Home - Distinctly Colgate - Sustainability - Sustainability News
Sustainability News

Latest Posts

Green your Summer BBQ

By Sustainability Office on June 21, 2016

By Revee Needham ‘18 (Environmental Studies major from Elko, MN)


With great weather in upstate New York this summer, everyone wants to barbecue. Here are some tips so that your meal is more environmentally friendly!

Bring Reusable Utensils Instead of one-time use plastic cups, plates, utensils, and tablecloths, use more durable materials that won’t end up in the landfill. If you must, choose compostable options, which you can buy in bulk from eco-products.

Fill up Pitchers Avoid water bottles and individual lemonades by serving homemade drinks. Provide a marker so guests can keep track of their cup instead of using multiple. (1)

Designate a Recycling Bin Set up your recycling bin next to your trash to make recycling easiest for everyone. Remind your guests to empty liquids from bottles and cans before recycling.

Choose Electric or Natural Gas Grills Charcoal, propane, and lighter fluids release more fossil fuels and chemicals than electric or natural gas grills. (2)

Pre-heat Wisely It only takes 5-10 minutes for most grills to warm up. You can save energy, money, and cut down on the amount of chemicals released by reducing your grilling time. (2)

Make In-Season Dishes Find out which vegetables and fruits are fit for grilling in the summer. This cuts down on the distance your produce needs to travel to arrive on your plate. Check out https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce to learn more.

Serve Vegetarian Dishes Meat requires much more water and fossil fuels to produce. Look up tasty meat-free dishes to offer for your guests. (1)

Encourage Friends to Walk or Bike Neighborhood events are easy for your guests to travel but you can also help coordinate a carpool if they are coming from further away.

Be Wary of Bug Sprays Avoid DEET repellents as they are toxic for you and the planet. (3) Look for products with picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil to protect yourself. (4)

Happy grillin’!



Picture: http://www.windward-dayservices.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/bbq-cleaning-brisbane1-620×308.jpg

  1. http://www.nature.org/greenliving/gogreen/everydayenvironmentalist/green-your-summer-bbq.xml
  2. http://www.justenergy.com/blog/your-green-summer-bbq-green-grillin/
  3. http://groovygreenlivin.com/five-tips-to-green-your-barbeque/
  4. http://time.com/3856309/mosquito-repellent-bug-spray/

Greening Reunion 2016

By Sustainability Office on June 17, 2016

With Reunion drawing in over 2,000 alumni, Colgate University decided to green the event. Preparation for reunion has taken place for a while, and thanks to the Alumni Relations Office, biodegradable utensils and cups were provided for all meals served on Friday June 3rd. We are proud to say this prevented sending plastic waste, that would have otherwise been used, to the landfill where it would have sat for over 500 years! No doubt these materials cost slightly more, but the price was definitely worth it. These biodegradable materials and the food will break down in about half a year (1). In addition, the catering team collected all recyclable materials.

Colgate Reunion’s normal food service providers have supplied biodegradable plates, napkins, and utensils for a few years now, and fortunately, this year, the beverage providers were also able to bring biodegradable cups, completing our quest for the biodegradable reunion event. The only trash generated during the Friday meals were ice cream wrappers from the infamous Byrne Dairy Chipwiches and hand-wipes used during the evening BBQ.

To coordinate the effort for a near Zero Landfill Reunion and to educate alums of our efforts, the Sustainability Office had dedicated student volunteers (pictured below) stationed at all bin areas during Friday’s meal times. These volunteers helped alums with what items were recyclable and what items were biodegradable (On your own, you can differentiate between these two by looking for either a leaf symbol or a normal recycling symbol). You can create your own compost pile of food scraps by following the instructions on http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/how-compost. On campus, the Colgate Community Garden also runs a compost program that community members can take part in.

We learned from this event and hope to make next year’s reunion even greener! We’d like to thank our volunteer team of students for their time, energy, and passion for this green event.



  1. http://www.ecoproducts.com/compost.html

Applications now open for the 2016-2017 Green Raider Internship Program

By Sustainability Office on June 15, 2016
Our recently graduated Green Raider interns.

