Waste not, want not

Jayde Teutsch, Staff Writer

College campuses host a lot of people throughout the day, so it makes sense there would be a lot of trash left behind. The way colleges handle that trash though, is of the utmost importance. Wayne State College is a great example of how colleges should handle massive amounts of waste and demonstrate sustainability to students.  

Wayne State’s green efforts began before it even acquired that name. According to WSC’s website, the school began as Professor Pile’s College in 1891 and became Nebraska Normal School in 1910. The campus had grown from 25 acres to 128 when it was named Wayne State College in 1963. The school’s “Tree Committee” received status of “Teaching and Community Arboretum” in July 1977 and the Wayne State College Arboretum, or a botanical garden of trees, was dedicated in a ceremony on October 20, 1977. 

While WSC’s Arboretum originally listed 87 species of trees and shrubs in 1976, the inventory now consists of over 280 species, cultivars and varieties of trees and shrubs. The arboretum’s three main purposes include realizing the aesthetic value attached to ornamental plant placement, the educational aspects of learning identification of plants and the practical value of observing demonstrations of floristic traits. 

The school’s green efforts extend far beyond trees though. A 2011 Nebraska Environmental Trust grant of $10,000 allowed WSC to purchase additional receptacles to make recycling easier on campus.  

Gill Hauling, a recycling and garbage collecting company in Jackson, collects approximately 40 tons of paper and cardboard and 60,000 bottles and cans from the WSC campus annually; there is also about 25 tons of metal products recycled through Alter Metal in Norfolk each year.  

Along with recycling, the Facility Services Department maintenance fleet has transitioned from predominately pickups to a mix of pickups and John Deere Gator utility vehicles. They have even replaced some of those vehicles with Global Electric Motors cars which are 100% electric and require little maintenance.  

Other people in Nebraska have noticed WSC’s efforts; the school was designated as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site for 2012 by the Groundwater Foundation of Lincoln. The Groundwater Guardian Green Site program, according to their website, “provides support and encouragement for communities and teams of all types to begin groundwater awareness activities, motivation to continue these efforts and recognition for their achievements.”  

After WSC became a Groundwater Guardian, it decided to live up to the title and continued its sustainable actions. When the Hahn Administration building was renovated in 2012-13, 56 wells were drilled in the adjacent lawn to utilize the earth’s energy and efficiently condition the building. This was paired with the use of a geothermal system and accompanying automatic controls which saves about $0.40 per square foot annually.  

While staff and faculty manage a lot of the school’s green efforts, students have made strides to accomplish their own sustainability goals. The WSC Green Team, a group of students dedicated to making the college more environmentally friendly, meets bi-weekly in the Willow Bowl to discuss different aspects of environmentalism.  

Around September of 2022, the WSC Green Team encouraged students to participate in an electronics recycling event. Citizens could responsibly dispose of their old TVs, computers, cell phones, printers, cords and more by selling them to the city; this event was an effort to keep electronics out of the landfill since they can contaminate soil and groundwater.  

The city of Wayne announced two months later that over 13,650 pounds of electronics had been recycled at the event and community had raised over $3,000 to help support Wayne’s Zero Waste programs. In the city’s announcement it was revealed that “since 2013, we have now recycled nearly 160,000 pounds of electronics.”  

WSC has completed numerous projects to move towards a more sustainable future and encourages its students to do the same. If students are interested in making a difference and joining the WSC Green Team, contact its sponsor Laura Dendinger, the president Lauren White or email [email protected] 

If students have any questions or ideas about how Wayne State College could become more environmentally conscious, contact the Facility Services Office at [email protected] or call 402-375-7274 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.