In spring 2017, of the 573 tons of trash that Tech’s campus disposed of, only 21.7 percent was able to be recycled.
The campus community produced 448.6 tons of waste, not including the 128.2 tons of waste produced by construction efforts. However, due to the recycling bins on campus, 124.4 tons of paper, cardboard, cans and plastic were saved.
“Our recycling program, right now, is operated by student workers who are paid by the sustainability fee all students pay. We have recycling bins in all the building on campus and we also collect metals and other materials from the ongoing construction,” DeLayne Miller, the sustainability manager for Tech, said. “We don’t offer glass recycling on campus, but there are glass bins in Tech Village that the City of Cookeville handles.”
The Office of Sustainability staff coordinates all projects on campus that focus on preserving Tech’s campus and environment; which includes recycling, switching to more eco-friendly LED lights, and monitoring the energy usage and how much the university saves on campus, Miller said.
“Tech started the process of going green in 2005 when the SGA approved the Green Fee Program, which is a student activity fee that is put toward sustainable campus initiatives. The money is put toward the bike share program, campus events, water refill stations and solar technology,” Miller said.
Throughout the month of October, the members and staff of Tennessee Tech’s Office of Sustainability sponsored events honoring National Sustainability Month. The main event of the month was the Sustainability Day and a World Food Celebration on Centennial Plaza on Oct. 24. The event featured on campus and community organizations that have a focus on efforts to educate people on how to be more environmentally conscious. Throughout the month, the office staff showed a film about the environmental dangers of the clothing industry, The True Cost, gave away reusable water bottles, sponsored a cleanup of Window Cliffs state park and concluded the month with a think tank discussion about how to make the campus more environmentally friendly that took place in the Tech Pride Room on Oct. 26.
“The ultimate goal is to get the whole campus involved with becoming more sustainable,” Lindsey Mills, Environmental and Sustainability Studies student said. “Sustainability, which essentially means doing what we can to avoid harming the environment, is about taking care of our planet so it lasts longer. It truly affects everyone and we want all offices, not just ours, to care.”