The growth of population associated with economic activitiesand consumption patterns in an increasingly industrialized and interconnectedworld has lead to the environmental crisis (Ralph & Stubbs, 2014, p 72). Itswide-ranging nature includes increasing pollution, loss of habitat, loss ofbiodiversity, diminishing resources, and increasing levels of greenhouse gasemissions. Getting food to our tables, for instance, uses 50 percent of U.S.land and 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States; however, 40percent of food goes to waste with more than 95 percent of it ending up inlandfills, where it releases methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas thancarbon dioxide (Mu, Horowitz, Casey, andJones, 2017, p.476).
Continuing producing waste and using non-renewable sources of energy willlead to an irrecoverable state of the planet. Scientists stress the importanceof adaptation of sustainable practices as a way to “prevent furtherdegradation, to decrease current greenhouse gas emissions, and to preventfurther increases in emissions” (Ralph & Stubbs, 2014, p 72). It is common for the institutionsof higher education to implement environmentally friendly practices byincluding sustainability in their mission statements and strategic plans (Hooey, Mason & Triplett, 2017, p. 280), though there is still a lotof work to be done. Nowadays, many universities have several campuses andbuildings with high levels of consumption of energy, water, paper and otherresources such as restaurant, cleaning, and photocopy services. Consumption ofthese resources and services generate several direct and indirect impacts onthe environment (Gallardo, Edo-Alcón, Carlos,& Renau, 2016, p. 4).
Universities have a potential of playing a crucial role in addressingenvironmental issues and in creating a sustainable society. Throughdemonstrating best practice, researching solutions to problems, educatingfuture communities and leaders and promoting sustainability, universities canmake significant impacts on the sustainability of today’s and future society.