What does green really mean?

MesaCC Legend

The Official Student Newspaper of Mesa Community College


What does green really mean?

Frank Berta

The green movement is alive and well at MCC because many dedicated individuals have worked to make the campus a more environmentally friendly place.From such achievements as the Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design (LEED) certified science building to the campus recycling program, progress is steadily being made to make MCC a greener environment, and to lower the school’s overall carbon footprint.

Several members of MCC’s faculty and staff have taken the initiative over the years to start programs that continue to improve the environment.

Ron Dinchak, who teaches environmental biology and natural history of the southwest, was one of the four founding faculty members of the Environmental Action Club, officially started in 1989. The club was responsible for the first efforts of recycling on campus.

He is also responsible for creating the Valley’s first xeriscape garden, officially completed on April 22, 1989. The garden is located on the MCC campus, around the social cultural science building.

“Up until 1989, the administration didn’t want any desert plants on campus, they wanted it all green,” Dinchak said.

“I co-chaired the development of that with the City of Mesa. Our goal was to educate people to the concept of xeriscape,” Dinchak said.

Dinchak does a lot of work with K-12 students, as well as, teaching xeriscape classes for the cities of Mesa, Tempe, Chandler and the Desert Botanical Garden.

Geography teacher Steve Bass has also been involved with the green movement on campus for many years. Recycling has been his main focus.

Four years ago, Bass started the greens group; a group working to get more sustainability on campus.

“We were recycling, but it was challenging,” Bass said.

“We had nowhere to take the stuff, so we took it home and put it in our own recycle bins. I sent out an e-mail and simply asked if anyone was interested in recycling,” he added.

People were interested, a group was formed, and initiatives were started.

“About three years ago we formed a partnership with the City of Mesa. That allowed us to co-mingle our recyclables and to go campus wide,” Bass said.

Bass also applied for a grant and was able to purchase recycling containers for the campus, and was able to create a position for a campus recycling coordinator.

Tammy Taylor Bryant, who now works to keep the campus-recycling program running smoothly, filled that position.

Currently, Bass is the chairperson of the sustainability committee, which was created a couple of years ago to provide oversight for the American college and university president’s climate commitment.

MCC also bundles and sells its cardboard and clean paper collected from offices on campus.

Richard Cluff, director of facilities at MCC, started working for the college in 1985. It was back then when he first had the idea of a “dumpster dive”.

“I was thinking what if we took all the trash that we collected in a 24 hour period, piled it all together and took a snapshot of it. Then we could see what was being thrown out and how we could improve the situation.” Cluff said.

Cluff pitched his idea to the greens group, and the response was overwhelming.

The first year there was so much trash, they couldn’t sort through it all, the second year the pile was cut in half, and the third year it was cut in half again.

Now, the idea has spread to other community college campuses, and they will be holding their own “dumpster dives” on earth day.

Cluff is committed to making the college as environmentally friendly as possible, doing everything from using energy efficient light bulbs, low VOC paint, green cleaning chemicals, green machines and installing no wax marmoleum on floors instead of vinyl tile.

Remodeling projects recycle as much as possible, and use as much recycled materials as possible.

Most involved agree that they’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go. One future project many are working towards is a campus-composting program.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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