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Green Thumbs Hosts 13 Days of Green Event

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spring Party Waste

By Sustainability Office on April 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

(This article was originally published in the Maroon News)


Why your Mondays should be meatless

By Sustainability Office on March 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcing the 2016 Sustainability Summer Internship!

By Sustainability Office on February 2, 2016

Office of Sustainability Logo - Samantha Lee

JOB DESCRIPTION

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

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

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

QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE

The ideal Sustainability Intern:

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

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

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

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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

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


Announcing the 2016 Spring/Summer Garden Internship

By Sustainability Office on February 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Staying sustainable during the holidays

By Sustainability Office on December 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Local Food at Nelson Farms

By Sustainability Office on November 9, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NelsonFarmsCountryStore

website:   www.nelsonfarms.org

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

 


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

By Sustainability Office on October 28, 2015

KittyCalhounSquare

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

Dream Big ~ Find Your Passion

Be Inspired ~ Make a Difference!

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


New legislation bolsters the war against microbeads

By Sustainability Office on October 23, 2015

By Lindsey Sagasta ’16 (Environmental Biology Major from Buffalo, NY)

Last November I published a piece about microplastics in marine environments as a result of consumer hygiene products like toothpastes, body scrubs, and face washes. Essentially, these miniscule plastic microbeads cannot be filtered out of the water during sewage treatment. Enough plastic microbeads enter our water each day to cover eight football fields, over eight trillion single beads, currently concentrated at 1.7 million microplastic pieces for each square mile of the Great Lakes. Once in the water, the microbeads “become a magnet for toxins, Microbead pennysuch as dioxins and volatile organic chemicals found in our waters due to pesticides and industrial pollution.” The toxins are absorbed through the tissue of species that ingest the plastics, then biomagnified across the food web, and at the top trophic level, humans will be exposed to the highest concentrations of toxins.

Earlier in 2014, Illinois was the first state to ban the microbeads in personal care products due to their extensive damage to our skin and the environment, followed by Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, and New Jersey. Although these early legislations have jump-started the proposal of bans in other states, they have actually hindered the successful passing of bills in some assemblies. Further, these early bans include a “loophole” that allows corn-based plastic microbeads to be exempt because they are biodegradable. Despite “biodegradable” sounding environmentally friendly, corn-based products can only degrade at a very high temperature after a long period of time. Thus, these bans are allowing companies to green wash their products – a way corporations are trying to look green, but aren’t really being green – by including biodegradable plastic although it is just as harmful.

Microbeads scrubsFortunately, California passed a law in October that should ultimately set a nation wide stringent standard for plastic microbead production. Governor Jerry Brown approved Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s (D- Santa Monica) measure that will place a ban on exfoliating microbeads in personal care products as of January 1st, 2020. The passage of this law in California is a large step forward for environmentalists, according to this article, “When California bans something, because it’s a leader in the consumer products world, it tends to start a swell of changes across the industry.” Being the most populated state, it is easier for corporations to just remove the beads instead of designing a separate product to be sold only where bans are in place. As well, this specific ban does not include the loophole, setting an example for states that are in the process of passing legislation.

Michigan and New York, two of the Great Lakes states, are in the process of passing their own bans. In Michigan, the passage of the ban is struggling to stray from the loophole precedent set by the earlier states. The Michigan Chemistry Council currently backs it, but some lawmakers and environmental groups are fighting for more stringency. New York has been having issues passing legislation too. In 2014, the NYS Assembly voted 133-1 to ban microbeads in products, but it never made its way to the State Senate. The next year, the Assembly Microbeads vialsoverwhelmingly voted 139-0 in favor of the ban, but again it never reached the floor in the Senate. However, NYS counties have begun taking the matter into their own hands. In August 2015, Erie County unanimously passed its own ban, with many other counties following suite, including Albany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Monroe, and Niagara.

Federally, in March 2015, Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced a federal ban on microbeads in the U.S. House. Although it stalled out, it notably gathered 36 bipartisan cosponsors and drifted through a committee vote. More recently, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate called the Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015 to ban the microbead nationally.

Here’s how you can help The Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015: Send a letter in support of this act to your Senators and Congressman. The Huffington Post suggests you go to Oh Say Nation, a website that facilitates emailing lawmakers on issues that matter to you. Also, check out 5gyres.org to sign their petition and learn more!

All photos courtesy of http://www.5gyres.org/media-kit/.

 


Fashion’s not-so-stylish reputation

By Sustainability Office on October 21, 2015

By Breanna Giovanniello ’16 (Environmental Studies Major from Cold Spring Harbor, NY)

Sustainability and fashion are two words that are rarely found in the same sentence. However, what most people don’t know about fashion is that it is the third most polluting industry in the world after oil and agriculture. Being glamorous has a surprisingly large impact on water, global climate change, and toxic pollution.

Fashion happens to be the second largest consumer and polluter of water. One pair of denim jeans, for example, uses between 1,000 and 3,000 gallons of water. This polluted water is often released directly back into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

From growing textile fibers to moving fabrics around the world, clothing is a giant contributor to global climate change. Cotton, leather, and other raw materials grown in industrial farming operations require large land and energy footprints. Many of these operations take place overseas and require a great deal of energy to transport from China to America.

The fashion industry uses thousands of different chemicals to manufacture clothing; many of these chemicals are extremely toxic. The production of textile fibers uses 20 billion pounds of chemicals a year. 1,600 chemicals are used in dyeing processes, but only 16 are actually EPA approved. Runoff from these dye houses can contain heavy metals, alkali salts, toxic solids, and harmful pigments and often end up in our water supplies. These toxins end up harming not only human health, but also the various plants and animals that depend on our water systems.

Fashion has the tendency to be extremely unsustainable, however you have the ability to be a conscious and sustainable consumer. You can do that by:

  1. Investing in clothing made out of sustainable materials such as organic cotton, tencel, or viscose.
  2. Purchasing vintage or remanufactured clothing instead of brand new clothing. Remanufactured clothing can save more than 13,000 pounds of CO2 emissions a year.
  3. Not tossing your old items, but instead recycling and donating your old clothes! If every American recycled one more T-shirt a year, we would recover 210 billion gallons of water and 1 million pounds of CO2.
  4. Stopping water from becoming a fashion victim and washing smart! Wash your clothes only when necessary and in cold water to save water and energy.
  5. Drying smart! Line drying your clothes can eliminate up to 700 pounds of greenhouse gases annually.

It’s important to be aware of your everyday impact on the environment and make decisions to lessen this impact. Do a little research the next time you need a new sweater and look for brands such as Patagonia, the Reformation, and PeopleTree that produce environmentally sustainable clothing.

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