U.S.P. Alafua Campus goes green

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 01 September 2020, 11:00PM

The University of South Pacific [U.S.P.] Alafua Campus is on its way to setting an example for schools and workplaces when it comes waste management and going green.

Staff and students have made strides with tree and flower planting, campus and forest clean-ups, recycling of old furniture and appliances including e-waste and improving campus waste management systems.

They’ve cleared and re-planted 70 acres of invasive species and planted 500 trees, the U.S.P. Alafua Campus Director, Dr. Joeli Veitayaki told the Samoa Observer.

Faamanu Logovii, 23, a student at U.S.P. from Moamoa and Salelologa, Savai'i said he enjoys planting with his lecturers and school mates.

"I enjoy it because it's fun. These are habits of mine back home. At Moamoa, my Nana used to do gardening and I used to help her out with her gardens," said the Science and Agriculture major.

It’s all part of keeping Samoa and the school campus or what they call their “village” – beautiful.

“We hope that this can be our contribution to what the country is doing to help the environment. Samoa is a beautiful place. I don’t have to remind you of that but we need to do our part to make sure we keep it clean and healthy,” Dr. Veitayaki added.

“In September, we started planting those fruit trees…avocado, soursop, passionfruit [and] they are all over the place…we went to Savai’i and we were fascinated to see some sandalwood over there. We planted sandalwood…we now should have about 500 trees around the compound.”

The tree planting is a contribution to the financial stability of the campus, he said.

“We have no other campus of the university that has this…we have a forest but it’s mostly invasive species…like tamaligi so we are planting native trees…we’ve cleared 70 acres of land and re-planted with native trees,” Dr. Veitayaki said.

The university’s ‘Go Green’ project is in line with several of their priority areas – among them is the promotion of Pacific values.

“We have priority areas…we are a regional university with students from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa and we encourage working together as a team, we promote diversity and community service to volunteer to help the community,” said U.S.P. Administrator Ronna Lee.

“The gardening and beautifying the campus is to promote ownership. The idea is they come here to learn academically but also learn how to be responsible for the environment they live in…we promote Pacific values so the idea that ‘it takes village to raise a child’, therefore we should look after the village that we are a part of….those are the sorts of Pacific values we promote here like helping each other out.”

Lee said that in the Pacific, “not everything you do should be paid with money.”

“You should do something because it is rewarding and the reward is looking after the environment you are part of, that you are living in and learning in and then the reward is seeing something that grows from what you put in."

At the U.S.P. campus, there is a lot of unused office furniture such as old desks, dresser drawers and old doors removed during maintenance.

“Rather than throwing those into the landfill we are recycling them and recycling them and making gardening boxes and that is a project we involve students in,” said Lee.

Students hold membership in various clubs and organisations such as the Rotary Club which requires volunteer and community service.

They joined staff members to build and paint garden boxes and garden ornaments from recycled materials. One university lecturer is leading a student project where old appliances like refrigerators are being used as planters.

“For ordinary waste, we’d like to now start doing the sorting and ensure that things like bottles be kept separately from paper and biodegradable waste,” said Dr. Veitayaki.

“We feel biodegradable waste should just return to the environment and that is the part that where we can look after the environment.”

In 2020, we are not handling the type of waste our grandmothers and grandfathers did, he added.

“All of these things don’t biodegrade…like styrofoam, when you break it up it breaks into smaller pieces which makes it harder to control so where recycling is possible I think it should be supported because we have small land masses,” said Dr. Veitayaki.

“We don’t have much space for waste and  our waste handling areas like landfills because they are filling up too quickly…when people clean their compounds they ship things off to the landfill but a lot of those things can be recycled. A landfill has a lifetime say maybe 50 years or 20 years depending on the size and amount of waste.”

But that can be further reduced, he noted.

“If we are more effective in composting where green waste can be kept….it can be used to enrich the place…some can be used for mulching materials for the farm,” he said.

In one clean-up by students and staff, they collected eight truckloads of garbage like filing cabinets, refrigerators and old stoves.

“We don’t have enough land to be using it for like storing these things…we have to be smart. In Samoa, we still have land but in some countries in the Pacific this [land] is no longer available so we have to think outside the box,” said Dr. Veitayaki.

“I think Samoa is one of the more blessed places. We just have to make sure we manage the waste better. I am really excited that we have commercial companies to support us in doing the right thing…the campus does some waste but not enough to take it all away ourselves so it is really a welcome to have commercial partners.”

U.S.P. has a current enrollment of 400 students from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Micronesia and Samoa.

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 01 September 2020, 11:00PM

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