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It’s Easy Being Green (At Burg)

A 2023 article by residents Tom Worsteling, Rachel Arthur and Patrick Gleeson

University students have a lot going on, meaning that sustainability is not always at the front of our minds. For this reason, the Burgmann Green Committee works hard to spread awareness and organise initiatives to improve the sustainability profile of our shared home. Through a combination of educational and social events, the Committee meets regularly to promote sustainability through methods that are relevant to the university setting. 

Over the past few years, the Committee has made strides in its efforts to improve sustainability at Burgmann by continuing to collaborate with both students and staff. Such channels for collaboration have continued well into 2023, with progress made in efforts to restore proper recycling practices at the college, promote vegetarian options at meals, and ongoing improvement of Burgmann’s 3-, 5- and 10-year plans.

Social Events

During O-Week, the Green Committee hosted “Paint & Plant”, an event where residents painted their own pots and planted a small succulent for their rooms. Social events like these play an important role in promoting sustainability in the college setting by allowing residents to find time to engage in the outdoors.

In addition, the Committee decided to celebrate Earth Day by hosting a screening of “The Lorax” in the common room. This event was a great success and brought residents together to have a break from the endless study, all while pausing to recognise the importance of caring for the environment. Huge thanks to Rose Dowdle for helping to organise this event!

This semester we also introduced Nature Walks to the college calendar, becoming a new initiative organised by second years Sam Szatmary Sullivan and Will Wallace. In mid-May, a group of residents hopped in cars and headed to Mulligans Flat to enjoy a day in the outdoors, along with lunch provided by the Committee. We hope to organise more of these in the future, and appreciate all the nature parks that Canberra has to offer!

Advocacy

As part of our work, the Green Committee also engages in advocating for all things “green”. This year, we are particularly concerned with supporting residents in making small changes to their lifestyles that promote greater sustainability. In a college setting, small changes make a difference!

One change that we would love to see ANU reintroduce is the Daley Road bus, which would allow residents to commute to and from the city without the need of owning a car (which is more important than ever, considering recent parking updates from the ANU!).

In addition, the Green Committee works closely with the Burgmann Residents Association (BRA) and the college staff and board, in ensuring that resident’s interests and visions for a “greener Burgmann” are represented across all levels of the college.

Recycling

Thanks to Rachel Arthur and several members of the Green Committee, we also recently reinstated commercial recycling at Burgmann. As an institution, we believe that we play an important role in normalising important sustainable practices, and recycling is one means that the college can improve its waste management strategy.

Engagement in material flow systems means that these practices will be more mainstream, convenient and accessible. Currently our contribution to sustainable material flow systems is having our compost collected and commercially managed. If we use the way our college interacts with those around us, then Burgmann provides a market opportunity for sustainable businesses and thus improves environmental outcomes.

Clothes Swap

In order to increase our engagement with waste management, the Committee is also working to reduce waste produced by events run by both students and staff. In addition, we currently run an ongoing “clothes swap” initiative, where residents can drop off clothes that they don’t need for others to enjoy, thus reducing waste.

We have recently expanded this to include old batteries and toiletries items that the Committee will then send to get recycled! Analysing the lifecycle waste generation of the college student we see as a really important action. Waste streams for computers, furniture and other goods are starting to become more available, but finding a feasible way to manage this across Burgmann is difficult. 

Overall, it has been a hugely successful semester for the Green Committee, and we can’t wait to work on more projects in the second half of 2023!

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Residents at the Paint & Plant organised by the Green Committee
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A Green Committee poster with sustainability tips for residents
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Reinstating commercial recycling at Burgmann
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The ongoing 'clothes swap' organised by the Green Committee
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