PBA Community Gathering Recap

On November 13, 2018, 75 Planet Blue Ambassadors gathered at the Michigan League to network and discuss campus sustainability issues. The tables were arranged by campus location in an attempt to help PBAs network and find others from their regions of campus. Also in attendance were staff members from the Office of Campus Sustainability and Student Life who spread themselves out among the tables to serve as a resource and listen to the discussions.

PBA Community Gathering Attendees 2018
PBA Community Gathering Attendees 2018

Kelly Jones, PBA Program Coordinator, kicked off the event by sharing some updated statistics about the PBA program. To date, more than 4,300 people have completed the Planet Blue Ambassador training, which is a 24% increase in 2018. Lea Sarment, a Planet Blue Ambassador and student at the U-M School of Dentistry shared how she has been able to organize a Dental Students for Sustainability (DSS) club. She spoke about being inspired by how the school recycles 44,000 gloves each year from both clinics and simulation rooms. Kathryn Melvin, an Office Manager for the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the U-M Medical School, shared about her opportunity to attend the AASHE (Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) Conference in October as professional development.

Lea Sarment, Kathryn Melvin, & Ari Weil
Lea Sarment, Kathryn Melvin, & Ari Weil

The remainder of the event allowed tables to discuss sustainability on campus. Almost every table talked about sustainability education and awareness on campus. If your group, club, residence hall, or office could use a sustainability training, request one here. Also, most tables discussed recycling, composting, and “wishcycling.” To learn more about “wishcycling” and how to keep contaminants out of our recycling, check out this article. Some tables also discussed the carbon neutrality announcement and the power students on campus have in energizing sustainability initiatives.

To close the event, Ari Weil, PBA Program Assistant shared about a few upcoming opportunities on the PBA Events Calendar, and at the exit, attendees were able to pick up some downloadable sustainability posters for U-M offices.

The post-event feedback survey showed that 97% of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the event and would attend another PBA Community Gathering in the future. Respondents also made suggestions for the future:

  • “More stories about big strides other people are doing! The glove recycling program was awesome to hear about and very inspiring!”
  • “It was great to get to know others in my own neighborhood, though it would also be good to interact with those outside my neighborhood as well.”
  • “Send out a special email to students to encourage participation….”
  • “I look forward to having these, if possible, once a month or once every 3 months….”
  • “I didn’t feel like I learned about all the new things U of M is up to in regard to sustainability and carbon emissions…. Perhaps add a half hour to provide us with more information to take back to our departments.”

Thank you to everyone who attended and submitted their feedback! Stay tuned for more events in the Winter Term where we’ll do our best to incorporate your feedback as best we can and keep things fresh and fun for the PBA program!