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Exploring First-Year Course Options: Branching Out with Sustainability

By Sustainability Office on June 26, 2015

By Lindsey Sagasta ’16 (Buffalo, NY)

Knowing from experience, selecting first-year courses is pretty daunting. By the time you graduate Colgate, you must have completed courses in all of the areas of inquiry to satisfy the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, but you also need to finish all classes for intended majors and minors. How are you ever going to be able to fit that all in, in just four years!? Okay, take a deep breath. It’s not as difficult as you think.  There is plenty of room for classes outside of these requirements. So when courses are sent out for you to select your preferences, don’t fret. You have plenty of time to get through your checklist, and instead of spending your first semester trying to hit every requirement, or trying to stick to a specific area of study- take the time to explore the variety of courses that Colgate has to offer.

Personally, I decided to become a Biology and Environmental Studies double major after taking a sustainability related course called “Human Impact on the Environment” (now called Earth, Society, and Sustainability- GEOG 121) during my second semester at Colgate. This was definitely not a class that I saw myself taking before coming to Colgate. Unexpectedly, that class uncovered my passion for environmental sustainability. My newly formed motivation for environmental issues led me to the Office of Sustainability internship program.  Soon after, I became one of a handful of Green Raiders, helping Colgate achieve its goal to be carbon neutral by 2019!

Sustainability related courses fit squarely within the liberal arts mission.  Courses focusing on sustainability explore the complexities among, between, and within social, ecological, and economic systems, as well as the mechanisms required to encourage the resilience and health of these systems now and into the future. Approximately 10% of Colgate classes focus on or include sustainability as a major component and 45% of our academic departments offer at least one course focusing on issues of sustainability. Most of the courses that more intensively include sustainability are housed in the major/minor programs: Environmental Geography, Environmental Biology, Environmental Geology, Environmental Economics, Environmental Studies (ENST), Geography, Geology, Biology, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability, believes that every student at Colgate would benefit from taking at least one sustainability-related course in his or her time at Colgate:

Contributing to a healthy, just, and environmentally sustainable future belongs to everyone (regardless of majors and future job titles).  Taking a sustainability-related course at Colgate fosters critical thinking and problem solving while also providing students with the skills, background, and habits of mind to contribute to climate solutions and meet environmental challenges head-on. All of which are increasingly valued by future employers.”

Steve Dickinson, Program Coordinator for Environmental Studies and Sustainability, encourages first-year students to explore the Colgate Liberal Arts while they can:

“Generally, your first year is your first opportunity to explore new things that you might not have had the opportunity to learn about in high school. It’s best to explore earlier rather later when major requirements become the biggest priority. My advice is to find a course that is relevant to your personal interest, but also allows you to become more knowledgeable about environmental stewardship. With an increased knowledge in sustainability, you can become a stronger part of the Colgate community striving toward carbon neutrality in 2019.”

Frank Frey, associate professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, advocates for students to take advantage of a liberal arts university:

“To fully engage with and embrace the liberal arts experience, it is important to break out of the shell of high school experiences that have defined your academic trajectory to date.  Are perceived academic comfort zones real, or are they the byproduct of the particular educational system you came up through?  Is your true academic passion waiting to be discovered?  My most successful students have entered Colgate thinking they were going to pursue a singular path, yet were open to intellectual exploration and testing the limits of their academic chops in a diversity of disciplines during their first year.  Most of these students ended up pursuing paths very different from what they originally envisioned, and now as graduates are enjoying successful careers that they could not begin to imagine when they entered Colgate.”

Further, Professor Frey associates sustainability courses as a strong investment in your future academic growth:

“The philosophy, principles, and practice of sustainability are inextricably linked to the human condition today, and if you are a careful observer and thinker you will find an undercurrent of sustainability in every discipline and every profession.  Coming to understanding this interconnectedness, and also learning how to view the world through the rigorous lens of sustainability thought, is a transformative intellectual experience.  No matter what your interests are at the moment, introducing yourself to what sustainability really is and what it really means is a strong investment in your future academic growth.”

