University of Calgary

Spotlight on Sustainability: Adam Swertz helps mobilize huge rez move-out initiative

UToday HomeMarch 26, 2013

By Jennifer Allford

Adam Swertz, VP Apartments, Residence Students AssociationAdam Swertz, VP Apartments, Residence Students Association, is helping make the residence move-out process more eco-friendly. Photo by Michael LauAdam Swertz has a little more going on than most students during exam week in April.

In addition to writing final exams and moving out of residence for the summer, the third-year business student is also working on a program that will divert thousands of pounds of materials from the landfill.

Usually, students just ditch their unwanted clothes, furniture, electronics and other household items as they head home for the summer. But this year, Swertz, the VP apartments of the Residence Students Association (RSA), has helped arrange a program that will see most of those items recycled or reused.

“Our goal is really to recapture anything that would regularly go into the landfill, within reason,” he says.  With support from Waste Management, the Office of Sustainability and an army of student volunteers, Swertz is co-ordinating large recycling “sea containers” to be placed next to each of the massive waste bins outside residences for the move-out.

“We partnered with Goodwill, so anything in terms of clothing, furniture, household items—you name it—they will be taking all that away from us as long as it meets a certain standard.  And we paired up with an electrical refurbishing and recycling company, Top Flight, to take almost any electronic item.”

Hotel Alma will take the open toiletries and “half bars of soap” and send them to their distributor that salvages the hotel’s used toiletries for needy places in the world, mostly Africa. And Swertz says the RSA is going to keep any pots, pans and cutlery to start a rental program for international students who need to equip their kitchens with the basics.

Waste Management is lending scales so that volunteers can weigh all the items that aren’t going to the landfill to measure how much waste their efforts are diverting.

“I am really excited,” Swertz says. “I am quite nervous because it has been a lot of work so far and a lot of co-ordination and it’s only going to get more intense as time goes on.”

The program will begin April 19, the first day of exams, and run from 2 – 7 p.m. every day until April 30. As for his own exams, Swertz is hoping to get most of his studying out of the way beforehand.

“It’s probably going to be a high-stress time,” he says. “I am really looking forward to it.”

Spotlight on Sustainability is an ongoing series profiling the work of students, faculty and staff. To submit story ideas please contact the Office of Sustainability.


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