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Sustainability Guide

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  • Financial Affairs Green Team Program

    Inspired by students' calls for action, the University's institutional commitment to campus sustainability began in June 2003, when the Board of Regents adopted green building and clean energy policy principles. The September 2009 policy revision is expanded to cover the areas of sustainable transportation, climate protection practices, building renovations, sustainable operations and maintenance, waste reduction, environmentally preferable purchasing, and sustainable foodservice.

    The UCSC campus has a vision for zero waste by 2020, so in 2012 Financial Affairs organized a Green Team composed of staff volunteers to forward that vision. The Financial Affairs Green Team mission is to share educational opportunities and promote and implement practices relevant to Financial Affairs that support UCSC sustainability goals.

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  • Sustainability Working Groups

    To support University of California Sustainable Practices Policy, UC Santa Cruz, through the Committee on Sustainability and Stewardship (CSS), created working groups for each topic area.

    1. Buildings and Facilities
    2. Energy and Greenhouse Gases
    3. Food
    4. Land, Habitat, and Watershed
    5. Procurement
    6. Transportation
    7. Waste and Recycling
    8. Water

    Each working group is charged with recommending sustainable practices and identifying campus opportunities for advancing sustainability at UC Santa Cruz. A summary of the efforts currently underway can be found at UCSC's Sustainability page.

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  • Zero waste by 2020

    The UC Santa Cruz primary guiding document regarding waste reduction practices is the UCOP Sustainable Practices Policy (UCOP Policy), updated in August 2011.  According to the UCOP Policy, under Section III. F. Recycling and Waste Management:

    1. The University prioritizes waste reduction in the following order: reduce, reuse, then recycle.
    2. The University adopts the following goals for diverting municipal solid waste from landfills: 50% by June 30, 2008; 75% by June 30, 2012; ultimate goal of zero waste by 2020.

    As of August 2012, UC Santa Cruz was diverting 63.7% of its solid waste material from the landfill.

    In September 2011, a waste analysis of 49 out of 150 campus dumpsters found three potentially divertable materials on a volume basis: food scraps, compostable paper (restroom paper towels), and mixed recyclable paper. These materials constituted nearly half of the volume of discards overall.

    Material Category Percentages in Sampled Trash Dumpsters by Weight

    Trash Sample Data

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  • Financial Affairs Sustainability Objectives

    Financial Affairs is committed to pursuing its mission in a manner consistent with University principles and values, including those relating to employing sustainable practices. In this regard, Financial Affairs strives to achieve the following objectives:

    • Identify, incorporate, and promote environmentally sustainable workplace practices and habits
      • Share practical guidance aimed at minimizing the unnecessary use of resources
      • Establish specific sustainability goals and monitor progress towards achieving them
      • Integrate sustainability, wherever possible, in the development and implementation of Financial Affairs' long-term strategic plans
    • Actively collaborate with the greater campus community in supporting campus and University-wide sustainability efforts
      • Work closely with the Campus Sustainability Office and other University offices on initiatives and projects
    • Promote environmentally sustainable practices applicable to both the workplace and home

