Green is the new purple: K-State fights pollution with Green Action, recycling

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Is green the new purple? As Kansas State is working to make Manhattan a cleaner, greener place to live, two of the programs at the forefront of these eco-friendly efforts are the Green Action Fund and the recycling center.

The Green Action Fund finances projects that improve K-State’s sustainability. In order to be funded, projects must have direct student involvement to increase student interaction and make campus a “living classroom.”

Green Action has a plan to weave sustainability into all aspects of K-State by the year 2025. The program has been funding proposals since 2013, and six proposals have already been approved and funded for spring 2018.

Another huge part of K-State’s continual effort to reduce pollution is the recycling center. The center has been operational since February 2012, and they retrieve the materials from bins and dumpsters located all over campus.

The recycling program also gets students involved. “RecycleMania,” for example, is a benchmarking competition for colleges across the United States and Canada to promote waste reduction activities. Each spring, colleges report the amount of recycling and trash collected over an eight-week period, and winners receive an award made out of recycled materials.

K-State recently participated in the 2018 RecycleMania competition, and placed in the top 100 in all three major categories.

The recycling program has also introduced Game Day Recycling. Volunteers help gather recyclable materials from tailgates and Bill Snyder Family Stadium at home football games — aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard and more. The recyclables are then sorted at the K-State Recycling Center.

Many eco-friendly modifications have already been made all over campus to conserve energy. Gary Weishaar, energy engineer for the K-State Power Plant, said the Energy and Controls Department has been changing aspects of campus buildings.

Weishaar said the department reduced campus electricity consumption by over 6 percent by removing 10 “chillers” and installing two new ones. The chillers are what provide campus with cold water. They also updated controls, coils and introduced “smart valves” into the water chiller system to improve efficiency, Weishaar said.

The department has also installed LED lights and occupancy sensors in the Engineering Complex, the College of Business building, Seaton Hall, Regnier Hall, the Berney Family Welcome Center, the Student Union and more.

Beyond the changes to K-State’s infrastructure, student involvement has also increased the university’s environmental friendliness.

The Students for Environmental Action are an independent student organization that promotes awareness of environmental issues. The outfit is committed to the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment.

SEA has just finished hosting its second annual Green Week. Mary Conner, vice president of SEA and junior in horticulture, said Green Week events included a pop-up thrift shop and a speech in Forum Hall from environmentalist Julia Hale.

“We try to engage the community in different events on campus to promote sustainability,” Conner said. “Coming to these events and learning more aspects on what it would be like to be sustainable, that would be a great place to start.”

Another way students get involved in environmentalism is through student government. Matt Mindrup, junior in biology, recently completed a term as director of sustainability for the Student Governing Association and said he recommends that more students apply.

“In this position, they have the opportunity to represent students’ voices on several committees, including the campus recycling committee, the sustainable energy committee, and Green Action Fund,” Mindrup said. “They can also take on their own projects and initiatives to improve campus.”

By being energy-conscious and active in its conservation efforts, K-State is saving its natural resources one step at a time.

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