Beautiful U Day spreads awareness

The University is hosting a series of events to promote sustainability.

Campus has been covered in snow, dirt and sand for the past several months, but Thursday the University celebrates spring’s return.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Beautiful U Day, meant to spread sustainability awareness on campus, Tim Busse, head of the planning committee, said.

While the tradition has always been about beautifying the campus, Busse said this year the event’s focus on sustainability was because of all the attention surrounding the issue.

Along those lines, the University is giving out 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs to the University community.

“We’re hoping people will put (the light bulbs) to use in offices and res halls, because obviously there’s a saving in both cost and kilowatt-hours used,” Busse said.

According to General Electric, the 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs not only save energy and money, but add up to the equivalent of 140 acres of rainforest saved and 89 cars taken off the road.

The day also includes a ceremonial jack-hammering of 10,000 square feet on the West Bank. The cement will be transformed into green space.

“It’s obviously much more appealing visually, but it’s much more sustainable to have the permeable surface as opposed to the hard surface,” Busse said.

Volunteers will also clean up campus bike racks, which number more than 200.

“They’ve got a winter’s worth of leaves and trash and sand, and we’re going to get them cleaned up because obviously the use of alternative transportation is an important sustainable effort,” Busse said.

The University community will also have a chance to get “zero-waste” lunches on Northrop Plaza and at the St. Paul Student Center today.

William Melgaard, general maintenance manager for recreational sports, has helped organize lunches for the past several years.

The entire lunch – from aluminum cans to napkins – is recyclable or compostable, and there will not be any garbage cans present, he said.

“The way I look at is like when you take your leaves and you put it in the compost and they turn back into dirt,” he said. “So does this – it composts.”

The day will kick off with an auction at the ReUse Center – one of the original sustainable programs at the University.

The auction will include antiques such as a 1950s Coke machine and classroom equipment, Chris Hruza, ReUse warehouse supervisor, said.

But not every Beautiful U Day event is about sustainability.

Classroom Management and Facilities Management will cosponsor the Beautiful Building and Beautiful Classroom Awards for custodians from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“The custodians are the unsung heroes that work hard in the classrooms, which are filled with hundreds of students every day,” Steve Fitzgerald, director of the Office of Classroom Management, said. “It’s nice to recognize them and the work they do.”