Monday, June 14, 2010

Where Does Colgate's Electronic Waste Go?

On Friday, June 11th, Colgate’s sustainability interns Meghan Kiernan ‘11 and Andrew Pettit ’11 took a road trip with Sustainability Coordinator, John Pumilio, to visit RCR&R, the Regional Computer Recycling & Recovery center. For the past 6 years, RCR&R has been handling Colgate’s electronic waste (eWaste) in order to guarantee the safe and appropriate disposal of these hazardous materials, including computers, monitors, circuit boards, batteries, cabling, and televisions.

The relatively new company was founded in 1995 by the current President and Owner, Mike Whyte. RCR&R’s mission is to provide cost effective and safe environmental solutions for the disposal of outdated or broken technology products. Using their own version of the 3R’s, RCR&R focuses on 3 methods of disposal: Reuse, Recovery, and Recycling. 

Our goal for this field trip was to acquire information for students and staff regarding eWaste and answer questions that could be brought up in the future.

Why should we recycle eWaste?

Electronic equipment contains metals and toxic materials that can be harmful to human health and the environment if they are not properly managed. If these technologies are disposed of in landfills then destructive metals such as Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury can be leached into the soil or burned and be released into the atmosphere.

What happens to our electronics after they are delivered to RCR&R?

Colgate's eWaste is picked up and dropped off at the RCR&R facility where it is processed, broken down, and sorted. RCR&R, then, either resells the equipment or recycles the unusable components by sending parts downstream to other companies that specialize in managing a specific component.

As a whole, eWaste has very little resell value due to the current technology boom. Many computers in the modern age become obsolete within two years, which makes reselling them at a cost effective price very difficult.

How does RCR&R ensure that the electronic parts they sell to the further de-manufacturers do not just end up in a landfill?

RCR&R personally audits the primary and secondary companies that it sends its recyclable components to, to make sure that the downstream businesses dispose of the electronic waste correctly. 

How does RCR&R dispose of plastic waste?

Although there is a limited market for mixed plastics, RCR&R compacts all of the plastic it receives from monitor, computer, and television housings and sells it to outside vendors who reuse the plastic in their products. 

If I decide to recycle my old computer, how does RCR&R provide me with data security?

All the circuit boards that RCR&R receives from computers or other electronic devices are personally put through a metal shredder that completely renders the circuit board useless. RCR&R also has the ability to wipe the memory of any circuit board they receive that erases all the data on the drive. These boards are still very likely to be placed in the shredder afterward. 

How many pounds of eWaste does Colgate produce per year?

Between June 2008 and June 2010 Colgate produced 38,566 lbs. of electronic waste not including eWaste collected by the student body.

Also, the interval between May of 2008 to February of 2009 shows that Colgate forwards roughly 1,900 lbs of eWaste to RCR&R each month. This 1,900 lbs only includes devices purchased by the University.

How can we help recycle eWaste?

Colgate has created an electronic waste center at the COOP to help students sort and identify items that are considered “electronic waste.” This new centralized E-WASTE station at the COOP, between the dining center and the C-Store, simplifies the process of sorting, in hopes of increasing student compliance. Students and staff can recycle batteries (wrapped in tape), iPods, cameras, cellphones, CDs/DVDs, cables, ink cartridges, lightbulbs (wrapped in newspaper), and larger electronic equipment such as laptops or printers.

For more information visit the RCR&R website at and for further questions about eWaste at Colgate email Colgate's Sustainability Coordinator, John Pumilio, at

Monday, June 7, 2010


by Meghan Kiernan '11

Colgate would like to thank participating alumni and organizers for the overwhelming success of Friday’s “Green Day” BBQ lunch during Reunion 2010. During this lunch, approximately 80 lbs of food scraps were diverted from the landfill to be composted on campus! This was the first major event at Colgate where composting food scraps was possible. Colgate staff and alumni were enthusiastically supportive of this effort and everyone did their part by scraping their fruit and vegetable scraps into the designated composting bins.

