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Kicking the Can Nets VIP Parking

The promise was to turn in your office trash bin on Earth Day for a chance to win a month of free premium parking.

And the winner is: Karen Lekas, an administrative assistant in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, who walked her trash bin over from the Lazare Research Building and deposited it at the UMass Chan Growing Green table in the Medical School lobby on Earth Day.

The "turn in your bin" contest was run to promote awareness of centralized trash as the emerging model for the campus. It means giving up the trash bin in your office and keeping only the blue recycling bin. The model prompts people to think about what they are throwing away. Recycling is nearby, but the trash bin is down the hall in a common area. The approach has been shown to boost recycling rates.

"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 contest was just one of many elements of the Earth Day celebration this year that attracted hundreds of participants. More than 40 displays featured a mix of campus favorites, including local food and craft vendors, electric/hybrid vehicles and energy efficiency products and services.

Over 300 people earned a compact set of UMass Chan branded reusable utensils to keep in their desk or backpack and use instead of disposable utensils. They earned the set by visiting a total of six tables at Earth Day and interacting with the people from those organizations.

New this year was the participation of WOOcycle, an informal student group formed by members of the Medical School Class of 2018 to promote sustainability on campus. WOOcycle asked for donations of reusable kitchen items like utensils, plates, cups and bowls to stock the student lounge kitchen. Their goal is to reduce or eliminate the use of disposal kitchenware in the lounge and for student functions in other areas on campus.

"The response to the students was great, as was the whole event" said Suzanne Woods, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan. "Earth Day is our signature event for sustainability on campus, but it's only one day. We hope that what people take away from Earth Day can be applied in their daily home and work life all year long."