Baylor continues efforts toward greener campus

By Amanda Tolentino

Baylor is getting greener all the time.

Sustainability coordinator Smith Getterman and the Baylor Sustainability Committee have seen to that.

Both Getterman and the sustainability committee will continue to work for improvement, although great strides have been made so far. The campus became Styrofoam-free at the beginning of the semester.

Getterman said so far, becoming Styrofoam-free has taken three years, and there is still a laundry list of things for the university to tackle. This semester, residence halls will engage in an energy-saving competition, and he said he is also hopeful that by the end of the semester, glass recycling bins will be provided on campus. Getterman said Baylor does not currently have glass recycling because of the expense it takes to haul and process glass items. The majority of companies do not provide this process anymore, “so we have to go out of town for that,” Getterman said.

Atlanta senior Brittany Price, an intern with the committee, said she is excited about the goals the sustainability committee will be working on this year.

“From the committee’s perspective, if you tackle what you can, one small thing at a time, it will make for a more green and sustainable campus,” Price said.

Price said the committee is looking into a bike-share program, giving students the ability to travel around Baylor and cutting down on the number of cars on campus and decrease the number of traffic jams. Price said the committee is aiming to begin the program between mid-fall to early spring.

The university will provide the bikes and students will pay either semesterly or yearly depending on how long students wish to participate in the program.

“Not only will it be more green, but it will also provide students a fun opportunity to be active,” Price said.

This fall, the sustainability committee will also sponsor Chi Omega’s Annual Chili Cook-Off on Friday, Nov. 16 at Fountain Mall in order to make the event more environmentally friendly. The committee will provide funds to replace Styrofoam with paper bowls.

Price will be working on a campaign to attract student awareness this semester. She said it is important to raise awareness at Baylor about the mission of the committee.

Price said the campaign’s hallmark will be to show students what they are doing to protect Baylor and Waco so that people can enjoy the area.

“They don’t know what the committee does, or they have incorrect preconceived notions,” Price said. “We want people to see the beauty to save it.”

With new cardboard to-go boxes in the dining halls, Baylor’s campus is now 100 percent Styrofoam-free. The dining halls stopped using Styrofoam boxes Aug. 20.

This has not only been a university goal, but also a personal goal for sustainability coordinator Smith Getterman. Getterman works closely with student government and other organizations to ensure the campus stays eco-friendly.

“A lot of hard work and effort went into this. Aramark and Baylor had to agree to find the right alternative to Styrofoam,” Getterman said. Aramark is Baylor’s food-service provider.

Getterman said cardboard boxes are healthier and cleaner than the Styrofoam ones.

Price said because Styrofoam is made of chemicals it doesn’t naturally break down, whereas paper eventually breaks down and enriches the soil.

“It does not decompose, and the parts that do release toxic chemicals into the ground,” Price said.

Getterman said he believes Styrofoam usage is a problem that affects both the campus and home lives of students.

Getterman sees Baylor’s move toward eco-friendliness as a sign of a culture shift. He mentioned that many students who come to Baylor from big cities are often surprised at the amount of Styrofoam used on campus.

“There was a shift in expectations and responding to their desires is the right thing to do,” Getterman said. “We have to be good stewards of resources. It’s the Pro Futuris idea of making a connection to people.”

In addition to helping the environment by getting rid of styrofoam, the efforts were made during Move-In Week to go green. Getterman said in the 2012 move-in report that more families were using reusable containers to transport students’ possessions, such as suitcases or reusable tubs.

Getterman said the committee recycled nearly 26,000 pounds of materials such as plastic and paper during Move-In.

They were able to divert 26 percent of the waste generated during Move-In from reaching landfills. Both Getterman and Price said they were ecstatic about and impressed by the results.

“It is a dual win-win. The greener and healthier the environment, the more prestige it will bring to the university. It is a holistic approach to support,” Price said.