The food scraps will compost over the summer. The finished compost will be used at Colgate’s new organic vegetable garden to help grow vegetables for next year. The success of Friday's BBQ illustrates that Colgate is capable of composting which has promising implications for the future: helping to close the food loop while driving down landfill tipping costs when operated on a larger scale. Additionally, diverting food scraps from the landfill also prevented over 96 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere.

Colgate’s recycling initiative was also on display as each trash can was accompanied by recycling and composting bins. Signs helped to instruct alumni for easier, more efficient sorting.

We would love to hear your feedback. Please let us know if you have any ideas that we can implement in future years to advance our continued commitment to sustainability at Colgate.

Again, thank you to everyone who helped to make this year's BBQ lunch so successful!

Friday, May 21, 2010

REUNION 2010 Takes First Steps at Going Green

Congratulations to this year's Reunion 2010 team for making the time and effort to "green" this year's Reunion. If all goes according to plan, then this year's Reunion may be the greenest event in Colgate history. Sustainability initiatives will be highlighted on Friday, June 4, which organizers are calling "Green Day."

Friday's lunch BBQ, which is expected to serve 1,500 alumni and friends, will be the main event. This will be the first major event at Colgate where composting food scraps will be possible.

Composting significantly reduces the amount of waste Colgate sends to the landfill which not only saves money but also demonstrates environmental stewardship. At the landfill, decomposing food scraps release methane (a very potent greenhouse gas) and take up valuable and unnecessary landfill space. On the other hand, composting reduces transportation and labor costs, landfill tipping fees, and ultimately results in a valuable product that can be used in landscaping and gardening.

Recently, Colgate purchased four 157-gallon composting bins. The food scraps from Reunion will be placed in these bins and allowed to compost over the summer. The finished product will then be used at Colgate's new organic vegetable garden to grow new vegetables for next year. Food scraps produced on campus will be used to grow food on campus helping to close the loop.

Green Day organizers will also be making a concerted effort to reduce landfill waste by encouraging recycling rates and composting. Efforts include the placement of 15-20 clearly labeled and conspicuous recycling bins in the tent area on Whitnall Field. Additionally, biodegradable/compostable cups, plates, napkins and utensils will be used throughout the day.

Colgate's dining services will once again support local producers by purchasing and serving local food items whenever possible. They will also serve "right size" portions in order to reduce food waste.

Other "green" features of Reunion include:
  • A redesigned marketing program that reduced the amount and type of paper used. Organizers of Reunion reduced the January mailing from 36,000 pieces to 6,000 pieces. Emailing digital copies has been utilized more than in the past.
  • Alumni are being encouraged to select reusable containers or mugs as their class souvenir. Refillable water bottles will greatly reduce the number of disposable plastic water bottles used during the weekend.
  • Colgate will be using limo golf carts as much as possible in place of vans in order to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The use of pick-up pal ride share program will be promoted. Pick-up pal is a nation service that connects riders and drivers to a certain area. A Colgate Reunion page has been established to connect our alumni for rides to Reunion.
Organizers of Reunion 2010 consider these efforts a first step. In future years, organizers will continue to collaborate with Colgate's Sustainability Office to build off this year's success.

During Reunion 2010, please help us demonstrate to returning alumni that the Colgate community cares about our environment and the future health of the planet. Lessons learned this year will be invaluable as we move forward. Please let us know if you have other ideas that we can implement in future years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gamma Phi Beta Going Green

by Cassie Lawson '12

Gamma Phi Beta
is very excited and enthusiastic about continuing our efforts to go green! Currently, our house has recycling bins upstairs and downstairs and each week a different sister is in charge of emptying the recycling bins. Additionally, within the last few weeks the women living in our house have begun to compost! The twelve women who live in the house were very responsive to and supportive of the idea of composting. We are currently investigating other ways in which our house can become more sustainable.

