Village Residents Live ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ Mantra

Village Residents Live ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ Mantra
Destiny Laurie organizes the recyclables at the University Village apartments.
Steve Sanchez installs a water-saving shower head.

Living green is becoming a way of life for the 1,300 residents at University Village.

In the past year, the student apartments have taken on several green projects. All 2,500 light bulbs in the apartment complex — indoor and outdoor — have been replaced with CFL bulbs, saving about $3,000 a month in electricity, according to Kerrie Krol, assistant director of residential education at the Village.

New thermostats in each unit also can be programmed according to residents' schedules. The air conditioner and heater are set up to automatically turn off every two hours so they don't run continuously all day. Students also are encouraged to use the common kitchen area and appliances, instead of keeping mini refrigerators in their rooms.

“Living in transitional housing is an opportunity to teach our students skills they can take with them after they leave the comfort of a college environment. Skills based on sustainability — saving water, conserving electricity and recycling — will not only save them money in the future, but it's better for our environment,” Krol says.

Destiny Laurie, a senior studying environmental biology, is the Village's first Sustainability Coordinator. One of her major responsibilities is educating fellow residents about the importance of conserving resources and the ways to do it.

“I think bad habits prevent a lot of people from being sustainable,” says Laurie, who's earned the nickname “Green Girl” from friends and co-workers. “If we educate them and get them to break bad habits, sustainability will be a lot easier to accomplish.”

Every week, she sends out “Green Gossip,” a weekly e-mail with information about green initiatives at the Village or tips to help residents. One of her latest tidbits encourages students to eat locally and seasonally by purchasing produce at the Farm Store or at local farmers markets.

Laurie has been instrumental in replacing all the shower heads in the bathrooms with low-flow fixtures that put out 1.5 gallons of water per minute instead of 5 gallons per minute. During the fall, she applied to receive 450 free shower heads from the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which serves Cal Poly Pomona. Currently, all 656 bathrooms are being equipped with the water-saving fixtures.

Krol says the feedback has been very positive. “Students say they like the new shower heads better,” she says. “They like all the different settings on them, like massage or stream.”

Village residents are especially enthusiastic about recycling their trash, Laurie says. Since November, they have been collecting glass, plastic and aluminum products to save up for a new ping-pong table in the recreation room. In about three months — and with some help from the Village — students reached their goal, and a new ping-pong table is on its way.

Laurie says the next recycling project will benefit Relay for Life in Pomona in April. The 24-hour event benefits the American Cancer Society, which provides funding for cancer research, education, advocacy and patient services.