Friday, January 13, 2012

Grants Office Reduces Paper Consumption

Last year, Colgate reduced its campus-wide use of paper by nearly four million sheets of paper or by one-third of our total in 2009. This was accomplished through duplex printing, print release stations in our public print areas, and many individual efforts such as the Grants Office.

The Grants Office recently started a new practice to cut down on the use of paper. Typically, an average of 42 grants are processed each year. For each grant, a hard copy was distributed to the department, division, dean of faculty, and the project director/principal investigator; approximately 30 doubled-sided sheets of paper were used per document. Approximately 5,400 sheets of paper were used per year to process grant proposals. A small amount of additional paper was used for distribution of award letters.

Now, the Grants Office is distributing these proposals as pdfs saving nearly 11 reams of paper per year! Congratulations to the Grants Office for doing their part to advance sustainability at Colgate.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Michelle Jacobsen - On the Green Living Program in Residential Life

Michelle Jacobsen - Administrative Assistant - Residential Life

Sustainability Office: When did you first become interested in sustainability and how did it happen?

Michelle: At the start of the 2010-2011 academic year with interest in the Green Office Program!

Sustainability Office: In what way do you practice or advocate sustainability?

Michelle: Our office (Residential Life) purchased coffee mugs that state "It's easy being green" in order to eliminate the use of disposable cups in our office.

Sustainability Office: How has your life improved or been influenced by sustainability?

Michelle: I think about it on a more regular basis and understand even the little things make a difference. Not letting the water run as fast while washing my hands, turning it off while brushing my teeth, you know, the simple things!

Sustainability Office: Why is sustainability important to you?

Michelle: If we think about sustainability now, we can better ourselves and protect our future.

Sustainability Office: What advice would you like to offer others as they strive to incorporate sustainability into their lives?

Michelle: It's really not as hard as you think. You don't have to be 100% Green all the time to make a difference. Each thing we do adds to the picture and really will help.

Sustainability Office: Anything else you want people to know about your efforts in sustainability or about the "green" movement in general?

Michelle: I think it's easier to be green at home than it is in the office. Because of that I try harder to be conscious of my behaviors when home and at work it's the little victories that count.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mike Girard - On Sustainable Living on Campus and at Home

Mike Girard - Student - Class of 2012

Sustainability Office:
When did you first become interested in sustainability and how did it happen?

My mom completely switched career paths, leaving a Harvard government education behind to follow her true passion: environmental protection. Despite the sacrifice in income, this was her passion and it rubbed off on me through the stories she would tell, and the practices she imbued in me such as composting, re-using goods and limiting environmental impact. As such, I'd say I was first exposed to sustainability at 4 or 5 years old, and started to become truly interested it at around 13 or 14.

Sustainability Office:
In what way do you practice or advocate sustainability?

At home, I practice and advocate sustainability with my landscaping business, Collegiate Greenscaping. Unlike some companies that may dump gallons of roundup, spread fertilizer like candy and clearcut to make a nice view, my business specializes in sustainable landscaping through the use of organic compost fertilizer, hand-weeding, employing the existing terrain and plants to bring beauty to one's property, battling invasives and making sure that no new invasive species take hold. At Colgate, I am one of the founding members of the Colgate Composting Club and will be its treasurer for the second year running this coming 2010-2011 school year. This helps me develop a deeper understanding of composting practices while passing on that knowledge to the school community, as we work to develop the composting facilities needed to break down dining hall waste into potent fertilizer. I am very excited about this club and think that it will make huge strides this year, especially working in conjunction with the new community garden and Buildings & Grounds.

Sustainability Office:
How has your life improved or been influenced by sustainability?

: Sustainability and the struggle to live a less environmentally-impactful life has led me to my current concentration at Colgate University - rather than simply majoring in economics, as I had originally planned, I found that Environmental Economics would allow me to pursue economics while being involved heavily and learning a lot about the environmental science issues related to economics. I believe that by marrying these two fields of study, I can gain insight into the challenges and potential solutions to our massive global warming and sustainable energy issues and contribute in a positive way to this challenge.

Sustainability Office:
Why is sustainability important to you?

Watching the world disintegrate before our eyes into a plasticky, carbon-dioxide choked heap is extremely difficult; what makes the issue all the more disturbing is the massive indifference I see every day regarding this issue in terms of everyday actions. Sustainability (TRUE sustainability, not just recycling that Evian bottle every now and then) is the only way that our planet and future generations can weather the current storm. The problems we face will simply increase as our population skyrockets toward 8, 9, and 10 billion people, so I realize that taking an active role in sustainability now can make a huge difference in the future, a future that is currently in jeopardy.

