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Carry Your Trash Week

By Sustainability Office on February 27, 2019

February 10-16 was a garbage week for some people at Colgate.

To bring awareness to the amount of trash produced by individuals on Colgate’s campus on a daily basis, 34 students and 8 faculty and staff members carried their trash with them for a week.

Throughout the week, participants opted to dispose of their waste in a Ziploc bag instead of a trash can. All trash produced during the week, except for hygiene products and food waste due to health and safety concerns, was carried in the bag and was visible for all to see. Many bags were completely full by the end of the seventh day, clearly demonstrating how much waste an individual can produce in a week.

Some of the most common items were food packaging, plastic silverware and food boats from the Coop, and paper towels. Participants say that they tried to limit the amount of trash they produced throughout the week, but many items, such as paper towels used to clean equipment in the gym, were unavoidable. According to one student, “I didn’t realize how many simple items are impossible to use without producing trash, especially food wrappers and containers.” About 50% of participants produced more trash than they originally anticipated.

Carry Your Trash Week has made students, faculty, and staff members more aware of the waste they produce. One student reported that “it is so easy to throw something away without thinking about it. Having to actively put it in a bag makes you much more conscious.” Additionally, Carry Your Trash Week has inspired people to change their behavior. Many students have committed to bringing reusable silverware up the hill and opting for a reusable mug instead of a disposable to-go cup.

In addition to compelling participants to face the amount of trash they produce in a week, another goal of Carry Your Trash Week was to encourage the entire Colgate community to think about their waste. However, despite participants’ best efforts to display the trash they were carrying, many did not receive questions or comments about their trash from others. One student reported that the only people who were willing to talk about reducing waste were already conscious of their own trash. According to Professor Jason Kawall, “I made sure [my trash bag] was highly visible in my classes but no one took me up on it, which was a little disappointing.”

Although overall campus engagement fell short of expectations, Carry Your Trash Week was still a great success, as many people on campus became more aware of the trash they produce and are taking action to consciously reduce their waste.

Sustainably Staying Warm

By Sustainability Office on February 18, 2019

It’s no secret that Colgate students face quite a challenge staying warm during the frigid central New York winters. However, heating is incredibly energy intensive and greatly contributes to Colgate’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/colgateuniversity/

In 2017, over 50% of the university’s carbon emissions were associated with heating. Colgate’s heat comes from multiple sources including wood chips, natural gas, fuel oil, and kerosene. In order to heat campus as sustainably as possible, Colgate has recently made upgrades to campus infrastructure. For example, natural gas replaced fuel oil in the townhouses during summer of 2018. Although natural gas is a non-renewable resource, it is still much less carbon intensive than fuel oil. Additionally, the heating plant has recently been upgraded to support more efficient wood chip burning, which is a carbon neutral source of heat. These upgrades will help to reduce future carbon emissions.

While the university has taken steps to reduce carbon emissions associated with the operational side of heating, students can play a large role in reducing the amount of heating that is actually used. Here are some tips to help you both stay warm and decrease your carbon footprint on campus:

  • Make sure all windows are closed when the heat is on
  • Don’t turn your thermostat above 70 degrees
  • Use a blanket and wear warm socks
  • Lower the temperature a few degrees when you’re not in your room
  • Wear warm winter clothes when you are outside to maintain a healthy body temperature so that you are not tempted to turn up the heat after returning inside
  • Turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees if you won’t be in your housing for an extended period of time, such as over Spring Break

Establishing healthy heating habits now will also benefit you later in life when you’re responsible for paying your own heating bill. According to energy.gov, lowering the thermostat by 10-15 degrees for 8 hours per day will help you reduce your bill by 5-15% per year.

Heating is a necessary part of life, especially during the Spring semester at Colgate, but is unfortunately a large contributor to carbon emissions. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of how much energy we use to heat our rooms and do what we can to stay warm sustainably.

Meet the S-Reps

By Sustainability Office on February 14, 2019

The Sustainability Representative (S-Rep) program introduces first-year students to the sustainability culture at Colgate and equips them with the skills and information they need to improve sustainable practices in their Commons communities. These are the 2018-2019 S-Reps!