Our recently graduated Green Raider interns

The Sustainability Office is pleased to announce positions for qualified students to implement and manage Colgate’s peer sustainability program. This is an exciting opportunity for Colgate students to get hands-on experience putting sustainability and green living practices into action.

Qualified interns will work up to 12 hours per week, during both fall (2016) and spring (2017) semesters. Official start date is August 22, 2016. Orientation is mandatory and will begin the morning of August 22nd.  Weekly work schedule is flexible, however, we will have mandatory team meetings once every week.


The Green Raiders will model and promote environmentally responsible behavior in on-campus residence halls by inspiring and educating their peers using proven community-based social marketing skills (no prior knowledge necessary). The Sustainability Office will hire enthusiastic, self-motivated, over-achieving students who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability.  The mission of the Green Raider Program is to help lower Colgate’s ecological footprint, reduce energy costs, and increase student understanding of environmental issues that will have lifetime benefits. More specifically, Green Raiders will:

  • Promote green living practices in each of the residence halls and the larger campus

  • Be an accessible resource to students on campus with any questions they may have about sustainable living

  • Promote the Green Living Program through the use of blogging, social media, email, and other outlets

  • Plan and execute high-profile campus events that engage and educate students with green living practices

  • Create materials and behavior change programs that inspire and influence first-year residents to practice environmental stewardship


FLEXIBILITY AND OPENNESS TO CHANGE. Successful Green Raiders will be individuals who think critically, are problem solvers, can adapt to change, and who can turn a challenge into an opportunity.

TEAM PLAYER. Be a team player and take advantage of peer-to-peer education, learning the best practices from other Colgate Green Raiders. Successful Green Raiders will bring their own “flair” and innovative ideas to the program, but also know how and when to conform to the better judgment of the team as a whole.

BE A MODEL FOR SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOR. Green Raiders are expected to practice what they preach and model sustainable living by recycling, practicing energy efficiency and water conservation, using alternative transportation, and practice other sustainable living strategies.


  • Solid interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively and respectfully in a collaborative, culturally diverse work environment

  • Detail-oriented and possessing the ability to accomplish results in designated time frames

  • Being comfortable working in a fast moving/changing environment and having the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously

  • Having the ability to effectively motivate community members to action

  • Possessing strong organizational skills

  • Having very good written and public presentation skills

  • Being computer literate and proficient in the use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other office applications

  • Proficiency with Google Apps (Drive, Calendar, etc.)

  • Having the ability to maintain a productive and healthy work/life balance

  • Knowledge of design and publicity, as well as associated design programs is helpful

  • Experience using social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, is helpful

The Office of Sustainability 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.


  • Updated Résumé

  • One-page cover letter explaining why you are interested in becoming a Colgate Green Raider and why you believe you will be a valuable addition to our team

  • Submit your application through the portal or via email (sdickinson@colgate.edu) by no later than 5:00pm, Friday, July 8, 2016. Successful applicants are expected to begin work on August 22, 2016. Daily work schedule is flexible and contingent on student class schedules, current projects, and scheduled meetings.

  • In order to have the most cohesive team possible, being on campus for the entirety of the academic year is preferred. However, with some current team members going abroad, there may be some flexibility in hiring new Green Raiders who are going abroad.

Contact Steve Dickinson (phone 315.228.6360; email sdickinson@colgate.edu) for additional information or follow-up questions.

Work Parties are the Best Parties

By Sustainability Office on June 14, 2016

The first work party of the season was a success! This past Tuesday, so many people came out to garden and got right down to work. Students filled our melon patch with watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and winter squash; we can’t wait to watch them grow through the weeks. Others worked on mulching rows of tomatoes with newspaper and straw to help prevent the spread of weeds and pests. Tires donated from NextDoor Hamilton were beautifully spray painted to be used as decorative planters. During a 10 minute downpour students stayed dry and warm by painting rocks for our flower garden underneath the porch. After all the hard work, students enjoyed a lovely meal of slices, freshly picked salad greens, guacamole, and brownies! The garden looked happy and bright and we can’t wait to share all the future progress.