Here is a list of courses offered this fall semester for first-years that focus upon or relate to sustainability, as classified in the AASHE STARS report (These are the courses that can be taken right out of high school, there are plenty of other courses that can be taken once pre-requisite courses are fulfilled):

FIRST-YEAR SEMINARS

  • FSEM 120: Dangerous Environments
  • FSEM 122: Acid Rain: Environmental Problem
  • FSEM 124: Global Change and You
  • FSEM 130: Energy and Sustainability
  • FSEM 133: Foodwise
  • FSEM 180: Current Economic Issues
  • FSEM 183: Welcome to the Anthropocene
  • FSEM 186: The Geography of Happiness

BIOLOGY

  • BIOL 101: Topics in Organismal Biology
  • BIOL 181: Evolution, Ecology, and Diversity- (AP BIO coursework recommended for first semester first-years)

ENGLISH

  • ENGL 219: American Literature and the Environment

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

  • ENST 232: Environmental Justice

GEOGRAPHY

  • GEOG 111: Global Shift: Economy, Society, and Geography
  • GEOG 121: Earth, Society, and Sustainability
  • GEOG 131: Environmental Geography

GEOLOGY

  • GEOL 135: Oceanography

HISTORY

  • HIST 218: The African American Struggle for Freedom and Democracy
  • HIST 228: The Caribbean: Conquest, Colonization, and Self-Determination

PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES

  • PCON 111: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies
  • PCON 225: Theories of Peace and Conflict–War, State, and Society

PHILOSOPHY

  • PHIL/ENST 202: Environmental Ethics

POLITICAL SCIENCE

  • POSC 152: Global Peace and War

For a complete list of all sustainability-related courses that could be offered in the future, visit: https://stars.aashe.org/media/uploads/test_cases/2013-14AASHESTARS2.0SustainabilityCourses-FINAL.pdf

Another sustainability-related option for first-year students is the Green Ambassador program that aims to develop a culture of sustainability at Colgate through a student-to-student educational program. Enthusiastic first-year students with all backgrounds of sustainability can be directly connected with the Office of Sustainability staff to create this culture. More information will be coming later this summer, so if you are interested, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or contact the Office of Sustainability (sustainability@colgate.edu)!

For general information about sustainability and how you can help as a new student, check out: http://www.colgate.edu/distinctly-colgate/sustainability/for-students/sustainability-for-new-students.


Recycling and Reusing at Colgate: Frequently Asked Questions

By Sustainability Office on June 23, 2015

by John Pumilio, director of sustainability

I frequently receive calls or emails from concerned individuals asking how to properly recycle or dispose of certain items that are either broken or no longer needed.  Items could be anything from office supplies, furniture, microwaves, coffee pots, computers, monitors, small electronic devices, refrigerators, and almost anything else you can think of that is not part of our normal recycling program or too big to fit in one of our trash bins.  This post will hopefully offer some guidance and give you more direction.

Let’s start with our basic campus recycling program.  Colgate has two stream recycling which means that we need to separate recyclable materials into two different bins:

  1. Paper Recycling.  One bin is for paper and all paper products.  These blue bins are usually identified by having a lid with a slit that facilitates paper recycling.  See image below (bin on left).  This bin is for print and copier paper, newspaper, notebook paper, envelopes, magazines, and catalogs. Pizza boxes, cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, and dry food boxes can also be recycled with paper.
  2. Bottle and Can Recycling.  The other bin is for bottles and cans that are made of plastic, glass, or metal.  These blue bins are usually identified by having a lid with two round holes that facilitates the recycling of bottles and cans.  See image below (bin on right). This bin is for all plastics #1-7, all glass bottles and metal cans, plastic milk and water jugs, yogurt containers, laundry soap and detergent bottles, plastic cups, and plastic grocery bags.

Paper and bottle/can recycling bins are located in every building on campus.  Please take a moment to find and place your recyclables in the proper bin on campus.  Check out Colgate’s Recycling Guide for more detailed information.

slim-jim-containers

Slim Jim recycling containers frequently found around campus.

Okay, that was the easy part.  The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) should guide you on how to properly dispose of other types of items.

Q: What do I do with large electronic devices such as Colgate-owned television sets, computers, monitors, and printers?
A: Call the ITS helpline (x7111).  They will assist you in the proper recycling of your Colgate-owned electronics.

