Clean + Go Green Just Keeps Growing - December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007

Clean + Go Green Just Keeps Growing

In large part, this year's Clean + Go Green can measure success by the numbers.

The annual collection, coordinated by Columbia University Facilities August 14th through 16th on the Morningside Campus, netted nearly 17 tons of furniture, computers and other electronics, cardboard, paper and books.

Clean + Go Green affords administrators, faculty and staff the opportunity to freshen up work spaces before the start of a new academic year. Most important, though, the donations represent tons of items that could have ended up in landfills. Instead, through Clean + Go Green, they'll be sorted and mostly recycled for University, neighborhood or even overseas use.

"It has always been so difficult and expensive to get rid of anything at Columbia," says Carol Mountain, Program Coordinator, Earth and Environmental Sciences. "This event makes it so much easier. More importantly, since there is a recycling and environmental consciousness attached to it, it is much easier to get rid of things without worrying how they will be discarded."

According to Helen Bielak, Manager, Surplus Reuse, Department of Environmental Stewardship, this summer's donations consisted largely of office chairs, small computer tables, lamps and theater platforms. She says that members of the Columbia community found computer monitors, keyboards and mice they could reuse, with hard drives kept for purging before reuse.

Collection points overseen by Facilities attendants were set up in front of Lerner Hall, in the Schermerhorn/Fairchild Courtyard and at The Grove. Bins and pallets were designated for various types of donations, including for the first time, one for used books.

According to Dan Held, Communications Director, Facilities, the attendants kept an eye out for items of historic interest. In fact, attendant Alan Dixon spotted an old scrapbook with newspaper clippings dating back to 1926 that was put aside for the University Archives.

A "first" in this year's donations was from Public Safety - what Ricardo Morales, Assistant Manager, Crime Prevention Programs, describes as "a whole bunch of rusted old bikes." Student passers-by adopted them immediately, and Morales guesses they were taken to repair shops for fixing up.

This enthusiasm has prompted Public Safety to try start its own reuse program for old or unclaimed bikes. Public Safety is talking with a local bike repair shop about collaboration in fixing up the bikes that would then be sold a modest cost to students, faculty and staff.

Originally known as Dumpster days, the project was revamped last year to complement the student initiative Give + Go Green. The student program solicits donations of food, clothing and small appliances during Move-Out and Senior Checkout. This year's donations filled five 26-foot Salvation Army trucks, and provided 1200 pounds of food for City Harvest, a nonprofit organization that picks up excess food from New York restaurants and other donors.

Adele Latoni, Executive Assistant, School of General Studies, says the Dean's Office contributed a number of items - computers, file cabinets and expired marketing material, for example. "The Clean + Go Green event is a productive one because it's free, it's part of a team effort, and it really is to beautify and help the environment," she says.

-Barbara King Lord

Schermerhorn/Fairchild courtyard, one of three Clean + Go Green drop-off locations that netted nearly 17 tons of furniture, computers and other electronics, cardboard, paper and books for recycling and reuse.