Environmental Health & Sustainabilty at Touro!
We the undersigned believe that our institution, Touro University California, must take part in the growing efforts to improve the health of individuals, our communities, and the planet as well. We respectfully request that our University administration consider the following changes, consistent with the Touro mission and Judaic values such as bal tashchit, pikuach nefesh, and tikkun olam.
- Replace the clamshell containers, plastic utensils, and “grab-n-go” food plastic packaging currently used with real dishware and silverware. Alternatively, replace them with biodegradable alternatives.
- Hundreds of these petrochemical products end up in our waste bins weekly. The use of energy-saver commercial dishwashers for efficient clean up would eliminate the need for such waste. The upfront cost of a dishwasher, and even the staffing to use it, is nominal compared to the monthly costs of all the throw-away plastics. Currently, there are five swirling gyres of plastics floating in our oceans, two of them are in our own Pacific Ocean, each about the size of Texas. Billions of pounds of plastic in our landfills await the same fate. These plastics threaten many types of ocean animals and their human consumers.
- Educate janitorial services regarding our priority of proper disposal of recyclables.
- Very few of the recyclables (paper, plastics, aluminum, and glass) that we generate on campus are being appropriately gathered for recycling. Many students go out of their way to separate recycling from trash each day, yet we have observed our janitorial service emptying both the recycling and the trash into the same collection container for disposal. The row of blue City of Vallejo recycling bins lined up across from the library are underused. Additionally, the plastic liners used in the trash bins should be left for re-use if garbage contents are dry.
- Stop watering our lawns with potable water at midday.
- Over 50% of the water used to water our grass by sprinkler under sunny conditions is lost to evaporation. With the ongoing drought concerns in our state, this waste is shameful, and in violation of the mandates of the City of Vallejo and Solano County. We recommend putting in timed sprinklers that water in early morning; the cost of such a system would be recovered in the first two years of water savings. An even better option would be to replace the lawns with xeriscaping. Drought tolerant California native plants need water only until established, and our well adapted to the climate in which they have evolved. They do not require fertilizer or pesticides, and they attract beneficial insects like birds, butterflies, and bees, bringing a lot more vibrancy to the campus.
These changes could save the University a substantial amount in expenses long term with the initial investment in much-needed improvements. These changes also represent an opportunity to be a University that lives its values, leads by example, and improves the health of its employees, students, and visitors through environmental health advancement.