We would also like to say a special congratulations to Good Nature Brewery who celebrated their groundbreaking on Tuesday! GNB will be expanding their business by building a brewery, tap room, beer garden, and hop farm surrounding our garden plot. The event was full of friends, family, professionals, and some delicious GNB beer. Construction should start within the week and continue throughout the year. The relationship between the garden and GNB is one we are eagerly excited to grow in the future.


And with that, the garden is now completely planted! We expect to have our first farm stand this Tuesday, the 14th from 5:30-6:30pm. We will be located on Broad Street, right by the Gamma Phi “Little Blue” house. Our first haul of the season will include some lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, and herbs! Be sure to come by and take some veggies home for fresh cookin’.


Spring 2016 Green Thumbs Work Party

By Sustainability Office on June 13, 2016

The rain held off long enough for the first official work party of the 2016 Colgate Community Garden season on May 4.  About 15 people came to check off a list of garden tasks and bid farewell to some of the Class of 2016.

The list of tasks included: planting potatoes, planting seeds in the greenhouse, planting pansies in the vertical palette garden, and laying down mulch in the walkways around the community beds. The group made quick work of the tasks and enjoyed some tasty treats from Hamilton Eatery afterwards.

Before the event ended, several seniors who had a role in the garden over the past years were honored: Brett Christensen, Alex Schaff, Quincy Pierce, Grace Littlefield, and Renee Berger.  Their hard work and dedication to the garden over the past several years has allowed the garden to grow and continue to find success.  We wish them the best as they continue on their journey outside of Colgate!

gt2-min (1)

Colgate Community Garden Summer Updates

By Sustainability Office on June 1, 2016

The Colgate Community Garden is up and running for the 2016 season! Over the past two weeks, we’ve been getting busy at the Garden to make sure that it is in tip-top shape for the huge plans we have for the summer months ahead. We are so excited to share with you all that is happening here!


As the last frost date passed last week, we are busy planting away our tender and very tender veggies! In the ground so far we have potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas, turnips, carrots, beets, beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes, oh my! We have Sam Stradling of the Hamilton Food Cupboard to thank for starting to grow so many of our plants. In the next few weeks we should start seeing some produce and by the end of June we hope to be selling that produce at our Farm Stand! Until then we will be passing our time weeding away…

Many of our Community Plot Members have started planting in their raised beds and we are seeing some promising results! Pictured is one member’s’ beautiful grid design with some sprouting lettuce and arugula. Also pictured are our potato towers. Layered with dirt and potatoes and lined with hay, these vertical gardens are easy to set-up, maintain, and harvest!



Additionally, we are eagerly anticipating the groundbreaking for Good Nature Brewery’s new brewery and hops farm next door! To make way for their building and operations we have relocated our shed and are creating a new entrance on what is now the back-end of the Garden. Construction should begin within the next few weeks and we are excited to see the progress!



As we pull weed after weed in the Garden, we can’t help but think how wonderful it would be to have some more hands! We would love for volunteers to come help with planting, prepping, watering, and harvesting (or just for a tour!) during our Open Hours, every Tuesday from 12-2pm and Thursdays from 4:30-6:30pm. Our first work party is also coming up on June 7th from 5-7pm; food and drinks will be provided for helping hands. We cannot wait to see you all, whether it be gardening, or munching on veggies at the Farm Stand. Happy planting!


Signed, Kaitlin and Anika (Pictured, feeling the #heat in the Garden)


Green Thumbs Hosts 13 Days of Green Event

By Sustainability Office on May 11, 2016
Student and community volunteers help build a new raised bed at the Colgate Community Garden.

Student and community volunteers help build a new raised bed at the Colgate Community Garden.

A group of students gathered at the Colgate Community Garden on April 21st to complete some tasks as part of the 13 Days of Green campus-wide events. More than 10 people came, ready to work, and ready to eat some delicious food after finishing the work.

The main task planned was building another raised garden bed inside the adjacent greenhouse.  The students used their carpentry prowess (and some pretty snazzy new power tools) to put together a 2’ x 20’ x 12” raised bed made of local larch lumber.  They then muscled some topsoil into the greenhouse to fill the bed so it will be ready to plant in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, other people added compost and manure to existing raised beds in the greenhouse to help add fertility to the soil.  Outside the greenhouse, 4 old car tires were spray painted with various designs.  These tires will later become planters for flowers!

