SAS Sustainability Chair
As the SAS Sustainability chair and an environmental activist on campus, I get a lot of questions and concerns about Scripps’ sustainable efforts. Because of this, I wanted to make this column a regular part of the student paper to promote sustainability as a more transparent and visible part of our community. I’m sure you know the saying, “If you have a question, others have it too.” I want to use this space to open dialogue and hear from you, so please email me and I will address your concerns personally, and in this column, so the entire student body can become more educated and hopefully more passionate about reducing our impact on the world. Because this is the first time this column is showing up in the paper and because we have a new group of first years on campus, I would like to use this issue to highlight some of the main areas of concern, what Scripps has done in the past, and our plans for the future.
You probably don’t know it, but WE HAVE SOLAR! ...kinda. This past summer, we put solar panels on the Garrison Fine Arts building and Routt Residence Hall (that supplies energy to NEW Hall). It took us a long time to get solar anywhere on campus so everyone who pushed for it is pretty excited. As for what uses energy, the college tries to use efficient light bulbs all around campus as much as possible. This includes the use of energy efficient LED bulbs. We have also tried to educate students on what they can do to reduce their energy use, for example unplugging appliances that are not in use, not over charging your electronic devices, washing clothes with cold water and not using the dryer. We are still advocating for more solar and renewable energy use, since many of our buildings do not have solar. We are also trying to reduce the use of lighting indoors. I know a few people in NEW Hall have noticed that the hallway and suite common room lights do not turn off. This is for safety reasons. However, students can help a lot by turning off the lights when they leave other common spaces like the kitchen, living room, browsing room, computer room and laundry room.
Our NEW Hall is built to LEED Gold Certifi cation Standards! But what does this mean? This is our first building on campus to have any kind of environmental action and awareness certification, while every other 5C has had certified buildings for years. The main reasoning behind certification (besides being environmentally friendly), was to put sustainability of the residence hall at the forefront of the architects and designers’ considerations and be a lasting sign of our sustainable efforts. In order to be certified, the building had to implement a certain number of initiative under categories such as water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, innova tion, and regional priorities. This helped us make the sustainability features more apparent as well as ensuring their actual implementation. While the Board of Trustees was on campus, they and other donors got to participate in the ribbon cutting opening ceremony. This was a great chance for the students and staff, who worked on the long process of getting the approval for certification and pushing for every sustainable feature, to really get people in power excited about sustainability. However, many of the board members still saw NEW Hall primarily for its beauty. We still have a long way to go toward getting people in power to highly value sustainability, but I’m sure t will come with time and our continued efforts to make it visible through our complaints and our campus.
FOOD & MALOTT DINING HALL
Processed foods and meat and dairy products are some of the highest contributors to pollution, energy and water consumption. Because of this, we have tried to implement more vegetarian and vegan options in the dining hall along with information on alternative eating. A while back, students tried to get a Meatless Monday, but there was pushback from the staff and faculty, who may not otherwise be able to access good quality meat products. Malott Dining Hall was also concerned about losing business because of this. We continue to work with the dining hall to get more vegetarian and vegan options available to students and would love your support and ideas. Malott also has a lot of other areas for improvement. For example, many students use the disposable cups, bowls, and utensils because they are the most convenient. This produces a lot of waste! The average American produces over 4 pounds of waste EVERY DAY! This is astounding and does not only consist of the one trash can you take out, but the 70 trash cans that were filled upstream with the byproducts created from making the things you consume. Additionally, 99% of what we consume is thrown out within the first 6 months, and that coffee cup you use once and then throw away contributes immensely when repeated over the course of a year. We can do so much more to make reusable dishes the most accessible and encourage students to bring their own.
Compost in the residence halls was officially implemented this year! It took us three years of pilot programs, board meetings, and a lot of research to get to this point. Our operation is still pretty small, with all of our food scraps going into one bin in the student garden, but we hope to expand and get more students excited about reducing their food waste. Malott Dining Hall also composts, but only their pre-consumer food scraps like melon peels and broccoli stems. This compost is mostly taken to grounds and some is delivered to a local high school where a class turns it into compost. However, what is composted is only a small percentage of the food waste generated. If you’ve been around the colleges for a while, you may have noticed that Pitzer used to have sorted bins for compost. However, they were recently combined because the students were not sorting their food properly and the “compost” bin was too contaminated to use. On the other hand, if you have been to Harvey Mudd’s dining hall recently, you may have noticed that they have started to provide separation bins for compostable and non-compostable food waste. Currently, both bins are being trashed, but Mudd hopes that the City of Claremont will have a composting system that they can contribute to in the spring (the City has projected starting in January 2017). Before starting the program, Mudd wants to see if their students can handle the separation, which is why they have bins now. We will be keeping in contact with them and hope to implement something similar at Scripps.
There have been concerns about the outdoorrecycling bins not being as identifiable as they should be (i.e., they look just like the trash cans). We are currently working on getting lids for theoutdoor trash cans to distinguish them. The biggest hurdle with this has been the Board of Trustees, whose interest in preserving the aesthetic has slowed our progress. We also want to make sure everyone at Scripps knows what you can and cannot recycle. Therefore, we hope to create more signage soon.
I know water has been a hot topic, especially here in drought ridden Southern California. Scripps has done a LOT in the past few years to reduce our water use and make the water we are using more efficient. Some of the past projects the Grounds department has implemented include: replanting the Platt Boulevard islands (the planters in the middle of the road) with native, drought-tolerant plants; replacing may of the lawns with alternative landscaping; and replacing other lawns with Bermuda grass, which does not have to be watered as often or at all when it is dormant for a month during the winter (usually when we are on winter break, but don’t be surprised if it looks more brown in the winter). Some of the projects Facilities has implemented include low flow showerheads and low flow toilets. We students can do a lot to reduce our overall water consumption as well. Some things students can do are: take shorter showers, turn off the sink when possible, report leaky sinks (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and broken sprinklers (to email@example.com), and only do your laundry when you have a full load.NEW Hall also has a host of water saving features including water runoff collection and reuse, drip irrigation, and low flow sinks, showers and toilets. Even though we have come a long way toward reducing our water footprint, more is still needed and we would love your input on areas where you know we be more water efficient.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
I know there are more sustainable issues and there is already a lot of information here. That is why the Scripps Environmental Education and Development team (SEED, aka the Environmental Club) are working to create a Green Guide for the students with all the resources out there and ways to submit your opinions and suggestions. To make our campus a greener place, we need you to help us generate ideas and demonstrate enthusiasm. Please stop by the club’s meetings if you can (Monday at 7:30 in GJW) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your ideas or any initiatives you would like to help out with. Please send large questions, concerns, or ideasto me so I can share them in this column and help spread the word about Scripps’ sustainability.
SAS Sustainability Chair