Q: What do I do with small electronic devices such as old cell phones, batteries, compact discs, digital cameras, iPods, cables and cords, printer cartridges, calculators, and other small electronic devices?
A: Bring these items to the second floor of the Coop (in the elevator alcove) or to any one of our 16 locations around campus (download eWaste map here) where they will be recycled safely and conveniently.  Please lend a helping hand and tape both ends of all batteries before placing them in a battery recycling bin.  Members of the Sustainability Office will come around every few weeks to empty the electronic waste bins in your area.  If a bin becomes full and needs more immediate attention, please call x6360 or email us at sustainability@colgate.edu.

Q: Where does our eWaste go?
A: Large electronic devices that are still functional will be reused.  Small electronics are transported to RCR&R in Rochester, NY for proper recycling.  Click here to find out more.

Q: Where can I recycle my personally-owned eWaste?
A: As a Hamilton resident, you can take your electronic waste to the transfer station in Poolville (Cranston Road). They are open from 7:10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will punch your card for each item (punch cards cost $13.50 and contain 5 punches).  As a Madison County resident, you can also take your eWaste free of charge to the Madison-Cortland ARC at 327 Farrier Avenue and Gary’s Auto Parts at 651 Fitch Street, both in Oneida.

Q: What do I do with my spent printer cartridges?
A: Fortunately, W.B. Mason will conveniently collect your old printer cartridges for recycling.  Simply hand it to the W.B. Mason representative the next time they make a delivery to your office area.  A second option is to place the cartridge in one of our eWaste bins located around campus.

Q: I have an item (such as a microwave, refrigerator, lab equipment, furniture, shelving, filing cabinet, etc.) that is no longer needed or wanted.  What do I do with these items?
A: First ask yourself if the item is still useable.  If you think the item still has value and can be reused, then call Joanne Vanderwood in Surplus and Salvage (ext. 7475).  She will oversee the collection of your items for resale and reuse.  If your item is broken or is not salvageable, then you must contact B&G to put in a work order for pickup.  B&G will collect your item(s) for proper disposal.

Q: I have extra office supplies that I no longer need or want.  What can I do with them?
A: Check out our FREE Office Swap spreadsheet.  If you have extra paper clips, folders, lamps, and other items that you think other people at Colgate might need, post it on the site.  Likewise, if you are looking for common items, put in a request before spending money on new items.

Q: What do I do with scrap metal that is no longer needed?
A: Call B&G and put in a work order.  They will come pick it up for recycling!

Q: Do you have links to other resources that explain how to properly recycle at Colgate or at home?
A: Yes!  Check out these additional resources:

Colgate’s Recycling Guide and website
Madison County Solid Waste Department
NYS Electronic Waste Recycling
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – recycling and composting

Q: I still have an item or questions about recycling, what should I do?
A: Call (x6487) or email (jpumilio@colgate.edu) Colgate’s Director of Sustainability.  I will be glad to help.


Applications now open for 2015-16 Green Raider Internship Program

By Sustainability Office on June 4, 2015

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The Sustainability Office is pleased to announce four paid positions for qualified students to implement and manage Colgate’s Green Living 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 (2015) and spring (2016) semesters. Official start date is August 23, 2014 with arrival/move-in on August 22nd. Orientation is mandatory and will begin the morning of August 24th, but interns will be required to assist with first year move-in day.  Weekly work schedule is flexible, however, we will have mandatory team meetings once every week.

INTERNSHIP OVERVIEW AND PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

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.  We look forward to hearing your input on event management and programming throughout the year. 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 six first-year residence halls (Andrews, Curtis, East, Gate House, Stillman, West), as well as on 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

OTHER REQUIREMENTS:

FLEXIBILITY AND OPENNESS TO CHANGE. The Green Raider program is relatively new and we will have to adapt our strategies as the program matures. 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.

RECOMMENDED KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS and ABILITIES

  • 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.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS:

  • 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 17, 2015. Successful applicants are expected to begin work on August 23, 2015. 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, two students will be hired for only the spring 2016 semester to compensate for current interns going abroad.

  • In order to be considered for the position, applicants must complete the Colgate Green Certification Program (link) by July 18th.

