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Just How Eco-Friendly is the U of M Campus?

Glance around campus and you’ll likely notice several blue recycling bins placed throughout, urging students to be more sustainable by giving their glass, paper, and plastic waste a chance to be recycled and reused.

According to Amelia Mayahi, a sustainability manager at the University of Memphis, recycling bins are located in every campus building, making it easier for students to take advantage.

And while our campus also allows students to use recycling bins where they might see fit, there’s a lot more to the UofM’s eco-friendly options for students other than tossing any empty water bottle on your way out of class.

“We have our Tiger Bike Share Program,” Mayahi said. “It's a long-term bike rental, so you can actually take these home with you, you can enjoy the Green Line trails. You just have to take it back every two weeks, but it's only $35 a semester. We're really trying to provide students more alternative transportation in a city that kind of struggles with public transportation options.”

And with more local students opting to bike over driving, the program could also serve to reduce harmful emissions from cars.

“We also have composting available on campus and all of our dining halls,” Mayahi said. “We are actually about to open that, in the fall semester, to where students can bring their own composting for their dorms, whereas right now, it's just kind of in the back of the kitchen of our dining hall.”

Located just on the edge of Zach H. Curlin Street sits the main TIGUrS Urban Garden, where strawberries, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, flowers, and more are grown and maintained. Students interested in getting involved can sign up to volunteer there, either alone or as a group.

Robert Ray Clark, who serves as the current director of Environmental Health and Safety at the UofM, helps to ensure that campus is more eco-friendly, partly by protecting students and staff from hazardous waste.

“So the way that we're protecting the faculty, staff and students from hazardous waste, is we're making sure that everybody that potentially generates it understands the rules around it, how to do it safely, and in an environmentally friendly way, Clark explained. "The regulations help a lot with that."

He continued, “We abide by additional rules to go above and beyond to make sure that those chemicals or biological materials don't make their way into the sanitary sewer, which is where water from your sink goes or from a toilet, things like that.”

As a part of the university’s Tiger Blue Goes Green initiative, full-time students pay a $10 “green fee” during the spring and fall semesters. The small payment program kicked off in 2007.

Also a member of the Sustainable Campus (Green) Fee Committee, Clark shared that the $10 fee helps “fund projects on campus that will help the environment.” Ahead of the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, the program is hoping for new and fresh ideas from students and faculty on campus, which can be submitted online.

However small our actions may seem, with climate change being a constantly growing problem, it’s always a great idea to examine how we could be kinder to the planet.

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