Missouri State University
Sustainability Blog

RecycleMania Art Display Contest

The lines between art and trash were blurred across campus by four displays made of waste.

Every year, the University participates in RecycleMania, a national competition between colleges and universities to see who can increase recycling and reduce waste the most! In order to raise awareness about RecycleMania and the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling, this year we hosted a RecycleMania Art Display Contest.

Campus Green Teams and student organizations teamed up to create a waste-related art display.

The Teams:

  • PSU Green Team + Sculpture Club
  • Meyer Library Green Team + Eco-Reps (Winner)
  • CNAS Dean’s Office Green Team + Tri-Beta Biological Society
  • Dining Services Green Team + Residence Hall Association

The teams had 100% creative freedom to create a display that shared their message. The messages conveyed by the displays range from the importance of reducing the use of certain plastics to raising awareness about the impact of waste on natural habitats.

PSU Green Team + Sculpture Club

Location: Plaster Student Union Remembrance Lounge

Leaning in the corner of the Plaster Student Union Remembrance Lounge is a magnificent and intriguing artistic display.

“Inspired by “trash island” and ocean waste in general we created a large plastic sphere caught in a plastic net. The sphere and net are made from recyclable plastics gathered from local stores and include, pvc pipes, shrink-wrap, bags, bottles, and 6-pack rings. These materials are also common waste, bringing attention to the issue of the millions of tons of waste harming our planet.”

MSU Sculpture students and Sculpture Club (Aleana Evans, Ashley Wampler, Casaundra Williams, Stephanie Haug, Melanie Jones, Zea Scholbrock, Will Finch, Suzanne Ahlvers, Richard Russell, and Colin Aubuchon)

“Having our RecycleMania display in the Plaster Student Union was an ideal situation due to the high amount of building traffic on the 2nd floor. Our display consists of recyclable materials such as plastic soda rings, and saran wrap. We are grateful that the MSU Sculpture students and PSU Green Team were able to create such a unique display!”

DJ Fox, PSU Green Team Eco-Ambassador

Created by MSU Sculpture students and The Sculpture Club, the display brings light to the growing issue of plastics in our oceans. The students who created the display titled the sculpture “The Plastic Plague.”

Meyer Library Green Team + Eco-Reps (Winner)

Location: Meyer Library Entry Ramp

Along the library entrance windows, you can see purposefully arranged “strands of trash” comprised of materials that cannot be recycled, but rather have been repurposed as an art display.

The Meyer Library Green Team and Eco-Reps, students who promote sustainability on campus through peer-to-peer discussions and activities, teamed up to construct this unique display.

“Taking trash that would normally end up in an incinerator or dump and giving it a new purpose as art has been a wonderful experience. I loved helping to design and construct the library display and learning more about waste along the way!”

Ashley Newson, Senior, Eco-Rep Coordinator

“The Meyer Green Team fully supports RecycleMania as a means of educating the MSU community in our quest for reducing waste and increasing awareness of the environmental impact of waste.  This RecycleMania Art Display and RecycleMania offered the perfect opportunity to be involved at a very visible level.”

Jan Johnson, Meyer Library Green Team Eco-Ambassador

“We are all responsible for the earth. We can either treat it like a gigantic trash can or as our back yard.”

Chris Edwards, Meyer Library Green Team Member

With the goal of first catching students’ attention, this display was created to raise awareness of how much waste we throw away and how much cannot be recycled.

CNAS Dean’s Office Green Team + Tri-Beta Biological Society

Location: Temple Hall Display Case

In the display case next to the Pit in Temple Hall, you can find a life-size polar bear constructed out of recyclable plastics.

“Tri-Beta was interested in participating in RecycleMania because environmental health effects the biological world greatly, for those going into Wildlife Biology and Veterinary Sciences, but the effect on human health will impact our pre-med students, and many more! We made our display a polar bear because we wanted it to connect with all students – go bears, amiright?! Also to highlight the danger polar bears are in, not only with climate change, but how the physical pollutants bother them. The bear’s core is made of recyclable plastic milk jugs, but the outside is made of plastic bags, which many people don’t know are recyclable, since so few places accept them. We have added a recycle bin to the display so that students and staff can drop off their plastic bags to be recycled, since they are not recycle elsewhere on campus. #RecycleBear”

Brooke Widmar, Sophomore, Tri-Beta Member

“The CNAS Green Team partnered with Tri-Beta (a biology student organization) for the display in Temple Hall. The student organization did an outstanding job of preparing an exhibit that is visually interesting and informative.”

