Waste-free Bulldog Welcome Week encourages sustainability at UMD
Every year during Bulldog Welcome Week and campus move-in day, there are opportunites for students, faculty and families to mingle with the rest of the UMD community. This year student organizations and UMD employees implement a zero waste Bulldog Welcome Week.
“The first step we took was meeting with Sustainability and seeing what the different options would be for making our program more sustainable,” Lauren Kotz, 2018 Bulldog Welcome Week intern said, “I was in charge of the Bulldog Preview BBQ on the first day when all the families moved their students into their new dorm rooms, and we made sure that everything on the food side from catering would be compostable.”
Communication between Kotz and outside vendors was crucial in ensuring that even the products coming from outside of UMD would follow their strict waste-free theme.
A lot of effort was put into organizing and getting everyone on board with the move to be more sustainable. Gina Pudlick, Kirby Student Center Operations Manager, played an important role in securing compostable products from on campus sources.
“This included meetings with Dining Services, the Bulldog Welcome Week Interns, rockstars, Facilities Management, and of course the Sustainability Office,” Pudlick said.
Even though a zero-waste welcome week is new, it seems as though it was a simple choice to give it a try.
“There really was not a decision making process; our students have a passion for sustainability and we have the capabilities, so it was a given that it was going to happen,” Pudlick said.
Although many involved showed clear interest in pursuing this eco-friendly practice, sometimes those involved can face some adversity in the process.
“As Sustainability Director for SA, I have been working with a team to better communication between dining, Kirby, and Facilities Management. Sometimes, miscommunication happens causing FM to not place compost bins for events,” David Herrera, Sustainability Directory for Student Association said.
UMD has worked over the last few years on developing ways to reduce the amount of waste the campus produces, as well as educating the UMD community about ways to be more environmentally conscious.
“I think our campus is doing amazing work and sometimes that is hard to see. I would love to see students realize how green our campus really is and appreciate that we are still striving for more,” Herrera said. “We are making great strides to step away from petroleum-based products and into compostable ones that are gentler on the environment. However, compostable products are still a waste stream. We have a goal to reduce all waste on campus.”
Herrera also explained that sustainability and being green shouldn't only happen on the UMD campus.
“In terms of community, I would love to simply aid our Duluth community more. Just yesterday, I gave my contact information to a DECC employee who manages Bayfront Park. He wondered how we could aid him to make Bayfront from sustainable and waste conscious,” Herrera said.
Once all the compost on campus in collected, it it sent to two different facilities in Duluth.
"The majority of compost collected on campus goes to WLSSD's (Western Lake Superior Sanitary District) compost processing site in West Duluth/Lincoln Park. A smaller portion, namely coffee grounds from the coffee shop, go out to the SAP farm and get added to the small compost pile out there," Jonna Korpi, Activities Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability said.