Home - Distinctly Colgate - Sustainability - Sustainability News
Sustainability News

Latest Posts

Students and Staff Present at AASHE Conference

By Sustainability Office on October 19, 2018

From October 2-4, three Colgate students and three staff members attended the AASHE Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AASHE, or the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, hosts an annual conference attended by nearly two thousand people. The theme of this year’s conference was “Global Goals: Rising to the Challenge.” The conference gave attendees the opportunity to present their efforts to promote sustainability at Colgate as well as learn about successful projects at other universities.

“People come to AASHE to make change-inspiring strategies accessible to all. I witnessed people actively solving how to scale new systems within different geographical and cultural contexts. It was truly a privilege to learn from and alongside such innovative sustainable thinkers,” said UCan founder Christina Weiler ‘21.

(L to R) Christina, Isabel, and Maddie at AASHE.

Thanks to funding support from CLTR, students were able to attend AASHE and view presentations, network with sustainability professionals, and present the work they have done at Colgate. Isabel Dove ‘19, an intern with the Office of Sustainability and founder of the Beekeeping Club, was a panelist on a presentation entitled “Pollinator Friendly Campuses: Strategies to Help You Get Your Buzz on.” Isabel discussed student involvement with campus apiaries and gave advice for establishing apiaries at other institutions. Intern Madison Smith ‘19 and Christina Weiler ‘21 both served as panelists on “Sustainability-themed Living and Learning Communities,” in which they discussed Colgate’s innovative S-Rep program. Christina also presented a poster on her social recycling system UCan.

Sustainability and Environmental Studies Program Coordinator Pamela Gramlich co-lead the workshop “Develop Your Toolkit for Sustainability Communications.” Pamela and Kat Pritts, a designer for the Communications Office, both contributed to the presentation “Communication Strategies to Reach Beyond the Choir.” Finally, Director of Sustainability John Pumilio served as a panelist on the presentation “Approaches to Carbon Offset Procurement.” These workshops and presentations were an effective way of communicating Colgate’s leading-edge approaches to promoting sustainability on campus.

The AASHE conference served as a professional development opportunity for students and energized interns to continue thinking of ways to engage the Colgate community in sustainable lifestyles. Madison reflects, “While it was great to present at AASHE, gain experience in public speaking, and collaborate with people from other schools, the most valuable part of the conference was listening to the ideas of my peers and learning through the work that they are doing.”


Water Refill Stations Promote Environmental and Personal Wellness

By Sustainability Office on October 12, 2018
By: Jaanvi Sachdeva ’21

Colgate University is currently home to 16 state-of-the-art Elkay water refill stations, and is on the path to installing more. This cleaner, more energy-efficient water experience is something that students have come to understand as part of their lives, but they have not been around forever.

The University has installed these water refill stations in several batches, with each new addition following student backing and request. In 2015, a refill station was installed in the renovated Cooley Science Library, and in 2016, four were installed on the first, third, fourth, and fifth floors of Case-Geyer. Many of these projects have been the direct result of SGA proposals that highlighted the essential role the stations could play in encouraging sustainable behavior and showcasing sustainable living at Colgate. Bryan Complex just received an Elkay water refill station thanks to a successful SGA proposal, and 113 Broad is expected to receive one before 2019.

Students have expressed that these stations significantly benefit their lives, as they promote both sustainable behaviors and regular hydration. “I think I drink much more water here [at Colgate] than I do at home, because every time I walk by one of those stations, I am reminded to fill my bottle up. At home if I’m thirsty, I just grab a plastic water bottle but I regularly use a reusable bottle while here,” said Jared Collins ’21.

The Elkay water refill stations leads to a wider acceptance and normalization of reusable water bottle use. This is important because last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38, leading to significant environmental harms. The Elkay water refill stations not only save money spent on disposable water bottles and add convenience to the lives of students, but also decrease waste associated with single-use bottle production and disposal.

