Green Roots launches recycling container initiative and residence hall competition

Nicholas Paulson

Green Roots, the environmental initiative launched in 2008 to make “green” efforts for the Lawrence campus and create an environment that encourages care of the Earth, has two major projects for the coming months. The first is the installment of recycling receptacles across campus, and the second is an inter-residence hall conservation challenge.

The initiative for recycling receptacles began last year in an environmental studies seminar. The students, observing the amount of recycling put in trash receptacles outdoors, investigated various methods for addressing the problem. They eventually decided on outdoor recycling receptacles. Because the cost of acquiring recycling receptacles from an external company was prohibitive, other means of acquiring recycling receptacles were investigated.

Assistant Professor of Government and Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs Jason Brozek, current chair of the Green Roots initiative and a member of the initiative since 2009, contacted a local craftsman at TGWoodWorks who agreed to produce the desired receptacles at a fraction of the price. The craftsman used wood salvaged from the area, acquired when a highway was constructed and all of the wood was destined for a landfill. Each recycling receptacle was handmade using local labor.

Said Brozek, “It’s kind of a fairy tale story for a recycling bin. That they would be initiated by a student project, made of local salvaged wood that was going to go to waste and be made by local labor.”

Members of Greenfire recently stained the wood and the receptacles are intended to be put in place Feb. 12.

The second major project Green Roots is undertaking this term will run for four weeks from Feb. 1 though 29. Each residence hall’s energy and water consumption over the course of January will be measured on a per capita basis to establish a baseline. Throughout February, Green Roots will then work with Residence Life to distribute information concerning and encourage conservation.

The dorm that has reduced their energy and water consumption the most per capita by February will be rewarded. Though there is no physical prize this year, the hall that wins the title of LU Conservation Champion in coming years will receive a traveling trophy to display.

Over the summer, the individual residence halls were each metered, allowing accurate comparison of hall energy consumption and making individual readings of each hall’s electricity use possible.

Green Roots is a presidential committee comprised of two staff members, two students representing Greenfire and the Environmental Responsibility Committee and two or three faculty members and the head of facility services.

Past projects that Green Roots has worked on include the installation of a wind turbine in Björklunden in 2011 and the installation of solar panels on Hiett Hall in 2010.

Brozek encouraged students who had ideas concerning conservation to contact him, and added, “If someone came to us with an idea, I’d gladly put them on the agenda.”