Employee Green Teams Make Big Changes

Departments are changing how they work to reduce energy and waste.


Employees throughout the campus are creating Green Teams that promote new practices, reduce waste, and lower energy use.  Several departments share their experiences as they change the way we do business.  The administrative staff members within the Department of Psychiatry have been developing green practices for their offices since January 2008.  They have reduced paper usage, started recycling, and have monthly meetings to continue to make changes in office operations.  They have posted instructions for double sided copying directly above copy machines to encourage using less paper.   The administrative staff has partnered with TerraCycle to take advantage of this company’s strategy to find creative ways to reuse yogurt containers.  Brita Kube described the process, “We all put our used yogurt containers into bin, and when we get 400 we mail them in.”  “Currently many staff members take home bottles and cans used during the day, so that they can be recycled,” she added. 

The Department of Anesthesiology installed new multifunction Xerox machines, which allow for “toner saver” printing, which makes lighter copies using less toner.  These machines also act as printers and users can send high volume, multi-page documents directly to the copier for double sided printing.  The machines also provide scanning and emailing features which reduces paper use.  The machines are set for sleep mode to save energy when not in use.  The department replaced several fax machines as a result of the upgrade, using the new copiers for network faxing.  This not only saves energy by having less equipment, the department realizes additional savings with lower monthly phone charges for the reduced number of analog phone lines.

The Office of Development Green Team has reduced the use of Styrofoam and paper coffee cups for staff.  Gloria Kao noted in a recent progress report that “we still order a small number of cups for guests,” but we all brought in our own mug.  She added that, “we’ve cut the expense of the cups, but we also create less garbage every day. Previously staff members were using multiple cups per day, without even realizing it.”  Tom Nichols and Clare Casey head up the team for the department, and made a short video to help spread the word.

The Department of Neurosurgery's Green Team started about six months ago, when four employees got together to change habits and increase awareness.  Valerie Fernandez, Maritza Torres, Nicole Savage, and Ana Simpson create a monthly newsletter that provides seasonal sustainability tips as well as compelling information on environmental issues from the global community.  Valerie noted that in addition to increasing awareness, they have changed office recycling habits, and were able to get funding from the department to switch the coffee maker so that reusable coffee mugs would fit under the dispenser.  "It was really important to make it workable to stop using paper cups and reduce the amount of garbage, " she explained.

Did you know

Cigarette butts are the most littered items - representing 28% of all items collected.  However, many smokers don't consider tossing cigarette butts littering.

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