Dr. Tammy Jahnke, Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences

One person stated that the sculpture reminded him of his own tendency to so easily pollute, to not take responsibility for the care of the planet, and to disassociate himself with habitats far from with his own.

Dining Services Green Team + Residence Hall Association

Locations: Garst and Blair Shannon Dining Halls

In the Garst and Blair Shannon Dining Halls, you will find a mural constructed out of reclaimed cardboard and magazines. The display was created by the Residence Hall Association (RHA) in hopes of encouraging students to reduce, reuse and recycle, while also showing some Missouri State pride. They wanted to create the installation using materials that are frequently thrown away without a second thought. The only materials used are old cardboard boxes, magazines cut into strips, glue, black tempera paint, and metal wire from old notebooks.

“We just wanted to create a display that showed how easy it is to turn things we normally throw away into a cool piece of art, and show pride in our school at the same time. We scoured the internet for cool upcycling ideas and art projects that we could draw inspiration from, and eventually settled on the displays we actually made. It doesn’t have to be difficult, or expensive, to make cool art to decorate a room with.”

Ryan Largent, Residence Hall Association President

“We’ve partnered with Residence life each semester to put on a waste display table. We’ve also featured recycled art as well as education and awareness campaigns about all of our sustainability and conservation efforts.”

Nicole Young, Director of Marketing, Missouri State Dining Services

Ultimately, the goal of this display is to encourage MSU students, faculty and staff to find beauty in what is normally considered trash. RHA hopes to show that it is important to do all that we can to curb wastefulness, whether that is through reducing the amount of stuff we purchase that will end up in landfills, reusing or repurposing items we do purchase after we’re done with them, or recycling the items we can no longer use ourselves.

The Contest:

Each of these art displays was judged on multiple criteria, including creativity, visual appeal, message and impact. The Meyer Library Green Team + Eco-Reps display was chosen as the winner.

Be on the lookout for this display in Library Room 107 during Public Affairs Week (September 11-15, 2017).

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Less is More

This is a guest post by Ashley Newson, Senior at Missouri State University and Eco-Rep Coordinator.

Look at the all things you have or use in your life. Do you feel satisfied with what you have? Or do you want more? More things, more excitement, more newness, more wants deemed needs. But do any of these bring real meaning and happiness into your life?

We live in a world of consumerism where there is no escaping. Instead of evaluating what we have and what we need, we make impulse decisions based off what we want at that moment. Instead of fixing what we already have, we throw it away and buy another newer version. Instead of these items having their purpose in their use, we let them infiltrate our feelings so that shopping and buying is pleasurable. We feel satisfied when we have the new, shiny, wrapped up item fresh from the store.

And it’s not our fault we feel this way. We have been trained to make decisions based on our desires, sometimes desires that we never even knew we had to begin with. Advertisements tap into this weakness, creating a need where there wasn’t one previously. Then we go out and buy the item because we need it, because we feel like we need it. We believe the item will make our life easier, happier, sexier, better, or simpler. But often we buy it, use it a couple of times, then forget about it and move on to the next fad.

For the past six months, I have been evaluating almost every purchase I make. Before buying something new or used, I ask myself:

  • Do I already own this item or one similar?
  • Do I truly need this item or is it merely a want?
  • Will I use it enough to justify having it in my life?

This questioning system has saved my purchasing habits and uncluttered my life. I find that having more stuff means more things to keep track of and ultimately more stress. Sometimes you have to learn when to say no to the advertisements calling you to buy, and even when to say no to free junk. Are you actually wearing all of those free sunglasses or t-shirts you took from the Whatever Fair on campus? If you are, then that’s great you are using something you have. If not, evaluate your need first and then decide before impulsively taking whatever is in front of you.

This is tough since we are taught from a young age that you should take advantage of everything you can. That’s kind of a scary thought that we are taught to exploit instead of adapt and appreciate. We are also taught that your success is shown by what you have. If you have a big, beautiful house you must be successful. We lust for the extravagance and measure our meaning by this ridiculous standard. And the worst part is that we don’t even feel happy, except for that split second after we bought it.

