Ask a grackle or turtle about sustainability

We’ve all been there: dashing between meetings, meals, or classes, we pick up pamphlets from a table that are crammed with useful information and interesting facts. But where are those bits of paper when we need them? Hidden in drawers or—let’s be honest here—passing the time in a recycle bin.

Now, you can ask a grackle or a turtle. To reduce the likelihood of having pamphlets thrown away, the Office of Sustainability (OS) developed a new strategy to disseminate important information about stewardship on campus: create eye-catching pieces of block-printed art of two iconic animals that call UT home. The idea is that staff and others in the campus community are more likely to keep artwork and will thereby have the sustainability resources printed on the back at their fingertips. 

“We hope that people will print these images and keep them by their computers or tack them up over light switches,” says Director of Sustainability Jim Walker.

The art project developed because OS was fortunate to work with a student graphic designer, Theatre & Dance graduate student Khristián Méndez Aguirre. After first attempting to create a more traditional pamphlet, Méndez Aguirre turned his creative spirit to developing a piece that would capture people’s attention and spark an interest in sustainability. He chose two of the six block prints that he carved for OS Earth Day celebrations and created beautiful graphic representations.

"We forget that, in some cases, aesthetics are just as important in us wanting to preserve something for the long-term,” says Méndez Aguirre. “My hope is that the grackle and the turtle stand not just for natural beauty but for the beauty of taking action to reduce the impact of our campus on the land." 

Méndez Aguirre was recognized as one of the President’s Student Employees of the Year in 2019 for his work with OS and with Resource Recovery.

OS hopes that FAS staff will enjoy using the prints that he developed. They advise that when printing, note that there are two prints per page and pages need to be printed in color, double-sided.

Grackle bird in graphic woodcut style
Sept. 12, 2019