If you’ve been in a campus restroom lately, you may have noticed small decals reminding you to use less water and paper towels. Purchased through a partnership between A&F and the Student Government Association, the decals are part of a broader campaign urging faculty, staff and students to conserve energy by using less.
The campaign features events, posters, print and electronic ads, and Daily Digest messages focused on taking small, daily steps to conserve natural resources and use less. In addition to the decals in public restrooms, decals and magnets were installed in all residence hall rooms reminding occupants to conserve water, turn off lights, and reduce thermostats to save energy. The conservation theme marks a shift from previous efforts focused mainly on recycling.
“The university’s approach toward sustainability needs to be dynamic and ever-evolving,” Sustainability Director Jack Nye said. “Now that we’ve established positive recycling behaviors, conservation is the next step. It is our objective to modify personal behavior in a way that will have greater benefits to campus in terms of reducing the university’s carbon footprint through conservation, energy efficiency and re-use.”
The focus on conservation will be very apparent in this year’s RecycleMania competition. In previous years, TU focused on collecting as many recyclables as possible in order to compete for RecycleMania’s gorilla prize (which measures total recyclables collected) and per-capita recycling category. This year, the university is focused on improving its standings in the waste minimization category, which reflects the total waste stream per capita. Approximately 33.08 cumulative pounds of waste per capita placed TU 36 out of 148 institutions in last year’s waste minimization category. Jack says this year’s goal of placing in the top 20% of the category will not only help to reduce the waste stream, but also decrease energy consumption.
“A significant amount of energy goes into producing, packaging and distributing new goods from virgin resources,” Jack said. “Reducing our consumption and reusing materials helps to reduce the university’s total energy usage and the resultant carbon footprint impact. As I like to remind myself and others each day, the greenest resource is the one you never use.”
The University Residence Government (URG) is also a partner in the campaign via a Conservation Contest being held between campus residence halls this February. Throughout the month, resident students will compete against one another to reduce energy consumption, which will be tracked in real-time and displayed on the electronic sign board facing the first floor entrance of the University Union. Residents in the building with the greatest monthly energy reduction over the previous February will win a burrito party.
“The Conservation Contest and RecycleMania are great vehicles for educating the campus about sustainability and increasing awareness of how conservation can be incorporated into daily behavior,” Jack said. “It’s our goal that these competitions and the overall campaign will help to engage the campus community in more sustainable behaviors.”