ZeroWaste Highlight: FM (Ellie’s ethereal gardens).

20706751_1644578962219383_1113328785_nIF you walk down the stairs of Cafe V’s patio, towards the green field, and turn right, you’ll see a pair of gray metal gates and a sign with a visible “E” peeping from behind. Walk through the gates and you find yourself in Ellie’s (Main) Garden, a rectangular plot of land lush with greenery. Keep going down the sidewalk and you’ll see more sets gates, which lead into Ellie’s Backyard, Ellie’s Farm, and (coming soon) Ellie’s Nursery.
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The secret behind Ellie’s green thumb? Compost. In the photo lies but one pile of “hot” compost, where raw material gets turned and watered so that, within a mere 6 weeks, it transforms into usable compost, which is then screened and added to the soil beds.

Into this compost go kitchen scraps, paper, straw, plant trimmings, and (most of all) coffee grounds from Price Center’s Sunshine Market and Starbucks. During the summer, Chris Johnson, a groundskeeper with Facilities Management, rides in his electric golf cart and carries 9 buckets of grounds to the garden each week. Through the school year? 20 buckets a week. Whatever can’t fit into the bins gets sent to green waste and turned into mulch.

“I estimate that I picked up 7 tons of grounds last year. FM is trying to establish a green waste site, but I gather there is not enough money or urgency to create the large site that they propose. I will be offering the idea of starting very small, like a quarter acre to test the program on a doable scale.” – Chris Johnson

Furthermore, the gardens are made from a lot of scrap material – railing, wood, benches that were left behind from other projects on campus. The only necessary purchases are gravel and potting soil, as many of the plants actually grow from seeds and roots taken from other plants on campus as well. In that way, Ellie’s gardens have diverted more than just green waste from landfills, and have helped make up for the loss of plants (on campus) which were torn down and destroyed by wind and rainstorms.

Best of all, Ellie’s gardens are open to everyone! You can volunteer to help work on the plants (check out their Facebook page here), or simply indulge in the fruits that grow from its composted soil♣

 

ZeroWaste Highlight: Recreation recycles wrappers.

WALK by the RIMAC and Main Gym weight rooms, Canyonview’s pool, Main Gym’s cycle room, or Rec Gym’s FitLife office, and sure enough you’ll find a box asking for your energy bar wrappers.

UC San Diego Recreation is currently partnered with Terracycle to recycle these wrappers, conveniently placing bins where people are most likely to have wrappers to discard. All of the money collected, at 2 cents per wrapper, is then donated; Recreation has already given $350 to Feeding America San Diego, and another $188.40 to other charities, totaling a whopping $538.40 for 26,920 successfully recycled wrappers.

More than just diverting waste from landfills, Recreation has essentially helped provide 1400 meals to families in need (Feeding America San Diego creates 4 meals per $1): an amazing, two-in-one impact. Look out for these boxes and recycle your wrappers♣

CoreBio’s move away from plastic bags

CoreBio, a vendor which provides biotech products for UCSD’s labs, plans to stop packaging orders in plastic bags and start providing reusable ones. The inspiration: Prop 67.

Prop 67, or the Plastic Bag Ban, mandates that grocery stores charge $0.10 per plastic bag, encouraging consumers to bring their own. The purpose is to reduce the number of plastic bags which end up in landfills and, more often than not, wildlife. CoreBio, inspired by California’s effort to be greener, decided to up the ante by getting rid of plastic bags entirely, and is currently looking into which reusable bags to order and hand out to customers, so that there’s at least one per lab; in the meantime, they’re packaging orders with biodegradable bags, which are compostable and can at the very least break down faster than plastic ones.

How are our colleges on recycling? (feat. Econauts)

Every week, the Econauts pick a different college to do a “waste audit” for. They take a sample of 4-12 bags of trash from the res-hall and apartment dumpsters, and sort out the contents between trash and recycling. Afterwards, they talk to students walking by about what they found in the trash. The most commonly found items that should have gone into recycling are: plastic dining hall to-go plates, plastic water bottles, cardboard boxes, and paper homework (of course).

This year, the Econauts started working with RA’s to further reach out to college residents. RA’s in the Village, Marshall, and Sixth all defined goals  to increase their colleges’ waste diversion from landfills.

The Village set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash marked for landfills by 12% in Winter Quarter. To do so, they put on a diversion competition between the Village East and West, and threw a final food party for the winning side. They also got new signage out to residents, and applied for a green grant to get bigger recycling bins for the apartments. Meanwhile, Marshall College res-life set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash from 50% to 37% for Winter Quarter, and then to 27% by the end of Spring Quarter. They aspire to put together a competition between res-halls for decreasing water and trash waste, promote more programs focused on proper waste sorting, and share a video showing the life of a recyclable (made by the Econauts). Over on the other side of campus, Sixth College res-life set the goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash from 33% to 25% by the end of the school year. They plan to increase programming geared towards correct trash disposal, and put up extra signage to increase student awareness on what’s recyclable.

Between Fall and Winter Quarter, every college (including Muir) was able to noticeably decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash EXCEPT Revelle and ERC. During Fall Quarter, 50% of their trash turned out to be RECYCLABLE; this decreased slightly to 47% in Winter Quarter, and we hope to help them continue to bring that percentage down over time. Email us at ucsdeconauts@gmail.com or find us on Facebook if you have any questions on how you can improve your own recycling habits!♣

Credit: Samantha Forrest, Rep. for Econauts

UC San Diego’s “Pay It Green” Direct Deposit Campaign pays off for Students!

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Sara McKinstry (Sustainability, left) and Cheryl Ross (Business & Financial Services, right) present student winner Absaala Joseph with a grand prize

 

Each year Student Business Services (SBS) conducts a Direct Deposit Campaign and Contest to encourage and educate UC San Diego students on the benefits of direct deposit. Direct deposit is the safe, secure, and environmentally friendly method of refunding money to students. 90% of our students are refunded via direct deposit as opposed to receiving paper checks.

In collaboration with  UC San Diego Sustainability, SBS randomly selected three students as grand prize winners of the Direct Deposit Contest. The student’s names were randomly selected from the currently enrolled direct deposit recipients.

On November 9, Cheryl Ross, Controller and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Business & Financial Services and Sara McKinstry, Sustainability Manager, presented Absaala Joseph, Daniel Rey, and Sara Goico with a $100 Visa gift cards. In addition to the grand prizes winners, four UC San Diego students won a set of San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park tickets.

Congratulations to the winners!