The Green Wittenberg Effort
Sustainability in the Curriculum
Wittenberg receives National Science Foundation grant to expand its curriculum in the area of environmental sustainability:
Wittenberg aligns its goals for sustainability education with the Brundtland report’s definition of sustainability: meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Addressing sustainability challenges requires interdisciplinary thinking, flexibility, creativity, and ongoing collaboration. Sustainability courses can fall into the following two categories:
• Sustainability-focused courses concentrate on the concept of sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions, or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens.
• Sustainability-related courses incorporate sustainability as a distinct course component or module or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue.
To help identify if a course incorporates sustainability either as a central focus or as a module, several sample sustainability learning outcomes follow:
Students will be able to:
• Demonstrate an understanding of key sustainability challenges.
• Understand interdisciplinary aspects of sustainability including the feedbacks between science, economics, society and/or cultural influences.
• Approach sustainability topics through team activities that encourages multiple disciplinary lenses.
• Critically engage in problem-solving related to sustainability (e.g. case studies, field studies, evaluations of best practices, research).
A course does not need to include all of the above learning outcomes to be considered sustainability-focused or sustainability-related and the above list is far from comprehensive.
The Wittenberg Eco-House celebrates another year of living sustainably and is home to five Wittenberg students during the 2013-2014 school year: Nathan Dillahunt, PoWER Magistrate to the Sustainability Task Force, Jacob Kuntz, Chris Navarre, Jarod Vance, and Andrew Ziminski, Secretary, PoWER. Started up in 2009 by the initiatives of faculty and students combined, with no small dose of vision from past PoWER president David Donofrio (’09), the EcoHouse is a reality at Wittenberg. The house is located at 484 N. Wittenberg Ave. and has housed past residents: Maura Hauer, former Green Senator Michael LaCagnin, Jessica Weaver, Matt Parker, Ben Johnson, Zack Stewart, Nate Bennink, and former PoWER Presidents Emily Dick, Brandon Pytel, and Isaac Wittmann. The house benefits from the savvy guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Rick Incorvati, and from the encouragement of Associate Dean for Residence Life Mark DeVilbiss.
No, the EcoHouse is not all decked out with the latest in photovoltaic panels, passive solar water heating contraptions, geothermal climate control, or indoor vermiculture composting equipment. Rather, 484 N. Wittenberg is a typical Springfield residence with one key difference: these Wittenberg students living there have each signed an agreement that will guide their living habits for the coming year. The contract states that they will live an earth friendly lifestyle as both a testing ground and beacon for all Wittenberg residence.
· recording and reducing their energy consumption;
· maintaining an on-site garden and a compost bin;
· diligently recycling and avoiding the purchase of non-recyclable materials;
· purchasing organic and/or locally grown food when possible;
· pursuing carpooling options for travel needs; and
· seeking out energy efficient options whenever repairs or replacements of appliances are necessary.
The residents of the EcoHouse also have the duty of providing some educational programming for the campus, so keep your eyes out for opportunities to learn more about this group. In the meantime, if you happen to know any or all of these fine environmentalists, give them your encouragement as they set the standard this year for the future of this timely residence.
Dr. Incorvati and J.P. Jackson
Student Senate approves Green Senator
After months of discussion, and go ahead from both PoWER (Parliament of Wittenberg Environmental Revolution) and the Sustainability Task Force, Student Senate approved a Green Senator to serve as a permanent position on Senate starting in the 2012-13 school year. The office is held by a student who is elected through a campus-wide election on the yearly ballot. The Senator serves as a liason between both PoWER and the Sustainability Task Force, being required to attend weekly meetings, as well as attend Senate-mandated Faculty Meetings. This is a tremendous leap forward for the green movement at Wittenberg and is very promising for the future of environmentalism on campus. This year's Green Senator is Matt Miely.
Green Heroes Extraordinaire: Doug Lehman and Lori Judy
When our library undertook an enormous purge of some of its holdings, Director Doug Lehman and Senior Library Assistant Lori Judy confronted a problem. If we were to discharge all those periodicals that were now available through online sources, we needed to find something to do with the paper, tons of paper, that would be headed out the door. The complication here is that these periodicals were bound, and most paper recyclers just can’t handle that stuff. Waste Management can’t handle it—which is why we can’t put hardbacks in our blue bins—Rumpke can’t handle it, and the green “Paper Retrieval” bins around town can’t handle it.
Doug persistently followed up leads until he found one company, Hanna Paper Recycling out of Cincinnati, that would haul away these discharged items. It wasn’t free—and at this point Wittenberg even has to pay Waste Management to take recyclable materials off our hands—but Doug and Lori were not going to rest easy at night thinking that they had something to do with putting an enormous mountain of paper into a landfill somewhere in southern Ohio.
So they made the arrangements, the books were pulled from the shelves, they were loaded into large carts (see attached photographs, please see the attached photographs), and were hauled away in a series of shipments through the summer. A huge task. And one that requires thanks in many directions. Judy in particular would like to give kudos to the students who helped her with the task. That’s Megan Clark (’10), Molly Shuman (’10), and Aric Stano (’10) Their work added to 21.6 tons of recycling to Wittenberg’s tally, about the same amount by weight that the campus as a whole reclaims in a year’s time. By one estimate, the efforts of these Wittenbergers saved about 367 trees.