While more widespread use of reusable water bottles by Colgate students has been encouraged by the Elkay water refill stations, there is still room for improvement. Perhaps the largest obstacle to reducing plastic waste is that many students do not feel comfortable drinking the tap water here and consequently opt to drink bottled water. One student reports, “It’s convenient to keep plastic bottles in the room, because I’m unsure about the quality of the tap water. It doesn’t taste as good as water from other places.” While Colgate’s tap water is safe to drink and is regularly tested for safety, the Elkay stations do provide students with another, better-tasting option to refill their bottles.

While Colgate is making great strides to encourage healthy, sustainable lifestyles and reduce waste, we can still do much more! If students are passionate about these issues, some outlets for these concerns might be talking to Commons leaders, seeking funding from various student groups, or simply putting their concerns in the public eye where decision-makers are aware of them. We encourage student participation in this conversation for greater sustainable living!

The locations of the current Elkay refill stations at Colgate can be viewed here:

 

https://myatlascms.com/map/?id=148&sbh=1&tbh=1#!ct/13699,25166?ce/19941?mc/42.81685778263024,-75.53754508495332?z/17


Meet the Interns!

By Sustainability Office on October 1, 2018

Skylar Jeveli ‘21

Skylar is a sophomore from Lafayette, California majoring in Environmental Studies. Her hobbies include sailing, skiing, travel, photography, hiking, cooking, and volunteering. This year, she is excited to help promote all of our incredible sustainability events and encourage students to attend and learn about Colgate’s sustainability initiatives. She is also looking forward to working on the state of New York sustainability report for Colgate.

 

Maggie Dunn ‘19

Maggie is a senior from Greensboro, North Carolina majoring in Geography. Maggie enjoys baking, reading, and learning about new topics of sustainability. She is studying to become a LEED Green Associate and can’t wait to help implement the lessons she learns on Colgate’s campus!

 

 

Jacob Watts ‘21

Jacob is a sophomore Biology major from North East, Pennsylvania. His hobbies include sailing, hiking, white water kayaking, rock climbing, and tree identification. During his first year as an intern, Jacob is excited to teach the PE passport classes about sustainability to anyone who is excited to learn!

 

 

Adam Zaharoni ‘21

Adam is a sophomore from Yardley, Pennsylvania double majoring in Geology and Classical Studies. His hobbies include debate, a Capella, and paddle boarding. Adam worked as an intern over the summer and is excited to mentor the S-Reps this semester.

 

 

Chaveli Miles ‘19

Chaveli is a senior from Shelburne, Vermont double majoring in Geography and Environmental Studies. Chaveli loves to listen to music, stream podcasts, and do just about anything if she’s spending time with friends. This year, she’s excited to work with different campus organizations and student groups.

 

 

Madison Smith ‘19

Maddie is a senior from Goffstown, New Hampshire double majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, reading, and cooking. Maddie spent all of last year abroad and is happy to be back in the Office of Sustainability, where she will be  getting first-year students involved with sustainability on campus through the S-Reps program!

 

Caroline Barrett ‘20

Caroline is a junior from Vestal, New York majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Psychology. She enjoys hiking, soccer, reading, live music, restaurants, yoga, running, traveling, coffee. This semester, Caroline looks forward to working with the other interns to organize and plan programs and events!

 

 

Samantha Lovely ‘20

Samantha is a junior from Jupiter, Florida double majoring in Geography and Environmental Studies. Her hobbies include horseback riding, playing French horn, and paddle boarding. She is looking forward to working with the S-Reps to get first years involved with sustainability at Colgate!

 

 

Matthew Froelich ‘19

Matt is a senior from Seminole, Oklahoma majoring in Geography and minoring in Economics. His hobbies include paddle boarding and canoeing. Matt can’t wait to help complete our Greenhouse Gas Inventory this year!

 

 

Jaanvi Sachdeva ‘21

Jaanvi is a sophomore from Mamaroneck, New York and is double majoring in Environmental Studies and International Relations. She enjoys reading, baking, and watching Netflix. During her first year as an intern, Jaanvi is excited to help organize and coordinate the NYCSHE Conference that Colgate is hosting in November.

 

 

Ethan Reiser ‘21

Ethan is a sophomore from Greenville, Pennsylvania double majoring in Environmental Studies and History. He enjoys playing basketball, frisbee, guitar, and doing anything outdoors. This year, Ethan is looking forward to eliminating needless waste on campus.

 

 

Luvna Dhawka ‘20

Luvna is a Molecular Biology major joining us from Mahebourg, Mauritius. She enjoys embroidery, reading, trying different cuisines, and making flower presses. More recently, Luvna has become interested in identifying scientific names of plants. She spent this summer as an intern and is excited to keep working on making the Office of Sustainability and its accomplishments more visible to students through social media, thereby encouraging the Colgate population to become more conscious of sustainability.

 

Isabel Dove ‘19

Isabel is a senior from Collegeville, Pennsylvania majoring in Geology and minoring in Geography. When she’s not working in the lab, Isabel spends her time hiking, knitting, reading, and running Colgate’s Beekeeping Club. She is looking forward to working on this year’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and helping Colgate reach carbon neutrality in 2019.

 


Application now open for the 2018-2019 Colgate Community Garden Internship!

By Sustainability Office on July 24, 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce that applications for the 2018-2019 Community Garden Internship are now open! Founded in 2010 from the efforts of a group of ENST 480 students and the Class gift of 2010, the Colgate Community Garden is now a half-acre vegetable and herb garden. We are looking for qualified students to help our Garden Manager, Beth Roy, not only manage and promote the garden, but also coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties.

Garden interns should expect having to work in physically demanding, yet rewarding, conditions such as exposure to the outdoors and having to perform physically taxing activities. The internship has enabled past student garden interns to gain life-long skills and knowledge in harvesting and garden maintenance, event organization, and volunteer workers supervision.

“I’m very excited to see plants I planted grow and change through the course of the summer,” said Summer Cardarelli’21, one of the Summer 2018 Community garden interns, when she started working at the garden. Andrew Lapp’20, another Summer 2018 garden intern stated that  assembling a caterpillar tunnel where they planted eggplants and tomatoes was a very enjoyable experience, and he thinks being a garden intern is ideal if you enjoy the outdoors.

The internship program involves a paid position starting around August 28th 2018 until early November 2018. Students of all class years and majors are welcome to apply. The expected work hours are 6 hours weekly. To apply, applicants should email their resume and a one-page cover letter (required), to Beth Roy, the Garden Manager at eroy@colgate.edu, and fill out the application on the Colgate Portal.

The application deadline is Friday, August 10th.

See the full job description below:

INTERNSHIP OVERVIEW AND PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Interns will:

  • Work with garden manager (Beth Roy) to plan and manage the garden during the fall season. Specific tasks may 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 the work parties.
  • Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2018 growing season.
  • Prepare for and help run a weekly Farm Stand to sell produce from the garden.

REQUIRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

  • 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

For more information, visit the Colgate Portal or contact Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu), the Colgate Community Garden Manager and Consultant, or John Pumilio (jpumilio@colgate.edu) the Director of Sustainability.


Educational Agriculture at Morrisville State College

By Sustainability Office on July 13, 2018
-Summer Cardarelli ’21 and Andrew Lapp ’20

At the end of May, the garden team along with the sustainability interns took a tour of the Morrisville State College CalfAgriculture department in order to learn more about the methods used by a more agriculture centered school. We had the opportunity to visit Morrisville’s Dairy Complex, its greenhouse, its aquaponics buildings, as well as the Spader Horticulture Complex. On this tour, we were able to learn a lot about the techniques used by the college to maintain such a successful agriculture department. Much of what we observed, especially in their greenhouse, could be relevant to our own garden.

The Dairy Complex at Morrisville State College is home to 220 cows, each of which are milked three times a day. As each cow can eat around 120 to 150 pounds of food a day, 100 pounds of milk per cow can be expected daily. The goal is for each cow to have at least one calf every year so that they can keep producing milk. If a cow is not producing milk, it is sold for beef. Male calves are also sold immediately, as they cannot produce milk.  There is now new technology that allows farmers to sex the bull’s sperm to nearly guarantee either a male or female calf.

