sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese


Compost Champs


If you read our last waste-related post from the summer, you may be hungry for updates on how SPU is doing this school year. As we will be conducting our next waste audit come May 2017, we thought we’d give a mid-year update, specifically regarding compost.

In its second year, SPU’s compost program is already diverting more food and yard waste as compared to last school year. Here’s a graph detailing our campus compost by tons for the last year and a half:

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Aotearoa New Zealand: Sweet As!


Eighteen students, thirty-thousand sheep, two Kiwis, twelve days, and one incredible experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

These numbers only begin to describe the study abroad I recently participated in. This trip was organized for more than two years by two Kiwis: Dr. Ross Stewart, SBGE Dean and Professor of Accounting, and Dr. Daniel Schofield, Professor of Chemistry.

schoross_geothermal

Daniel and Ross at the Waimangu Inferno Crater Lake. Photo courtesy of Daniel Schofield.

After Fall Quarter finals, eighteen students studied abroad in Aotearoa New Zealand. We focused on aspects of environmental and cultural sustainability from both accounting and chemistry perspectives.

“Aotearoa is the [indigenous] Māori name for the country of New Zealand. The literal translation of Aotearoa is ‘land of the long white cloud’” (Māori Tourism Lmtd.).

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Mottainai: Waste Nothing, Respect All


Have you ever thought about how much waste you generate on a daily basis? If you’ve spent any time in Japan, you may be more aware of your waste habits. Last December, my sister visited the country and got first-hand experience of this. She was struck by Japan’s lack of public trashcans and surprisingly litter-free streets. Some municipalities have over 44 different garbage categories and people often carry around their trash all day to dispose of it properly at home.

Waste is a serious matter in Japan, guided for centuries by the cultural concept of Mottainai

having respect for the resources around you, to not waste these resources and to use them with a sense of gratitude.”

This way of life and disposal makes sense for an island country with limited landfill space. It’s encouraging that affluent, consumer-based countries have created such dynamic cultural waste norms, especially in light of America’s throw-away habits. For food waste alone, it’s estimated that the U.S. tosses 30-40% of its food produced annually, costing about $165 billion and producing almost 34 million tons of waste. Considering that every ton of food wasted creates 3.8 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the scope of this issue is staggering. What’s more, globally about $1 trillion or one-third of all food produced goes uneaten.

Due to these realities, we conduct an audit to track SPU’s waste contribution. This year with the implementation of a campus-wide compost program, it was a lengthier collection and recording process. Over the course of May, we analyzed about 820 cubic yards or 310,535 lbs. of waste: 26% garbage, 61% recyclables, and 13% compostables.  Continue reading


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Follow up on the Food Waste Fight and Faith


In some of my previous posts I touched on the problems of food waste , as well as some solutions for the rising problem in America. I also appreciated and reflected on parts of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter in a 3 part series about how faith and sustainable practices go hand in hand. The Pope is not the only person who has noticed this connection and is asking faith communities to step up to the issue of climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency here in the states has also recognized how the faith community can partner in helping the planet. With this thought, the EPA has launched their Food Steward’s Pledge to help reach the goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent in the next 14 years.

This move towards encouraging members of the faith community is based on changing food waste through systemic channels. In an interview with NPR, Gina McCarthy the EPA Administrator says that this strategy allows the EPA to tap “into incredibly motivated and dedicated people”. NPR’s report goes on to highlight many religious groups who are taking part in the food waste fight, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or other faith groups.

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Summer start up!


As the summer weeks are now in full swing, and the first official day of summer is coming up our campus is implementing compost! We’ll start placing bins in office buildings, with the residence halls to follow. The bin in our office This is the bin in our Facilities office that is right at home next to our recycling.

Our warehouse is filled with bins eagerly awaiting deployment, but in need of compostable bags to go with. Some bins will go out today, and others around campus have been re-labeled for composting capacity, in common spaces like the lobby of Demaray Hall and near Common Grounds in Weter.
Lg Compost BinsThese bins are part of the campus implementation of the city ordinance that started January 1st of this year that prohibits compostable or recyclable items from being disposed of as garbage. In addition to the many small bins on campus inside the buildings being added, there are 8 new pick up locations for all of our food waste to go.

Other bins have been ordered to increase recycling on campus and will be added to our indoor recycling program.Recycling & Counter top bins

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Earth Day(s) Events around the country


I’m guessing that if you follow this blog or are even just checking it out for the first time, you know that Aprill 22nd was Earth Day! I wanted to highlight a few things I found going on at other universities and our own that reflect on the importance of Earth Day.

Food on the front page at George Washington University in Virginia:

At GW, food and agriculture were the main concern of an event that took place Thursday night. Experts spoke at the Feeding The Planet Summit and discussed the future of food and how to fight hunger appropriately using science and sustainability. You can also check out some of their highlights.

SPU’s Scientific Discussion Group:

Scientific Discussion for EarthDayOur own scientific discussion group that meets about weekly on campus honored Earth Day as well. On Tuesday there was a discussion on agriculture as well, regarding the conservation of the grasslands in the U.S. and livestock. The group watched a TED talk and then discussed points from it. If you’d like to, you can still catch the TED talk. You can also get involved by going to their upcoming event next week regarding water conservation.  Email crowderr@spu.edu if you’d like to know more or be added to their email list.

Berkley’s efforts shine at summit: Continue reading


Arnett Hall Receives LEED Gold Certification


Arnett

Completed in August 2014, Arnett Hall is the newest residence hall and building on campus. Located at the corner of 6th and Bertona, Arnett houses up to 150 students. In recognition of its sustainable design and construction, Arnett was recently awarded LEED Gold certification.

Arnett Hall was certified under the new LEED for Home Mid-rise Multi-Family category, which places a high emphasis on durability, occupant awareness, and energy performance. Arnett joins Eaton Hall and the Cremona Classrooms as LEED-certified buildings on the SPU campus, and SPU is committed to achieving a minimum of LEED Silver certification on all new construction. LEED certification involves verifying that a building was designed and constructed to achieve various credits in categories such as building materials, location, energy, landscaping, water efficiency, and air quality measures for the building. Meeting specific requirements can improve the level certification that the building receives, whether through an upgrade in material quality or additional energy-saving features. Here are a few points to highlight: Continue reading