Story by Beth LeValley
The Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) has positively impacted Drake University for over 10 years, and it has plans for the future.
“We have Earth Week in the fall, where there’s a farmer’s market to promote buying locally, and we have other activities to promote being outside with nature,” said Emily Wilkins, DEAL president. “In the past, we have gotten Hubbell (Dining Hall) to be trayless, which helps reduce food waste, since students usually pile up food on their trays and then throw it away. It created some tension at first, but it helps in the long run.”
DEAL also helped Drake get double-sided printing as an option for all printers and single-stream recycling.
In the future, DEAL hopes to do more with chemicals and fertilizers on campus.
It also hopes to reduce the amount of water used in the sprinkler system.
“Every year, people in DEAL have different goals. Some want to do more political changes, some want to do things on campus, and some just want to impact individuals or make themselves more environmentally-friendly. It changes from year to year,” Wilkins said.
In the next two or three years, Wilkins hopes to monitor and change some of the energy used in Meredith Hall on campus.
“I’ve heard that Meredith is the worst building on campus in terms of energy waste and insulation, so I would love to see how much energy is lost and then take that data and make a change,” Wilkins said.
DEAL is up for a grant which is due in May, and if it gets it, it would monitor Meredith throughout next year.
While it isworking on the grant, DEAL hopes to get recycling bins outside.
“There are 63-64 garbage bins on Drake’s campus but no recycling bins. We had the idea last spring, but the Student Senate wouldn’t give us money for the project. We’re not sure if we need a petition or need to get the money some other way, but we hope to have the recycling bins by next fall,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins also hopes to research the differences between paper towels and a hand dryer.
The paper towels on campus can be recycled if they have water on them, but there are also no recycling bins in the bathrooms.
“You have to do a lot of research before you can make a change. I wouldn’t want to just assume hand dryers are better for the environment and get rid of all paper towels immediately,” Wilkins said.
Individually, to reduce her carbon footprint, Wilkins uses reusable bags whenever she shops, and has a reusable coffee mug and water bottle.
She has also become a recent vegetarian, which is the number one way to reduce your carbon footprint, Wilkins said.