Along with the appointment of a Green Chair, a Green Committee has been formed within the sorority. The ten girls, who form this committee, have expressed interest in becoming directly involved in helping our sorority with its sustainability endeavors. Because only twelve women live in our house, one of the primary goals of the committee is to educate girls who do not live in the house about how they can personally change their lives to be more sustainable. One way we have begun to do this is to include a “Green Tip of the Week” at our bimonthly sorority meeting.

Some ideas the Green Committee would like to pursue by the end of this semester and into the fall include, changing all light bulbs in the house to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, purchasing a bike for the sorority for girls to share, replace the cleaning solutions in the house with environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, and collecting reusable shopping bags for girls living in the house to use grocery shopping.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reusable Mugs Eliminate Waste and Styrofoam Cups at Sigma Chi

By Peter Smith '10

Last semester I became the Sustainability Chair for Sigma Chi and took the challenge of making our house more environmentally friendly. After assessing the house and seeing areas that needed improvement, I decided that the first task should be to eliminate environmentally toxic Styrofoam cups.

After speaking with our chef, Dave Chlad, I was able calculate our fraternity’s Styrofoam cup use. We were using about 1,000 Styrofoam cups a week, which is roughly 16,000 Styrofoam cups per semester! This calculates to 17 Styrofoam cups per brother per week at a cost of $800 per semester. Clearly, this is massive waste and harm to the environment and had to be eliminated. My solution to this problem was to invest in on-the-go mugs for each brother in the house so they would no longer have the need to use Styrofoam cups and would instead just use their own personalized mug. I shopped around the internet for personalized mugs until I found a website ( that would create Greek themed, personalized mugs for each brother. The mugs have our Greek letters and the Sigma Chi shield as well as each brother’s personalization. The total cost of the mugs was $891, including mugs for our chef Dave, cleaner Dee and custodian Chris. Since we only add roughly 25 new brothers each year, we would only need to buy them a mug which shows how cost-effective this solution is.

In the beginning, the brothers were hesitant and more than reluctant to give up their cups because of the convenience, but I persuaded them that this was the right decision both environmentally and economically. The mugs arrived in early February and were received with much enthusiasm. The brothers love having a mug of their own that they can use in the house and take with them to class or the library. We also receive a discount for coffee and other beverages when we use our personal mugs.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Memorial Chapel "Off" for Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2010 @ Colgate
by Kelsey Harbord '13

Maybe you didn’t notice. Maybe you did. But the cupola lights on the top of the Chapel were turned off this weekend. In fact, on Saturday March 27, hundreds of millions of people across the globe shut out their lights in support of the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour. And with a simple flick of a switch at 8:30 pm local time, our very own Colgate University Chapel became a part of the world’s largest mass participation event in history.

In an effort to raise awareness of global climate change, buildings in more than 4,000 cities across more than 125 countries disappeared in darkness. Colgate’s iconic cupola was among national landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, and the Las Vegas Strip as the lights were turned off Saturday.

Maybe you wonder what all of this means, this one hour of darkness out of 8, 765—yes, that is how many hours are in a year. Maybe you wonder what difference this darkness could have actually made. Maybe one Colgate student decided that rather than throwing his or her plastic bottle in the trash on Saturday, they would throw it in the recycling bin instead. Maybe one government official realized that people really do want a change. It is the small things that will add up. Hundreds of millions of people would not exist without a hundred million individuals, after all. And one hour turns into 24.

Whether or not you did witness the absence of bright light above the chapel on Saturday, I hope that this bold yet subtle statement will be enough to at least evoke a curiosity that will lead to something more. Earth Hour has already enlightened billions of people across the world. This year, the movement made its mark on the Colgate Campus. So turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Continue the fight until next year when again we can watch as lights go out around the world.

Click here to see article about Colgate in Syracuse Post-Standard.
Click here to see article about Colgate in Radio-Free Hamilton.

