channels.
Lastly, the university is continuing its efforts to ensure that waste generation is kept to minimal level. This has included minimising the amount of printing done over the past few years, as well as monitoring and encouraging recycling on campus, in an effort to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Through all these individual and collective actions, we can see that we can make a difference! With responsible actions, NMU can lead the way in environmental sustainability – and we all have our part to play to make this happen.