Two new environmental initiatives spur campus awareness

Amy Sandquist

In an effort to promote sustainability
and environmental
consciousness, Lawrence is taking
on two projects this term,
The Small House Challenge and
The Small House Challenge
encourages students living in
small campus houses to reduce
their consumption of natural gas
through incentives and competition.
Lawrence chose to focus on
reducing natural gas consumption,
instead of other utilities, because
measuring electricity and water
consumption in some places on
campus is difficult.
The challenge, facilitated by
Greg Griffin, director of the Warch
Campus Center, is modeled on a
program at Beloit College, a program
in which students living in
small residences receive money
when their consumption of energy
decreases and pay the college
money when their energy consumption
increases. Unlike Beloit
College, however, Lawrence’s program
is voluntary, does not offer
cash incentives, and threatens no
monetary consequences.
So far, six campus houses have
volunteered to take part in the
three-month program that will
compare the houses’ natural gas
use to data from previous years.
Griffin elaborated on the
details of the program, saying,
“The energy used will be adjusted
for degree heating days” in case
this year’s winter is colder than
past winters. If the houses save
natural gas, the money saved will
be returned to the houses in the
form of additional program money
for spring term.
As an added incentive, Green
Roots, Lawrence’s sustainable
energy initiative, will double the
amount of money returned for the
house that saves the most natural
The Small House Challenge will
help each participating residence
throughout the three months by
providing them with ongoing feedback
about energy usage, offering
tips about how to reduce energy
consumption, and advertising each
house’s participation so that the
Lawrence community is aware of
the energy saving initiative.
RecycleMania is an effort to
increase recycling on college campuses,
with the goal of making
students aware of the magnitude
of their consumption and inspiring
students to consume less.
Brittany Oleson, co-president
of Greenfire, Lawrence’s
environmental protection club,
reports Lawrence’s progress to
RecycleMania’s international
headquarters. Oleson monitors
the progress by contacting Waste
Management weekly to record the
weights of trash and recyclables
Lawrence disposes.
Oleson said she believes that
marketing the initiative as an international
contest will excite students
and faculty and inspire them
to save the school money and
resources by being more aware of
the waste that they produce.
Oleson urged students to take
immediate action. “Bring a mug to
the café instead of getting paper
cups,” she advised.
She also encouraged students
to “take reusable shopping bags
instead of getting plastic or paper
sacks, get a reusable take-out container
for the café instead of using
the nonrecyclable disposables they
offer, ask for real silverware and
bowls if you’re dining in at the
café, print less and always print
double sided, and purchase fewer
individually wrapped items.”
For students interested in
becoming more involved in campus-
wide initiatives like these,
Griffin suggests visiting the Green
Roots Web site, and Oleson recommends
stopping by a Greenfire
meeting, which are held weekly in
the Sabin House at 9 p.m.