Looking Towards Spring Semester: Earth Week!

-By Julia Montgomery

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For the past seven years, William and Mary has extended Earth Day in April to a week-long celebration where students come together for events that bring them outdoors and take a chance to reflect on issues of sustainability. Before coming to William and Mary, I had always considered Earth Day a chance to marvel over mother nature and appreciate all the things it has to offer. Now, I’ve learned that Earth Week can mean much more than that.

I have been co-chair of Earth Week this past semester along with the chair, Abby Davidson, planning what type of message we want to convey throughout the week. In past years, there is always a theme with the goal of opening up students and the community to topics that they may be unfamiliar with or be interested in learning more about. This past year, the theme was “The World Around Us” where students were able to participate in a Crim Dell restoration, clean up the James River, and sunset paddleboarding on Lake Matoaka. Combining
activities that give you the chance to enjoy time with your friends in the spring and reflect on the impacts that our habits have on the environment and how we can improve them is the main goal of Earth Week.

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The theme for Earth Week 2018 will be Dinner Table Conversations: From Farm to Fork and Back
Again. This idea brings up questions of where our food comes from, how it is made, if we are eating the smartest things, and so much more. The COLL300 theme for the spring semester is sustainability, which ties in perfectly with the purpose of Earth Week. On Wednesday, April 18th, the school is welcoming Vandana Shiva. Environmental activist, author of over twenty books and scientific advisor are just a few of her titles. This will be a very exciting chance to hear the voice of a global scholar with a wealth of knowledge in several fields. Throughout the rest of the week, we wanted to bring in an opportunity to participate in a community service events that is environmentally aware and gives back to the community. We will have several other activities with the theme of sustainability and food to foster awareness and bring the community together,
all culminating with the Earth Day Festival taking place on April 21st.

Earth Week is a great opportunity for the campus to promote environmentally aware practices to the students and bring up deeper issues in society that need to be addressed. As a institution of higher learning, colleges can shape the ideals and mindsets that students walk away with when they graduate and go about making changes in the real world. Being exposed to these types of topics are important and Earth Week is a great way to integrate them into the daily lives of students. Our goal is to make it fun and educational and hopefully,
if we do it right, enough people will walk away choosing to make a difference that can have an impact on our environment here at William and Mary. So, when the week comes around in April, remember it’s more than just a chance to say “happy birthday mother nature!”. Take the opportunity to go out and learn more about what we can do to help our planet.

March 17th, 2018

Great News From Dining Services!

There’s quite a bit of great news coming out of Dining Services these days. The three student sustainability interns hired by Aramark at the beginning of the year are certainly earning their keep! The changes they’ve made will reduce the dining halls’ waste output and save Dining Services and the College quite a bit of money.

  • New napkin dispensers are on display at the dining halls. These dispensers (containing napkins made with 100% recycled paper, of course) reduce napkin use by 25%, because they only release one napkin at a time.
  • Individual condiment bottles are on the way out — but new condiments, placed in larger centralized dispensers, are replacing them. All of your old favorites will still be available: ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, etc. But you’ll be seeing some additions, including a “sweet heat” hot sauce from Frank’s, and barbecue sauce, too!
  • Possibly the biggest change, though, is the new reusable take-out container program launching in the Spring! Starting in January, students can sign up to join the reusable take-out container program. When swiping in, students can ask for one of the containers, and upon bringing it back to the dining hall, they will receive 10 cents on their Flex Points! In addition, the student who uses the reusable containers the most times by late April will receive 50 additional Flex Points. That’s a lot of Domino’s! Are you a student interested in joining the program? Email the Sadler Center RFoC sustainability intern, Ian Fuller, at ibfuller@wm.edu to join!

November 12th, 2009

The week in summary

My apologies for the radio silence over the past few days — the requisite early-fall illness creeping across campus hit me early in the week. No flu, though, thankfully!

What’s been happening this week? Well, we had our first Steering Committee meeting for the Committee on Sustainability, and we welcomed our two new student representatives to Steering: Caroline Cress ’10 will be representing undergraduates and co-chairing the Programs and Education Subcommittee, and Dan Conant of the School of Education will be representing graduate students and co-chairing the Operations Subcommittee. Among the numerous topics of the Steering meeting were a reorganization (we’ve eliminated the Finance working group, split Physical Plant into Energy and Waste/Recycling, and added a Procurement group into STAC), the large outpouring of student volunteers for COS (over 40 applications!), and the numerous projects coming down the pipes (releasing a sustainability academic audit, launching the Eco Ambassador Program, etc.).

