The goal for this summer’s Clean + Go Green was simple: to keep campus sustainability efforts vibrant year-round and “to get as many people involved as possible,” says Don Schlosser, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President, Campus Operations.
So, from July 13-15, Columbia Facilities sponsored and managed five stations on the Morningside campus, all prepared and waiting for faculty, staff and administrators to drop off their unwanted office items in the interests of reuse and recycling.
For the first time in Clean + Go Green’s five-year history, Nevis Labs joined the effort. Nevis, a Columbia experimental physics research lab, had a drop off area on its Irvington, N.Y., campus, about twenty miles from the Morningside Heights. Its contributions are included in the Morningside campus totals.
As for results, the numbers tell the story, says Frank Molina, Facilities supervisor who organized drop off areas and Dumpster placement. This summer’s total collection weighed in at 52 tons, compared with 30 tons a year ago. The significant increase was due for the most part to the longer availability of a paper-shredding truck, 32 tons of computers and electronics dropped off this year versus 19 tons last year, and Nevis Labs’ participation.
Contributions of bulk waste – mostly non-reusable wood furniture, cardboard, and metal items, including cabinets, shelving and furniture, totaled nearly 8.5 tons.
Paper delivered to the Code Shred truck, parked on College Walk all three days, weighed in at 32 tons. “The shredding is taken to our vendor’s site, where it is boiled and shipped to various other vendors who recycle the paper by making toilet paper and paper towels among other items,” Molina says.
Electronics, handled by Environmental Health & Safety, totaled 32 tons. Geraldine Tan, EH&S specialist, says the collection consisted largely of computer monitors, but also included hard drives; peripherals, such as mice; printers; and copiers. Tan says that “everything will be scrapped down to reusable metal and plastic components.”
Pete Macaluso, Operations Manager at Nevis Labs, says that Tan was a key resource in Nevis’ first participation in C+GG. “She instructed us about what was acceptable – electronics, but not lab equipment,” he says. Macaluso says that Nevis’ effort was so well received that the campus looks forward to having it again. “They were thrilled that Morningside Facilities was thinking about them,” he says.
Under the direction of Lisa Cammett, a member of the Columbia neighborhood community, 3,000 books became part of an exchange effort. Donations included a large collection of classics from a Columbia graduate student who now prefers to download his reading material. All books that made their way to the collection centers found new homes with campus readers.
C+GG’s success has evolved along with the parallel Eco-Rep and Housing Office effort Give + Go Green. This reuse/recycling initiative is held at the end of the spring semester and encourages donations of clothing, kitchen ware, computers and electronics, non-perishable food, and books – most of which is given to local social service agencies. For the past two Decembers, C+GG and C+GG have had a joint effort at the end of the fall semester.
Helen Bielak, manager of the Surplus Reuse Program, Office of Environmental Stewardship, has worked with both programs as they have developed over the past six years. Emphasis has shifted, she says, from simply cleaning out spaces to donating unwanted things – and to reusing and recycling, first applying these principles to G+GG, then to C+GG. Through the years Bielak has brokered partnerships between the Columbia and a variety of agencies able and eager to accept the reusable goods.
The wider net cast in this summer’s C+GG was reflected in Schlosser’s message to all Morningside building and departments, especially those off-campus. “If there are any special considerations around your participation, we’d be happy to go out to help you. Especially if you’re off campus, we’ll come get what you have.
“We tried to make the event as inclusive as possible, to be as accommodating, as flexible as possible,” he says.
Facilities staffers under the direction of Boubacar Maiga, Director, Custodial Services, jumped into trucks, heading among other places to Knox Hall on 122nd St., and Alumni Center, on 113th St., and Fayerweather Hall – all of which responded to Schlosser’s invitation. These staffers also oversaw donation receptacles at the collection points, both directing donors to the proper ones and sorting items as necessary.
“What made this summer’s event so successful is what we did this time,” Schlosser said. “We announced it and announced it again. We created space on our Facilities website. We informed people – then we helped them. In general people were really excited about it.”
So much so that people are asking about dates for the next C+GG. They’re already posted for the next three years at http://facilities.columbia.edu/clean-go-green