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  • Green Tales
    Department / Unit / Individual Event or Action Green Practice Challenges Resolution Timeline Resource Savings
    Cashier's Office Student Receipts - Giving a receipt upon request only Saves receipt tape Advertise on website Obtain time and approval for website update Target 9/01/2012 TBD
    EMF Started ordering 100% post consumer content paper Saves new trees from being cut down Cost $7.91 more per case than 30% post-consumer Costs about $100 more per year
    EMF Save files to the N: drive rather than printing them Saves paper Not all of the accountants are familiar with using Adobe PDFs to highlight and bookmark information, so they are more comfortable printing awards docs out Adobe acrobat training After FY12 end TBD
    EMF Stopped printing labels to put on award PDFs that are printed Reduces the label sheet that gets thrown away and cannot be We need a label on the award that allows each step the "label" is now printed on the document through Adobe TBD
    EMF Stopped using column sheets in a binder and started assigning fund numbers in a MS Excel spreadsheet Saves Paper Getting the EMF accountants to feel comfortable with switching from old practice Ran it through Monique who is an expert with IT processess TBD
    EMF Kim and Fatima are now saving the paperwork for the draws under extra/EMF_NIH_NSF Draws Saves Paper TBD
    FAST-AP We are no longer printing the speadsheet and the agencies' confirmation of payment End printing paper report Remembering to change print default Change behaivor; modify print default Target end July, 2012 Toner yields 12,000 copies for $101.97 or $0.0085/pg = $29.715 annual hard savings; soft savings include time management of the docs from generation to disposal. avg 2,000 pgs or 4 reams at $3.18/rm+
    Financial Affairs Bring in hand towels and wash them weekly or bi-weekly as needed Saves paper towels Getting people to use the towels. No paper towels are being put in the dispenser in the kitchen area any longer. TBD
    2300 Delaware Trading post / free table in community area. Employees generally use this table for personal items, but also includes office products that would have otherwise been thrown away. EMF often gets binders for reports off of the free table. Reduces old office supplies from being thrown away. Since smaller used supplies are no longer taken at UCSC surplus, Sylvia was told to put them on the free table or throw them out. This allows them to be reused. Getting employees to check the table for office supplies they may be able to use rather than ordering more of the same items. Mention in our quarterly email blast we were discussing that people should check the free table and re-use supplies. All of 2300 Delaware.
    Mary Dunlap brings her own dishes to the lunch truck Reduces waste to landfill
    Kathryn Caruso Provides kitchen towels for the Procurement/FAST kitchen area Reduces waste to landfill Use reusable towels in lieu of one-time paper towels Since 2011

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  • Green Tips

    Take reusable bags when shopping:
    Shopping with a reusable bag is a simple and highly effective sustainability practice. Some stores offer discounts or tokens for customers who use reusable bags, and certain establishments even offer a free reusable bag. But there are even more compelling environmental reasons why shoppers should make bringing their own bag a habit:

    • Approx. 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That’s more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year.
    • Approx. 100 billion of the 380 billion are plastic shopping bags.
    • An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
    • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2010, the category of plastics (which includes bags, sacks, and wraps) was recycled at almost 12 percent.
    • Thousands of marine animals and more than 1 million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution.
    • The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean.
    • Plastic bags are often mistakenly ingested by animals, clogging their intestines which results in death by starvation. Other animals or birds become entangled in plastic bags and drown or can’t fly as a result.
    • Even when they photo-degrade in landfill, the plastic from single-use bags never goes away, and toxic particles can enter the food chain when they are ingested by unsuspecting animals.
    • Greenpeace says that at least 267 marine species are known to have suffered from getting entangled in or ingesting marine debris. Nearly 90% of that debris is plastic.
    • Americans consume more than 10 billion paper bags per year. Approximately 14 million trees are cut down every year for paper bag production.
    • Most of the pulp used for paper shopping bags is virgin pulp, as it is considered stronger.
    • Paper production requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water as well as toxic chemicals like sulphurous acid, which can lead to acid rain and water pollution.

    What are some ways to get into the habit of remembering to take bags to the store?

    • Keep the bags on a hook near the front door.
    • Put coupons inside your reusable bags.
    • Purchase a bag that is small enough to hook to a keychain.
    • Keep one set of bags in the trunk of the car and one at home.
    • Purchase a bag that can be rolled up and shoved in a purse or backpack.
    • Get a bag that is so cool you want to take it everywhere.
    • Put a big sign on the inside of your door as a reminder to "Remember Your Bags!"

    Post-It Two Times!
    While the standard colorful post-its can be recycled, they fall under the "mixed paper" category and do not contribute to the cost savings generated with white office paper recycling. Try this: cross out the previous message on an old post it, fold it over, and voila! The post-it can be used again!

    Lunchboxes & bags:
    They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but more importantly, they help reduce excessive packaging and encourage healthy eating. Plus they can always double as a take out container. From the Scooby Doo lunch pail hiding in the garage, to the circular Bentobox varieties with many little compartments, there are re-usable lunch containers out there that are right for anyone...and they're sustainable too!

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  • Common Recycling Terms

    Chasing Arrows: The universal recycling symbol is an internationally recognized symbol used to designate recyclable materials. It is composed of three mutually chasing arrows that form a Möbius strip. The Chasing Arrows symbol was created by 23 year old USC student Gary Anderson as an art contest entry. The contest was aimed at raising environmental awareness after the first Earth Day in 1970. Chasing Arrows is a public domain symbol and may be freely used and modified.

