Friday, November 13, 2009

A nickel for your empty water bottle?

On November 8, New York joined ten other states in implementing a nickel deposit on bottled water. Like other deposit programs, New Yorkers will pay an extra nickel at the time of purchase and then be redeemed that nickel when the bottle is returned. The hope is that this new program will help to keep many thousands of plastic water bottles out of the landfill. What do you think? Is this a good program?

Read this Marketplace article to find out more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Student Research Leading Colgate to a “Greener” Future.

Going “green” isn’t always as easy as putting your can in the recycle bin or flipping off a light switch. Often it is hard. Planning for a sustainable future, for example, can be hard.

Think energy!

Last year, Colgate used 31,000,000 kWh of electricity and over 450,000 gallons of expensive and polluting fuel oil to heat our buildings. That’s unsustainable. We all want to use clean, renewable energy, but what energy choices are most viable? Natural gas? Geothermal? Wind? Solar? Expansion of our wood-chip plant? Investigating the economic, environmental, and social feasibility of these (and other) choices is hard work. Luckily, Environmental Studies students have been up to the task.

For many years now, ENST students have completed research projects looking at sustainability on campus and in our local community. In 2008, for example, ENST 480 students investigated alternative energy solutions for Colgate as their capstone projects. Students researched wind energy, biofuels, energy conservation, and willow biomass. While each of these studies contributed valuable knowledge to sustainability at Colgate, one in particular has become reality: willow biomass!

The students who conducted this research detailed the process and overall cost of how to grow and harvest willow on Colgate land to be used as a source of heat energy on campus. Their research not only showed that growing willow is possible but it makes good sense. They recommended an eight-acre experimental plot on Hamilton Street only one-mile from the main campus.

2008 was also the year that students created the sustainability fund with their senior class gift. Part of that class gift was used to finance the willow plot. By every measure, Colgate’s willow plot is a student-led project – being both researched and financed by student determination.

On May 13 of this year, 60,000 willow cuttings were planted for the first time on Colgate property. If successful, this plot will provide Colgate with over 900 tons of renewable biomass energy over a 20-year period. Most importantly, our success on this small plot can help support our local economy. We are trying to show struggling central New York farmers that planting fast growing willow is a viable option. Locally-grown, renewable energy can be a truly sustainable initiative. See video from the Syracuse Post-Standard.

This year’s ENST 480 students are also focusing on sustainability at Colgate. They are researching geothermal energy, green buildings, electronic recycling, vegetable gardens, and developing a campus-wide climate action plan.

And once again, the class gift of 2010 will be going to fund sustainability. Which of these projects will become reality? Stay tuned…

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Colgate's Greenest Videos Contest - The Results!!!

This year was host to Colgate’s First Annual Greenest Videos Contest. Students and employees created and submitted short videos with an environmental theme. The Colgate community then voted for their favorites.

In total, six videos were submitted by Colgate students of all class years. 140 people voted for their favorite videos. The event culminated at Donovan’s Pub on October 22 (on National Teach-In day). About 70 students showed up for the awards ceremony and to watch the videos with fellow students. Everyone who attended received free pizza and a free organic cotton t-shirt. Though the videos ranged greatly in how informative they were, they all got the message across: going green can be easy, fun, and should be addressed on Colgate’s campus.

This contest will hopefully become an annual event. So get your ideas and videos ready for next year’s Greenest Videos Contest!

In the meantime, be sure to check out this year's videos: