An update from Jewel, a sophomore environmental science major:

Jewel and Gwen with mint and lavender seed packetsIt’s not a secret that SMU prides itself on its beautiful campus. Our grass is always green and our petals are always perky.

I love that about SMU, but at the AASHE conference in LA I’ve found feasible ways to do something at SMU that I love even more: sustainability. We could walk past a tree on campus and pick a peach to eat. The rain that periodically floods the Boulevard could flow down garden beds into a rainwater harvest system. That water could be treated by flowering plants in a greenhouse. The food waste from Umph could be composted in our community garden, and the herbs, vegetables, and fruit grown there could go back to Umph.

We could have fresher food and cleaner water. And get this – it would be saving us money. You might think the savings would take decades, but at other schools these sustainability investments pay themselves back in just a few years. (check out Emory and UMass Amherst).

When we grow food and clean water on campus, we lose those transportation costs, gain independence, and create opportunity for students to really take ownership of their campus home.

Our campus is lovely, yes. But I see beauty as a more holistic ideal, where the pretty flowers have the greater purpose of making SMU sustainable.

It takes quite a bit of brain/man power to make these ideas reality, but honestly, it’s just such a worthwhile goal. For inspiration during the planning process, Gwen and I will grow mint and lavender on our windowsills.