Volunteer committee helps the MIT community live and work sustainably

April 22 marks the arrival of Earth Day, which supplies all of us with a great cause to think about methods to reside extra sustainably. For greater than 20 years, the MIT Working Inexperienced Committee has helped neighborhood members just do that by encouraging the reuse and recycling of possessions.

Made up completely of volunteers, the committee has performed an essential function in selling extra sustainable operations at MIT and elevating consciousness of the significance of conservation.

“We attempt to present a spot for folks to discover ways to reside and work in a extra environmentally pleasant manner,” says committee co-chair Rebecca Fowler, a senior administrative assistant in MIT’s Workplace of Sustainability.

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The committee hosts common Choose to Reuse occasions to offer MIT’s neighborhood members an opportunity to donate undesirable gadgets — or discover free issues that simply may develop into prized possessions. It additionally supplies sources to assist host extra sustainable occasions, make extra sustainable buying selections, and be taught extra about recycling.

“The recycling trade could be very irritating, so individuals are at all times asking what to do,” Fowler says. “They really feel like they make the mistaken selections and simply wish to know the right way to do it. We get quite a lot of questions, and we’re at all times there to assist discover solutions.”

Committee members say they’ve realized devoting somewhat time every month to issues like recycling training, and internet hosting occasions could make an enormous distinction in lowering waste. In final month’s Select to Reuse occasion, greater than 100 folks dropped off 1000’s of things together with clothes, housewares, and workplace provides. MIT’s always-active Reuse email lists, which the committee encourages neighborhood members to hitch, are one other nice strategy to cross gently used gadgets to others who may give them new life.

“The purpose is to maintain issues out of landfills, and the Select to Reuse occasion reveals you rapid outcomes,” says committee co-chair Gianna Hernandez-Figueroa, who’s the assistant to the director on the MIT AgeLab. “It’s inspiring as a result of individuals are excited to place issues within the palms of somebody who’s going to repurpose it. It’s a round occasion that’s actually stunning.”

Select to Reuse occasions are sometimes on the third Thursday of each different month, though the following one — the final for the spring semester — is on Monday, April 24.

The committee is likely one of the solely teams on campus run by assist workers, whose tasks contain clerical duties, information processing, and library and accounting features, amongst different issues. It’s a subcommittee of the Working Group for Support Staff.

The committee started because the Working Group on Recycling in 2000 at a time when MIT’s recycling charge was round 11 %. By 2006, MIT had reached a 40 % recycling charge and obtained a Go Inexperienced Award from the Metropolis of Cambridge. That 12 months the committee earned an MIT Excellence Awards for its work.

Round 2011, the group began internet hosting Select to Reuse occasions, which turned an immediate success.

“I actually imagine within the reward economic system, particularly in educational settings the place you’ve quite a lot of worldwide college students,” Hernandez-Figueroa says. “Plus, Boston is an costly metropolis!”

For a very long time, the group was run by Ruth Davis, who served as MIT’s supervisor for recycling and supplies administration and retired final 12 months. Since Davis left, others have stepped up.

“Plenty of the volunteers have been round for the reason that first Select to Reuse occasion 13 years in the past,” Fowler says, including that the committee is at all times searching for extra volunteers. “They’re all very dedicated to the occasion and to the trigger.”

The group can also be a manner for assist workers to realize new expertise. Fowler credit her expertise engaged on the committee with enhancing her undertaking administration and web site design talents.

“We actually emphasize capability constructing,” Fowler says. “If there’s a talent a volunteer want to develop, we will discover methods to try this by the committee. That’s one thing I’d wish to proceed: discovering folks’s strengths and serving to them construct their careers.”

Total, Fowler says the committee aligns with MIT’s dedication to make an impression.

The group’s lengthy historical past “reveals a dedication to environmentalism and sustainability and a craving to do extra past what’s in your job tasks,” she says. “It actually reveals the dedication to volunteerism of MIT’s workers members.”


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