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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!


The Green Summit and Oak Awards

By Sustainability Office on April 11, 2018

–Dana Monz ’18

Each year, the Office of Sustainability hosts the 13 Days of Green. This Colgate tradition marks the thirteen days leading up to Earth Day, highlighting local and global sustainability challenges and initiatives, while demonstrating ways in which individuals can create change. Notably, two events that feature students, faculty, and staff who have played a substantial role in sustainability and addressing global climate change on campus are coming up this week on Thursday, April 12th in Golden Auditorium.

For this year’s Green Summit, we are inviting the Colgate community from a variety of disciplines to sit on a student-organized panel and share their perspectives on the current and future implications of climate change. The panel will be moderated by Professor Catherine Cardelús, an associate professor of biology and environmental studies. The mission for the Green Summit is as follows:

The Green Summit aims to highlight the relationship between climate change and a diverse group of disciplines across campus, beyond the traditional environmental science perspective, to equip the Colgate Community to address the multifaceted implications of climate change. In doing so we will:

      Highlight the importance of Colgate’s carbon neutrality commitment

      Mobilize multiple stakeholders within the Colgate community

      Demonstrate how everyone fits into the fight against climate change

This year’s Green Summit aims to help people understand that regardless of who they are or where they are on campus, we are all connected to the impacts of climate change. The panel will consist of two students and two faculty members. The first panel member is Kimberly Duncan, a senior Environmental Studies and Studio Art double major.  She has increasingly incorporated environmental activist themes in her artwork while at Colgate and has been an Intern for the Office of Sustainability since the summer of 2015. The second panelist is Christopher Mather, a Peace and Conflict Studies major and a Political Science minor. Chris is also the former president of the Students for Environmental Action club here on campus. The third panelist is Professor Chandra Russo, an assistant professor of Sociology, who focuses on social movements and environmental justice in relation to the issue of climate change. Lastly, Professor Richard Klotz, an assistant professor of Economics, whose work focuses on greenhouse gas emissions and climate policy.  Our goal in selecting these panelists is that they will be able to help you all, the Colgate Community, address the multifaceted nature of climate change and recognize how it will impact people from all disciplines and walks of life.

To wrap up the Green Summit, the Office of Sustainability will present The Oak Awards, celebrating those who have made a significant contribution towards sustainability efforts at Colgate. The categories for the awards are: group of the year, staff member of the year, faculty member of the year, and student of the year.

The Oak Award recipients of 2017.

A complete list of all of the 13 Days of Green events can be found on the Colgate Calendar and in the Colgate Mobile App. Please make an attempt to get involved and help promote sustainability efforts around campus by developing a better understanding of how climate change will impact you.


Earth Day on the Horizon: 13 Days of Green

By Sustainability Office on March 29, 2018

–Chloe Matonis ’18

In the 1900s, the world witnessed the rise of unknown diseases due to pesticides and other harmful pollutants. Fed up with corporations and the government’s apathy towards the growing environmental degradation, millions of people took to the streets in 1970 to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development (earthday.org). In response to the growing global ecological awareness, the U.S. Congress and President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and robust environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. April 22nd, 1970, also marked the first official Earth Day.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, with more than 1 billion people in 192 countries celebrating worldwide (earthday.org). It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Colgate University recognizes Earth Day in its own, unique way with the 13 Days of Green.

Every year, the Office of Sustainability hosts the 13 Days of Green. It is 13 days dedicated to the celebration, education, and outreach of sustainability, all leading up to Earth Day. The 13 Days of Green include a wide range of events open to all students, faculty, and members of the local Hamilton community. Some 13 Days of Green events to mark on your calendars include:

  • The 13 Days of Green will begin with the Kickoff Festival, taking place on the academic quad on Tuesday April 10th. There will be food, live music, games, and earthy activities co-sponsored by Sidekicks.

 

  • Thursday April 12th in Golden Auditorium is the GreenSummit. The Green Summit aims to highlight the relationship between climate change and a diverse group of disciplines across campus, beyond the traditional environmental science perspective, to equip the Colgate Community to address the multifaceted implications of climate change. The summit will: highlight the importance of Colgate’s carbon neutrality commitment, mobilize multiple stakeholders, and explain how you fit into the fight against climate change.

