The Greening of John Brown University

by Paul Gatling  on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 12:00 am  

JBU earned the zero-landfill distinction during the summer, becoming the first higher education institution in Arkansas to do so.

"It certainly makes us unique, but we could not have done that alone," Brankle said.

The school has a variety of partners in its efforts to recycle everything possible. Cafeteria waste is taken to a local hog farm. Kitchen grease is converted to biodiesel and used for lawnmowers.

Light bulbs with high mercury content are sent to Waste Management Inc. in Rogers. Plastic, cardboard, paper and glass are recycled by the city of Siloam Springs; metal, batteries and plastic bags are recycled locally, as is e-waste.

The university provides recycling bins for individual offices, classrooms, residence halls and common rooms. To that end, the admissions office and financial aid office have gone paperless. Other departments and faculty are reducing paper usage by putting syllabi, assignments and class work online.

And by removing Dumpsters on campus, JBU saves $30,000 annually.

Brankle said what has been particularly rewarding is the enthusiasm about recycling being shown by faculty and staff, who are each responsible for emptying his or her own trash.

Facilities crews empty and sort recyclables from each office. This program has been very well received, and has increased recycling efforts substantially.

"At first, they gasped [at being] responsible for emptying their own trash," Brankle joked. "But as the faculty and staff have caught on, it's been awesome."

Students are also a part of the effort. JBU provides individual recycling bins to each dorm room, classroom and common area.

School officials also addressed the incoming freshmen at the beginning of the fall semester to discuss the university's sustainability goals.

"We're trying to keep [the issue] in front of them," Brankle said.

Beers said it's rewarding to know that what JBU is doing on its campus could be emulated by other organizations.

"I think the thing to realize is that the different stakeholders in your organizations are motivated by different aspects of the sustainability conversation," he said, "whether it is theologically based purpose of being a good steward, or whether it's just a business sense.

"I would encourage anybody to spend the time to begin looking at the systems that many of us are involved with. There are a number of things that we can do that don't cost extra money, but in fact save money. And they are the right thing to do anyway."



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