New Green Living Reps Waist-Deep in HBS Waste

Hot off the heels of Al Gore’s rallying cry to the Harvard community to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016, HBS has launched its Green Living Programme for 2008/09.

Leading the effort are six Green Living representatives: one for each dorm and a sixth to co-ordinate efforts to reduce waste from campus common areas. The new reps are Stephen Robnett (Chase – NB), Garry Thaniel (Gallatin – OH), Vincent Benjamin (Hamilton – OH), Dominic Charles (McCulloch – OH), Jenny Liu (Morris – NC) and Evelyne White (Common Areas – NJ).

The reps were given a baptism by fire from Harvard’s own ‘Recycling Guru’, Rob Gogan, as he took them through the annual HBS waste audit.

In a cavernous former lorry-distribution centre down Western Avenue, reps donned protective clothing and masks before wading through five days worth of trash from every dorm, plus Aldrich and the Spangler Centre.

But this was not simply a voyeuristic look into the domestic habits of fellow students. As Gogan explained, this was a serious experiment to understand how much waste we are throwing away that could potentially be recycled.

A sample bag of trash for each day was weighed on arrival. The bag was then split, its contents examined and items that could have been recycled separated. The recycled items were themselves weighed to determine what proportion of trash could (and should) have been put in the recycling bins.

Every dorm room on campus has a single-stream recycling bin which can be used for all paper, cardboard, plastic containers, cans and bottles. The recycling bins in Aldrich and Spangler are also single-stream.

Look out on campus for some unusual visual presentations of the results of the waste audit.

Other news from the Green Living Programme

Dorm Dinners: each green rep hosted a free-pizza night in their dorm common room to introduce the Green Living Program and take any questions from residents on sustainability issues. We hope everyone enjoyed these events – if you have any questions that you did not get a chance to ask, please feel free to email your Green Rep directly.

“Reduce your Juice” Electricity Competition: the inter-dorm competition kicked off on November 10th. HBS dorms are challenged to reduce their energy use by 10% and compete for the winning title – and a big party with food and drink to boot! Reduction in electricity use is measured against an average meter reading for a selected time period prior to competition start.

The Harvard Sustainability Pledge: All students are asked to sign this pledge (at where they find out about different ways to reduce their carbon footprint can and encouraging them to commit to efforts to make future savings. In addition, for every pledge signed, $1.50 will be made available to support a renewable energy project at the University. The University has a set a target of 10,000 pledges and is currently half-way to meeting that target. Please sign up now!

The “Reduce your Juice Electricity
Competition ratings also weighs pledges signed at 25% of the each dorm’s score and energy savings at the balance 75%.

Here’s to another successful year of green initiatives on campus. Let us all do what we can individually to, in the words of Harvard President, Drew Faust, “approach this problem with the seriousness of purpose it deserves and with the cooperative spirit essential to progress.”

November 24, 2008
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