New .25 credit Activity Course on Zero Waste! Spring 2019

It took us more than a year but we now are able to offer an ACTV (Activity Course) with sustainability content. This started as a student initiative.

For the spring of 2018, this course will be offered during the first and second module for .25 credit. Thus the course is a great add-on to your normal class load.

Please sign up for the class, and urge others to do so. We can offer additional topics (organic gardening, repair, etc.) in the future if this one flies.

The instructor is Aleks Ilik: he is an OWU grad and happens to be married to Kristina Bogdanov (Art). Aleks runs the Blue House Worm Farm in town and is currently working with students Matt Burke and Peyton Hardesty on a worm composting table at MTSO. One goal for the course is to expand this effort to OWU’s campus.

Chris Fink of HHK is listed as the instructor, but that is only because Aleks is not yet in the OWU system.

Meetings are scheduled Wednesday, noon-1 and Friday 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.

The Activity course will expand this effort, working with AVI and other folks to reduce waste on campus.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

 

Environmental Studies at OWU Update Summer 2017

An update on OWU’s Environmental Studies Program as the summer of 2017 starts.

An update on OWU’s Environmental Studies Program as the summer of 2017 starts.

This is a followup to a 2015-2016 update and 2016-2017 update posted on the OWU Environment & Sustainability Blog.

First of all, the Environmental Studies Program is no longer a thin after our proposal for an expanded Environment and Sustainability Program was voted into existence at the May 2017 faculty meeting. The proposal was compiled by a group of faculty, Laurie Anderson, Ellen Arnold, Amy Downing, Chris Fink, and John Krygier, drawing from 5 years of efforts. Additional work on the Environmental Science major was done by Bart Martin.

Information about the program has been added to the OWU web pages:


Our proposed OWU Campus Sustainability Plan created by students, staff and faculty over the last few years is just about in its final form and should be heading to the administration this summer.

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Student Emily Howald has spent the year gathering feedback and making adjustments to the plan. The Sustainability Task Force (STF), initiated in 2008, has overseen the development of the plan. Contact Nathan Amador and let him know if you want to be added to the STF mailing list. The STF is open to all.


Student Emily Howald and faculty member John Krygier wrote a paper which is to be published as a chapter in the book Sustainable Communities Design Handbook edited by OWU Alumni Woody Clark (OWU 1967). The book should be published by Elsevier in 2018. The chapter is an overview of OWU’s approach to sustainability, called “Scrappy Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University.” Clark was recently presented with an OWU Alumni Distinguish Achievement Award.


The 2017 May Move Out was another success. Students donated tons of items to Goodwill as they moved off campus last month. The event, first held in 2012, is at this point relatively easy to manage and does not cost the University any money (the cost of additional storage pods for donations is offset by the need for fewer trash dumpsters).


Our reusable carryout food container program is also relatively stable after some ups and downs over the last year. We have added drop off locations for the containers, increased their size, and decreased the size of the paper, throw-away containers (thus an incentive to use the reusable containers). Students Izzy Sommerdorf and Sarah Hanes have developed a proposal for making the program even easier for students, and our campus food service, Chartwells, is evaluating their proposal.


Sustainable food on campus has moved forward on several fronts. Our campus food service has recently worked out an agreement to purchase local produce from the Seminary Hill Farm, just south of campus, beginning this fall. This outcome is based on the efforts of student Ellen Sizer.

Student Emily Howald is working on a proposal for quarter-credit OWU Activity courses focused on gardening. Students would work with a skilled gardener in a course held during the first half of the fall semester, and second half of the spring semester, to maintain our campus community garden.

Students Maddie Coalmer and Larynn Cutshaw generated a proposal to plant perennial crops (asparagus, mint, raspberries), which require minimal maintenance, on a few out-of-the-way locations on campus.


Another successful Green Week was held at the end of the 2017 spring semester:


We have expanded the number of hydration stations on campus with a half-dozen new stations being installed this summer. Most of the new hydration stations are in or around athletic facilities on campus. Athletes have tended to be one of the more significant users of bottled water. Student Dominic Orsini wrote a grant and received funding for promotional water bottles. These will be used to promote the new hydration stations to athletes when they move on campus late this summer.


Nathan Amador will take a group of 12 students to Costa Rica as part of a Travel Learning course. This will be the second time the class will travel to Costa Rica. The students will learn environmental data collection and analysis methods, then implement those methods while in Costa Rica over the semester break (January 2018). Amador and the students are working with Amy Work (OWU ’04) and her Geoporter organization. More info on Amy’s efforts are here.


