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Friday, August 8, 2008

Green is in at Trinity

Note: This is the first of several reports on sustainability at Trinity University.
Mike Schweitzer of the Physical Plant recently organized faculty and staff tours for the area recycling center, Vista Fibers, aka Greenstar. The response was phenomenal, which reflects the growing green movement in the nation, in San Antonio, and at Trinity University.

All of the recycling material from Trinity goes to this recycling center, including pre-sorted alumnium, plastics, and papers. What is truly amazing to see is the single sort system. This is the system that collects curbside recycling (where cans, paper, plastics are all combined). Trucks dump these items in a big trashy heap and they are sucked into a mechanized sorting system, sorted, and then sent through again. Real people serve as quality control experts on the line.

Some things to keep in mind when recycling on campus. Remove lids, even though most can be recycled. These become projectiles when the containers are smashed and air forces the lids off. Rinse food containers so the recycling staff doesn't smell the stink. Take apart things like Pringles cans. The metal bottom, the cardboard tube, and the plastic lid can all be recycled. Last, this center can recycle all plastics that contain the recycling logo. Check out the slide show at right. Special thanks to Mike Schweitzer and Zach Walter at Greenstar for giving great tours.

On the Trinity front, the appropriately named Director of Physical Plant, John Greene, has done a phenomenal job in making the campus green. He has removed the plastics recycling burden from students, dedicated staff time and also a truck to recycling (even inventing a new logo and painting the truck to be a symbol -- to the campus and community -- of our commitment to the environment). In addition, Mr. Greene and ARAMARK have developed an herb garden behind Mabee and ramped up recycling areas in the dining hall. Physical Plant and custodial services will be delivering green recycling bins (that are actually blue) to all offices and dorm rooms to make taking items to recycling areas in corridors easier.

Molly Ellis is leading a student effort to publicize recycling to students. ARAMARK is considering going tray-less. New furniture and even vacuums in the dorms have to meet environmental standards. ASR and TUVAC will be providing all students new Nalgene bottles and ARAMARK will again donate Earth Sense mugs to first year students. There are discounts for beverages that are purchased with these containers. It would be nice to see plastic bottles disappear altogether on campus. (Faculty and staff can purchase Nalgene bottles at the bookstore.)

This is literally only a small fraction of what is happening on campus. There are many, many heroes and environmental advocates to commend. This week though, special mention goes to Mr. Greene, Mr. Schweitzer, and the Physical Plant.

The Sustainability Task Force, appointed by President Brazil, is preparing to submit its final report this month. Trinity has signed the AASHE agreement. Members of the task force include Professor and Chair Richard Reed, Dr. Heather Sullivan, Dr. Kelly Lyons, Dr. John Huston, Dr. Peter Kelly-Zion, students Alex Wallender and Molly Ellis, and John Greene, Physical Plant, Miguel Ardid, ARAMARK, the Director of Residential Life (me), and Ana Windham, Fiscal Affairs.

1 comment:

Anil said...

Dear Dean Tuttle,

A really great initiative.

A suggestion; if Aramark were to go in for Vermiculture (with Earthworms) for all leftover food/food waste in Maybee Hall, it would be great both for recycling and the Compost is excellent fertilzer, the earthworms, too, if they go into the soil increase fertility. The whole process is simple and odour free and has been successfully implemented in a lot of Urban Hotels that we consult to, in this part of the world. Though it does require about 60-65 sq. mt. (700 sq. ft. or so) of open area.
In case Aramark or the University is interested, I could send you all the details, as well as where to source the 'Starter Lot' of Earthworms in the USA.


Anil Bakshi,
New Delhi, India