    Compost: A mixture of decayed organic matter. There are hot compost systems and cold compost systems. Hot compost systems apply high heat to compostable materials to quickly break them down into reusable organic matter. A cold compost system relies on microorganisms to eat the waste which will then produce carbon dioxide, water and humus.A backyard compost pile is a cold compost system.

    Compostable: A term used to describe products or materials that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials, and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich material.

    Freecycling: Giving what you no longer use or want to another who has a need or desire for that item.

    Greenwashing: A term merging the concepts of “green” (environmentally sound) and “whitewashing” (to conceal or gloss over wrongdoing). Greenwashing is any form of marketing or public relations that links a corporate, political, religious or nonprofit organization to a positive association with environmental issues for an unsustainable product, service, or practice. In some cases, an organization may truly offer a “green” product, service or practice. However, through marketing and public relations, one is wrongly led to believe this “green” value system is ubiquitous throughout the entire organization.

    Sustainability: Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and viability. Sustainability means meeting present needs without compromising ecosystems or the propsects of future generations to meet their own needs.

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  • Plastics
    Plastic type 1 Plastic marked with an SPI code of 1 is made with Polyethylene Terephthalate, which is also known as PETE or PET. Containers made from this plastic sometimes absorb odors and flavors from foods and drinks that are stored in them. Items made from this plastic are commonly recycled. PETE plastic is used to make many common household items like beverage bottles, medicine jars, peanut butter jars, combs, bean bags, and rope. Recycled PETE is used to make tote bags, carpet, fiberfill material in winter clothing, and more.
    Plastic type 2 Plastic marked with an SPI code of 2 is made with High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE. HDPE products are very safe and they are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks. HDPE products are commonly recycled. Items made from this plastic include containers for milk, motor oil, shampoos and conditioners, soap bottles, detergents, and bleaches. Many personalized toys are made from this plastic as well. (Please note: it is NEVER safe to reuse an HDPE bottle as a food or drink container if it didn’t originally contain food or drink!) Recycled HDPE is used to make plastic crates, plastic lumber, fencing, and more.
    Plastic type 3 Plastic labeled with an SPI code of 3 is made with Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC. PVC is not often recycled and it can be harmful if ingested. PVC is used for all kinds of pipes and tiles, but it's most commonly found in plumbing pipes. This kind of plastic should not come in contact with food items. Recycled PVC is used to make flooring, mobile home skirting, and more.
    Plastic type 4 Plastic marked with an SPI code of 4 is made with Low-Density Polyethylene, or LDPE. LDPE is not commonly recycled, but it is recyclable in certain areas. It is a very healthy plastic that tends to be both durable and flexible. Plastic cling wrap, sandwich bags, squeezable bottles, and plastic grocery bags are all made from LDPE. Recycled LDPE is used to make garbage cans, lumber, furniture, and more.
    Plastic type 5

    Plastic marked with an SPI code of 5 is made with Polypropylene, or PP. PP is not commonly recycled, but it is accepted in many areas. This type of plastic is strong and can usually withstand higher temperatures. Among many other products, it is used to make plastic diapers, Tupperware, margarine containers, yogurt boxes, syrup bottles, prescription bottles, and some stadium cups. Plastic bottle caps are often made from PP as well. Recycled PP is used to make ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, and more.

    Plastic type 6 Plastic marked with an SPI code of 6 is made with Polystyrene, also known as PS and most commonly known as Styrofoam. It is commonly recycled, but it is difficult to do so and often ends up in landfills anyway. Disposable coffee cups, plastic food boxes, plastic cutlery, packing foam, and packing peanuts are made from PS. Recycled PS is used to make insulation, license plate frames, rulers, and more.
    Plastic type 7 The SPI code of 7 is used to designate miscellaneous types of plastic that are not defined by the other six codes. Polycarbonate and Polylactide are included in this category. These types of plastics are difficult to recycle. Polycarbonate, or PC, is used in baby bottles, large water bottles (multiple-gallon capacity), compact discs, and medical storage containers. Recycled plastics in this category are used to make plastic lumber, among other products.

