Stellenbosch University celebrated Earth Day (22 April 2021) for the first time with a week-long programme of activities on the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses to raise awareness for sustainability. From new vegetable gardens at residences, a webinar on restoring the earth, tree planting at the Ou Hoofgebou, to climbing on the roof of Die Neelsie for a glimpse into the first of its size photovoltaic plant on campus were items on the programme for the week of 19 to 23 April 2021.
Students also organised various engagement sessions, such as giving away Spekbome on campus, conducting critical discussions, watching documentaries, beach cleanups and online awareness campaigns.
John de Wet, SU's environmental sustainability manager at Facilities Management, and project coordinator Christine Groenewald, played host during the week to inform students and other guests about the projects already in place to help make SU an environmentally sustainable university.
This year's Earth Day theme is “Restore our Earth", covering natural processes, merging green technologies, and innovations to restore the world's ecosystems.
In a webinar, John, Christine and colleagues Dannica Pedro and Taariq Fakier raised awareness around the health of planet earth and made people aware of significant projects underway to reduce SU's carbon footprint. “SU is committed to reducing the impact caused by its business and operations on the environment and its natural resources. We also provide our graduates with the necessary skills and tools to contribute to an environmentally sustainable world through knowledge and research," said John.
SU's new Environmental Sustainability Plan for the next five years will guide the University into the future to ensure that our campuses become environmental and ecologically sustainable.
Says John: “The plan guide and prioritise the environmental projects for investigation and implementation. This will result in more resilient greener campuses, reduced operational costs and a reduction in emissions and our carbon footprint."
Currently, there are a few practical projects and interventions underway at Facilities Management as part of the journey to decarbonise our operations, such as the newly installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Neelsie Student Centre. Similar installations of PV panels will be completed within the next five years on our campuses.
John also mentioned the successful installation of a greywater-system on campus and interventions such as water-efficient fittings and installed.
The Earth Week Awareness campaign has set the pace for various information interventions to follow on campus. In her part of the presentation, Christine focused on the importance of responsible behaviour and how important it is to consider our choices when it comes to simple things like washing your hands under a running tap. “I always tell people: chose one action a month that will have a positive impact on our environment, and after a year, you have formed twelve new habits."
The team urged staff and students to get involved and link up with like-minded individuals to create extra motivation, ideas, and energy to preserve and restore our planet.
If you are interested in becoming involved in a campus network that connects individuals who want to help establish an environmentally sustainable culture that actively works towards reducing SU's carbon footprint, please contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dannica at email@example.com.