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What is it about Flint that has us so concerned?

By Sustainability Office on February 8, 2016

By Missy Velez ’16 (Environmental Studies major from Baltimore, MD)

Type the word “Flint” into any news website, from CNN to NPR, and a slew of videos, articles, podcasts, and news clips will immediately populate. Some stories go as far back as October 2015[1], and the most recent have just been posted hours ago[2].

The unfolding story of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan has been one of the most continuously covered news stories in the past months. In order to save money, Flint stopped drawing water from Detroit’s urban system and instead turned to the Flint River. This water, however, was more corrosive than Detroit’s water due to chemical treatments used to kill E.boli bacteria. This corrosive water deteriorated Flint’s aging pipes, leaching lead into citizen’s tap water.[3]

When viewed from the perspective of the 24-hour news cycle, what is it about this story that has kept the nation’s attention for close to four months? It could be the fact that children’s lives are being threatened by lead poisoning (Fig. 1), or that Flint’s population has higher percentage of Black or African-American citizens (Fig. 2), or that the crisis reveals the unstable infrastructure supporting America’s aging cities.


Figure 1 Flint

Fig. 1

Figure 2 Flint

Fig. 2

Children are more affected by lead levels because the effects of lead are most apparent in developing bodies and are irreversible. Once the harm is done, it will continue to affect them for the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, Flint’s population has higher percentages of black or African-American citizens than surrounding census tracts in Genesee County. This has raised concerns over environmental justice issues: did historical and contemporary Black and African-American disenfranchisement influence this crisis?

The fact that the “American City” is threatened by aging infrastructure has also been called into play. Established in 1819, Flint rose with the automotive industry, and has been financially and demographically unstable since its demise.[4]

While these causes all come together to attract different interests, ranging from social justice to economics to urbanism, what really involves the media is the universality of the crisis in Flint. We all rely on tap water, and when that source of water is poisoned, we are all reminded of how easily it could happen to us. This then forces us to ask the question of who is responsible for solving this problem. Should Flint citizens not have to pay for their water, even if only some of them are affected? Should Flint be allowed to take water from Detroit’s system for free, because the government never updated the pipes? Who should pay for the ongoing cost of medical treatment for those affected?

Here at Colgate, we use our academic and personal experiences to engage with the ongoing dialogue centered on a range of social justice issues. We should do the same with environmental issues, which more often than not, directly engage with issues of social injustice. Flint demonstrates this relationship very clearly, and its complex nature is perhaps why it has retained ongoing media attention for so long.

[1] http://www.npr.org/2015/10/05/445975954/elevated-lead-levels-detected-in-some-michigan-childrens-blood

[2] http://michiganradio.org/post/new-tests-show-some-homes-flint-have-lead-levels-10x-federal-action-limit

[3] http://www.npr.org/2015/10/05/445975954/elevated-lead-levels-detected-in-some-michigan-childrens-blood

[4] http://www.britannica.com/place/Flint-Michigan

Announcing the 2016 Sustainability Summer Internship!

By Sustainability Office on February 2, 2016

Office of Sustainability Logo - Samantha Lee


The Sustainability Office is pleased to announce a paid position for three students who will serve as assistants to the Director of Sustainability for 10 weeks during summer 2016.  This is an exciting opportunity for Colgate students to get hands-on experience putting sustainability into action. Requires up to 40 hours per week, starting the week of May 16th and ending in early August.  Work schedules are flexible and will allow for vacation time, however a total of 10 weeks of work during the summer is required.

Each sustainability assistant will report to the Sustainability Program Assistant  and support the activities of Colgate’s Office of Sustainability.  Summer 2016 tasks may include, but are not limited to:

  • Green Raider Program.  Student interns will help refine a training and outreach program designed to promote sustainable living on Colgate’s campus.
  • Novel programming. In order to further the mission of sustainability, the summer
  • Creative Writing and Video Production. Interns will craft creative writing pieces and video blog entries for the Sustainability Office blog
  • Social media.  Interns will post comments and events to our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Green Bikes.  Sustainability interns will help to manage our bike rental program.
  • Community Garden.  On occasion sustainability assistants will spend time helping in Colgate’s Community Vegetable Garden.


The ideal Sustainability Intern:

  • has solid interpersonal skills and has the ability to work effectively and respectfully in a collaborative, culturally diverse work environment.
  • is detail-oriented and possess the ability to accomplish results in designated time frames.
  • is comfortable working in a fast-moving/changing environment and be able  to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • has the ability to effectively motivate community members to action.
  • possess strong organizational skills.
  • has excellent writing skills.
  • is computer literate and is proficient in the use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Google Drive applications.
  • has the ability to maintain a productive and healthy work/life balance.

