Colleges and Universities are, at their core, geared toward cultivating and transforming young individuals into tomorrow’s leaders. What is frequently glossed over however is that once these men and women are in a position of power, how will they use it? Business Schools in particular focus too much on bottom lines and balance sheets rather than the growing trend of Corporate Social Responsibility. While leaders are being cultivated, they are not necessarily being provoked to think in terms of sustainability and the green movement.
A transformation needs to occur so that students are not only cultivated to lead, but lead in areas of and in thoughts of sustainability. The benefits of provoking individuals to make decisions with sustainability in mind have far reaching effects beyond the environment as young people have the ability to reach a massive audience quickly. The sustainability movement was fostered with the environment as its focus, but it does not mean students with other interests cannot benefit. For example, entrepreneurial students looking to start a restaurant can use ideas of sustainability to grow their own herbs and use waste leftover from uneaten food as compost to aid the soil in which the herbs grow. The key is to provoke students to make decisions, in whatever field they may be interested in, with sustainability in mind. Taking this step to integrate thoughts of sustainability within the curriculum will allow our generation, and future generations to not only live green, but be green.
Today’s young think tanks, also known as universities, are the center of movements of equality, and more recently sustainability. Recently, over 90 colleges and universities have taken upon themselves to limit the use of plastic bottles on campus. While some colleges such as Yale and Cornell have banned the use of plastic bottles outright, others are in the midst of turning their campuses into models of efficiency and sustainability.
These schools have thus replaced the old mosaic of purchasing water bottles with hydration stations, which are placed strategically around their respective campuses, and provide free filtered water. In addition, incoming freshman are given free aluminum bottles at student orientation to promote the use of this sustainable feature.
While some fear the ban of plastics will actually promote the consumption of sugary substitutes, the truth of the matter is that as long as students do not have to go out of their way to re-hydrate, and it is of no cost to them, the hydration stations will be a success. Anytime you can promote the idea of sustainability you should. And anytime this ideal crosses paths with consumerism driven and educated twenty-something-year-olds there is bound to be success. Whether or not we like it, college students drive a tremendous amount of demand for goods and services, and whose opinions matter significantly to marketers. As a recently graduated college student, I am proud to see that the opinions of young people are beginning to focus more and more about sustainability and the green movement rather than Snooki and JWow. Together we can strive to live green, and be green while making socially responsible decisions.