Here we are, back at school, and welcomed by familiars: the winter slush, the absurd lines in the University Shop, Holy Grounds, lottery number stress, homework and old friends. If you’ve moseyed over to the IK for a chicken parm, you might have noticed one glaring change on campus: the packaging in the IK and the Corner Grille are no longer the standard paper and plastic but are now 100-percent compostable in order to reduce the amount of harmful material and unnecessary trash that leaves the bowels of Dougherty every day.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute, an organization that evaluates the environmental practices of the 200 richest American universities, reports a “green groundswell” on college campuses across the nation. Numbers don’t lie. Nearly 45 percent of colleges have committed to fight climate change through cutting carbon emissions, nearly 59 percent of schools have committed to high-performance green building standards, 70 percent of these universities buy food from local farms and 64 percent serve fair-trade coffee.

So why exactly are we making these efforts on campuses across the nation? Is it to add another bullet point on our résumé? Is it to beef up the glossy brochures we send to prospective students? Is it to placate the boards of trustees? Do we do it out of obligation – simply to remain competitive as so many other universities and communities are “Going Green” or do we at Villanova, and at universities around the country, possess a sincere environmental conscience?

“Going Green,” like our University claims it is doing, has become somewhat of a fad in recent years. Recycling, organic and fair-trade food and have become commonplace to communities of young and educated people as the threat of global warming and the depletion of natural resources threatens the livelihood of future generations. Like fighting genocide in Darfur or cancer research, the environment is becoming a cause that as a 20-something you’d be crazy not to support. Who doesn’t want to protest on the Mall to save the baby seals or earth from harmful gases in the ozone? You’ll get a free T-shirt out of it at least.

Even though the environment might be somewhat of a fad, it’s a trend that can’t hurt. It’s a cause that needs no “why.” No one wants to live in a world that will run out of oil in the next hundred years. All we’re searching for is a “how,” or how can we improve our communities before that happens.

Despite our efforts last year, Villanova received a grade of a C+ on the College Sustainability Report Card for 2008. Not for the grade or the trend, we have to make a larger commitment to the environment at Villanova. We must possess a sincere environmental conscience and make an honest commitment to surroundings in which we live. The University must continue to make significant long-term investments into the environmental welfare of the campus. This fad isn’t going out of style any time soon.