 

  • An ENST Brown Bag on Friday April 13th. Speaker Isla Globus-Harris will give a lecture on “Free-riding in Energy Efficiency Subsidy Programs.”

 

  • April 15th is the Sustainable Study Break in the Batza room in Case. This event is hosted by the first-year sustainability representatives. Participants will be encouraged to make their own chipwiches, calculate their carbon footprints, and contribute to the climate ribbon project.

 

  • The “Pop-up Thrift Shop” is an event where you can donate your old clothes and come find new treasures. Items available will include jewelry, shoes, professional clothes, costumes, and more! Drop off your old clothes in the ENST Resource Room or in the marked bins in your residence hall between April 4 -18, then stop by the HOP between 12 and 4 pm on April 20th to get new clothes! All remaining items will be donated to the LGBT Initiatives Closet or local charities.

 

  • The Locavore Dinner will take place on Saturday, April 21st. Co-sponsored by Green Thumbs, we are hosting a locavore dinner where we buy local food from the farmer’s market and other farm stands, cook various recipes together, and then enjoy the feast.

 

The last day of 13 Days of Green is the Earth Day Afternoon of Service. On Sunday April 22. The Office of Sustainability will host an afternoon of service in celebration of Earth Day by organizing several exciting volunteer projects oriented around sustainability and ecological awareness. Students will get to know the greater Hamilton area through hands-on engagement with the community.  A snack and transportation will be provided.

A complete list of 13 Days of Green events can be found on the Colgate Calendar and in the Colgate Mobile App. Keep your eyes open for a variety of fun and interesting ways to make a positive impact!

Special thanks to 13 Days of Green Co-sponsors, including the Sustainability Council (through the Sustainability Fund), Sidekicks, Students for Environmental Action, Green Thumbs, Beekeeping Club and the Environmental Studies Program.


New Extended Study to Patagonia, Chile Visits Colgate Forest

By Sustainability Office on February 26, 2018

-Revée Needham ‘18

In 2016,  Colgate’s Office for Off-Campus Study, Office of Sustainability, and Patagonia Sur came together to develop a new extended study in Patagonia. Among a large applicant pool excited to participate in this first-time extended study, I was chosen as one of the twelve students to join Biology Associate Professor Eddie Watkins and the Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio, on the trip.

In preparation for the extended study, we took the biology course Field Ecology during the fall semester. In class, we learned about the geography, climate, biology, history and more of South America, Argentina, and Chile, with a focus on the Patagonian region. The class was structured as a “jigsaw,” where we learned from each other and were all given the opportunity to facilitate class discussion, in addition to a variety of class speakers that were brought in. After we finished our coursework we packed up all of our biology field equipment and departed for Buenos Aires, Argentina in late December.

There, we spent four days acquainting ourselves with the southern hemisphere and Argentina’s culture and history. Instead of biking around the vast city, we took motorized bikes to explore the city and examine the urban ecology of the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. Our hotel, conveniently located across from the local market stalls, overlooked the Recoleta Cemetery. Recoleta Cemetery houses a beautiful collection of Argentinian families’ mausoleums with some still in use today. After trying the delicious Argentine delicacy, empanada, we traveled to our final destination: the Patagonia Sur Valle California property outside of the town of Palena, Chile.

The group after our final hike, overlooking the Valle California properties (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)

 

Two visitors, Professor Álvaro Promis and Forestry Manager Matias Rio, joined us in Valle California. Professor Promis studies forest ecosystem succession and Mr. Rio was one of the original people to plant the saplings back in 2011. These two were able to teach us about the native plants and reforestation process, respectively. While reforestation may sound simple on paper on paper, the planting of the trees is quite the arduous process. Due to the remote location, transporting the trees to the plots requires numerous trips by horseback. We got a small taste of the endurance required when we planted 160 trees, nowhere near the 40,000+ saplings in the Colgate Forest. Additionally, we learned a subset of the birds and understory plants and even took quizzes to identify them! While I’m not a self-described “plant nerd,” I did find it exhilarating to be able to look at a plant along the path and correctly say “that’s blechnum.”

