In an effort to help those in need see better, University Facilities and Services holds a biannual recycling program to collect prescription and non-prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, and frames. Once the glasses are collected, they are sent to the Lions Eye Bank at Rochester, where they are passed on to The Lions Club International to be cleaned, sorted, and packaged. The donated eyeglasses are distributed to people in need, both domestically and in developing countries.
In the spirit of the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste competition (formerly known as RecycleMania), the spring eyeglasses program includes a departmental competition in which departments can win for either collecting the most pairs or creating the most “eye-catching” box. This year, 906 people will see better thanks to this effort. A total of nine departments competed this year which brought in 431 pairs. The drop-off box in Flaum Eye Institute collected 315 pairs and the mail-in option received 160 pairs of glasses. Since the start of the eyeglasses collection program in August 2014, the University community has collected a grand total of 9,709 pairs of glasses!
Congratulations to Strong Social Work and Patient & Family Services who collected 191 pairs, earning the most pairs acknowledgement for the second year in a row. The department has competed for several years and was also voted for the “most eye-catching” category twice! This year, Sussman Palliative Care’s collection box won the “most eye-catching” acknowledgement with their ornate and sparkly butterfly box (pictured above). Butterflies have a significant meaning to both the department and the Lions Eye Bank who chose the winning box. When a patient passes away in Palliative care, butterfly magnets are placed on the door to signify that a death has occurred. This is a quiet way to let the other staff know what has happened, so that people can be mindful of tone and aware of the needs of the families. Many families see the butterfly as a sign of spring, or new life so the butterflies have special meaning to everyone in the hospice and the Palliative Care unit. Joann Beach of Lions Eye Bank of Rochester shares this sentiment as she explains the significance of butterflies to their group as well, “A donor mom who was a great advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation loved butterflies. She said that when she saw a butterfly it was her son. She worked in our office for several years.”
Sustainability Coordinator Amy Kadrie would like to extend a special thank you to Karen Guarino, who is now retired from the Lions Eye Bank at Rochester, but continues to help with the collection every year and, to Joann Beach who coordinates voting for the Most Eye-catching box on behalf of Lions Eye Bank. Thanks is also extended to Wendy Winslow of the Flaum Eye Institute for coordinating the drop-off collection and University Mail Services for gathering the boxes and the glasses that were mailed in.
The results of the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition can be found on the website. A total of 3.6 million students and staff from over 200 participating colleges collectively prevented the release of 30,228 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere, equivalent to preventing annual emissions from 6,376 cars.
All of the decorated boxes are pictured on the UR Sustainable Facebook page. Every pair of glasses that are donated to this program make the effort a success! If you have glasses you’d like to donate, save them for the next collection scheduled this August!
Written by Hanyia Ahmed, Class of 2022