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April 23, 2009

ULM goes green on Earth Day and every day

For a university that bleeds maroon and gold, the University of Louisiana at Monroe has an astonishing green streak.

All manner of university-recognized student organizations, entities and individuals gathered April 22 for Earth Day activities – highlighting the environmental awareness and efforts found across campus on a daily basis.

Recycling occurs daily; those possessing a sustainability impulse can take the following items to be salvaged:

Cell phones - The ULM Child Development Center recycles used cell phones. Resulting funds purchases ink for the Center’s weekly newsletter, which in turn reaches locations across the university.

Paper and cardboard – Look for the green recycling bins at the College of Pharmacy Bienville Building, behind Schulze Dining Hall, by Brown Stadium, and at the back of the Student Union Building. Dumpsters have been placed at these locations for use only by university departments, not the general public. If the dumpster is full, items cannot be left for later pickup.

Items brought to a dumpster must be flattened so they will fit through the container slot. There is no profit or cost to the university for the paper dumpsters, which are provided by Recycling Services in Monroe.

Plastic - The COP students currently recycle Number One and Number Two plastics (commonly known as PET/PETE and HDPE plastics). Individuals can also take items like plastic bottles inside the SUB and place them in marked containers there.

• Printer cartridges – The ULM Child Development Center recycles ink jet and laser jet cartridges from various departments and colleges on campus. Resulting funds purchases ink for the Center’s weekly newsletter, which in turn reaches locations across the university.

Scrap metal – There is a dumpster at the Physical Plant on campus. University members may bring any kind of metal (iron, steel, aluminum, copper, etc.), but they must be metal-only items with no plastic or fabric attached.

Business hours are 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7 – 11 a.m. on Fridays. The College of Pharmacy also recycles steel, tin and aluminum at the Bienville Building. They receive a small amount of profit for the aluminum, which in turns purchases liners and recycling containers.

The “reduce, reuse, recycle” bug has bitten other university members in a variety of ways.

The ULM Grounds Department takes waste vegetable oil from the cafeterias on campus and converts it into biodiesel fuel for all of the campus diesel tractors and mowers. As ULM Food Service Director Robert Hoag humorously mentioned, “It may smell like French fries when they are mowing.”

Schulze Dining Hall has recognized the wisdom in going trayless in a quest to aid the environment and simultaneously reduce costs and food and water waste.

Groups like the ULM Sociology Club and Alpha Lambda Delta are two of several in the Adopt-a-Spot Program on campus, a community service avenue for civic-minded organizations and individuals to help keep the campus clean.

To sign up for the Adopt-a-Spot program or receive more information, contact Bryan Thorn, physical plant director, at 318-342-5014 or at

Each March, Mike Trevathan, coordinator of ULM’s Auxiliary Enterprises, organizes ULM volunteers to participate in the Great American Cleanup, a national event that aims for community involvement in litter pickup and environmental responsibility.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Department of Toxicology and Tau Omicron Chi, the Toxicology Club, work to ensure a high-quality water supply and an educated public. According to member Erica Durr, they participate in cleanup activities at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo and disseminate educational material about nonpoint source pollution and ways to reduce pollution to area lakes and bayous.

On April 24, the Department of Toxicology will host a World Water Monitoring Day adjacent to Bayou DeSiard on the ULM campus. Elementary students from local schools will participate from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Students will sample water from Bayou DeSiard, and the data will be submitted to the international database.

Toxicology Club members are also active with Monroe's Water Protection Committee in correlation with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Durr said, “Each semester, we try to think of new ways to educate the public about our major, and hope to hold a donation day next year where we collect household solvents, oils and other hard-to-dispose of items.”

The ULM Library already recycles old catalog and serial 3-by-5 inches cards for notes, recycles old dot matrix printer paper by tearing off the perforated edges, increases duplex printing, and has formed a "Green Library" committee to come up with ideas for improving the Library's environmental impact.

Library representatives’ future plans include creating a "Green Library" public information campaign to help students, staff, and faculty use Library facilities and resources in an environmentally-conscious manner and aim to reduce the number and size of print handouts for patrons, replacing them with smaller, duplexed handouts or online resources wherever possible.

Assistant professor of family and consumer sciences Peggy Buffington’s Creative Development for Young Children class created sculptures from recycled scrape materials.

Buffington encourages her students to be innovative in their efforts. “We have everything from horses, to robots, to abstracts. It is great and is on display [in Filhiol Hall] until the end of the semester.”

Thomas Tugwell, a risk management and insurance major, and his ULM friends Walt Smith and Laura Price took the initiative and placed their own paper recycling boxes in the Student Success Center, in the progressive English writing center known as The Write Place, and in various Strauss Hall computer labs. They then take the salvaged paper to the recycling bins on campus.

Tugwell acknowledged that recycling was not necessarily fun but, “I think it’s the right thing to do and everyone should do it. A large cardboard box amazingly fills up with paper in about a week. Students either accidentally print too much paper or don't need everything they print out, and they have a convenient box to discard [it in]. We are working towards creating a student organization for sustainability purposes. The only thing we need right now is student involvement.”

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