With Pope Francis due to address a joint session of Congress Sept. 24 on the worldwide impact of climate change, it is vital that the Georgetown community look introspectively to further the promotion of environmental justice on campus.
Plastic, nonbiodegradable utensils are still excessively used in on-campus food locations like Hoya Court. For a university committed to sustainability efforts, the amount of plastic waste generated in these locations is unacceptable.
These food service locations should follow the example of O’Donovan Hall. While not usually put forth as a paragon of virtue by this editorial board, last year, Leo’s workers began to compost more than of 25 million tons of waste each month, according to Auxiliary Services.
Since Hoya Court cannot provide real, washable utensils like Leo’s due to inadequate washing space, it can replace plastic utensils with starch-based polymers or biodegradable plastics. Although there is some debate on the environmental impact of bio-plastics, the production and use of such materials is regarded as more sustainable than the plastic currently being used for utensils.
To those who maintain that the cost of such a change would be prohibitive on an institutional level, Georgetown has already devoted sizable amounts of money to programs through the Office of Sustainability.
Therefore, the Office of Sustainability has it within its to support such change with relative ease.
Ideas like these, paired with formal discussions of Pope Francis’ encyclical, will ensure that Georgetown remains at the forefront of sustainability efforts. The pope’s presence in Washington ought to fuel discussions on campus about what other changes can be pursued to further environmental justice.
Georgetown should invest in sustainability and environmental justice by discouraging the “throwaway” culture in favor of a “circular” culture in which resources are reused, refurbished or recycled. Biodegradable forks and knives are a good way to start.