An alternative to this never-ending cycle of working to spend money on more stuff we don’t need, is to live simply. A simplified lifestyle doesn’t work to fill that void temporarily like consumerism does, instead it brings meaningful satisfaction in your life. You realize what you have and you appreciate those items much more. You also feel less stressed and less cluttered mentally and physically. Why worry about buying something new when you already have everything you need? Less really is more. More rewarding, more fulfilling, and more meaningful. By embracing this less lifestyle, you end up with a life full of plenty.

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Green Teams Spotlight: Green Beans


Green Team Profile

Team Name: Green Beans

Eco-Ambassadors: Jordan Endicott & Samantha Mosier

Department: Department of Political Science

Location: Strong Hall

Green Team Leaf Level: Two

Green Office Certification: Gold

Congratulations to our first Gold Green Team, the Green Beans! This fall, the Green Beans team applied to become a Leaf Two Green Team after working hard to earn their Gold status. In order to become Gold Certified, the Green Beans had to implement a variety of sustainable behaviors and projects in their office covering topics like participation in their Green Team, recycling, energy conservation, sustainable purchasing, and waste reduction.

Some of the sustainable actions they’ve put into practice to increase their Green Office Certification include having recycling bins available and marked in the offices and halls, turning off monitors at night, sending out “pre-holiday” reminder emails, and even upcycling napkins leftover from catering events!

On top of this, to become a Leaf Two team, they had to choose three engagement projects to implement in their office. Here’s some of the things they did to increase awareness of sustainability and boost participation:green-beans-bulletin-board

  • Created an environmental sustainability bulletin board that lists contact information for the Green Team captains for anyone wanting to learn how to become more sustainable. The bulletin board also highlights a number of efforts in the department, gives tips on going green, and advertises in-department activities/accomplishments.
  • Discussed elements of resource usage during departmental meetings such as replacing older machinery with more efficient and sustainable options.
  • Extended membership to some members of the Philosophy Department, which is located in the same office, and received a commitment from most of the Political Science graduate assistants.

That’s not all, the Green Beans are already making plans for their next project!

“We are hoping to aid our undergraduate office student worker submit a sustainability project idea for water bottle refills stations in Strong Hall. Our building has many classrooms (including 4 large lecture halls) and also contains both the local public radio station and television station. We believe there is a benefit to students, faculty, and staff to easily refill and encourage water bottle usage.”

Great job Green Beans!

Are you interested in starting a Green Team in your office or department? Or are you already a Green Team and want to become a Leaf Two team? Visit the Green Teams webpage to find out how to get started.

Contact jordanschanda@missouristate.edu if you have questions about the Green Teams program.

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Innovative Idea Competition Winners

Every April and October, the University hosts a campus-wide energy competition called Flip The Switch. This year we wanted to recognize faculty and staff who go above and beyond during the competition. Employees were asked to submit their innovative ideas for a chance to win! The idea could focus on conserving energy on campus, educating the campus about the importance of energy conservation, or increasing participation in our energy conservation competition. The best idea submitted by both an individual and a group would receive recognition and a prize!

Below you can read about the winning ideas and their submitters.

FullSizeRenderWinners pictured from left to right: Kim Dixon, Samantha Mosier, Lexy Bryan and Jordan Endicott

Winning Group Idea

Submitted By: The Green Beans (Political Science Green Team)

Idea co-produced by Samantha Mosier, Jordan Endicott and Lexy Bryan

IMG_1593Idea: We propose ‘flip the switch’ conservation tags that are placed next to light switches. After an audit of how much energy/cost of energy a light fixture uses, a conservation tag is placed next to the switch indicating hourly and annual costs for the light(s) being on. A program developed in Cookeville, Tenn. developed a similar effort that helped city employees develop knowledge on the cost of lighting and encouraged employees to turn out the lights when not in use. The conservation switch tag educates individuals on the costs of lighting and ask them to “Flip the Switch! Please turn off the lights when not in use!” Our three-person team has developed a prototype switch and would be interested in sharing if possible. Also, we suspect that the estimation of cost/energy usage would require knowledge of bulb type, # of bulbs on switch, and more technical knowledge than we possess. The implementation would require individuals or groups to initially request an audit and tag.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your office/department.

We all work in the Political Science Department, where we also share space with the Philosophy Department. Lexi Bryan is a junior majoring in History Education. She is our student worker. Jordan Endicott is our amazing Administrative Assistant. And I, Samantha Mosier, am an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department. Our Green Team is called the Green Beans. We are working towards getting our Leaf Two application in and partnering with the Philosophy Department to expand our team.

