How Do We Reduce Waste at BGSU?
BGSU established sustainability goals and has included them in our Climate Action Plan for a number of years. Our three major sustainability goals have always included: Emissions Reduction, Waste Reduction/Resource Conservation, and Sustainability Education & Outreach. But all these goals blend together. What happens when you send a lot of waste to the landfill? It contributes to the creation of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in creating climate change. It makes sense that we could lower our emissions as well as create other environmental benefits and even save money by sending less waste to the landfill. Because less waste means we can buy less new items/materials, and that, as well as the lowering of “tipping fees” paid for what’s sent to the landfill saves us money also! Reducing waste is simply a win-win! How are we making it work at BGSU though?
1. Surplus Re Use:
BGSU operates a warehouse on East Reed Street where surplus furniture and other large inventory items are kept and made available to departments and offices at no charge. If you are looking for a table, office chairs, lounge furniture, etc. you may find something you can use/reuse that will fit your needs and would simply need to submit a maintenance request to have it delivered by the Logistics area of Campus Operations, which operates the warehouse. See https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf2dYkRUQBl8-ZBQX3HUh5fnq4OnwKyKC1P3AvF9q01tkpxeA/viewform for on online listing of what is currently available, or contact Logistics to set up an appointment to take a look in person.
The Re Store and WYMO: Throughout the year, BGSU operates a “reuse” store called the “re store” over in McDonald Hall that is open for a couple hours each week to students, faculty and staff. A variety of small, lightly used items are available for free and include school/office supplies, electronics, household items, small furniture, clothing, books, and much more.
In April, the When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out (WYMO) program begins (and is currently in full force), with collection boxes placed in all residence hall lobbies and Greek townhouses, the Union, and BGSU Dining Marketplace stores. Students can donate nonperishable food, clothing, shoes, household/kitchen items, toiletries, appliances, futons/small furniture, cleaning supplies and anything that’s still usable. These items are provided to local food pantries and non-profits, as well as the re store, for eventual BGSU community reuse. The collection continues until residence halls close for the academic year. For more info on WYMO and the re store, see https://www.bgsu.edu/campus-sustainability/recycling-waste-reduction.html
2. Surplus sales and donations
Each year, BGSU sells thousands of dollars in sales of surplus items to the public through the http://www.govdeals.com website. Doing a search on this site and using “BGSU” or our zip code will bring up all items currently listed in an “ebay” type of sales format, where bids are submitted. Everything from kitchen equipment to vehicles and all things in between are sometimes found on this site, which also includes other schools and public institutions that are selling surplus. As a public institution for the public good, BGSU also donates items to nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity, St. Mark’s Furniture Pantry and other charities on a regular basis.
Food sent to the landfill contributes significantly to methane production. BGSU has a pre-consumer composting program and collects produce trimmings from the Oaks, and Carillon Place dining halls as well as the BTSU Falcon’s Nest. In a regular year that amounts to close to 30 tons. Our next expansion will hopefully be to include “post- consumer” composting as well, which would include uneaten food from consumers. This would be a huge step towards reducing the weight/volume of what is currently sent to the landfill regularly from our dining centers.
Most of us see recycling bins in BGSU building daily. These are for the “commingle” recycling, which includes our standard items such as cans, plastic and glass bottles, office paper and newspaper. But BGSU recycles a lot more than that, mostly behind the scenes. We recycle outdated/broken electronics and electronic equipment (basically anything with a battery or power cord), and this amounts to over 50 tons annually. Light ballasts, computers and IT equipment, TVs, projectors, wires/cables and much more!
We also recycle wooden shipping pallets and actually receive monetary credit for each one. Other items include light bulbs, Interface carpet tiles and specialty metals such as copper and brass.
Through all of these efforts, BGSU is able to continue to divert items from the landfill, thus increasing what’s referred to as our “diversion rate”. Think about the potential for reuse or donation when looking for/ordering items for offices and departments, or when getting rid of things/cleaning out. You could save money and help the environment at the same time!