Dairy cows eatingThough the Dairy Complex aims to operate as similarly to a regular dairy farm as possible, it is inhibited by the increased cost of running the facility versus a traditional complex. As the Morrisville Dairy Complex focuses on providing an educational experience for its students, it does not generate a large profit, making it more expensive to operate. The cost aside, the Dairy Complex is able to offer its students enriching hands-on experiences in and out of the classroom, including lessons on milking and breeding the cattle. The next step for the complex depends upon the approval of a grant which would allow the introduction of robotic milking machines to the facility, increasing the efficiency of the milking process with the most modern technology.

Next, we visited the high tunnel greenhouse at Morrisville, which produces many varieties of produce to be sent to the Hopscampus’s two dining halls or donated to the community. Crops such as garlic, onion, hops, watermelon, and many types of flowers are also grown in the area outside of the greenhouse. An electric fence prevents deer from reaching the crops, and plastic is placed around each of the plants to prevent bugs, weeds and other pests from taking over the area. The goal of the greenhouse is to be able to profit from the crops grown there, though the value of educational experiences for their students and interns is of the utmost importance.

Morrisville’s aquaponics greenhouses combine the practices of hydroponics and aquaculture to fertilize plants grown using hydroponics with the waste of fish which are farmed with aquaculture. The Aquaponics Closed Brook TroutEnvironment Greenhouse is one of the central buildings in the aquaponics complex, containing paddlefish and different crops of vegetables and herbs to be grown. Water from the paddlefish tanks is transported to filtration systems, which remove uneaten food, solid fish waste, ammonia and other particulate matter from the water before sending it back to the fish and plants. The nitrates present in the water serve as a fertilizer for the plants, creating a closed and sustainable system of agriculture.

To breed Brook Trout, one of many breeds of fish used in the aquaponics complex, Morrisville students get the hands-on experience of using anesthesia on the fish, stripping them of eggs and sperm, then combining the two in a bowl which they add water to in order to activate the sperm. They then incubate the eggs until they are ready to hatch. This method of breeding the trout assures a higher efficiency than leaving the fish to breed on their own.

The Spader Horticulture Complex contains all of the classes a horticulture student will take in a day. It is important to their curriculum that the courses are all in close proximity so that the lesson may be fortified with hands-on experience; for Cactiexample, something covered in the lecture hall can be further instructed in one of the design studios. Horticulture students are all required to take design courses, including a course on floral arrangements. The complex is home to many varieties of flowers and plants, including types that are not normally found in Upstate New York, such as cacti and citrus plants. The experiences of horticulture students at Morrisville State College comes together holistically in a hands on project, such as designing a yard or patio to be built for someone in the community.

The lessons, strategies and techniques we learned during our visit to Morrisville’s agricultural facilities are relevant to our own garden at Colgate University. Our visit to the greenhouse at Morrisville, for example, Caterpillar tunnel at the Colgate Community Gardenhelps us brainstorm solutions for different constructs we could build at the Community Garden for the cultivation of plants. Though our own greenhouse unfortunately collapsed due to a winter storm, our newly constructed caterpillar tunnel serves as a temporary solution and allows us to grow tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and basil in a hot, covered environment. The future of a greenhouse in the Colgate Community Garden, however, could be inspired by the innovations we witnessed at Morrisville State College. This summer, we also hope to add a hydroponic system to the garden, so our tour of the Aquaponics Closed Environment Greenhouse was a valuable experience. Though aquaponics makes use of aquaculture in addition to a hydroponic system, some of the same lessons translate over to us in preparation for our own future hydroponics system. Despite Morrisville’s agriculture department having facilities on a much larger scale than we have here at Colgate, the observations we made during our visit are still of great use to us as we pursue both new additions and our usual routine back at the Community Garden.

 


Overwhelmed by Plastic: Participating in Plastic Free July 2018

By Sustainability Office on July 12, 2018
-Marielle Scheffers ’19

Plastic is ubiquitous. In saying this, I am not making some earth-shattering statement.  Even if you spend very little time thinking about or engaging with sustainability you are most likely aware of the very present problem of plastic in our environment. Notoriously undegradable, plastic has been found everywhere from the summit of Mt. Everest to the depths of the ocean and everywhere in between. Plastic is not just problematic after it is used but also during its creation. A major component in creating plastic is crude oil which is heated and refined to separate out the specific molecules required to form plastic. As a response to the numerous problems associated with plastic consumption, Plastic Free July was organized. Plastic Free July promotes the elimination of all plastic use, but especially focuses upon one-time use plastic. As a part of Plastic Free July, I decided that for a single weekend I would document all my plastic use, from one time use plastic like plastic bags to multiple use plastic like my reusable water bottle that I have owned since my first year of highschool, to better understand to what extent plastic is a part of my daily life.

