Browse the list of topics for answers to your frequently asked questions. Have a question we haven’t answered? Direct your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recycling and Waste Reduction
Water Coolers (Office Water Dispensers)
Food and Dining
Water and Energy
Life on campus
Sustainability Resources - 2011
Q: If my electronics have an off switch (like my television), do I still have to worry about vampire energy?
A: Yes. Vampire energy, also know as phantom energy or phantom load, is the electricity used by electronics that are plugged in but not currently in use. Both electronics that have off-switches (such as television sets and laptops) and electronics without off-switches (such as cell-phone chargers) have phantom loads. About 10% of the energy expense in the average American household derives from vampire energy.
You can prevent vampire energy costs by always unplugging your electronics or by plugging all your electronics into a power-strip and switching the power strip off when your electronics are not in use. Unlike most electronics, power-strips are designed to cut off energy flow at the wall, eliminating vampire energy. If you have a last one, lights out policy in your home or office, expand that policy to cover your power-strips as well.
Q: The water that comes out of the faucet in my residence hall is bubbly. What’s wrong with it?
A: There is nothing wrong with the water coming out of the faucet. The bubbles are a a result of an aerator that spreads the water stream into many different droplets, rather than a continuous flow. This helps conserve water.
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.
Q: I’m a leader in several organizations and I end up making quite a few t-shirt purchases. How should I go about making those purchases as sustainable as possible?
A: There are many factors to consider in evaluating the sustainability of a t-shirt, from where and how the cotton is grown to the labor conditions in the factory where the t-shirt was stitched.
Wake Forest University is a member of the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights organization that monitors the manufacture of university apparel. All university branded apparel sold by Athletics or the University Bookstores must come from a vendor with a supply chain that complies with the WRC code of conduct. In keeping with the spirit of the university’s commitment, other groups on campus that purchase t-shirts should also purchase from vendors who are WRC compliant when possible.
Use our t-shirt purchasing guide to find vendors who are use local, recycled, and/or organic materials. Sustainable purchasing can make a huge difference in terms of your impact on the environment, but remember, sustainability should be a concern throughout the lifecycle of your apparel, so wash with cold water and line dry whenever possible. If you would like any additional information feel free to email us at .
Q: At my friend’s school, they have a ban on disposable plastic water bottles. Why doesn’t the Office of Sustainability push for a ban on disposable plastic water bottles here?
A: Well, we have thought about it. Many universities have adopted a ban on disposable plastic water bottles on their campuses and we respect their approach to this issue. However, we have decided to pursue a different approach, for several reasons.
First, we make a tremendous effort to make reusable water bottles a convenient choice for all Wake Forest students, staff, and faculty. At present there are six hydration stations located in high traffic areas around campus. These stations are designed to facilitate the use of reusable water bottles and to keep a running count of how many disposable water bottles each unit keeps from ending up in the landfill.
Second, we see our role as providing the information members of our campus community need to make their own decisions – information on the environmental, financial, and health impacts of bottled water. The theoretical free hand of the market requires good information to function. Third, hydration is important for health. You should always carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, but, if you forget yours, it is healthier to consume a disposable plastic bottle of water than a disposable plastic bottle of soda. Email us your thoughts at .
Q. I heard that the Environmental Program is making modifications to its minor curriculum. What are these changes and which students will it affect?
Q: Over the summer I read a few books that got me thinking about where my food comes from. I’ve adjusted my habits at home and I would like to continue eating responsibly when I get back to Wake. Where can I find information on restaurants that serve locally sourced food and other sustainable dining options?
A: Winston-Salem is a great city for those seeking to eat responsibly. If you are interested in eating out, our Green Guide has a listing of local green dining options, ranging all the way from cafes to fine dining. If you like to do your own cooking, check out an updated listing of famers markets on Slow Food Piedmont Triad’s web page. You could also consider buying a CSA membership. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and buying a membership is like owning a small piece of a farm over the course of one growing season. Every week you will receive a box of goods from the farmer, according to the size of your share. Some CSAs have different sized packages to meet different needs and you can also split a single membership between a few friends. Sign-ups happen in the winter, before the growing season, so that farmers know how much to plant. Three local CSAs to consider are Harmony Ridge, Shore Farm Organics, and Goat Lady Dairy. Also look out for sustainable dining initiatives on campus, like the Fresh Food Company’s monthly Farm-to-Fork Friday and the Nutrition Fair hosted by the campus nutritionist each semester.
Q. Is organic waste from campus composted?
A. Yes and no. One hundred percent of campus yard waste, including lawn clippings and fallen tree limbs, is repurposed as mulch or organic soil amendments.
In the fall of 2011, Wake Forest Dining Services performed a waste audit to see just how much waste is generated on a standard day in the Fresh Food Company. The results of this audit informed an ongoing pre-consumer waste composting pilot in the Reynolda Fresh Food Company. The pilot has been successful so far and has helped ARAMARK management and employees see how they can minimize waste in food prep as well as how it can be composted successfully. As of the beginning of February, all pre-consumer food waste from the Fresh Food Company is being picked up and taken to Gallins Family Farm for composting. This has kept hundreds of pounds of food waste out of the landfill every week.
The ultimate goal is to capture post-consumer food waste in the Fresh Food Company dish room as well. While the materials handling equation is worked out (it’s tough to get all that wet waste out to the loading dock for removal), it’s important for you to do your part to keep food waste to a minimum. Take only what you will eat and eat everything you take when eating at this “all-you-care-to-eat” establishment.
Food waste from the theme houses on Polo Road and from the Campus Kitchen Fresh Market runs is composted at the campus garden (behind 1141 Polo Road).
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the composting program grows and evolves.
Looking to make 2012 your greenest year yet? Consider one (or more) of the following resolutions:
- Recycle as much as you can. Sure, you put your #1 and #2 plastics in the bin with your aluminum and glass, but did you know you can recycle #5 plastics at Whole Foods Market? Consult our “What to Recycle” spreadsheet and go the extra mile.
- Choose to Reuse. If you haven’t received a free reusable water bottle from our office, be on the lookout for opportunities this semester. If you have, use your bottle every day! Do yourself and the planet a favor and drink clean, (almost) free tap water instead of bottled.
- Cut the power. Make it your resolution to change one thing about your energy use. Cold office? Throw on an extra layer or blanket instead of reaching for the space heater. Even making a point of turning off your electronics at the end of the day, instead of putting them into hibernate can have a huge impact.
- Eat fresh, local food. It may be the dead of winter, but you can still resolve to make one meal a week with local meat, dairy or fruits and veggies. By doing so, you will receive a higher quality product with a smaller carbon footprint that supports the local economy.
- Be a change agent. Convince at least one friend, coworker or relative to do something sustainable with you. Bring them to the Earth Day Fair in April, show them how to recycle, take a trip to a farmers market or just talk to them about sustainability.
Q. What’s the deal with the university’s Holiday Setbacks program?
A. Each year during the holiday break in December and January, Facilities and Campus Services allows the temperature of most campus buildings to “float” between 55 degrees (to prevent freezing pipes) and 85 degrees (to avoid frying electronic devices like computers and projector equipment).
Since buildings included in the Holiday Setbacks program are empty, comfort is not sacrificed and the university saves big: $30,000 in avoided costs in the first year (2008) and nearly $60,000 in avoided costs during an 11 day period in 2009.
Want to learn more?
- Read a more detailed description of the program here.
- See a breakdown of costs avoided here.
- Learn more about energy saving practices at the university.
Send your questions to .