Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (OWRR), located in Facilities, is responsible for coordinating recycling activities and waste pickups throughout campus. In addition to those initiatives, OWRR’s Surplus Property Program re-purposes items on campus and facilitates the recycling of WFU’s Technotrash.
Food Waste Reduction
The Campus Kitchen a Wake Forest University, a student-run service organization, works to distribute extra prepared meals donated by the dining hall and other partner organizations to food insecure populations in Winston-Salem.
Dining Services can provide low-waste catering options upon request.
Beyond meeting regulated health and safety requirements, a new chemical inventory tracking system at Wake Forest provides a useful means of minimizing laboratory waste on campus. The system catalogs the thousands of different types of chemicals – from acetone to dimethyl sulfoxide – stored in academic buildings and laboratories, facility storerooms, and supply closets. The system can also be used to track the maintenance and calibration schedule of various pieces of laboratory equipment, which helps prevent premature breakdowns.
Although hazardous waste is collected routinely on campus, this inventory system identifies how chemicals should be disposed of, and under which deadlines, in a systematic way. This was previously difficult to monitor given the widespread distribution of chemicals across campus.
To date, it has been difficult for faculty and students from physics and chemistry to neuroscience and health and exercise science to know what chemicals colleagues in other departments might already have procured. In the past, this has meant that the purchase of both hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals has been duplicated. Exacerbating the problem, faculty and students are often left with surplus supplies due to minimum purchasing requirements.
Now, with the new system in place, a professor or graduate student can easily check online to see what each department already has in storage, before making any purchases.
Steve Fisenne, Associate Director of Environmental Health & Safety, had a major role in bringing the new system to campus and is particularly excited about the benefits it brings. “Implementation of this system will allow the university to uncover opportunities in sustainability, waste reduction, cost reduction and efficiency,” while complying with, “regulatory requirements and providing a safer working environment.”
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
Refilling stations are becoming the norm at Wake Forest University, with a total of 46 water bottle refill stations across campus. What started with 2010-11 Choose to Reuse intern Frannie Speer, a grant from Brita’s Filter for Good program, and a pilot refill station outside the Office of Sustainability in Reynolda Hall, has propelled into a campus-wide initiative.
A strong show of support from students, faculty, and staff has spurred the installation of refilling stations throughout campus. The impetus to install a station in Greene Hall originated from administrative assistant Tara Ogletree, in the Department of German and Russian. “I thought that having the refilling station installed on the third floor of Greene Hall would be a small contribution to our growing eco-friendly campus.” In another show of departmental backing, the Office of Budget and Financial Planning co-sponsored the installation of the refilling station outside the Fresh Food Company in 2012. Residence Life & Housing installed stations in nearly every residence hall this year.
Each water bottle refill station located around campus has a built-in sensor that starts the flow of chilled, filtered water from an overhead port when a bottle is placed in front of it. The refill stations are “no-touch” and provide immediate feedback that tracks the number of “disposable plastic bottles” that are avoided through use of the refill station.
The amount of waste refilling stations reduce is one of many benefits to having the stations on campus. Additionally, water from the refill stations does not bear the same transportation fuel waste burden as bottled and distributed water, nor does it generate the same resultant greenhouse gas emissions. When compared to single-use plastic water bottles, that are sometimes shipped internationally, this equates to notable emissions reduction. Looking at the bigger picture, it translates to better air quality and natural resource management, all of which contribute to a healthier environment.
It is clear that refilling stations have much to offer campus — convenient, good tasting, filtered, chilled hydration. As Ogletree puts it, simply, “Hopefully, the installations will encourage others to participate in the program and promote healthier lifestyles.”
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Over the past fifteen years the effort to reduce solid waste on campus has expanded from its humble origins as a simple recycling program to the holistic campus-wide waste reduction initiative it is today.
Before 1998 the campus’s overall waste diversion rate was negligible; by 2010 it had jumped to 45% and in 2012 it had grown to 55%. Achievements in the waste reduction campaign have been made on diverse frontiers: waste diversion includes diversion of materials from the landfill for basic recycling, reuse, upcycling, downcycling, and composting.
One of the major contributors to the success of the waste reduction campaign is Megan Anderson, Wake Forest’s Manager of Waste Reduction and Surplus Property. Although she emphasizes the collective nature of the achievements, she has worked tirelessly on several initiatives over the past few years that have reduced the environmental footprint the campus leaves behind.
