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College of Nursing

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Zero time to waste: Reducing our carbon footprint


The Life Sciences building is currently in a “race to zero waste,” a competition with other universities and schools across the nation, representing Michigan State University and its commitment to sustainability.

And while Life Sciences has consistently been in the top 20% for sustainability on campus, medical waste can often provide a challenge on increasing that rate.  

“We can easily reuse and renew a lot of resources as a society,” said Chris Hewitt, operations coordinator at MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center. “MSU is like a small city, so we have to look at our impact like a city and see where we can improve on waste and recycling.”

The recycling center sorts through all the campus buildings’ recycling. Hewitt is conducting a waste audit in which thrown away materials will be weighed, then compared to other schools and universities in this program. The program begins in February and runs through March.

“This is our first time singling out a building; we will be looking at how much is being thrown away and what could have been recycled in that waste,” explained Hewitt. “We will also be taking in consideration for what challenges a building could face. The Life Sciences building will end up with more trash because of medical waste, so we will take that into account when looking at what buildings can do to improve.”

Karen Malmsten, an Instructor in the College of Nursing who teaches Community Health Nursing, entered the Life Sciences building in the competition because she recognized the Climate Crisis as being a major health concern.  

“Climate change is a real threat to public and individual health,” said Malmsten. “It is importantto think of ways to reduce our carbon footprint.  I look forward to seeing the results of the Single Building Competition in the campus race to zero waste.”