What do you like most about working at MSU?

The environment is very supportive and the community is welcoming. We really like working with each other and enjoy opportunities to participant and promote sustainability on campus.

What was your inspiration for this idea?

This idea actually came from previous research project on a public-private partnership between the City of Cookeville, Tennessee and Cummins Filtration. Cummins Filtration developed a program called the Unplugged Challenge and then transferred/taught the program to officials at the City of Cookeville. While the program had a number of components, one low-tech and but very impactful aspects of the program was the creation of light switch energy stickers. The stickers were used to raise awareness among employees as to cost associated with keeping a light on. It was a first, but very significant step for the city to reduce energy consumption.

What do you do personally to live more sustainably?

We each have our own ways to live more sustainably including the following: reducing our use of plastics, using refillable cups/bottles, recycling, turning the lights and electronics off when not in use or needed, biking to campus (that’s Lexi!), or minimizing driving trips by consolidating errands. We are also very conscientious about what we eat, using the stairs, and printing less.

What do you do in your office to be more sustainable?

Jordan implemented a number of sustainability measures when she joined us last year including battery recycling, additional recycling bins, and joining the Greens Beans as a co-captain. We are working towards getting our Leaf Two application together and have plans for a sustainability bulletin board in our office, getting members of the Philosophy Department involved with our team, and are looking to replace older equipment with more sustainable options after the equipment lifecycle is reached. We’ve been looking for ways to reduce paper usage and to seek ways to reuse paper where we only printed on one side.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to sustainability in general? On campus?

It’s really seems like unsustainable behaviors are the result of convenience, lack of awareness, and cost. As consumers we have a tendency to use what is quick, easy, and/or cheap and we may or may not consider the impact of our decision because of the convenience and cost. Here on campus we’ve also observed behaviors that are at odds with sustainability such as using the elevator to go up/down one floor, keeping the lights on in rooms where natural light is plentiful or no one is using, and throwing recyclable materials into the trash. While we aren’t perfect, we do strive to be sustainable and wish to see that in the broader community

Winning Individual Idea

Submitted By: Kim Dixon

Idea: I would like to see MSU adopt these ideas as part of their sustainability pledge:

  1. Provide to staff/students free unlimited use of mass transit to reduce the number of single-occupant drivers and also help with overcrowding of parking lots.
  2. As recycling rates for plastic are low and as high-quality water available around campus, I’d like to see MSU ban the sale of bottled water to eliminate plastic bottle waste. It will also save on man-power for having to empty the recycling bins.
  3. Go to single-stream – more simplistic (only have “recycle” and “landfill”). I believe it will increase the campus waste diversion if the process is simplified.
  4. I’m not sure what campus dining services do with their leftover food, but an alternative to wasting it could be to start a student-powered Campus Kitchen project.
  5. Encourage reusable cup, mug or bottle usage with the Cupanion Rewards app. Work in conjunction with on campus vendors.

Tell us a bit about yourself.  

I grew up in Springfield, went to Parkview High School, moved to St. Louis from 1984-2011. In 2011, I moved back to Springfield and began working at MSU for the Facilities Management Department. I am a mother to three amazing children (Ashley 30, Joshua 29, and Caleb 27), a granny to an adorable grandson (Brady 1 ½), a pet lover to a Pomeranian dog (Tootsie) who is 14 yrs. old and just recently, have taken in a rescue cat (Tabby). In my free time, I like to be outdoors working in the yard, hiking, biking or hunting. I am continually polishing my shooting skills of my Hoyt Ruckus bow and hand gun.

What do you like most about working at MSU?

I love working in a scholastic environment. After my first higher-ed experience of working for Washington University in St. Louis for the Olin Business School, I knew I always wanted to continue working in an educational atmosphere. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow, plus I love the excitement and fresh perspectives students provide. I love the buzz of busyness on the campus. It’s hope, excitement and promise in its purest form. Another perk I love about working for MSU is the credit fee waiver.  I have been taking classes in the evenings for the past two years, working towards an Accounting Degree, and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of expanding my knowledge and exercising my brain. I find satisfaction in being a part of something that changes people’s lives for the better. 

What was your inspiration for this idea?