When all was said and done, snacks were eaten, water was consumed, and good company was shared.  The crew did a great job on the first official group work day of the 2016 garden season.  Many thanks to all who participated!

Spring Party Waste

By Sustainability Office on April 15, 2016

By Sara Reese ’16 (Environmental biology major from Richmond, VA)

SPW front lineThe annual, and much anticipated, Spring Party Weekend (SPW) is a mere week away. While the weekend is known for its live music, dancing and free food, there are a number of sustainability concerns that stem from the event-filled weekend. One of the main concerns: the great amount of waste.
The waste produced from SPW takes many forms – leftover food, plastic water bottles and beer cans. At a university with such an aggressive climate neutrality commitment, you would expect SPW to be organized to include a sustainable way to address the amount of waste produced at events. There seem to be obvious ways to address these problems with enough forethought and planning.
Leftover food from each event can be arranged to be picked up or dropped off at the Hamilton Food Cupboard. The Hamilton Food Cupboard serves upwards of 200 families in the Hamilton and Madison school districts each month, with leftover food from events playing a role in feeding so many families. Because each SPW event with food is known in advance of the weekend, as well as how much food and the anticipated number of attendees, arrangements for food pickup after each event can easily be made with the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Rather than simply throwing leftover food away and having it go to the landfill, food can be donated to give back to the larger community. The same can also apply to extra plastic water bottles.

Plastic water bottles are everywhere during SPW, including on the floors at events, on lawns and in trash cans rather than in recycling bins. Realistically, we cannot expect every student to find a recycling bin and put their empty water bottle in it, but there are a number of actions that can be taken to make recycling at SPW more prominent. First, recycling bins are often hard to come by. I can remember looking around the field house at one year’s main concert event and seeing trashcans and no recycling bins. With no recycling bins, students don’t even have the option to make sure their plastic water bottles don’t end up in the landfill. Buildings and Grounds and SPW volunteers could play a large role in the recycling of plastic water bottles at SPW events by ensuring that recycling bins are present and that plastic water bottles get picked up off of the ground and placed into recycling bins, rather than the trash can.

The topic of beer cans, and kegs as a sustainable alternative, has been a longstanding discussion at Colgate, and SPW is always a time that highlights how much beer can waste is produced. While aluminum beer cans are recyclable, getting the cans into recycling bins after large events presents a huge obstacle, just as with plastic water bottles. According to New Belgium Brewing Company’s sustainability page, kegs are reused an average of 29 times and can be completely recycled at the end of their life, as they are made of stainless steel. The life of a keg can be as long as 20 years. However, it is important to note that kegs would still require a cup to drink out of, likely Solo® cups. This means that students would still be accountable for getting recyclable solo cups into recycling bins, rather than trash cans. For me, there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut answer as to whether beer cans or kegs would be more sustainable on a college campus. Because kegs are recyclable and the cases that beer cans come in are not, kegs may have a leg up, despite the prevalent use of Solo® cups to drink out of them.

In light of Colgate’s climate neutrality goal of 2019, SPW should be viewed as an opportunity to introduce sustainability into Colgate parties and major events. Planning in advance can help reduce the amount of food and plastic water bottle waste from SPW, and continuing the discussion of whether kegs should be banned is important to understanding how drinking and the SPW tradition at Colgate can be aligned with Colgate’s sustainability commitments.

(This article was originally published in the Maroon News)

Why your Mondays should be meatless

By Sustainability Office on March 2, 2016

By Seamus Crowley ’18 (Geology and Environmental Geography Major from Aspen, CO)

Chances are that you have probably heard the phrase “Meatless Monday” from a friend or from someone tabling in dining areas across campus. It sounds simple: don’t eat meat on Mondays. But why are you being encouraged to avoid meat one alliterative day a week? The fact is that the advocacy for going meat-free weekly has much wider implications than just your diet for that day.

Meat, as it is produced in extraordinary mass quantities today, has some pretty significant adverse effects on the environment. The business of maintaining livestock and producing meat for consumers all around the world has become an immense operation that has been continually increasing in size over time. In fact, 30% of the world’s land is devoted to supporting livestock such as cows, chickens, and pigs1. That has a tremendous negative impact on the Earth’s environment, as nearly 300 million tons of meat are produced each year globally1. On such a grand scale of production, the industry around meat creates two major impacts that directly harm our natural environment, among a slew of many others that are more localized in nature.

