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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays

From our office:

With the holiday season upon us, we are reminded to reflect on what is important to us. Here at the Office of Sustainability, we are grateful to the UF community for all of the support and dedication you give to our collective efforts to realize a sustainable future for our institution, our state, and the world.

We hope that you have a joyful and relaxing holiday, and that you will take some time this season to reflect on how to make your holiday a celebration that is both joyful and sustainable—one that is focused on how to enjoy your blessings, rather than count the gifts or worry about the trimmings. We wish you moments of peace amid the bustle.

Thank you for all you do,

The Office of Sustainability

Tailgator Recycling

Tailgator Green Team Recycling celebrated its fourth year this football season. The program is more successful each year, with more volunteers getting involved and more seasoned tailgaters on the lookout for green-shirted volunteers handing out recycling bags to reduce waste.

Football game-days have a huge environmental footprint, with an estimated 16 tons of waste associated with each game. This year, the stadium also increased access to recycling, with a recycling bin for each trash can within the stadium. This effort, in conjunction with the Tailgator Recycling program captured nearly four tons of recyclables per game!

The Tailgator Green Team relies on a student intern from the Office of Sustainability for management, and exclusively on student volunteers to spread the word about recycling and distribute bags campus-wide. This year, Jordan Weinstein led the program, supporting over 190 volunteers who came from a wide range of student groups to help the cause. Volunteers donated more than 600 hours over the 7 home games.

“Everyone can make a difference by recycling their cans and bottles on Game Day,” said Weinstein. "We truly appreciate all the hard work the volunteers and the staffers put into helping to make this season a resounding success. Seasoned tailgaters know who we are now and are looking for our volunteers before they get out there. We're looking forward to growing success in the years to come."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trashformations 2009

At the end of November the Florida Museum of Natural History and Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives hosted the 11th Annual Trashformations program. Trashformations is a juried art competition open to all middle school, high school and college students in Alachua County. Each piece entered into the competition must be comprised of at least 70% recycled, recyclable or reused materials.

This year, over 40 entries were displayed at the Florida Museum. Each piece demonstrated new, expressive, and innovative ways to recycle household materials. With nearly 300 people in attendance, awards were presented in three divisions: middle school, high school and college. Awards were given to local students from schools including Westwood Middle, Oak Hall, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. A winner was also selected from each division to receive a Waste Watcher Award, for artwork demonstrating the best use of recycled materials as well as a Museum Choice Award, for pieces with natural history related themes.

Award winning sculptures ranged in subject matter from a tree-hugging robot to a giant angler fish. Inspired by the positive feedback from the public, some Trashformations participants have even gone on to sell their recycled creations following the event. Trashformations provides students with a unique opportunity to display their work in a museum gallery and to gain public recognition of their skills.

For more information about Trashformations, please contact the Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives.

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Less Car Wraps As Alternative Transportation Increases

The second annual One Less Car challenge was a success, with nearly 1,000 people participating. More than 100 teams represented students, faculty, and staff from departments and units across campus. Together, One Less Car participants avoided over 260,000 miles of driving during the challenge. Through alternative transportation commutes, such as busing, biking, and walking, approximately 246,370 pounds of carbon dioxide were kept from entering the atmosphere.

The teams that used alternative transportation for the most miles were: The Office for Student Financial Affairs, The Florida Museum of Natural History, and The College of Dentistry. Final prizes were awarded to the teams with the highest average points per member: Extreme Backroads, Los Tamales Calientes, Radical Gainesville, Geography, and No glass on the bike lanes. Individuals also earned prizes for logging the most trips and avoiding the most miles of driving. Final prizes included: lunch from Satchel’s Pizza, bike tune-ups, Hippodrome Tickets, Gator Dining meal coupons, and tickets to the Butterfly exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The Office of Sustainability would like to thank everyone who participated this year and all of our sponsors for providing such great incentives to participate.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

FLMNH Enthusiastic For Sustainability

The Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) is dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting Florida’s biological diversity and cultural heritage. Research published by museum faculty, staff, and students working in Dickinson and McGuire Halls, as well as the public exhibits in McGuire and Powell Halls that interpret these works, aim to communicate the value of natural systems to policymakers and the public alike.

In line with its institutional purpose and the desire to serve as a model for sustainability practices, the FLMNH and its Green Team strive to implement best sustainability practices into the daily rhythms of museum life. The FLMNH Green Team is conscious of their resource consumption, with approximately 200,000 ft² of campus building space and nearly 500 staff and students.

Frequent reminders of ways in which staff and students can reduce their consumption of natural resources occur periodically via e-mail and staff meeting presentations. A number of initiatives are underway to reduce the impact of the museum and educate students, staff, and visitors. Early successes include:

• Reducing demand for printed campus and community phone directories by over 95%

• Partnership with the Physical Plant Recycling program for scheduled pickups of clean, glass specimen containers too large for standard campus bins

• High annual level of participation in the annual One Less Car alternative transportation campaign—this year, 76 team members avoided 22,642 miles of driving

• Responsible material usage by the graphic design department including a commitment to FSC certified materials and reusable event signage

• Eco-minded gift presentations at the museum’s annual holiday party in order to promote awareness

• Installation of towel bars and reusable towels near high-traffic sinks (in a nod to the UF International Center Green Team)

The Florida Museum has adopted Office of Sustainability Programs into our year-round operations, including “Think Before You Ink,” “Chomp Down on Energy,” and the “One Less Car” campaign.

Much work remains to be done and a number of great things are planned for 2010. Stay tuned!