A Thousand Shades of Green – Green Teams at IU

By Shar Fish, Green Teams Coordinator

Did you know?

The IU Bloomington Biology Department Green Team has taken their recycling up a notch. They joined TerraCycle, the company pays them to recycle cookie packaging, energy bar and candy bar wrappers, potato chip bags, and cheese packaging, and the profits raised are donated to nonprofit organizations (most recently The Nature Conservancy).  They have also substantially reduced Styrofoam cup usage at seminars, and their next big initiative is to eliminate it from departmental gatherings altogether. While many Green Teams are comprised solely of faculty and staff, Biology graduate students also get involved in sustainability initiatives. Biology also has an outdoor compost bin.

The Office of Overseas Study Green Team is conscientious when it comes to resource use. They purchased a set of plates from Goodwill and stock their break room with reusable glasses and silverware; many co-workers bring their own mugs when beverages are being served. They will be moving to a new location soon that offers the possibility of outdoor composting.

IU Foundation – the first Green Team to achieve Sapling (level 3 of 4) Certification – uses the sustainability dashboard available at green2sustainable.com to track water, energy, and office supply usage. The Foundation has held green events promoting walking, biking, carpooling, and buying local. Next year’s green event is being planned to coincide with Earth Day; the Foundation’s annual “document destruction day” will be part of the fun as well.

The IU Foundation Green Team, recently presented with their Sapling Certification.

“Clear the Clutter” has been a major campaign carried out by the UITS Green Team; they are in the final stages of donating office supplies to IU Surplus for reuse after moving to their new, albeit downsized-workstation location in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certified Silver Cyberinfrastructure Building. They are also creating more effective recycling signage and hope to start composting soon.

The Office of the Registrar Green Team has saved a whopping 9,525,000 pages from being printed per year (!) by switching from paper to electronic class lists and grade rosters, final grade notifications to students, and Student Academic Information and Enrollment Bulletins. In addition, they have eliminated multi-copy drop/add and grade change forms, 4-ply official transcript request forms, and paper requests for transcripts mailed in by current/former students, saving another 230,000 pages each year. Doing away with the printed timetable portion of the Student Academic Information Bulletin also means 150,000 tabloids – at 50 pages each – will not be printed each year. The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education has sponsored the Registrar’s conversion of Course Description submission and Course Approval, Change, and Remonstrance to electronic processes, resulting in further paper savings.

Clearly, both low hanging fruit and steeped-in-strategy high-impact actions can come to fruition given the right conditions. As more individuals learn the importance of treading lightly rather than leaving a large footprint in their wake, the demonstration that there is “a sustainability initiative for everyone” is particularly encouraging.

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