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Class project leads to CUs EcoMug work at WMU
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (9/10/12)--A credit union staffer's participation in a course at Western Michigan University (WMU) has led to the credit union's role as the first lead partner with WMU's Office for Sustainability for an EcoMug Program.

Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Consumers CU announced its partnership Friday. The program provides all incoming students with a free ISO-certified, stainless steel mug that has WMU's sustainability logo and a QR code imprinted on the mug and offering special discounts for students.

The EcoMug Program, originally designed by students of WMU professor Harold Glasser, encourages students to be earth-friendly while reducing disposable cup use on campus. Dr. Glasser is now executive director for campus sustainability.

The EcoMug was created in 2009 in Glasser's Appropriate Technologies course. One student who helped devise the mug project was Carrie Susemihl, design and project management coordinator at Consumers CU.

"As a class we were witness to Dr. Glasser's commitment to the campus as a living lab, where he drove students to create and execute high-level projects with the potential to impact campus-wide policies and practices," said Susemihl. "It was particularly exciting when WMU President John Dunn attended our final class project presentations, and approved the class's proposal to distribute an EcoMug to every incoming student."

As a result of the project, WMU formed the Office for Sustainability, which is part of the Wesustain initiatives at the university.  In 2011, roughly 2,500 mugs were distributed, and 4,000 are ready for distribution this fall.

Sustainability is not limited to environmental concerns, but also the social and economic issues that impact the health of any community on a scale. Consumers CU, as a local financial institution, said it is dedicated to the well-being of its membership and community. "It fits perfectly with our own philosophy and sustainability efforts, and the care we provide for our members," said Consumers CU President/CEO Kit Snyder.

Snyder noted that the credit union, as one of the first online banking providers in Michigan in 1997, encourages all members to take advantage of a way of life that engages sustainability as well as technology--conserving both time and the earth's resources. "We recognized early on that members would desire the convenience of remote banking technology. It also happens that it is good for the earth, saving resources in numerous ways," Snyder added.

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