The research component of the trip involved assessing the health of the forest plots and then comparing them to native forests. We set up 5 transects, or plots, to measure ranging from an old-growth Nothofagus pumilio forest to the young reforested Nothofagus antarctica saplings.

We measured light transmission, tree height and width, soil nutrients, understory plant identification, and classified insects and birds. To determine which birds were visiting the forests, we conducted the Breeding Bird survey, and stopped for 3 minutes every 100 meters in an area to listen with our ears and look with our eyes to then classify the bird species with our books and the help of John Pumilio.

Students enjoyed researching in Patagonia. (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)

Classifying the understory plants, by walking along the plot and identifying all the species that we could see, helped us to study for our plants quiz! For the focus of our study, the tree saplings, we measured the basal circumference, the tree height, and the season’s growth. We did this for every single sapling in our plot- quite the tedious process. It was tricky at first to distinguish the reforested saplings from the understory plants, but after a while, I could see Nothofagus antarctica in my sleep. Because of the remote location, our limited equipment, and the young age of the trees, we were unable to conclude much, other than that the forest should continue to be monitored in the future to ensure its continued success. The trees have had to be replanted a few times due to disturbances by local hares and wild pigs.

In addition to the biology research, we made the most of the beautiful facilities by hiking, swimming, fly fishing, rafting, camping, and more. I rode a horse for the first time in my life to trek to the Colgate Forest plots thanks to the help of our gauchos (cowboys). Thankfully, I didn’t fall off! After a day of whitewater rafting, we camped in tents alongside a gorgeous river, where the sunset was a picturesque scene for us to enjoy. The next morning, we witnessed what it took to lasso a sheep and sheer its wool by hand. There, we visited a local woman who spun wool from her sheep into yarn that she uses to knit, crochet, weave products that she then sells at a local market. She also continued the tradition of weaving by teaching and empowering local girls with her knowledge of the trade.

Finally, we attended a fundraiser bingo night in Palena to support the nearby landslide-devastated Chilean town, Santa Lucia with the financial assistance of the COVE. Before the trip departed, we had planned on visiting Santa Lucia, but due to the landslide that became impossible. So, we felt a connection to this town that was recovering from a tragedy and we were grateful to be able to give back. At bingo, the gymnasium was packed with the entire town’s population, and us too, an eclectic group of outsiders excited for the game. The entirety of the bingo prizes were donated by the locals, and ranged from sheep to traditional maté tea and everything in between. That night was a highlight for the entire group, where we came together with the town of Palena for a bigger cause. On our final day in Patagonia, we celebrated our time with a traditional lamb feast. We concluded with a reflection of our favorite memories of the trip, and the people who made it so special, with many us tipping our hats to the chef, Alejandro.

Susanna explaining how she weaves using her loom (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)

At the conclusion of our visit, we gave a final presentation to some of the Valle California staff and wrote a final report detailing our research and recommendations. Our project was geared towards the biology and ecology of the forest, yet many of us were interested in the economic and social factors too. Thus, future extended studies and trips should broaden their focus to include this equally as important factors. We were grateful to use the luxurious amenities at Patagonia Sur, however, these were largely inaccessible to the local people. The gate to the Patagonia Sur properties was locked and locals were only able to visit the beautiful site if they rented out the dining area for a hefty price. From informal discussions with the staff members, they wished there was a greater involvement of the property with the Chileans. While Patagonia Sur started with great intentions to conserve the land and restore the ecosystem, it would better serve the community as an open and accessible site with sustainable use. In addition, while our Colgate group came to conduct research, the type of work we did could be continued by other scholars from the area. With numerous schools and universities in Chile, it would be prudent to continue the forest research with a local team who are equally as capable. We also proposed that Patagonia Sur combine ecotourism with the research opportunities to develop an environmental education and outreach program. While Colgate University is not responsible for the business model and practices of Patagonia Sur, the class participants hope to encourage the board of Patagonia Sur to consider developing a more participatory business venture that benefits the local community.