First, livestock in such large numbers create a significant portion of the greenhouse gases that are currently driving detrimental climate change across the globe. Livestock is currently responsible for 18% of the total emitted greenhouse gases across the planet, including 37% of the world’s Methane2. The high levels of Methane are additionally troubling due to the fact that Methane is 28-36 times more potent as a warming gas than Carbon Dioxide3. Meat production as a whole is enormously injurious to the stability of the climate.

Secondly, the production of meat uses exorbitant amounts of our planet’s available water resources. The production of any food requires a significant amount of water before it can be consumed; but meat, in all of its varieties, puts a particularly large strain on water resources. Cattle require drinking water and the feed grown for them requires irrigation water, resulting in 1,840 gallons of water being used to produce a single pound of beef for consumption4. While meats such as chicken necessitate less water than beef to create the same amount, it is still takes nearly 13 times more water than is needed to make 1 pound of vegetables5. So while water resources are already under duress across the world, meat production is further sinking the Earth’s population into a water crisis.

So next time it’s Monday and you’re wondering what to grab for lunch, consider skipping the meat for the day, or longer if you feel so inclined. By opting for the plate of veggies instead of the hamburger, you can take one small, but important step toward helping the environment, by protecting our climate and conserving water resources.

  1. http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
  2. https://woods.stanford.edu/environmental-venture-projects/consequences-increased-global-meat-consumption-global-environment
  3. http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gwps.html
  4. http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/why-meatless/

Supreme Court Pauses the Clean Power Plan as President Obama Increases Commitment to Clean and Sustainable Energy

By Sustainability Office on February 24, 2016

power plantsBy MaryKathryn McCann ’18 (Molecular Biology and Environmental Economics Major from Chester, NY)

As the 2016 Presidential race is heating up in the primaries, President Obama is still trying to pass legislation in support of his climate change agenda. The Clean Power Plan is at the center of this agenda and recently the Supreme Court has voted to put the plan on hold. The Clean Power Plan was announced in August 2015 and aims to decrease the carbon dioxide and pollution emitted from coal-burning power plants, the number one contributor of heat-trapping carbon gas.[1]

The plan is looking to restructure the energy program in the United States by moving states and territories to more sustainable and cleaner sources of energy. The plan sets a deadline of 2018 for each state to have an individual plan to cut emissions and 2022 as the first “real reduction.”[2] This past week, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to put a stay on the plan due to many states arguing that the EPA might be overstepping their designated power. The EPA has stated they are within their legal right to uphold and carry out this legislation and that, after a closer look, the Supreme Court will uphold the plan. The Court has previously upheld the rules of the Clean Air Act, so there is precedent for the passing of this type of legislation. The case will appear in appeals court in late June.[3]

While this battle is being fought in the courts, there is also a battle raging to become the next president. With the election in just a few short months, it is critical to investigate what each candidate is saying about environmental issues. As a new President comes into power, one hopes that President Obama’s successor places environmental issues and sustainable practices on the national agenda. However, it seems some of the candidates will not be as willing to make the environment a priority. I urge anyone who is eligible to vote in this upcoming election to become educated on the stances candidates take towards the environment. The next President has at least four years in the Oval Office, so making the most informed choice on whom to vote for is of the utmost importance.

On April 5, students in Environmental Studies (ENST 390) taught by Professor Kraly are traveling to Albany to speak to New York State regulators about how they are pursuing low-carbon and sustainability goals associated with COP 21 and the Clean Power Plan.  In addition, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting the Green Summit on April 12 in Golden Auditorium starting at 4:30 p.m. to discuss climate change issues broadly and in our local community.  You will not want to miss this panel discussion moderated by Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Constance Harsh.

[1] http://www.npr.org/2016/02/10/466250564/high-court-temporarily-blocks-enforcement-of-carbon-emissions-rules

[2] http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-overview-clean-power-plan

[3] http://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-puts-epa-carbon-rule-on-hold-during-litigation-1455061135