Sustainable Department Ambassadors

Wondering who to contact in your department if you have a question in regards to sustainability? Do you have a sustainable idea you would like to have implemented in your department? The faculty and staff listed below are the perfect contacts! The Sustainable Community Development Initiative (SCDI) is currently in the process of meeting with every department on campus to establish sustainable department ambassadors, who will be the volunteer contact for their department. Use this page as a resource for your department! By establishing sustainable department ambassadors, we are encouraging faculty and staff to talk with their sustainable department ambassador to generate new and exciting ideas that can be created. We will highlight each department throughout the year, relating success stories, ideas, and struggles that has been encountered in regards to sustainability in their department. Want to become a sustainable department ambassador? E-mail sustainability@gvsu.edu to volunteer. If you have any further questions, please contact your department ambassador or the SCDI department. Check out the current list of Sustainable Department Ambassadors here!

Department Success Highlights

The Business Office at Lake Michigan Hall, has implemented a number of things to move toward a more sustainable office. Heres what theyve done:

  • They added a tray near their printer for people to put paper that has been used on one side, but clean on the other. Some of them use this when they print documentation for their own use and/or for notepaper.
  • The new network laser printer which was purchased has duplexing capability and they occasionally remind people of this feature and have suggested that they consider setting this as their printer default.
  • They have supplied their kitchen with regular tableware and silverware and have encouraged people to use those rather than disposable tableware.
  • They have been recycling for over four years and used to take turns dropping their plastic, tin and cardboard in the big blue recycle bins in the parking lots. Facilities has recently provided them with a four bin recycle station for their breakroom.
  • They are expanding their document imaging and distributing reports, files, invoices, etc. electronically rather than distributing paper copies through Inter-campus mail.
  • They purchase 30% recycled paper from Office Depot.
  • Several people in their office purchase supplies from Office Depot and other vendors that are more eco-friendly and made with recycled products.
  • They had facilities install light sensors in areas that may not receive a lot of traffic like the file room and breakroom so that lights go off if there isnt movement for a specific period of time.
  • They distributed magnets reminding people to turn off their lights/monitors when theyre leaving their workspace for more than just a few minutes.

Here's a look at the four bin recycle station in their breakroom. Keep up the great work!


The Children's Enrichment Center has implemented a number of things to move toward a more sustainable office. Heres what theyve done:

  • Thanks to the Sustainability Grant the Childrens Enrichment Center received last year their office was able to purchase plastic dishes/cups to use at mealtimes versus using disposable dishes/cups. This has dramatically reduced their waste output and budget for purchasing dishes and cups.
  • To take it a step further they have also placed composting bins in their building so all of the food/compostable waste goes to compost.
  • They are also being more vigilant with recycling paper, plastic, and metal.
  • All these efforts have reduced their waste by an estimated 1/3. They used to have three bags of trash taken out every day now there is only one!
  • One hardship they are having is staff and children understanding where compostable/waste/recycling items need to go.
  • Putting up signs and labels have helped, but they plan on educating their staff and children as the next step in implementing their Sustainability efforts at the CEC.


Admissions and Records/Registration

Reducing Waste in the Registrars Office

By: Amanda Sterling

After Bart Bartels and Jenny Jordan from the SCDI stopped by the Registrars Office in February to discuss recent sustainability initiatives on campus, several of us were inspired to form a team to spearhead such efforts in our office. With assistance from Bart and Facilities, we were able to secure a recycling station which included separate bins for compostable items, paper, plastic/metal/glass, and waste. To help address questions about what belonged in which bin, Steve Leeser from Facilities stopped by our weekly staff meeting to do a presentation for us. After hearing about our involvement in Allendale, the staff at the downtown Student Assistance Center got in on the action and have begun recycling and composting as well. Its been a learning process for all of us, but weve seen continual improvement in keeping many recyclable and compostable items out of the landfill. Were really looking forward to working with the SCDI to support Grand Valleys ongoing sustainability goals!

