NIH Take Charge Employees
Let's start something. Let's look around and recognize employees who volunteer their time, exercise creativity, and seek out opportunities to help us all reduce waste and improve recycling. Fellow employees who will personally research and act on green initiaitves. Whether it's you or someone who inspires you to Go Greener, share it with the rest of us. How does one Take Charge?
"I (Kelly Prevost) would like to acknowledge the recycling efforts made from a Green Team Member here at the NIH, Dr. Boris Skopets. He is our facility Veterinarian and his recycling efforts are noticed by myself and others in our facility. I have been employed at NIH for over 20 years and am glad to see the overall Recycling progress that has been made and glad to be a part of the success myself."
Shelia takes it upon herself to make sure that not only her co-workers but your co-workers are recycling. She keeps a short stack of blue bins at her desk for those that are without. Shelia called an office meeting to encourage increased waste reduction and was asked to speak at a Project Officer’s meeting. Her genuine efforts are certainly noticed!
"I work in the Clinical Center for (DPM) Department of Peri-Operative Medicine. When I came to the OR in 2006 we did not recycle!! So I got motivated and initiated our Recycling Program. I contacted the right people and got us 8 good size recycling bins that go in every operating room Sub-Sterile. Those bins are for all of the plastic recycling and we produce a lot. For example all of our solutions that go on the Sterile field are a plastic bottle and there are days we can produce over 100 plastic bottles depending on the schedule. I also initiated more trash cans in the operating room for trash and less burn boxes. So there used to be 4-6 burn trash boxes in every room and now 2-4 depending on the case with 2-3 trash cans instead of 1. Also we recycle cardboard boxes. We have a bin labeled specifically for card board in the Operating Room and I personally make sure boxes get to it. I also added two paper recycling bins to my area that is considered office recycling and I added an aluminum cans recycling bin to our break room. And my current project is in the pilot phase but so far very successful and that is recycling single use Pulse Ox cementers."
"I (Howard Young) nominate Dolores Winterstein at NCI Frederick for taking the idea of a plant swap and turning it into reality. Rather than create more organic waste, employees who wanted to thin out their gardens were encouraged to bring excess plants into work on two designated days (1 in the Spring, 1 in the Fall). There, other employees could take the excess plants for additions to their own gardens. Employees did not have to bring plants in order to take plants and employees of the USDA and Army in addition to NCI employees, all based here on Ft. Detrick, contributed to the effort. This effort resulted in the beautification of many home gardens and decreased the waste stream that would have been created by people thinning out gardens with no place to put the excess plants. October 2013 plant swap had a 100% adoption rate."
Green at home, green at work. It's a lifestyle!
"I (Mark Raffeld) nominate Maria Fergusson (my wife) for the "Take Charge (All Facilities-NIH Wide)" award, who has (for years been) concerned about all of the cold packs going into the landfills, and finally found a possible partner in Fisher Scientific to recycle these for NIH."
I (Ariell) can speak to this, too. From Maria, "I called Meals on Wheels and DC central kitchen and they are interested in getting some cold packs but they do not need the large amounts we get at NIH. So labs will have to collect them and take them to the charity. I will do so with the ones we receive and will take them to Meals on Wheels at their Rockville location on Veirs Mill Rd , Rockville. Probably the packs we get in just this lab will be sufficient to supply this charity. We are just one of hundreds of labs at NIH so the problem is much bigger than us."
Progress and change begin with a dialogue. Take charge and start a dialogue, like Maria. Presently, we are looking into a few outlets to reuse and recycle ice packs here in Bethesda.
"Our green team (at Gateway Building) was very motivated and determined to roll out with the mini-bin initiative. We got buy in from management and our staff. We had multiple discussions with the landlord and our facilities manager on who would be responsible for emptying the mini bin and providing the liners. The custodial staff is in the process of removing the regular trash containers from workstations and private offices and replacing them with the mini-bins. I sincerely hope that this change runs smoothly with both our staff and cleaning crew and that I can report back on a successful transition."
Minoo is a member of the NEMS Sustainable Lab Practices Working Group, an HHS Green Champion, and an inspiriation to us all. She takes the time to go door to door and spread the word about recycling and sustainability in the lab. If there is a special event going on, Minoo can be counted on to help advertise in all of Building 10. Have you seen those Green Labs Fair posters, everywhere? I (Ariell) am most appreciative that Minoo makes time to show me around Building 10 labs to perform recycling outreach.
NIEHS Icepack Recycling Program: After noticing the large amounts of ice packs being accumulated in the lab areas and then discarded, a volunteer effort was formed to see if the ice packs could be reused or somehow recycled, rather than simply being disposed. The effort began when Dick Sloane sought to coordinate a way to have the ice packs reused instead of discarded. Today, Bill Willis and Bill Steinmetz work together to divert approximately 1800 icepacks from landfills each year by partnering with a distributor supporting local and sustainable agricultural. The company sanitizes the ice packs and reuses them to cool perishables during transport.
NIEHS Laboratory Materials Recycling Program: As representatives of the NIEHS Assembly of Scientists, Drs. Gary Bird and Carmen Williams questioned the status quo of the voluntary recycling efforts in NIEHS lab areas and advocated for the creation of in-lab recycling services to target those recyclables produced in high volumes from lab operations such as plastics, aluminum foil and foam packaging (i.e., Styrofoam). NIEHS formed an interdisciplinary team to study the issue and the idea was eventually implemented. Through the team’s initiative, recycling pickups were increased to twice weekly and in-lab collection added. Each lab chose containers specific to its needs, and the team conducted user education campaigns to ensure success. The effort is recognized for decreasing recycling burden on the lab community, increasing the recycling substantially, and improving safety by reducing the amount of combustibles stored outside labs.
"I (Torri Kellough) would like to recognize my colleague Debi Laurin-Bielat (NIH/NLM/BSD) for her efforts to help our section reduce waste and improve recycling. She has created signage and provided receptacles to collect paper waste from staff food packages and delivery packaging. This has greatly increased staff recycling of paper coffee cups and paper boxes from microwavable food products which previously made their way to the trash. Much of the corrugated boxes containing office supplies and other deliveries from commercial shipping companies gets recycled in a large box prominently displayed adjacent to the elevator bank on our floor. Debi has also located a small box next to a printer accessible to all staff to recycle used batteries. Finally, she gave a primer in one of our weekly staff meetings on the types of items eligible for recycling and which bins to use. Without a doubt her efforts have increased staff awareness and participation and we all owe Debi a huge debt of gratitude!"