Dorm residents promote eco-friendly living on campus
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If light bulbs mark new ideas, longer-lasting light bulbs mark a new green way of thinking. Aptly, some on-campus residents are promoting simple environmentally minded measures that could keep the Earth cleaner.

The Towers Residents’ Environmental Organization [TREO] started up this semester, after Associate Director of Residential Property Management and TREO adviser, Jim Bolinger, said an opening for the residential themed community became available.

The concept for the group was one Bolinger and Tower’s Resident Assistant and co-chair of the group, Keir Johnson, said should be a natural part of everyone’s lives.

“The environment is something everyone should be paying attention to, it’s a great way to get unity for a good cause,” Johnson, 24, said of TREO.

TREO is a themed community for residents living on floors 13, 14 and 15 of the Towers. In an effort to open up the group to all housing residents, Village assistant resident director, Dre Dominguez, 24, said they created the Housing Eco Friendly Residential Organization (HERO) this group, which is still unofficial, works with TREO.

Dominguez, HERO co-chair, said the group has been growing rapidly.

“It’s literally kind of picked up overnight,” said Dominguez who lives in the Village’s more environmentally friendly “green” apartment.

Dominguez estimated that about 100 students make up the three TREO floors in the Towers and 30 to 35 residents are involved in HERO. Bolinger estimates that 2,500 students currently live in the core housing.

The organization’s first main project will be in distributing Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). 5,200 of these energy efficient light bulbs were donated to SF State housing from PG&E and the Sierra Club and will be distributed to each student in housing from now until Nov. 30.

After the CFL distribution, HERO plans to work to improve recycling in on-campus housing.

“Recycling is going to be one of our main issues because it’s very easy to do,” Johnson said.

The goal is to reach a 75 percent waste diversion rate, Bolinger said. This means they would like to see 75 percent of all disposed items either recycled or composted with only 25 percent thrown away. In August, Bolinger said a 40 percent waste diversion rate was reported. In March, the highest month recorded, that rate was at 53 percent.

The organization plans to improve recycling rates in a number of ways. Starting in the Towers, Dominguez said TREO will begin painting and beautifying the doors to the recycling rooms.

She says they hope to hold workshops at their meetings to educate residents about what is and isn’t recyclable as well as posting laminated signs that explain in addition to paint.

“Right now we’re talking about what lengths we can go with paint,” Dominguez said. “Signs that say trash goes here, recycling goes there.”

When students misplace their garbage in with the recycling they are contaminating the recycling, something Bolinger and Dominquez said are detrimental to working towards the 75 percent waste diversion goal.

“If the recycling is contaminated enough they won’t take it,” Dominguez said.

HERO member, Matthias Gropp, 19, said he’s excited to be a member of an on-campus environmental group.

“It seems natural in this city,” he said.

Sarah Jennings, 18, says she had experience with community service and community clean-ups before and says she feels fortunate to be a part of TREO.

“I think it was a lucky coincidence I was put on this floor,” she said.

Following the recycling project, TREO and HERO have plans for a community garden with indigenous plants.

“It’s difficult to get things going when people are first and foremost here for school,” Bolinger said. “We’ll do coaching, we’ll do contests whatever we can [to get the students to be more environmentally aware] but at the end of the day it’s up to the students.”

What the members of TREO and HERO are learning in housing is something “they can take home,” Bolinger said.

All on-campus residents are invited to join HERO, the group meets Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. in the Mary Ward Hall Cantina.

For more information e-mail HERO at sfsu.hero@gmail.com.

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