Reflecting on the diversity of waste reduction strategies made by the university, Anderson said that, “Focusing on process change, increasing efficiency, and more thoughtful purchasing are just a few examples of how we have been able to set the bar higher to reduce our waste.”
Accomplishments in the waste campaign have been made on assorted fronts. So far this year, the surplus property program allowed the university to repurpose 319 pieces of furniture, resulting in 8.44 tons of material being diverted from the landfill. In the 2011-2012 school year, the same program allowed over 1000 individual items to be repurposed and reused within WFU departments. Also, for more than two years now, Aramark has been composting pre-consumer food waste in the Fresh Food Co., Starbucks, and catering and continues to investigate options to expand the program to post-consumer food scraps.
“As the Wake Forest University community continues to grow: with more programs, more buildings, and more students living on campus,” Anderson said, “we need to continue this forward momentum.” Collective effort, she stresses, is also the way forward: “All of us have to be cognizant of how we can work together to reduce our waste.”
Read some of our stories about successful waste reduction efforts over the past few years:
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
Although summer is usually a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, and rest, for game day recycling intern Lauren Formica (‘16), summer is more about the three R’s of resource management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. To prepare for this fall’s Go Deacs. Go Green. football game day recycling campaign, Formica attended the Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit this June in Atlanta, GA.
Held at Georgia Tech and hosting 110 attendees, the annual meeting is an opportunity to engage with national peers who orchestrate and support sustainability efforts in collegiate athletics. The meeting includes speaker sessions and an idea-sharing forum focused on athletic event recycling at colleges and universities. The summit doesn’t just highlight success stories; it also includes lessons learned from less-than-successful efforts.
Formica found these group interactions to be a highlight of the conference. “It made me realize there are some real advantages and disadvantages to being a smaller university. Many of the things that didn’t work at some of the larger institutions, may work well at Wake Forest because of our size,” she concluded.
Another goal of the forum is to showcase the benefits of sports-focused sustainability efforts. These include fan pride and loyalty, which Formica touts as a key reason she was interested in the game day recycling internship. “When I volunteered as a freshman, I enjoyed interacting with alumni who weren’t aware of the resources we now have on campus. They were excited about our programs.”
Formica speaks with enthusiasm about the ideas that the meeting provided, many of which she thinks could be effective at Wake Forest. “I want to continue the success we have and hope to expand upon it,” she says. These developments might include creating a strategic plan for game day recycling or garnering more program participation from both on and off-campus organizations.
Mindful of the work ahead, Formica is excited about the prospects for the fall football season. And honestly, what true Demon Deacon fan isn’t already?
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability
As of May 2013, students, faculty, and staff on the Reynolda campus have collected and donated a cumulative 8000 pounds of books to Better World Books, an online bookstore, social enterprise, and B Corporation. Founded in 2002, Better World Books has raised nearly $15 million for global literacy projects, including $7.3 million for literacy and education nonprofits and $7.2 million for libraries nationwide. Since its founding, the organization has re-used or recycled over 146 million pounds of books – that’s over 100 million books.
At Wake Forest, we began collecting books for donation to Better World Books in 2009. Our students donate an average of approximately 2000 pounds of books during move-out each year. Collection boxes are placed in the bookstore, making it convenient for students to donate the books that the bookstore isn’t able to buy back.
From time to time, faculty members also clean out their offices and clear off their bookshelves. Several have opted to donate their unwanted books to Better World Books. The process is simple: the Office of Sustainability delivers boxes to a departmental liaison; once the boxes are packed and taped, the office prints and delivers pre-paid UPS labels and the boxes are picked up for shipping. We cannot accept textbooks that are more than ten years old. Instead, those can be recycled locally.
Better World Books sells some of the donated books online and returns a portion of the proceeds to the programs it supports. For the first time this year, Better World Books invited Wake Forest to designate a local literacy partner to support. We chose the Augustine Project for Literacy’s Literate Girls program, a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
For more information about Wake Forest’s relationship with Better World Books or how you can get boxes for an office clean-out, contact the Office of Sustainability at or at ext. 3328.
