Wake Forest University

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sorority T-Shirts Get a Makeover

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Sorority T-Shirts Get a Makeover

March 20th, 2015
ggg shirts

The t-shirts from three of the organizations: Kappa Beta Gamma, Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta.

Sororities at Wake Forest University are notorious for the number of shirts that bear their letters. Each spring, hundreds of underclass women join Greek organizations and, as part of a campus wide tradition, are gifted previous semesters’ t-shirts. In a way, this “passing down” of t-shirts can be viewed as a sustainable ritual. On the other hand, it does not quell the flow of ordering among these groups.

The global impact of the perpetual purchasing of t-shirts is often lost on the women who are placing the orders. The average conventional cotton t-shirt requires about 700 gallons of water and a half pound of pesticide and herbicide for production. Between the growing, manufacturing, and transporting processes, each shirt is also responsible for a significant amount of energy use.

Last fall, Greeks Go Green, a network of peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, started an initiative to increase conscious consumerism throughout the Greek community at Wake Forest. The effort encourages individuals to incorporate measures of environmental and social impacts into purchasing decisions.  Greeks Go Green interns Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15) identified purchasing among Greek organizations as a primary contributor to members’ ecological footprints.  They worked to teach representatives of each organization how to identify the ecological and social impacts of their purchases so that they could guide their organizations.

At the end of the annual January sorority recruitment period, each chapter gives out new t-shirts to their members. This equates to roughly 1,400 t-shirts distributed in a single day. The impact of the t-shirts distributed on bid day at Wake Forest equates to about 980,000 gallons of water used and 700 pounds of herbicides/pesticides used. The effects of the excessive use of water and herbicides for these shirts are enormously detrimental to the global environment.

Cotton is a fragile and resource intensive crop, and while there is no simple solution to reducing the excessive amount of water and chemicals required to produce these shirts, there are ways to lessen the environmental impacts of an individual cotton t-shirt. In the fall of 2014, the Greeks Go Green representatives presented information to their chapters on ways to order t-shirts in (un)conventional ways—ways that would be less environmentally resource intensive and that may have beneficial financial impacts in the regional economy. Options included buying locally sewn and printed shirts, shirts made from regionally and/or organically grown cotton, as well as garments printed with water-based dyes. The interns suggested that the sororities on campus aim to use organic cotton or recycled fabric t-shirts as a minimum baseline for the shirts they would be ordering for the January 12th bid day.

Four of the sororities chose to participate in the initiative, adding up to approximately 732 t-shirts. These sororities were Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Beta Gamma, and Kappa Delta. Their purchases included garments from Port and Company, Royal Apparel, and Alternative Earth’s environmentally preferable lines.

The campaign aims to support a growing trend of environmentally and socially preferable purchasing among Greek organizations throughout the spring of 2015, with an ongoing push to reduce the volume of purchasing overall.

Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15), Greeks Go Green Interns

Call for 2015 Sustainability Interns

March 17th, 2015

sustainabilityinternAre you a student interested in making a difference and gaining professional development experience? The following paid internships are available to all Wake Forest University students for fall 2015. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability. Please note, interns are required to attend an on-campus sustainability orientation August 19th – 21st.

Internship applications are due by Tuesday, March 31st at 5:00pm.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with expert garden mentors, faculty, staff, student, and community volunteers to manage the campus garden across from Spry Soccer Stadium on Polo Road. Management entails all aspects of growing seasonally appropriate crops including, but not limited to, developing and maintaining rotation and cover cropping plans, starting and transplanting crops, watering, mulching, and composting food/yard waste.  The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty, and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will co-lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a recognized Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
Learn more about the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining intern on ARAMARK’s website.

Facilities & Campus Services – Energy Management

The intern will assist Facilities and Campus Services with communications, energy competitions, monitoring energy usage on the campus through computer programs and by physically walking around the campus, occasionally during late hours. Other responsibilities include gathering, compiling, and analyzing data from various WFU departments, coordinating with the Office of Sustainability and attending meetings as necessary. The intern must have experience using Excel and a passion for reducing energy usage.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for an internship, but don’t see it on our list? Feel free to submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways to promote sustainability on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Are you a Champion of Change?

March 10th, 2015

13986404976_fc43a405df_zHave you facilitated a change to a sustainable practice on campus? Are you teaching a sustainability-focused course or leading a research effort with sustainability-centered outcomes? We want to hear about it!

On April 22, 2015 Wake Forest will host our second annual Champions of Change award ceremony.

Complete this form by April 7, 2015 to nominate yourself or someone else as a Champion of Change for campus sustainability. Explore a list of last year’s winners.

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).

