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Sustainability at Wake Forest

The Importance of Eating Ugly Fruit

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The Importance of Eating Ugly Fruit

September 24th, 2014

15055500370_1a1b2ed4c1_k“Be skeptical and curious. Go beyond reading labels…really know your producer.” This final piece of advice from panelist April McGreger was just one response to the overarching question: if every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we want, how can we make every bite count?

During September 10th’s panel, Make Every Bite Count, heritage and heirloom food experts Eric Hallman, Executive Director of the Livestock Conservancy; Eliza Greenman, orchardist at Foggy Ridge Cider; April McGreger, founder of Farmer’s Daughter Brand; and Janette Wesley, Slow Food USA Regional Governor, provided insights into the importance of biodiversity and sustainable land and water use to a resilient food system.

Orchardist and charismatic agri-entrepreneur Eliza Greenman left a lasting impression with her parting advice: eat ugly apples. Our tendency to buy fruits and vegetables that are perfectly symmetrical, with no creases or pimples, discourages markets from carrying heirloom varieties, many of which are as unique on the outside as they are uniquely delicious on the inside. Following the panel, Greenman was mobbed by requests to visit her orchards; several Wake Forest families and groups have since made the trek and have returned energized by the possibility of expanding their relationship with new and interesting foods.

To view photos from the event and learn more about the two remaining events in our fall speaker series, visit our website and follow us on Twitter to view live tweets from the event.

Members of the audience stayed to talk more with the speakers and one another about the opportunities we have to think differently about the impacts of our food choices:

“A big take away is that there’s this tremendous variety of food, and it’s sustenance but it’s also beautiful, and it’s beautiful in the way that it preserves diversity; it’s beautiful in how it shows how we’ve done agriculture through the years. I hope that it becomes perpetuated and expanded in the future.” -Dr. Miles Silman, Professor of Biology and Director of CEES

“I was fascinated by the orchardist, she was incredible. But I also appreciated the comments by the panelists in their respective fields: what they have to contribute to sustainability and the need of diversity and the role that that plays. I’ve never thought about the diversity in meat and the importance of that; I have heard about the importance of diversity in apples; I’ve been to some markets in Virginia and there have been several varieties but I have not heard about the variety of meats. I heard my parents and their generation talk about how the meat tasted different, and I never really thought about it. But tonight it really made sense. I come away challenged to explore more of the local markets and to modify my eating habits.” - Staci Kyle (‘15), Master of Arts in Sustainability Graduate Student

“I really appreciated Eliza’s perspective, especially her combining the idea of preserving history and using story as a powerful way to change the way we eat, and, thus, change the way we look and take care of the environment. I think that’s one of the most powerful things to connect people to how we’re living.”       – Sarah Millsaps (‘16), Anthropology Major

 

Apply Today: Earth Day Internship

September 22nd, 2014

sustainabilityinternAre you interested in planning a campus wide event? Do you want to work with a highly collaborative team of peers? If you answered yes to both of these questions, apply for the WFU Earth Day Planning internship. The intern will work with the Office of Sustainability, community stakeholders, and campus organizations to plan and execute the Earth Day 2015 celebration at Wake Forest. From organizing stakeholder meetings, planning the entertainment line-up, developing outreach materials, securing community support, and managing marketing, this paid internship will provide resume building experiences.

Previous experience with campus-wide event planning is preferred. Note: this internship will start in November and carry through the spring semester. All enrolled students are encouraged to apply including undergraduate, graduate, part-time, and full time students.

In order to apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due Friday, October 10th at 5:00pm.

North Dining Hall Compost Campaign

September 22nd, 2014

“Did you know, only food and paper go in the North Dining Hall dish return? All wrappers, lids, and caps must be thrown away.” Thanks to a robust outreach campaign and a great story in the Old Gold & Black, Deacons are making history with the first post-consumer composting program on campus. During the span of the nine-day campaign, 3,600 pounds of food and paper waste was collected by Gallins Family Farm and transported to their offsite facility for composting.

Macaela_Compost_Outreach

Although this diversion is something to celebrate, we can never take our eye off the ball. Turning the same 9-day campaign, 900 pounds of food waste was turned away and sent to the landfill due to contamination. One milk carton, or a couple of plastic wrappers, can render a whole container of food waste unusable.

As a campus community, we have the opportunity to turn North Dining Hall (NDH) into a near zero-waste facility. Aside from making sure you follow the collection rules, tell a friend about composting at NDH and remind them, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Also check out this compost bulletin board kit and post it around your residence hall or in your departmental lounge.

Still confused about what to compost or why it matters? Reference the compost FAQs below and email with any further questions.

North Dining Hall Compost FAQs

What happens if something other than food and paper go in the dish return?

