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That’s a Wrap: 13 Days of Green

By Sustainability Office on April 26, 2017
-Isabel Dove ’19

This past Saturday, people around the world celebrated Earth Day. Here at Colgate, April 22 marked the final day of the 13 Days of Green.

From April 10-22, the Sustainability Office sponsored a variety of green-themed activities and events. The 13 Days of Green began with a hugely successful kick-off festival on the academic quad. Various clubs, departments, and students came out to celebrate sustainability at Colgate while enjoying free food and beautiful weather.

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The festivities continued with the 13 Days of Green’s hallmark event. The 17th annual Green Summit featured three speakers: Chef Lateef, Madison Smith ’19, and Simon Solomon of the Roger Environmental Education Center. The speakers discussed the theme of “sustainability, community & you” and left the audience to consider their impact on both the Colgate and global communities.

Following the Green Summit, Oak Awards were presented to three members of the Colgate community who have worked hard to promote sustainability. Student, faculty, and staff awards were presented to Glenna Thomas, Andy Pattison, and Karen Austin.

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Midway through the 13 Days of Green, the Sustainability Office hosted a clothing swap in which students could donate clothes they no longer wanted and pick up other donated clothes to keep for themselves. The clothing swap enabled students to acquire new clothes in a more sustainable way as well as become more engaged in community events.

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The 13 Days were further enhanced by multiple panel discussions and ENST brown bags, including “Why We Know What to Do and Still Fail to Protect the Environment,” “Tweaks, Nudges & Disruptions: How Innovation Can Help Solve Environmental Issues,” “Sustainability & Climate Action Planning with Local Partners,” and “Climate Action under the Trump Administration: Sociological Perspectives.”

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During the finals days of 13 Days of Green, a zero-waste barbeque and zero-waste brunch were held in order to celebrate Earth Day (and/or SPW).

Overall, the 13 Days of Green successfully increased awareness of sustainability at Colgate and helped students engage in a sustainable lifestyle. Although the 13 Days of Green are over, we hope the Colgate community continues to treat every day like it’s Earth Day!

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A Sustainable Time of the Month

By Sustainability Office on April 24, 2017

-Anna McHugh ’17

This week marks my one year anniversary in switching to a menstrual cup instead of using disposable tampons and pads during my period. While I have been hesitant to publicly talk about periods due to various societal structures that hide and mark this phenomenon as secret and disgusting, my experience with a menstrual cup has opened my eyes and compelled me to share it with anyone who will listen.

Why do I need to read this?

If you do not menstruate, this information still very much can relate to you. You will interact with people who do use these products and it’s important to have some information on how they work and how they relate to sustainability.

For those who do menstruate, this could be an eye opener. These products are sustainable and financially practical. They are comfortable and approachable. And after reading this, I hope they make more sense.

So what is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup made of silicon or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like tampons and pads, it catches and collects it. It forms a seal to prevent any leaks and can remain in place for 12 hours at a time. And it’s reusable for up to 10 years.

The general idea of a reusable menstrual cups has been around in the United States since the 1860s. In 1937, actress Leona Chalmers created a design most similar to what we see today (pictured to the left). The public was less than enthused by this idea and Chalmers’ company, Tassette, disappeared in 1963. Menstrual cups were reintroduced in the late 1980’s but their popularity has spiked in the 21st century. The biggest evolution yet came in 2014 with a collapsible cup bringing menstrual cups into the mainstream.

How does this relate to sustainability?

There are many pros to switching to reusable menstrual products, many of which relate to the idea of reduction.

1. Less work

As mentioned before, you can keep a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours. It’s much less work only changing it once or twice a day, whereas tampons can really only stay in 4-6 hours.

2. Less waste

20 billion menstrual products end up in North American landfills each year. On average, a menstruator uses 12,000 disposable sanitary products in their lifetime. Using a menstrual cup reduces this personal waste substantially.

3. Less money

When you purchase a menstrual cup, you only have to shop for period products once a year and save an average of 75%.

4. Fewer toxins

Tampons have been found to contain traces of pesticides, bleach, and carcinogenic dioxin. Replacing tampons with menstrual cups reduces both your exposure to toxins and their release into the environment.

Are there other options?

I want to note that while I do talk only about menstrual cups, there are many different kinds of reusable menstrual products out there for those who need them! These products vary in prices, and some options are more financially accessible than others. For more information about these products, which include reusable tampons and pads, period panties, and organic cotton pads and tampons, visit Bustle’s 5 Ways to Make Your Period More Sustainable. If you decide to make the switch to a menstrual cup, you can buy one online or locally from Hamilton Whole Foods. There are a lot of resources out there, so do your research and consider making the switch to more sustainable period products.