My motivation for participating in this event is to see the campus continue working towards making sustainable choices in all its processes. All the way from the buildings we build, to the vendors we choose, to the purchases we make, to the food we eat. Lead by example. Continue Thinking Big – Solar parking like California State University which supplies 20% of the universities annual power needs; Solar Hot Water – like University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, which heats its indoor swimming pool from solar collectors on the roof, saving 6,540 therms of natural gas (equivalent to hot water for 20 residential households). Implement more rainwater harvesting on campus which can be used for flushing toilets. Make sustainability more than a buzz word, create an environment where you can’t help but notice it.

What do you do personally to live more sustainably?

Sustainability has always interested me. My first real impression of sustainability came when I was working at Washington University. Because of their sustainability program, I started taking notice on a more personal level. My colleagues were setting examples and making impressions.  The campus had a thriving, active sustainability program that was always catching my attention. At MSU, my interest was fed further. I found great value in the NWEI Menu for the Future classes that Jordan Schanda held, which made me think even more about my everyday choices. Because of that class, I now try to buy local, organic and grass-fed products as much as I can, while avoiding processed food as much as I can. I am encouraged by Pilar Karlen, our campus Energy manager, who creates awareness of utility usage. Because of this, I think twice about the energy I’m using. My current personal sustainability practices are a work in progress. I do the typical – recycle; don’t buy bottled water; instead of using the individual plastic produce bags when buying produce, my co-worker, Emily McGee, made me a reusable shopping bag from plastic grocery bags that I now use for produce purchases; only have lights on in one room at a time; instead of adjusting the thermostat, make other adjustments (layered clothing, or turn on/off a fan, open/close a window); unplug (or turn off the power strip) on appliances/electronics when not in use; downsized material possessions considerably (the minimalist lifestyle is interesting to me – less stuff, less worries, less space needed to store the stuff, less energy needed. Less truly is More.) There is so much more I can do, it’s a work in progress.

What do you do in your office to be more sustainable?

Pretty much the usual things all offices are doing I’m assuming – recycle paper, bottles/cans, cardboard, ink cartridges, batteries. We also have two hydration stations which we use for refilling water containers, reducing the use of plastic bottles. Our maintenance guys recycle metal from their jobs. We have minimized individual trash can usage in the building so that fewer liners are used, power down the computers in the evening, utilize sensor switches in the conference and break rooms, as well as the restrooms and turn off lights when not in the offices for an extended period of time. We have also networked most of our printers enabling us to reduce the number of printers/copiers being used in the department, which equates to less energy being used, less toners/ink cartridges, less spending.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to sustainability in general? On campus?

Changing minds. Sustainability involves the many individual decisions made every day. What helps change minds? Exposure, education, influence from our peers, support from the administration. Sustainability awareness on the MSU campus has grown a lot, I feel like, over my four years here. I’m encouraged by the campus’ support of initiatives which have created savings in utilities, construction of LEED certified buildings, and hopeful that mindset continues and more changes are being put in place. Change is not always easy, nor is it always inexpensive, and the easy way is usually a well-beaten path. What helps me is seeing the big picture of where our world will be if unsustainable practices continue – it is disturbing. If I step outside of thinking of just my life and existence and think of the future of the earth for my children and grandchildren, it makes me think about my choices – where is my trash going? Where does the food I’m eating come from? How was the food made? What kind of sustainable/unsustainable process was involved in making the food I’m eating? How big of a footprint are my daily choices leaving on this earth? Looking at the big picture helps me in making sustainable choices. The earth’s resources are limited and can be taken for granted. This earth is home to billions of humans and animals. Zooming it in to a personal level, would you continually do something damaging to the brick and mortar home you live in (like not fix leaks, or not spray for bugs, not mow the yard)? Probably not, because you want a comfortable, nice place to live. Expand that out to the big picture…….don’t we want a comfortable world to live in? Don’t we want to enjoy our environment with clear babbling brooks, versus the chemical filled streams? Clean air versus a smog filled haze? Do we want to continually cut down forests and turn the green into grime? It is estimated that we use a considerable amount more of natural resources every year than we can put back. That can’t end well. What will be the last straw? When the last straw is placed on the camel’s back, we can know with certainty it wasn’t the single last strand of straw that made the camel’s back collapse, instead it was the fault of all the straws collectively. Therefore, everyone must be involved to achieve environmental sustainability. We must choose our straws wisely. 

