April 14, 2008
Sustainability: Walking the talk
By Carol Clark
Karen Salisbury, chief of staff to the vice president for Campus Services, has long recycled her magazines, newspapers, glass, cans and plastic. She even rinses out her baggies for re-use. Still, there was all that junk mail that she was tossing into the trash.
“No matter where you are in your life, you can start there and then take another step,” says Salisbury, explaining the spirit behind a program of personal sustainability initiatives started by the Campus Services’ leadership team.
Campus Services was a leader in helping Emory develop an ambitious sustainability vision. Among other goals, the University aims for a 25 percent reduction in energy use and a 65 percent reduction in the waste stream on campus by 2015.
When the managers of Campus Services held their recent annual retreat, they discussed what they were each doing as individuals to support that vision. “It’s walking the talk,” Salisbury said. “We can’t lead just by saying what people need to do. We need to lead by example.”
All 30 members of the leadership team decided to adopt a personal sustainability initiative — one more thing they could do, at home or at work, to make the world a greener place. Bob Hascall, vice president of Campus Services, committed to walking, instead of driving, for at least 20 minutes a day; James Johnson, University architect, plans to get his two young children involved in recycling; Chief of Police Craig Watson committed to installing low-flow toilets in his home; and Brenda Watson, executive assistant to Hascall, plans to create a rainwater collection system at her house.
Salisbury, meanwhile, set up a simple system to recycle all of her junk mail. “Taking one step at a time is the best way to do sustainability,” she says. “We don’t want our initiatives to be a flash in the pan. We want them to be something that becomes part of our daily routines.”