Survey shows Loyola students support sustainability

By Akanksha Jayanthi

Loyola University Chicago students show strong support for the university’s environmental sustainability practices, including the recent ban on the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, according to a new survey.

Of the sampling of 105 students, 35 percent said it is very important that Loyola has incorporated sustainability efforts as part of its mission as opposed to only 5 percent who said it is not important. Additionally, 57 percent of students say they support the ban of the sale of plastic water bottles while 20 percent say they oppose it.

The survey was conducted in December by students in the School of Communication’s Journalism Research Methods class. Students designed the survey and asked Loyola students to respond. The survey is not scientific, but it does offer a snapshot as to how Loyola students feel about the university’s sustainability efforts, including recycling, the use of cafeteria grease to fuel the school’s shuttle buses, and the recent ban on the sale of bottled water on campus.

To view results of the entire survey, click here: SURVEY

How important is it to you that Loyola has incorporated sustainability efforts as part of its mission?
Not important 5 5%
Slightly important 12 11%
Moderately important 16 15%
Important 35 33%
Very Important 37 35%

The ban on the sale of plastic water bottles was implemented in the Fall 2012 semester with bottles being slowly phased out of the dining halls and vending machines. Thirty-five water refill stations have been installed throughout the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses.

The Unified Student Government Association proposed this ban two years ago on the grounds of water privatization and social justice saying that companies go into third world countries and cut peoples’ access to their water source.

“The global issue wasn’t waste,” said Aaron Durnbaugh, director of sustainability at Loyola, in reference to the reasoning for the ban. “The global issue was that somebody else somewhere in the world doesn’t have access to safe, clean drinking water.”

While the main reason for the ban lies in the realm of social justice, supporters of it are still glad it is helping cut back on plastic usage.

“We have an impact in preserving these environments because there is innate value in nature,” said Jeff Duggan, a senior physics and math major. “It’s not just a resource to humans.”

Hannah James, a sophomore art history major, said that using reusable water bottles should not be a difficult habit to pick up.

“Everybody has a backpack and everybody can buy a water bottle. It’s not that inconvenient,” she said.

What’s your stance on Loyola’s ban on the sale of plastic water bottles?
Unaware 5 5%
Neutral 11 10%
Don’t Care 7 7%
Support 60 57%
Oppose 21 20%

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they use a reusable water bottle. Additionally, 50 percent of those who said they oppose the ban also said they still use reusable water bottles.

Opponents of the ban cite issues such as limited personal choice and the continued sale of other products like soft drinks that are sold in plastic bottles as reasons why they don’t support or understand the motion.

Ashton Mitchell, a senior communication studies major, said that while she supports the ban, she understands the case for opposition.

“When we take away people’s ability to make decisions for ourselves, we are doing a disservice to ourselves. There is a sense of personal freedom being lost,” she said.

Durnbaugh said that the only case against the ban he thinks is feasible is that the alternatives for bottled water present may not be a healthy choice, such as lemonade or drinks with sugar.

“Sure there’s things we can do to make it a little better, like making sure we have healthy options,” said Durnbaugh. “But those are little details. They aren’t reasons not to do it.”

What specific sustainability actions do you take?
Recycling 82 78%
Reusable water bottle 79 75%
Composting 6 6%
Public transportation 91 87%
Campus shuttle 87 83%
Cycling 20 19%
Walking 86 82%
Conserving electricity 60 57%
Reusable bags 59 56%
Conserving water 43 41%
Other 3 3%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Among other findings of the survey:

  • A large majority of Loyola students say they frequently recycle, use reusable water bottles, take public transportation or the campus shuttle bus, and walk as part of their sustainability efforts.
  • Some 37 percent of students use reusable water bottles always, 25 percent use them often, while 19 percent use them occasionally.
  • About 35 percent of students think the university’s sustainability effort is very important, 33 percent feel its important, an 15 percent moderately important.

To view results of the entire survey, click here: SURVEY


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