Any other information that you think would be important to include…

Bear Up and Be Sustainable!

We truly appreciate all of the faculty and staff who took the time to submit their ideas. We hope this competition will grow each semester and result in changes that will make positive sustainability impacts on our campus!

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Flip The Switch Energy Competition 2016


The University will once again host a campus-wide energy competition in April called Flip The Switch!

Join your fellow Bears between April 1st and April 20th to reduce your energy consumption on campus!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tips on how you can conserve energy and to stay up to date on the competition and events.

Here is the list of opportunities for students, faculty and staff to get involved (and even win prizes)!

  • Energy Conservation 101: April 5th from 2:00-3:00 pm in Hill Hall 0002. This free training will provide employees with information about the importance of conserving energy on campus and at home. You will learn simple strategies to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency. We will also cover the hot topic of renewable energy. View the MSU Calendar event for more info and be sure to reserve your spot through My Learning Connection.
  • Enter our Take the Stairs Challenge! Simultaneously reduce your energy usage and increase your physical activity by committing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Compete with other Bears to see who can take the most flights of stairs in April and win Visa gift cards! Enter here!
  • Energy Conservation Social Media Challenge: Take a picture of the one thing you commit to do to conserve energy in April. Post your picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to be entered to win gift cards to local restaurants and more! Make sure you tag your post with #MSUFlipTheSwitch and @MSUSustain as well as 1 friend!
  • Innovative Idea Competition: Faculty and Staff can make a big impact on campus energy usage by making small changes during the day. This year we will recognize faculty and staff who go above and beyond during the competition. Submit your innovative idea for a chance to win! Your idea should focus on conserving energy on campus, educating the campus about the importance of energy conservation, or increasing participation in our energy conservation competition. Individuals and groups are invited to submit their ideas using this form. The best individual idea will win Boomer Meals. The best group idea (which could be submitted by your office or department) will win a free lunch party. Winners will receive a recognition award and be also be featured in a blog included in Inside Missouri State. Submit your idea on the sustainability website anytime between April 1st and April 15th!
  • Print out the Faculty/Staff Commitment Poster and place a check next to all the practices you pledge to carry out. There is no minimum, but try to set as many realistic goals as possible! Hang this poster on your office door or window to demonstrate your commitments and encourage others to do the same!
  • Residence Hall Energy Competition: Keep tabs on the Building Dashboard to see how you are stacking up against other residence halls on campus. The residence hall that reduces energy consumption the most will win a finals week party and a trophy! Check the Sustainability Homepage every Friday during the competition to see the building rankings!
  • Green Room Certifications: Fill out this quick form to get your Room or Suite, Office, or Residence Hall Front Desk Green Certified! You will receive a badge to hang on your door and other free things.
  • Hour without Power: Each week try to go at least one hour without using any electricity: take a walk, grade papers using only natural light, or eat your lunch outside without the distraction of your phone.
  • Lunch without Lights: For each of the three weeks of the competition, one dining hall will turn out their lights during lunch to raise awareness about the competition and to save energy!
    • April 4th – 8th in Blair Shannon from 11a-1p
    • April 11th – 15th in Garst from 11a-1p
    • April 18th – 22nd in Kentwood from 11a-1p
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rmlogo_new w reg. markMissouri State University is participating in RecycleMania, a national competition between colleges and universities to see who can reduce waste and recycle the most! During February and March, you can help us win RecycleMania by reducing your consumption of disposable goods and recycling everything you can on campus! Join your fellow Bears and make a difference!

Why is it important to reduce, reuse and recycle?newspapers-stack

  • The EPA estimates that 70% of waste is recyclable, but only 30% is actually recycled.
  • Americans send 2.5 million plastic bottles to the landfill every hour.
  • Recycling one stack of newspaper just 3 feet high saves an entire tree.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves the amount of energy needed to power a TV for three hours.
  • An average person generates 4.5 pounds of waste per day or 1,643 pounds per year!
  • The average American produces 90,000 pounds of trash over their lifetime.

How can you help us win RecycleMania?


Reducing waste is an important way to reduce your environmental footprint. The best way to minimize waste is to avoid disposable products altogether. If you DO decide to use new products, try to reduce your usage of them.

