Elon STARS: Environmental Services Staff
Nothing could be more fitting for introducing the Elon STARS series than highlighting the daily efforts of custodial staff.
Every day and night, seen or unseen, these staff members move through every single campus building cleaning, emptying waste bins, and generally ensuring a healthy working environment for everyone at Elon.
Of special note is the role they play in Elon’s recycling efforts.
Have you ever noticed that you can almost always read the labels on trash and recycling bins? That there is almost always a recycling bin in close proximity to a trash bin?
Desk side recycling started about seven years ago at Elon. Having been at Elon nearly nine years, Gregory Marshall, a supervisor in Environmental Services, has been a part of the effort from the start. According to Mr. Marshall, in the beginning, environmental services staff members were not always putting recyclables in a separate bag. However, now, thanks to daily staff meetings, staff buy-in and supervision, the need to keep items from recycling bins separate from the trash is prioritized.
With the exception of green bins that are emptied once they are at least half full, trash and recycling bins are emptied daily. For a few large spaces, custodians have carts to help with collection, but in many office spaces, partly due to maneuverability and closet space, custodians carry three separate bags with them – one for paper, one for other recyclables and one for trash.
Marshall mentioned that one of the biggest challenges with improving recycling rates is not with collection, but with getting items in the appropriate bins from the beginning. Custodians will NOT separate trash. If there is a plastic bottle in the trash bin, it stays in the trash. There are some who say, ‘It all goes in the trash anyway, so why bother.’ Not true! There are separate bins for a reason. If you have seen a custodian put items from a recycling bin in the trash, report it to Dave Worden or Gregory Marshall in Environmental Services.
So, the next time you see the custodian in your building, if you don’t already, be sure to say hello and let them know you appreciate their part in contributing to Elon’s recycling program.
It All Adds Up
Sustainability is a university-wide initiative, and Elon needs your help to achieve its sustainability goals.
Elon goal: Increase the percent of recyclables in our waste stream every year. Last year about 30 percent of our waste was recycled or composted. We can do better!
- Get a recycling bin. If you do not have a blue paper recycling bin in your office, request one by submitting a work order.
- Spread the word that ALL plastics (#1-#7) are now accepted.
- Be a model. Put items in the appropriate bin, let people see you do it, and speak up when you see others not doing the same.
About Elon STARS: Sometimes we see stars, sometimes we don’t, but they are always there. So it is with daily opportunities for contributing to sustainability. This series highlights actions of Elon community members doing their part to integrate sustainable practices at Elon. STARS also stands for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System used by Elon and other higher education institutions to measure and monitor sustainability in all aspects of higher education.