NO PLANET B: A Day in the Life of a Marquette Student in 2030: A Sustainable Future

This is a column part of a monthly series called “No Planet B” written by Sustainability & Energy Management Coordinator Chelsea Malacara and her sustainability interns. This series aims to provide insight on how we can begin to think and make sustainable choices on campus for a better future. 

Imagine it is 2030 and you have decided to attend Marquette University. Your decision process included many factors but one that stood out was Marquette’s programs and initiatives that support sustainable development while preparing students to contribute to a world faced with the impacts of climate change. You also learned that Marquette continues to uphold its commitment to the Saint Francis Pledge in accordance with the University’s Jesuit Catholic principles. In the twelve years since the first Campus Sustainability Plan was endorsed by university leadership, you are living on campus, you are a freshman in 2030 and begin to discover all the ways that Marquette has exceeded its sustainability goals and the way sustainable living is an inherent part of the campus culture.

7:00 am: 

Your alarm goes off, and it is the first day of classes at Marquette University! You are finally feeling settled in your room in The Commons. The room decor consists of secondhand furniture and items that you purchased at the Marquette Move-In Yard Sale – an initiative that reduces the amount of waste on campus by way of a circular economy infrastructure.

7:10 am: 

When it’s time to take a shower you set the timer to 6 minutes. Shower timers have been installed in residence halls and university-owned apartments to inform users how much water is being consumed and when to turn the water off to conserve water. This initiative helped the university reach its goal to reduce water usage on campus by 10% by 2025.

7:25 am:

As you finish getting ready, your roommate tells you that Marquette has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025 by installing solar panels on campus. You think it’s cool to know that so much of the energy you use is powered by the sun and not fossil fuels! You also notice all the lights in your dorm are LED.

8:00 am:

It’s time for breakfast in The Commons dining hall where you can dine on a variety of vegan and vegetarian options. Marquette has prioritized incorporating plant-based eating across campus and has set local food procurement goals to support local farms and food producers.

Once you are finished eating, you follow the directions posted in the waste area and find that not only is there a place to dispose of recycling and trash, but food scraps too. These get hauled off site and are turned into compost. This endeavor alone helped Marquette achieve a waste diversion rate of 25% which the university has recently increased to 40%. You learned about this during freshman orientation week. 

9:50 am: 

You just finished your first class of the day – an English course on Indigenous art and activism in changing climates. On your way to your next class, you notice how many people are riding bikes. Marquette has a Bublr Bike rack and four bike repair stations that have increased bike usage around campus. You might be thinking about getting a bike yourself. If that’s the case, Marquette has a partnership with a local bike shop so that any student can rent, purchase, or build their own bike for a reduced cost!

11:00 am:

On your break, you decide to sneak in a quick stop at the edible food forest next to the AMU. It’s autumn and all the apple and pear trees are bursting with fruit! You grab a light snack there and head to the pollinator gardens by Joan of Arc to shut your eyes for a minute.

11:50 am:

Your midday class is starting soon. It is a newer addition to the Marquette Core Curriculum within the last five years. Freshman students take a course on Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience. You look forward to learning about what sustainable development looks at the global, national, and regional scale and how to create resilient communities. Over the course of your education at Marquette, no matter what degree you pursue, you will take a capstone course your senior year to demonstrate your understanding of climate change and building resilient systems within the context of your degree path. As a freshman, you look forward to this opportunity and the coursework ahead.

As current Marquette University students, our voices and actions are equally important in making this envisioned future a reality. The future of sustainability at Marquette is in the hands of every individual who is connected to this community-staff, students, faculty, alumni, and the like. We must all answer the call to be sustainability and climate champions in the conversations we have with friends, in the classes we take or teach, in the work we do in our offices. Transforming our campus is not an endeavor that can be led by a single person, it is a leaderful effort that will require us all to be a part of shifting the paradigm toward a more equitable, just and sustainable future.

This story was written by Michaela Schulist and Chelsea Malacara. Michaela Schulist is a sustainability intern and Chelsea Malacara is the Sustainability & Energy Management Coordinator for Marquette University. They can be reached at michaela.s[email protected] and [email protected]