Mowbray House Goes Sustainable

September 10, 2010 Features

Last year, Mowbray was a language house for German and Chinese students, this year it is the sustainability house of the Eco-Rollins and Sustainability Program initiative. A 2,800 square-foot, two-story building, complete with a kitchen, living room, dining area, laundry, porch and garden, Mowbray is truly a house in itself.

Mowbray has a “green” theme that promotes the social responsibility of sustainable living. This past summer, Eco-Rollins students and sustainability coordinators spent time to reorganize the house for sustainable living this fall. Cement in the driveway was removed and recycled to make room for an organic backyard garden, currently planted with tomatoes (which are in season) and herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and patchouli. There are plans to plant other vegetables such as squash, radish, and carrots.

Inside the house, the walls were painted with no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, and all of the lighting in the house was relamped with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps. Large plastic juice barrels are being reused as “rain barrels”, to catch rain water for watering the plants. Another installation in the house is the “worm hotel,” a layered composting fixture where compostable waste put on the top layer, will decompose and fall through to the next layers where worms live in soil. These worms turn the composted waste into casings, which are coils of soil and waste. The casings contain enzymes and micro-organisms helpful in fertilizing the soil used in planting. [A University of Georgia study found that plants fertilized with worm castings saw a 126-percent higher growth rate than those treated with chemical fertilizers].

Megan Frederick, a junior biochemistry major, says “[the worm hotel] is the coolest thing ever because you can eat a banana, and just put [the peel] in the worm hotel.”

Even the sustainability coordinator gear, a No Impact Tshirt designed by Sarah Griffis, is made sustainably with 50% organic cotton and 50% recycled Coke bottles. The people in the house were raving about the quality of these shirts, how they were so much more comfortable than other school program shirts.

Mowbray currently houses seven students of different academic backgrounds, although most of them are rather new to the Eco-Rollins and Sustainability Program. Just last spring, Theresa Chu, now a senior, had an idea to turn Mowbray House into an eco-friendly and sustainability themed house. She filed a proposal to the school, not thinking it would get through, but it is now a reality. Currently the house manager, Chu, as well as the other house sustainability coordinators, devote their time, whenever needed to help with eco-initiatives on campus.

Just this past week, Eco- Rollins hosted the No Impact Week, which included a guest speaker Colin Beaven, author of No Impact Man as well as events such as the a display entitled of Mt. Trashmore; a bike tour around Winter Park; seed bomb throwing; beach cleanup; and much more.

The goals of the seven sustainability coordinators are aligned with Eco-Rollins and other environmental groups: to promote sustainable living and responsibility.

“Reduce Reuse Recycle is what we are all about,” says Megan Frederick, and “getting the word out is the best way to get everyone involved” says Katie Jones, a senior Anthropology major and sustainability coordinator.

Shan Kasal, a marine biology major describes Mowbray as a house with “home-style feel with an ecological twist,” and hopes that Rollins can spread this type of living environment to all of the dormitories, “without seeming it to be forced upon them.”

Mowbray is a place that all seven coordinators have grown to love in a short time. Theresa likes the freedom of being able to do “whatever we want on our property and whatever we want to inside the house, [as] this house promotes the ideals that [the team] have been working so hard to make the campus aware of.”

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