Policies are written guidelines that help to influence and determine decisions and actions. In order to be effective, they must be agreed upon, followed, and enforced. Creating a Campus Environmental Policy will be extremely beneficial to any recycling or other sustainability efforts on campus because it will formalize the university's commitment to inspire future sustainability and environmental stewardship, and support existing campus environmental efforts.
Policies, like laws, are not as effective unless enforceable, but nevertheless provide valuable mechanisms for building bridges and ultimately protecting and strengthening campus environmental programs. Having an overarching, or “umbrella,” environmental or sustainability policy in place will open the door for more specific sub-policies in the future. Policy implementation requires extensive networking through notification and follow-through, but ultimately, education is the key element in making conservation the practice instead of the exception.
MAKE CONSERVATION THE RULE AND WASTE THE EXCEPTION!
Ten Steps for Developing a Campus Environmental Policy
1) Find out how the campus is governed. There may be a clear path for policy writing and approval or the path may be very convoluted.
2) Research existing environmental policies on other campuses for more ideas.
3) Enlist the Campus Environmental Issues Committee or other interested organizations on campus to help create environmental policies.
4) Determine whether a general policy or a comprehensive policy will be most appropriate for the campus.
5) Research any existing federal, state, and local laws that support the need for a campus environmental policy and cite them in the policy.
6) Submit the policy to the appropriate campus entities (generally administrators and the board of directors) for approval.
7) Encourage student government to pass a campus “bill” in support of a policy in order to continue to influence the administrators who will ultimately decide whether or not to adopt a campus environmental policy.
8) Make a plan to implement the policy. This plan can be included as part of the policy or can stand alone as a separate document. Include the following in the policy implementation plan:
9) Treat the policy and plan as a living document. Sustainability efforts must be flexible in order to be effective: periodically review and update the policy so that it adheres to any new environmental laws and sustainability trends and revisit the strategies in the plan in order to increase effectiveness over time.
10) Continually remind and educate the campus community about campus environmental policies
IMPLEMENTATION COMES FROM EDUCATION!
Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) Talloires Declaration
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Sustainable School and Campus Policies
UO Comprehensive Environmental Policy
UO Confidential Materials Policy