Robert M. Gogan Jr.

Robert M Gogan, Jr.
Photograph by Stu Rosner

Rob Gogan is Harvard's recycling and waste-management impresario. "It's a dream job," says the associate manager of Facilities Maintenance Operations. Why? "Harvard is the wealthiest university in the world, and affluence produces effluence. It's a rich vein of ore for a recycler." In the lot behind his office, at 175 North Harvard Street in Allston, is a hodgepodge of discarded stuff free for the taking: 40 metal storage cabinets from the Fogg Art Museum ("They'll go quickly to a Cambridge or Boston school," Gogan predicts); yards of battered swimming-pool lane dividers from Malkin Athletic Center ("A summer camp in Andover may take them"); swivel chairs; calculators; microwave ovens. About 85 charities are regular takers, but any individual who wants a thing may have it. Reusers "recover the utility" of at least 80 percent of these discards. It wasn't always so. In 1990 Gogan was working on a doctorate at the School of Education (he taught English for 10 years before that) when he became interested in recycling and saw that waste was endemic at Harvard. He made a pest of himself and got a summer job to demonstrate why a full-time recycling job made sense. He demonstrated, and got it. The University recycled 5 percent by tonnage of its waste--paper, cans, et cetera; these days a third goes around again. Gogan disseminates an e-mail newsletter at Harvard to report on recycling progress (and local flora and fauna sightings sent in by his readers) and to encourage a sense of community in a famously decentralized place. He feels good about providing people with opportunities to recycle: "Recycling gives everyone an easy way to achieve a little environmental grace."


You might also like

Talking About Tipping Points

Developing response capability for a climate emergency

Academia’s Absence from Homelessness

“The lack of dedicated research funding in this area is a major, major problem.”

The Enterprise Research Campus, Part Two

Tishman Speyer signals readiness to pursue approval for second phase of commercial development.  

Most popular

Claudine Gay in First Post-Presidency Appearance

At Morning Prayers, speaks of resilience and the unknown

The World’s Costliest Health Care

Administrative costs, greed, overutilization—can these drivers of U.S. medical costs be curbed?

The Gravity of Groups

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

More to explore

Why do Groups Hate?

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

Private Equity in Medicine and the Quality of Care

Hundreds of U.S. hospitals are owned by private equity firms—does monetizing medicine affect the quality of care?

Construction on Commercial Enterprise Research Campus in Allston

Construction on Harvard’s commercial enterprise research campus and new theater in Allston