Javelina habitat saves green, earns green

Javelina habitat saves green, earns green

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Photo By John Evans. One of the green initiatives last year include new water fountains.

Blue and gold certainly does make for a spirited Texas A&M-Kingsville student, and now with the help from a grant from the Coca-Cola Company, Javelina Habitat is helping students become greener.

The organization received a grant from Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that works in conjunction with the Coca-Cola Company. However, Keep America Beautiful issues grants to colleges across the United States every year in the form of green plastic recycling bins instead of green backs.  TAMUK was one out of 16 universities across the nation to receive a grant.

“This grant will help make sustainability much more convenient to students in more areas as well as events on campus,” said Laura Prange, Director of the Javelina Habitat.

According to Prange, the organization has made much progress in its first year.  The Javelina Habitat entered a nation-wide college recycling competition last spring called RecycleMania and the results fared well for TAMUK’s first time entering; they ranked tenth in our region. Amongst other schools of our size, TAMUK ranked sixth out of 16.

The bottom line, Prange said, is how much the university can recycle in an 8-week period.

“The campus recycled about 4,500 pounds per person in that 8 week period,” Prange said. “The E-Waste, which is pure recycled electronic waste, came out to 21, 730 pounds, which is all amazingly well for our first year.”

According to Prange, support from faculty and President Tallant has helped the Javelina Habitat tremendously.

“A plan for how our campus was going to become more sustainable was written by professors, the physical plant and staff to everything from academics to how we use energy,” Prange said. “By last spring, we had a signed document from President Tallant, which is incredibly important for the organization.”

With this consent, Prange says, the real work begins. According to Prange, the goals that the Javelina Habitat has for the campus will take years to accomplish. For now, however, the organization is flourishing with the help of students.

“We have a wind turbine that was designed by engineering students that powers the electric carts used around campus, “ Prange said. “We also have student mentors who go around to the dorms to show Power Points on how to properly recycle.”

The biggest obstacle the organization has come across so far is that students do not know how to properly recycle.

“If a plastic bottle is not empty, or if a bag still has food in it, the contents spill out onto all the other items in the bins and makes the whole bag unrecyclable,” Prange said.

In addition to the recycling bins already placed on campus, 80 more will be added to buildings while other bins will be designated for outdoor events, such as the tailgate. There will also be filtered-water bottle filling stations placed on campus to refill reusable bottles and help reduce waste. Taking these simple steps, according to Prange, can help the students reduce the use of fossil fuels which can be used to create something else instead.

“If people could reuse plastic and be more efficient with oil, we can then focus on other things,” Prange said.