Elon STARS: Belk Library Green Team
The Belk Library Green Team is incorporating sustainable practices into the workplace.
Jennifer Smith and her colleagues at Belk Library knew a lot about sustainability efforts both nationally and at Elon, but they weren't really doing anything with it.
This past fall, they decided to put the knowledge into action and formed the Belk Library Green Team.
“Sustainability is something you can care a lot about but not necessarily do much about,” says Jennifer Smith, a serials/document specialist. “Working with a group to come up with ideas helps things happen.”
From conferences they attended and publications they read, it was clear to Smith and colleagues that other university libraries had Green Teams and were starting to get more involved in sustainability efforts at their institutions. They also attended a “Creating a More Sustainable Workplace” session offered by the Office of Sustainability. The session provided an overview of Elon’s sustainability initiatives and helped generate ideas on how to contribute by incorporating more sustainable practices while at work.
Smith and colleagues put together information about what the team would do and got approval from Joan Ruelle, dean and university librarian. They presented their ideas at a staff meeting to see who else would be interested in participating and grew to a team of eight. Participating in the Green Team is seen as a good professional development opportunity for staff.
“We can learn about a topic and use that knowledge to improve the workplace,” Smith says.
What exactly does the Green Team do? Since they formed in the fall 2013 they have:
- Purchased discounted smart strips from the Office of Sustainability to eliminate energy use from equipment that is off but still plugged in
- Established a writing instrument recycling collection location
- Attended webinars on energy savings
- Attended lunch and learn sessions about what others are doing to promote sustainable practices in their workplaces
- Established a place for junk mail so it can be canceled
- Volunteered to pilot an energy conservation competition for faculty and staff
- Developed a plan with the library’s Outreach Librarian to post information about sustainability on the library’s Facebook page
In addition to Smith, the Library Green Team members are Randall Bowman, Judy Hamler, Mary Ann Inabnit, Sandra Kilpatrick, Linda Lashendock and Vicki Siler. The team’s future plans include conducting an informal energy assessment of the building, developing a summer workshop for library staff about sustainability, participating in RecycleMania, creating an online research guide about sustainability and hosting an Earth Week event for students.
The Green Team encourages other departments to take on this rewarding challenge.
It All Adds Up
Sustainability is a university-wide initiative, and Elon needs your help to achieve its sustainability goals.
Elon has a goal of increasing the percent of recyclables in our waste stream every year. We are currently recycling at a rate of 2.78 pounds per person but producing about 4.2 pounds of trash per person. If by using less and recycling more each person generated half a pound less of trash per week, we would keep 200,408 pounds of garbage from the landfill. hat’s 7.15 full garbage trucks.
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. To nominate the next Elon STAR or to learn more, visit or contact us.