Sustainability promoted in campus living centers

Ellie Phillips

The Ecological Representatives, a group of student volunteers representing each Grand Valley State University housing community, have banded together to promote sustainable initiatives in their living centers.

This peer-to-peer educational program began last year in a collaborative effort between students of the Frederik Meijer Honors College and staff from Facilities Services, the Housing and Residence Life Department and the Sustainability Community Development Initiative.

Thus far the Eco-Reps work with their community councils and resident assistants to help educate the campus community on composting. Most of their focus has been on actions that reduce the waste stream, such as the RecycleMania! project and the Pizza Box Project. In the winter 2012 semester alone, Eco-Reps throughout campus composted 7,275 pizza boxes.

New this year, residents in Niemeyer have also implemented a composting program to support the community garden. The contest will run from Jan. 22 through Apr. 2, and its main goal is to increase student and staff awareness of campus recycling and waste minimization. All 201 participating schools are required to report measurements on a weekly basis in pounds, and there are prizes: RecycleMania! trophies, awards, and participant certificates.

“The Eco-rep program is a great way for students to get involved and see an immediate impact from their efforts,” said Bart Bartels, campus sustainability manager.

“While the students have made great strides in reducing the waste stream, they are now asking, ‘What else can we do?’ And that is exactly what I hoped would happen.”

According to the SCDI website the role of the Eco-Reps is crucial in making campus sustainability a successful endeavor.

The Sustainability Initiative and the Facilities Department are currently working to expand compost locations around campus. In addition to compost bins at Kleiner, the Commons, Kirkhof, The Connection, and Niemeyer Honors College, there are also composting bins behind the Van Steeland and Murray housing buildings. Students should look for orange “SORT” dumpsters outside of Kleiner, Fresh, Kirkhof, and The Connection, and a brown compost bin in the East side of the Niemeyer building.

The Eco-Reps help uphold GVSU’s seventh value of sustainability, which is to “meet the current needs of our faculty, staff, and students without compromising the needs and resources of future generations,” according to the GVSU website. Increasing environmental stewardship, restoration and renewal is integral to the university’s strategic mission.

For more information on Recyclemania!, For more information on the Pizza Box Project, visit

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