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Success Stories

Implementing a new program

In 2014 Claflin University developed a plan to enhance the sustainability program on campus. Prior initiatives included the installation of four solar panels on three buildings to reduce energy consumption; a food digester in the dining hall to convert food scraps to liquid wastewater; and a partnership with PepsiCo to use a "Pepsi Dream-machine," that allows users to scan the barcode on aluminum cans and plastic drink bottles before recycling to earn points for rewards.
In addition, Claflin is taking action to:

  • establish a sustainability policy and campus-wide energy reduction strategies;
  • create a sustainability website;
  • create a recycle center on campus;
  • add recycling stations in residence halls and administration buildings;
  • add recycling containers on campus;
  • implement an organic garden to provide vegetables for the dining hall; and
  • increase student sustainability advocacy and education.

The university held an event in September 2014 for the freshman class to kick off the new program and increase awareness on campus.

Move-out

The University of South Carolina (USC) holds the "Give It Up for Good" program toward the end of spring semester each year. USC sets up collection boxes in residence halls for students to donate food, clothing and appliances, unopened toiletries, books and household items as well as carpeting and loft materials (wood, cement blocks and metal). Each year the USC Housing Office collects 11 to 20 tons of reusable items – most of which are sold at a yard sale to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Food and plastic bags are donated directly to Harvest Hope. Dormitories have two to three collection points making it convenient for students to donate.    

Organic farming and composting

Sustainability staff at Furman University have implemented a couple of unique methods for composting material generated on campus.  For their small-scale composting operations, one staff member uses microbial bacteria -- made from an all-natural process of rinsing rice and cultivating microbes from the water – to maximize anaerobic conditions and reduce the odor of the compost piles.  Material collected for composting includes food scraps from all the dining facilities on campus as well as from students who have their own kitchens; ground leaf mulch from landscaping debris; straw from a local feed store's straw trailer; dead plants from the university's organic garden; and even the occasional dead animal found on campus.  Larger scale operations include placing this material in an in-vessel composter in various mixtures.  The ratio of the mixture controls the temperature it reaches, and allows for the creation of specialized compost depending on the intended use of the final product.  With a 6-cubic-yard capacity and a 3-5 day operating time, the finalized compost is quickly ready for use on Furman's organic farm and around the local community.

Urban composting

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston has partnered with The College of Charleston, The Citadel and Trident Technical College to establish a multi-agency contract with Food Waste Disposal, LLC to collect cafeteria food scraps for composting at the Bees Ferry Compost Facility. Food is separated and sorted into special bins that are picked up three times a week and taken to Charleston County's compost facility for processing. The colleges receive 40 pounds of compost for every 2,000 pounds of waste diverted, which is used around campus in landscaping projects. MUSC composted nearly 100 tons of material in the first year of the new contract.

In addition to their food scrap recovery, MUSC also has several other composting operations. They include:

  • OUTDOOR COMPOST CORRALS for yard trimmings;
  • SMALL-SCALE COMPOSTING in the "Therapy Gardens" at the Institute of Psychiatry for garden trimmings; and
  • VERMICOMPOSTING at the university's Urban Farm.

Promoting recycling through social media

College of Charleston (CofC) is using social media to reach out to a variety of audiences. During the summer of 2014, interns revamped CofC's presence on social media sites to spread awareness of recycling and sustainability practices on campus. CofC's sustainability office has a Facebook page to connect with students about upcoming zero-waste events and various initiatives on campus. In 2013, the Sustainability Greek Chairs Program held a competition to see what chapter could get the most members to "like" the Facebook page. Twitter, on the other hand, reaches out to an audience of other sustainability offices from different colleges/universities. The team is constantly working to reach a broader audience and attract more followers.