Sustainability Office:
What advice would you like to offer others as they strive to incorporate sustainability into their lives?

I like to compare living sustainably to voting. One person's vote will NEVER affect a vote; there are simply too many people for a single vote to have anything more than an almost infinitessimal effect on the final outcome. However, every citizen wants to see a certain future realized, and for this reason, casts their vote as a duty to their country and greater globe. Similarly, one person's choices and lifestyles each and every day have an extremely minimal impact on our environment; however, it is only if every person makes an effort to live sustainably every day (be it recycling thoroughly, re-using shopping bags, composting or buying a more fuel-efficient car) that we can make a difference: it is our duty to our planet and our children and grand-children. To become involved with sustainability movements and advocacy helps amplify our positive effect, and it makes me feel great!

Sustainability Office:
Anything else you want people to know about your efforts in sustainability or about the "green" movement in general?

Colgate Composting Club is going to be the biggest news in sustainability on campus this year, so get involved! Also, I aim to bring my sustainability practices to my local community with my landscaping business, Collegiate Greenscaping. If you live in central MA and are interested in our services, please email us at As parting words: Don't overlook the easy things you can do to live more sustainably! Turning trash into potent, valuable fertilizer by composting is easy and FREE. Bringing a re-usable bottle or mug around is EASY and usually can get you discounts. Don't say it's too inconvenient, because living in an era of mass extinction is rather inconvenient as well. Do your part!

here to share your personal sustainability story!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lindsey Jacobson - On Student Participation in Sustainability

Lindsey Jacobson - Student - Class of 2010

Sustainability Office: What is the Green Summit and how did you get involved?

Lindsey: The Green Summit is a collaborative think tank made up of students, faculty, staff and community members who come together in an open forum to brainstorm and then execute ways to make Colgate more sustainable. Participants break up into groups and present their ideas to everyone at the summit. The goal is to complete their initiative by Earth Day.

I got involved in the Green Summit during my Sophomore year. I was looking for a way to take a more active role in the environmental movement on campus and Dimitri Wohns told my friend Katelyn and me that the organizers of The Green Summit needed an extra hand. I went down to the first planning meeting and was excited to help out; it is a wonderful and highly effective operation! I'm glad to be a part of it.

The beauty of The Green Summit is that it is truly a grass-roots program; the ideas, accountability and results all stem from the participants. As a planner, my only responsibility is to give people the tools they need to accomplish their own goals.

Sustainability Office: What has the Green Summit achieved so far?

Lindsey: The Green Summit is responsible for creating the Green Bikes program, using biodegradable products in the dining hall, reduced water bottle usage on campus, and increased overall environmental awareness at Colgate.

Sustainability Office: Is it hard to get involved and what motivates you to do the things you do?

Lindsey: I never found it hard to get involved; I find it hard to stay out of activities! I first became passionate about the environment after attending the Power Shift conference in 2007. My friend Katelyn Ciolino was organizing a trip to attend and I decided to go on a whim. As I began to educate myself, I started to get more and more "environmental anxiety." When we got back to campus, we were all pumped to do something, anything to help! From then on, I was completely involved in every way I could be! Now I joke that I "blame" Katelyn for everything I do at school.

My friends often see what I do and ask me how they can help. My response is always how do you think you can help? I tell them to come to meetings and then see what interests them. There are no points for being involved so you have to feel personally attached to your projects; this is something we stress at The Green Summit. I was able to take part in the movement by seeing a niche for my media interests and created projects for myself. I am motivated by a simple love for what I do. I feel passionately about the environment and have a skill set that supports media outreach so for me it was natural to try to combine the two. Plus it's fun!

Sustainability Office: How do you personally feel about sustainability and how do you incorporate it in your life?

Lindsey: I think about my own carbon footprint all the time. After the power shift conference in 2007 I decided I would become a vegetarian. I also do not have a car and I try to re-use and recycle whatever I can. I do what I can on a personal level but I know I cannot do everything. I believe if everyone did just one thing, we could all really do something.

Sustainability Office: What advice would you give to students who would like to get involved?

Lindsey: Just do it! Whatever your idea is, go for it! If you need support, come to any of the environmental groups on campus; we can direct you and help you but in the end it has to be you to get it done. Even if you are unsure if you can complete it, just start it and see what happens.
If you don’t have an idea and just want to get involved, again come to any of the groups and volunteer for something. Trust me, we can ALWAYS use an extra hand!

Sustainability Office: What have you personally achieved in terms of sustainability while at Colgate?