All of the food and paper must be thrown away. If anything that can’t break down naturally in a three month time period enters the dish return, all of the waste in that batch is landfilled.

What should I do if I’m not sure whether something can be composted?

When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw something small away than to ruin a whole batch of compostable waste.

What is compost?

Compost is organic waste which, over time, breaks down to become nutrient-rich soil.

Where do the food scraps and paper go?

Gallins Family Farm picks up food and paper waste collection bins from campus. They turn the organic waste into rich compost called Carolina Dynamite that nearby farms, gardeners, and landscapers purchase. Some of it comes back to our own campus garden on Polo Road.

Why does Wake Forest compost?

Composting helps reduce the amount of waste Wake Forest sends to the landfill. Not only does aerobic composting reduce the amount of methane that enters the atmosphere; it also reduces the cost of the waste we pay to be landfilled.

 

Transatlantic Interest in Sustainability

September 4th, 2014

BFTF FormalSince 2006, Wake Forest has hosted the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF) Summer Institute, a Department of State-funded grant that brings 45 high-school aged students—35 from across Europe and 10 from the United States—to Winston-Salem to learn about citizenship and democratic deliberative practice. The month-long summer program features classes and workshops on civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, helping students develop projects they could implement that make a difference in their home communities. Over the past few years, the BFTF fellows have expressed increased interest in environmental and sustainability-related issues. We have accommodated their interests by connecting with numerous community partners dedicated to sustainability issues, including Wake Forest Campus Kitchen, the WFU Campus Garden, the Shalom Project, and Forsyth Futures. These hands-on partnerships, in addition to small-group conversations with sustainability professionals, provide opportunities to learn and practice new strategies to advance sustainability.

The cross-cultural skills that the students develop are important to their success in diplomacy, deliberation, and debate. The cultural diversity of the group, however, also presents a unique pedagogical challenge: socio-environmental issues and commitment to sustainability varies greatly across the many represented Europe nations and the United States. Advocating for green technologies, for example, would look quite different in Moldova than in Sweden. Mindful of these differences, the fellows are keen to explore which issues and sustainability strategies could relate to their home communities.

The fellows are exceptionally talented and possess an uncanny sophistication in drawing connections between their diverse interests and cultural differences. Even as their proposed strategies might vary, the opportunity to learn, and gain inspiration, from one another propels them to develop projects that reflect the unique opportunities and challenges in the students’ home communities.

Contributed by Ron Von Burg, Assistant Professor of Communication

Save the Dates — Fall Speaker Series

August 25th, 2014

WFU-14-012 sustainability poster_v2Save September 10October 7, and November 4 on your calendar for our fall speaker series: Make Every Bite Count. The series includes a panel discussion about the importance of biodiversity to a resilient regional food supply, a documentary film about one family’s quest to understand GMO’s, and a keynote by renowned Indian activist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

We have created a page with detailed information about each event and resources that we hope might be useful to you if you choose to engage. Under the “Learn More” links, you will find articles, papers, books, and websites that should help stimulate discussion.

Learn more about the fall speakers series here.

Wake Forest University Partners with UpcycleLife

August 13th, 2014
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UpcycleLife at the WFU Earth Day Fair

“Pro Humanitiate” is in action on the sustainability front at Wake Forest through a partnership with UpcycleLife. The Charlotte-based, not-for-profit produces one-of-a-kind bags and accessories by upcycling things like billboards or banners. It isn’t just that UpcycleLife is keeping vinyl out of our landfills, it’s the way they do it. The mission is to help protect the environment, and at the same time transform lives by creating jobs for individuals in under-served communities.

The environmental problem is that vinyl billboard and banner material takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills. UpcycleLife diverts this material from the landfill by giving it a new use, and at the same time teaching folks in impoverished communities valuable job skills such as sewing, shipping, and receiving. UpcycleLife feels they have developed a method to impact a waste stream and create a steady employment model. Ideally, the model could be scaled in such a way that UpcycleLife could make a huge impact on the waste stream in the broader US.

The results of the partnership with Wake Forest so far are 3 banners from the university being upcycled for the cause.  By recycling these 3 banners UpcycleLife was able to employ 4 individuals from the local community for a total of 32 hours of paid work. On the flip-side, the upcycled products tell a unique story and provide users with a little piece of Wake Forest history.

According to Emma Kate Hosey, with the Charlotte-based organization: “UpcycleLife creates jobs for disadvantaged citizens by creating a product that reduces our impact on the environment. Our products are one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and made of reclaimed vinyl. We love taking a dirty banner and making it into a piece of art.”