As I began to embark upon the weekend, I started to think about what areas of my life utilize a large volume of plastic. The first thing that came to mind was each and every bathing and self-care product I use is neatly packaged in a shiny, brightly colored plastic packaging. The second was the plastic produce bags used at the grocery store to purchase vegetables, my refrigerator is full of them. Those two things seemed to be the major offenders, but other than that, I approached the weekend believing that while there were parts of my life that plastic had a large presence, plastic use was not incorporated in every aspect of my life. I was wrong, very wrong.

After documenting and examining my weekend plastic use, I will detail the main results here. I will specifically focus on Saturday morning because of the similarity between my plastic use on Saturday morning to the rest of the weekend.

Saturday

7:45am

  • I wake up and put my hair up with a plastic hair tie that I got as a present. Yes, a plastic hair tie, this weekend could have started on a better foot.
  • Enter self-cleaning routine, as a suspected earlier everything is packaged in plastic. Bathing is composed of utilizing items that are so regularly used that we hardly notice them anymore: shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, lotion, and list goes on. If you wear makeup, this list is even longer. These items vary in their ability to be recycled. Most toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and makeup packaging are composed of one-time use packaging. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles are usually recyclable; however, even if they are recyclable, fossil fuels are still required to create the packaging and then again later to create the energy to recycle the product. It is better to not use the plastic at all.
  • I get dressed, putting on t-shirt and leggings. The t-shirt is 100% cotton, but the leggings are polyester. Polyester is really just plastic in disguise, so like most plastic it is composed of petroleum.

8:50am

  • Breakfast at Flour and Salt, where I need a spoon to eat my oatmeal. I grab on of the plastic spoons they provide. Well, it is just one more piece of plastic to add to my exponentially growing list. The spoon does state that it is compostable plastic. Compostable plastic is a newer type of plastic that is often composed of a renewable material. The most popular material is corn. Compostable plastics are capable of degrading in a commercial composting facility where the temperatures can get quite high.

9:30am

  • I buy vegetables from the farmers market, which are given to me in a plastic produce bag. I thank the farmer and then place the bag in my reusable shopping bag and laugh at the paradox that is placing a plastic bag inside a reusable bag.

1:00pm

  • As I open my fridge to make lunch, I notice the volume of plastic in my fridge. It is very possible that there is more plastic in my fridge and pantry, than there is food. Vegetables are stored in plastic produce bags, condiments like ketchup and peanut butter are in plastic bottles, and leftovers are stored in plastic tupperware. Because of this, every meal I prepare for myself throughout the course of the weekend utilizes a large amount of plastic. Even my cutting board is made of plastic.  

Before this weekend I thought I had a general grasp on how much plastic one uses daily, but really, I had grossly underestimated what my plastic use is. There is not an aspect of my life that does not include plastic consumption. I acknowledge that every person’s plastic use varies, so the plastic use I have detailed here will not be identical to your own. However, I hope that through reflecting upon my own plastic use, it will encourage you to examine your own.

There are a number of ways one can decrease their plastic use. An important place to start is by focusing on single-use plastic. In my own case, as a result of this weekend, I replaced the plastic produce bags that hold my vegetables with reusable bags and replaced my toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush. Other easy options are to start using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags, to use a bar of soap instead of a bottle, and to stop using plastic water bottles in favor of a water filter and a reusable water bottle. Bonus points if your reusable water bottle is metal or glass. While it is easy to get excited about eliminating all plastic in your life and begin replacing every plastic item that you own with a nonplastic substitute, this is not necessarily sustainable either. For example, in the case of the plastic tupperware I use, it is multi-use plastic. I already own the tupperware. Recycling it and replacing it with a nonplastic option, while decreasing the amount of plastic I use in my daily life, will only increase the amount of unnecessary waste I produce. For multi-use plastic items, it is better wait until the end of their lifespans to replace them with a non-plastic alternative. Finally, when analyzing your daily plastic use remember the 4Rs. First, refuse to use any unnecessary plastic, then try reducing your use of plastics that are more difficult to refuse, after reuse any other remaining plastic, and finally as a last resort recycle it.