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
Summer isn’t necessarily a vacation for Wake Forest students. From late May to early August, The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest, a student-run service organization, maintains full operations, serving 154 meals per week to underserved members of the Winston-Salem community. Unlike during the spring and fall, when Campus Kitchen is run by a six-member executive board and a 24-member leadership team, during the summer three interns are at the helm of one of Wake Forest’s flagship service organizations.
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is an affiliate of the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger and reducing waste through food recycling programs on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen model takes surplus prepared (but never served) meals from campus dining facilities and distributes these meals to partner agencies serving local communities. In addition to this basic model, the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with the Fresh Market, rescuing edible produce and baked goods and delivering the food in bulk to agencies serving populations with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University also partners with the Campus Garden, incorporating fresh, campus-grown produce into balanced meals.
Brittany Forniotis (’15), David Hale (’15), John Iskander (’16), and Monica Hedge (’14) make up the summer 2013 team of Campus Kitchen interns. Brittany, who is also spending her summer conducting original research on American slave narratives, splits five cooking shifts and five food delivery shifts with David, a premedical student who is also currently conducting summer research. John serves as the Fresh Market intern, running five food rescue shifts per week and researching the feasibility of food trucks as a means of increasing access to nutritious food. Monica will replace Brittany as one of the cooking and delivery interns for the second half of the summer.
According to the Campus Kitchens Project’s national guidelines, all meals must include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Because there are fewer students on campus during the summer, the Fresh Food Company has less surplus food to donate to Campus Kitchen, so the interns must creatively combine resources to meet the organization’s standards. Brittany, who plans many of the summer menus, relies heavily on produce grown in the WFU Campus Garden. Most recently, she and summer volunteers prepared a huge salad with roasted beets, greens, and beet greens from the Campus Garden.
David, who served the salad at the SECU Family House, an agency providing housing for the families of patients who travel to Winston-Salem for medical treatment, reports “Everyone is always really happy when I say we grew these beets in our Campus Garden…they were so impressed that it was full circle, that we are using what we have and being sustainable.”
Partner agencies rely on Campus Kitchen to stay open during the summer, but David explains that the summer also provides an opportunity to reach new volunteers. He says “it is also important for us to educate volunteers, whether they are at a summer camp here, faculty and staff, or just anyone in the Winston-Salem area, to realize that [food insecurity] is an important issue in our region that many people don’t know about.” He also explains that bringing new volunteers into Campus Kitchen “is really about removing the stigma from certain areas [of Winston-Salem] or the stereotypes someone might associate with a particular type of person.”
In the context of cooking shifts, Brittany takes care to talk to volunteers about “where the food is going, what sort of people are receiving the food, and what sort of health problems they might have.” She explains the intentional choices she makes based on the population being served, such as sending reduced dessert portions and low-salt meals to senior housing where many residents suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
In the context of delivery shifts, David explains the goal of a particular partner agency and how food from Campus Kitchen fits into that goal. For instance, at Prodigals Community, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility, David explains to volunteers how the Sunday night meal provided by Campus Kitchen allows Prodigals to allocate funds towards programs that facilitate residents’ recovery.
When asked what the Campus Kitchen needs from the Wake Forest community this summer, the interns offer a single emphatic answer: volunteers. David says “We need people who are willing to be flexible, to try something new…to go out of their comfort zone, to get out of the Wake Forest bubble and realize that these places exist in Winston-Salem.”
To volunteer for Campus Kitchen, contact Brittany Forniotis at .
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Each year the Wake Forest Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship holds a banquet honoring students and faculty for their accomplishments and innovative ideas. This year, two interns for the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Energy Management respectively were honored for their projects: senior Austin Smith, and junior Claire Nagy-Cato.
Smith, who served as both the Game Day and Earth Day Fair intern, was honored with the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for an Artistic Venture for the Filipino Street Art Project. The project consists of a feature-length documentary, an interactive website, and a multimedia installation exhibit. It explores the rapidly changing political and social landscape of the Philippines through the lens of street art and the artists who embody the new generation of motivated, organized, and empowered Filipino youth. More information about the project can be found here.
