Green Scene Newsletter, February 2019
Dunwoody Campus Life & Earth Sciences Department Earns Silver Level Green Office Certification
Green offices are starting to take root and sprout across Georgia State campuses! Successful green initiatives always seem to start from the ground up, and that’s what our Green Office Certification is all about. Our Green Office checklist recognizes good practices that are already in place and helps identify new ones that are easy to implement.
Lab coordinator and lecturer Cody Luedtke teaches environmental sciences, botany, and biology at the Dunwoody campus. Her background is in tree ecophysiology, the reciprocal interaction between trees and their environment, so her concern for sustainability is very deep indeed. She stumbled upon Sustainability Initiatives’ Green Office Certification program on our website while trying to stay informed on Georgia State’s sustainability news: “I had been brainstorming for years about efforts that we could take on our campus to become more sustainable. So, when I found the Green Office Certification program it seemed like the perfect way to get started and earn some recognition for our efforts in the process. We were already doing many of the things required to earn certification, but we have made an organized effort over the past few semesters to expand our efforts and change the way we do things.”
The Life and Earth Sciences department was already making sustainable choices by recycling properly and going paperless whenever possible. But they also scored big points by using reusable dishware, using water filters to eliminate plastic bottles, and committing to making more than 50% of their events zero-waste. The department even earned Green Office credit by donating around 200 lbs of books to Goodwill and Books for Africa, and also started a book exchange. It’s often overlooked that donating used items not only helps others, but also helps the planet by sparing tremendous waste from landfills.
Cody Luedtke is encouraged by the enthusiasm for sustainability on the Dunwoody campus, and hopes that her department can inspire others to take the challenge as well: “I think institutions have incredible power when it comes to sustainability. A change at the department level, implemented by our 30+ staff and faculty, has a much greater effect than a single individual can achieve. The coordinated sustainability initiative motivates everyone to participate, and with increased participation comes even greater enthusiasm as people see those around them making a positive difference.” As Sustainability Initiatives aims to expand our programs and resources to better serve the Perimeter campuses, we’re glad to know that the seeds of wisdom have already been planted!
If you or your department are interested in earning recognition for your sustainable practices at work, please visit our website, sustainability.gsu.edu. You can download our Green Office Checklist and also take a look at our helpful Green Office Companion Guide.
Speaker Series Highlights: Leah Dixon from the Georgia Conservancy
On February 13th, attendees of the Sustainability Speaker Series heard from Leah Dixon, Advocacy Director for the Georgia Conservancy, the oldest environmental advocacy group in the state. She outlined the group’s history and its mission: to protect and conserve Georgia’s natural resources through advocacy, engagement, and collaboration.
Founded in 1967 by concerned citizens interested in protecting the state’s natural recreation areas, the organization’s efforts led to the creation of Sweetwater Creek and Panola Mountain State Parks, the federal designation of the Okefenokee and Cohutta Wilderness Areas, and the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
A main pillar of the group’s mission is the protection of the state’s coastal region. Although it may be relatively small, the Georgia coast is a diverse and unique ecosystem that constitutes about one third of all salt marshes on the Atlantic coastline. Despite being the fourth largest commercial shipping hub in the U.S. and a major tourist destination, many barrier islands and surrounding forests remain largely uninhabited and pristine. With a headquarters in historic downtown Savannah, the Georgia Conservancy is at the forefront of defending the precious coastal ecosystem. The group opposes offshore drilling and the associated seismic testing, which can harm aquatic animals.
Another major goal for the Conservancy is Sustainable Growth. This encompases a broad range of initiatives designed to help urban areas and small towns alike manage their growth in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. Blueprints for Successful Communities helps towns that lack central planning infrastructure to prioritize important improvements like access to healthcare and broadband internet. The Georgia Conservancy also encourages careful consideration of the placement of new schools, in a way that reduces urban sprawl and shortens the travel time of students and teachers.
In the realm of legislative action, Georgians got a big win in November when they overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment One, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment. This initiative, championed by the Georgia Conservancy, dedicates a portion of the existing sales tax on outdoor sporting goods to fund protection and improvements of the state’s parks, wildlife habitats, and other natural treasures. Best of all, it requires no new taxes or fees. It simply sets aside a portion of the sales tax on products that nature lovers are likely to enjoy in Georgia’s great outdoors. With such careful consideration to concerns that both political parties have, it’s no wonder the amendment passed with 83% of the vote.
Finally, the Georgia Conservancy encourages the participation of all Georgians by offering numerous conferences and events throughout the year, as well as Stewardship Trips to further educate and foster a love of the state’s most beautiful places. If you’re interested in supporting or getting involved with the conservation of Georgia’s land and water, visit https://www.georgiaconservancy.org/.
A big thanks to Leah Dixon for sharing her work at the Georgia Conservancy with us!
Join us February 27th for the next Sustainability Speaker Series, with Shelby Buso from the US Green Building Council. She is the executive director of the Georgia USGBC branch, and is the former Director of Sustainability for Central Atlanta Progress. RSVP on our website, https://sustainability.gsu.edu/live-and-learn/sustainability-speaker-series/, to hear Shelby speak, ask questions, and enjoy a free lunch!
Recyclemania at Georgia State kicks off February 28th
Recyclemania is a friendly competition between hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, managed by the National Wildlife Federation. Over an eight week period each spring, students record the amount of trash and recycling generated by their campus. Award categories are based on most recycled per capita, diversion rate, overall recycling weight, as well as individual statistics for special materials like cardboard, bottles and cans, and organics.
Georgia State has participated in Recyclemania events since 2015. Once again, we will be participating the Game Day challenge, in which we aim to make one home basketball game zero-waste by recycling and composting everything we can. Volunteers will be standing by recycling and composting bins to help fans separate the two types of waste. All concessions will be offered in compostable paper trays or recyclable bottles and cans. At the end of the night, we will weigh the recycling and compost, which will be added to our annual diversion rate. Please support your Georgia State Panthers against Arkansas State on Thursday, February 28th at 7pm in the Sports Arena. You’ll be glad to know that all waste from the game will help us compete in Recyclemania!
If you’d like to volunteer to help out at the game, please sign up at https://sustainability.gsu.edu/recyclemania/. See you there!
Join us for the E-Cyclemania E-waste recycling drive, where you can bring any electronic device (with a cord or battery) to Library Plaza on March 7th and March 14th from 10am to 1pm. E-waste is now its own special category for the competition, so help Georgia State win by bringing in any bulky, unused electronics!
From February 26th to March 28th, the Rec Center will try to go zero-waste, by recycling and composting nearly everything. This means anyone who attends the Rec Center during this period will be helping us in the competition, as well as giving us useful data that may help us assess and implement zero-waste policies in the future.
Finally, we will be submitting a case study on our styrofoam recycling and densification program here at Georgia State. We are one of the very few universities in the nation that has implemented such an initiative successfully, and we believe we may receive special recognition from Recyclemania.
During these next few weeks, please participate in these events and continue recycling properly and minimizing waste to help Georgia State stand out during Recyclemania!