New campus initiative unites UPIKE and Rubicon

The University of Pikeville has recently launched a club on campus with a sustainable focus. ‘Clean Paws’ is a new student group working to educate and engage students, faculty, staff and the campus community about the importance of sustainability. 

The university is leading by example and taking steps to improve sustainability across campus in many ways. Earlier this year, UPIKE partnered with Lexington, Kentucky-based Rubicon, a company which developed a software platform that provides smart waste and recycling solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. 

Some solutions have developed quickly on campus while others are long term projects. UPIKE’s City View Cafe’ will modify its containers by selecting items that are either biodegradable for to-go items or glassware for dine-in as well as replacing Styrofoam take-out cups with paper.

Clean Paws has a variety of opportunities for students and staff to engage in the club. Currently, students are working toward implementing a campus policy for cardboard recycling that will include collection locations and a larger compactor to handle the waste volume. 

Director of Facilities Charles Atkinson says some objectives of Clean Paws are to educate campus, implement positive changes and continue financially responsible practices. 

“In January, UPIKE initiated a relationship with Rubicon to explore ways to implement sustainability on campus,” said Atkinson. “The long-term impact could be an increase in tourism by community impact on the surrounding region and an increased global marketability of our graduates having exposure to or participation with sustainability.” 

UPIKE Professor of Biology Carla Vanderbilt, Ph.D., believes anything that the UPIKE community can do to preserve the environment of our region is essential. 

“The primary goal of Clean Paws is to improve the sustainability of UPIKE’s campus while engaging our students in the process. Our long-term goal is to have an impact on the sustainability of our region with initiatives that go beyond just the campus itself,” said Vanderbilt. “Coming from a biological perspective, the mountains of Eastern Kentucky have an incredible amount of biodiversity. It is important to educate our students about the importance of protecting the environment and reducing waste so that they can take that knowledge with them when they graduate and implement sustainable changes wherever they may go.”