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GreenLife Raises Awareness on Going Green

December 2010 | by Michelle Chalkey

Royal blue is the color for recycling, not green. Blue bins occupy dorm rooms, hallways in the lecture buildings, and plenty of library space. Paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum cans are tossed into these bins every day. If someone had not taken the initiative to implement these notorious blue bins, St. Ambrose University would not be quite as green as the campus is known for.

Green is the color for preserving the environment. Green is the color more students and faculty are striving to represent our campus with. GreenLife is the group on campus that is raising awareness of this important movement.

Back in October, the student-based group called GreenLife awarded students, faculty and staff with an oak sapling for the first annual GreenLife awards. The awards were given on Oct. 4, on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment.

Among the GreenLife award recipients was Stephen Finn, the general manager of Sodexo Food Service. Finn was awarded for going trayless in the cafeteria, being committed to buying local and healthy foods, and for making use of campus compost boxes. Finn said he knows that taking away the trays in the cafeteria has been extremely environmentally helpful.

"Going trayless has shown tremendous reduction in food waste," Finn said. "The move has cut down about a third of our food and energy waste."

Taking the trays out of the cafeteria was a bold move made a couple years ago by Sodexo, but Finn said students are coming around to it.

"People are taking what they can eat and using less dishes," Finn said.

The students have accepted that the trays will not return and that it is for the better cause. Finn and his staff are also trying to cut out all Styrofoam containers. For those who need to take a lunch to go, mostly faculty members, they are implementing an environment-friendly container for members to bring back each time.

Dean of Students Tim Phillips was also awarded for his green efforts on campus. Phillips is responsible for the recycling program, residence hall efforts, campus-wide conversations, and bringing in national environmental experts.

"The award is less about me," Phillips said, "and more about bringing recognition to the initiative being made on campus. I get the credit for the work of a lot of good people."

Phillips was awarded for taking leadership and pulling people together to talk about sustainability.

Finn and Phillips are also green in their personal lives off campus. Finn said his family recycles at home and does their own composting. They also get more use out of the local farmer's market in the summer. Phillips stays green at home by carpooling and abstaining from bottled water.

In addition to the awards, recipients and members of GreenLife have recently presented a petition to Sister Joan Lescinski with a total of 400 signatures, including a signature from Lescinski herself. In honor of 10/10/10, GreenLife used this as a day to put emphasis on sustainability and presented a list of demands and requests.

A few of these requests include: enhance environmental education in course work and co-curricular programming, create meal plan policies that discourage over-consumption, ban bottled water from campus vending machines and food outlets, and offer students a "green rebate" for completing a sustainability covenant (reduce waste of food, paper, energy; taking a green course; not owning a car, etc.).

Phillips said Lescinski is affirming the efforts of GreenLife.

While blue bins and the absence of trays continue to show the green in St. Ambrose, a lifestyle change is crucial for all students and faculty who hope to lessen their carbon footprint and emphasize the green life.

–As printed in The Buzz student newspaper

MORE LIKE THIS:Environmental-Sustainability

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