Greening the Office & Reducing Waste Bound for the Landfill - the Kick Off

Nov 26, 2011 by Russell Hart | Story Popularity: 5



Melissa Matsubara, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Academic Advising at Hawai'i Pacific University and the staff of her office (UAA) have challenged the staff and faculty of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at HPU to participate in the Kanu Hawai'i Waste Challenge.
Our office is fortunate to have two Kanu members: myself, and Aislyn Matias (the real dynamo behind these initiatives). Between us (with Aislyn leading) we have gradually introduced a series of changes in our office to 'green' it and make it more environmentally sustainable. Now with this gauntlet thrown down to us by UAA, we are stepping up our efforts to cut waste, recycle and reuse, and make our contribution to a more sustainable Hawai'i, particularly by reducing our waste destined for the landfill.

We are an academic college dedicated to the education of students and maintaining high standards of academic excellence. By definition this tends to be a paper and document generating mission. Also bear in mind we are but one college in a much larger university, so we hope the changes we make internally will inspire other units of the university and beyond. By sharing our efforts and inpiring others, we also look to gain from the initiatives and successes of others.

So here are some of the initiatives we have undertaken:

-We are digitizing paper documentation where ever possible.
-We are requesting everyone change their printer settings to double sided printing.
-Unwanted draft materials and documents we are collecting and recycling in printers and using to make recycled note pads and scratch pads.
-We are asking that people print to pages on one for draft documents (I tried four pages on one page and it is too small - I am in my forties and the old lens are hardening so my reading vision is not what it used to be - bifocals are just round the corner :( )
-We are asking people with manual printers to print draft documents on recycled materials
-We are asking people not to print emails if avoidable and asking people to put 'do not print this email unless absolutely necessary' footers in their email signatures.
-Since Academic Advising renamed their printer as "Redusa" (a pun on Medusa from Greek Mythology) we have renamed our networked printer as "Recyclops" (after the one eyed monster of Greek mythology.) Recyclops sports a warning message about its 'likes' and 'dislikes' which is intended to encourage staff to think about appropriate use and reduce waste (see attached picture) :)
-We have a large general paper recycling bin installed
-We are now collecting cardboard this is being recycled by the building management we lease from
-We are going to start bagging the paper shreds from the confidential document shredder in paper bags and giving them away to people to use as: cat litter, toy stuffing, or parcel packing materials.
-I have (I am the chair of the History Department) created our own Twitter account so students can tweet me and my staff (Kelli Tranilla, my admin; Andrew Elder my student worker), and hopefully cut down on letters?
-We have begun removing half the Flourescent light bulbs from our light fixtures. This will cut our energy consumption and reduce waste. Fewer dead flourescent bulbs will go in to the landfill, releasing nasty chemicals into the soil and maybe into the aquafer.
-We are bringing plants into the office to start a small CHSS Office Garden, that is intended to clean the air (increase oxygen; reducing CO2), provide sustanance (veggies & fruit) for faculty and staff. Aislyn is doing some cross-polinating. I believe this is about plant sex but am too afraid to ask for any more details. She has worked on a farm and knows what she is doing. Best leave it at that. :)

This is just a start. Also, we recognize that the a central dimension is education and so we are going to be giving a lot of thought toward how to educate the members of CHSS to use resources more responsibly, economically, recycle, and thereby reduce waste. Ideas welcomed.......

One final caveat: I can not claim to be the guiding force behind these initiatives: Aislyn is the true initiator. I also want to recognize Joan Ishaque (Assistant to the Dean), Kelli and Andrew for the willingness to participate, and also the other CHSS faculty and staff who we are begining and will continue to educate on being more responsible resource consumers. Also I want to recognize our Dean, Dr. Steve Combs, who is allowing us to make all these changes. Without his support, much of this would not be possible.

Please stay tuned - I will post periodic updates on our initiatives, accomplishments, successes, and failures.

We lookforward to receiving other ideas of additional ways to cut waste and we also hope that others will be inspired by our story and our efforts, as we have been inspired by the efforts of other Kanu members.

mahalo nui loa,



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  1. Russell Hart says:

    Week One UPDATE.

    Well after our first week we accomplished some things:

    We removed 27 flourescent light tubes from light fixutes. no one objected to having half their lights removed and in fact msot people prefer the lwoer level of lighting. These lights will go to replace future bulbs that go, reducing both future purchase of bulbs and reducing the number of dead bulbs headed for the landfill.

    Aislyn discovered some printer settings than reduce the amount of toner used, thereby cutting our toner use. She also found a setting that prevents printing blank pages.

    A lot of us have moved to printing information that has to be disseminated in printed form on half sheets, instead of full. This has cut our printing and xeroxing totals. Unfortuantely we do not have a paper cutter to facilitate that, we are working on that.
    We have recycled paper being distributed to people for their printers.
    Our cardboard recycling box is OVER FULL. We are discussing with building management about getting it recycled.
    Got the paper bags, will fill them with recycled shredded confidential documents starting tomorrow.
    We definately cut our consumption of paper and toner last week, increased our recycling, and cut trash going to the landfill (two days I had ZERO waste in my office trash cans) :)

    We will see what we can do better next week - ideas welcome?

  2. I am ecstatic to be humbled by all the initiatives you made in your office and the results they elicited. I guess UAA better step up our game:). Please post the screen shot of the toner saving printer settings and the setting that prevents blank pages! I have to look for that before I print. I'd also love to see a photo of kitty litter filled with shredded degree plans!
    FYI, you can always bring your cardboard to Upper Bishop. Our building has a bin for cardboard out back.
    Great ideas and thanks for raising the out the advisors and I are just getting started:)

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