Ellie Lawrence is a Brown Commons S-Rep from Chicago, Illinois. She intends to double major in Political Science & Middle East/Islamic Studies. Ellie is involved with Club Ice Hockey & the Office of Admissions, and also enjoys skiing, working on political campaigns, and journalism. Ellie is passionate about making this campus a more environmentally-minded place.

Juliana Koller is a Ciccone Commons S-Rep from Weston, Connecticut. Juliana intends to major in Environmental Studies. She enjoys being in Shock Dance Group and working at her sleep away camp in the Berkshires. Juliana is excited to help run events for Colgate’s 13 Days of Green.

Willa King is a Brown Commons S-Rep from New York, NY. She is an Economics major and is involved with the Hamilton Fire Department. Willa also enjoys baking and backpacking in her free time. She wanted to be an S-Rep because she has been fortunate to see some beautiful places in nature and wants to make sure those places can be preserved for future generations.

Nicole Dienst is a Ciccone Commons S-Rep from Westport, Connecticut. She intends to double major in English and Environmental Studies. Nicole is also a writer for the Maroon News, is on the Residential Commons Council, and is a member of Green Earth Gang. She is also an avid readers and enjoy hanging out with friends and playing sports. Nicole wanted to be an S-Rep so she could have real hands-on ability to improve sustainability at Colgate.

Kate Connelly is a Brown Commons S-Rep from Smithtown, New York. She intends to double major in Environmental Studies and Economics, and is also involved with Model United Nations and Hamilton Outdoor Group. In her free time Kate loves binge-watching Game of Thrones and quoting vines. She became interested in being an S-Rep because she wanted to be an advocate for change at Colgate.

Melanie Crawford is a Ciccone Commons S-Rep from Atlanta, Georgia. She intends to major in Environmental Economics, and spends her free time partaking in Green Earth Gang, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with friends. Nicole wanted to become an S-Rep because she was interested in spreading awareness about the environment through events and campaigns.

Ramy Berenblum is a Dart Colgrove S-Rep from Bedford, New York. She intends to major in Environmental Studies and is also involved in Sidekicks and Club Squash at Colgate. Ramy loves to hike and backpack in her free time. She is excited to be a role model for sustainability on campus.

Clare McCormack is a Dart Colgrove Commons S-Rep who intends to double major in Sociology and Political Science. She is also involved with the Equestrian Team, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and Spoon University. Clare is a firm believer that everyone can pitch in to keep the Earth inhabitable and beautiful for many generations to come.

Elisabeth Pezzuto is a Brown Commons S-Rep from Hilo, Hawai’i who intends to major in Biochemistry. Elisabeth spends her time on campus partaking in Outdoor Ed programs and dance programs. She also loves hiking, exploring new places, playing volleyball, and making ceramics. Elisabeth is very passionate about sustainable living and collectively doing small things that can make a big difference.

Sam Brotmann is a Brown Commons S-Rep from Pound Ridge, NY. He is currently undecided about his major. Sam is also involved in Students for Environmental Action and WRCU Radio at Colgate. In his free time, he enjoys playing bass guitar. Sam has always been interested in the natural world and living sustainably, and is excited for the opportunity to make Colgate a better place.

Liam Higgins is a Ciccone Commons S-Rep from Massapequa Park, NY. Liam intends to double major in History and Economics and is also a Mock Trial Attorney and Career Services Intern at Colgate. Liam loves listening to music in his free time. He was interested in becoming an S-Rep because he cares about the environment and promoting sustainability and taking every step possible to ensure that the Earth is habitable for generations to come.

Charlotte Carey is a Ciccone Commons S-Rep from Balitmore, Maryland. She intends to major in Environmental Studies and is also in Club Squash and UCAN at Colgate. In her free time she loves to paint, learn about art history, and hike. Charlotte is so excited to learn more about the sustainable initiatives on campus and to be involved in making Colgate a greener school.