On behalf of the entire class, I extend our sincerest gratitude to all those who assisted in the preparation for the trip and the fabulous experience we had at Patagonia Sur. I wish the best of luck to the next extended study group of students.

 

FAQ:

How did this project come to fruition?

The extended study trip that culminated in January 2018 has its origins in the creation of the Colgate Forest in 2011. After Colgate’s President signed a commitment in 2009 to our carbon neutrality in 2019, the Sustainability Council and the Office of Sustainability were looking for opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with campus operations and through carbon offsets. Then, the pathway was paved for the creation of the Colgate Forest, as one of the carbon offset options.  

Why does Colgate University invest in carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets are projects that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in an offsite location. Given the size of Colgate-owned properties, the existing infrastructure, and dependence on air travel for faculty research, it would be impossible to achieve carbon neutrality in 2019 without some form of offset. A variety of improvements on campus have been made, totalling a reduction in gross greenhouse gas emissions of 21% since our baseline emissions in 2009. Furthermore, as climate change is a global issue, doing our part to remove carbon from the atmosphere earlier rather than later will benefit everyone. Partnering with Patagonia Sur was attractive due to its innovative approach, opportunities for travel and research (as evidenced by the extended study), and the benefits it provides to the local ecosystem. Creating the Colgate Forest as an offset project involved the planting of native trees in an area that has been devastated by slash and burn agriculture practices and deforestation. Overall, Colgate signed a 15-year agreement with Patagonia Sur in order to sequester 5,000 tons of carbon each year, which reduces our gross emissions by approximately one-third.

The Extended Study participants at one plot of The Colgate Forest (Picture courtesy of Austin Sun)

How is this project verified?

Patagonia Sur, with the assistance of Colgate’s Office of Sustainability, pursued the rigorous certification for the reforestation project. Verified Carbon Standard is an internationally-recognized standard that ensures various programs meet a set of criteria. They look for a variety of attributes including co-benefits (including biodiversity and ecosystem restoration), third party verification, measurement (on an annual basis), additionality (that the trees would not have grown back naturally), leakage (multiple plots of trees to reduce risk of damage), and permeance (whereby the trees are placed under an easement and are not to be cut down).

What else is Colgate University doing to become more sustainable?

After the University committed to carbon neutrality, the Sustainability Council drafted our Climate Action Plan to detail a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus. Building upon this plan, the Bicentennial Plan aims to integrate sustainability into the campus life and operations. Every year, the Office of Sustainability tracks and publishes an annual report, detailing where our emissions are from on and off campus. A variety of organizations, including Second Nature, the Sierra Club, Princeton Review, and more have recognized Colgate’s efforts. To learn more about Colgate’s initiatives, visit our website.


Water Quality Research in Florence, Italy with Professor Tseng

By Sustainability Office on February 21, 2018

-Noah Campbell ‘18

Over winter break, I spent eight days in Italy with Professor Linda Tseng, collecting water samples from historic fountains in Florence, Siena and Assisi, and visiting with water researchers in the area.

Since the summer of 2017, I have been working with Dr. Tseng to analyze the water and sediment quality in Payne Brook and the Hamilton municipal wastewater treatment plant to better understand the relationship between the wastewater plant and the brook. So when she asked me if I would be interested in accompanying her t o Florence, Italy to take samples of the water there for analysis, I enthusiastically agreed to join her.

On January 3rd, I flew to Florence, traveling through Lisbon and Rome. Upon my arrival, I met up with Dr. Tseng and we began to collect samples, first together, then by myself once I had a good grasp of the city’s geography. The main purpose of the trip was to analyze the quality of the drinkable water connected to many famous fountains across the city. Tourists will often fill their water bottles at these spigots, so we hope to determine if the water quality is acceptable or could use improvement. Over the course of the week I essentially walked the entire length of the city to collect samples, traveling through the traditional historic sites as well as some areas which most tourists would not see.

