Every day is Earth Day here at the College of Social Work with the reestablishment of the Green Team this past fall. The Green Team is a committee comprised of faculty and staff who are working toward making the CSW, and by extension the University of Utah, more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Over the last few years, the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office has continued to grow, as has the University’s commitment to be more sustainable. One of the U’s four strategic goals is to “ensure long-term viability of the university,” which includes, “reduce impact of the U on the environment” as a specific goal.
What the Green Team has done:
Additional Recycling Bins
The College of Social Work now has five recycling quads, the black recycling bins labeled for paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass. They are located on the first floor of the Goodwill building (next to the north stair case), in the original building next to the student lounge on the first floor, at the east-facing entrance on the first floor of the atrium, on the west side of the second floor lounge (just before the breezeway), and on the third floor on the north side of the building.
Display cases on the east wall of the student lounge have a visual display of what can and cannot be recycled on campus. Because the rules have changed over the years, the Green Team wanted people to be able to see what can be recycled so these items stay out of the landfill. Stop by the display case to see the campus recycling poster in 3D!
Green Tip of the Month
All CSW employees receive a monthly digital newsletter, which features a “Green Tip of the Month.” Each month, tips within a specific theme are outlined. If you receive the U Matter employee newsletter, look for the Green Tip of the Month section to get helpful tips and tricks on being more sustainable and eco-friendly.
This fall, the Green Team created a battery recycling bin for the College of Social Work so that we can safely dispose of alkaline batteries on campus. Alkaline batteries contain hazardous chemicals that can leach into the soil and area surrounding landfills, so recycling them is not only better for the environment, but the metals used to make them can be recycled. The bin is in the front office by the mail slots, and when it gets full, a Green Team member will take it to the Marriott Library, where they collect batteries to be recycled.
What you can do:
Recycle the right way
- Learn about what the U can accept. Just because your curbside recycling program accepts something, doesn’t mean campus facilities can. Review the guidelines here, on the recycling posters found above most recycling quads on campus, or stop by the recycling display in the student lounge!
- Sort your plastics by number. Only plastic containers labeled with #1 or #2 can be placed in plastics recycling bins on campus. If there’s no number, it’s not a #1 or #2.
- Avoid recycling anything that has food or liquid on it. This can contaminate other recyclables and contribute to them being thrown in a landfill instead of recycled.
Avoid these common mistakes
- Using the blue paper bins found in classrooms for trash or anything that can be recycled. These are for paper only, and anything else put in there has to be removed by a custodian. They work hard enough without having to sort our trash for us!
- “Recycling” single-use paper coffee cups. Though they are mostly paper, they are lined with plastic, which makes recycling them impossible.
- Putting plastic wrap, film, and grocery bags in the plastics bin. Even if they say recyclable or have a number on it like other plastics, do not put them in campus or community plastic bins. These clog up the recycling machines and Salt Lake County stopped accepting them in 2018.
Reduce and reuse
- Bring your own water bottles and travel mugs. There are water bottle filling stations in most buildings on campus, and bringing your own mug can earn you discounts on coffee, tea, or other beverages. (Starbucks offers 10 cents off a drink order when you bring your own mug!)
- Refuse the bag. Most cashiers and clerks automatically place items in a bag for customers, so be proactive in telling them before bagging that you don’t need a bag. If you have only a couple of items, carry them or put them in your backpack or purse. Or, keep a reusable bag in your car, backpack, or purse so you’ll never need to use a grocery bag again!
- Use public transportation to campus—it’s free with your UCard! If all drivers along the Wasatch Front were to not use their car just one day per week, vehicle emissions would be reduced by 6,500 tons per year! (Utah Division of Air Quality)