Residential Services Improves Eco-Friendly Resources

Northwestern University Residential Services’ Facilities & Construction department is dedicated to enriching our community through making responsible decisions to conserve our natural resources in line with the Division of Student Affairs’ value of stewardship.

This Spring, Residential Services has made key changes to reduce environmental waste in university residences as part of a campus-wide effort to become more eco-friendly. They have begun purchasing new hand towels for all of Northwestern’s residential halls on campus. Traditionally, white paper towels have been used in all of the residential and commercial bathrooms in these buildings, but their department recently made the decision to switch to brown paper towels.

There are many benefits of switching to brown, natural rolls including that they contain a minimum of 50% post-consumer fibers whereas the old rolls contain only 20%. Additionally, all of these natural rolls contain 100% recycled fiber. The threads in these rolls are 100 times thinner than a human hair and pick up more debris than the standard white towel. This results in a deeper clean and minimizes waste by using less towels, as well as being cost effective. The brown paper towels are also Green Seal & Eco Logo certified. For every tree used in creating a roll, three are planted to replace it.

In addition to adding brown paper towels, their department has switched to a new, reusable cartridge hand soap from Ecolab. This will begin to decrease the amount of plastic and cardboard that are wasted, and will reduce the amount of hand soap waste left over in these cartridges. Instead of simply tossing each cartridge out, a new dilution system has been placed in all residential facilities so that staff can take the cartridge from the soap dispensers, refill the cartridge in the dilution system, and place the cartridge back into the dispenser. This new hand soap system will reduce the hand soap cases ordered by 770 cases annually, and will lower the amount of plastic recycled by 190 pounds. That’s 2,310 hand soap cartridges a year no longer wasted due to their decision to implement this new system.

In Residential Services’ effort to move to more eco-friendly products instead of conventional cleaning supplies, they not only benefit the university by cutting costs, but also enrich Northwestern’s community by eliminating environmental waste. Their department will continue to find new and innovative ways to contribute to Northwestern University’s goal to reduce environmental waste on campus. 

Check out Residential Services’ website for more information about the efforts and resources of their department.