University of Wisconsin’s newly-created Sustainability Council met Tuesday to engage in collaboration across different student organizations on campus.
Student leader and student program coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, Meredith Keller, described the council as a facilitator for student groups and organizations.
In its second meeting as a council, members from sustainability-related organizations across the university shared their mission and plans for the upcoming semester.
Coordinator for operations in the OS Frank Kooistra addressed the council regarding ways to participate in RecycleMania, a national tournament in which colleges and universities compete on waste diversion.
Kooistra said all of the university’s total waste is measured over an eight-week period that started last Monday. He said several events with the goal to reduce waste on campus will take place over this period.
In an effort to reduce waste at athletic events on campus, Kooistra said he hopes to have 16 volunteer recycling ambassadors at the Michigan basketball game Saturday to engage in Game Day Challenge, a college and university completion for lowered waste at sporting events.
According to Kooistra, volunteers walk around and answer questions about recycling.
“Typically we just embarrass people by taking stuff out of the trash and putting it where it’s supposed to be and taking trash out of the recycle bin and putting that were it’s supposed to be,” Kooistra said. “You’d be surprised at the impact that has on people.”
Through the efforts of We Conserve and REthink Wisconsin, two sustainability-based student organizations, the initial 3 percent waste diversion rate at UW sporting facilities moved up to 28 percent.
Keller added Ohio State’s waste diversion rate is at 98 percent.
“Ohio State kind of blows everyone away,” Kooistra said. “We’re not there yet, but someday we will be.”
Kooistra said he hopes engaging in the Game Day Challenge will have an impact on campus. He added they will promote RecycleMania in many academic buildings on campus, including facilities for Recreation Sports.
Keller also spoke on Campus Conservation Nationals that will take place from March until Spring Break. She said CCN is like RecycleMania because it is a nationwide competition, but added it targets only residence halls.
According to Keller, whichever unit reduces their electricity use the most will win the competition and receive a party. She said though CCN is just limited to housing, it is still a big program.
“Houses who participate in CCN maintain their reduction throughout the rest of the year,” Keller said. “It works in changing behaviors.”
Representatives from various other UW sustainability-based student organizations came to the council meeting as well, including Amnesty International, FH King, Associated Students of Madison’s Sustainability Committee and the Morgridge Center.
The council will meet every third week, with its next meeting taking place Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.