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Don’t call me a “consumer.” I prefer experiential living.

By Sustainability Office on August 30, 2013

21ba8bbArticle submitted by Kathryn Bacher ’14

I do not like to shop. I’ve never understood the concept of browsing and rarely enter a store unless I know it has something that I need. If my friends convince me to come along, I am the one sitting on the nearest couch or hurrying everyone else along with their purchases. According to the New York Times, it is estimated that the average American is inundated with about 5,000 advertising and promotional messages in a single day. Despite my exposure, I like to think I am immune to the advertising that bombards us and encourages over-consumption. However, many defend shopping on the basis that it is therapeutic or a recreational activity, and is seemingly harmless if one has enough money to spend. Even political systems endorse shopping since consumption is the largest component of gross domestic product (GDP), which measures a country’s standard of living. When consumption decreases, countries are often said to be in an economic slump or recession. Read more

UPDATE: The Argument Against Oil Sands Development

By Sustainability Office on August 29, 2013
By Jack Eiel

By Jack Eiel ’15


The Sierra Club, Oil Change International, and 13 partner groups have just released a report that settles the issue unequivocally: Keystone XL would be a climate disaster.  Therefore, due to the reasoning in my original article, President Obama should “shred” the permit and put an end to the Keystone XL Pipeline once and for all.


Shaking my typical morning grogginess off, I rose early and put on my best attire. Wearing warm colors, I made my way downstairs to where everyone was already bustling about. You see, every year my family hosts Easter at our home just outside of Philadelphia. All of my siblings, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and cousins were there. We had a small breakfast of crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, and strawberry scones and afterwards, made our way outside into the crisp, March morning. We were all in good cheer; the older members of the family were sitting, drinking, and conversing, while the young ones ran rampant through the yard searching for eggs. It was a lovely day and I took a moment to appreciate how privileged I was.

Others on this day were not so fortunate. Two days earlier the Pegasus pipeline burst near the outskirts of Mayflower, Arkansas, a suburban neighborhood, spilling over five thousand barrels of oil onto the streets, the surrounding environment, and residents’ backyards. Two-dozen homes were evacuated, while Exxon Mobile began to contain and clean up what was being categorized as a “massive spill.” Leaving many families homeless and without a place to celebrate Easter. I felt a pang of sorrow for these families’ misfortune and put them in my prayers. After the celebration was over and my family had left, I began researching the spill. Read more

Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Central New York

By Sustainability Office on August 28, 2013
Article submitted by Jenna Glat '14

By Jenna Glat ’14

“You’re sure you don’t want to go to school in Florida?” asked my grandmother upon hearing of my decision to apply as an early decision applicant to Colgate University. No, she didn’t ask me this in hopes of me being closer to her for the next four years of my life. Like many, she was aware of the fact that Colgate and the Central New York (CNY) area as a whole is notorious for some of the worst winter weather in the Northeast. I enthusiastically shook my head “no” and crossed my fingers that an acceptance letter would arrive in a few weeks.

Fast forward to the middle of October in the following year. I had just finished a regular day of classes at Colgate, and returned to my residence hall to relax before I would meet my friends for dinner and start my assignments for the night. Sitting down at my worn, scratched desk, with the memories of those before me etched in tiny letters, I flipped open my computer and opened up the Internet – the perfect distraction from my schoolwork. Unlike most students, I didn’t immediately go to Facebook, Twitter, or another social media site, but instead went to the webpage for the Weather Channel. As I checked the 10-day forecast for the Hamilton area, I let out a loud shriek, to the surprise of my roommate. In a short nine days, we were expected to receive snow showers – our first winter weather event of many to come. Read more

Alternative Transportation at Colgate

By Sustainability Office on August 23, 2013


As part of Colgate’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2019 the university is using many strategies to mitigate climate change. One of our biggest sources of carbon emissions is transportation and as such Colgate is exploring alternative transportation options to help mitigate these emissions. Moreover, the Sustainability Office is working to create a sustainable culture at Colgate in which environmental consciousness becomes second nature. Here are a few ways in which Colgate is going green on the road. Read more

NYC Bikeshare

By Sustainability Office on August 21, 2013

581819_10200195985036811_668079102_nMy hair was more blonde back then. It got bleached by the sun in the hot Rochester summer. I still remember those humid days with my mom and my brother, Dan. We woke up to the symphony of the suburbs; the highway nearby rang with the sound of rubber smacking on asphalt, a dog barked somewhere far off, and the leaves by my window rattled, letting light into my room as a saltshaker would. My mother had left for work already and I jumped out of bed and was eager to start another day. I grabbed the handles of my Huffy bike and cranked away down the street. My hair flew back and the wind bit my eyes as I went what seemed like a million miles an hour; I’ve never felt so close to flying. Read more