Must be capable of working up to 40 hours per week.

The Sustainability Office is particularly interested in applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and are interested in using their work in sustainability to support their academic and professional objectives. Most often, summer interns continue with their work during the academic year.


Interested candidates should send their resume and one-page cover letter to the Program Coordinator of Sustainability, Steve Dickinson.  The cover letter should explain why you’re interested in sustainability at Colgate and specify the candidate’s personal and/or academic qualifications. These positions will be open until filled.


Please contact Steve Dickinson, with any further questions. Steve is available by phone at 315.228.6360 or by email at sdickinson@colgate.edu.

More information about Colgate’s sustainability efforts are  found online at www.colgate.edu/green.

Announcing the 2016 Spring/Summer Garden Internship

By Sustainability Office on February 1, 2016

Department: Sustainability Office
Hours per Week: 6 hrs in spring; 40 hrs in summer

Job Description:
The Sustainability Office is offering two paid Garden Internship positions to students starting in late-April 2016 until late-August 2016. Garden interns will help manage and promote the organic community vegetable/herb garden on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job. Work includes long days and exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.). The student interns are expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties, as well as carry out an independent garden project from conception to completion. The Garden Interns will report directly to garden manager Beth Roy, and should expect weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings as well as an end of season performance review. Interns will work in close collaboration with other Colgate students, faculty, and staff to plan and manage the garden. The student interns will gain life-long skills and knowledge in planting and maintaining an organic garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.

Required Skills and Experience:
Key Responsibilities
● Work with garden manager Beth Roy to plan and manage the garden during the spring and summer seasons. Specific tasks include preparing soil, cultivating, planting, weeding, and harvesting.
● Organize and supervise volunteer work parties.
● Coordinate with Green Thumbs presidents to schedule a weekly time for volunteer work parties, and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.
● Manage an individual garden project, from conception to completion.
● Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2016 growing season.

Recommended Qualifications and Skills
● Strong work ethic and self-motivated.
● Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
● Preference will be given to those with experience and firsthand knowledge in farming and/or gardening with vegetable crops; though previous garden experience is not required.
● Experience organizing and supervising the work of others.
● Tolerance for hard work and exposure to outdoor elements.
● Excitement about promoting local farming and local food production.

Work Requirements and Benefits
Student interns will begin planning for the garden in late-March and will begin field work in late-April, working 6 hours per week. In May interns will begin to work 40 hours per week until the internship ends in August—the exact starting and ending dates will be set in consultation with Beth Roy. The two interns will also be able to take two weeks (non-overlapping) of vacation during the summer; again, this schedule will be set in consultation with Beth Roy.

To apply, send resume and one page cover letter to garden manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu). The application deadline is March 18.

Starting Hourly Rate: spring semester – $9.30 (estimated because Financial Aid determines pay rate); summer – $10.00
Supervisor: Beth Roy, Garden Manager
Key Contacts: John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability; Christopher Henke, Associate Professor, Director of Upstate Institute and faculty advisor to the garden; Beth Roy, Colgate Community Garden Consultant

Responsible Paper Purchasing: Things to Know

By Sustainability Office on December 14, 2015

by John Pumilio, director of sustainability

When making purchasing decisions, we are often faced with many choices for the same product.  Take paper, for example.  Deciding on what paper to purchase can be overwhelming.  A simple search for 8.5×11 printer/copier paper on the W.B. Mason website, will give you dozens of choices.  In the end, each of us makes our decisions based on a number of preferences.  For example, price and quality may be priorities for some while environmental sustainability may be important to others.

For several years now, Colgate has had an institution-wide preference to purchase recycled content and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.

We hope this post will help you find the most environmentally responsible paper while also keeping in mind cost and quality.  But first, you may want to know that W.B. Mason labels certain products as “Green Items” on their website, when in fact they may not be sustainable products.  The “Green Item” logo W.B. Mason uses is loosely defined, has no quality control, and is not a third-party certification.