While in Italy, Dr. Tseng and I both traveled to Siena for a day. We took water samples from the Fonte Gaia, the fountain found in the famous main square of the city, the Piazza del Campo. I also traveled by train to Assisi, birthplace of the Franciscan religious movement, to visit a family friend. In doing so, I was able to take water samples from public fountains in the city, which are frequented by religious pilgrims.

Dr. Tseng and I were also able to meet with her colleagues from the University of Florence. These professors conduct similar research to that which I help with on campus, but there are also unexpected differences between American and European research. For instance, there are contaminants we worry about in the United States which are complete non-issues in Europe, as they are banned by the EU, and vice versa. Meeting with these environmental engineers in Italy was a great learning and networking opportunity for me.

I feel exceptionally lucky to have been able to assist with research in Florence and other cities in Italy. I was able to experience one of the most culturally prominent cities in the world, and learned a great deal about international research. I was also able to conduct many aspects of the research on my own, which gave me insight on how to accomplish work independently, particularly in an unfamiliar country. I hope to eventually become an environmental engineer, and working with Dr. Tseng to analyze fresh water has helped me learn more about the profession. I am grateful to Dr. Tseng, the ENST Department, and Colgate University for this incredible opportunity.


Library Staff Members Form Sustainability Group

By Sustainability Office on December 5, 2017
-Revee Needham ‘18

This semester, a Library Sustainability Group formed under the direction of staff members Sergei Domashenko and Jesi Buell. Over a dozen staff members have joined and pledged to make an impact in their workplace. The three main focuses of the group are waste reduction, outreach and marketing, and literacy and education. In order to educate all staff members on how to be sustainable in their job at Case-Geyer Library, the literacy subgroup is focused on creating a staff sustainability guide. To save energy, personal desk light bulbs are in the process of being converted to LED light bulbs.

To make the all staff meetings zero-waste, recycling and compost bins are available to use.

The waste reduction subgroup is focusing on educating library staff and visitors on how to properly recycle and dispose of waste. The new landmark bins for bottles and cans, waste, and paper are an important infrastructure investment for clear signage. However, issues with contamination persist, as some people do not empty their liquids before recycling. When this happens, the entire bag of recycling must be thrown out.

Earlier in the semester, the Library Sustainability Group collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to ensure the all-staff meeting was zero-waste. Staff members were encouraged to bring their own mug or water bottle and recycling bins and compost bins were available for food waste. Focusing on staff education and sustainability literacy is as important to advancing the university’s sustainability mission as student education efforts.

Upon speaking with the Interim University Librarian, Steve Black, it’s clear that sustainability is supported at all levels within the Library. Mr. Black applauded the grassroots campaign and is happy to see staff members taking initiative to make their workplace more sustainable. He is collaborating with the Office of Sustainability to conduct an electricity analysis of the Library with its 2,500+ light fixtures.

Case-Geyer Library is uniquely situated to highlight its sustainability measures since its role as a public space differs from personal residence halls, for example. While students spend around 4 years at Colgate, staff members stay much longer, emphasizing the importance of this group’s efforts. Staff members are excited to go above and beyond their primary job descriptions to enact change.

New signage promotes the proper disposal of your materials into the recycling and waste bins.

 

Speaking to several members of the group, each had their own motivation and goals for their work in advancing sustainability in Case-Geyer Library. Mark Sandford explained that this group is important to have, as many other sustainability efforts are focused on student life, and overlook the staff who work at Colgate too. Joe Bernet emphasized that every person needs to step up and do their part in regard to sustainability. Additionally, Michael Sitts was eager to learn more after taking the Foundations of Sustainability course with John Pumilio, Director of the Office of Sustainability.

The group has been reaching out to other notable library institutions, such as Cornell and College of the Atlantic, to gather ideas to bring to Colgate. Overall, the members are excited and motivated to work collaboratively to tackle incorporating sustainability into the library. Mr. Domashenko, a leader of the Sustainability Group, hopes that in the future the library can serve as a model for other buildings and staff to learn from on campus.

