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Editor’s note: The following article was prepared by USU students for a class on sustainability and submitted to The Herald Journal.

Big changes are happening at Stokes Nature Center for the year 2020. Administrative offices have moved from Logan to Providence. They are incorporating even more sustainable habits with the help of a few Utah State University Students. They would also like to suggest a few habits everyone can participate in to become more sustainable.

A major sustainability habit is recycling. Recycling is easy and everyone can participate. Here are a few guidelines: Plastic bags should never be placed in a recycling bin — they are very difficult to process and jam machines.

Cache Valley no longer accepts plastics 3-7 in their curbside recycling program. The major change is that yogurt cups, sour cream and butter containers are no longer accepted.

Plastics 1-2, which include shampoo containers, milk jugs, cooking oil containers, salad dressing bottles, soap containers, and condiment bottles, are accepted. Emptying and rinsing containers before placing them in a recycling bin is important. Never put Styrofoam or pizza boxes in the recycle bins.

With the new recycling restrictions placed in Logan City, the staff at Stokes Nature Center will be taking care of their own recycling. Stokes Nature Center office will have several specific recycle bins in the main entrance area and will take these recycling centers themselves. These recyclable bins will include: Paper, Aluminum/cans, mixed recycling, & potentially food compost. The signage posted on these bins will give direction on what items are acceptable and the effect recycling can have on our environment.

Other sustainable habits include turning off lights and unplugging electronics when they are not in use. You can try making your own cleaning products. Vinegar and baking soda are excellent cleaning agents that can be found in almost every household. Try to eliminate waste by packing snacks in reusable containers. Buying in bulk can save you money and protect the environment. Every little change can make a difference!

Stokes Nature Center has always been an advocate of sustainability and taking care of our planet. Patrick Kelly and the Stokes team want to jump on board like most other businesses by establishing sustainability practices in their new offices. Before moving into the new office space in Providence, USU students Conner Chambers, Emily Liese, Aspen Stevenson, and Tayli Hillyard met with Patrick and shared their research on how to apply sustainability in the workplace.

Patrick and his team are implementing the multiple easy, money-saving habits that are also sustainable. The staff is placing plants in workspaces, promoting green living and helping air quality. Patrick and the team picked a handful of plants that are low maintenance and are able to purify the air. These plants include: Snake plants, Peace Lily, Aloe Vera, Devils Ivy, Chinese Evergreen, and ZZ plants.

The team is creating strategic signage to place around the office. This signage encourages staff to recycle properly, turn lights off when not in use, and to know what to unplug to conserve energy. These sustainability practices can help Stokes fit in with most other businesses that are doing the same.

The staff will be also be changing to chemical-free cleaning supplies. These will be purchased through companies that promote sustainability, or will be homemade, to avoid chemical cleaners that are dangerous to dispose of due to their non-degradable components.

Lastly, the Earth Day Soiree is one of the two fundraisers that Stokes puts on each year. Donations and participation in the event helps Stokes keep their facilities open for the public in Cache Valley. This year, the USU students promoting sustainability in the office were going to be able to volunteer at this event and provide useful tips on how to incorporate sustainability into everyday life. They planned to have a table station at the event where people could come ask questions and would be able to provide them with information on sustainable practices in general, as well as how small sustainable changes could really make an impact on Cache Valley.

The students were also planning a game of trivia, to go along with Stokes’ “Are you smarter than a Nature Preschooler?” game. The USU students along with Stokes were planning to share sustainability trivia about the local area. Due to the current state of COVID-19 and the precautions that the public has been urged to take, the soiree will not be happening on the previously planned date of April 18t. There is a possibility that the event may be pushed back to a later date, depending on the state of COVID-19.

Aspen Stevenson, Conner Chambers, Emily Liese and Tayli Hillyard are students at Utah State University in Logan.

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