In the summer of 2007, MICA formed a Recycling Committee that evolved into the Sustainability Committee. MICA’s recycling effort evolved quickly, and in October 2007, the College became the second college in the city of Baltimore to implement “single-stream” recycling, allowing all recyclable materials to be placed into the same waste container.
Recycling efforts at MICA sparked the College to look at a variety of opportunities to reduce solid waste and improve energy efficiency on our campus. With input from the campus community, the Sustainability Committee, and student groups such as “Trash Talk,” MICA has made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint over the next three years through a number of active measures: installing efficient heating and cooling systems and fixtures (lights, shower heads), and by installing passive energy saving devices (automatic light shut-off switches).
In addition to these direct changes in our normal operations, we’re working to enhance MICA’s impact on the environment--planting more than 120 new trees on campus and in neighboring areas, and converting impermeable paved surfaces and overgrown, underused spaces into new parks and landscaping. Most recently, MICA partnered with the city to rejuvenate Pearlstone Park above the Mount Royal Station. Through the use of recycled cobbles, bricks and pavers, the College created a new “pocket park” near the Station entrance stairs from an area formally covered in asphalt. MICA now uses organic fertilizers for turf and planting areas. We’ve added more campus bike racks and piloted programs for commuters.
Students and faculty have been asked to help by instituting simple educational methods to get the word out about turning off lights and turning down or turning off air conditioning or heat, and promoting campus-wide recycling. As a result, MICA has incorporated sustainability into its campus culture.
Reducing Solid Waste
MICA’s goal is to reduce our production of recyclables by 10% over the next two years through programs like using bottle-less water coolers to reduce our use of bottled water, replacing paper cups with reusable cups, and instituting a coffee refill program at Café Doris and Java Corner to promote the use of these cups.
MICA’s Dining Services, Parkhurst, has been an aggressive partner in our quest to reduce MICA’s carbon footprint, and MICA is taking a leadership role in reducing food and food service-related waste on our campus:
- Instituting eco-friendly packaging and products such as straws and drink cups in the Meyerhoff Dining Room and the three campus cafés.
- Discontinuing the use of paper sugar packets and offering sugar in glass pourers instead—this one small change will result in over 84,000 fewer empty sugar packets being land-filled in the course of a regular school year.
- Moving to tray-less dinning to reduce food waste.
- Using biodegradable food service products in its cafés—MICA also cleans our buildings with “green” cleaning products.
- Working with the College to collect compostable materials from the dining areas into a composting container located on campus for transfer to a facility in Carroll County, Maryland—MICA is the first and only college or university in Baltimore to compost, and our composting.