OWU Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2016

A summary of established and ongoing efforts during 2015-16 in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty as well as off campus collaborators.

Stitched together drone images of central Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Environmental Studies / Geography Travel Learning Course, Fall 2015.

Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2016

March 7, 2016

A summary of established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty as well as off campus collaborators. All the projects below are active during the 2015-16 academic year.

OWU Sustainability Plan: Drafted in the spring of 2015 and currently under revision, a comprehensive overview of OWU’s environmental and sustainability efforts with goals for future efforts.

May Move Out donations, May 2015.

May Move Out: A student initiated project in collaboration with Goodwill, to defer usable materials from the trash as students move off campus in May. 9.5 tons of donations collected in the spring of 2015. One year grant funding offset costs for the 2015 May Move Out. Efficiencies initiated by Buildings & Grounds have made the 2016 May Move Out possible without the grant and without additional expenditures over last year’s budget for dumpsters alone. Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was awarded the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition.

Reusable Food Containers in Hamilton Williams Campus Center: A student project initiated in the fall of 2015 has met with success and is being expanded during the spring of 2016. A new dishwasher was installed in HWCC over the summer, making reusable containers an option. Limitations of OWU’s aging ID Card system and cash registers limit further expansion of the program.

Environmental Studies Mentored Minors: A Food Studies Minor (developed from the Food Course Connection) has been officially proposed to APC (as a collaboration between Health and Human Kinetics [HHK] and Environmental Studies). Two more minors, Sustainability and Climate Science are being developed.

Farm and Food Collaboration: Building on the Food Studies Minor and student interest in gardens, farming and food, OWU faculty in Environmental Studies and HHK are developing a collaboration between Stratford Ecological Center farms and the Methodist School of Ohio farms. Initial efforts will focus on student internships and engagement of OWU in a regional food network. With financial support for staff (donations or grants) campus gardens will be developed. Efforts will focus on the practice of ecologically sound farming, food production, regional food networks and social outreach (building on the existing Cooking Matters Program, organized by Dr. Chris Fink) to engage students and community members in growing food.

Environmental and Sustainability Internships: 10 internships at Stratford Ecological Center and the City of Delaware, spring 2016. Focused on environmental education, marketing, farming, and sustainability.

Amy Work (OWU '06) and Olivia Lease (OWU '17) working with drone imagery, Bahia Uviata, Costa Rica, January '16
Amy Work (OWU ’06) and Olivia Lease (OWU ’17) working with drone imagery, Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica, January ’16.

Global Environmental Change Collaboration & Travel Learning Course: OWU collaboration with Amy Work (OWU 2004) and her organization GeoPorter in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Learning and using environmental assessment methods in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2015) and during a travel learning course trip (Geography 347) to coastal Costa Rica (January 2016). Goal: to understand how local environmental data is collected and relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

Proposed locations for chimney swift towers, near Stuyvesant Hall on the OWU campus.

Chimney Swift Towers: A collaboration between students and OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle (OWU 1973) to build a chimney swift tower on the residential side of campus. Plans have been drawn up and a budget is being developed by a contractor. Funds will be provided by Tuttle. We anticipate construction this summer pending approval from B&G and OWU’s Administration.

Bird feeders near the Schimmel Conrades Science Center on the OWU campus.

Campus Wildlife Habitat Enhancements: Student efforts to install and maintain bird houses, feeders and solitary bee houses on campus.

The Place of Waste: Exploring Asian and Western Perspectives on Waste, Sustainability & Environment. Sagan National Colloquium & Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment. Funding received from the Luce Foundation and OWU’s Sagan National Colloquium by faculty in East Asian Studies and Environmental Studies to explore the idea of waste in cross cultural context. Funding for a Fall 2015 Symposium and Summer 2015 and 2016 travel to Asia. Next round of funding (up to $400k) to be submitted summer of 2016.

Green Week 2016: Building on a successful water-focused week of events in 2015, students are organizing another week of events for the spring of 2016 (the week prior to Earth Day).

Meek Retention Pond Native Species Planting: A collaboration between students and Friends of the Lower Olentangy Arboretum (FLOW) who have provided funds for the purchase of native plants, shrubs and trees to be planted adjacent to the Meek Aquatic Center retention pond.

Proposal for Delaware run restoration.

Delaware Run Assessment and Restoration: Ongoing student research focused on restoring Delaware Run between Sandusky St. and Henry St. Emerging collaboration with stream restoration specialists who propose restoration of the stream and adjacent riparian zone in return for state of Ohio stream credits. Ongoing hydrogeological assessment, Spring 2016.

“Salamander Swamp” Restoration and Research: Student-driven efforts to rehabilitate a campus wetland (behind the tennis courts on Henry St.). Initial research has focused on environmental assessment of the impact of invasive species in the wetlands area.

Bottled Water Sales Reduction: Student-led efforts to drive down bottled water purchases on campus, including the installation of hydration stations and promotion of reusable water bottles. Chartwells reports declining campus sales for bottled water.

Food Recovery Network: Student-initiated effort to donate unused campus food to lower-income Delaware residents through a clinic nearby campus.


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.


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.