Colgate students Kelsey Harbord '13 and Kathryn Homan '13, helped to promote Earth Hour as an activist project for their Modernity class. Other Colgate students approached the Sustainability Office with the same request. In 2007, The World Wildlife Fund created Earth Hour to draw awareness to the changing global climate.

Saturday March 27, 2010
8:30 - 9:30 pm

Last year, 80 million Americans and 318 U.S. cities officially voted for action with their light switch, joining iconic landmarks from around the world that went dark for Earth Hour, including:

* Empire State Building
* Brooklyn Bridge
* Broadway Theater Marquees
* Las Vegas Strip
* United Nations Headquarters
* Golden Gate Bridge
* Seattle’s Space Needle
* Church of Latter-Day Saints Temple
* Gateway Arch in St. Louis
* Great Pyramids of Giza
* Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens
* Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro
* St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
* Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London
* Elysee Palace and Eiffel Tower in Paris
* Beijing’s Birds Nest and Water Cube
* Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong
* Sydney’s Opera House

Friday, March 12, 2010

Theta Chi Fraternity Supports Local Farms

As part of Theta Chi's ongoing effort to promote "green" living, the fraternity recently began purchasing locally grown food through CNY Bounty.

Below is an article written by Becca Jablonski (Agricultural Economic Development Specialist) who interviewed Chef Jerry Nash of Colgate University's Theta Chi Fraternity House. The article was originally published in the Madison County Courier on March 5.

(Hamilton, NY) Chef Jerry Nash believes in providing high quality food to the young men of Colgate University’s Theta Chi Fraternity House. To Nash, “it is nicer when you can attach a place or a face to a product. It tends to be a better product…people take more pride and appreciation in what they’re doing when they know it will be consumed within their own community. [He has] always found better quality from the smaller producers.”

Before CNY Bounty, though Nash wanted to support local farmers and processors it was difficult.

“It is inconvenient to call all of the purveyors,” Nash said. “My time is better spent preparing the food. But CNY Bounty makes it easy. The beauty of the Bounty is that they do all of the leg work.”

CNY Bounty supports local farmers and producers by creating new markets for locally produced foods, thereby strengthening the local economy and providing healthy food to all citizens of Central New York in an environmentally responsible way. Each week, Bounty staff coordinates weekly product availability with farmers and producers and upload the products, prices, photos and descriptions on the website.

Consumers can go online to before Monday at noon to place an order. Orders are collected from the farm on Wednesday morning by Bounty staff, taken to the shared distribution center, and distributed by Bounty staff to customers’ doorsteps or strategically located drop off points on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon. Delivery is free for orders over $35 or for orders of any size to drop off points. CNY Bounty operates year-round and currently works with over 90 farmers and producers.

This week, Nash ordered meats, breads, produce, and some dairy. He is using herbs he purchased from Finger Lakes Fresh and Heritage Farms in tonight’s sauerbraten dinner. (Sauerbraten is a German pot roast marinated before cooking in a mixture of vinegar, water, spices, and seasonings). Tomorrow for lunch he will use the whole wheat pasta he got from The Pasta Shoppe in an alfredo dish.

Nash said that he is going to encourage other fraternities to buy through CNY Bounty.

“You have a bigger effect on the local economy and environment when you are buying local and that is a priority for me,” Nash said. “The young men of the house are aware of high quality products and they have really encouraged this buying process.”

Becca Jablonski is the Agricultural Economic Development Specialist for Madison County.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Light Bulb Exchange Results in BIG Savings!

Over the past few years there has been a big nationwide push to replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with the curly-looking compact fluorescents (CFLs). Is changing light bulbs really worth it? Absolutely! CFL's are 75 percent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and can last 10 times longer. This can result in big energy and cost savings.

Last year, at Colgate, we began replacing 1,400 incandescent bulbs with 20-watt CFLs. Considering the upfront cost of purchasing the CFLs coupled with the energy savings over time, we determined that Colgate will save over $36,000 over the life of the project. Moreover, removing incandescent bulbs will reduce our campus carbon footprint by 101,400 lbs. Any project that can save the university money and reduce our carbon footprint is a good project.