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


Greenhouse Recovering Project 2015

By Sustainability Office on May 27, 2015

Student under greenhouse plastic

It was 6:00am on Monday, May 4 and the sun was just peeking above the horizon.  Most of Colgate was still sound asleep…but the garden team was busy at work with the final major project on their To Do list since the garden relocation began in 2014. The greenhouse that is a part of the Colgate Community Garden’s new location was finally get the facelift it needed.
A crew of about 15 students, faculty and staff were led by local farmers Brendan O’Connor and Colin Nevison in replacing the cover of the garden’s greenhouse.  The old cover was made of a white plastic, common in businesses such as Snyders Nursery, the previous owner of the greenhouse. But for the community garden’s operations, a clear plastic covering will be more effective. The clear plastic will allow more light to penetrate, raising temperatures within and allowing the community garden to extend their growing season both earlier in the spring and later into the fall.

The crew of volunteers and workers were able to take off the old cover and install the new one in about 5 hours.  The effects of the new cover are already evident- the temperatures inside the greenhouse are significantly higher and spring greens are growing nicely!
Thank you to all who helped with this latest garden project.  We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Greenhouse with new covering


The hidden environmental impacts of the fashion industry

By Sustainability Office on April 28, 2015

By Grace Dennis ’15

Few shoppers consider sustainability when purchasing new clothing but surprisingly the fashion industry has a major environmental impact. From production to transport to disposal fashion is the third most polluting industry after oil and agriculture. The impact of clothing begins with the production of fabric materials. Growing natural fibers is incredibly resource-intensive, with cotton alone responsible for a quarter of the pesticides used in the United States. Textile dyeing, which is responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution, also adds to the industry’s environmental impact. Factory-made clothing is extremely inefficient with fabric usage. For each garment produced 15-20% of the fabric is thrown away as scraps. With 1 billion garments coming out of China alone each year, that’s a lot of wasted material.

With the growth of fast fashion and cheap clothing retailers like Forever 21 and H&M society has begun to see clothing as disposable. New wardrobes can be easily bought to follow changing trends and torn clothing can be discarded instead of repaired and worn again. This growing disposable mindset of fashion has lead to the major increase of perfectly good clothing in landfills. In fact, the average American throws away 68 pounds of unwanted clothing each year. Currently only 15% of discarded clothing in the United States is sold in thrift and consignment shops, like Goodwill. As clothing becomes cheaper to buy new, the perceived resale value of unwanted clothes has decreased considerably. Cheap clothing also removes the need to buy used clothing at discounted prices. Only 12-15% of Americans shop at resale shops, creating a major gap in the circle of reuse.

Many clothing companies have acknowledged the environmental impacts of the fashion industry and have begun working towards more sustainable practices. Sustainably harvested fibers, waterless dye processes, and zero-waste manufacturing are all being tested out by many clothing brands. Consumer involvement is also a vital step in decreasing the environmental impact of the fashion industry. A movement away from the disposable mindset of clothing will help address the massive amount of waste created by discarded clothing. Quality of materials and construction should be highly valued and clothing should be seen as an investment. Higher quality garments will last much longer before fading or ripping. Consumers will also be more likely to repair a piece of clothing if they see it as a quality investment.

When a piece of clothing is discarded there are two main ways to keep it out of a landfill:

  • Recycling- clothing that is too worn or stained can be taken to a textile recycling center to be remade into new fabric
  • Donation or consignment- still wearable pieces can be donated to thrift stores like Goodwill or resold at consignment shops or online retailers

In order to complete the circle of recycling more shoppers need to purchase used clothing. Used clothing stores today are much more upscale than many people imagine. Chains like Second Time Around, which has stores in 12 states, and the online retailer tradesy.com specialize in reselling brand name clothing for a fraction of the original price. These new resale stores simplify the shopping experience by eliminating the need to sift through racks and racks of clothes to find quality pieces.

While sustainability may not be a major consideration when purchasing clothing, simple measures can be taken to decrease the impact our clothing choices have on the environment. Shoppers should consider sustainable brands and used clothing stores when making purchases. Many rips can be easily repaired at home or by a tailor, greatly extending the life of a piece of clothing. Finally, unwanted clothing should always be recycled, donated, or resold to ensure it stays out of landfills.


