Recycling Zone brings a “green” flair to middle of campus
By Laura Fenton
Surrounded by brick academic buildings and residence halls, the Recycling Zone sticks
out like a green thumb.
The entire 6,000-square-foot “pocket park” was originally filled with asphalt and
mediocre landscaping. Now, light-colored permeable surfaces and indigenous drought-tolerant
plants are present. Eco-friendly LED lighting also increased night security. All materials
used in the project were reused or recycled.
“It belongs to everybody — the students, faculty, staff and administration,” said
Jenna Thompson, visiting U of M professor of architecture. “We hope that everybody
takes ownership in that and uses it as intended, which is to recycle things and bring
awareness to the importance of recycling.”
The project, which is being referred to as an outdoor learning space, is located in
the slice of land between Mynders Hall and DeSoto Street and is funded by the Green
(Sustainable Campus) Fee. The University of Memphis Department of Architecture, campus
organizations and local industry partners collaborated resources to bring the project
“That corner used to be kind of dark,” Thompson said. “Now with the new lighting on
the building, and the recycling zone itself, that area feels more well-lit and a nicer
place to be when you’re crossing campus late at night after classes.”
It also serves as a place to relax, visit with friends or study. Thompson encourages
people to lean on the rubble wall because it is designed to collect both heat from
the sun in the winters and the cooler temperatures from the shade in the summers.
Items from the bins are collected six to seven times a week. Thompson requests that
trash only be placed in the one bin marked as such. If trash is placed in the other
receptacles, staff members must physically remove each item by hand before sending
it with the campus recycling collection.
“Otherwise, it creates a contamination issue,” she said.
Campus Landscape Architect Kenneth Mulvany said that the project is important to the
U of M because it "promotes awareness of sustainable practices in terms of reducing,
reusing and recycling.”
“This Recycling Zone project serves as an example of a partnership between academic
faculty, architecture student design, student involvement in construction, excellence
in design and practical application of student green fee funds for a sustainable initiative,"
Recycling on and off campus is important to the Memphis community.
“When you throw your trash in a trash can, it does not disappear; all of that trash
goes to a landfill,” said Megan Hoover, senior Architecture and Interior Design major.
“Placing recyclable items in a recycling bin is just as easy as putting it in a trash
can, but that material does not end up in a landfill or polluting our streets, rivers
Similar projects are expected at other U of M campuses such as Park Avenue, downtown
Law School, Millington and Lambuth Campus.