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).


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!

Carbon Cube, 2017, Kimberly Duncan

By Sustainability Office on April 18, 2017

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6’3”x6’3”x6’3”, wood, chalkboard paint

The installation, Carbon Cube, is a visual representation of the volume of carbon gas each individual at Colgate University emits every 48 hours. The cube’s size is based on Colgate’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Report, conducted by the Office of Sustainability. It is made of wood and painted with chalkboard paint. This cube is inspired by a similar project was finished in 2009 by Christophe Cornubert in Copenhagen. Cornubert created a cube (27’x27’x27’) that represents the amount of carbon an individual in the US emits every two weeks.

I created this cube to contextualize the meaning of carbon emissions for the Colgate community. As an environmental activist and sustainability intern, one of the greatest challenges I encounter is communicating reminders of our daily impact on the environment, both as an individual and as a community. As an artist, I want to convey this impact in a meaningful way that resonates with people. The Carbon Cube’s solid black mass is a heavy reminder that our daily carbon emissions are real and lasting. It calls passersby to confront their environmental impact and compels them to reconsider their relationship with the Earth. Additionally, I chose to paint the cube in chalkboard paint to invite people to respond to the piece.  My aim is that the cube will undergo a transformation over its installation. The responses written on the cube will reflect the attitude of the campus towards their carbon footprint. With every response, the light chalk replaces some blackness of the cube and represents the hopeful change in behavior of our community as we are reminded of our impact.

With climate change being such a pressing issue, it is vital that those with relative privilege be accountable for their environmental impacts and are charged with the responsibility of aiding those who are experiencing the negative effects of climate change. As a private institution of higher education, Colgate has the potential to be a national example of a sustainable community. Additionally, with Colgate’s carbon neutrality deadline approaching in 2019, it is important that we, as a community, take the time to cut carbon emissions on our campus. Colgate has the responsibility and ability to reach meaningful carbon neutrality by fostering an environmentally sustainable mindset in its students, staff, and faculty as well as self-imposing institutional changes to cut resource use and carbon emissions. Hopefully, this cube will reinforce the importance of this process and motivate our community to reach our goal.

Sustainability for the Lazy

By Sustainability Office on April 2, 2017
-Delaney Pals ’18

A common preconceived notion is that one has to make great sacrifices in their life in order to be sustainable. However, there are many little things you can do each day that will help make a big difference, without having to drastically change your lifestyle, or even leave your couch! The list below highlights easy things you can do to help the environment:

  • (Red)Meatless Monday: By cutting just one meal of red meat out of your diet, you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. You can decrease it even further by making that meal completely vegetarian. According to The Guardian, “red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions.”
  • Bring a reusable mug/cup with you: Many departments on campus have free tea/coffee/cocoa and hot water, so save the $2.50 and the disposable cup by bringing your own!

    Image retrieved from http://www.chargerbulletin.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/carbon-footprint.jpg

  • Decrease your use of K-Cups: K-Cups are not recyclable in typical recycling collections and they end up in landfills. Reports indicate that the number of K-Cups sold in 2014 could circle the globe 10.5 times. If cutting K-Cups out completely is not an option, you can collect them and recycle at the International Office or buy a reusable K-Cup.
  • Keep your windows closed when the heat is on: Even though opening the window might make it feel cooler inside, the heater will keep cranking heat to keep the room at the temperature to which the thermostat is set. So a more environmentally friendly option is to turn down the thermostat instead of opening your window. Cuddle up in a blanket if you’re still cold!
  • Wash clothes on the brights or cold setting: Households that switch to cold water save 1600 pounds of CO2 emissions per year.3 These emissions come from heating the water used to wash clothes, so switching to cold water (which is shown to be as effective in washing clothes given our efficient detergents) helps you reduce these emissions. To save even more energy – and help your clothes last longer – avoid putting your clothes in the dryer and instead use a drying rack.
  • Use your energy-efficient dishwasher: Studies have shown that hand washing dishes uses 27 gallons of water on average and 2.5 kW hours to heat the water (for 12 place settings), whereas an energy-efficient dishwasher only uses 4 gallons of water and 1 kW hour of energy per load.  So load up your dishwasher, not only saving you time and energy, but also helping the environment!
  • Bring reusable bags to Price Chopper: And recycle your old non-reusable bags there as well!

Check out this list from the UN Sustainable Development Goals to learn about more easy things you can do each day to decrease your carbon footprint and help the environment without dramatically altering your lifestyle. If every person implements some of these minor changes in their lives, together we can make a big difference.