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Turn in Your Bin on Earth Day

On Earth Day this year, there will plenty of give and take, all aimed at making our community more efficient and sustainable.

The 2015 UMass Chan Medical School Earth Day celebration is set for Wednesday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school lobbies. More than 40 displays will feature a mix of campus favorites, including local food and craft vendors, electric/hybrid vehicles and energy efficiency products and services. It’s also the day for electronics recycling, so plan to bring in any old computers, radios, small appliances or other consumer electronics that have been collecting dust at home.

The first 350 people who visit the UMass Chan Growing Green table and fill up their Earth Day card by visiting six other displays that day will win a set of compact, reusable utensils to keep in a backpack or lunch bag to use instead of disposable utensils.

Also new this year is the “turn in your bin” contest to promote recycling. UMass Chan Medical School staff or students who come to the Earth Day event and give up their desk-side trash bin, will be entered in a drawing to win a month of free premium parking.

“It would be great if at the end of the day we have a small mountain of trash bins stacked up,” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan.

The contest is an extension of the centralized trash initiative that began as a pilot program at the LRB last summer. Starting on the third floor, office trash bins were removed, leaving only blue recycling bins in place. Centralized trash bins were installed in a couple of locations on the floor. By design, the experiment kept recycling at hand, but throwing something away required getting up and walking down the hall.

 “We want people to think twice before they throw something away,” said Bill Tsaknopoulos, director of auxiliary services at UMass Chan who manages the campus recycling and trash disposal programs.  “Most of what we use at our desks is recyclable, but too often we get in the habit of just throwing stuff in the trash.”

The pilot program at the LRB spread to several floors and over the first six months of the experiment, the recycling rate jumped eight points, moving from 12 to 20 percent of waste stream volume for the whole building even though only a fraction of the offices had moved to centralized trash.

“Eventually, we wantto make this a campus-wide program, but people don’t have to wait until their department or center is officially included. Anyone can volunteer to do their part now, and turn in their desk side bin on Earth Day,” Tsaknopoulos said.

At the end of the Earth Day event, one person who turned in their bin will be picked for a month of free premium parking—either on the first floor of the employee garage on campus, or in designated premium spots at the South Street Shrewsbury facility. 

The electronics collection will take place in the Pine Tree parking lot. Staff from E.L.Harvey & Sons, the campus’s waste management contractor, will collect almost any electronic device, with the exception of televisions, CRT computer monitors, air conditioners or dehumidifiers—those items will not be accepted. Most other electronic items will be taken free of charge.

“It’s fun that our event coincides with the actual Earth Day this year, so I hope that’s a little extra motivation for people to come and do their part to promote sustainability on campus and in their daily lives,” Wood said.