Increasing student involvement for sustainability

Hey Wildcats. I have a question that I need your help answering.

What can we do as a community to increase participation in sustainability related events or projects around campus? Sustainability is an issue that affects quality of life for us all; now and for future generations.

I would hope that my fellow students would not only be interested enough to participate, but also be excited to be a part of the creative process. From my observation, there seems to be a committed core group of people that are active in sustainability work, but the majority of people are more or less apathetic.

Let’s start a conversation about why this is.

If your hall has a green chair, you may have been asked to answer some questions targeting your individual interest and participation in sustainability. One question in the survey asked for suggestions on ways to make Linfield more sustainable. Many of the responses included: more fun sustainability focused events and more recycling and composting bins, but those suggestions are already in place. Greenfield puts on multiple fun events. There was a stuff swap in October, a Do-it-Yourself event in November, and there has been two great bike rides planned and executed. Yet, attendance at these events hasn’t been as strong as we would hope.

In terms of recycling and compost availability, recycling is widely available and compost bins have been introduced for the first time this semester – now we have to be sure everyone uses them, and uses them correctly.

What I’m trying to say is that there are already mechanisms and opportunities in place to get involved but the lack of participation still occurs; so there must be different reasons for it.

Is it because people are genuinely uninterested in the journey towards a more sustainable campus? Is it because it seems too difficult to become an active participant? Is it because you don’t want to change the routine you are used to? If you are reading this, ask yourself why there is a lack of student involvement and what would motivate you.

The special thing about sustainability is that it takes group effort and participation to achieve great results, and luckily there are a variety of ways to make a contribution. Your participation is greatly appreciated because its affects more than just Linfield. It affects the whole community around us. It is necessary for us all to participate in the creation of a sustainable community.

So what do you think Linfield? What do you think we could do to enhance active participation by overcoming roadblocks?

I’d love to hear your thoughts by sending an email to [email protected].

Nicole Lewis / Office of Sustainability

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Linfield strives for climate neutrality on campus

On April 22, 2008, President Thomas L. Hellie signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment, setting a goal to one day achieve climate neutrality for Linfield College. The ACUPCC provides a framework for colleges and universities around the country to become climate neutral and advance education for sustainability. By signing to the ACUPCC, President Hellie has committed to eliminate operational greenhouse gas emissions, provide the education, research, and community engagement to enable the rest of society to do the same, and to publicly report progress on an annual basis. Lewis & Clark, Willamette, the University of Portland, and Seattle Pacific University are several other colleges in the Pacific Northwest whom have also signed the commitment.

To analyze and record Linfield College’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a GHG Emissions report is written looking at an entire fiscal year. The first GHG Emissions report Linfield produced was for the 2006-2007 fiscal year and then for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Currently, Duncan Reid and the Office of Sustainability staff are finishing up the report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

While previously reported through Linfield’s Capital Planning & Development Department, Reid and his staff took on the commitment once he was hired in the spring of 2013.

Since the beginning of the spring semester in 2013, the Office of Sustainability has been working on a GHG Emissions report to submit to the ACUPCC by January 2014. In order to calculate Linfield’s total GHG emissions, campus wide data is collected and broken down into several major categories. The main contributors to Linfield’s GHG emissions include: natural gas, study abroad air travel, other travel (faculty reimbursement travel or athletic team travel), solid waste, fertilizers and chemicals.

While Linfield has quite a long path to reach climate neutrality, Linfield has reduced its carbon emissions by a whopping 44 percent since the 2009-2010 fiscal year report. Duncan Reid is leading the march toward a sustainable Linfield, and with the assistance of his staff and groups like Greenfield and ACES (Advisory Committee on Environment and Sustainability), we are going in the right direction.

If you would like more information on Linfield’s GHG emission reports, the ACUPCC, or want to get involved in anyway, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website.

To quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Joey Gale / Office of Sustainability

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Participate in ‘No Waste November’

Hey Wildcats,

No Waste November is quickly approaching.

