Auburn's new Adopt-A-Spot program helps to keep the Loveliest Village on the Plains lovely

Published: November 06, 2014
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AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University, known for its spirit, tradition and visually appealing campus, has launched a program to improve and maintain the campus' beauty. The Adopt-A-Spot program has been created to help usher campus stewardship and sustainability through litter and recyclable collection.

Auburn researcher Jennifer Parker and her colleagues in the Administrative and Professional Assembly's Welfare Committee decided to implement the program after noticing an unusual amount of litter on campus.

"We realized there was a larger problem," said Parker, co-chair of the committee and a research associate in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. "We could have developed an annual litter collection day, but that wouldn't have addressed the issue on a regular basis. Adopt-A-Spot was developed to promote sustainable choices and encourage students, faculty and staff to be responsible for their mark on the environment."

The committee worked with the Office of Sustainability, Landscape Services, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Staff Council, Student Government Association, Graduate Student Council and others to design a program to bring awareness to litter on campus and give a tangible way for the campus community to take responsibility and address the problem.

"We are always looking for ways to bring awareness to sustainability efforts on campus," said Amy Strickland, program manager in the Office of Sustainability. "Our ultimate goal is to build a culture of sustainability at Auburn, but we are also hoping to create a sense of ownership through this program so participants begin to see their role in helping to keep campus beautiful."

Parker said the Welfare Committee hopes the program will bridge the knowledge gap about litter and recyclable collection on campus, informing faculty, staff and students that they are contributing to the problem and should also help with the solution.

"People don't realize that there is no designated group of people responsible for collecting litter on campus," Parker said. "Landscaping services has to do it in between jobs. Their job is to landscape but they have to clean up the campus before they can. We have specific clean up groups for after football games, but for regular campus maintenance there isn't, because litter shouldn't exist if we are being responsible."

The process of adopting a spot begins with an individual or group requesting one of the 38 designated spots on campus. All spots are first-come, first-served and any spot can be adopted by one group of any size and up to 10 individuals for one to two academic years. When the adoption process is complete, volunteers can obtain trash bags, recycling bags and gloves from the Office of Sustainability and begin maintaining their spot.

"We have a total trash and recyclable counter on the Adopt-A-Spot website and as people log their collections the counter will start going," Parker said. "I think it will be fun for people to watch the counter and realize there is a big level of accountability and people are actually taking part."

Adopt-A-Spot is a step toward increasing the collective responsibility of the members of the campus community.

"It helps to create a sense of ownership and pride in the place we all call home," Strickland said. "When people can spend time outdoors and enjoy a space, they tend to take better care of it."

For more information visit the Adopt-A-Spot program website at https://cws.auburn.edu/adoptaspot/Home/Index or email adoptaspot@auburn.edu.

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