Conservation neighbor Amy Salisbury encourages sustainability efforts on campus.
My name is Amy Salisbury and I am a freshman majoring in civil engineering at Oregon State. I am also an Eco-Representative for Wilson Hall, which is my residence hall. Currently, OSU has three other Eco-Reps, representing Bloss, International Living-Learning Center, and Poling. We are all responsible for advancing and institutionalizing a culture of sustainability in our residence halls.
I focus a lot on educating my residents about sustainability, and I also focus on helping them achieve sustainable lifestyle changes. I explain that it’s actually really easy, especially with all the resources that Oregon State and Corvallis provide. I also make sure to explain that even small individual efforts really make a difference, because they do! Here are some tips I often share with other students.
- The “recycle” sign with a number in the middle at the bottom of plastics does not mean it is recyclable- it just means what type of plastic it is. In Corvallis we recycle by shape (bottles, jugs, jars and tubs). Another helpful tip is that the commingled bins can take almost everything (except glass and corrugated cardboard), so people don’t have to sort through anything.
- Coffee cups are never recyclable, only sometimes compostable, and 3,000 cups are thrown away every day at Oregon State University alone. Another benefit of reusable coffee cups is financial- people save 25 cents each time they use their own reusable mug at coffee shops.
- Composting can reduce your trash by 30-60% (according to the EPA) and that when you don’t compost, your compostables will release methane gas in the landfill. Methane has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 21 times the GWP of Carbon Dioxide. I also make sure to talk about how it is free and super easy in Corvallis, and in my hall especially – there are buckets on every floor.
As part of my job, I manage composting in my hall. At the start of the year, I had the privilege of implementing a composting pilot program into my hall, with buckets on every floor. I track the weights and results and empty and clean out the buckets. I also promote the program, providing compost guides and education on why composting is so crucial.
The other Eco-Reps and I get the chance to promote and support some really awesome events, like the Fair Trade Fair by the SSI or the Repair Fairs by the Waste Watchers. We also do a lot of tabling in the dining halls on campus so that we can talk to people in person. I recently hosted an event in my residence hall called “Sustainability for Stability”, based on an idea of Poling Hall’s Eco-Rep, Rachel Yonamine. I gave a fifteen minute presentation on sustainability, focusing on how to successfully continue being sustainable while living off campus next year. I spoke about organic eating and eating local, reducing consumption, reusing and repurposing, proper recycling, composting, and eco-friendly transportation. I served local foods and raffled off sustainability prizes. 100% of the attendees said that they had learned something new. It was refreshing to see such a large group of people my age be so passionate and interested in becoming more sustainable.
So far, I have really enjoyed my time as an Eco-Rep, and I truly feel that I am having a positive impact on my community and our planet. At the end of the day, my goal is to really just help people be more aware and conscious of their actions, and I can proudly say that I am doing just that. Being an Eco-Rep has been a fantastic experience for myself as well, as I have built new relationships and increased my own awareness through this position. I hope that in the near future, the Eco-Rep program will have enough funding to have a representative for all of the fifteen residence halls on campus. It is quite exciting witnessing the effect my co-workers and I have on the people around us, and I am eager to see the program expand.