Wednesday, October 03, 2007

There's a New Sheriff in Town...

Okay, so I'm not the new Sheriff in town, but yours truly is now Chair of the Recycling Committee at IU South Bend. I'm happy to take on this role. One challenge this year is to increase our visibility on campus. That means making announcements, writing articles about our recycling efforts in the school newspapers, and updating our ancient webpage.

Another challenge will be addressing the use of Styrofoam on the campus. The challenge will be to use alternative products (i.e., biodegradable plates), which may be more expensive. I'm meeting with the Director of Dining Services about this issue. Hopefully, we'll be able to work together to make IU South Bend more eco-friendly.

And of course, there are other issues that merit our attention: cartridge recycling, the Green Disc Program (a program to recycling e-waste--and that means not shipping this waste to China or India, but actually recycling these products properly!), getting more recycling bins for IT, and confirming the recycling efforts taking place at the new student apartments.

As with most projects, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes activities that must be organized and executed. It's too much for one person to handle by their lonesome. But thank goodness, the recycling committee includes a team of faculty, staff, and students. Provided we work together, I'm confident we'll be able to reach and achieve our goals.


Meghan said...

Congrats! I know you'll do great!

Radical Garbage Man said...

Congratulations. One thing to keep in mind in switching to biodegradable plates, cups, cutlery, etc is to ensure that you have a waste management system in place for this new refuse.

Compostables are vastly superior to plastic and virgin-timber based materials for lots of reasons, not the least of which being that they are produce from renewable raw materials.

The problem is that you have to have a system that segregates them from non-compostable material and ensures that they are actually composted. If your university is willing to invest in (or has) the infrastructure, you could probably do it all on site and solve lawn and leaf waste at the same time. The university could even sell finished compost to the local community to help offset costs and provide a benefit to local agriculture.

This could be an opportunity for hands-on student learning for an Ag or Civil Engineering program.

Biodegradable materials won't degrade in landfills. They need to be composted in order to realize the ecological benefit. I think a university dining hall may be an ideal setting, since the food waste going into the garbage cans is already compostable and if you switch to all compostable plates, cups and utensils, and line the garbage cans with compostable bags, the whole bin is available for the process.

Adam said...

I heard a rumor that the recycling bins around IUSB go directly to trash because the bags that recyclable goods go in are the exact same color as the trash bags, therefore when they are emptied from the containers en masse, janitors cannot differentiate from garbage to recyclables, so they just throw it all out. Confirm / Deny?

Michelle Verges said...

Radical Garbage Man: FABULOUS ideas!! I'm meeting with the Director of Dining Services tomorrow, so I will pitch this idea to him and see how we may implement composting practices at IUSB.