Again, thanks for all the efforts on what has been a great cross-disciplinary collaboration between faculty, students, staff and alumni over the past five years.

May Move Out 2017 is Happening!

As you move off campus please drop off any usable stuff in the May Move Out pods near all of the dorms. All donations go to our local Goodwill. Recycling is also available at the pods.

May Move Out 2017

As you move off campus please drop off any usable stuff in the May Move Out pods near all of the dorms. All donations go to our local Goodwill. Recycling is also available at the pods.

Monday, May 8: noon – 8pm
Tuesday, May 9: noon – 8pm
Wednesday, May 10: 9am – 1pm
Sunday, May 14: 9am-1pm

 

 

OWU’s Mini May Mooove Out, March 22, 2017!

Bring your unwanted stuff and donate to Goodwill during our Mini May Mooove Out event on campus Wednesday, March 22 2017.

Bring your unwanted stuff and donate to Goodwill during our Mini May Mooove Out event on campus Wednesday, March 22 2017. Learn about our big May Move Out effort during the move-out week on campus, May 8 to May 14, 2017.

May Mooooove Out 2017

Monday, May 8: noon – 8pm
Tuesday, May 9: noon – 8pm
Wednesday, May 10: 9am – 1pm
Sunday, May 14: 9am-1pm

More info: https://maymoveout.owu.edu

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OWU Earns “Keep Delaware County Beautiful” Award

Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was honored Dec. 3 with the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition.

mmo_award_2015Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was honored Dec. 3 with the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition. May Move Out is supported with a grant from Delaware Knox Marion Morrow Solid Waste Management District (DKMM SWD). OWU earned the award for helping students to recycle unwanted goods when they left campus for the summer. The “May Move Out” program recycled about 9.5 tons (19,000 pounds) of materials, benefiting Goodwill Industries and keeping reusable items out of area landfills.

OWU’s May Move Out effort was initiated by students and continues to engage dozens of student volunteers. Information on the first few years of the program is here.

The Keep Delaware County Beautiful coalition, led by the Delaware General Health District, provides recycling and litter prevention programs and environmental education activities to residents and businesses in Delaware County.

More information on the May Move Out can be found here.

OWU Press Release Here.

Tossing The Trash Habit

Imagine if you will: a world without garbage. No landfills, no dumps, and no garbage trucks driving down the street once a week to pick up bags and bags of trash. It’s a nearly impossible world to imagine, but for the past 3.5 weeks, I have tried to do my part to get a little closer to that world.

letsby Reilly Reynolds (OWU ’16)

Imagine if you will: a world without garbage. No landfills, no dumps, and no garbage trucks driving down the street once a week to pick up bags and bags of trash. It’s a nearly impossible world to imagine, but for the past 3.5 weeks, I have tried to do my part to get a little closer to that world. I delved into the lifestyle modernly known as “zero waste”…or at least I attempted.

I made a plan all those weeks ago to take the steps necessary to reduce my garbage footprint. I made a list of what I would do to toss my trash habit. I would:

  1. Collect all the trash I did make in a mason jar so I could evaluate what I used the most of.
  2. Carry reusable items with me everywhere.
  3. Create DIY products to replace some of my more waste intensive/ less planet friendly products.
  4. Reduce my consumption of packaged/processed foods.

weliveinatrashyworldThe first day of my new lifestyle, I bought a hot chocolate without thinking about the reusable mug I had with me. I gained a paper cup to throw in my mason jar. The second day, I realized that every time my school dining hall charges for a meal, an automatic, unrecyclable receipt prints

We live in a trashy world. As such, I had to get creative. I started saving my receipts, and I crafted a to-do list note pad. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start. At least those tiny slips of glossy paper will have  one more purpose before the landfill gets them.

My goal was to have only accumulated one mason jar of trash by the time the month was up. With three days of the month left, I have filled two jars.

Examining the contents, I see:

  • 2 paper coffee cups
  • 6 single-serving chip bag wrappers
  • 3 granola bar wrappers
  • And various kinds packaging from food, clothing, and assorted day-to-day items

I consider the month a success. iconsiderthemonthI didn’t hit my goal, but I did learn a lot about my consumption patterns, and I made decisions I wouldn’t ordinarily make. I started refusing straws at restaurants, carrying my own take-out containers with me, and sending an email to my school’s dining services director to see if there’s anything we can do about those blasted receipts.

