Climate Change Community Waste

Oncology Goes Green

The Division of Oncology has made a commitment to go green! Earlier this year, division leadership decided to begin certifying all of their office spaces as Green Offices. This is no small task, as the Oncology office spaces are located in almost ten different places on the School of Medicine campus, plus some satellite locations off campus as well. So far, they have officially completed certification for two spaces, with three more in process. This type of high-level departmental change is a great way to spread a culture of sustainability throughout Washington University and can be used as a model for other groups to follow in the future.

The Division of Oncology is backing up this commitment with substantial behavioral and operational change. For the last several months, the Green Office Liaisons in their offices in the Mid Campus Center have collected plastic bags from their areas and taken them to the grocery store for proper recycling. This has had a significant impact on eliminating contamination in their recycling bins because film plastics and plastic bags cannot be recycled in the single-stream system. The teams are also scheduling Recycling Genius training for all staff in the early new year to ensure all waste items are correctly sorted.

The division recently implemented another huge change – they stopped buying bottled water for meetings! Division leadership purchased 5-gallon water dispensers and they are encouraging staff and students to bring their own water bottles or cups to the meetings. They thoughtfully purchased recyclable cups as an option for guests without a reusable cup of their own.

Oncology has been sending out a monthly newsletter (“The Green”) to their staff to highlight a few sustainability-related initiatives and reminders for behavior changes that people can implement into their daily lives. The most recent newsletter featured tips for reducing the energy demand of personal desktop IT equipment, printing recommendations to reduce unnecessary paper use, and an update on their progress since becoming a Green Office.

Bob Barczewski, the Director of Business Operations for the Division of Oncology, is very proud of his team. He notes that while he and other division leaders are very supportive of the effort, the real change has been at the grassroots level. Many staff members have spearheaded different initiatives to green their office spaces and continue to find ways to improve.

“I think it’s given our Division another moral motivator and cultural unifier for us besides our passionate interest in patient care, research and education.  We are very proud of our staff and feel good that we are trying to do our part in reducing our contributions to climate change and pollution.”

-Bob Barczewski

This article was written by Alicia Hubert, WUSM Sustainability Coordinator.