Green Legacy

After graduating this spring, Alice Zhang and David Gray will leave behind them a green legacy. For the last two years, the two student recycling coordinators have been key players in a number of environmental initiatives on campus.

Environmental activists David Gray, left, and Alice Zhang will graduate on May 15. The two seniors' leadership as student recycling coordinators definitely will be missed. (Photo by Tricia Travis)

"I came into college being really passionate about [the environment]," Zhang says. "In high school, I took AP environmental science, and that class really opened my eyes to environmental problems, and how humans are causing them."

Still, Zhang may not have expected to find herself sifting through trash in a dumpster outside a residence hall three years later. Her mission was to find what portion of the waste from Lallage Feazel Wall Residential College was recyclable. Her conclusion: 30 percent.

"It made all of us realize that so many people still don't recycle who could be," Zhang says.

The dumpster-diving expedition was part of Zhang and Gray's work to help Wall meet LEED certification, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Their goal was to record certain operational and atmospheric aspects of the building.

"[I] measured the students' comfort in terms of the air quality, the acoustics and natural lighting," Gray says.

Gray and Zhang also ran RecycleMania, a recycling competition, and spoke about recycling options at numerous orientation and training sessions.

Meanwhile, they supervised 25 "eco-reps" who participated in a number of awareness-raising activities on campus. For example, they labeled all of the trash cans on campus with a sign that read "To Landfill," reminding students to place recyclables in their proper bins directly beside each trash can.

Gray will move on to the University of California–Berkeley to pursue a master's degree in public policy. Zhang plans to pursue an MD/PhD starting in fall 2011.

Brandon Meginley is a senior majoring in journalism at Tulane University.