A Lesson about Values

March 4th, 2015
TS Designs Field Trip

Photo by Scott McCullough, MA’15

This February graduate students in the Applied Sustainability class visited TS Designs, a Certified Benefit Corporation making t-shirts in Burlington, North Carolina. The students spent the morning with company President, Eric Henry, who aims to create the “highest quality, most sustainable, printed apparel,” measuring success against the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Henry discussed his take on sustainability, and the vision for the company that calls North Carolina home.

Henry’s vision, and triple bottom line approach, is a consequence of the 1990’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TS Designs, which Henry had operated since 1977, nearly closed its doors when customers and competitors fled to Mexico for cheaper labor and cheaper inputs all across the supply chain. The company, whose bread and butter was 50-cent screen prints for some of the world’s largest apparel brands, could not maintain a commitment to keeping anything local — NAFTA had all but eliminated that possibility. Henry was forced to reinvent if he was to stay in business.

Now TS Designs’ product is more than an automated screen print — it’s a t-shirt, and what’s behind the t-shirt: the set of values a company operating on a human-scale holds. In its reinvention, Henry and his colleagues consciously created a model that is based

on human-scale relationships across the supply chain. By keeping it local, they keep it accountable. Henry is accountable to his employees, and they to him; he’s accountable to his suppliers, and they to him. Scott McCullough, MA’15, one of the students on the trip noted that “TS Designs is a business that not only serves its customers, but serves its community in a number of innovative and meaningful ways. Eric understands that a business can’t be sustainable and resilient if it doesn’t seek to improve the community around it. It was really refreshing and inspiring to see what Eric and TS Designs are doing.”

The critical tool that TS Designs implements to achieve success, and accountability, is full transparency. When you buy a Cotton of the Carolinas t-shirt, one of TS Designs’ innovative brands, you support a “radically” transparent supply chain. Turn the shirt inside out, and the colors of the thread give you access to a map and the ability to track your tee, literally from dirt to shirt. According to Andrew Wilcox, MA’15, “…it creates a business ecosystem where money and resources stay in local communities and regions instead of hemorrhaging out to far off factories and headquarters. The multiplier effect of local business is compelling.”

Transparency for TS Designs isn’t just about supply chains; Henry was even transparent with the students about sustainability being a journey, not a destination. He’s not trying to hold up the company as a model of all things perfectly sustainable (whatever that might mean). It’s not perfect; it’s blemished in places, but it reflects an important journey on a values-driven path. His model clearly reflects what is important to him, and what is clearly important to his many customers.

In the context of a course on Applied Sustainability, this on-site lesson provided students the opportunity to interrogate theories supporting and opposing values-based business models with a business leader who’s got skin in the game.

TS Designs is a Certified Benefit Corporation Operation making t-shirts in Burlington North Carolina. For more information visit tsdesigns.com

Jon Clift, MA in Sustainability Associate Director of Outreach

Landscaping Update: Winter Jasmine

March 3rd, 2015

jasmineDuring spring break, campus landscaping services will be doing some work on the west side of Wait Chapel near parking lot A.  The slope on this side of the chapel is covered with Winter Jasmine that has become overgrown and has expanded beyond its intended beds.  Some of the Winter Jasmine will be removed and replaced with sod near the Huffman Residence Hall loading dock.  The rest will be cut back to encourage new, healthy growth.

New Halls Bring Home Silver

February 18th, 2015

Magnolia_DogwoodOptimized energy performance may seem like a dry topic, but it’s one of the features that earned Magnolia and Dogwood residence halls and North Dining Hall LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certifications this semester. Undergraduate residents have occupied the residence halls since fall 2013. North Dining Hall welcomed students in January 2014. Prior to receiving certification from the US Green Building Council, however, each required post-occupancy performance verification. All new buildings on campus are designed to meet at least LEED-Silver standards.

The buildings include hi-tech occupancy sensor lights, an interactive energy and water usage dashboard, and low- flow plumbing fixtures. Natural light and high performance lighting in the buildings also decrease energy usage.

Learn more about some of the sustainable features from the LEED scorecards for MagnoliaDogwood, and North Dining Hall.

PRO+ECT Event Increases Awareness

January 29th, 2015
Protect2

Click to view more photos from the event

For a conservation event with potentially apocalyptic connotations, Thursday’s “Pledging Responsibility for Oceans and Environmental Change Today” in Brendle Recital Hall was frank, optimistic and self-aware: panelist and scientist Nancy Knowlton even pledged to keep audience members “not utterly depressed,” to noticeable titters.

