Pioneer Spotlight: Amy Seeboth
The 2014 Recyclemania competition is underway, and University of Wisconsin-Platteville Sustainability Coordinator Amy Seeboth is hoping the Pioneers will defend their first-place state title for the third straight year. Recyclemania is one of several initiatives Seeboth is undertaking, with the goal of leading the UW-Platteville community to a more sustainable future.
What is Recyclemania and how does it help raise awareness of environmental issues?
Recyclemania is an inter-college recycling competition. Over 600 colleges typically participate. This is the fifth year UW-Platteville has participated. The past two years, UW-Platteville has taken first place out of schools in Wisconsin –with a 40 percent recycling rate. I’d really like to see that rate go up. I’d love to get to 50 percent. The recycling rate is pounds of recycling over pounds of garbage you create. Most items are recyclable, especially now that we went to single-stream recycling. Almost anything can be recycled, so it’s about paying attention that we’re actually putting the items in the right bin.
What do you think the UW-Platteville community’s overall attitude towards issues of sustainability and environmental awareness is?
I think that people that come here come from a background that does value conservation and has respect for the world around us. A lot of our initiatives –especially recycling – fit very well with that upbringing that a lot of our students, faculty and staff have had.
What are a few of the initiatives you launched in 2013?
Our sunflower oil [harvested from six acres of sunflowers planted in Platteville in summer 2013] has been going really well. We started selling it last weekend, and it’s been very popular. We got new bike racks across campus, adding more than 300 new spots for bikes. We’ve been changing out all of our recycling bins in order to make them consistent and blue, with new labeling. We have also been composting food waste at Bridgeway Commons since October.
What are some upcoming projects for 2014?
We are starting a campus garden this summer, funded by the Segregated University Fee Allocation Commission. I will be looking at better ways to expand composting across campus. I’m also teaching a new organic agriculture class, which is already full. We have a lot of guest speakers that are excited to be a part of this conversation. The shuttle continues to be a wild success. We’re working on getting on board technology so students can swipe their IDs when they get on and off, and an app so students can see where the bus is and if it is on time.
How did you get involved in the area of sustainability and environmentalism?
I have always been interested in this. When I was an undergraduate student [at Lawrence University], I got a degree in anthropology, but I was always one of the presidents of our campus environmental organization. I lived in a co-op house where we ate only organic food throughout college, which was really nice and helped instill values. I had such a good time in those experiences and I want to help other students on campus have similar opportunities.
What advice would you give a student who wants to start living more sustainably? What are some easy, feasible, first steps anyone can take?
Walking or biking, instead of driving. Those two things have a huge impact on the world around you. Try to only take as much food as you need to eat – don’t take so much that you need to throw some away. Recycle, and also try not to use disposable items at all, if possible, so you don’t even need to worry about what you’re recycling and what you’re throwing away.
For more information about the Office of Sustainability, visit uwplatt.edu/sustainability.
Interview conducted by: Alison Parkins, University Information and Communications.
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