Tuesday April 21, 2015

Fourteen Green Elephants

We're working on sustainability solutions. At this time of year, we measure results in tons.

When Earth Day comes to the University of Dayton campus, we're often thinking about exams, graduation and summer plans. We're thinking about packing up and moving out, and how we'll get all of that stuff in the car. Students accumulate many things during a school year — pounds and pounds of clothing, books, household items, electronics, appliances and furniture. And for too many years, these items ended up in the trash.

Kurt Hatcher had a better idea. The University's environmental sustainability manager thought there could be a way to divert discarded items into the hands and homes of people who can put them to very good use.

Hatcher worked with campus ministry, housing and residence life, and parking services to create the Move Out recycling program in 2009 for students to donate unwanted items to local charities. Since the program started, students have donated more than 100 tons of items to charities such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Social Services and the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia program. To put it into perspective, 100 tons equals about 14 elephants, 50 cars or 40,000 bricks.

"This annual event provides essential donations for the needs of our shelters, programs and food pantries," said Krys Davidson, manager of community enterprises for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Dayton. "The generosity of the University of Dayton has benefited thousands in the Dayton area as we strive to provide person-to-person assistance to the poor and the homeless."

Since implementing Move Out recycling just six years ago, the Flyers have turned in impressive performances. Competing for the first time this year in Recyclemania, a national recycling contest for colleges and universities, the University recycled 783,766 pounds, or 54.88 pounds per person during February and March, coming in second of 307 schools in the competition.

"Sustainability allows us to be good stewards of the environment and our resources. This program keeps trash out of landfills and helps the University avoid hundreds of dollars in landfill and transportation fees," Hatcher said.

Recycling is just one component of the University's comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability scholarship and action. That commitment to sustainability touches the campus, the Dayton region and the world, drawing together academics, research, service, community engagement, campus operations and, yes, even the organized chaos of student move out.

The next sustainability solution coming to campus will be expanded access to bicycles. The University is a founding sponsor of Link, the Dayton area bike sharing program, which will bring bike sharing to campus this spring.

Users can purchase 24-hour memberships for $5 at station kiosks or $65 annual memberships, which enable them to use bikes at 24 stations located throughout the extended downtown Dayton area.

 "The University of Dayton is so pleased to be able to support the bike share program by sponsoring five stations on campus for bicyclists," said Daniel J. Curran, president. "Our region offers one of the best and biggest bikeway networks in the country. I’m one of thousands of people who get on these paths all the time, and I often see our students, faculty and staff biking on the trails. This new bike-share initiative will provide greater connectivity between our campus and downtown."

Many of the University's sustainability efforts are being recognized nationally.

The Princeton Review's Guide to 353 Green Colleges for 2015 includes the University.

The University achieved a silver rating in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, which looks at a wide variety of sustainability efforts, ranging from curriculum to facilities maintenance to planning to policy development.

And last year, when the University became the first Catholic university to announce that it would divest fossil fuels from its investments, the world took notice. Traditional media, social media and higher education media continue to cite the University as a leader in sustainability for higher education.

"We have worked diligently Universitywide the past few years to be faithful stewards of our environment in the Catholic, Marianist tradition and instill a sustainability culture on campus," Hatcher said.

You can see our sustainability accomplishments and active projects as well as media coverage of #DaytonDivests by visiting the related links.

For more information, contact Kurt Hatcher, environmental sustainability manager, khatcher@udayton.edu

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