Green Week aims to make U aware

The St. Paul event is striving to help students recycle more than usual.

by Emily Cutts

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs St. Paul campus is hosting a week of recycling, free food and events, but one would be hard-pressed to know it.

Although signs and flyers are posted, few students know that cell phone, eyeglass, battery and, new this year, small electronic recycling is happening for Green Week.

Biochemistry first year Thomas Walsh said he didnâÄôt know about the recycling happening in St. Paul, although he thinks itâÄôs a good idea. He and his roommate are saving their batteries, but they donâÄôt know where to recycle them.

While many students walked past the small plastic containers in the St. Paul Student Center without looking down, some students stared intently, reading the posted signs.

Mary Pruss, a University employee, stopped to turn in some batteries and old cell phones she brought.

But there is more to Green Week than recycling. Students can get free fair-trade coffee from the Gopher Spot in the St. Paul Student Center every morning this week.

Beth Galatis, Student Unions and Activities retail manager, said they also use it as an opportunity to raise awareness of the sustainability programs in St. Paul, which include fair-trade coffee, organic snacks and composting.

Almost 60 students stopped in for coffee Tuesday morning, said Emma VanPelt, a game room employee.

The Gopher Spot will also host a sample day tomorrow. Students will be able to sample food from local vendors such as the Holy Land Deli, St. Paul Bagelry and Deli and Organic Valley.

Student participation in Green Week isnâÄôt an indication of the stateâÄôs recycling efforts.

As a state, Minnesota is second or third behind Oregon in recycling, said Ellen Telander, director of the Recycling Association of Minnesota .

RAM helps businesses and residents figure out recycling and works on increasing recycling rates in the state.

“I think weâÄôre at close to 43 percent recycling rate,” Telander said. “Our goal is to recycle 50 percent by 2012, which is a big jump.”

Closer to home, in 2009 the University recycled more than 3,500 tons, which was approximately 40 percent of the total waste collected.

“People often overlook the fact that the one item that they have in their hand âĦ is an important component in the total,” University recycling coordinator Dana Donatucci said.