Sustainability in Newman: How Mari McCarville Made an Impact

If you walk into the Newman Center, you’ll likely be blown away by the vaulted ceilings, the sweeping carpeted staircases, and the walls adorned with tapestries. The main atrium has so many beautiful features that it can be easy to glaze over the parts of it that are familiar, like the trash cans.

Newman is one of the buildings on campus that features the three column bins that have landfill, recycling, and compost bins. It wasn’t always one of those buildings though, and it took one determined flutist to fix that.

Mari McCarville is currently a third-year Music and Psychology double major who is passionate about sustainability. To her, “sustainability means living in a way that ensures the current generation can meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.” Mari also says that she tries “to develop an awareness of [her] daily impact.”

I wanted to know about her efforts to get the three-column bins in Lamont, so I interviewed her about it.

What inspired you to get the tri-bins in the Newman Center?

As a music major, I spend a lot of time in the Newman Center, and one day during freshman year, I realized that there was no place to compost my banana peel from lunch. Then, I started thinking about all the waste that is produced at concerts and events that just gets thrown into the landfill even though it could be recycled or composted. This was the inspiration for the tri-bins in the Newman Center; we needed the infrastructure to help people change their behavior and become more sustainable. The bins helped spark a connection between the arts and the environment. (Check out this website I made for my FSEM class when I originally started the pilot project:

What sorts of things did you have to do to get them installed?

  • Work with custodians, staff, faculty, administrators to get approval for bin placement

  • Write a grant to apply for funding from the Sustainability Committee

  • I worked for the Center for Sustainability last year and they had an incredible team that helped me with the project (this was collaborative, and I could not have done it alone!)

  • Order bins to match the library design (each bin cost $3500!)

  • Move bins into appropriate locations  

  • Take compost to composting dumpster multiple times per week for 2 quarters last year

  • Plan, lead, and organize Zero Waste Concerts to inform the public about new bins

  • Create signage and promotional materials for new bins

  • Educate musicians, professors, staff about what is compostable, recyclable, and what needs to be landfilled

  • Wait and be patient

  • Train someone to take over my role when I went abroad

Have you seen anything chance now that the bins are in place?

Last year, I started Zero Waste Concerts where volunteers help patrons sort their waste during intermission and after the event. Slowly, the culture around trash is changing, and people are starting to pay attention to what they throw away. (Lauryn Chung is the amazing advocate for this now…they took over when I studied abroad in the fall.) Also, the custodial staff has joined the mission to create a more sustainable campus, and they now bring the compost and recycling to appropriate dumpsters (so I don’t have to take it out anymore). AND, this is just the beginning…more bins are coming to the rest of the building and plans are in the works to outfit the rest of campus, so the Zero Waste movement is spreading.

Next time you’re in the Newman Center to see a show or to go to class, check out the bins! Mari and her team have come a long way to help another building on our campus go green! Thank you to Mari for all you’ve done to create a more sustainable legacy in the Newman Center!