Sustainability advocates practice what they preach, leave no waste behind
Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.
That Native American proverb characterizes the mindset at last week’s zero-waste PA/NJ Sustainability Symposium, during which 800 attendees left behind only materials that could be reused, recycled or returned to the land as compost.
Hosted by Temple on March 12 in the Temple Performing Arts Center, the event brought together leaders from design firms, green product companies, sustainable building contractors, non profit organizations and schools and colleges to share sustainable information and insights. The large and diverse turnout for the event shows the growing interest in green issues, said Temple Director of Sustainability Kathleen Grady.
“Sustainability affects everybody, and people come at it from different angles depending on how it touches them,” said Grady.
The symposium, which was presented by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, opened with introductory remarks by Temple Senior Vice President for Construction, Facilities and Operations James Creedon, followed by three keynote speakers. Attendees could participate in 24 education sessions covering topics such as sustainable business models, green technology and more.
Temple Associate Professor of Human Resource Management Lynne Andersson moderated a panel focusing on sustainability in colleges and universities. Jonathan Latko, adjunct faculty member and director of Temple’s Computer Recycling Center, was featured in a panel discussing the role of the triple bottom line and how it can create a sustainable economy.
The event was Temple’s first large-scale zero-waste event. All of the tableware, provided by Sodexo, was either compostable or recyclable, leaving nothing to be sent to a landfill. Student volunteers from George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science staffed the composting bins and guided attendees in sorting the waste, including compostable and readily renewable bamboo serving trays. The students attended sessions with Temple staff and faculty in the weeks leading up to the event to learn about sustainability and understand their volunteer work in a larger context.
Members of the Fox School of Business "Sustainable Enterprise" class also took part in promoting the event as part of a semester-long class project. A group of four students sent emails to a database of local businesses and schools and created advertisements in collaboration with the Tyler School of Art.
Senior marketing major Tamaar Depalis said the experience was challenging, yet rewarding.
“Working with these companies focusing on sustainability, it really gives a sense of self worth,” said Depalis. “It makes you feel like you’re doing your part and giving back to the community.”