The questions below were submitted by your fellow Columbians. Feel free to contact us with questions of your own.
- How come, after I separate recycling from trash in my office, custodians just throw both together in the same trash bag?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages in terms of environmental impact of hand dryers vs. paper towels in restrooms?
- Whom can I contact about environmental issues? How can I contribute suggestions?
- Does the University try to meet any of its energy needs from renewable sources?
How come, after I separate recycling from trash in my office, custodians just throw both together in the same trash bag?
Thank you for your contribution to environmental stewardship in your Columbia workspace.
To make sure your and your colleagues’ efforts are working, however, it’s essential that paper and cardboard be placed in bins marked ALL PAPER, but that some paper items such as used napkins, towels and plates be separated for the bins marked TRASH.
The same is true for recyclable glass, metal, plastic, and beverage cartons, which should be placed in bins marked BOTTLES & CANS. Some glass and plastic as well as Styrofoam can’t be recycled and must be separated for the bins marked TRASH.
Specifics for recycling can be found in the RECYCLING section of this website.
When recyclable and non-recyclable materials are inadvertently mixed, the entire collection will have been compromised for its recycling potential – and possibly have to be discarded rather than recycled. Speak to your custodian or your custodian's manager if you have concerns about the handling of materials to be recycled.
What are the advantages and disadvantages in terms of environmental impact of hand dryers vs. paper towels in restrooms?
It’s a draw. Both blow dryers and paper towels affect environmental quality, each in their own way. The blow dryers consume energy, while paper towels – even the ones made of post-consumer paper – contribute to the country’s growing waste stream. Air-drying is the only way to be 100 percent environmentally sensitive.
Whom can I contact about environmental issues? How can I contribute suggestions?
You’re both welcome and encouraged to get in touch with Columbia’s Office of Environmental Stewardship which works on practical programs to make the University community more environmentally conscious and proactive. The group is eager for your ideas. You can reach the Office of Environmental Stewardship through the Contact Us page on this website or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does the University try to meet any of its energy needs from renewable sources?
Columbia does not currently purchase energy from 100 percent renewable sources, nor has it made a specific commitment to do so. However, the recently formed Office of Environmental Stewardship is evaluating and overseeing stewardship initiatives. In its first year, the task force efforts have included developing programs to increase the use of recycled content paper, auditing the environmental performance of buildings, and encouraging student participation in stewardship activities. The task force will continue to pursue a variety of environmental initiatives. Among them, it may consider energy sourcing, although that is not on its immediate agenda.