What is No Waste November you ask? It is period of time to become aware of the amount of waste you are creating, the impact your consumption has on the environment, and work on reducing it. Maybe even creating a zero waste goal.

As you may have heard, Linfield is working towards zero waste. We have composting in Dillin, residence halls, and select places around campus. Recycling is also prevalent in residence halls and around campus. We are lucky to have these options so we should use them responsibly and think before we throw things away. Know before you throw: Food waste is the only thing that can go in the compost bins. Paper, cardboard, metals, plastic containers, and plastic bottles are the items that can be put in the commingled recycling. Of course, glass scraps and glass bottles should go in the glass recycling. Things that do not fit into those categories can be thrown away and will be taken to the landfill. I support every one of you to take advantage of the opportunities we have to create a more sustainable campus.

Furthermore, there are a few events happening to raise awareness for No Waste November. At 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 in Riley 201 there will be a presentation focused on zero waste efforts internationally, in the McMinnville community and at Linfield. From 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Fred Meyer Lounge there will be a Do-it-Yourself workshop hosted by Greenfield focusing on repurposing old T-shirts you no longer use into a creative shag rug. Both events should be informative and inspiring.

During No Waste November we are focusing on the themes of food and water (Nov. 1-9) energy (Nov. 10-16) and solid waste (Nov. 17-23.) We are choosing one thing to do for each of these three weeks in these categories. Challenge yourself this month by choosing an action step towards reducing your individual waste and see how long you can keep it up.

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Maybe your action will be to bring a reusable cup to Starbucks. Maybe it will be to use the new composting buckets in the residence halls. Maybe you could ask your green chair about what is recyclable on campus. Perhaps after a week, it will become a habit and it won’t seem so difficult after all.

Taking the extra time to compost and recycle, or making the effort to bring your reusable bag shopping and take shorter showers may seem insignificant, but every small step adds up.

Every person has a role to play in No Waste November and moving towards zero waste. For other sustainable news, check out our web page and like us on Facebook.

Nicole Lewis / Office of Sustainability

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Sustainability class to be offered during Jan Term

Hiking, kayaking, gardening, foraging, tracking, and natural art: sounds like the stuff that only exists in the dreams of a college student, laden with finals and too much homework.

False.

This January, Sustainability Coordinator Duncan Reid will be teaching an ENVS 298 course entitled “Local Stewardship” that will include all of the above. Class will be held off campus at Westwind, a 529-acre wilderness area situated in the Salmon River estuary on the Oregon Coast. Students will be housed in a hostel-like lodge that lies at the foot of the Coast Range, nestled into an old pine and spruce forest.

According to Reid, this gorgeous reserve “evokes an irrepressible impulse for stewardship.” And that is exactly what he intends to teach. Through hands-on projects and lectures taught by experts such as Lissa Wadewitz, Ned Knight, Joe Wilkins, and professionals from Trackers Northwest. Students on this Jan Term trip will learn environmental, social, and personal stewardship.

What is stewardship, you ask?

In the eyes of Reid, it is “a capacity of caring that is contained within the context of the well-being of the whole.” This idea is absolutely crucial in a world of environmental and social disconnection, and is necessary for any sustainable community. This month-long course will give students the opportunity to find a real connection with place, community, and self on a deeper level than is traditionally explored. This investigation will come through their experience based adventures as well as the study of coastal ecology, native plant identification, group dynamics, nature writing, local history, and connection with native cultures. This class will take a holistic approach to inspiring and practicing stewardship, while appealing to a variety of senses, learning styles, and qualities of being. The activities of the course will challenge group and individual goals and ideals for resilience and sustainability.

Prerequisites? Enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and a little thick skin through the Oregon Coast wetness. Reid invites those “already interested and passionate about sustainability and stewardship, as well as students who are just exploring their interest, especially international and first year students.” This course will give students of all backgrounds and majors a new lens in which to view the world and a new way to relate to their human and non-human communities.

