OUR Certified Platinum
The Office of the University Registrar (OUR) is BU’s first Platinum Certified Department! Similar to Green Office Certification, Green Department Certification involves the entire department working together to make sustainability a reality in the workplace. The Green Department Certification survey focuses on actions within the department that require office-wide participation such as lighting policies, computer settings, and sustainable purchasing. Platinum certification would not have been possible if not for the efforts and encouragement of assistant vice president & university registrar Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith. sustainability@BU applauds Jeff for taking a leadership role in fostering a more sustainable BU and we expect many deans and department heads will follow his lead.
Departments, such as OUR, working toward certification gain extra credit points by establishing their own unique sustainable programs or practices. Aside from green purchasing and establishing a robust educational signage program, the OUR Green Team coordinates multiple efforts which allow them to achieve extra credit and ultimately platinum certification. Stephanie Deckard, Green Team coordinator and sustainability@BU Liaison, has been the strongest force behind the program and she explains their focus on three initiatives: operation trash can, K-cup herb garden, and monthly community luncheons.
Operation Trash Can
Do you really need that trash can under your desk? The OUR Green Team thought not so they surveyed the office and removed unnecessary trash cans from common areas and assisted 80% of staff with turning in their cans as well. “Have you ever considered the number of people it takes for Boston University to operate? Thousands of people, each with their own trash can. Then think about the plastic bags lining those trash cans and how each is replaced every night as the trash is taken away,” says Stephanie. “When I began to contemplate the waste I create simply by having my own personal trash can, I wanted to do something about it. Thus, operation trash can began!”
In addition to removing trash cans, the Green Team ensures all staff have a deskside recycling bin. Stephanie adds, “We still have personal recycling bins, but now we must get up and think about the item to be thrown away, asking ourselves, ‘Can this be recycled?’” Operation Trash Can is an effective and easy way to make a big impact. It requires a small shift in behavior and, for the University Registrar, is estimated to save nearly 6,500 plastic can liners from the landfill each year.
Community luncheons are monthly opportunities for the Office of the University Registrar to break bread together. “We save energy by not going out and buying meals since everyone contributes a dish to share,” says Stephanie, “and we have meaningful conversations around the table, using our reusable tableware and mugs to reduce waste. It is the small steps that we take that can make a big difference,” she says.
K-Cup Herb garden
K-cups are wasteful. It’s a fact. So the OUR Green Team posted signage and put a collection bin at their coffee station urging staff to recycle the cups. However, Stephanie took the idea one step further, using the wasted pods to grow herbs and give them one more use before recycling.
“I love to garden and I start my seedlings in March. I looked at the coffee pods every morning as I brew my coffee and thought they were a perfect size for seedlings,” says Stephanie, “There is already a hole in the bottom for drainage. I asked a colleague what they thought about starting a window sill herb garden. This started a conversation on container gardening and growing vegetables.”
This one act of reusing K-cups started a ripple effect that led to a much larger undertaking to grow food – starting with coffee pods, transplanting them to yogurt containers, eventual into a larger container and the resulting crops onto the dinner plate. In addition, this single action has sparked great conversations around food systems and security.
These pods were considered trash but now they have been given a new life: the K-cups for seedlings and the coffee grounds for compost. “With a little effort and creativity, the only trash is the lids” says Stephanie, “What small action can you do to begin the ripple effect in your office and home?”
Are you interested in working with your colleagues to get your department certified? Contact us at GreenOffice@bu.edu.