Thursday, September 4, 2008

Campus Events

This is a very exciting time to be on a college campus. There is so much energy and colleges host fun events to bring members of their communities together. While I am a professor at Lasell College, I live at Harvard University as my wife works for the Freshman Dean's Office there. It provides me the opportunity to compare campus operations at our small school with a large school with a giant endowment. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend two events. One event was at Lasell College and the other at Harvard.

Organizers of the events at both colleges took steps to sponsor green events. It was interesting to compare the two approaches. At Lasell, we had a faculty and staff appreciation breakfast. To eliminate waste, the organizers of the breakfast rented plates, cups, mugs that could be washed and used again. It was very nice and there was very little waste generated at the event. At Harvard, I attend a welcome back barbecue for the families of proctors and house tutors. I was surprised to see plastic plates and silverware as I knew Harvard has been pushing greener events. But upon leaving I realized organizers did think about it. As I left, I was able to recycle almost everything I used into one container. Harvard has shifted to a single-stream recycling system which allows community members to deposit any material that can be recycled into a single container. This includes virtually all types of plastic, paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles. It was painless and again very little waste was generated at the event.

Single-stream recycling is the direction we need to go at Lasell College. Our recycling rate is embarrassingly low. Harvard has a recycling rate near 50%. That means that half of the tonnage that leaves their campus is destined for recycling facilities. It is my goal to make single-stream recycling happen and happen soon at Lasell. It is extremely convenient and easy to manage and I believe it will quickly push us to a recycling rate close to the 50% reported at Harvard.

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