Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sustainability Week: Reuse

Wednesday, September 15 was the “Reuse” day of Sustainability Week 2010. Besides hosting the first of the new Sustainability Lunch & Learn series through the Office of Sustainability, the Great Stuff Exchange and Electronics Recycling Collection took place on the East Campus. Not only was the anticipated Great Stuff Exchange a big success, but the Electronics Collection took more than five truck loads of disposed computers, TVs, VCRs, copiers, and printers.

Taking part in the GSX for the first time, I was personally surprised at the number of offices at UIC that dropped off old supplies and at the type of items they brought. Numerous out-of-date copier cartridges, floppy disks, two-ring binders, and old file folders were crowding the tables we had set up. “Why would people save all of this seemingly obsolete stuff,” I remember thinking to myself. Although not directly receiving my answer, my perception of the supplies changed immensely by the end of the exchange. Stimulating the abstract mind, we had art students approach our booth, eyes glistening with all of the supplies we had to give. Another man who approached us had a brother who used an old printer at his work, the printer that was compatible with the over twenty cartridges we had to give. The old, or should I say, “vintage” supplies definitely did not go unnoticed. “Yes, it’s all free,” I said nine times out of ten to eager students coming up to me with boxes full of old staplers, paper clips, folders, unused ink cartirigdes, and whatever else they found.

After volunteering, my mind always starts buzzing with questions of: How can we do more? How can we make this more convenient? Why just during Sustainability Week? These answers we do not have right now of course, but as we progress, I think we can definitely make an initiative to create a more convenient, efficient way for the UIC campus to reuse it’s supplies.

After a five second Google search I did find out that the City of Chicago does indeed have a Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility. Located at 1150 N. North Branch Street (two blocks east of the Kennedy Expressway at Division Street) the facility is open Tuesday mornings, Thursday evenings, and every first Saturday morning of the month. For all details, check out their Website.

Since we do not have a Great Stuff Exchange everyday, that doesn’t mean you have to dispose your old file folders to the landfill. Besides recycling your papers, plastics, and cans in those bright blue and nicely labeled recycling bins on campus, the City of Chicago has a list of 30 drop-off sites. Remember to be sure all items you take can be recycled at the facility, and if not, it’s a simple search on the Internet to find out what you can do with the other likely “hopeless cases.”

So, we're wondering:  how often should reuse events like this take place on campus?  Once a year?  Once a semester?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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