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  • Green Office Certification

    The UCSC Sustainability Office is encouraging offices on campus to participate in their Green Office Certification Program. The GOCP evaulates and certifies offices based on their environmental practices. Offices can recieve one of four ratings: Seed, Sprout, Sapling, and Tree.

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  • Controllers Office

    The Controllers office recieved a rating of Sapling for its evaluation.

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  • Procurement Office

    The Procurement Office recieved a rating of Tree for its evaluation.

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  • Enterprise Financial Systems

    Enterprise Financial Systems recieved a rating of Sprout for its evaluation.

    EFS Certification

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  • Extra Mural Funds

    Extramural Funds recieved a rating of Sprout for its evaluation.

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  • Reusable Bags

    Take reusable bag shopping:
    Shopping with a reusable bag is a simple and highly effective sustainability practice. Some stores offer discounts or tokens for customers who use reusable bags, and certain establishments even offer a free reusable bag. But there are even more compelling environmental reasons why shoppers should make bringing their own bag a habit.

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  • Reducing Paper

    ​Ways to reduce paper:

    • Share documents when printing is not needed
    • Try to use both sides of paper when printing, writing or drawing
    • Practice efficient copying, use size reduction features on printers
    • Reuse envelopes
    • Reuse old paper for notepads

    Benefits of reducing paper usage:

    • Paper is bulky and often takes up too much space in the office. Reduce using paper to make your work place look neater!
    • Reduce annual usage of paper in your office! Conserve resources, save trees, reduce water and energy use! Go paperless!​

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  • Go Green at Work

    ​Lighting-Artificial lighting accounts for 44 percent of electric use in office buldings!

    • Turn off the lights when leaving a room.
    • Utilize natural light when possible.

    Printing-An average American office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper annually!

    • Remember to always print on both sides of paper.
    • Use the backside of old documents for faxes, scratch paper, or drafts.
    • Share documents when printing is not needed.

    Maximize energy efficiency-Phantom power draws out energy even when electronics aren't turned on!

    • Turn off computers when it is not in use.
    • Unplug power strip to prevent phantom power from drawing out electricity.

    Compost and recycle- Putting the right trash into the right bin can make a huge difference.

    • Recycle just about any kind of paper including fax paper, envelopes, and junk mail.
    • Compost your food scraps such as orange peels, apple cores, egg shells, and other leftovers in the worm bin located in our garden.

    Watch what and how you eat/drink:

    • Bring your own mug and dishware for lunch.
    • Avoid water bottles at all costs; bring your own reusable water bottle!
    • Bring organic/local food for lunch.

    Create a healthy office environment:

    • ​Use nontoxic cleaning products.
    • Brighten up your work space with plants, which absorb indoor pollution.

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  • Worm Bin Composting

    December: Worm Bin Composting work shop
    Guest speaker: David Shaw

    Details of event: David Shaw, a faculty member from the Sustainability Education Department (, joined the Financial Affairs Green Team on December 5th to demonstrate how a composting worm bin can benefit both the planet, by eliminating some food scraps from the garbage can, and the garden.  There was lively discussion about what to feed the worms, how they break down the scraps into castings and how the castings and tea can benefit both indoor plants and gardens. We were fortunate to use the Financial Affairs' bin (which is also used by our groundskeeper, John, to nourish our atrium garden) to see how the worms produce the castings and tea.

    David invited us to release our inner gardener and "dig in" (gently and with gloves) to the bin and see what the worms like and what does not break down. He then harvested the bountiful bin and shared the worm tea with the group to bring home and feed their plants. This was followed by a discussion of cover crops to plant in the fall and plow back into the garden in the spring to feed and nourish the soil.

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  • Dimeo Lane Initiative

    What prompted the Financial Affairs Green Team to measure our waste generation? Don’t they have enough projects to work on? Well, they do. So in early 2013 they sought out others in Financial Affairs to volunteer to work on the Dimeo Lane Project. Its charge was to better understand what happens to the waste Financial Affairs generates and identify opportunities to divert as much of it as possible from the landfill. The project team visited the landfill at Dimeo Lane and interviewed the management there about waste diversion opportunities for UCSC. Observations, notes,videos, and photos were taken.

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