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Arbor Day Foundation Honors SLU as Campus Conservation Efforts Continue This Spring

Saint Louis University’s commitment to sustainability and conservation has been recognized with a national honor, and the SLU community continues to serve the environment at home on the University’s Midtown campus and abroad.

SLU's campus forest in bloom

SLU met five core standards for an effective campus forest management system in order to receive the honor from the Arbor Day Foundation. Photo by Amelia Flood

The Arbor Day Foundation awarded SLU its 2017 “Tree Campus USA” award on Monday, April 9. The Tree Campus USA program is a national honors program launched in 2009 that lauds colleges, universities and higher education leaders for promoting healthy trees, campus forestation and for engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

In order to receive the award, SLU met five core standards for effective campus forest management. These include having a Tree Advisory team made up of faculty, staff and students, a campus tree care plan, service learning projects, dedicated funds for tree care and an Arbor Day celebration including planting trees.

This year’s SLU Arbor Day celebration on Friday, April 27, included planting dogwood trees, an annual SLU tradition, near DuBourg Hall.

In 2003, SLU’s tree inventory counted about 2,000 trees on the northern portion of campus alone, including over 30 varieties of deciduous trees and more than 10 species of evergreens.

SLU is one of over 300 colleges and universities to receive the award.

Recycling Mania

The award comes as part of a semester that saw SLU students, faculty and staff engaging in numerous planet-saving activities.

Students volunteer at the E-Waste Drive
Students volunteer at March's E-Waste Drive, part of the national Recyclemania competition. Submitted photo

In March, SLU competed in the annual nationwide RecycleMania competition, an eight-week event that raises awareness about campus sustainability and aims to increase recycling at participating colleges and universities. 2018 was SLU's eighth year participating in RecycleMania, which ran from Feb. 4 to March 31.

SLU collected 331,762 lbs. of single-stream recycling this year. This total includes recycling brought in by daily single-stream recycling collection at SLU including paper, metal, plastic and glass as well as waste diversion from a basketball game day competition during Billikens men’s and women’s basketball games. A number of students volunteered on the game weekend to spread awareness to patrons of the correct ways to recycle and other sustainable practices at Chaifetz Arena.

SLU took fourth place in the electronic recycling competition and held an E-Waste Drive, collecting 86,267 pounds of electronics. The event judges participating universities on a pounds per capita basis, or the weight of collected items divided by the number of enrolled undergraduate students.

SLU paired the E-Waste Drive with a ShredMania event allowing participants to dispose and shred any old or sensitive documents. The event gathered 25,721 pounds of paper that was shredded and eventually recycled.

With the total weights of SLU’s single-stream recycling, E-Waste and ShredMania events combined, the University community diverted 443,750 pounds of items from going to landfills

Working for Clean Water Abroad

Meanwhile, Billikens going abroad for Spring Break partnered with local schools and villages in Belize to focus on clean water. Three students, along with mentors from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology represented SLU’s Billikens for Clean Water (B4CW) organization on a trip to the country’s southern district.

The trip served as a fact-finding and assessment venture, where the SLU students, staff and faculty mentors met with community leaders, tested water samples and the region’s drinking water needs.

Future trips are planned and the club hopes to partner with St. John’s Junior College in Belize City on projects.

Billikens for Clean Water tests samples in Belize

Students  Sarah Koepsell, Crystal Bell,  and Jeffrey Kelley, test water samples in Belize along with faculty mentor, Craig Adams, Ph.D. (left center). Photo by Rachel Rimmerman

To learn more about sustainability at SLU, visit the Office of Sustainability and Benchmarking.

Coming Together for the Climate's Sake

The Billiken community's commitment to conservation and research was also on show as leading scientists, science education advocate Bill Nye and environmentalists including author Carl Pope, came together for April's bicentennial Saint Louis Climate Summit

Hosted by Saint Louis University as a part of its year-long Bicentennial Celebration, the summit brought some of the most authoritative minds in climate science and related disciplines to the Midwest for three days of discussion on climate change from Sunday, April 22 to Tuesday, 24. 

Nye and Pope spoke as part of the event's keynote at Chaifetz Arena, which was attended by over 2,000 people.

Bill Nye and Carl Pope

Noted science education advocate Bill Nye  (left) and renowned environmentalist Carl Pope speak on Monday, April 23, at the Saint Louis Climate Summit. Photo by Simon Nguyen

The conference highlighted key issues in climate science, celebrated notable achievements and elucidated a path forward for one of humanity’s most pressing challenges. It was inspired by Pope Francis’ convocation of leading climate scientists at the Vatican in 2014, and the encyclical that emerged from that gathering, Laudato Si’.

To learn more about sustainability at SLU, visit the Office of Sustainability and Benchmarking.