You too can assist in their mission and the university’s mission for sustainability while visiting Case-Geyer Library. Take advantage of the natural window light and be sure to turn off lights after you leave an empty room. Follow the direction of the “Leave No Trace” signs, and properly dispose of any food or beverages in the appropriate bins. Empty liquids from your bottles before disposing in the Bottles and Cans recycling bin. Additionally, be sure to place any paper coffee cups in the waste bin, as they are not recyclable. If you’re unsure of how to dispose of something, remember “when in doubt, throw it out.” We can all do our part to make the library even greener.

 

 


Colgate Continues Commitment to Sustainability through AASHE

By Sustainability Office on April 20, 2017

What is AASHE?

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. To further its mission of empowering higher education to lead the sustainability transformation, AASHE provides resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model sustainability in all areas, from governance and operations to education and research.

AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations.  AASHE is a member-driven, independent 501(c)(3).

Details:

Colgate University has recently renewed its membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world.

Colgate University first joined AASHE in 2009 and, through membership, has received continued support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the institution and in the community.

“Over the years, AASHE has been a great partner to Colgate,” Colgate Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio, stated. “Their publications, network, and weekly newsletter provides up-to-date and relevant information. The fact that all Colgate community members have access to their resources adds tremendous value to our work here on campus.”

AASHE enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support.  Membership covers every individual at an institution, so the entire campus community can take advantage of member benefits.

AASHE hosts the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a comprehensive campus sustainability rating system that enables institutions to measure their progress and learn from others. In Colgate’s most recent assessment, the university received a STARS Gold rating. With STARS as a roadmap, institutions can select meaningful and appropriate pathways to sustainability while conserving valuable resources, combating global warming, and building healthier communities.

Additionally, Colgate’s AASHE membership and STARS report have provided numerous avenues for engaged scholarship. Just this academic year, ENST 241 and CORE 128S A have incorporated projects related to the report into the curriculum as a way for students to get exposure to sustainability and climate action planning in the classroom.

AASHE is also one of two supporting organizations for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Colgate signed this commitment in 2009, pledging to be carbon neutral by our bicentennial in 2019. Over 860 presidents and chancellors so far have committed to lead their institutions to climate neutrality as soon as possible.

“AASHE counts on the support of progressive institutions like Colgate University to fulfill its mission of facilitating leadership to transform our planet,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “As the gateways to knowledge, higher education institutions have a unique opportunity to make sustainability part of everyone’s agenda.”

Resources available to you through AASHE:

AASHE e-Newsletters
The AASHE Bulletin is a weekly publication that delivers the latest in campus sustainability news, resources, opportunities, events, and jobs and internships. AASHE Announcements is a monthly publication that highlights news, events and important information about AASHE and its members. STARS Update is a periodic publication designed to keep participants up-to-date on the latest STARS technical developments, publications, deadlines, tips and tools.

Online Resources
AASHE’s Campus Sustainability Hub is an online resource library that provides access to 6,000+ valuable resources for campus sustainability practitioners, enabling AASHE members to share and learn about all aspects of sustainability in higher education. Resources are organized by sustainability topic (e.g., curriculum, public engagement, energy, investment) and content type (e.g., academic program, case study, conference presentation, photograph).

Professional Development
AASHE presents or co-sponsors workshops and webinars throughout the year, as well as an annual conference that serves as the largest stage in North America for higher education sustainability practitioners to take advantage of face-to-face networking in a collaborative environment. These events offer opportunities to connect with our colleagues at regional, national and international levels to share resources. As members, we receive discounts on registration for all AASHE events. Check this listing for upcoming events.

Product and Service Discounts
AASHE business and nonprofit members offer exclusive product and service discounts for institutional members.

STARS Registration Discount
As a member, our institution receives a reduced fee for participating in AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Publicity and Recognition
We can submit news, opportunities, resources, events, and job postings to the AASHE Bulletin (be sure to read the submission guidelines first). The Bulletin informs more than 9,000 subscribers in the campus sustainability community.

Professional Awards
Our campus can submit applications for any of the AASHE Sustainability Awards, in the categories of Campus Sustainability Achievement, Campus Sustainability Research and Student Sustainability Leadership.

