Catawba College's New Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator Promotes Green as "the Color" of the Institution's Future
September 5, 2007
The Catawba College Facilities Department is encouraging all members of the college community to start seeing green this academic year. That department is taking a leadership position on campus, advocating recycling, use of sustainable, green, and recycled products, encouraging conservation and waste reduction, and even establishing a new position to coordinate those efforts.
David Najarian, a 1997 Catawba alumnus, recently assumed the role of waste reduction and recycling coordinator at the college, and talking to him, one gets the idea that his new position was one he seemed destined to hold. "I recycled growing up in Connecticut," he explained, "but when I came down here to college and then to live, my dad and I joked that most people down here practiced the B & B theory – that's burn it and/or bury it, if you don't know.
"I don't like spending money and I hate to throw things away. I'm cheap and I reuse things. I'm also a pack rat. But what that lifestyle has taught me is to take care of what I have and only buy what I really need. I used to dumpster dive for aluminum cans – when I heard them going in, I'd go in after them because back home you got five cents a can when you turned them in.
"Now at Catawba, we want waste reduction and recycling to catch on across campus, with my position providing continuity to student projects that often get started but are difficult to sustain once the students graduate," Najarian said.
"We also want people to know that Catawba's been at this recycling and waste reduction business for over two decades now," Najarian noted. Haywood confirmed Najarian's claim and credited Catawba students with instigating many projects that are now adopted campus-wide. Najarian's role will be to provide continuity for student efforts as well as for initiatives which begin with the Center for the Environment.
Najarian pointed out green achievements which Catawba has made in the recent past thanks in large measure to the Catawba Facilities Department. These include the fact that 12 of the buildings on Catawba's campus are heated and cooled by geothermal technology; that water from some of those geothermal wells is being recaptured in a 20,000 gallon tank and reused to irrigate the institution's athletic fields; that more energy efficient lighting and toilets have been installed on campus; that Energy Star appliances (washers and refrigerators) are installed in all campus buildings; that the Center for the Environment on campus is a regional leader in raising awareness and educating people about sustainability and going green; and that this summer the institution joined more than 300 other institutions across the country in signing the Presidents' Commitment to Climate Change.
"What I'm doing in my job now didn't just happen, it evolved on our campus, and now we want to take it up a notch," he said. He explained that the institution will launch an on-campus composting program in the near future, is pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for new construction projects, is investigating the use of recycled brick in campus construction projects, and will soon participate in an EPA Peer Audit which will point out areas or practices on campus where improvement is needed and also areas or best practices where Catawba is in a leadership position.
Najarian's tools to ratchet up recycling and waste reduction initiatives on campus are a variety of posters, new 100% recycled recycling bags distributed to all resident students which indicate recycling locations on campus, and recycling containers placed strategically across campus, especially in and near the residence halls.
Catawba currently recycles aluminum cans, mixed paper, cardboard, plastic bottles #1 and #2, brown and clear glass bottles, and some metals. The campus dining hall, operated by Chartwells, Catawba's food service provider, recycles steel cans, cardboard, and plastic containers. During the spring semester of 2007, Catawba recycled an average weight of 100 pounds of plastic and 55 pounds of aluminum per week, and Najarian hopes renewed awareness on campus will help increase those totals this academic year. During the first full week of school during fall semester of 2007, Catawba recycled 83 pounds of aluminum and 200 pounds of plastic (numbers 1 and 2).
Although much of Najarian's new position is focused on recycling, he also is promoting waste reduction on campus. Laminated posters he distributes for display in various buildings remind community members to conserve energy by turning off lights and adjusting thermostats when leaving a room, and to report leaks or dripping faucets and to turn off water while brushing teeth as ways to conserve water.
"There are a lot of little things that people could do to recycle, reduce waste and conserve, and if you put all those little things together it will make a difference in global warming," he concluded.
Next on the horizon for Najarian will be a push to promote the use of local mass transit by Catawba students and other college community members. He credits one of Catawba's current students, senior Cory Darnell of Rural Hall, with being the impetus behind this.
"As a college community, we are grateful and indebted to our students who crank up many of our green projects," said Haywood. "Even though we have David Najarian in his new position, we will continue to seek and value the input of our students on campus-wide projects we should pursue."