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Friday, March 18, 2011

UF asks Gators to reconsider ways to be ‘green’ this spring

The University of Florida Office of Sustainability is hosting “REthink” this spring — a campaign to engage, educate, and empower Gators to consider waste in its many forms and the ways they can REduce, REuse, REcycle, REpurpose, REnew, REstore, and REspond in their own lives.

Now through April 22, members of The Gator Nation and local community are invited to consider their “waste footprint” by participating in interactive, sustainability-focused events on campus and around Gainesville.

The campaign kicked off with REstore, a campuswide cleanup of UF’s natural areas, sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the UF Clean Water Campaign, on Feb. 5. Nearly 300 volunteers, including UF First Lady Chris Machen, collected approximately 3,000 pounds of trash and recyclables on campus, with members of Greeks Going Green collecting more than 700 pounds of waste from the fraternity conservation area alone. Students from the organization GreenLAW also helped to mulch areas of the law school woods in coordination with the cleanup.

“It is truly inspiring to see that level of participation,” said Anna Prizzia, director of the Office of Sustainability. “However, the amount of litter found in these sensitive areas helps illustrate the necessity of continuing to engage the campus community on the issue of waste.”

Other events for REthink will focus on topics such as plastic bag reduction, disposable coffee cups and sleeves, one-time use water bottles and energy waste.

At 7 p.m. March 22, Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, will speak at the Reitz Student Union Grand Ballroom about re-envisioning waste, eco-entrepreneurship and innovation. TerraCycle empowers consumers to collect nonrecyclable waste, which they convert into new products.

Additionally, the Office of Sustainability will host its Campus Earth Month Kickoff Celebration on April 1 at the Plaza of the Americas. UF President Bernie Machen will give his annual State of Sustainability address, followed by the presentation of this year’s Sustainable Solutions Award Recipients. The awards recognize individuals or teams that have made significant contributions toward advancing sustainability at UF. Individuals can submit nominations now through March 15.

As part of the Earth Month Kickoff, people will have the chance to drop off clothes, nonperishable food items, school supplies, books, and hazardous waste to be donated or disposed of properly. “We wanted this year’s event to serve as a time of reflection on past achievements, while also providing the opportunity to respond today,” Prizzia said.

The full schedule of events, along with more information about the campaign, is available at