Suffolk goes green on Sustainability Day

By: Derek Anderson and Marissa Holt

Suffolk University is attempting to go green and on Wednesday worked alongside student creators of the “Mug Club” and the Suffolk Recyclers organization to promote Campus Sustainability Day. The day of environmental awareness is celebrated nation-wide by any supporting colleges or universities wishing to get involved, including Suffolk.

Two students, Susanna Chan and Shi-Min Chin, created an idea to promote bringing personal coffee mugs to school, dubbing it the “Mug Club,” which started off as a class project for Ethics and Sustainability in Graphic Design instructed by Professor Yvette Perullo.

“The idea of today was to promote bringing coffee mugs and let people know that paper cups are waste,” said Chin, a graphic design student.

From project to a campus-wide cause, the “Mug Club” spread when Special Projects Coordinator for Campus Sustainability, Erica Mattison, found out about the idea. The Suffolk Recyclers organization, a group set on reducing waste and increasing recycling, helped set up and run four tables around campus, each in one of the main buildings of Suffolk.

The activities branching from the “Mug Club” were numerous. At each table free coffee was given to people who stopped by with travel mugs. Working with the school bookstore, tables were supplied with travel mugs and other eco-friendly merchandise to sell at a ten percent discount. Each table pushed bringing or buying a travel mug, not only to reduce waste, but to save money. When disposed of, paper cups eventually decompose and release Methane. This greenhouse gas possesses the power to trap heat up to 25 times more than carbon dioxide. Every year 400 million cups are thrown into the trash. However, a single travel mug can be used about 3,000 times. With Suffolk’s “Mug Club”, students may receive a fifteen cent discount on drinks when bringing a travel mug to an on-campus café.

“This can add up to forty dollars in savings a year,” said Mattison.

Trivia was also offered as an activity for each table setup. The questions offered environmental facts that help participants learn about what they can do to conserve energy and recycle. If participants answered three questions correctly, they received a compact fluorescent light bulb or a piece of chocolate that benefits the rainforest and endangered species. Information learned by these questions include the fact that the average American uses between 140 and 170 gallons of water a day and that students can help lower tuition rates by conserving energy in their dorm rooms.

In 2009, Suffolk became a partner of Energy Star which is piloted by the Environmental Protection Agency. The university also installed dual-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, and low-flow faucet aerators.

Volunteers at the information table on the fourth floor of the Suffolk Law School building demonstrated how a Nano-decopier device is used. This machine is used as an alternative to paper shredders and is produced by JMD Manufacturing Inc. Paper is placed inside of the device which houses a nontoxic solution. With a blender effect, the paper is made into pulp. The pulp is picked up by a local company out of Framingham, Mass, which reduces the payments and energy spent on transportation.

The Suffolk Recyclers played a big part in Sustainability Day, but that’s not all they’ve done. The group has worked on many projects over the past like promoting  local produce, having a forum on water explaining how too much asphalt can cause flooding and droughts, and working to make the Suffolk buildings more energy efficient.

“For today it’s all about spreading awareness,” said Matthew Wagner, a management major at Suffolk who works with the Suffolk Recyclers. “It’s not something you think of everyday. There are other options. There’s a stigma for being environmentally aware. People don’t think of that, they just see it as a sacrifice. Something charitable. It’s really economically viable for everyone.”