Just to sweeten the deal, this domestic travel course only costs $2050, including room, board, and transportation. If you’re interested, you can register on Webadvisor from Nov. 4-7.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to explore the values and ideas of stewardship on the wild sands of Westwind!

Written by Alaire Hughey

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Sustainability

As the cold days of winter approach, it gets easier to convince oneself that an extra five minutes in a hot shower or cranking up the heater a couple more degrees won’t hurt. And despite recent sunny weather, soon the days will shorten and we’ll use more electricity by turning on the lights more often. And if you’re anything like me and become gloomy from dark days along with the stress of midterms, you might begin to get caught up in these excuses to keep yourself from going crazy! But there is hope!

This past Monday the 14th, Dr. Gary Machlis, Science Advisor to the Director of the National Park Service and Professor of Conservation at the University of Idaho, gave an inspiring speech about the Ecology of Hope and Devastation in terms of the effects of warfare on ecology, which he began by describing the ambivalence of human interactions with the environment. How does this relate to sustainability, you ask? Well, one goal of sustainability is to preserve the natural resources of Earth for future use, therefore, human interactions with the environment is a huge factor in this.

In this discussion, he explained what he called “the ecology of hope”, and touched on key aspects related to sustainable practices, such as urban agriculture. How exactly is this a symbol of hope? In terms of sustainability, participating in activities such as urban gardening gives communities a healthy way to fresh food that reduces negative environmental impacts by reducing the carbon footprint of transporting foods across the country or reducing chemicals used in the mass-production of foods by not consuming it. However, in terms of this “ecology of hope”, investing in sustainable practices today is investing in a better future. Dr. Machlis continued to mention the importance of time, meaning most major problems won’t be solved right away, but through smaller everyday practices and goals.

So, cutting that hot shower down to 10 min instead of 15, or adding an extra blanket instead of cranking up the heat really does make a difference in the long run. Of course it takes more than this to reach the overall goal, but this isn’t to deter you from doing these little things, it’s to encourage. Together, these little things will add up to big things and before you know it, sustainability becomes second nature. Find tips on how to be more sustainable on fliers around campus or talk to someone from the Sustainability Office. Together we can make a difference.

Marisa Specht – 2013 Green Team

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Linfield recognized at international conference

Hello again Wildcats!

I am writing to you from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in Nashville, Tenn. This is an international gathering of sustainability professionals in higher education. The conference has been exceedingly rich to say the least; hundreds of sessions focusing on different aspects of sustainability from zero waste and community gardens to divestment plans and conversations about sustainable purchasing policies. I have met folks from colleges and universities all across the country and even some from as far away as Mexico, South Africa and Denmark.

The keynote speakers at the conference have been inspiring to say the least. Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing,” challenged the audience to question the context of our current food system and explore more sustainable alternatives in our campus communities. There were also a diverse array of vendors who were offering products such as water bottle refill stations, recycled bike shelters and sustainable paper products.

Needless to say, the vast amount of resources both physical and intellectual was somewhat overwhelming. Besides the amazing learning opportunities at the conference, we were lucky enough to have been accepted to present about our Sustainable Agriculture Internship summer program. Last summer’s pilot program provided inspiration and information for the broader sustainability in higher education community. Several other schools were presenting about their campus garden and sustainable agriculture programs as well.

It was gratifying to see that Linfield can be a leader in sustainability in the international sustainability community. If you would like to see a video about the program, please visit our Linfield Sustainability Facebook page.

The AASHE conference was an amazing experience and an incredible resource for sustainability in higher education. Next year the conference will be hosted in Portland, Ore. and the Office of Sustainability will provide opportunities for Linfield students to attend the conference. If students are working on a sustainability project and would like to present a poster presentation, submissions will be due to AASHE in March 2014.

Who knows?

You might be presenting at AASHE next year.

Duncan Reid / Sustainability Coordinator

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Recycling program, resources revamped

As many students and staff may have noticed, there are several new easy-to-use recycling and compost bins placed around campus for all to use. After an environmental sociology class on campus found a high percentage of recyclable material in trash bins, Linfield’s Sustainability Office, Greenfield and facilities came together to find a way to make the campus more sustainable.