Be wary of this Green Item logo from W.B. Mason:




Keeping this in mind, here are a few criteria to consider when choosing paper that is best for you:

  • Post-Consumer Recycled Content Paper.  Paper that was previously a cardboard box, newspaper, magazine, printer/copier paper, notepad, or any other paper product that was used by someone else before being recycled and processed into something new for you. Paper made with post-consumer recycled content ultimately relies on fewer forests that must be cut down to feed the demand for virgin paper.  In sustainability circles, post-consumer content paper is preferred over recycled content paper.
  • Recycled Content Paper.  Paper made from recycled content (sometimes labeled as pre-consumer recycled content), is made from manufacturer waste that never actually made it to the consumer for one reason or another.  Manufacturer waste such as scraps, rejects, or trimmings that end up on the factory floor is repurposed into something new rather than trashed.  Pre-consumer recycled content paper saves precious resources but is still not as good as post-consumer recycled content paper.


    Forest Stewardship Council. Look for this logo when purchasing paper at Colgate University.

  • FSC Certified Paper. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Rainforest Alliance certify environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.
  • SFI Certified Paper.  The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is another certification that helps the consumer choose paper products from well-managed forests.  In many sustainability circles, SFI is not viewed as favorably as FSC.  SFI was formed by the American Forest and Paper Association, an industry group.  Still, SFI certification is better than nothing.


    Sustainable Forestry Initiative. A good second-option if FSC certified paper is not available.








Finally, here are a few choices for paper that can be ordered through W.B. Mason and are preferred by the Sustainability Office.


Boise® ASPEN® 100 Recycled Copy Paper, 100% Post-Consumer Content, 8-1/2″ x 11″, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: CAS054922
Price: $9.86 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 100%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 100%
FSC Certified = Yes

Boise® ASPEN 50% Multi-Use Recycled Paper, 92 Bright, 20lb, 8 1/2 x 11, White
W.B. Mason Item: CAS055011
Price:  $36.85 CT (5,000 sheets)
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 50%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 50%
FSC Certified = Yes



Boise® ASPEN® 30 Recycled Copy Paper, 30% Post-Consumer Content, 8-1/2″x11″, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: CAS054901
Price: $7.79 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 30%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 30%
SFI Certified = Yes

Hammermill® Great White® Recycled Copy Paper, 30% Post-Consumer Content, 8 1/2″x11″, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: HAM86700
Price: $8.92 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 30%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 30%
SFI Certified = Yes

Blizzard™ Blinding White Copy Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 98 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: BLZ41200
Price: $7.51 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
FSC Certified = Yes

Super Star™ Heavy Copy Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 24 lb., 98 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: STR91200
Price: $13.15 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
FSC Certified = Yes

mycopy™ Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 20 lb., 98 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: MYP81200
Price: $7.51 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
FSC Certified = Yes

myface™ Professional-Grade Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 28lb., 100 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: MYP88811
Price: $14.09 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
FSC Certified = Yes



Hammermill® Inkjet Paper, 96 Brightness, 24lb, 8 1/2 x 11, White, 500 Sheets/Ream
W.B. Mason Item: HAM105050
Price: $8.45 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 10%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 10%
SFI Certified = Yes

Flagship™ Copy Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 20lb., 92 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: WBM21200
Price: $6.57 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
SFI Certified = Yes


Blizzard™ 78™ Extra Bright & Heavy Copy Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 22 lb., 98 Bright, 500/RM
W.B. Mason Item: BLZ78200
Price: $11.55 RM
Post-Consumer Recycled Content Percent = 0%
Total Recycled Content Percent = 0%
FSC Certified = No


Between 2012 and 2014, Colgate’s employees avoided purchasing non-recycled paper on campus.  Congratulations!  In 2015, we experienced a setback where Colgate employees reduced the purchase of recycled paper in exchange for non-recycled paper.  We can do better!

Colgate University's paper purchases, 2011 - 2015

Colgate University’s paper purchases, 2011 – 2015

We realize there are many factors to consider when choosing paper that is most appropriate for you.  We hope this post will help you find a brand of paper that is high-quality, environmentally conscious, and reasonably priced.  Thank you for supporting our planet’s forests and Colgate’s sustainability goals!

Staying sustainable during the holidays

By Sustainability Office on December 4, 2015

By MaryKathryn McCann ’18 (Molecular Biology and Environmental Economics Double Major from Chester, NJ)

The holiday season is known for quality time spent with family and friends, but the holiday season also is a time for excess. This excess applies to food, travel, as well as waste. Even someone conscious of their ecological footprint can have a difficult time sticking to sustainable practices during this time of year. To start your sustainable holiday season, here are a few tips to get started.

1. When shipping gifts to school or home remember to check the method of shipping. The most ecofriendly way to ship a package is ground shipping only. Overnight or two-day shipping normally requires an airplane, which increases the amount of greenhouse gases emitted with the plane’s high gasoline usage. So to fight the last-minute overnight air shipping, plan and order gifts ahead of time.

