Justin Hall, the research and teaching center of the College of Human Ecology, is making sustainability efforts are larger than those of other departments due to the fact that the entire faculty is very intentional about the matter, and most of them have gone digital. It is rare for teachers to print class materials and there is an emphasis on the reuse of old materials as well.
Barbara Anderson, department head of apparel, textiles and interior design, shared the sustainability practices of the building.
“We reuse things all the time, for example, we maintain used three-ring binders that we provide to students when they need one or more,” Anderson said.
The faculty is briefed on when to incorporate environmental ideas into their curriculum and the department is strategic when it comes to hiring new staff.
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“[We] hire individuals who can support the department’s mission of focusing on the complex issues of sustainability in their courses, their research and even their service roles,” Anderson said.
Donated items are also commonly reused throughout the department.
“The upperclassmen and graduates donate their equipment to be used by the new students coming into the program,” Anderson said. “We also receive donated textiles from the industry, for example, Nike, that our students can use for their projects,”
While the department faculty know how to execute these efforts, the students are a different story.
“There are many studies by Pew, Yale and others that clearly show the varied attitudes and limited knowledge U.S. citizens and individuals around the world have [toward sustainability],” Anderson said.
Margaret Loughman, junior in apparel and textiles marketing, said that sustainability was not at the front of her mind until coming to school at K-State.
“I had never really been environmentally conscious until I took a couple of classes through my department,” Loughman said. “I’m still not the most sustainable person, but I am a lot more mindful of my actions. For example, I always use my own refillable water bottle and I try to minimize my plastic waste. I know it’s small, but at least I know I’m playing a very small part in helping the issue.”
There is a large void that the department is trying to fill through classes and educating students about the long-term effects of their actions.
“I think if we tried harder, we could do better, but it is hard to be on the leading edge of anything,” Anderson said. “Think of all that we could do, bike to campus, be vegetarian, own little, live in a small home, set thermostats at different temperatures, don’t buy things we don’t need, use solar ovens and more like this.”
Sustainability is such a buzz word in today’s world with all of the effects it will have in the long-run. Hannah Eckenroth, junior in apparel and textiles, said she admires Justin’s practices.
“I think it’s really awesome that they are making it a priority to teach students about how our environmental footprint now will affect things in hundreds of years,” Eckenroth said.