Key Statistics about UpcycleLife:

  • Employed, trained and graduated over 12 refugee men and women in the Charlotte NC area in 3 years
  • Upcycled over 40,000 different products
  • Rescued over 10,000 lbs of vinyl from entering landfills
  • Provided free weekly English training and financial advising

Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought

July 14th, 2014

Lisa-BleeIn the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Magnolias Curriculum Project. The readings and discussions in the workshop quickly revealed the big questions of sustainability: How does personal behavior and choice relate to global phenomenon? What do we hope to sustain, and who benefits? These issues are not only about the earth’s future, but also prompt deeper reflection about our history, relationships to places, capacity for self-awareness and change, and sense of responsibility to others.

I wanted to further explore these big questions in a First Year Seminar that I offered in spring 2014 titled Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought. My intention was to introduce students to traditions of environmental thought and help them explore their relationships to places, nature and social action. The class was organized as a journey from inner reflection to public outreach, culminating in a web exhibit. After reading classic and contemporary nature writing pieces, the students first created group photo essays that visually tell a story and make an interpretive point about human relationships to nature. Some groups chose to investigate personal relationships to significant places, while others depicted Wake Forest’s efforts to promote sustainability.

Meanwhile, the class visited Old Salem’s heritage gardens, Reynolda House Museum of Art, and Reynolda Village to make connections to scholarly arguments about landscape design, cultural values, and sustainability featured in the readings. Each student then chose one place in Winston-Salem to research in-depth, endeavoring to interpret the environmental and social histories of familiar and everyday places – a trail, lake, neighborhood, park – in novel ways. The final project was to create a podcast based on an interview with an environmental actor. The groups traveled around the Piedmont to visit organic farms, a prayer center, and the site of the Dan River coal ash spill to conduct interviews. Throughout the semester the students worked with Digital Initiatives Librarian Chelcie Rowell to build a digital exhibit featuring text, images, audiovisual presentations, and a map of place studies. In doing so, students had the opportunity to reflect on the power and limitations of technology to represent nature and educate and inspire others. Most crucially, the course allowed students to both think through their personal relationship to environments within the context of intellectual traditions, and to link these ideas to cooperative action and collective responsibility.

View the students’ web exhibit at: http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/fys100fff

By Lisa Blee, Assistant Professor of History

Deacons Divert 11 Tons of Waste

July 10th, 2014

Demon Deacons rallied together this May to divert over 22,500 pounds — over 11 tons — of discarded goods from the landfill as part of Deacs Donate, an end-of-year move-out waste reduction campaign. Residence Life and Housing, Facilities and Campus Services, and the Office of Sustainability each played an important role in educating residents about the annual program.

The program, originally designed by the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing, encourages students to deposit housewares, furniture, clothing and canned goods at designated locations during move-out. This year, Wake Forest collected over 17,000 pounds for donation to Goodwill. The non-profit provides actual weights of donations collected, rather than estimates. These more accurate metrics allow staff members to compare collections to the amount of waste landfilled and calculate a diversion rate for the end-of-year move-out period.

Thanks to the Better World Books program, students once again kept this semester’s used textbooks out of the dumpsters. Large cardboard collection boxes were placed near check-out lines in the campus Bookstore so students could donate books that the bookstore was unable to buy back. More than 2000 pounds of books collected at Wake Forest will be sold online, with a portion of the sales donated to our local literacy partner, the Augustine Project. Their Literate Girls program is a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Nearly 1600 pounds of paper was collected for recycling between May 2, when the first students moved out of residence halls, and May 9. This is an increase from 1100 during last year’s move-out recycling. Residents are provided individual paper recycling bags, designed and distributed by Residence Life and Housing, to easily separate the paper recyclables and keep the waste stream cleaner.

Also at move-out, first-year students were given the option of returning the green personal recycling totes that they received on move-in day. Nearly 800 bins were collected for cleaning and will be redistributed to returning students next year. This effort alone kept 1500 pounds of plastic out of the landfill.

The total amount of waste diverted during the move-out period increased 7 to 12 percent, a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill. In solid tons, we kept the equivalent of several African elephants out of the landfill. As the largest of all land mammals, that’s a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill.

FAQ: Carpooling to a Meeting

July 10th, 2014

Q: Some members of our department are attending a meeting off campus. We think others from Wake Forest might also be attending, but we’re not sure how to connect with them. Is there a way to do that online?

A: Absolutely. Whether you are driving to a meeting, a regional conference, or just an office lunch, you can always offer/seek a ride through Zimride. If you are attending a regional conference and have colleagues from the area attending, you can post a ride that is open to our members in trusted partner network: University of Virginia, Appalachian State University, University of Richmond, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State University.

Read more frequently asked questions about carpooling on our how to guide, How to Find and Register a Carpool.

FAQ: Carpool Emergency Ride

July 10th, 2014

Q: I’m considering carpooling, but am uncomfortable not having a means to get somewhere if an emergency arises. Does Wake Forest offer an emergency ride service?

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