Jenny Jordan opens up about GVSU sustainability programs

Ellie Phillips

LANTHORN: What have been the biggest sustainability-related events in the past year?

JORDAN: I think for this, you have to keep in mind that I’m only talking from the perspective of what I’ve really done….From my point of view, we had the zero-waste football game. We did phenomenally, we did a really great job. It was a big collaboration between several departments. I think that was one of our biggest accomplishments. AASHE stars, receiving a gold rating. That, for the university, it’s big.

Other things that I personally have been working with is the Campus Sustainability Spotlight, and that is when we collaborated with all colleges, and we just featured the last one in April. I think that went really well, we had a lot of hits on the website, and we’ll see what we’re going to do next year with that. The pizza box program has done really well, too. I believe now we’re almost at 25,000 since January 2012. We’ll be way over 25,000 at the end of the semester. That’s been a big thing; for that one, we were able to get Eco-rep volunteers for buildings that haven’t been on board. It was really great to have them on board.

LANTHORN: So what programs and events have shown that they need refinement?

JORDAN: I think all of them could. I don’t know if there will ever be a program that is perfect, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I don’t go by best practices, I go by recommended best practices. Things can always be made better, that’s what I believe. I think all of them could use improvement.

With the Zero-Waste, that was our first time going about it, it was a phenomenal experience, and we did exceptionally well, and for next year I think that one will, well, we’re hoping it will become a standard. It won’t be zero-waste, it will be football games, and that’s just what you do. You compost, you recycle, you don’t put things in a landfill, unless you have to. It’s not necessarily improvement, but next year they’ll be able to create a behavior change.

Campus Sustainability Spotlight, this was our first year doing this, and we can definitely work on things there. I can’t talk about next steps, because I won’t be here, but I think they’re going to do great next year.

The Pizza Box, I think that’s a program that can always use improvement, but we’ve done really great with increased communication with facilities services, housing and residence life, Eco-reps and buildings, there’s been a lot of improvement in general, and next year there will be even more improvement.

With all of these things, when I’m saying they could use improvement, I’m not saying that they didn’t do well — all of these programs did exceptionally well, but there can always be a little bit of “this could be better” and you improve every year.

LANTHORN: So what’s been the biggest challenge to the sustainability effort over the past year?

JORDAN: It’s been a little different this year because we didn’t do a Campus Sustainability Week, we did a Campus Sustainability Spotlight, but I think it’s a continuous challenge. It’s a continued challenge for all the departments all over campus — it’s student participation. Increasing communication, finding ways to communicate with students, because sometimes email isn’t the best. It’s Facebook, it’s websites, it’s Twitter, to increase participation at events. I think that’s the biggest challenge, and it’s been a challenge since I got here, since the GA before me got here, and it’s something we need to work on.

LANTHORN: So what’s been the biggest asset to the sustainability effort?

JORDAN: I think it’s our improved relationships with multiple departments on campus. We’ve definitely improved our relationships with departments across campus, and that’s been a huge asset for us, As we move through campus, we’re trying to collaborate with other departments. That’s another thing I didn’t mention, the Campus Sustainability Ambassadors, and those are faculty and staff sustainability leaders within their department.
They’ve been instrumental in sustainable internal and external effort.

LANTHORN: As far as you know, because I know you’re leaving, what sustainability events and programs will be continued into next year?

JORDAN: I think all the ones that I talked about will be. I think all of those will be continued into next year.

LANTHORN: So there’s nothing where they’ve said, “This isn’t working, let’s try something else?”

JORDAN: Not that I know of.

LANTHORN: As far as you know, are there any new programs that they’re instituting?

JORDAN: No, not instituting, but expanding. All the programs that we talked about will be expanding, but we don’t have our strategic plan yet: that’s when Bart, Andrea, Levi and Norman, and the new GA, will sit down and figure that out, because we’re a small department and we can only do so much. We’re doing quite a bit already.

Another is the “how green r u” program, it’s current just in Niemeyer, Calder and Hills. We wanted to do a pilot program, and we’re hoping that it will expand to on-campus and-off campus residents. We’re going to try a pilot program, and that’s one we’re hoping to see that expanding. I would like to see that expand.
LANTHORN: Are there any solid goals for next year?

JORDAN: I don’t know of any, that won’t probably take place until June, developing new goals. I know it will not happen while I’m here. The new GA needs to be part of that.

LANTHORN: On behalf of the students of Grand Valley and the Lanthorn, we would like to wish you the best in your future endeavors and thank you for your service to us here.

JORDAN: Thank you.