Tips to reduce waste:

  • Reduce your consumption. Only buy products you absolutely need.
  • Buy fresh and organic produce instead of packaged and fast food.
  • Eat ALL of your food instead of throwing away leftovers.
  • Buy products with less packaging.
  • DON’T buy disposable products like plastic bags, plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, etc…


Many common disposable items can be used more than once OR you can buy durable and reusable versions of them instead!

Tips to reuse:

  • Reuse plastic bags and bottles, glass bottles, and even ziplock bags.
  • Buy (and USE) reusable bags, travel mugs, cups, and bottles.
    • Coffee shops on campus offer a discount when you bring your own mug!
    • The campus bookstore sells green reusable bags for only $1.50 each, and they get you 2% off your entire purchase at the bookstore (excludes electronics and books).
  • Buy used items and donate your gently-used ones.
  • Start a compost pile at home! If you have food scraps leftover from your lunch, take them home and put them in your compost pile. You can then use this as fertilizer for your garden!
  • Take advantage of the reusable cup program on campus.


We use comingled recycling bins on campus, which means you can put all recyclable materials in the same bin.

In the paper bins, you can recycle:

  • Opened mail & greeting cards
  • Office paper, file folders & shredded paper
  • Magazines, brochures & catalogs
  • Newspapers & inserts (NO BAGS)
  • Paperboard boxes & paper bags
  • Phonebooks, paper & hard-back books

In the comingled bins, you can recycle:

  • #1-7 plastics
  • Metal cans
  • Clean, balled aluminum foil/pie pans

These items are NOT accepted in the comingled bins:

  • Glass or ceramic of any kind**
  • Cardboard**
  • Plastic bags
  • Scrap metal (dangerous!)
  • Foam packing materials
  • Plastic microwave trays
  • Ice cream containers
  • Tissues, paper towels, napkins
  • Waxed paper or waxed cardboard
  • Styrofoam®
  • Containers not rinsed or cleaned of food

Paper can be placed in comingled bins, but please put paper in the paper bins when possible.

**Glass and cardboard CAN be recycled in the residence halls and other specific locations on campus. Learn more about recycling on our Recycling FAQ’s page.

Tips to recycle:

  • Schedule a shred event for your office or department during RecycleMania – this paper is recycled!
  • Contact Custodial Services to request a pick-up of any large quantities of paper, such as an office clean out.
  • Recycle batteries, ink/toner cartridges and other e-waste by scheduling a pick-up.
    • Students should look for recycling bins for these items in their residence hall.
  • Host a junk mail opt-out event in your office or department.

Please comment below if you have other ideas about how we can reduce waste and increase recycling on campus.

Thank you for doing your part to reduce, reuse and recycle! Go Bears!







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Sustainability Discussion Courses – Spring 2016


Last semester, we offered the first Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) sustainability discussion course on campus: Menu for the Future. This course met for six, one-hour sessions to discuss the social, economic and environmental impacts of what we eat.

Menu for the Future Testimonial: “I really enjoyed the NWEI course about food and learned so much! The short articles kept my interest when reading and also offered many different perspectives about food topics. My favorite part was discussing the material and choosing an action item to work on. I am now more educated on food related topics, such as organic vs non organic, farmers markets, and food production systems. I also understand that what I eat matters and effects more than just myself.” – Ashley Newson, Junior at Missouri State University

Spring 2016 Discussion Courses

In the spring, we will be offering two NWEI courses: Choices for Sustainable Living and Voluntary Simplicity. Below you can read about each of these courses and see the meeting schedule. We only have space for 12 people in each course, so sign-up today to reserve your spot! These courses are completely FREE, open to all MSU students, faculty, and staff and do not require prior knowledge or experience with the topic.

Choices for Sustainable Living

Participants will meet for six, one-hour sessions to:

  • Explore the meaning of sustainability
  • Consider the ties between lifestyle choices and their impact on Earth
  • Learn about steps that can be taken to move toward ecologically sustainable organizations, lifestyles, and communities

Meetings will be on Wednesdays from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. in Meyer Library room 209 beginning January 20th and ending on March 2nd.

Course Flyer: NWEI Choices for Sustainable Living

Voluntary Simplicity

Participants will meet for five, one-hour sessions to:

  • Gain an understanding of the meaning of voluntary simplicity
  • Explore the material and psychological distractions that prevent us from caring for Earth
  • Consider how life might be enriched through the practice of simplicity
  • Develop a personal Action Plan to integrate simplicity into their lives

Meetings will be on Tuesdays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Meyer Library room 209 beginning on March 15th and ending on April 19th.

