In November of 1969 Professor of Biblical Studies Robbie Castleman took part in the national colloquium that helped plan the first Earth Day, which was celebrated in April of 1970.
45 years later Castleman is still serious about ‘going green’ and commends John Brown University’s efforts to be sustainable.
“Earth, fragile and limited, isolated in its resources and short on caregivers, long on those who would exploit for short-term goals. This exploitation and neglect and indifference is an affront to the Creator,” Castleman said.
Castleman said she was selected to join about 100 students from all around the U.S. to meet in Washington D.C. with environmentalists, senators, congressman, academics and promotional celebrities. She said she was selected as the representative of the National Student Nurses Association because of her keen interest in environmental issues.
“I have been reducing, reusing and recycling before it was a slogan, but not until I came to JBU did I find an entire community engaged in ‘creation care’,” Castleman said.
One of JBU’s most well-known efforts is that, in 2012, it became the first Zero Landfill campus in Arkansas. This means all JBU waste is recycled, reused, or compacted and sent to Tulsa where it is incinerated without harmful emissions. None of the waste goes to a landfill.
University director of facility services & sustainability Steve Brankle said that from April 2, 2012, when the University started the Zero Landfill initiative, till the end of this March, JBU has diverted 680 tons of trash from the landfill, 41 percent of which was recycled, and 59 percent of which was incinerated.
Brankle also said that, having dumpsters emptied daily used to cost the University $50,000 a year, while sending compacted waste to be incinerated costs $13,000 a year, a savings of $37,000.
“I see sustainability as financial sustainability too,” Brankle said.
Brankle leads various other efforts that save both the planet and student’s pocketbooks. He said that he believes a conservative estimate for the overall money that is saved through sustainability efforts is $775,000 per year. This number is calculated by comparing our current costs to what they were in 2002 and factoring for inflation; in 2002 there were significantly less sustainability efforts on campus.
“I take your money seriously,” Brankle said.
Another sustainability effort Brankle has been a part of is the EZH20 water bottle fountains on campus.
Brankle said that according to the counters on the EZH20 water bottle fountains, as of the end of February 2015, these fountains on campus have helped eliminate waste from 149 thousand disposable plastic bottles.
Brankle encouraged students to recycle metals, such as coke cans or soup cans, because the money earned from selling these metals to be recycled goes to buying new EZH20 water fountains.
“Please recycle, especially metals, because you’re going to get something back for it,” Brankle said.
Besides recycling, one way students can be involved in JBU’s environmental stewardship is to donate unwanted items through the upcoming Green Move Out.
The purpose of Green Move Out is to make it easier to reuse and recycle as students move off of campus for the summer, Brankle said.
Dean of students Andre Broquard said that he has noticed a positive impact from Green Move Out.
“The impact has been huge, the amount of items taken to the Salvation Army versus being hauled to the dump is significant,” Broquard said.
Through the many initiatives Brankle has been a part of, he said Castleman has been a great resource and support to him. In turn, Castleman said she is encouraged by Brankle’s efforts.
“JBU’s astounding initiatives and follow-through under the leadership of Steve Brankle is one of the reasons I fell in love with JBU. This matters to God. He loves the cosmos –‘God so loves the cosmos’ is John’s wording in John 3:16,” Castleman said.