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Human Resources at 720 University Place


The Human Resources department staff at 720 University Place has an engaged team for sustainability activities. They love getting together to brainstorm new ways to keep the staff excited and proud of their efforts. Team leader Deborah Mosca says that everyone in the building has been supportive and excited to make the building greener.

The staff at 720 University Place knew it was time to make a significant to changes to the amount of disposables (paper cups and plates, plastic lids for cups and plastic utensils) used in their kitchen. In order to reduce waste in this area, gave all staff members a set of bamboo utensils from sustainNU and a mug from a supply left over from an event. They also purchased inexpensive dishes for the community kitchen. After getting rid of paper plates and cups and disposable kitchenware, they can now host zero-waste meetings when serving food.

720 University Place is an older building, so the team wanted to explore ways to reduce heating costs, minimize nonessential use of electricity, and recycle unwanted office products and furnishings. By placing “Lights Out” stickers above light switches in the kitchen, bathroom, lower-use offices and hallways, they encouraged staff to stop turning on those lights, except when necessary.

Working with Facilities and Risk Management, they were able to make substantial repairs to a storage room where significant water damage was causing heat to escape. Once they started clearing out the space, they realized there were many items they could list on the Surplus Property Exchange, a Northwestern-specific online bulletin for departments to exchange and recycle items. The team cut down on supply orders by using the Surplus Property Exchange to acquire needed items for free, and by redistributing office supplies that had been in storage.

The team also stepped up recycling practices in several areas, recycling paper items they no longer needed and an entire room’s worth of old computer equipment. They asked everyone to search around for used HP toner cartridges, which they boxed and sent back to HP via UPS at no charge. They now have a point-person to collect used cartridges and send out monthly toner recycling reminders to staff.

To continue to keep staff motivated and engaged, the green team plans to send out weekly emails to remind everyone about sustainability events or ways to cut back on waste, and to let them know about future efforts to lessen the group’s carbon footprint. They plan to attend University-wide sustainability meetings and share what they learn with the staff, and they will continue to implement new practices to become even greener.