STAND Heads off to Mountain Justice Program for a Second Year
STAND President Megan Hentges found a passion for mountains during last year’s Mountain Justice Program which brought this Wittenberg junior to Appalachian country in order to see firsthand the effects of mountaintop removal. Fired with her passion for this issue, she brought back to our campus some useful information—as well as some pretty snappy bluegrass musicians—and now she’s recruited a posse of twelve students who will make the spring break trip to the Mountain Justice program this year. Contact Megan (email@example.com) if you’re interested in learning more about this program or about the mountaintop removal method of getting coal. (www.mjsb.org)
Compost Pilot Underway with Some Generous Support from Clark County Waste Management
Earlier this semester, three campus rental properties were selected to be part of a pilot program which supplies those residences with a brand new compost bin. The bins were supplied to Wittenberg by Clark County Waste Management care of their Waste Reduction Grant program which, as the name implies, supports educators in their efforts to reduce waste in our community schools. (More information about this and other programs is available at http://www.32trash.org/school_support.htm.) The bins were delivered by our Physical Plant staff, and now the residents of the selected properties will begin separating organic waste from their trash stream. They’ll also begin informing the Recycling Program of any complications that crop up. If all goes well, we’ll look at adding new properties to the compost program each year.
Ecohouse Option Generates Significant Student Interest
The student environmentalist group PoWER held an interest meeting for students thinking about living in the University’s first Ecohouse which is scheduled to come online in the fall of this year. The interest was certainly there: 7 groups of potential residents, each consisting of 5 willing students, were on hand to put their names in the running. The selection process and the planning for the house continues apace as you read this, and much thanks goes Senior David Donofrio, Dean of Students Sarah Kelly, and Associate Dean Dawn White for their roles in bringing the idea this far.
Green Events Mark the Beginning of 2009
A pre-semester Writing and Speaking Workshop and the FDB’s Faculty Retreat shared the distinction of being Green Events. The workshop organizers worked with Sodexho, taking advantage of its new catering Green Guide (available at http://www4.wittenberg.edu/administration/dining/catering.html); the organizers also produced publicity on paper with at least 30% recycled content and provided van transportation to a downtown restaurant for lunch. The Faculty Retreat raised the Green Event bar a bit higher with a low-waste breakfast supplied by volunteers from the Wittenberg Food Co-op; the retreat planners also asked the Recycling Program Coordinator to provide a recycling quiz as well as recycling and composting options throughout the day; and they opted for aluminum cans in place of plastic bottles. To learn more about how to qualify for Green Event status, visit the Green Wittenberg website at www.wittenberg.edu/green.
Student Senate Takes an Aggressive Green Stance
Student Senate’s commitment to environmental issues has been strong since the inception of the campus-wide recycling program in the spring of 2008. Student leaders made a significant financial contribution of $20,000 that helped spread blue recycling bins around campus and also helped support the additional personnel that would be needed to handle the collection, hauling, and unloading of our sorted waste. This year, Senate President John Duraj has extended that commitment by appointing two students to promote both the recycling and the purchase of local and organic foods through Wittenberg’s Food Co-op
Senior Political Science and French major Elise Willer is already serving a key position as a liaison between the Senate, the Recycling Program, and PoWER, the student group who is taking on the task of recycling education on campus this year. Elise is also responsible for designing new signs to mark the transition to single-stream recycling and has been pivotal in getting the Green Wittenberg logo printed on organic and recycled cotton shirts.
Sophomore Dan Whonsetler is taking on the task of making the coop more student friendly. In addition to providing some product ideas that appeal to the 22-and-under set, he has also helped out with the physical labor involved in the coop’s most recent—and busiest ever—distribution.
PoWER Lobbies for the Campus Climate Challenge and an Eco-House at Wittenberg
This fall, PoWER has a few major initiatives on its agenda, one of which is to get Wittenberg University signed onto the Campus Climate Challenge, a national program in which colleges agree to make deliberate steps toward reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Key among those steps is the development of a plan, including a timetable with specific benchmarks, for achieving carbon neutrality. Other measures include the promotion of public transportation, the reduction of waste, and a commitment to pursue energy generated from renewable sources.
Also on their agenda is the establishment of an eco-house on campus. PoWER’s plan for this themed housing arrangement involves taking one of the university’s current off-campus residences and reserving it for students who would be interested in making a personal commitment to adopt environmentally friendly living habits. According to PoWER Prime Minister David Donofrio, the house need not be equipped to solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels, and geothermal heating and cooling in order for the project to get off the ground. In fact, he sees the house itself as a potential project for the residents who would research and participate in the gradual greening of the building from year to year.