The new bins are placed in Riley Hall, T.J. Day Hall, Elkinton, Frerichs and in the Health and in the Human Performance and Athletics building. There are also plans to place larger, more durable bins outside of Dillin Hall. Two sets of four bins are also in storage that students can use for any club or organization events.

“With three parties focused on similar issues, I saw and opportunity for a campus wide project,” Duncan Reid, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, said in an email. “And the zero waste campaign was born.” The bins are 90 percent recycled material, and were purchased during the 2013 summer and put around campus during the first week of classes. Students and staff that were involved spent a great deal of time on the graphics and design of the new bins. The goal was to make the bins noticeable and easy to use for everyone, even those not as passionate about zero waste as students and staff involved in Greenfield or the sustainability office.

“We were seeing a need for a different system on campus,” said junior Katricia Stewart, president of Greenfield. “I love how [the new bins] look. They stand out without being obnoxious.” Tim Stewart, environmental services superintendent in facilities, played a large role in helping place the new bins around campus. “I like the message that they’re sending,”  Stewart said. “I’m pretty excited about the whole process. It’s the right thing to do.”

Creating noticeable and appealing signage was a large part of the new recycling and composting system this year as well. Each bin has a specific sticker on it with the title of waste that should be placed in it, as well as pictures of waste examples. While there have been complaints of fruit flies in composting bins in residence halls, facilities is doing its best to maintain clean bins.

“[The bins] will give the campus clearer options for comprehensive recycling and composting,” Reid said. “With these bins in place, students have an opportunity to move toward a zero waste lifestyle.”

Future plans include installing more bins around campus and documenting the progress of Linfield’s “waste stream,” according to Reid. “I ask the Linfield community to please take the 10 [to] 15 minutes it takes to learn how to properly participate in the new systems,” Reid said. “Only together can we achieve zero waste.”

Samantha Sigler can be reached at [email protected]

New bins in Riley Hall showcase the variety of recycling options available to students, including compost, landfill, glass only and comingle.

Spencer Beck/Freelance photographer

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Composting on campus helps local pigs, farms

Guess what?

Composting on campus continues with the residence halls! There are currently 13 halls with brand new compost buckets. We’re making strides with composting at the football games, the garden and Dillin Hall as well. If you didn’t already know, Dillin Hall’s pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste is picked up by a pig farmer and fed to pigs on a local farm. Since the food is sent to a pig farm, all types of food scraps are acceptable, but compostable containers and napkins are not.

Just think, what could I feed a pig? And compost accordingly.

At the Linfield Community Garden, composting is a little different. The compost is made in a large tumbler and is used directly in the garden. The garden compost can take fruits, vegetables and some fibrous materials such as paper or yard debris, but cannot take meat or dairy products. The new compost bins around campus and the bins in the residence halls follow the same rules as Dillin Hall and all food is acceptable. Grover Hall is off to a great start according to freshman Alaire Hughey, Grover Hall’s green chair. “It’s been less than a week since we set up the bins and there is already a substantial amount of food scraps just waiting to be eaten by some adorable pigs,” Hughey said.

This is an exciting time for Linfield because sustainable efforts are becoming increasingly more visible on campus. This year is also a fresh start for the green chair positions in each hall. They play an active role on campus this year by having bi-monthly meetings to focus on goals and projects for the upcoming months. This week will mark the first week that each green chair has a compost bin to care for. Every week, they are responsible for emptying the compost.

Knowledge about composting varies among people and awareness is growing. Now that you have a little more information, you can take advantage of all the composting opportunities because it is all around us. Let’s work together as a campus and continue towards Zero Waste. This weekend at the homecoming football games, please use the recycling and composting facilities available and say hi to the Green Team volunteers.

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Last, but not least, don’t forget to check out Linfield Sustainability on Facebook for weekly updates!