Lindsey: Personally, I have helped to manage The Green Summit, Earth Day Celebrations, attended the Power-Shift conference, represented Colgate at the 22nd National Conference for Undergraduate Research with four PSAs (Planet Survival Announcements) I created with Shae Frydenlund, helped manage the sustainability tab, worked within the Campus Ecology Group, helped run Focus The Nation and The National Teach-In and interviewed visiting artists about ecoart activism. In the fall, I studied abroad in Barcelona and did an independent honors research project on Environmental Refugees. Last summer I interned for The Canary Project, a non-profit organization that uses visual media, events, and artwork that build public understanding of human-induced climate change and energize commitment to solutions. Working with The Canary Project helped me see that eco-activism comes in all shapes and sizes; it inspired me to do more projects with film and media to raise awareness. One of my future goals is to create a documentary about Environmental Refugees.

Click here to share your personal sustainability story!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

John Robinson - Green Saves Green ($)

John Robinson - Electronics Shop, Lead Electronics Technician

Sustainability Office: When did you first become interested in sustainability and how did it happen?

John: When I was a kid, I got my first Solar Cell; I was amazed, it was magic! When I bought my first home, I realized just how much building materials cost and how often great used stuff hits the landfill.

Sustainability Office: In what way do you practice or advocate sustainability?

John: Recycle, mulch leaves and grass, shut off unneeded devices, use CFL lights almost everywhere, combine trips and park my Pickup Truck (when the beds empty) and drive my Geo to limit gas use, 75% of our heat comes from burning wood pellets, put metal out front of house for road warrior recyclers to take for resale. Watch Craigs list and Ebay daily for my next great deal!

Sustainability Office: How has your life improved or been influenced by sustainability?

John: Save lots of money so that I can do more work on my old house, also makes me feel good about my own impact on my planet

Sustainability Office: Why is sustainability important to you?

John: You don't have to go broke to go green. It's easy, inexpensive and it would be criminal not to incorporate these simple practices into your every day life.

Sustainability Office: What advice would you like to offer others as they strive to incorporate sustainability into their lives?

John: Green saves Green ($), unless your flush with extra cash, do it and save! Old growth lumber and other old materials are highly desireable and beautiful. Be prepared to dive in dumpsters, monitor loading docks, go to garage sales and keep your eye on the side of the road for freebies.

Sustainability Office: Anything else you want people to know about your efforts in sustainability or about the "green" movement in general?

John: Green saves Green! I am proud to be a Times Two Green Rebuilder. I have a 150 plus year old Greek Revival that’s in need of serious revival! Over the last four years 90% of my many substantial renovations contained reclaimed or used materials. From my beautiful old growth “Library Oak" Kitchen, to my solid “Football Bleacher” addition and raised garden bed, EBay Windows, Copper Roofing Kitchen Backsplash, Cull lumber piles, Local Milled Fallen Tree Lumber, Auctions… Don’t get me wrong, its lots of work! The old growth White Oak I used in my kitchen started out as piles of broken up former built in library bookcases from Case Library. I virtually re-milled (by hand) all of the lumber from 3 truckloads of dumpster grade material as well as a hundred or so oak shelves (complete with gum and witty rimes) I bought from our very own Fred Sanford, Colgate Salvage Green Meister Craig Blanchard. Warning, Kitchen cabinets are not for the faint of heart! They came out fantastic, that said I will never do that again! Even the old beams and boards I ripped out of the house have gotten re-purposed when possible. The rest of the real s-crap made for a few fabulous bonfires (the piles growing for the next one).

Being Green Times Two means, the obvious “Let's all Save the Environment!” with the added bonus, “Let's all Save Some Big Green-backs”. I have saved well over $20,000 in the last four years with few regrets; the use of Green materials has only enhanced the beauty of our historic home. I am currenty collecting materials to build a grid-tie Wind Turbine, (I have most of the 90' tower, free). Last but very important, my wife likes it!

Click here to share your personal sustainability story!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Diane English – On Recycling

Diane English – Administrative assistant, History, Alumni Hall
Interview by Gergana Mouteva ’09, Colgate Sustainability Intern (SI)

Diane English is particularly interested in recycling. She not only practices recycling at all possible levels in her personal life, but also goes beyond her own space and tries to collect every plastic that she sees – on the street, in the gym, at the grocery store – everywhere. She is passionate and dedicated to this cause and she tries to make recycling at Colgate more efficient.

When I met her for this interview, she was coming back after her noon swim in the Lineberry Natatorium and she was carrying two bags – one full of plastic bottles, and one full of plastic bags. “This is what I found on the way to the gym and I just couldn’t leave it there” is what she told me before she introduced herself.

SI: Why is recycling important to you?