Can drinking beer help the environment?

By Sustainability Office on April 22, 2015

By Katherine Schultz ’15

Due to kegs not being allowed at Colgate, there is a ridiculous amount of beer cans consumed on campus. It is important to understand the benefits and accessibility of recycling in Hamilton, and the positive economic, social, and environmental impacts recycling can have.

Aluminum cans have the ability to be “good for the environment” if properly recycled because they have the ability to save energy, time, money, and natural resources. Unlike plastic bags, which endanger marine life and trash the planet, aluminum cans are 100% recyclable and there is no limit to how many times they can be recycled. Over 100 billion aluminum cans are sold in the United States each year, but less than half are recycled. This means that we are wasting about 1.5 million tons of aluminum worldwide, which contributes to emissions of carbon dioxide, and sulfur and nitrogen oxide during the smelting process. Mining for aluminum can disrupt the land, affect the environment, and create health problems for those exposed to toxins.

Recycling aluminum saves about 90% of the energy needed to make the aluminum because it is more energy efficient to make products from existing aluminum to than to create the aluminum needed for new products. According to the Container Recycling Institute, creating a new can is equivalent to powering a laptop for 11 hours. Additionally, recycling one pound of aluminum (about 33 cans) can save about 7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Overall, the recycling of aluminum uses less energy, less raw materials, sends fewer materials to landfills, and is cost effective.

If Colgate students want to recycle cans in Hamilton, cans can be brought to Caz Cans at 2352 State Rt. 12B, and Price Chopper. Both of these locations are accessible, but nevertheless if students are feeling lazy and do not want to drive their cans to these locations, if the cans are separated from the plastic cups used, Madison County has a recycling facility that accepts and recycles cans to benefit their center.

 

Sources:

http://environment.about.com/od/recycling/a/The-Benefits-Of-Aluminum-Recycling-Why-Recycle-Aluminum.htm

http://myzerowaste.com/articles/food/why-recycle-tins-and-cans/

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/importance-recycling-aluminum-cans-79304.html


A costly convenience: Keurig K-Cups

By Sustainability Office on April 6, 2015

By Lindsey Sagasta ’16

It’s easy to see how convenient Keurig machines are for the average college student vying for that extra 10 minutes of sleep or studying, however, the waste associated with the K-cups goes largely unnoticed, and that’s a problem. In the past few years, there has been a large amount of attention drawn to the waste generated by Keurig K-cups, and many protests have sprung up in response to the unsustainable products. At the forefront of this movement is the “Kill the K Cup” campaign. If you haven’t seen the viral video– I strongly suggest you to check it out as well as KillTheKCup.org.Picture1

This recent backlash and attention to the matter has even spurred the creator of the Keurig machine to speak out about the unfolding disaster. According to a Buzzfeed article based off of an interview with The Atlantic, John Sylvan regrets creating the device because of the waste associated with the single-use cups (which are not recyclable or biodegradable). In fact, it was calculated that if each pod that ended up in a landfill in 2014 was lined up, the Earth could be circled an estimated 10.5 times- maybe even more.

The vision Sylvan first had of the pod-based coffee machine was solely for offices, and now, almost one in three American homes is in possession of one, with many more similar pod-requiring appliances in the works (a Keurig for jello shots,  Coca-Cola: “Keurig Cold”, Campbells: Keurig Soups). And although subsets of Keurig, such as Keurig Green Mountain, have announced their commitment to a fully recyclable version of a K-cup by 2020, Sylvan is skeptical of their success. Sylvan told The Atlantic “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” largely because of the requirements of the machine’s brewing process.

Until the manufacturers of the cups can address their wrongdoings- there are things that K-Cup users can do to make a difference, and for some, Keurig is willing to assist you.