2. If you hang up lights during the holiday season, try to use and purchase only LED string lights. Not only do the colors and light look brighter, LED lights use 50 percent less energy and lasts 13 times longer than other string lights.

3. Many students at Colgate aren’t able to drive back home for breaks and many students will be flying home this holiday season. If flying is a must for holiday travel, find the itinerary that includes a nonstop flight or the smallest number of segments possible. The more stops in your flight plans the more gas is consumed. A plane uses most of its gasoline in the take off and landing portions of the trip than while actually in the air. So, if you cannot get a direct flight home from Syracuse, try taking a bus or carpool to New York City or Boston and catching a flight out of JFK or Logan International.

4. The holiday season is very connected with food, and a lot of it. Holiday parties and meals are full of food that won’t be finished or eaten at all. Instead of throwing out all the food, see if your local soup kitchen or food pantry will take any of the unused food. If they will not take your food, make leftovers such as soup, pot pies, or just have the meal again over the next few days.

Remember these tips while making plans and celebrating over the holidays to make it more sustainable. Even in this time of excess, we can still take steps and make preparations for a more sustainable holiday and future. For more tips, see aashe.org.

Chartwells is hiring new Sustainable Dining Manager at Colgate

By Sustainability Office on November 20, 2015

Deb Hanson, Sustainable Dining Manager for Chartwells, recently announced her decision to leave Colgate to pursue another position.  During Deb’s time at Colgate, she worked closely with dozens of students, helped to develop a food tracking and benchmarking system, and was a dedicated employee to the cause of sustainability in dining services.  Deb will be missed and we wish her all the best in her new pursuits.

We are also pleased to announce that Chartwells will be rehiring for this full-time position.  Colgate’s new Sustainable Dining Manager will work to advance local and sustainable food purchasing and overall sustainability in dining services at Colgate University.  This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to Colgate’s growing sustainability movement while helping to raise the awareness of food issues and help to establish and meet annual and long-term goals.  To learn more about the position and to apply, click here.

Please pass this along to others who may be interested.

Colgate joins White House and other institutions to #ActOnClimate

By Sustainability Office on November 19, 2015

American Campuses Act on Climate - November 19, 2015_opt

Interim Provost Connie Harsh participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House on November 19th to take part in the launching of the American Campuses Act on Climate Day-of-Action.

Harsh joined a select group of other higher education presidents and provosts, high-ranking government officials including EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, and Karen Florini of the State Department.

The White House is organizing this event in build up to the COP 21 international climate summit in Paris at the end of the month.

Colgate was invited to participate because of our nationally-renowned commitment to sustainability. On Wednesday, Interim President Jill Harsin reiterated our commitment to sustainability in a letter to the White House.  Specifically, Colgate’s commitments include:

  1. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2019, our bicentennial
  2. Making carbon neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students
  3. Incorporating sustainable practices in all campus planning and building design from inception to implementation
  4. Achieving a minimum of LEED Silver standards for all new construction and major renovations
  5. Enhancing teaching and learning, create long-term economic resiliency, build and restore robust ecological systems, and support a healthier and more just society.

There will also be a Facebook-live session with EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, taking place at 3:00pm (EST) from the White House today (November 19). Submit questions for the session using #ActOnClimate and tweeting @WhiteHouseCEQ @GinaEPA @Ehmee.

[Developing story…]


By Sustainability Office on November 16, 2015

solarize cny

2015 Solarize CNY Update (November 16, 2015)

As of today, 28 solar installations have been completed for a total of 285 kW!

  • Cayuga: 4 installations, 32.1 kW
  • Cortland: 1 installation, 13.4 kW
  • Madison: 1 installation, 10 kW
  • Onondaga: 10 installations, 96.3 kW
  • Oswego: 12 installations, 133.4 kW

125 contracts signed for a total of 1,084 kW

  • Cayuga: 21 contracts, 160.7 kW
  • Cortland: 25 contracts, 255.6 kW
  • Madison: 25 contracts, 276.3 kW
  • Onondaga: 48 contracts, 355 kW
  • Oswego: 6 contracts, 37 kW

That’s 1,369 kW of new solar coming online in Central New York as a result of the Solarize CNY effort! That’s more than 10% of all the solar that has historically been installed in our region!

