By Byron Baugh
When people consider what they like about our campus, I’d like to think that having a robust sustainability culture ranks fairly high.
That fills me with so much pride. I’m honored to be the student tasked with coordinating initiatives and efforts that moves us forward. Of course, this is a huge responsibility as well.
USF St. Petersburg faces a challenge when it comes to waste on campus.
We are to analyze how much trash and recycling we produce as a campus, according to The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment past Interim Regional Chancellor William T. Hogarth signed, we are to analyze how much trash and recycling we produce as a campus.
After calculating, the results show that 13 percent of our waste is diverted from the landfill. That means that only 13 percent items that enter the waste stream get recycled.
To put that into perspective, in 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75 percent of the waste stream is recyclable, while the average American recycles around 30 percent of it.
This percentage is unacceptable.
Increasing the diversion rate and reducing waste are some of my main focuses as sustainability coordinator.
When someone finds out that I’m the sustainability coordinator, one of the first things they tell me is the lack of recycling in dorm rooms.
When it comes to goals, one of them is providing easier access to recycling bins by having a large bin on each dorm floor.
Another is to have the places that serve food on campus move toward less plastic by utilizing paper alternatives and encouraging students to stay and eat on a plate, as opposed to using takeout containers.
Education is a big part of the solution.
My department needs to put in the effort to teach about the specifics of recycling as opposed to just telling people that they need to recycle.
Toward that end we are putting on a Zero Waste Workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 2 to 5 p.m. on Harbor Walk in front of the University Student Center.
There will be do-it-yourself upcycling of recycled items, games and plenty of information about how and what we are doing for recycling on campus. Please stop by.
You have my word that I, and by extension all of the sustainability-minded clubs on campus as well as Student Government, will make our campus a good example of how a university handles recycling.
Byron Baugh is USF St. Petersburg’s sustainable initiatives coordinator for Student Government.
Pictured Above: Students work together in February on the Annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory to sort out what could have been recycled versus what was thrown away in order to characterize the diversion rate on campus. Courtesy of Brian Pullen