Course Flyer: NWEI Voluntary Simplicity

To sign-up, contact Jordan Schanda, Sustainability Coordinator

Or fill out the online interest form.

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Food Waste Prevention

This is a guest post by Ashley Newson, Junior at Missouri State University and Eco-Rep Coordinator.

November is Food Waste Prevention month at Missouri State University!

We all love food. We all have to have food. So why don’t eat everything we buy? An astounding 50% of food ends up in the trash. Think of the amount of food you’ve thrown out in one day, one week, or one month. Now think of the amount of food that growers and retailers throw out. The amount of food that is wasted is tremendous, but there are ways to reduce our food waste.

In honor of Food Waste Prevention month, there are several events happening on campus:



  • Just Eat It, a food waste documentary, will be shown in the PSU Theater on Thursday, November 5th at 6 PM. This film follows food from the farm, to retailer, to the back of the fridge and reveals how much food is wasted along the way. More information about the event can be found on the Facebook event page.


  • A hands-on composting workshop, hosted by Sustainable by Nature, will take place at the MSU Campus Garden on Thursday, November 12th. Attend one of the three, thirty-minute sessions at 3:30, 4:00, or 4:30 p.m. to learn all of the elements it takes to make great compost. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.

compost-pile square


  • MSU Sustainability is holding a social media contest with weekly prizes from Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks, Homegrown Foods, Farmers Gastropub and more! Post pictures to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to show us how you are reducing food waste throughout the month. Tag photos with #LoveFoodNotWaste and @MSUsustain.


Throughout the year there are numerous ways to reduce your food waste and help out others who may be facing food scarcity. The Springfield area is home to many great farmers markets, some are even open year round, that make buying local and buying more fresh produce easy. Donating food is another great way to have a positive impact; Ozarks Food Harvest is one organization that is working to rescue food and get it to those in need in our community. Try your hand at growing your own food, whether at home or at MSU Campus Garden, and then learn about proper long term storage, such as canning. Finally, don’t forget to compost your food scraps into a useful resource. For more tips and resources to help you reduce food waste, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This November, challenge yourself to reduce the amount of food you waste and support your community by buying local and donating food!

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Bottled Water Footprint

This is a guest post by Lonny Goldsmith, Content Development Specialist at Wheels for Wishes

We live in a world where we want what we want, and we want it now. We’re always on the go. Whether it’s running to and from classes, going to the library, or heading to work, we move in fast-paced world where we are looking for the convenient option a lot of the time.

Unfortunately, going for convenience means we aren’t always making the best decisions when it comes to things like eating healthy (running to the nearest fast-food restaurant) or drinking healthy (lots of soda to help you get through the day). But drinking healthy isn’t just about how much soda you drink, or whether you drink enough water, but where your water comes from.

Absolutely, it’s more convenient to run into the nearest convenience store and buy a bottle of water. It tastes better than tap water, right? Americans bought 9.1 billion gallons of bottled water in 2011, and most people don’t realize what they’re getting or what that cost is:

  • What you are getting is almost 50 percent municipal tap water.
  • Nearly all water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic produced from crude oil.
  • The amount of water used to produce the bottle can be up to triple the amount that the bottle actually holds.

Buy a reusable bottle and you’ll save loads of money as well. Fill them up from your tap or any on-campus drinking fountain instead of buying a bottle of water every time you get thirsty. If you’re really concerned about your local water quality, buy one with a filter in the bottle. Replacing a filter will still be considerably less expensive than the water bottles you’ll buy.

Yes, your short term health isn’t being impacted when you buy a bottle of water. In the long-term, the global impact is enormous. Think of how you’ll help change the world when you stop buying bottles of water.

To learn more about the bottled water footprint and how you can reduce yours, check out this informative infographic.


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Sustainability Guide

Sustainability Standardized Logo Horizontal

We have created a handy Guide to Sustainability at MSU. Use this guide to learn more about some key sustainability projects and initiatives taking place on our campus. There is a link to more information for each initiative in the guide. You can also see which projects were made possible through the Student Sustainability Fund! The map icon easily identifies things you should look for as you are walking around campus.

This guide is perfect for new students and families visiting campus this summer. It’s also a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about sustainability at MSU.


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