  • In the “Grounds to Grow On” program, customers using Keurig machines at their offices are able to “collect each brewed pack and return it to our disposal partner.” Left over grounds are collected for compost and use in a variety of agricultural applications, while the packs are given to Covanta Energy to gather energy from the waste.
  • Some environmentally conscious K-Cup lovers have taken to creative and practical ways of reusing the cups.
  • One nifty YouTube user has created a great tutorial on how to repack k-cups for her Keurig machine- using the plastic cups up to for or five times before sending them to the landfill AND composting leftover coffee grounds! (Also mentioning the “My K-Cup” option to reducing waste or using your own coffee)

Stay up to date with KillTheKCup.org if you want to learn more about current efforts to reduce waste and other sustainability issues regarding single-serve items. On campus, you can reduce coffee waste by refilling your coffee mugs at places such as the Coop, Hieber Café, or Frank.


Springing into sustainability

By Sustainability Office on April 1, 2015

By Mallory Hart ’16

As we can all tell, Taylor Lake is beginning to thaw, the snow is melting, and we might even hear some birds chirp outside our windows. Spring is coming! Adding some sustainable checkboxes to that spring-cleaning list of yours could be an easy and effective way to change some unsustainable behaviors. Here’s a list of a few easy things you can do this spring that involves enjoying the warmer weather, staying organized for school, sprucing up the dorm room, and considering your wardrobe.

  • Rent a green bike! It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors while getting where you need to be. A favorite of mine is biking downtown on weekend mornings for brunch. The rental period for bikes in the spring is from April 1 – May 1 and only cost $15/month. Check out the website for more information colgate.edu/greenbikes
  • Midterms are over so it might be time to reorganize that messy binder and refill all the paper you used up studying. First, try using both sides of any scrap paper you might have. This can help reduce the amount of paper used in general. After, be sure to purchase 100% recycled paper for the rest of the year and continue to use both sides.
  • When its time for the actual dorm room clean up, think about the types of cleaning products to use. Typical chemical spray cleaners release volatile organic compounds and toxins, making air in most homes as much as five times more polluted than air outside. Method, The Honest Co.*, and Seventh Generation are some eco-friendly brands to keep in mind when purchasing products for the home (or dorm). As a general rule of thumb, use cleaning products that…
    • List ingredients
    • Contain no chlorine, ammonia, or synthetic chemicals
    • Are certified biodegradable
    • Come in recyclable packaging
    • Are Green Seal certified
  • Clean out your closet. It’s time to part ways with that old sweater you didn’t wear all winter – yeah; I’m talking about that one. While spring-cleaning usually involves putting away all of the heavy winter gear and replacing it with some fabulous new warm weather clothes, there are a few things to take into account before doing so. It’s important to DONATE your old clothes, since its good for the environment and society at the same time. When it comes to spring shopping, check out vintage stores! The clothes bought at thrift shops are second-hand, making recycling part of your wardrobe as well.

* Shout out to Colgate’s Entrepreneurs Weekend that is bringing The Honest Company’s Founder and CCO Jessica Alba on campus next weekend. Check out http://www.colgate.edu/distinctly-colgate/entrepreneurship/entrepreneur-weekend#ew_schedule for more information.


Get ready for the 13 Days of Green!

By Sustainability Office on March 25, 2015

By Ben Schick ’17

As March comes to a close and Hamilton begins to thaw out of the frozen tundra that has engulfed campus for four months, Colgate prepares for the coming of its annual 13 Days of Green.  13 Days of Green is a campus wide event lasting from April 10-April 22 that aims at raising environmental awareness on campus.  The event offers educational programming, events, and competitions that engage students in sustainability on campus and give them the tools necessary to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

This year’s 13 Days of Green consists of a variety of events that highlight different ways organizations around campus are working to make Colgate more sustainable. The full schedule for the 13 Days of Green will be available on the Colgate mobile app starting next week. However, here are some events to look out for:

  • Ongoing:  Window sticker design competition.  Colgate wastes large amounts of heat every winter due to open windows in residence halls.  Students can help Colgate save heat and energy by designing a window sticker reminding students to keep their windows shut during the winter.  The artist of the winning design will win a gift card to a restaurant in downtown Hamilton.
  • April 11:  Head down to the Community Garden at 1pm to get a tour of the garden and learn about sustainable gardening practices.  Food from Hamilton Whole Foods will be provided.
  • April 14:  Sustainable and local food brownbag.  Led by Environmental Studies Professor April Baptiste and Director of Sustainability John Pumilio, this brown bag will look at Colgate’s initiatives to incorporate sustainably grown and local foods into our dining halls.  We will also explore the emerging local food market network in Hamilton, NY.
  • April 16:  Vegetarian dietician appointments.  Led by the Shaw Wellness center, students have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with a vegetarian dietician to learn how to adopt a nutritious and balanced plant-based diet.  Sign up for a one hour slot from 4-8pm by emailing rhangley@colgate.edu.
  • April 18:  Tree planting with COVE Sidekicks from 1-3pm.  Sidekicks will be celebrating Earth Day by planting saplings at the top of the old ski hill.  There will also be tours of the Darwin Thinking Path and environmentally friendly snacks. All are invited!
  • April 22 (Earth Day):  The 13 Days of Green culminates with the Oak Awards.  Formerly known as the Green Awards, the “Oakies” recognize individuals and groups on campus that have made a positive impact on Colgate’s campus through sustainability-related efforts.  Come join us for the award ceremony and free dinner from Hamilton Whole Foods.  In addition, if you wish to nominate an individual or group for an Oakie, please fill out this form:https://docs.google.com/a/colgate.edu/forms/d/1zaYwaqVmhvylk0CEKCvKMbAqOxiQyHUukiaEI6fzWy0/viewform.

While the 13 Days of Green is a fantastic event that engages students in sustainable living at Colgate, it is by no means the only opportunity students have to get involved in sustainability on campus.  There are countless ways students can immerse themselves in sustainability on campus.  The events, workshops and competitions of the 13 Days of Green is meant to serve as a starting point for students on their road to living a sustainable life now and in the future.  For more information, on how you can get involved beyond the 13 Days, visit colgate.edu/green.


Say Goodbye to Styrofoam

By Sustainability Office on March 17, 2015

By Sara Reese ’16

As members of the Hamilton community, we’ve probably all ordered Dunkin Donuts coffee, thinking nothing of the Styrofoam cup that’s handed to us through the drive-thru window.  And we’ve all probably been to a campus event and been served take-out food on Styrofoam plates.  While the everyday consumer might not consider the type of tableware or cup that they use, the fact is, Styrofoam is harmful to the environment and also our health.  As members of a renowned liberal arts university with one of the most aggressive carbon neutrality dates in higher education, the sustainability of our purchases should always be considered.

Styrofoam is identified as the fifth largest contributor to waste in the environment – occupying an estimated 30% in our nation’s landfills.  Styrofoam is also non-biodegradable, meaning that it will persist in that landfill forever.  An important compound in Styrofoam is Styrene, which was identified as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) several decades ago.  Additional chemicals found in Styrofoam have been known to leach into food and beverages as it is heated up in the Styrofoam tableware or cup, leading to human ingestion of these chemicals.  According to EPA studies, Styrene is now found in 100 percent of the fat tissues sampled from every U.S. citizen (including children).  Clearly, Styrofoam has negative impacts on our environment and our bodies.

On March 10th, the Colgate University Student Government Association unanimously passed both a resolution and a bill against Styrofoam.  The bill, acting as a change to bylaws pertaining to the Budget Allocation Committee, prohibits BAC-funded student groups from using BAC-funding to purchase Styrofoam.  That means when student groups host events and order pizza and drinks for pickup or delivery, there has to be explicit notice given to the vendor that Styrofoam cups or plates should not be provided.  The resolution informs all Colgate departments and offices that the student body dissuades the use of Styrofoam and suggests action to reduce Styrofoam purchasing.

This bill and resolution builds momentum towards the ultimate action that should be taken – a campus-wide Styrofoam ban and ban within the town of Hamilton itself.  With recyclable and biodegradable options being offered at comparable prices, Styrofoam should not be allowed.  This wouldn’t be an unprecedented action – many cities, counties, and states are already banning Styrofoam, including New York City.  There are also many colleges and universities that have banned Styrofoam on campus.

With Styrofoam now banned from BAC-funded events, I encourage all of us – students, staff, and faculty – to invest in reusable cups and mugs.  Instead of using disposable containers, consider purchasing a reusable container or thermos that can be used over and over.  Making more conscious purchasing decisions can protect our environment and our health.  Let’s say goodbye to Styrofoam.

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