I followed my plan pretty closely. I carried my thermos, travel mug, water bottle, cloth napkin, and silverware with me everywhere, and though it frustrated some baristas and servers, others accepted (and even praised!) my sustainable choices.

My processed food consumption could be improved. Chips are my downfall, but I suppose I will just have to learn to make my own. After all, it turns out I’m okay at making my own things. I crafted natural hair mousse, laundry detergent, a foot scrub, and body moisturizer this month! Once I run out of my current shampoo and conditioner, I’ll try my hand at those too.

Will I continue my zero-waste trend? That’s the plan. We’ll see if I can meet my mason jar goal next month. mason

For me, being zero-waste has become more than a new way of life. It’s also a mission, a challenge. It’s a way to start recognizing the patterns of consumption that we all take for granted every day. It’s a way to make change, and encourage others to ask questions.

Perhaps most importantly, trash stinks for the Earth, and we’re running out of places to put it. So rather than finding a new landfill spot, I propose that we cut our consumption.

Let’s take a hard look at what we buy, why we buy it, and how we can buy it more sustainably. Let’s vote with our wallets.

Let’s write letters to corporate executives and ask for less (or at least more Earth friendly) packaging. Let’s make change, because we can.

In fact, it would be a waste not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, being zero-waste has become more than a new way of life. It’s also a mission, a challenge. It’s a way to start recognizing the patterns of consumption that we all take for granted every day. It’s a way to make change, and encourage others to ask questions.

Perhaps most importantly, trash stinks for the Earth, and we’re running out of places to put it. So rather than finding a new landfill spot, I propose that we cut our consumption.

Let’s take a hard look at what we buy, why we buy it, and how we can buy it more sustainably. Let’s vote with our wallets. Let’s write letters to corporate executives and ask for less (or at least more Earth friendly) packaging. Let’s make change, because we can.

In fact, it would be a waste not to.

May Move Out 2015 – Results

OWU’s Spring 2015 May Move Out focused on getting students to donate reusable items to Goodwill (by placing them in storage pods) while moving out of the dorms. Overall about 19,000 pounds of material was collected by Goodwill throughout the May Move Out period. That is about 9.5 tons of material kept out of the landfill (and close to our estimated 10 ton diversion rate).

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OWU’s Spring 2015 May Move Out focused on getting students to donate reusable items to Goodwill (by placing them in storage pods) while moving out of the dorms. The effort worked well given our goals of diverting stuff from the landfill (and to Goodwill) while clearing the dorms (in preparation for their summer use).

Overall about 19,000 pounds of material was collected by Goodwill throughout the May Move Out period. That is about 9.5 tons of material kept out of the landfill (and close to our estimated 10 ton diversion rate).

Earlier this year, Ohio Wesleyan was awarded $10,000 from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District through the efforts of OWU’s Sustainability Task Force.

Overall, we rate the effort a B with areas of improvement to include promotion and logistics.

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Of the larger items, according to Goodwill, we collected 45 mini refrigerators, 12 bins of textiles, 37 misc. wares, 13 futons, 14 office chairs, 18 rugs, 27 storage containers and a dozen or so misc. chairs.

Our Goodwill partners were very happy with the effort, as were OWU’s Buildings and Grounds and Residential Life staff. In other words, we have a model that can, with some tweaks, work in the future.

With overall success come a series of problems and proposed improvements to consider.


Problem: Promotional efforts did not work as well as possible. This will be a big challenge for May Move Out 2016.

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Michelle Smith pulling a nice bike out of the dumpster. Potential donations were removed from the dumpsters by May Move Out volunteers. When asked, a signficant number of students professed ignorance of the May Move Out effort.

Solutions:

  • Earlier efforts to inform students and RAs, Fraternities and SLUs about the May Move Out effort. Promotion in the last month of classes came at a time when everyone was distracted by many other issues. Consider outreach efforts that will reach students already hit by a barrage of information.
  • Consider a fall and early spring promotional effort with a Goodwill truck with a “May Move Out 2016 (Early!)” banner parked in residential area. Possibly a similar effort mid-spring semester. Allow for early donations (as well as faculty and staff donations) but focus is to raise awareness for the actual May Move Out.
  • Banners for May Move Out on each donation pod. Potential for green balloons floating above pods.
  • Organizations and groups to help with outreach: Tree House, UC 160 Sustainability focused section, spring 2016. Students and courses in Environmental Studies.
  • Brainstorm promotional ideas:
    • Pod Puppies: puppies (from Companion Dogs company?) for end of semester stress relief and promotion of May Move Out
    • Green Week or Earth Day promotion
    • Have a contest (like Greek Week) based on how much you get donated (organize by floor, dorm, SLU, etc.)
    • Swag? Green Week efforts? Social Media?

