Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass celebrates Earth Day with green initiatives

By Jennifer Heshion

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Students and faculty of the University of Massachusetts are preparing to celebrate Earth Day on April 22 with a series of new initiatives and advocacy platforms which seek to improve green programs on campus.

On the administration side of the Earth Day celebrations, the University will launch a pilot Green Office program in addition to holding a series of public lectures by national experts on sustainability and the environment.

The UMass Green Office program will consist of four offices chosen as practice locations for student sustainability interns to present their suggestions to faculty and staff on how to make the University’s operations greener.

In regards to improved recycling percentages, campus sustainability coordinator Josh Stoffel expressed his hopes introducing a competitive aspect to the various departments on the UMass campus will improve performance.

“We hope to eventually offer a multi-level certification program with green at the top, so your department would be able to display its bronze, silver, gold or green sustainability badge on its website and show off your progress toward excellence in sustainability,” Stoffel said.

The students, for their part, will be working towards a “sustainable move-out” from the dormitories around campus.

Additionally, 70 student Eco-Reps will be visiting the dorms starting sometime this week and continuing until May 13 which is the final Move-Out Day in the UMass residence halls.

The campaign for the student representatives will focus on educating fellow students about recycling the mundane items lying around the dorms in order to reduce the amount of waste that must be handled as the semester winds down. This includes broken CD players, computers, futons, rugs and hangers.

The student Eco-Reps include six student leaders with previous experience in teaching sustainability to their peers, as well as 61 others who meet every month to learn about an environmental issue and then brainstorm about how to educate others about such issues as water conservation or corporate green washing.

“During Move-Out, we net an extra 100 to 200 tons of trash per week compared to a normal period of the same length,” Stoffel said.

“It’s an overwhelming, massive amount of trash and so much of it could be recycled if we just took some extra care,” he added. “This year our goal is to divert as much as possible away from the landfill. It’s a measurable goal and we’ll report on our success. We intend to do better each year from now on.”

The message which the students Eco-Reps will be advocating to their peers according to Stoffel will be to act and not wait until the last moment to look under the bed and in the backs of their closets.

The message will be: “Start now, get your papers and printers and used lamps into the receptacles provided at every residence hall BEFORE your last day.”

Additionally, Stoffel added that student housing and residential life staff will be collecting loose dining hall items for return, following a tradition of which they have done for the past several years.

Also, the staff will be donating wearable clothing and non-perishable food to the Amherst Survival Center.

The public lectures will begin on Saturday, April 24, as the UMass Commonwealth College will be hosting the Daffodil Lectures by Raymond Bradley, distinguished professor of geosciences and director of the Climate System Research Center, Andrew Revkin, an award-winning journalist who has worked for the New York Times and Discover and the Science Digest, as well as Bron Taylor, professor of religion and nature at the University of Florida.

Moderating the event will be Julie Brigham-Grette, UMass professor of geosciences.

The Daffodil lectures, which will be open to the public, are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in room 135 of the Integrated Sciences Building on the UMass campus.

Currently, UMass’ research in green sustainability includes the development of liquid biofuels, solar fuel cells and the use of wind energy as an alternative to oil.

Additionally, several UMass faculty members are studying climate change, promoting a green economy and a green job growth, as well as teaching green building and energy efficiency techniques.

Jennifer Heshion can be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

One Response to “UMass celebrates Earth Day with green initiatives”

  1. marta on September 10th, 2011 3:50 pm

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