 


Applications now open for the 2018-2019 Sustainability Internship Program

By Sustainability Office on June 25, 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Office of Sustainability is now accepting applications for the 2018-2019
Sustainability “Green Raider” Internship program. As Colgate University approaches its Bicentennial, the Office of Sustainability is actively working to help the institution attain its 2019 Carbon Neutrality Goal with the help of “Green Raiders” who play an important role in promoting sustainable behavior across campus. This is an exciting opportunity to gain hands-on experience in learning and using community-based social marketing skills to inspire and educate the Colgate Community about sustainability and environmental issues in the hopes of reducing Colgate’s greenhouse gas footprint.

Interns are enthusiastic, self-motivated, high-achieving students who have demonstrated a commitment to the environment and sustainability. Interns will have the opportunity to develop events and programs throughout the year.

“Being a Green Raider since sophomore year has been one of my best experiences at Colgate. It’s fun, is great for professional development, and makes you feel like you’re making a real difference,” states Isabel Dove ’19 who is also the founder of the Colgate Beekeeping Club.

Students of all class years and majors are welcome to apply. The Office of Sustainability encourages students studying abroad in the fall or spring to apply, as well. The expected work hours are 6 to 10 hours weekly. To apply, applicants should email their resume and cover letter (required), to Pamela Gramlich, the Office of Sustainability Program Coordinator at pgramlich@colgate.edu. Applicants are also encouraged to send a letter of recommendation and a writing/work sample to support their application.

The application deadline is Tuesday, July 10th at 11:59pm.

See the full job description below:

INTERNSHIP OVERVIEW AND PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Interns will:

  • Promote sustainable living practices across campus
  • Be an accessible resource to students on campus with any questions they may have about sustainable living
  • Promote a culture of sustainability using blogging, social media, email, and other outlets
  • Plan and execute high-profile campus events that engage and educate students about sustainable behaviors
  • Carry out waste, water, and energy reduction projects
  • Manage P.E. programs focused on sustainability
  • Assist in the completion of Colgate’s annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory and State of Sustainability Report
  • Manage the long-standing Green Bikes Program
  • Work on various other tasks supporting sustainability at Colgate.

REQUIRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

  • Strong 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
  • Understanding of sustainability-related topics and issues
  • Able to work in a fast moving/changing environment and having the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Able to effectively motivate community members to action
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Excellent written and public presentation skills
  • Computer literacy and proficiency in the use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other office applications
  • Proficiency with Google Apps (Drive, Calendar, etc.)
  • Able to maintain a productive and healthy work/life balance
  • Knowledge of design and publicity, as well as associated design programs is helpful
  • Bike knowledge is helpful
  • Professional experience using social media networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, is helpful

For more information, visit the Colgate Portal or contact Pamela Gramlich  (pgramlich@colgate.edu).

 


Adam Zaharoni ’21 Visits Common Thread

By Sustainability Office on June 21, 2018

 

-Adam Zaharoni ’21

Food is a fundamental part of human life both biologically and socially.  Yet, despite its importance, many people are unaware of where their food really comes from. Last week, Colgate’s Community Garden interns and I got the chance to experience the work that goes into sustainable food production first hand at the local Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA), Common Thread.

Located only a few miles from Colgate, Common Thread’s mission “is to produce healthy food for our local community using sustainable growing methods, provide opportunities for people to connect with the land and their community, and contribute to larger efforts towards a just and sustainable food system”. So what exactly is a CSA?  A CSA creates a direct and strong bond between consumers and farmers, with members of the community becoming shareholders of the farm, thus funding it in exchange for weekly shares of the fresh produce. This unique relationship is designed to help build a stronger community and allows citizens to take direct responsibility for their local agriculture.