Nicole Lewis / Office of Sustainability

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Sustainability reaches Linfield athletics, games

Congratulations!  You have recently witnessed the first ever recycling and composting effort at a Linfield College football game. In fact, you may want to go grab that water bottle you recycled this past weekend and keep it as a souvenir. With the recent addition of several recycling and composting bins around campus, we are on our way to a “Zero Waste Linfield.”

On the path to a more sustainable campus, we are in good company when it comes to making large sporting events sustainable.  While this past weekend marked the first recycling and composting effort at a Linfield football game, the Portland Trail Blazers have been doing their part to “go green” for the last three years. In January of 2010, the Rose Garden Arena became the first professional sports arena in the United States (and in the world) to achieve Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design Gold certification under the United States Green Building Council’s Existing Buildings standard. “The Portland Trail Blazers are proud to play a role in Portland’s environmental leadership,” said Justin Zeulner, director of sustainability and planning for the Portland Trail Blazers. Without a doubt, the Portland Trail Blazers are an organization that has shown environmental progress that a college like Linfield can really look up to. As an organization, the Portland Trail Blazers are efficiently saving more on electricity and water, as well as diverting nearly 80 percent of their waste from the landfill.

With the Riverbend Landfill only a couple miles down the road from Linfield College, it is very important for our college to know where our waste goes and how it affects our community. It would be awesome to be compared to the Portland Trail Blazers in our sustainability efforts and potentially be a leader  for other Oregon colleges  that are making the transition to sustainability.

Similar to Linfield, the Portland Trail Blazers started with the implementation of advanced recycling and food waste composting operations. From there, they began working on energy efficient projects and implementing environmental purchasing policies. The sustainable future of Linfield College is bright with great role models in the community like the Portland Trail Blazers.  But role models only get us so far.

We need your help!

Please support this effort by properly utilizing the compost and recycling bins available at football games and around campus. Also, look out for new composting bins in residence halls with Green Chairs. There are plenty of ways to make a difference. If you are interested in getting involved with sustainable efforts here on campus, check out the Linfield Sustainability website or like our Facebook page.

Keep it susty, Linfield.

Joey Gale / Office of Sustainability

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Students engage in sustainability

Does anyone know what sustainability looks like? How do you know when something is sustainable and when it is just “green washing”? Sustainability has become a word that is overused and has lost meaning for many folks. To better understand what sustainability actually looks like in our community, we need to focus on one of our life supporting systems: food, energy, transportation, waste or water. Let’s look at food for an example.

Our current food system relies heavily on fossil fuels for fertilizer inputs, pesticides and herbicides, transportation and packaging. To rely on this fossil fueled system for our food is simply unsustainable. Sustainable agriculture is produced with local natural inputs, grown without the application of toxic chemicals and distributed locally with minimal packaging. We are fortunate to live in McMinnville where we have an abundance of fresh, local produce at our fingertips. Local farmers are also realizing the benefits of organic or bio-dynamic practices, which result in healthy and chemical free produce.

Linfield students are realizing the benefits of sustainable foods as well. Approximately 10 percent of the student body showed up for the campus farmer’s market a few weeks ago and there has been an uptick in interest in the Linfield Community Garden, located on the Renshaw field.

Several students have chosen to get their hands dirty on local farms through the Sustainable Agriculture Internship program, the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and as volunteers in local community gardens. Students are asking questions about where their food comes from and are increasingly concerned with the quality and sustainability of their food choices.

There are many opportunities to engage with sustainable food in our community. On an individual level, you can visit the McMinnville farmer’s market on Thursdays from 1-6 p.m. If you are on the meal plan or eating out, simply asking your server where ingredients come from is a good way to connect with your food and express your interest in sustainable food. If you would like to get active with a group on campus, there is the Garden Club ([email protected]) or Greenfield ([email protected]). Also look out for applications in the spring for the Sustainable Agriculture Internship program through the Office of Sustainability.

No matter how you choose to get involved, just know that you have the power to act. The transition to a sustainable food system starts with individual choice.

What will yours be?

Duncan Reid / Sustainability Coordinator

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