Campus Sustainability Perspectives Blog
AASHE’s Campus Sustainability Perspectives blog features opinions and reports by staff and guests related to campus sustainability. You can read the blog, comment on posts and request to submit your own items as a guest blogger. There is also a chronological archive page and a comprehensive list of other blogs related to campus sustainability.

AASHE Member Logo
We can post the AASHE Member Logo on our website to emphasize our commitment to sustainability. The logo may also be used on any signage, reports, brochures, and publicity or display materials. Be sure to read the usage guidelines before publishing.

Governance, Councils, Committees
Anyone from our campus is welcome to submit for consideration to serve on AASHE’s Board of Directors, Advisory Council, STARS Steering Committee, or STARS Technical Advisors.

Individual Member Accounts
To access member-only pages on AASHE’s website and take advantage of member benefits, individuals must first create their own account. To create an individual account, go to the register page and complete a user profile using your campus email address. After you receive an email with your password, go to the login page, enter your email address (username) and new password, and you will have access to the entirety of online resources.

If you have any questions about AASHE or our benefits as a member, email membership@aashe.org. Again, every individual at Colgate can take advantage of these membership benefits from AASHE, so be sure to set up an account and get started today!


Get Ready for 13 Days of Green!

By Sustainability Office on March 31, 2017
-Isabel Dove ’19

It’s time to get ready for every Colgate student’s favorite spring tradition – no, not SPW – 13 Days of Green!

For the past eight years, the Sustainability Office has hosted programming during the 13 days leading up to and including Earth Day on April 22nd. The 13 Days of Green are meant to foster a culture of environmental stewardship and social equity by engaging the Colgate & Hamilton communities in sustainability as we come together to celebrate Earth Day. This year, we have tons of fun, engaging, and green events for students, faculty, and community members to learn about sustainability and help Colgate reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

The 13 Days of Green will begin on Monday, April 10 with a kickoff festival at 3:30 on the academic quad. There will be food, games, music, seedlings to take home, and zero waste! After the kickoff, the festivities will continue throughout the next 12 days. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Green Summit and Oak Awards on 4/13
  • Spring Cleaning Clothing Swap on 4/15
  • A movie screening of Before the Flood on 4/19
  • The Earth Day Zero-Waste SPW Brunch on 4/22

By attending these events, you will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win sustainable prizes such as an ENO hammock, solar-powered bluetooth speakers, and a Nalgene water bottle!

Also be sure to keep an eye on the campus calendar and look out for ENST brown bags and sustainable events sponsored by other organizations, such as the Broad Street Gallery and Green Thumbs’ Locavore Dinner!
Although environmental protection should be celebrated every day, these 13 days will enthusiastically highlight sustainability within the Colgate community. Check out http://www.colgate.edu/distinctly-colgate/sustainability/13-days-of-green for a full calendar of events for the 13 Days of
Green and follow us on social media to find out how you can live everyday like it’s Earth Day!


Paper Purchasing at Colgate: Things to Know

By Sustainability Office on October 3, 2016

by John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability

People are often faced with an overwhelming amount of choices when making a purchasing decision for any single product.

Take paper, for example – a simple search for 8.5×11 printer/copier paper on the Staples website will bring up hundreds 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, it is important to know that Staples identifies recycled content paper and various environmental certifications within the product descriptions.  Please read about the products before deciding on a brand.  Additionally, if you search for copy paper within the Staples website, you have the option to narrow your choices to environmentally responsible choices by checking the “ECO-CONSCIOUS” box.  This makes it easier for you to identify the products that have the environmental attributes you are looking for.

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 once 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 created 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.

    FSC-100

    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.  By purchasing FSC certified paper, you are doing your part to preserve forests and the wildlife they support.  EarthChoice® and Mohawk® office paper, for example, are FSC and Rainforest Alliance certified. A full list of FSC certified paper offered through Staples can be found here.
  • 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.

    sfi-logo

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

There are also new types of high-quality paper that are made from rapidly renewable resources (e.g., sugarcane, bamboo, and other materials that are not trees) that have gained favor from sustainability advocates.  Step Forward copy paper, for example, is made from 80% wheat straw.  The paper is acid-free, elemental chlorine-free, recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable.  Step Forward paper can be ordered through Staples.