Diane: There are just so many reasons. For me, recycling is part of caring about our world and making sure that there is something left for the people who will come after us. I just hate seeing waste when people can make use of it. Recycling is so beneficial.

SI: How did you first get interested?

Diane: My interest evolved with time. As I learned what I could do, I got more and more involved – at home, at work, everywhere. I like reusing things that are in good condition.
I also walk a lot – I have a dog and we go for long walks every day, where I would pick up all the trash that I see. I started taking different roads each time, thus collecting more and more trash and stuff to recycle. In that way, I get to clean different areas, and the area around where I live, I keep absolutely spotless. It is surprising and rather horrifying how littered the country roads actually are.

SI: In what other ways do you incorporate sustainability in our life?

Diane: My main source of heat is wood-heat. I have a permit for few areas where I can go and pick up tree waste. In that way, I stay warm and I clean at the same time, and I also save money, by not using fuel. It does take a bit of work, but physical activity is good for people’s health.
I do a lot of thrift shopping too.

SI: Does sustainability change your lifestyle and is it hard to practice it?

Diane: Trying to live sustainably makes me feel more natural. It is a little time consuming, but it is definitely worthwhile. Doing little things that are good makes you feel good about life and about yourself – it makes you a better person.
What bothers me is that when I pick the plastic bottles and bags, which are lying on the ground, littering the streets, I get the oddest looks from people. They look at me like I am weird, and I can’t help but wonder - why does doing something good have to make one look weird?!

SI: What advice would you give to people who would like to do more about recycling and sustainability?

Diane: Looking at what others are doing is the easiest way to see what you can do yourself. If at the end of the day you take a moment to reflect what you have seen – both good and bad, I think this can make a difference.

Don’t be ignorant!

There is so much that people don’t care about, simply because they don’t know about it. Documentaries about waste, oceans, landfills, and wildlife had a huge impact on me. It made me incredibly sad to see how the plastic bags that we so irresponsibly throw everywhere are killing magnificent and endangered species as turtles for example.

We need to do the best we can, because it is up to us what we will leave behind us.
I personally carry with me two empty bags all the time. In that way, I can always pick up something on the way and make sure I don’t leave any plastic behind.

Click here to share your personal sustainability story!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Professor Beth Parks – On Energy Efficiency

Beth Parks – Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Interview by Gergana Mouteva '09, Colgate Sustainability Intern (SI)

SI: What does sustainability mean to you and how does it change the way you live?

Beth: For me, sustainability is making sure that the people after us have as good a chance at happiness as we do now. We may not leave them exactly the same resources we have now, but the combination of resources and technology should be enough to satisfy their needs.

I think that the biggest steps toward sustainability will come through legislation – carbon taxes, alternative energy development, etc. But that doesn’t exempt us from trying to do our share now. I try to bike instead of driving. I biked up to campus today. My home is energy efficient – well-insulated, air-sealed, and with efficient appliances. And since it is summer now, I enjoy lots of local foods, saving transportation fuel. Practicing sustainability definitely changes my lifestyle –in a good way!

SI: What project are you involved with right now?

Beth: I teach a CORE class on Energy and Sustainability. I work with students on energy efficiency and also learning about alternative energy. We solve real problems such as determining heat leakage in Colgate dormitories or calculating the payback time for a wind turbine on campus. We also get hands-on experience in retrofitting a home for energy efficiency. It is much better when students can work directly on such problems. It makes it much easier to understand energy usage and efficiency when it refers to things on a personal level.

In my lab, I’m working to develop a tool that will allow homeowners to measure the insulation in their homes. Several students, including most recently Clayton Brown ’09, have worked on this project. Colgate supported the cost of applying for a preliminary patent, and I’ve applied for a grant that would support the rest of the patent costs. I hope that this can develop into an inexpensive tool that will help homeowners learn whether they need more insulation.

SI: What are the reactions that you see in students when you teach the Energy and Sustainability class?

Beth: Many Colgate students have strong interest in sustainability — they want to do something to help! I try to convince students that it’s important to actually look at the numbers in order to make sure that our actions do indeed save energy, and put our biggest efforts where the biggest gains can be made. I hope to channel students’ interest in productive ways.

SI: What advice would you give to Colgate students and community members?

Beth: Look beyond the small steps. Small steps are wonderful – carrying your own water bottle, switching off the light, etc. – but we have to look at the bigger things. When you graduate, choose where to live based on walkability or access to public transportation, and make sure your house is energy efficient. Choose the smallest house and the smallest car you can live with. It is these big changes that make a big difference.

  • Click here to learn how Beth's students get first hand practice experience in sustainability.
  • Read Beth's profile.
  • Click here to share your personal sustainability story!