By Katie Pastor- University Apartments
We utilize them everyday. We use an average of 400 gallons of water in them everyday. We acquire an average of 4.3 pounds of waste in them everyday. We generate an average of 18.1 kilowatt-hours of (usually) nonrenewable energy within them everyday.
These are our places of living--places that do not always immediately come to mind when we think of “sustainability.” But that is a mindset we endeavor to change. Thus, we present ourselves as ESLP’s first ever University Apartments Action Research Team, comprised of Anne Cheng, George Yang, Lauren Ogata, Sandro Lallas, and myself, Katie Pastor. As a group, we want to strive to incorporate sustainable practices into students' daily lives because habit--acquired by daily routines at home--is how we believe change is truly taught and evoked. Creating environmentally-friendly routines is what will cause a much-needed paradigm shift toward sustainability, especially in a college neighborhood like Westwood. This year, our team will work with UCLA-owned apartments to implement changes into living spaces that will encourage initiatives such as recycling, composting, reduced water consumption, etc. These practices we plan to encourage are ones that we hope students living in these apartments will learn to love and carry out into the real world, enacting lasting change.
Currently, we are in the brainstorming phase of our two-quarter project. Having convened as a team for the first time just earlier this week, we have already hashed out some ideas for our big project with University Apartments, which we hope will entail an implementation phase followed by an educational phase. Our first meeting with our project stakeholder, Assistant Director of University Apartments Ken MacKenzie, will take place Friday, where we hope to give attention to each research idea and also consider the projects Ken had in mind. Some of our initial ideas for winter quarter implementation include easy access recycling and composting receptacles in the complexes, potential for automatic lighting, shower timers and limited air conditioning. Ideally, we would follow these actions up with an educational component in the spring, such as creating “can this be recycled?” refrigerator magnets for students, or providing statements of monthly energy usage to tenants (something that, at a fixed price, is not currently offered).
One of the things I look forward to most as a leader of this team is watching our initiatives take root on a small scale, and stretch broader and wider as the year elapses. While our daily actions and choices as students may seem negligible, as a collective, we can truly shift the living practices of this university--one apartment complex at a time.