Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sustainability is Growing on Campus

This week we are welcoming the Class of 2018 on campus.  Among the many things they are learning about Ripon College is the importance of sustainability: use less stuff, use less energy,  and what can be recycled on campus (pretty much everything!).  Several dozen students and their families dropped by the Sustainability table in Pickard Commons for the Resource Fair. 

Resource Fair June 24-26, 2014

They also got to hear Kaitlyn Welzen '15 talk about the campus hoophouse and campus garden, as well as programs Sodexo dining has put in place to provide students with nutritious, local, and international options.  After her presentation, Kaitlyn was down in the garden picking strawberries and getting the ground ready for a late planting.

Kaitlyn Welzen taking a break from gardening

Cortland apples growing; hoophouse skeleton and compost in background
Happily, the Cortland apples are growing beautifully.  Perhaps we'll have enough apples this fall to bring in the apple press and make cider!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sustainability Intern working on Green Report Card

Just a quick brief entry here to share my enthusiasm for the work being done by EcoREPS coordinator, Kristen Larson '14, for her Environmental Studies senior seminar.

Kristen is gathering data to help the College with their first Green Report Card.  We know we're in the top third nationally for recycling, but that's not nearly the whole picture.  The report card will let us know how we're performing relative to other colleges and universities on a whole range of sustainability topics.

Check back in late April to see the results!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sustainability Intern update: EcoREPS, recyclable crafts, Earth Week planning

Hello all!
On Sunday, March 16, the night before Spring Break, I met up with the Eco-REPS. We discussed working with the R.A.s to communicate to students the recycling rules on campus. The Eco-REPS refined their speeches and made some awesome informative posters!

I am communicating with R.A.s and we will set up times the week following Spring Break for the Eco-REPS to give presentations on the residence hall floors, complete with visual aids!
 Eco-REPS were encouraged to identify some good ideas for recyclable crafting while they were on break.  Meanwhile, I am getting in contact with SMAC to organize an event around this idea.
I am also encouraging the Eco-REPS to consider assisting Kaitlyn Welzen with her hoop house project on April 5th. She is planning a trip to Appleton to learn how to build a hoop house (similar to a greenhouse, “but with metal ‘hoops’ and plastic sheeting” as she describes it).

 We have a lot of exciting events leading up to Earth Week, so look for them!
I hope everyone had a great Spring Break!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sodexo Intern Update #6: Honey & local greens

The Commons is now generally serving a “minimal meat Monday” menu on the classics line and healthy choice line for dinner. It is not advertised as such, but it is part of the goal to be more sustainable by using less meat-intensive meals. There has also been an increase in vegan foods and labeling them as such, which is fantastic for individuals who prefer not to eat animal products. 

PhotoOn the other side of that, the EGOR honey that was in the Commons at the beginning of the semester has been replaced with another local honey source: Henry’s Honey in Redgranite, WI. Here is a link to their Facebook page if you want more information:

In terms of sustainability, the Commons featured an educational campaign in the hopes of reducing straw usage as unnecessary waste in some cases. The straws are still available at the cashier’s stand, but are less accessible, and so individuals need to consciously make the decision to use a straw rather than do so out of habit. Also, Sodexo is part of the Recyclemania challenge and the campus “We proudly serve Starbucks” has a punch card program where after buying 10 drinks with a reusable mug, you get the 11th free. You win and so does the environment! 

Projects that are currently being worked on include how to include more local produce into the menu and also considering the possibility of incorporating some seasonal foods either more or less into the offerings according to the season. In a future blog, look for the results of a 14 for ’14 grant (through the President’s Office) that I wrote to increase food sustainability on campus. This is another project that is currently being worked on; but more on that later!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hello everyone, my name is Mamadou Toure. I am a senior Environmental Studies major. I am currently working on designing a Living Green theme floor with the Residence Life as an internship and  with support of Ripon College Sustainability. This eco-friendly floor in Anderson  Hall will focus on energy and water conservation.  Students selected will have to sign an agreement indicating their commitment to the Theme Floor and educating themselves and others about Green Living and sustainability. The members of this living group will apply a green lifestyle by applying the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle principle: managing their trash and recycling bins, creating eco-env activities (indoor & outdoor), working on designing green lifestyle for other students to follow, planting more trees and flowers, hosting an Earth Day event, helping to take care of the campus as a community…etc. My wish is that this theme floor living group will serve as an  eco-cultural living center that encourages sustainable lifestyle and also promotes it around campus. I believe that implementing  such a program in a college is an indispensable action that will help educate students in practical ways about environmental issues.  This will also reduce our environmental foot-print individually and as a community.

In today’s world, we take most things we consume for granted: electricity that comes in our power plugs, heat is produced by boilers and water heaters. Most of us do not think about the process  and the waste of our consumption. We must take into account our impact on the environment and also think about the future. This program I am working on will be bringing awareness and illustration of a green lifestyle in our campus. The Living Green theme floor will positively impact our actions and decisions around the environment and climate change. You must be the change you wish to see in the world as Mahatma Gandhi said, so let’s be it. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ripon College competes in RecycleMania

Starting today and going for 8 weeks (March 29) our campus will be participating in the national, inter-campus recycling competition, RecycleMania.

The purpose of RecycleMania is to increase awareness about what we're throwing away, to guide us as consumers to use less in the first place, re-use or re-purpose when possible, recycle what can be recycled, and to have FUN doing so.

Each week, I will be posting the number of pounds of solid waste and recycling we haul off campus.  
Pre-season baseline:
Solid waste:  17,259 pounds per week
Single-stream recycling:  4,448 pounds per week

Throughout this competition we will strive to lower the value of solid waste, increase recyclables, and overall have less waste (both solid and recyclable) leaving campus.

Here's what you can do:

  1. KNOW what can be recycled!  Paper, plastic (#1-#7), glass, aluminum, milk cartons can all be placed in single-stream recycling.
  2. RECYCLE everything that is recyclable.  Sound simple?  It is!  Dump out any food that may be in a container, then recycle.  
  3. TEACH others what to recycle.  
More information about waste reduction can be found on this blog under the "waste minimization" tab.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sustainability Intern: Holiday Break

Winter break is over and another semester at Ripon, my last semester, is beginning. Over winter break I went back to my old job at Panera Bread to work a few hours and make a few paychecks (I know, college ain’t cheap!). While there I took up my old position as the environmental captain. This previously had me enforcing recycling practices and conservation of water and energy throughout the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised when I came back to find that the Christmas gift given to the employees this year was a reusable tumbler that can be used for hot or cold drinks. 
I have always noticed how many coffee cups and plastic cups employees go through everyday. I often would bring in a reusable water bottle, but if I wanted coffee or something hot, I would then use a paper cup as well. I thought giving the employees these versatile tumblers was a great idea! But hardly anyone was using them! In order to cut down on the waste of employees using so many cups and to get them to use their tumblers instead I suggested an idea to the managers. Perhaps they could keep track of the employees who always bring in their tumbler and those who use the least amount of cups each week get a free signature drink such as a smoothie or hot chocolate that they would normally have to pay for. Now, I’m not sure if they will take up that idea, but at least I got them considering it. While I’m away at school there are a few others who are in the role of environmental captain at the Panera, one of which suggested the tumblers in the first place. Hopefully they keep up the great work! 
We go back to school in just a few days and EcoREPS will start up once more! I’ve got a few ideas in mind for this semester so hopefully we’ll be impacting the campus and we can be Ripon’s environmental captains!