Environmental Issues Gain Energy

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT | Building on the momentum of No. 1 rankings in two top categories at 2019 RecycleMania, Loyola Marymount University’s sustainability office in Facilities Management – Green LMU – is putting energy into three initiatives to involve more of the campus community in environmental issues; to help LMU take the lead among universities by going strawless; and to contribute to the database on trash and plastics in the L.A. environment.

“The environment crises our planet faces are clear,” said Ian McKeown, campus sustainability officer in Facilities Management. “We have experienced horrific fires, extraordinary climate events, increasing pollution, water quality degradation, and air quality issues. This is a human health crisis resulting from anthropogenic factors.

“Through these difficulties, there is global hope. Universities are a tremendous place to enact change and prove new technologies as we are essentially a small-scale city. LMU has an incredible opportunity to bring about change.”

Green LMU has been working on a way to actively engage the LMU community with environmental issues. They have been working with DominoOne, a startup company that works with organizations to allow their community to prioritize the issues that matter to them and vote on how to solve those issues. Green LMU is doing an environmental version of this where students, faculty and staff can prioritize the issues, and then can vote on what changes they think should be made. The goal is to democratize sustainability and use their collective voice to implement change at the university level. To date more than 200 people have made their choices known. Here’s the link to the page: https://loyola.dominoone.org.

Also, the sustainability office was instrumental in LMU becoming the first university in the world to sign with Lonely Whales and their Strawless Ocean campaign. Beginning in the fall, Sodexo locations on campus will supply marine-degradable drinking straws by request only, except in the cases of accessibility need. The Strawless Ocean initiative was started by Lonely Whale with the goal of bringing together ocean health leaders who are working to raise awareness and drive measurable impact around single-use plastics, according to their website.

The third initiative involved the university with took the first TrashBlitz in Los Angeles. Fifteen LMU students went to Dockweiler State Beach to gather and inventory the garbage and plastic waste they found. The site was among 104 across the L.A. watershed to gather data on plastic pollution affecting the Los Angeles environment and document the top polluting items and brands. LMU was one of 25 partnering organizations. The aim of gathering this data is to inform public policy with the results.

McKeown adds, “We are very proud of the ways we are providing opportunity through efforts such as using the DominoOne platform to involve our community, researching the plastics that are chocking our waterways, and ultimately making strides towards eliminating our impact in these areas through groundbreaking policy such as our partnership with the Lonely Whale. The time to act is now. We are an institution that stands on a foundation of social good, it is our moral duty to improve our planet.”