Green Bikes

By Sustainability Office on August 19, 2013

Student unlocking a bicycle from a bike rack

581819_10200195985036811_668079102_nThe Green Bikes Program here at Colgate provides easy, fun, and sustainable transportation for students and faculty by renting out bicycles each semester. The goal of the Green Bikes Program is to increase bicycle commuting, reduce driving and fossil fuel use, and promote healthy living choices. The Green Bikes Program supports Colgate’s larger goal and ambitious commitment to be carbon neutral by 2019. Advancing sustainability will take leaders, and the best way to lead is by example. Every Green Bikes rider serves as a role model who implicitly states, “I support alternative transportation.” Whether seen around campus or downtown, Green Bike riders show that travelling sustainably is a great way to stay in shape while reducing air pollution. The benefits of bicycling are numerous; it’s great exercise, it’s cheaper than automobiles, and it’s the most fun way to get anywhere using your legs and feet just to name a few. Read more

Two Easy Ways to Eat Local — Community Shared Agriculture and Farmer’s Markets

By Sustainability Office on August 16, 2013
Article submitted by Jenna Glat '14

By Jenna Glat ’14

Here in Hamilton, NY, it is not very difficult to find a farm in the surrounding area. Simply leave campus heading in any direction and within a few miles and you will find yourself immersed in corn fields or cattle pasture. Many of these family farms have been in business for decades, and have been passed down from generation to generation. The owners often rely on the products of their farms for the sustenance of their families, and to do this they need the support of their surrounding communities.

There are two major, easy ways for us, as college students, to do this: through signing up for a CSA, or a Community-Supported Agriculture program, or through purchasing goods at the Farmer’s Market. In the 1960s a new fad was taking over parts of Japan, Switzerland, and Germany as a result of the changing food systems and questionable safety measures. CSAs began as groups of farmers and consumers came together to support local, healthy, socially equitable agriculture, according to the CSA Coalition. Read more

The Local Food Movement

By Sustainability Office on August 14, 2013

People enjoying the farmers' market in the Village of Hamilton


Article submitted by Kathryn Bacher’14

As an eight-year-old, calling me either a picky or unhealthy eater were both extreme understatements. Breakfast consisted of some sugary cereal like Fruit Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch that undoubtedly turned my milk a different color. Lunch was always a turkey sandwich on white bread, nothing else inside. Afterschool snacks were Gushers, Fruit Roll Ups, and Oreos. Dinner was frozen fish sticks heated up and dunked in ketchup. If my dad was taking me out to eat, we went to McDonalds so I could add another Happy Meal toy to the collection kept in my desk drawer. When my family went somewhere fancier, my decision was almost always between chicken fingers and fries or plain pasta with butter. My mother tried relentlessly to sneak a piece of lettuce into my turkey sandwich or accidentally forget to buy my frozen bag of fish sticks, but my palette accepted few other items other than the ones listed above. Read more

Madison County Open Farm Day, 2013

By Sustainability Office on August 13, 2013

For those of you living outside of beautiful, bustling Hamilton, NY for the summer, Saturday July 27th was Madison County Open Farm Day! The interactions we’ve had with other local food operations so far have been nothing but positive, from volunteering with the harvest effort at Common Thread Farm to checking out Hamilton College Community Farm. But between researching the “physiological leaf roll of the tomato” and sowing some late season kohlrabi seeds, there’s not nearly enough time to try getting our hands dirty at every farm in our neck of the woods. To us farming newbies, the Open Farm Day was a great chance to check out some of the growers behind the staples of the Hamilton Farmers Market.

While the wonderful Community Garden Internship affords Gabe and Skylar plenty of learning opportunities, the fields of mushroom farming and honey bee cultivation remained mysterious. First stopping at Highland Farms in our own backyard, we headed out to Fruit of the Fungi and learned the labor-intensive process of drilling holes in thousands of logs, cultivating mycelium, capping the logs with wax to retain moisture, waiting for a year, and then finally getting to start the actual mushroom growing process. As of now, there are definitely no plans for mushroom cultivation at the Community Garden.

We then set out for Johnston’s Honey Bee Farm, where we got some sweet posters. There was also a seriously sweet demonstration of the honey extraction process, including obligatory questions about how many times the farmers get stung (apparently hundreds, sometimes). The honeycombs are pulled out of the bee boxes and first capped with a hot iron to expose the raw honey. They’re then set into an extractor, and spun at speeds fast enough that the honey is forced out of the combs. Bee jealous, it was cool.
For next year, Madison County Open Farm Day is totally worth the trip!

Eating Local to be Healthy, Not to Save the Planet

By Sustainability Office on August 12, 2013
Article submitted by Jenna Glat '14

By Jenna Glat ’14

When one hears the phrase “sustainable eating,” one of the first methods that comes to mind is eating locally grown food. Many would be surprised to learn that there are some people who do not support the locavore lifestyle, and wonder, “what could possibly be wrong with eating fresh produce, supporting neighborhood farmers, and boosting the local economy?” Cost is typically one of the major factors involved in deciding whether to purchase the slightly more expensive local, organic food, or to simply buy conventional supermarket food. Are the higher costs of local food outweighed by its associated health benefits? Read more