SF Team Hosts Variety of Activities for Earth Day

By Sarah Hamad

At the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Earth Day brought together facilities staff, scientists, office workers, and lab technicians to perform a roadside cleanup of the nearly two-mile long driveway that leads to the large glass building. Over a course of several hours, the volunteers collected twelve 60- pound bags of recyclable material and removed whatever trash they encountered, restoring the area to its “pristine state”, according to Mark Proctor, a Smithsonian Building Manager. The road side cleanup was one of the many ways that facility management staff celebrated Earth Day this year.

National Museum of Air and Space and Udvar-Hazy Center facilities staff planted fifteen White Pine Trees. Those at the National Museum of Natural History held an educational trash excavation outdoors, discovering that 24% of the 227 pounds of trash they sorted through was recyclable material.

electronics for recycle
Staff fill cardboard with dozens of electronics.

Facilities staff from six museums collectively known as “The South Zone” (Aurthur M Sackler Gallery, the Arts and Industries Building, Freer Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of African Art, and the Smithsonian Castle) coordinated and organized a recycling effort that collected 4200 pounds of electronic gear, 300 pounds of paper, 100 ink cartridges, and numerous hazardous waste items throughout the Smithsonian.

“It nearly got to the point that our eight large Gaylord boxes were overflowing” says Stephen Moran, Assistant Facilities Operation Specialist.

Facility management team members set up recycling stations at four sites: the Capitol Gallery, the Hirshhorn museum, the Quad, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. They sorted and categorized the material as it arrived and then packed it for early morning pick up the next day. They also ensured all special work necessary for recycling the Smithsonian’s electronics were completed correctly.

The effort generated about 30% more recyclable material than the year before.

In addition, almost every museum set up tables with educational material that tied facilities work to the environment. These tables were visited by both the general public and Smithsonian staff. Topics included green cleaning, LEED sustainability requirements, how hazardous items are safely discarded, and how automation systems are used to conserve energy.