Per county totals for installations and signed contracts shows:

  • Cayuga: 193 kW
  • Cortland: 269 kW
  • Madison: 286 kW
  • Onondaga: 451 kW
  • Oswego: 170 kW




2015 Solarize CNY Update (October 20, 2015)

With less than two weeks left in our Solarize CNY campaign, organizers are starting to get a rush of online enrollments and phone calls.  Here is a quick update on the Solarize CNY campaign:

  1. We have about 975 enrollments so far, so we almost to our goal of 1,000+ total enrollments!
  2. 21 residents have already had their systems installed!
  3. 79 residents have signed contracts and are waiting for their installations.
  4. Another 63 residents are currently negotiating or reviewing their proposal.

It’s not too late to enroll in the program and schedule your FREE site assessment.  Here is the link: http://solarizecny.org/



2015 Solarize CNY Original Post (September 8, 2015)

Due to continued interest and ongoing questions regarding the Solarize CNY program, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting an information session specifically for Colgate employees.  The session will take place on September 16 (Wednesday) in the ALANA Cultural Center (Multipurpose Room).  We will be joined by members of Madison County Planning and our local solar installer, CNY Solar, out of Canastota.  Lunch will be provided.

If you have been interested in solar energy but are not sure if it is right for you or where to begin, then now is the time to attend this information session and enroll in the Solarize CNY program.

As a reminder, Solarize CNY is a volume purchasing program that streamlines the process and reduces the cost of installing solar energy for electricity. Through existing federal and state incentives coupled with the bulk purchasing power of the program, residents and small businesses can save up to 64% off the sticker price of a solar PV system. With the Solarize CNY program all permits and paperwork associated with installing the system are taken care of for the participant.

To find out more information and to enroll in the program today, please visit www.solarizecny.org.  To participate, you must enroll in the program by October 31, 2015.

Local Food at Nelson Farms

By Sustainability Office on November 9, 2015

nelson farms 1By: Mackenzie Hargrave ’16 (Environmental Economics Major from Madison, NJ), Sustainable Dining Intern

The Colgate Dining Sustainability team recently visited Nelson Farms to learn about production of local food.  Amanda Hewitt, the head of Product Development guided us around the product development, ingredient storage and processing rooms of the facility. Each room was stocked with expensive equipment that small-scale farmers may find difficulty investing in. She explained how each machine helps clients transform their produce into marketable products, which can then be sold in the attached storefront and other venues across New York State.

Perusing the aisles of the Nelson Farms Country Store you can find any dressing, marinade, jam, nut butter, or coffee that would usually stock your cupboards. However, instead of being brand name products, produced and packaged on a massive scale, these products are all made by small-scale, local farmers, passionate about their product and the communities to which they distribute. As customers who rely heavily on brand name products, we can easily forget that farms surrounding Colgate are producing high quality, fresh produce that may be packaged up into our favorite condiments and available right around the corner.

The entire operation is housed in what looks like a classic country home set right on Rt. 20 between Morrisville and Cazenovia, just a short drive from Colgate. Despite the understated exterior of the building, Nelson Farms, which is not a farm at all, has created a unique and straightforward way for local farmers to bring their products directly to market.

Amanda Hewitt and Kristi Cranwell, Nelson Farms’ Director, have the knowledge and expertise to guide product development through recipe creation, cost-based analysis, regulatory compliance and production. Standing in the ingredient storage room, with our eyes glazing over, Amanda explained the complex chemistry behind ensuring products remain fresh throughout their shelf life. In addition to ensuring the innelsonfarms2gredients maintain the appropriate pH, they must be carefully coded and tracked, according to FDA regulation.

The resources and information that Amanda, Kristi and the rest of the team at Nelson Farms can provide to farmers opens up opportunities for them to increase their business and take a stake in the local economy. Given the number of mouths Colgate Dining Services feeds daily, we have the potential to provide a massive demand for local products, like those sold at Nelson Farms.

on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NelsonFarmsCountryStore

website:   www.nelsonfarms.org

Nelson Farms is located at 3261 Us Route 20, Cazenovia, NY 13035


Famed American Alpinist to Visit Colgate (Nov 4, 7 p.m., 101 Ho)

By Sustainability Office on October 28, 2015


The Office of Sustainability is thrilled that Kitty Calhoun will be visiting Colgate on November 4. As a premier American Alpinist, Kitty will discuss her adventures in a presentation entitled, “Last Ascents.”  Her passion for alpine exploration and the corresponding ecosystem is under direct threat from climate change.

Dream Big ~ Find Your Passion

Be Inspired ~ Make a Difference!

See you on Wednesday, Nov 4, at 7 p.m. in the Meyerhoff Auditorium (101 Ho).