A comprehensive recycling program that emphasizes education and the reuse of plastic, aluminum, cardboard and paper has been implemented by the Converse College campus community. The recycling initiative was made possible by a grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The initiative includes Converse’s active voice within the Spartanburg Intercollegiate Green Alliance, and Sodexho, Inc. , who manages the College’s food services, using earth-friendly disposable products and purchasing all produce for campus use from local farmers of the Carolinas.
First steps of implementation included the purchase of approximately 25 recycling bins that have been placed on each floor of the College’s seven residence halls as well as the Montgomery Student Center. “The bins have see-through separated compartments for aluminum and plastic so that items are grouped together,” said Mark Osinga, Converse Facilities Manager. Contents of the bins are regularly transferred to a 90-foot roll-off container for recycling.
Witney Fisher, Assistant Director of Residential Life, is directing the educational component of the program. “Because our recycling effort is highly dependent upon student involvement, it is crucial that they are on board, and they definitely are. We even have a student recycling contact on each residence hall floor,” she said. “Even before we applied for the grant, I contacted students to gauge their interest and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive feedback I received from them. Some students have even said that it was not easy for them to recycle in their homes so they are excited to now be a part of an initiative to help take care of the environment.” Fisher has also been working closely with the Converse student-led group WISE (Women Involved for a Safer Environment) in educating members of the campus community about the recycling effort.
The Spartanburg Intercollegiate Green Alliance (SIGA) was initially formed in March to develop and coordinate campus- and community-related events supporting the Earth Day Spartanburg 2008 Campaign. The coalition draws from various campus groups at Converse, Spartanburg Community College, Wofford College and Spartanburg Methodist College. Each participating college has since hosted forums on food and nutrition, air and water quality, land use, recycling and waste management.
Sodexho’s efforts include purchasing local foods and establishing an on-campus herb garden for use in cooking. Jolene Earnhardt, General Manager of Sodexho at Converse, says the company recognized their responsibility to the Spartanburg community years ago when they started a small recycling program and has increased their efforts by “baby steps” ever since. Recently, however, Earnhardt and her staff have made increased efforts to work in concert with the College’s overall recycling effort through Sodexho’s own program called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Sodexho uses earth-friendly disposable products like unbleached napkins and paper cups made of 20% post consumer waste and compostable cardboard trays that will biodegrade in the landfill within just fifty days. Students are encouraged to purchase reusable to-go mugs at Sneakers, the campus grill, to further minimize waste. Sodexho donates a percentage of each sale to the National Wildlife Fund.
Earnhardt says Sodexho