But what is it like to actually work on a farm? What goes into using these sustainable growing practices?  While I only worked there for a brief five hours last Friday, I can tell you confidently that it is a lot more than expected. Along with three other workers, I spent my time at Common Thread weeding a patch of cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. It took us five hours to finish weeding just these three plants, a mere fraction of the much larger fields of produce in Common Thread’s two plots. I can only imagine how much time and effort go into weeding the entirety of their land, not to mention the planting, harvesting, upkeep, and watering of the plants as well.   Not to mention that the work is not easy, but intensive and strenuous.

At the end of the morning as we were leaving, we stopped by the strawberry plants, and picked some straight from the plant to eat. Tasting those strawberries showed me that everything we had been doing and that Common Thread and farmers around the world do on a daily basis is worth it.  Fresh produce grown in sustainable ways tastes delicious and is worth all of the hard work that goes into growing it. Next time you are eating, try to remember that the food you have came from somewhere, maybe a farm like Common Thread, and the amount of effort that went into that food ending up on your plate.  And if you ever want to see the process for yourself go check out your local farm or visit Colgate’s very own Community Garden!

 


The 2018 Oak Awards

By Sustainability Office on May 3, 2018

– Cecilia Kane ’20

At the Green Summit on April 12, three individuals were recognized with Oak Awards for their contributions to sustainability in the Colgate community.

Sergei Domashenko, Coordinator of Government Documents, Maps, and Microforms and Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies, received the staff Oak Award for his efforts at Case-Geyer Library. A two-year member of the Sustainability Council, Domashenko helped form the Library Sustainability Group, which focuses on waste reduction, outreach, marketing, literacy, and education. While significant campus programming has been geared toward students, Domashenko recognized the need for staff education and literacy surrounding sustainability. One of the Library Sustainability Group’s most notable achievements has been its zero-waste all-staff meeting, which was successful due to staff members bringing their own beverage containers and having both recycling and compost bins available for any potential waste. Domashenko has also expressed his hope that the Library Sustainability Group might serve as a precedent for other buildings and departments on campus.

Chris Henke, Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, was awarded the faculty Oak Award for his work with the local government in the Village of Hamilton. As the Faculty Director of the Upstate Institute, he works to engage the Colgate and Hamilton communities in a reciprocal transfer of knowledge. In this position, he has helped to create the Hamilton Climate Preparedness Working Group, demonstrating the interconnectedness of local sustainability issues. Henke also teaches ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues, a project-based, interdisciplinary course that examines current environmental issues in the context of community-based learning. Many students’ projects ultimately reflect the philosophy of community interconnectedness that Henke himself has adopted.

Finally, Christina Weiler ’21 was presented the student Oak Award for her initiative with UCan, which she founded through the Thought into Action (TIA) entrepreneurial incubator. UCan is a beverage container recycling program that donates its proceeds to hunger and homeless outreach organizations in Utica. By integrating her concern for social justice into a recycling program, Weiler demonstrates how sustainability is an integrative discipline that reaches beyond the natural environment. In this way, UCan shows the value of waste management and aims both to help the environment and to spread awareness of social justice. Weiler hopes to extend UCan to other college campuses in the hope of reaching as many students and communities as possible. Weiler also serves as a first-year Sustainability Representative for the Ciccone Commons.

Congratulations to our Oak Award recipients, and thank you to those who attended the Green Summit!


Ask Me What’s in My Bag

By Sustainability Office on May 2, 2018

– Miranda Gilgore ‘18 and Revee Needham ‘18

With an increase in the amount of waste that Colgate has sent to the Madison County landfill (see below) in the past few years, two students wanted to raise awareness issue of waste. Miranda and Revee are interns at the Office of Sustainability who have been collaborating to tackle waste issues on campus. Together they have sorted trash for a waste audit and Miranda attended the PLAN Zero Waste Conference. Inspired by students at NYU and Tufts for their zero waste weeks, recruited 22 students and staff members to participate in Colgate’s first “Carry Your Trash” week. Participants were given a clear plastic bag to display their trash for the week of April 2nd-9th and the chance to win stainless steel straws and bamboo utensils.