If you are interested in either of these projects, please contact David Donofrio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STAND Brings Mountain-Top Removal Concerns to Campus
While some college students spent their spring break in 2008 on the beach in Cancun, members of STAND traveled to Virginia to participate in a program called Mountain Justice. The program brought STAND members up close with the effects of mountain-top removal and immersed them in the Appalachian culture that feels the most direct impact of this and other damaging mining efforts. This fall STAND will not only continue its work on this issue, but it will also bring a piece of that Appalachian culture to Wittenberg’s campus.
STAND has arranged for the group Here’s to the Long Haul to stop in Springfield for a concert and a presentation on mountain-top removal. The group’s music has been described as bluegrass, traditional folk music, and contemporary Americana, but they describe their sound as “mountain resistance music.” In fact, this Tennessee band has its roots in the Mountain Justice Program where two of its members met and started playing together.
The group will bring its distinctive brand of music and its political commentary to campus on October 24th when they’ll play at Wally’s at 9:00 p.m.. Wittenberg’s own Stuffed Possum and Cornbread will also offer its rendition of Appalachian music for a song or two.
Waste Audit Underway
No question about it. Our recycling numbers could be better. But where are the real problems? Do we recycle better in the academic buildings than we do in the residence halls? What’s the main recyclable material that’s winding up in the trash can? Is it newspaper or plastic? Glass or aluminum? And what percentage of material in the trash receptacles might actually go into the blue bins?
These are the questions that the campus’s two Sustainability Assistants, Chris Banas (’09) and Megan Shaughnessy (’12), will be tackling in the coming weeks as they undertake a waste audit of the campus. To test out the process, the students along with Recycling Program Coordinator Dr. Rick Incorvati and Environmental Studies Program Director Dr. Andrew Scholl, conducted a trial audit of the trash and recycling produced in Hollenbeck during a 24-hour period.
Preliminary findings show that this academic building generally recycles more effectively than the university’s overall average: about 34% of the total waste in the building found its way into a recycling bin, which is just over the rate of 32% the EPA assigns to the average household and about three times Wittenberg’s campus average which is a bit shy of 10%. The audit also found that the recycling effort has plenty of room for growth since as much as 76% of the material in the Hollenbeck total waste stream could have been recycled. The auditors were also surprised by the amount of paper towels—about 12 pounds worth—that passes through that waste stream in a single day.
Future audits encompassing additional buildings will provide a lot of immensely helpful information for improving our campus recycling efforts, but the task will be enormous. Those interested in assisting in this milestone project should contact Chris Banas (email@example.com) or Megan Shaughnessy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wittenberg’s Recycling Program Goes Single Stream
After one semester of sorting our recycling material into two bins—paper in one, and glass, aluminum, and plastic in the other—Wittenberg is shifting to a single stream collection process. There are good reasons to go with multiple stream, especially if a community generates enough waste in paper to justify a separate hauler for that material. We’re not there—nor, for that matter, is a vanguard campus like Oberlin which uses single stream recycling.
The single stream approach has two key advantages for our campus. One is that recycling becomes easier. No need to track down the right bin for your recycling needs now since any blue bin will do the job. The other advantage is that Wittenberg is now able to place a blue recycling bin next to every major indoor trash can on campus. Up until this point, we did not have enough bins to provide that kind availability. In a few weeks, we should be able to tell whether shift to a single stream has produced a bump in our recycling numbers (i.e. the amount of material reclaimed).
To help make the transition to this approach, Student Senate and PoWER have generated new signs to post on and near the bins.
The News in Springfield
City of Springfield Moves Closer to Contracting with Waste Haulers
The current practice for handling residential waste in Springfield is a matter of individual choice with each household determining who picks up the trash cans and recycling bins put out by the road. There are certainly advantages to this system, particularly for the smaller haulers in our community who are at a disadvantage when bidding for contracts alongside larger companies--companies with newer equipment and economies of scale on their side. But the disadvantages of are also significant.
One might think that putting the four haulers in our area—H. W. Mann, Rumpke, Waste Management, and Vince—in competition with each other would lead to cheaper rates for consumers. But according to a feasibility study conducted by Debra Shaw, Director of Clark County Waste Management District, and Jim Scora, of GT Environmental, Springfielders are actually paying more than they would under a system in which haulers were contracted to exclusively handle particular areas of town. The average monthly payment for waste hauling in our community is $20.20, while citizens in towns with contracted services pay around $14.80.
The other disadvantage from an environmental perspective is that we currently have not one but four gas-guzzling refuse trucks crawling down our avenues each collection day, and we can often add four more vehicles for picking up the recycling. To complicate matters further, some haulers, particularly the smaller ones, have little incentive to recycle since the cost of sending around a second truck does not offset the savings reaped by reducing waste destined for the landfill. (Haulers pay two charges to the waste collection companies, a higher one for waste and a lower one for recyclables.) Creating a situation in which one hauler is responsible for a whole neighborhood would likely make the collection of recycling more feasible for more haulers.
The City Commission is continuing to look at the shift to contracted haulers and is considering ways in which contracts might be distributed across the area so as to sustain the range of haulers Springfield currently supports. Details from this story were found in Diane Selden’s Springfield News Sun article “Commissioners Tackling Trash."