Swapping to Celebrate Earth Day

By: Erin Skidmore

This year on Earth Day our newly established Sustainability Team wanted to come up with a way to honor and celebrate the often overlooked, misrepresented holiday. As a team, we have been making efforts to encourage a new enthusiasm and outlook on sustainability and what that means for us here in the Registrars Office on a day-to-day basis. In an effort to bring true meaning to Earth Day, we decided to host a media swap. For the entire week surrounding Earth Day, we encouraged all employees of our office to bring in any videos, books, magazines, and DVDs that they no longer wanted and were willing to donate. Watching the shelf volume ebb and flow throughout the week, it was nice to think that all these items were being used over and over again, finding a new home in the hands of movie lovers and magazine junkies alike. As the week went on the event seemed to pick up steam. Instead of putting an end to the swap, weve kept it going. Since April, Ive seen even more and more magazines and books make their way on the shelf, waiting for a new home. In the past few weeks I have even snatched a few running magazines from the growing pile. Our own little media swap opened our eyes to an alternative way of recycling and left us searching for more creative ways we can bring sustainability to light.

Art and Design has implemented a number of things to move toward a more sustainable department. Heres what theyve done:

  • The Printmaking facility has discontinued the use of cotton-based paper blotters (part of a wet printing process) and replaced them with bath towels that are laundered once each semester. (We discarded up to 100 16x20" blotters every 15 weeks.
  • Printmaking uses a sawdust "bath"/bin for the general clean up of all ink-covered hand tools. Solvents are dispensed over tool and the sawdust absorbs the inky run-off.
  • Printmaking has replaced 90% of its harshest solvents with other cleaning agents. For example, in lieu of paint thinner or mineral spirits, we now use soy solvent, vegetable/corn oil or citrus solvent. Solvents are necessary to clean up oil-based inks and "grounds". It's also worth noting that the oil-based inks used in printmaking (and for that matter, the oil paints in Painting) employ a medium of linseed (or flax seed), not petroleum. Flax is a renewable crop.
  • Printmaking uses "battleship" linoleum (linseed oil and cork) or multi-density fiberboard (MDF) in order to teach relief carving. These are more sustainable options than traditional hardwoods.
  • Office paper scraps and newsprint are recycled in the conventional manner (GVSU blue barrels), but the Calder Art Center now has a papermaking facility adjacent to the Printmaking area that students are employing to recycle all heavier rag-stock paper scraps and even old clothes into new sheets of paper for drawing, etc.
  • Students are encouraged to attach a re-useable rag to their belt loop (used for general hand-wiping and clean-up) rather than paper towels.
  • Printmaking students have switched from countless sheets of newsprint as part of the printing process to 1 re-useable sheet of clear acetate.
  • Telephone books are recycled through Printmaking, where pages are torn out and used in general clean-up, rather than paper towels.
  • The Visual Studies area has implemented (on various occasions) "Calder Bikes". Old, salvaged bicycles were gathered, repaired, painted conspicuously and left unchained outside the Calder Art Center for students to use in commuting back and forth to other parts of campus. This initiative has predictable issues: Bikes disappear, bikes require steady maintenance, GV Campus Safety doesn't like unregistered bikes left sitting about.
  • A (growing) collection of thrift store plates and cups have been purchased for The Padnos Student Gallery, where well-attended receptions take place every two weeks on average. Using these plates has saved many hundreds of plastic/styrofoam disposables in under a year.
  • Many faculty routinely feed (or organize potlucks) for their 3-hour studio classes, especially during scheduled critiques. I have acquired my own collection of plates, cups and utensils from thrift stores and use them regularly for all classes, saving many pounds of waste. (It should be noted that all these plates/cups must be washed, and the Calder Art Center has no dishwashing facility (particularly near the gallery, where it would be most useful.)
  • The Wood Shop (Sculpture Area) does a commendable job of managing and re-purposing "scrap". Jim Visser maintains an assortment of wood pieces, etc.
  • It's no secret that the better organized, staffed and maintained a studio facility IS, the less waste it will generate. Busy/hurried people waste/dispose of more.
  • Solvent residue (mostly paint-contaminated thinner) is collected in appropriate containers throughout the CAC.
  • The Drawing area has "rescued" many odd objects from trash heaps and dumpsters for its still-life collection. Still-life object shopping is routinely performed as second-hand shops.
  • Increasingly, individual instructors are devising projects based around the re-use of materials or revamping them to be less wasteful. Individual students are taking an interest in (and being proactive about) resourceful, efficient modes of art production.

Human Resources- Take a look at the sustainable efforts in this video by a recent GVSU grad made possible by the human resources department.


Click here for the video!