UI plugs recycling at Sally Mason’s freshman party

BY DORA GROTE | AUGUST 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Several changes were made at the President’s Block Party this year to introduce incoming students to sustainable initiatives at the University of Iowa.

This event was budgeted on $22,000, funded by the University Foundation, Iowa athletics, Office of Sustainability, Alumni Association, Housing and Dining, and the President’s Office, said Laura McLeran, the director of outreach and events in the President’s Office.

Liz Christiansen, the UI director of sustainability, said the new initiatives both reduced the amount of material waste from the event and made for easier cleanup.

“It’s really about teaching students from the beginning, welcoming new students to Iowa and to introducing them to sustainable practices on campus,” she said. “Students should learn these practices early on and know that this is how we do things at Iowa.”

Instead of Styrofoam plates, those who attended the event ate from compostable soy-based plastic utensils as well as paper napkins and plates.

Once finished eating, students placed waste into designated bins, called tri-stations, which were monitored by volunteers. The tri-stations consisted of three bins for compostable items, recyclable items, and trash.

“We want to reduce the amount of materials brought there initially and make sure that the materials that are there are compostable and recyclable,” said Giselle Bruskewitz, a student intern in the Office of Sustainability.

Cans were also collected to be given to student organizations to redeem for funds.

“Giving students an opportunity to practice these habits will help them learn how to be more environmentally responsible,” said Quentin Marquez, 19. He said he didn’t notice the difference in the compostable items.

Once a bin in the tri-station reached its capacity, volunteers carried the materials to a weigh station to be placed on a scale, recorded, and then taken to recycling and composting centers.

Volunteers weighed the material waste to see how much waste was saved from being thrown into the landfill.

Organizers are planning for the next block party, and they intend to add more sustainable initiatives, Bruskewitz said.

There, students will receive water bottles that they can refill at a water station, reducing the need for plastic bottles and water bottles in general.

Overall, students seemed cooperative with the sustainability efforts.

“Thank you for saving the environment,” said Eric Pahl,18, to a volunteer standing beside a tri-station as he disposed of his own garbage.

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