Last week also saw the first official days of work for the Sustainability Interns hired by Dining Services & Aramark! Christy Ottinger ’10, Sarah Will ’10, and Ian Fuller ’11 will be working in the numerous dining facilities across campus to improve recycling practices in both dining and preparation areas, create a composting program, support increased purchasing of local, seasonal, organic, fair trade, and cage-free foods, and promote awareness of food sustainability issues on campus. Students, keep an eye out for them in your dining halls! I’ll be working with them mostly in regards to the creation of a composting program for Dining Services. Hopefully, with the help of the College and Aramark, we can get a large-scale composting program going by the end of the year!

The College also saw the release of the state’s budget expectations for next year — with poor news for anyone involved. As the year continues, you’ll see some information from me and COS about how much money our recent sustainability efforts have saved the College; preliminary estimates have us breaking $100,000 in savings each year, with more surely to come!

September 12th, 2009

Hello!

Hello and welcome to Hark Upon the Green, the blog covering every aspect of sustainability at the College of William and Mary! My name is Phil Zapfel, and as the College’s Sustainability Fellow for 2009-2010, I’ll be your guide to all of the fantastic sustainability work happening right now at W&M.

A bit of background on myself (also conveniently located, for future reference, on the “About” page above): Originally from Loudoun County, Virginia, I am a recent graduate of the College, class of 2009. My undergraduate time at W&M  was spent working on larger and larger sustainability projects with the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Environmental Science & Policy Program (though I was actually an English major, believe it or not!), and the Committee on Sustainability. After graduating in May, I was lucky enough to be offered the first full-time position dedicated to sustainability in the College’s history, and as I’m sure you can tell, I graciously accepted.

My position of Sustainability Fellow is unique in that there is little to no precedent for the position at William and Mary. With the Committee on Sustainability only a year old, the College is still settling into its role as overseeing and supporting sustainability initiatives here on campus. As such, part of my job is to define my own role in the College’s administration. This task is, quite predictably, both empowering and intimidating.

There are a few tasks I know I’ll be handling: organizing and taking minutes for the Committee on Sustainability’s Steering Committee, preparing press releases on our numerous accomplishments, providing content for W&M’s sustainability website, keeping up a blog (!), and coordinating and supporting many of the amazing faculty, staff, and student initiatives popping up in every corner of campus. But there’s plenty of work to be done, and I’m looking to establish a project or two of my own over the next year. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me when I’ve got a few ideas.

Enough about me. There’s been quite a bit going on with sustainability at W&M over the summer. Some highlights:

  • The Mason School of Business’s new building, Miller Hall, was completed earlier this month. The building is a candidate for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, the second-highest possible certification available! The certification (whether it’s Gold or Silver, one step below) should be finalized around October.
  • W&M received a 90/99 on the Princeton Review Green Rating — up from an 84 last year!
  • Do you remember hearing about the Student Green Fee enacted in the spring of 2008? The fee, which raise over $200,000 a year for sustainability initiatives, allow for four student research grants every summer, and its first batch of researchers has just recently finished their work. Connor Horne studied local and organic food purchasing options for the College, Margaret Challand measured the quality of the campus’s storm water runoff, and Tyler Koontz and Judi Sclafani proposed efficient and money-saving changes to the College’s recycling and waste programs. You’ll be hearing more about them soon, from me, W&M news, and others!
  • W&M redesigned their sustainability website to be more helpful, comprehensive, and intuitive. Yours truly is providing content for the site, and Jennifer Sekula in the Law Library is serving as our webmaster. Check the site often for more in-depth coverage of the news, events, and projects I’ll be highlighting here.
So what’s on our plate this year? First of all, you can always find out for yourself by volunteering to serve on the Committee! All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to join. Please, email me if you have any questions!
In the next few weeks, the Committee on Sustainability be launching a new internship program, publishing sustainability audits of our academics and transportation, releasing our first official greenhouse gas inventory, and placing stickers & signs around campus to encourage sustainable personal practices. We’re quite busy, but we’ve always got room for new ideas and new people. I’m here as your personal contact into the world of sustainability at William and Mary, so don’t hold back: tell me what you think, and let me know if you’re looking to get involved in any way.
Until next time!
Phil

August 24th, 2009


About:

Welcome to Hark Upon the Green! This blog is a shared space for members of the sustainability community at William & Mary to write about sustainability topics on and beyond.

If you would like to contribute to the blog, contact sustain@wm.edu

Make sure to visit Sustainability at W&M for all of W&M's progress on sustainability efforts.

Catch up with William & Mary Sustainability on Twitter at WM_GreenisGold
and on Instagram @wm_sustainability

To learn what William & Mary's Environmental Law Society is up to, visit their blog at http://envirols.blogs.wm.edu/.

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