The panel, an effort to engage the public on the importance of oceans and their nascent fragility as a result of climate change, garnered a sizable crowd, perhaps partially due to the celebrity of the panelists speaking: Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic oceanographer; Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural History; and Amanda Leland, vice president for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Despite the preliminary call for optimism, the scientists made the audience aware of the current dire state of the world’s oceans. Overfishing and pollution have ravaged our oceans to noticeable decline: species are becoming extinct, including New England’s famed Atlantic cod. Forty percent of fisheries are in jeopardy.

The implications, Leland stated, are as environmental as they are economic: Somali pirates originated as fisherman who ran out of fish to extract. In addition, three million of the world’s population depends on the oceans as its only source of protein.

Knowlton and Leland revealed that the solution to ocean deterioration lies largely in policy, and that increased management of fishing policies can improve fish quantities in the ocean and decrease overall waste.

However, in a visit to an undergraduate and graduate lab classroom earlier that day, Earle argued that extracting any organisms from the ocean would be problematic to the structure of the food chain, according to Wake Forest professor Dr. Katie Lotterhos, who attended the earlier session and whose area of research is marine biology.

Hope for ocean renewal is within reach, the scientists said, with policy and attitude change: “Fish are not just clumps of meat waiting for us to extract them,” said Earle.

Instead, proper fishing and ocean regulations have the capacity to revitalize communities, ecosystems, and expose the “ocean’s natural resilience.”

Lotterhos, who invited the three scientists to campus, hoped the event left people “feeling cautiously optimistic.”

“We will have to take responsibility soon if we want to have sustainable ocean ecosystems, but it is not too late yet,” she said.

By Elena Dolman (’15), Staff Writer

 

Holiday Setback Program

January 26th, 2015

ThermostatThink you were the only one resting this holiday break?

Think again.

This past winter holiday break marked the seventh year Wake Forest has participated in the “Holiday Setback” program, during which we allow electrical use and steam production a bit of a holiday break—conserving both money and energy.

The energy savings during this 2014 winter break is estimated at $32,648; electrical savings were $28,436 (475,840 kWh) and natural gas savings were $4,212 (842 dT).

All seven holiday setbacks total to savings of $274,143.

This is one of the many examples of how sustainable practices are a great idea not only for the planet but also for our budgets.

By Andrea Becker (’16), Staff Writer

Where Are They Now: Kathleen Pritchard

January 21st, 2015

016The outdoors has always been a part of Kathleen Pritchard’s life. A 2010 graduate of Wake Forest University with a degree in political science and minors in biology and environmental science, Kathleen has carried out her passion for the environment by continuing her studies in environmental law and policy; she is now a third year law student at the University of Texas in Austin.

After graduation, Kathleen took two years off before continuing her education. Her hiatus began with a return to a former post at Wilderness Ventures, where she guided backpacking and climbing trips in the Pacific Northwest. She then spent time in Oxford, MS to study for the LSAT and to gain experience at a small family practice law firm. Once she completed this, she gathered her things and traveled to Argentina where she spent seven months teaching English. She refers to this stint as one of her most rewarding experiences since graduating from college, as she had to learn Spanish on the go and was living with a host family in a small town in the Santa Fe province. Telluride, CO was next on her list, where she enjoyed skiing and hiking every moment she could before it was time for her to begin law school in Austin.

Kathleen continues to live her passion at the University of Texas where she joined the Texas Environment Law Journal, participated in the Environmental Law Clinic, worked on a directed study with her environmental law professor, and most recently, interned at the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, CO.

While at Wake Forest, Kathleen worked as a communications and outreach intern with the Office of Sustainability. She credits the internship for her decision to pursue professional work in sustainability. Her advice to students trying to figure out what they want to do after graduation: follow your passions. Kathleen began by testing the intersection of her passions and talents as an intern for the office.

After she graduates from law school, Kathleen will be clerking for Judge Sam Sparks, a federal district judge in Austin, Texas.

 Contributed by Maegan Olmstead (’15)

Tree Removed in Lot P

January 7th, 2015

cherry tree webA weeping cherry tree on the island in the middle of parking lot P on the east side of Wait Chapel was removed on January 6. The tree, which was part of the original campus planting plan, split down the trunk, rendering it unsalvageable.

This tree will be replaced with the original varietal Weeping Higan Cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’). A description of this tree states that it “grows 20 to 30 feet tall and spreads 15 to 25 feet in a graceful weeping habit. Leaves stay glossy green throughout the summer and into the fall when they turn a vivid yellow before leaving the tree bare in winter. The drooping bare branches even lend a soothing grace to the landscape in winter. There is nothing quite like the Weeping Higan Cherry in full bloom in the spring. The light pink (almost white), one-inch-diameter flowers cover the branches before the leaves emerge, giving the appearance that fresh snow has fallen on the tree.”