Problem: Lots of recyclable material, particularly paper and cardboard, in the dumpsters. Part of the problem is the lack of a recycling program in the City of Delaware for businesses and multi-tenant buildings (such as the dorms on campus).

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A May Move Out promotional poster (above) in the dumpster!

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Lots and lots of paper and cardboard in the dumpsters.

Solutions:

  • work with the City of Delaware on this problem
  • investigate dual dumpster / recycling bins
  • improve campus recycling on the residential side of campus, in particular many of the cardboard boxes were from Aramark cleaning materials.

Problem: Limited donation dates and times meant that materials that could have been donated were thrown in dumpsters (for example, over night when the donation pods were locked).

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Donations left by a locked donation pod overnight (above).

Solutions:

  • Have pods placed on campus earlier.
  • With better promotion, students will know to leave donations by the pods if they are locked. Banners: “May Move Out Goodwill Donations. Leave it Here if You’re Not Sure”

Problem: Students have a tendency to toss everything (including potential donations) in the closest dumpster or garbage can.

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Potential donations in a dumpster that was closer to the dorm than the donation pod.

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Potential donations dropped off by the trash can closest to the dorm exit.

Solution:

  • Better promotion of May Move Out effort to encourage students to carry their donations the extra distance to the donation pods
  • Adjust donation pod locations so that donations can be made by all well used dumpsters (see image above). Attempt to get donation pod closer to dorms than the dumpsters.
    • Bashford pod: try to get dumpster and pod closer and facing same direction

Problem: too many nearly unused donation pods near SLUs and Frats.

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Things were very quiet at the donation pods near the SLUs (Small Living Units) and Frats.

Solution: This is actually a good thing, as it means we will probably need fewer donation pods for the Spring 2016 May Move Out (saving some money).

  • Work with Fraternities & SLUs to determine if donation pods are needed and where they should be. Possible that the fraternities and SLUs can organize an effort to get donations to the donation pods near the dorms, rather than have their own donation pod.
  • Revised May Move Out Promotion effort for Fraternities and SLUs

Additional ideas and issues:

  • gloves for volunteers at each pod
  • hours for each pod posted on pod
  • have real estate lock boxes for pod keys (rather than pick up and drop off)
  • encourage volunteers to circulate – don’t have to stay by assigned pod

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OWU Awarded $10k Grant to Fund May Move Out Effort

Wednesday February 11 2015: Ohio Wesleyan was awarded $10,000 from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District for our May Move Out effort for 2015 through the efforts of the Sustainability Task Force.

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Wednesday February 11 2015: Ohio Wesleyan was awarded $10,000 from the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow (DKMM) Joint Solid Waste District for our May Move Out effort for 2015 through the efforts of the Sustainability Task Force. The project, originally developed and implemented by student Sarah D’Alexander in 2012, diverts reusable and recyclable materials from the trash during the student move out at the end of the spring semester. Grant funds will offset costs to OWU for pod rental (for short term storage of reusable and recyclable materials, and transport to our partners at Goodwill Industries) as well as promotional and educational efforts. The Sustainability Task Force (STF) guided the grant proposal, and students in John Krygier’s Geography 360 course (Environmental Geography) as well as Green House SLU members will be working on the project with Goodwill Industries, OWU Buildings and Grounds and OWU Residential Life.


Project Description:

Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) looks to significantly enhance and expand recycling/reuse efforts on our campus among its nearly 1,750 students who bring furnishings, clothing, small appliances and other items to outfit their residence hall living spaces each year. Much of the materials they bring and accumulate over an academic year do not go with them when they leave campus for the summer.

In fact, at the end of each spring semester over a few days, OWU students dump in excess of 43 tons of materials, much of which could be recycled or reused, into garbage dumpsters as they prepare to depart campus. Furniture, lamps, flat screen TVs, clothes, computers – usually of high quality and relatively new – end up in landfills, particularly as students from outside the state and country find they do not have the resources to move and travel with these items.

