$15K recycle lids increase campus cans

Chris Cadelago

Students can expect 100 new recycling bins, completely biodegradable food containers, solar panels atop the Life Fitness Center and a detailed plan that might solve the parking problem.

As part of a campaign entirely organized by students, these changes are meant to make City College less dependent on outside resources and more economically self-sufficient.

“Now, more than ever, our generation faces extreme challenges,” said Leif Skogberg, co-founder and co-president of the City College Student Sustainability Coalition. “We have to see and be taught positive solutions while learning how to participate in the healing of our world.”

The coalition, a group of eight who work with students from Biology 291 classes, convinced the City of Santa Barbara to spend $15,000 on recycling lids to be distributed around campus at the end of the semester. About half of trash cans on campus will be turned into recycling bins.

“We decided to use existing trash cans and just get new lids,” said Shawn Jacobson, the coalition’s co-founder and co-president. “It feels like a small change but it is getting the ball rolling.”

The coalition finds particular problems or issues on campus and brings them to the class. Students in this class are divided into “Action Research Teams” and are either given an assignment or asked to come up with one.

“We are closing the loop and maximizing resource productivity,” Skogberg said.

The coalition has also worked closely with Food Service Manager Marc Sullivan. Sullivan will debut completely biodegradable to go containers made by Biosphere, a company that specializes in biodegradable food containers, in the cafeteria in July.

“This is an example of faculty and students working together and helping implement problem solving solutions,” said Skogberg.

Adam Green, Biology 291 professor who will be next year’s coalition advisor, said the only byproduct in manufacturing Biosphere’s containers is steam. When properly composted it can biodegrade in as little as three weeks.

“This is the first alternative product I’ve seen that could work,” Sullivan said. “I think we could be that pilot program. My only concern is that this start-up company may not be able to meet our demand.”

He also mentioned that students should not expect a fee hike on their lunches. These containers cost six cents more than Styrofoam but 10 cents less than plastic.

Edward France, recycling coordinator for the city, attended the coalition’s Thursday meeting. France said the city is interested in buying one or two industrial size composers costing from $8,000 to $9,000 each within the next six weeks.

“I am 99 percent confident this will happen,” said France. “It’s not that big of an expense [for the city].”

Generated compost would either be sold to local growers or integrated into the Lifescape Garden, the area behind La Playa Stadium that the Horticulture Department uses for research.

One research team is completing a written grant for solar panels to cover the roof of the remodeled Life Fitness Center. Joe Sullivan, vice president of Business Services said the total cost is $100,000, but the college would receive 40 to 50 percent back in rebates. He said after the initial cost of the panels was covered, the college could put the savings back into the system.

“In order to make something like this feasible, there has to be a return on our investment,” said Joe Sullivan.

Another hot-button issue the coalition is addressing is parking and alternative modes of transportation. One “Action Research Team” took on this assignment. They have just completed a written proposal. This proposal, along with ideas from the Academic Senate, will be considered by Superintendent-President John Romo.

Joe Sullivan and paid intern Shawn Tallant will work with MTD to increase scheduling. Plans for new bike paths have been proposed along with student lockers so students have a place to put their belongings. Monitors in the Student Service building as well as the freshmen orientation will seek to better inform new students of alternative modes.