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The Environmental Implications of the 2016 Presidential Election

By Sustainability Office on November 18, 2016
-Seamus Crowley ‘18

In the early hours of November 9th Donald Trump won a long election battle to become the 45th president of the United States. Now, the results of this historic election will have many implications, affecting everything from our nation’s relationships with other countries to the fate of the supreme court and their precedent-setting decisions. Of all the things that will be impacted by this abrupt shift in the governance of our nation, the treatment of the environment is certainly one of them. Putting aside political affiliations and opinions momentarily for the sake of recognizing fact, it is important to realize the implications that a Trump presidency has for our natural environment, both on a domestic and international scale.

While Donald Trump has not come out with any full-fledged policies regarding the environment since becoming president-elect of the United States, he has made numerous comments along the campaign trail that are indicative of what his plans may be. The short answer is that, under a Trump Presidency, the environment now faces an extreme threat from an exceptionally radical policy stance, the consequences of which have not been seen in this country for decades.

Regarding climate change, the most notable part of Trump’s plan is that he very clearly doesn’t believe it exists. More specifically, he believes that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese government as part of an economic scheme1. Furthermore, he wants to remove the United States from the Paris climate deal, effectively eliminating commitments to reducing the amount of greenhouse gas the country emits1. With Trump as president, the emissions for the U.S. are expected to rise, rather than fall as they have been, on average, since before 20081.

On the topic of domestic policies, Trump plans to limit the power of, if not completely eliminate, the Environmental Protection Agency while in office1. If he were to be successful in this endeavor, regulations on pollution from mercury, smog, and coal ash, among many other toxic materials, would go by the wayside resulting in a less healthy planet and population1. Trump also plans on striking down the Clean Power Plan, which President Obama championed during his time in office, thus allowing for more greenhouse gases to be emitted into the atmosphere via the burning of coal1. Trump has also said he wants to stop government spending on clean energy1.

It is clear that when we delve into the specifics of Trump’s plan for not only the environment, but also climate change, a clear and predictable pattern emerges. It is a pattern that aims to undo any progressive environmental programs previously implemented within the nation, while making it easier to do more harm to the planet with limited, if any repercussions.  Time will tell in the coming months if Trump’s environmental stances become a reality for the United States.



  1. http://www.vox.com/2016/11/9/13571318/donald-trump-disaster-climate

Project Clean Plate: Results

By Sustainability Office on November 14, 2016
-Madison Smith ’19

We did it! Last week ended this semester’s Project Clean Plate in Frank Dining Hall. I am happy to announce that we surpassed our goal of reducing our food waste to 1,100 pounds per week by ending with only 1,038 pounds of post-consumer food screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-33-51-pmwaste. This was a 611 pound drop over the course of the six-week event, meaning that significantly less money is being wasted on food within our dining hall and, more importantly, less waste is going into the landfill.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the purpose of this project was not only to spread awareness and reduce food waste on campus, but also to give back to our community. Chartwells pledged to donate the difference in our food waste reduction in food pounds to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. 611 pounds of food will be donated to the local cupboard, helping to restock their shelves and ease the cupboard’s economic constraint as we approach the holiday season.

Of course, just because we reached our goal for this semester does not mean that we can stop being conscientious about our food waste. Yes, some waste is inevitable, like banana peels, avocado shells, and meat bones, but there is still a large amount of edible and delicious food being thrown away. Some tips to cut down on your personal food waste include only getting one plate at a time, sampling a food item before committing to it, and sharing with a friend! I truly believe that we can reduce our food waste to far below 1,038 pounds. Let us be our Colgate best and continue to stay out of landfills!

Colgate Unplugged

By Sustainability Office on November 1, 2016
-Ashlea Raemer ’18


Tomorrow marks the beginning of Colgate Unplugged, an annual competition to reduce energy usage on campus. All residence halls monitored on Colgate’s building dashboard will be competing against each other and the building that reduces their energy consumption the most will win free pizza for their residents. Although the competition is designed for students living in the residence halls, we encourage all members of the Colgate community to partake in this year’s event to help Colgate cut energy consumption and take a step toward carbon neutrality. Here are 13 ways you can use less energy:

  1.  Turn off the lights when you leave your room.

This is perhaps the easiest tip on the list. By simply flipping the switch on your way out the door, you can save enough energy to reduce 0.15 pounds from your carbon footprint every hour.

  1. Switch to LED light bulbs.

LED light bulbs use at least 80% less energy than traditional incandescents and last 25 times as long. This simple switch could not only help your residence hall win the competition, but could reduce energy usage far beyond the competition time limits.

  1. Study in common areas.

Studying in common spaces like the library can allow you to take advantage of lights that are going to be on whether you use them or not. By sharing lights with other people rather than working alone in your room, you can make the energy it takes to power each light bulb go further.

  1. Unplug all chargers and appliances when not in use.

Cords and appliances use energy even if they aren’t in active use. The easiest way to prevent this waste of energy is to simply unplug these devices when you’re done using them. Want to streamline this process? Plug everything into one power strip with a switch and you can disconnect them all from power with one step.

  1. Don’t overcharge your devices.

Just like in the previous tip, if your device is plugged in even though it is fully charged it will continue to use energy.

  1. Avoid doing laundry with less than a full load.

Waiting to do your laundry until you have a full load will reduce the total number of loads you have to do and therefore your energy use.

  1. Wash your clothes in cold water and air dry your clothes.

75% of the energy used in one washing machine cycle is for heating the water, making the choice to use cold water an effective way to lower your energy consumption. Magnify this reduction by skipping the dryer altogether.

  1. When you need to print, use a campus printer instead of a personal printer.

Campus printers are plugged in and on whether you use them or not, so take advantage of them – especially when campus printing is free and personal printers contribute to your building’s energy usage.

  1. If you’re able to control the thermostat in your room, lower the temperature a few degrees.

Lowering the temperature in your room a few degrees will be a barely noticeable adjustment for you that can help your residence hall lower its energy use the most. Looking to do more? Lower the temperature 8-10 degrees when you know you’ll be away for a few hours.

  1. Make sure your windows are closed.

If your room is still cold despite your thermostat being set to a comfortable temperature you may want to check your windows, if they aren’t closed properly they could be making your room cold and releasing heat outside. If you can’t set your temperature from within your room and it is too warm, do not open your windows as doing so will result in the waste of energy. Instead, contact buildings and grounds to see about lowering the temperature in your room.

  1. Take shorter showers.

The average shower wastes about 40% of the energy required to heat the water. By taking a shorter shower you can reduce this waste and your building’s overall energy usage.

  1. Live in a building with an elevator? Try taking the stairs instead.

While each skipped elevator ride may not save that much energy, if everyone in the building skips the elevator and takes the stairs, throughout the competition that small change will add up to a significant energy savings.

  1. Share these tips with your fellow residents!

Your participation will help your residence hall and the university, but to do the most to conserve energy, get others involved! Encouraging others who live in your building to do the same is the best way to help your dorm win and to help Colgate take a step closer to carbon neutrality.