UWindsor discovers it’s not easy being green

The University of Windsor has taken strides recent years to become a more environmentally friendly campus. Although the advancements are evident, there is always room for improvement.

Since John Regier, manager of housekeeping and grounds at facility services, started working on the campus, a lot has changed. “Three years ago… basically the only recycling we had was blue bins in office areas mainly for fine paper [and cardboard],” Regier explained.

Now, between 40-50 per cent of outdoor campus and all major academic buildings are garnished with recycling stations. Also, residence services was lauded when they recently decided to outfit each of their rooms with recycling bins.

It’s no longer just paper that the university is concerned about. Facility services has investigated and implemented ways of properly disposing of computers and lights. “[Fluorescent] tube lights have a percentage of mercury in them and in the past, lights have just been sort of thrown out into a general garbage and then you’d have all of this mercury going into the landfill. Now we package the lights and they’re brought in and they’re handled in an environmentally friendly process,” Regier said.

But it’s not easy being green. “Recycling stations are fairly expensive,” said Arthur Barbut, policy advisor at the office of the vice president administration and finance. “I think we’re spending about $80,000 a year on them,” Barbut explained, adding that each individual outdoor unit is worth about $1,500.

“It’s one thing to have them available, but it’s critical to get people to use them and use them properly,” Barbut said. “We have a big problem with contamination. A lot of people throw food in the paper [or bottle] recycling. The city actually discards anything that’s tainted.”

In addition to its recycling initiatives, The University of Windsor is also in the process of switching from chemical pesticides to a more environmentally friendly lawn treatment process. “You can see by the sheer number of dandelions that we’re not using chemicals to treat them, and people have to understand that right now the environmentally friendly products are just not as aggressive,” said Regier.

Naturalized areas have also been developed near football fields, and Regier explained that they’re currently seeking out other areas around campus where they might continue to landscape in that way.

For Regier, it’s all in the name. “We’re just getting ready to change our name to environmental services, to be more in tune,” Regier said.

The environmentally friendly fever has spread across campus and Martin Deck, marketing manager at the University of Windsor’s Bookstore, supports the trend.

“The Bookstore is always interested in selling green products,” Deck explained. “For many years we’ve been selling recycled greeting cards, paper and notebooks, and organic cosmetics—but our most important recycling initiative is to reuse textbooks by buying them back, selling them used, and then buying them back again. We encourage all our students to buy and sell as many textbooks as possible.”

The Bookstore contributed to making the campus greener by participating on Earth Day and shutting off the majority of their lights all day.

As for the future, “We’re hoping to have a campus cleanliness day where we have faculty, staff, students, and whoever wants to volunteer for the initiative, to go on campus and help us with the clean up,” Barbut explained. “It’s really more a matter of educating people so they know where the recycling stations are and how to recycle properly.”

 

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