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UAB Sustainability’s annual Earth Week was held in April with events celebrating different ways to incorporate sustainability and recycling into your daily life. Julie Price, Coordinator of UAB Sustainability, worked to bring more than 30 vendors to the UAB Earth Day Festival.

“The festival is a great opportunity for our students and staff to learn about ways to live and work more sustainably through our vendor tables – from electric cars and home efficiency testing to environmental organizations and healthy lifestyle vendors,” Price said.

A new addition to the Festival was the presentation of the Sustainability Leadership Awards. These awards, in their inaugural year, were presented to groups on campus that have given special effort to support new sustainability programs on campus. The awardees were UAB Print & Mail, UAB Shipping & Receiving, and UAB Student Housing and Residence Life. 

Sust awrd 2UAB Print & Mail and UAB Shipping & Receiving worked together to execute the ink and toner cartridge recycling program. The program ensures the cartridges, which can take 500-1,000 years to decompose in a landfill, will be sent to a vendor where they can be refilled and reused up to seven times. Cartridges are collected via campus mail, packed at Shipping and Receiving and sent to the vendor. In the first six months, the program recycled 4,800 pounds of toner and ink cartridges. 

“UAB Business Services, including Print & Mail and Shipping & Receiving, took the initiative to develop a new workflow to collect and recycle a useful product, reducing waste and generating new revenue,” Price said.

UAB Student Housing and Residence Life worked with UAB Sustainability to execute an Investment Fund project submitted by Green Initiative. The project placed recycling bins on every floor of every residence hall, which required input from Housing and Residence Life regarding size and locations of the bins. Housing and Residence Life also helped advertise the project to students and helped troubleshoot problems as they happened. 

“We are thankful to them for accommodating this new program and promoting it so all resident students have reasonable access to recycling,” Price said.

The Festival is just one of the events featured during Earth Week. A Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste Collection was held at the UAB Recycling Center, enabling UAB staff and students to safely dispose of paints, motor oil, pesticides, electronics, etc. UAB Recycling continues to take electronics recycling from the UAB community during regular dropoff hours, and a full list of acceptable items can be found on the UAB Recycling website

UAB Campus Services and Grounds also helped spread the word about litter during the week by placing displays around campus containing the trash they had picked up during the previous week. The displays were placed in highly visible locations including the Campus Green and outside of the Kirklin Clinic. Signs attached to the displays provided information about the time the group spends collecting litter and emphasized individual responsibility in keeping the campus clean. 

The week ended with a seminar by Dr. James McClintock, Endowed Professor of Polar and Marine Biology, titled "From penguins to plankton – the impacts of climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula." The seminar presented an objective overview of the impacts of climate change on marine communities.