Ohio Wesleyan seeks to develop a partnership with Goodwill Industries to divert as many student discards as possible away from the landfill. We seek to build a sustainable model for “May Move Out” (as students move out of campus at the end of spring semester in May) that includes, in addition to significant waste diversion, an educational component whereby OWU students come to understand the significance of the waste they generate and learn to anticipate, plan, and reduce their waste impact. Further, the May Move Out program will engage students from several campus environmental organizations in working with Goodwill, OWU’s Buildings and Grounds, Residential and Campus cleaning staff as well as faculty in the Environmental Studies Program. Therefore, we believe our proposed program will, in addition to significant waste diversion, serve as an important pedagogical and service learning opportunity for our students. The desire to partner with a respected community organization with a shared goal of the reuse of materials, the capacity to handle a sizable addition of inventory for their stores and other enterprises and the desire to work with our students made Goodwill Industries our first choice for an off-campus partner.

The project outlined in this proposal builds on earlier efforts which involved recycling boxes in the residence halls and OWU students and staff sorting through the donated materials to then deliver appropriate materials to community organizations. The current proposed initiative addresses challenges and inadequacies with such previous end of year move out attempts and incorporates a partnership with a community organization that can provide the staffing and expertise needed to most successfully make use of the materials generated.

Meetings and discussions with Goodwill Industries and OWU Buildings & Grounds staff, students and faculty, resulted in the May Move Out project concept. The project entails:

  • Placement of 9 storage containers aka pods at selected locations on the Residential side of campus, near garbage dumpsters to allow separation of recyclable and non-recyclable materials at each of the 9 sites.
  • OWU students and Goodwill staff posted at the pods as “Diversion Consultants” to answer questions about what items would be considered waste vs. recyclable/reuse over the 4 day move-out period. We propose to leave some pods open and unmonitored, and will compare contents in those pods to contents in monitored pods to assess the ability of students to self-sort waste from recyclable/reusable materials.
  • Relocation of the pods after the 6 (or are we saying 4 – pods open on the weekend?) day student move out period to the Goodwill Industries facility in Delaware, Ohio where contents will be sorted and processed by Goodwill staff. OWU student “Diversion Consultants” may be involved at this stage of the process to assess the collected materials.An educational campaign is required for the proposed project to work. OWU will build on an existing campaign called “Pack it in, Pack it up, Pack it out” to include the option to recycle/reuse. Components of this campaign include:
  • Training of Residential Advisors on Residence Hall floors to understand the May Move Out and resources available to them and students on their floors.
  • Creation of basic recycle/reuse or waste guidelines, on postcards distributed to students with email access to “Consultants” as well as social media messaging. Similar information on posters will be placed near waste areas in residential buildings.
  • Events in the spring semester to raise awareness of the May Move Out campaign to include informational tables in the Campus Center, in Residential Food Service areas, and other locations.

Ohio Wesleyan’s project best fits the Non-Residential Recycling/Waste Reduction Project as defined in the Delaware Knox Marion Morrow Solid Waste Management District (DKMM SWD) 2015 Recycling & Market Development Project Application Handbook. OWU’s request is part of the institution’s larger plan to foster a culture of sustainability on campus as further outlined in item #5 below. Specifically, OWU seeks $10,000 to address priorities of DKMM SWD to foster and encourage collection and reuse of recyclable materials from the campus community.

With the campus drawing students from 46 states (with over 50% from Ohio) and 43 countries, this initiative provides a unique opportunity to reach a broad audience in our recycling educational efforts and hopes to inspire recycling practices in students that will continue after they graduate.

 

Spenser Hickey’s Report on OWU Sustainability

During the Fall semester of 2014 Journalism student Spencer Hickey reviewed the state of Sustainability on OWU’s campus, reviewing its history and current status, interviewing students, staff and faculty, and documenting his work as Special Report: OWU Sustainability.

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During the Fall semester of 2014 Journalism student Spencer Hickey reviewed the state of Sustainability on OWU’s campus, reviewing its history and current status, interviewing students, staff and faculty, and documenting his work as Special Report: OWU Sustainability.

OWU’s Sustainability Task Force (Facebook here) is actively addressing many of the issues in Hickey’s report, and a Spring 2015 practicum (Geography 499) will review and address the issues as part of the process of creating a campus-wide sustainability plan.