The Unsung Heroes of Campus Sustainability

By Jake Hutcherson, Zero Waste Team

There is little doubt that the Fort Lewis College community appreciates and supports the efforts being made to increase sustainability on campus, but have you ever considered the behind the scenes efforts making this possible? What may sound like a fairly straightforward system is quickly complicated by logistics, manpower, funding, and resources. It takes a unique type of person to tackle these problems and keep a smile on their face while doing it.

Take the recycling system for example. FLC has a robust collection system allowing students and staff to access recycling wherever they are on campus. Most people simply don’t think twice after throwing that piece of recycling into the bin, but for that piece of recycling to make it from the bin to the Durango transfer station relies solely on a man named Damian.

Damian single-handedly collects all of the recycling throughout campus, sorts out any contaminated recyclables, transfers it all to the final staging bins, and makes sure there are no issues with the system. While this workload could easily overwhelm anyone, Damian is continually trying to improve the system and encourage more people to recycle. He doesn’t do any of it for the praise, but because he wants to make a difference.

For another example, look at our dining hall composting program. On many campuses, food waste produced in a dining hall ends up in a landfill, but thanks to our dedicated, hard-working staff, a majority of FLC’s food waste is composted and used in our campus garden. This process doesn’t happen on it’s own. It takes the effort of many people behind the scenes. Our wonderful Sodexo dining staff makes sure that the leftover food waste on your plate ends up being macerated and available to be fed into the composter. The collected food waste is fed into our composter several times a day, and once it makes it through the machine, the finished product is then hauled to the garden and sifted to be usable. Again, none of these staff members do it for the praise, but without them the system would fall apart overnight.

These are just two of the countless examples of hard working, dedicated people striving for a more sustainable campus without any recognition. So next time you see Damian collecting the recycling, or the compost crew moving bags of compost, or the Sodexo staff cleaning food waste off dishes, be sure to go thank them for all they do. FLC wouldn’t be the amazing place it is if it weren’t for them!

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