Finally, Colgate’s Office of Sustainability recommends purchasing paper that contains both post-consumer content and is FSC certified.  A few brands of paper that meet these criteria include Hammermill®, Boise® Aspen™, Staples®, Wausau®, and HP Office™ office paper.  Again, it is important to look at the produce description to identify the environmental attributes of the paper.  And, of course, the higher the recycled content (100% vs. 30%) the better the paper is for the environment.


Is unsolicited campus mail getting you down? Here’s what you can do!

By Sustainability Office on September 15, 2016

Many individuals on campus are frustrated by the amount of unsolicited mail they receive.  Not only are some of these advertisements and other announcements bothersome, but they also waste heaps of paper, ink, and toner — not to mention the time and money spent printing, delivering, and recycling these announcements.  According to The Center for a New American Dream (whose mission is to advance sustainability by shifting the way we consume), reducing unsolicited mail can have big environmental benefits.  Did you know:

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

  • Americans spend over 8 months of our lives opening junk mail.
  • Over 100 million trees are cut down annually to produce unsolicited mail.  That’s the equivalent of completely deforesting the Adirondacks in only 3 years.
  • 44% of unsolicited mail is never even opened.
  • Only 1 in 5 pieces of junk mail is recycled.
  • Over 5.6 million tons of paper promotions are landfilled each year.
  • Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of unsolicited mail.

It is no wonder so many faculty, staff, and students are unnerved by the amount of unsolicited mail we receive.  But what can you do?  Below are a few tips:

1) Reduce it on campus. Did you know that Colgate has five separate mail distribution lists?

  • Distribution A goes to every employee on campus (~940 mailings)
  • Distribution B goes to every faculty member on campus (~540 mailings)
  • Distribution C goes to every faculty member and administrator (~610 mailings)
  • Distribution D goes to each department (one per department or ~115 mailings)
  • Distribution E goes to each student (~2,900 mailings)

If you are producing mail to be distributed on campus, you can easily change your campus distribution list from mailing list A to mailing list D and save over 800 pieces of mail. Alternatively, if you receive unsolicited campus mail from a campus department or program, contact them with a gentle reminder to switch their distribution list. This small change can significantly reduce the amount of paper used, the associated costs to a department and our university’s carbon footprint.

2) Make it eco-friendly. In the event that you need to produce campus mail, use FSC® Certified paper stock. This will significantly reduce the environmental (and social) impacts of producing your mail by ensuring your products come from responsibly managed forests. You can also opt to use soy-based inks. These environmentally friendly inks are renewable, biodegradable and more easily removed during the recycling process. They often produce a richer pigment quality, as well.

3) Recycle it. When you dispose of your mail, please be sure to recycle it in one of the paper recycling bins located in your building.

4) Cut down on mail from outside marketers.  If you receive campus mail from outside marketers or organizations, try this:

  • Register for the National Do Not Mail List.  This free service is quick and easy and gives you the option to continue to receive mailings of your choice.  DirectMail.com will contact you every six months via e-mail so you can review and update your preferences.  Visit DirectMail.com to register at http://www.directmail.com/mail_preference/.
  • Ask companies to stop sending you catalogs.  If you receive unwanted catalogs or other mail from specific sources, call the toll-free customer service number to request that your name be removed from their mailing list. Also, make your request via e-mail from the company’s website. Have the mailing label handy when you call, or attach a picture of it to your email.  No doubt this takes time, but think of all the time you save by not having to deal with unwanted catalogs that routinely show up on campus.  Also, Catalog Choice offers a free service that sends opt-out requests for individual companies on your behalf.
  • At home, if you receive unwanted mail from credit card companies, call 1-888-OPT OUT (or 1-888-567-8688) 24 hours a day.  One short call will remove your name and address from Equifax, TransUnion, Experian and Innovis!

Do you have other ideas on how to reduce or eliminate unsolicited mail?  Please share!

Have other questions about recycling on campus?  Visit our FAQ post!

Thanks for doing your part to save resources and reduce waste on campus and at home!

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