Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, three cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough energy to power the average American home for five months.” (EPA, 2008)

The recent 40th anniversary of Earth Day marked the end of the Earth Day Network’s two-year campaign initiative dubbed “The Green Generation” that sought to inspire people to improve their lives by taking an active role in making the earth a healthier place to live.

It is estimated by the Earth Day Network that more than 1 billion people in over 190 countries participated in Earth Day making it the largest secular civic event in the world —and UTMB was no exception.

“By recycling 651 tons of paper and cardboard in 2009 UTMB saved 11,074 trees,” said Ken Steblein, specialist in conservation initiatives. “This is the year that UTMB is dedicated to planting more trees, increasing our recycling efforts, using less energy, conserving water, becoming more sustainable and educating the UTMB family on how to live green, healthy lives.”

The UTMB Conservation Initiatives department has been celebrating its accomplishments during the annual Earth Day event on campus for 18 years. 

This year’s event held many opportunities for the UTMB community to learn more about conserving energy and preserving the environment thanks to exhibitors such as Facilities Operations and Management, Sodexho, Environmental Health & Safety, Logistics and Morrison’s . 

UTMB students were involved in various Earth Day activities both on and off campus. They were instrumental in organizing the Galveston Island Beach Cleanup at Big Reef Beach and they rolled up their sleeves during a day of gardening to give the John Sealy Children’s Garden a fresh new look. 

Students also took part in the 2010 Recyclemania tournament which brought together over 600 colleges and universities across the US and Canada in a friendly competition designed to increase awareness of recycling over a 10-week period.

UTMB competed with 42 Texas schools and scored three first place awards out of a possible eight competitions including the Per Capita Classic that measures the largest amount of recyclables per person —with UTMB topping the charts with over 40 pounds per person.

Campus greening

UTMB remains pro-active year round when it comes to keeping the campus earth friendly with such initiatives as recycling paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, wood, e-waste and printer cartridges; monitoring water steam and electricity usage; controlling room temperatures and using waste heat from the incinerator to heat the campus during the winter.

The Sustainability Committee also tracks all environmental initiatives on campus and conducts conservation audits of each building to check for recycling, leaking water, lights left on and room temperatures in an effort to ensure optimum results.

Conservation plans for the immediate future involve evaluating new major construction projects on campus against the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, as well as finding ways to recycle the debris that results from the demolition and construction of new buildings.

Making a difference

Ways that employees can help support UTMB’s efforts to preserve the environment year round are:

  • Turn lights off when you leave a room
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Report leaking toilets and faucets
  • Recycle bottles and cans in break areas
  • Print copies double-sided
  • Car pool, use the free commuter service or ride your bike to work.