At UCSB, every eco-friendly student confidently totes around their sticker-covered Hydro Flask and metal straws that tell the world that they care about the environment and know they look cool while doing it. But what doesn’t look cool is having to go for a walk on the beach alongside Oceanside DP amongst the abandoned red solo cups and beer cans following the latest game of Gaucho Ball.
As home to the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, dozens of environmentally focused organizations, and thousands of environmental studies majors, UCSB is one of the most environmentally conscious colleges in the country.
Just this past month, alumni Kim and Jack Johnson broke ground on a student farm in West Campus that will bring fresh, local produce to the A.S. Food Bank as part of the Edible Campus program in order to further expand UCSB’s on-campus sustainability.
But the problem is not with the environmental infrastructure on campus, it’s with individuals who don’t take the extra step in order to do their part. Throwing a beer can on the ground in someone’s backyard during a dayger is not responsible. Throwing trash on the curb is not responsible. Driving three blocks just to get food is not responsible, because it all adds up.
As announced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, humanity has only 12 years to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level before it is too late to prevent significant damage to the atmosphere. As such, on-campus groups such as AS Recycling or the Environmental Affairs Board can only do so much to educate willing Gauchos on how to do their part to save the planet. Most of the environmental legwork needs to be done by the students of UCSB and the residents of Isla Vista.
Being a friend of the environment extends beyond just listing “hiking” in your Tinder bio. Get involved, even if that means just starting at home. Start with pulling out an actual recycling bin for those red solo cups, because being drunk doesn’t exempt one from littering.
Part of the problem is excusing the problem. Although college only lasts a few years, the sustainable habits you cultivate during your time here extend far beyond that. Your habits here go beyond just campus or I.V. They move up and down the coast with the current. This county is gorgeous and should stay that way.
If you want to become more environmentally conscious, there are lots of resources available to you. AS Recycling has a lot of information on recycling on and off campus in I.V. The website also goes into local e-waste, hazardous waste, and composting. Another great online resource is the UCSB Sustainability website, that lists ways to get involved and fun informative events. Lastly, one of the easiest ways to make a difference is to vote for politicians and legislature that promote a sustainable California.
Regardless of whether individuals feel motivated to help reduce climate change, everyone will be affected. Last year the campus became deserted for fall quarter finals due to the Thomas Fire, which was followed by the tragic Montecito mudslides. These disasters destroyed houses, families, and large portions of the Los Padres National Forest. Devastating environmental disasters of this magnitude are only becoming more frequent across the state of California and across the world.
So, Gauchos and mapaches on and off campus, it is time to raise those metal straws and call on your neighbors and families to start leading environmentally friendly lifestyles that go beyond what’s trendy, because if you don’t change, nature will.