We decided to make the week “Carry Your Trash” and not “Zero-Waste” because we recognized there were some privileged ideas surrounding zero waste. While it’s aspirational, and for some people, completely possible to keep all your trash for a year in a mason jar, it’s not always feasible. Going zero waste is a process that requires initial investments in reusable items and the time to create many other items. So, we decided to not have a zero waste week, but instead, encourage participants to live their lives as normally as possible in an effort to help them realize their role in waste production.

Due to health concerns, we didn’t recommend placing any food waste items in the bag and encouraged noting when this waste was produced whenever possible. Traditionally, a zero waste challenge involves composting any food or organic waste, but we were unable to do this.

Colgate. Colgate does have a compost pile at the Community Garden, but it is unmanaged during the winter.For support and ideas, we created a Groupme group with the the participants. Largely, we encouraged participants to do their best, as it wasn’t a competition, and to approach the week as “challenge by choice.”

From Revee’s perspective: I was inspired by watching numerous zero waste videos and by making some changes in my life before the week began. While I recognized the inherent privilege associated with living a zero waste lifestyle, I was confident that I could implement some big changes in my life. During the week, I modified my behavior to avoid generating trash, whether that was by not using a paper coffee filter, bringing my own mug to grab coffee, or making my own iced tea. For the trash that I did generate, I noted instances where that waste could have been avoided, such as by making my own almond milk, buying reusable cotton rounds, or making my own spice mix. Whenever I mention zero waste to someone there is a huge misconception that in order to use the term you need to be 100% zero waste. While that is obviously the goal, I’ve learned that it’s actually more of a zero waste journey, with incremental changes over a long period of time. This has been a main topic of conversation in the Zero Waste Facebook groups that I joined for support and new ideas. Another goal I had personally, and maybe for a future rendition of the week, is to keep track of how much plastic I was generating. While it is recyclable, I’m aware of the negative health impacts by ingesting plastic particles, the impact on plastic litter in the ocean, and its dependence on fossil fuels. Many Zero Waste blogs advocate for avoiding plastic as much as possible because it is often downgraded when recycled, whereas glass and aluminium are much more easily recycled.

From Miranda’s perspective: This undertaking has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I was so excited to finally be doing it! Though one of the primary goals of the project was to raise personal awareness of what trash each of us produced in a typical week, I was amazed and inspired by all of the positive feedback I received from so many people. I generally try to be quite mindful of the waste I produce, but I noticed that I was hypersensitive to the trash I was producing during the week and modified my behavior slightly to minimize this as much as possible. Although this may make the week artificial to some degree, being pushed to that awareness means that I discovered zero-waste solutions that I may not have otherwise. I am also cognizant of the fact that I was not always putting trash associated with products I was using in my bag. In some cases, mostly food, I didn’t empty the package and therefore still needed  the packaging. In other cases, such as school supplies, clothing, etc., I had thrown away the packaging upon purchasing the product before the week started. In other instances, like catered or ordered food, the packaging and other associated trash was removed before the product even got to me. Despite all this, I still think Carry Your Trash Week was a worthy project and definitely a success worth repeating! See all of the landfill waste that I generated for the week below.

From participants’ perspectives: Maria Dascalu ‘18 noted that she uses paper towels quite a bit, coming to the solution that she could start bringing a towel up the hill to dry her hands. Ana Tobio ‘18 found that her biggest contributor was tea bags and their packaging, realizing she could reduce waste with loose leaf tea. We also recognized that the participants were not a representative sample of the Colgate community, and wondered how much more trash others produce on a daily basis. Angelica Greco ‘18 pointed out that brown bag lectures produce large amounts of waste, which could be avoided with people bringing their own plates and utensils, or by having the caterer provide reusable dishware.

One of the biggest problems in tackling waste is the lack of agency in limiting the disposal of waste. Once it’s placed in the bin, it seemingly disappears and is out of sight and out of mind. This week caused participants to confront the trash they produce by carrying it around for others to see. Overall, it was a good opportunity to raise awareness for not only the participants but for everyone else who stopped to ask: “What’s in your bag?

css.php