A note from our Campus Sustainability Coordinator

Article by: Erica Mattison

Suffolk has several exciting environmental initiatives taking place this semester.  In tough economic times, it becomes all the more apparent that we must be conscious of our use of natural resources.   The Suffolk University Sustainability Committee is dedicated to reducing environmental impact, encouraging effective and efficient uses of resources, and fostering sustainable behavior.

The University is increasingly being seen as a leader in the area of campus sustainability.  Just this week, our Employee Education program on waste reduction and recycling earned us a 2009 Gold Achievement Award from the EPA Wastewise Program.  Through online communications, a workshop at the quarterly New Employee Orientation, Green Teams, the Suffolk University Sustainability Committee, and events throughout the year, there are many strategies in place to raise awareness about waste reduction and recycling.

This Thursday, Feb. 4, the Suffolk University Sustainability Committee will host a Green Tea Party, with tables set up in high-traffic locations throughout campus.  Come learn about Recycle Mania, the national waste reduction and recycling competition in which Suffolk is competing for the fourth consecutive year.  Student volunteers will be staffing the tables and visitors will have the chance to test their waste reduction and recycling know-how through interactive games, as well as win a prize.  Now through March if you’re spotted recycling, you may be handed a coupon for a discount at campus cafes.

Volunteers will be distributing free green tea, eco-friendly candy, reusable tote bags, and Suffolk University Sustainability travel mugs.  By giving away 1,000 biodegradable travel mugs in recent months, we are working to encourage people to participate in the Mug Club instead of using disposable coffee cups.  A considerable amount of our trash currently consists of coffee cups. Through Suffolk’s Mug Club you receive a discount on your beverages in cafes on campus by using a travel mug.  The new Spot-a-Mug program is yet another incentive for using a travel mug: if you’re spotted using a travel mug you can earn a voucher for a free beverage in a campus café.

Through a program launched last semester, Eco-Reps are now working in our residence halls, raising awareness about how to live in an environmentally conscious way.  This month they are promoting the waste reduction and recycling competition among the residence halls; the winning building will win an eco-friendly ice cream party next month.  And in March they will be promoting the energy conservation competition among the residence halls, through which the building that most significantly reduces its electricity consumption will be rewarded with a pizza party. Students living in the residence halls are encouraged to contact their Eco-Rep to share ideas for events or to help out.  If you have Work Study funds, are interested in having a positive impact on the environment, and are planning on living in a residence hall next fall, consider applying to serve as an Eco-Rep.

Also, for several months, dozens of members of the Suffolk community contributed to the creation of a Campus Sustainability Plan, which lays out recent accomplishments and goals for areas such as green buildings, energy and water conservation, environmentally preferred purchasing, dining, waste reduction and recycling. Students are encouraged to read the plan and share their feedback. The plan will be updated periodically in order to continue to serve as a relevant and useful document.

If you want to learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and campus environmental news, sign up to start receiving bi-weekly Eco-Update emails and become a fan of Suffolk University Sustainability on Facebook.

Although we’ve managed to reduce our electricity consumption by close to 10 percent and increase our recycling rate to an impressive 45 percent, there is still plenty of progress to be made…and we need your help!