Our Sustainability Story
The Green Team
Many of the sustainable initiatives at the Meijer Campus were brought about by a dedicated group of students, faculty, staff and community members known as the Green Team. The Green Team meets monthly to discuss new initiatives, evaluate practices, and plan programming related to sustainability for the GVSU and local community. If you’d like to be a part of the Green Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launching Triple Bottom Recycling
Before fully committing to sustainability, the Meijer Campus had been recycling and composting yard waste for some time. Green Team member Dan Broersma asked, “Where’s our recycling going? Who is benefiting from it?” He encouraged the team to find a model that might meet its needs. His community involvement helped locate the New Life Recycling Center, part of the Holland Rescue Mission.
Now, the Meijer Campus recyclables are picked up by this local nonprofit. They are sorted by participants in the Mission’s job training program, and the profits are used to support the Mission. This initiative helped us hit the triple bottom line and launched the Meijer Campus value of sustainability into action.
Check out our Moving Toward Zero-Landfill document to learn more about this sustainability practice.
Introducing Centralized Waste Hubs
Our Triple Bottom Line recycling program resulted in a variety of new initiatives. Because the recycled goods were also helping a local organization, the Green Team was eager to ensure that the recycling bins were brimming.
We had a lot of questions, namely: “Do we know what is NOT making it into the recycling bins that COULD BE?” The team joked that the only way to know that would be to dive into the dumpster. One sunny morning in Fall of 2011, our team jumped into the dumpster and sorted bags of trash. The Green Team learned that nearly 90% of what was deposited in the landfill-bound dumpster could have been recycled, indicating the need for a new approach.
The Meijer Campus took the next step and eliminated individual trash and paper recycling containers from all offices and classrooms. After conducting another dive, the Green Team found that the Meijer Campus had reduced the amount of recyclable material in our landfill bound container to nearly 20%.
Updating Office Procedures
Purchasing: We committed to purchasing and utilizing recycled paper and office supplies. In addition, we limit the amount of deliveries by ordering in bulk in order to cut back on carbon emissions.
Kitchenette: We replaced disposable cups, plates, and plastic wear with glasses, mugs, plate, and silverware (much of it purchased at second hand stores). When we need to resort to disposable goods (size of program, meeting or functions) we purchase compostable and recyclable goods.
Compost Pilot: The integration of composting our landscaping led us to launch a small ‘kitchen’ composting pilot at the Meijer Campus. Our commuter campus does not provide food service options other than vending and so our pilot was limited to the faculty/staff kitchenette where we encouraged people to compost coffee grounds, tea bags, and lunch scraps.
Integrating Facilities Improvements
The Green Team met to determine priorities and worked with our facilities liaisons make a variety of changes to our office, including:
- Composting yard waste including grass clippings and leaves
- Reduced our “lawn space” to cut back on water and emissions associated with maintenance and upkeep
- Integrating native plants in our landscaping
- Incorporating weather stations, rain gauges, and other technology to decrease watering.
- Adjusting our lighting and HVAC to reduce energy consumption
- Defaulting to duplex printing/copying to reduce paper use
- Adjusting the heating/cooling schedule according to classroom usage