Do you still have an incandescent bulb in your home or office? Then switch it now!
Saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint begins the moment you replace a CFL with an incandescent. This outweighs the energy and emissions associated with keeping an incandescent in place until it burns out.

Where can I get a CFL?
You have a few choices. Call B&G and have your incandescent replaced. CFLs can also be found in any store that sells incandescent bulbs. Finally, both OfficeMax and Staples have CFLs in stock - so order them with your next purchase.

How do I dispose of my spent CFL?
Do not break or throw it in the trash. CFLs contain a tiny amount of mercury (the size of a tip of a ball point pen) and must be disposed of properly. Wrap your spent bulb in newspaper and give to your custodian. It is important to note that a new CFL can last up to 10 years, so you may need to wait awhile!

What if my CFL breaks?
  • Sweep the pieces together with a damp paper towel
  • Place the towel (with glass pieces) in a sealed plastic bag
  • Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office for pick-up (SB4 McGregory, 315.228.7994)

Colgate Saves Water and Energy with Energy Star Washing Machines

Colgate recently replaced the last 21 top-loading washing machines with high-efficiency, Energy Star front-loading washers.

All washers on campus are now water and energy efficient saving the university money and reducing our ecological footprint.

Colgate's old top-loading units used 30 gallons of water per cycle while the new front-loading machines use only 14.8 gallons per cycle.

Besides saving water we are also saving energy. A lot of energy is used by a washing machines just to heat the water. Having a front-loading machine, which uses much less water than a top-loader, will significantly reduce our energy consumption. In addition, front-loading washers squeeze more of the water out of your clothes, so you will spend less time and energy drying your clothes.

On average, front-loading washers use between 40 - 75% less water and 30 - 85 % less energy than typical top-loaders.

Thank you to Colgate's Purchasing Manager, Art Punsoni, for bringing the energy efficient appliances to campus!

Ready for a new washer at home?
Take advantage of the "New York's Great Appliance Swap Out."

Program Overview:
The State of New York launched a new rebate program to help residents replace older, inefficient appliances with ENERGY STAR® qualified models. The program began February 12, 2010, and will continue until funds are depleted.

Eligible products include:
* Refrigerators
* Freezers
* Clothes washers
* High-efficiency appliance package

Consumers can obtain higher rebate amounts by purchasing a package including a refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher that are more efficient than ENERGY STAR. Consumers are also eligible for a higher rebate with proof of recycling.

Click here to learn more.

Contact: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Total Funding: $18,700,000

Here are a few additional ways to reduce your energy use in the laundry room:
  • Wash in Cold Water: The best way to save money when you are doing the laundry is to wash clothes in cold water. When used with cold-water detergent, washing in cold water is actually better for your clothes.
  • Dry multiple loads back-to-back. You’ll save energy by using an already heated dryer that doesn’t have to be brought up to temperature each time it is used.
  • Dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics, for example, dry much more quickly than bath towels and jeans.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter after every use. Check the outside dryer exhaust frequently to make sure it’s clean and that the flapper opens and closes freely.
  • Use a drying rack! Avoiding the dryer altogether is the most energy-efficient alternative of all. Place the dryer rack near a space-heater (in winter) or by an open, sunny window (in summer).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Galapagos Islands Lecture at Colgate

Where: 101 Ho Science Center
When: Feb 26 (Friday) at 3pm
What: Presentation by Dennis Geist, Volcanologist, University of Idaho

Darwin at 200: The Interconnected Geology, Biogeography, and Phylogeography of the Galapagos Islands.


The Galapágos Archipelago is an ideal natural laboratory for studying biogeography and the geologic foundations for evolution. These volcanic islands have suffered fewer extinctions than any other tropical archipelago and have a high proportion of endemic species. The biogeography of the islands makes little sense unless one considers new islands emerging, old islands sinking, and violent explosions erasing ecosystems.