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For more information contact: Sarah Giffard Phone: (207) 807-1100 E-mail:

SUSTAIN-A-BOWL AT AUBURN UNIVERSITY HELPS OTHER UNIVERSITIES GO GREEN Friendly competition encourages resource conservation and recycling Kermit the Frog would tell you it’s not easy being green. At Auburn University, students are trying. In an effort to explore not just the philosophy of sustainability- a buzz term that is often used today, but rarely understood –but the practicality of living it, more than 4,000 students in university housing participated in the Sustain-A-Bowl, a four week oncampus recycling competition. The Sustain-A-Bowl is the first competition of its kind in Alabama, and while the competition still has a long way to go, Auburn students found the experience valuable. “Sustain-A-Bowl meetings and events have helped me understand how to reduce and reuse resources correctly and have helped me become more conscious of how to reduce several forms of energy,” said Sarah Muris a resident assistant in Lane Hall. During the competition students competed for their residence halls to reduce electricity and water used, reduce the amount of waste produced and recycle more.


Page 2 of 3 Students competed in many different ways. Some students turned off the water while they brushed their teeth and turned off the lights when they left a room. Others participated in Sustain-A-Bowl events, which ranged from trivia night to a flashlight-lit Valentine’s Day dinner to earn points for their hall. Eco-Reps helped to facilitate the events during the Sustain-A-Bowl. Eco-Reps are resident assistants who serve as liaisons between the Department of Residence Life and the Office of Sustainability and are responsible for educating residents about sustainability through programs and events. The Eco-Rep program was started this year by the Department of Housing and Residence Life and the Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability helps Auburn students learn about sustainability through guest speakers, special events and workshops. There is also a minor in sustainability offered. “If we had the resources we'd love to encourage year round competition,” said Raf Egües, communication and outreach director for the Office of Sustainability. “We [Office of Sustainability] hope to continue to involve more of the campus and would also love to spread out to the Auburn community off campus as well.” The Department of Housing and Residence Life and the Office of Sustainability are trying to spread the Sustain-A-Bowl competition around the state. Last October Matt Williams, program manager in the Office of Sustainability, spoke about sustainability beyond recycling at the Resident Assistant Drive-In Conference of Alabama. Following the theme of revolutionizing the residence life experience two workshops were conducted about how other institutions could create their own Sustain-A-Bowl.


Page 3 of 3 “We [Housing and Residence Life] were hoping to challenge other universities in the state to participate with us in Sustain-A-Bowl,” said Becky Bell, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life. “Unfortunately we did not get any ‘takers’ for this year’s Sustain-A-Bowl state-wide challenge, but we are hopeful for next year.” Looking outside the state, Bell presented a topic on the Sustain-A-Bowl at the Southeastern Association of Housing Officers annual conference. The conference brings together university housing officers in the Southeast to facilitate the sharing of ideas. “There is a lot of enthusiasm for sustainability within residence life programs across our region and nationally,” said Bell. The University of Florida has a Sustain-A-Bowl program and Bell hopes that Auburn and Florida will be able to compete next year. The rivalry would serve as more inspiration for students to recycle. In the Sustain-A-Bowl this year students recycled more than 92,000 pounds, an increase of more than 70,000 pounds from last year. Conservation efforts by the students helped the university save more than $12,000 in electricity and water costs during the month-long event. “It is actually quite easy to recycle and the changes I made to some of my daily habits were certainly not sacrifices,” said Muris. “I feel better that I have changed up my daily habits to better the environment.”




Friendly competition encourages resource conservation and recycling

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