Claire Nagy-Cato, one of the two Energy Management interns this year, won first place with fellow chemistry major, senior Grant Gilbert in the i2i wooden pallet competition. The competition challenged students to find creative uses for the massive amounts of wooden shipping pallets disposed of in North Carolina. The duo decided to inoculate the wooden pallets with mushroom mycelium. The mycelium contains many acids, notably oxalic acid that binds to calcium and forms insoluble salts that grow expansively, breaking down the chemical structure of organic compounds like rock, wood, metals, and petroleum products. “This could be the natural solution to biodegrading the organic wastes that pose serious threats to the environment and the health of our ecosystems,” added Nagy-Cato, “humans included.”
By Kiana Courntey, Communications and Outreach Intern
Q: I know #5 plastics are not recyclable on campus, but I’ve noticed Whole Foods collects#5 plastics in a separate bin. Could we start a separate collection for #5 plastics here in the residence halls?
A: Whole Foods partners with a company called Preserve to divert #5 plastics from the landfill through Preserve’s Gimme 5 program. The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling(OWRR) explored bringing the Gimme 5 onto campus, but Preserve is not ready to expand beyond Whole Foods at this time. However, OWRR will continue to be in contact with Preserve to pursue a partnership in the future.
You can personally mail your #5 plastics directly to Preserve’s headquarters in Courtland, New York, but, because of the ratio of fuel resources necessary for shipping relative to the amount of #5 plastics you would be able to collect at once, it is likely a more sustainable choice to keep bringing your #5 plastics to Whole Foods. Whole Foods collects enough #5 plastics to tip the scale in favor of shipping their collection off to be recycled.
Try starting a collection on your hall and then going on a group outing about once a month to drop off your #5s. Everyone can do their grocery shopping (or just sample Whole Foods’ gelato).
Read more about what is recyclable at Wake Forest University here.
Students around campus are changing the way they think about hydration by choosing to fill up their reusable water bottles at refilling stations around campus. Little do they know, they have former sustainability intern Frannie Speer to thank for these.
When Frannie joined the Office of Sustainability in the 2010-2011 academic year as the Choose to Reuse intern, she saw a need for a change in the consumptive behavior of students. Frannie encouraged members of the Wake Forest community to trade disposable plastic bottles for reusable bottles to meet their hydration needs. Her hard work came to fruition the summer after she graduated when a grant for which she applied was awarded and the first hydration station was installed in Reynolda Hall.
Frannie’s entrepreneurial inspiration spurred her to develop the Choose to Reuse campaign at Wake Forest. While taking a class that encouraged students to look at consumption creatively, she and her classmates began a discussion about water usage. Frannie remembers noting, “People are making uniformed decisions without thinking twice about it. Looking back to our youth, during those soccer games, other sporting events or even at lunchtime, our parents filled our bags and lunch boxes with the small water bottles. We are conditioned to think that is the only way to drink water.”
With this in mind, Frannie became interested in the idea of bringing the hydration stations to campus. The stations are a convenient way for people to have access to chilled, filtered water for their refillable bottles. Although Frannie has no preference for how she likes her tap water, she learned through a poll that most students on campus prefer it chilled and filtered. Through an informative campaign, Frannie and the Office of Sustainability armed faculty, staff, and students with information about pricing, health, safety, and environmental impacts of bottled water. With this information, campus consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions.
Over the course of the campaign, Frannie also saw a change in her own behavior. She polled students and found that they reported drinking only two to four glasses of water a day; she found herself in that same group. With easier access to water, Frannie increased her consumption and now she cannot go a day without her essential eight glasses. Even today, her project continues to expand and to improve the wellness of the Wake Forest community.
Upon graduating from Wake Forest in 2011, Frannie joined Wells Fargo Securities as an investment banker in the Consumer & Retail group, where she focuses on companies within the beauty retail and luxury retail market. Although, she does not directly work on sustainability issues, she still influences the environmental conscience of her coworkers and firm. During an investment banking training last summer, she pitched the idea of handing out Wells Fargo-logoed reusable water bottles instead of the traditional disposable plastic bottles – an idea that was met with enthusiasm.
In the future, she hopes to continue to pursue more direct work on sustainability issues. For now, she remains passionate about supporting local food production and independent restaurateurs. Frannie believes that by supporting the local food trucks and restaurants that sell sustainably farmed foods, she can directly influence the local community, the local economy, and reduce the energy and environmental impacts of food production.
To current students, her advice is to find a sustainable cause that they care about. Keeping your eyes open to different issues and making a conscious effort to address them remains important because as Frannie says, “the little things make a big difference.”