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Waste Reduction Archives - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘Waste Reduction’

Faces of Sustainability: Nathan Peifer

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Nathan Peifer

Nathan Peifer is a competent and capable person; that’s why it was extremely disconcerting when, one year ago, he realized, in the most basic way, he did not know how to feed himself.  Thus began Nathan’s study of gardening, a journey of self-directed learning he describes as “chasing ignorance.”  This summer his chase landed him in the Wake Forest Campus Garden, where he works for the Office of Sustainability as the Campus Garden intern.  If you have been to the garden lately, you will find it difficult to believe that just one year ago Nathan’s entire gardening experience amounted to trying (unsuccessfully) to grow grass out of a Styrofoam cup for a grade school craft project.  Over this past week alone, the garden produced 74.09 lbs of produce and the harvest has just begun; the fruits of Nathan’s labor will be ripe for picking all the way into the fall.

One of the secrets of Nathan’s success is extensive research.  In order to best manage the campus garden, Nathan does a good bit of reading and seeks advice from his gardening mentors.  He takes inspiration from other gardens as well. Through these visits he has he has learned that every community and campus garden has its own unique strengths and challenges, so “you should never try to become someone else’s garden.”

Nathan identifies a strong partnership with Facilities and Campus Services as one of our campus garden’s unique strengths.  This summer Nathan worked out an arrangement with Megan Anderson, the campus recycling manager, to divert extra cardboard to the garden.  Nathan uses the cardboard to keep weeds down between rows of plants and the cardboard improves the quality of the soil as it degrades.

To Nathan, who is entering his third year in the Wake Forest Divinity School this fall, gardening is an art not a science (although, he points out, there is plenty of science happening in our garden).  He likes to garden because there are no right or wrong answers and you have to think creatively to solve problems that arise.  After two rigorous academic years in the Divinity school, the hands-on, outdoor work of the garden is a welcome change and he finds his work in the garden and his education to be “mutually informative.”

One of Nathan’s favorite aspects of his internship is working with different groups who volunteer their service in the garden.  So far this summer has hosted The Benjamin Franklin Scholars, the LENS program, StudentLife, and 4Good volunteers.  Nathan sees the garden as an opportunity for service learning and hopes faculty will take advantage of the garden as an unconventional classroom with the potential to “bring cultural assumptions [about farming and growing food] into high relief.”

This summer in the garden has helped Nathan shape his plans for the future.  He is seriously considering bivocational ministry, which combines traditional pastoral duties with other work, such as managing a community garden.  To anyone who now stands where he stood one year ago, in a place of ignorance about the source of their food, he offers this advice: “Find someone who knows what they are doing, befriend them, and rely on them as a resource. And remember, there is no one right way to do anything. You just have to try.”

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow

Three new hydration stations join our fleet

Monday, August 6th, 2012

New hydration stationsNew hydration stations will greet students returning to Reynolda campus. Facilities and Campus Services installed three new stations in high traffic areas: outside the Fresh Food Company, on the ground floor of Benson near Pugh Auditorium, and in the atrium of the Z. Smith Reynolds library.  Hydration stations provide chilled, filtered water and are designed to encourage the use of refillable water bottles.  A built-in sensor starts the flow of water when a thirsty Deacon places a refillable bottle under the tap, and stops the flow when the bottle is removed.  Each unit keeps a running count of how many disposable water bottles we have avoided by choosing to refill.

The success of the first three hydration stations installed last year, outside the Office of Sustainability on the first floor of Reynolda Hall, in Winston Hall, and in the Worrell Professional Center, has demonstrated the demand for hydration stations across campus.  This July the original station outside of the Office of Sustainability broke the 20,000 mark for the number of disposable water bottles avoided.  Plastic water bottle disposal is an increasing environmental hazard, adding 2 million tons of waste to landfills in the US each year, according to National Geographic. And disposal is not the only problem; plastic water bottles require an incredible amount of energy to produce and transport (if you filled a plastic water bottle up with all the oil required for its production, that water bottle would be about a quarter of the way full).  By installing six hydration stations and using refillable water bottles to stay hydrated, our campus community is participating in an important global transition away from disposable water bottles.

As older water fountains fail, Facilities and Campus Services will replace them with new hydration stations.  Departments can also co-sponsor the installation of a hydration station near their offices.  The Office of Budget and Financial Planning sponsored the installation of the new hydration station outside the Fresh Food Company.  For information on how to co-sponsor a hydration station, contact Tiffany White . If your department would like to jump to the front of the line and install a station in your area, contact Donnie Adams at . Also look out for The Office of Sustainability’s reusable water bottle give away at Think Green Thursdays.  For dates and times, check our office calendar.

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow

Mews renovation minimizes waste

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Only one lonely mattress met its end in the construction dumpster outside Graylyn’s Mews. Every other piece of the furniture displaced by the renovations in the building found a new home in another university-managed building, at Kinnamon’s Consignment store, or with a community member through Habitat for Humanity.

The Mews originally functioned as the stable for the manor house. It was not until the late 1980s that the space was transformed into 45 guest rooms, a conference room, and a dining facility when Graylyn became a hotel and conference center.

After nearly 25 years of occupancy, the time had come for an upgrade to the historic property. As part of the renovation, the number of rooms will decrease to 35 to create more spacious sleeping quarters for guests.

Though John Wise, Assistant Vice President of Hospitality Services, and his team will not pursue LEED certification for the renovation, they are trying to make the new space as open, inviting and sustainable as possible.

“We are using LEED principles as much as we can and following the universities initiatives for new building construction practices,” Wise said.

Most of the new furniture that will furnish these larger rooms is sourced from regional manufacturers; the architects tried to incorporate as much natural light as possible, given the constraints of the space.

“We can’t exactly knock holes in the roof and walls of this building. That’s not the right thing to do for a historic place” Wise said. “We are trying to balance current sustainable practices with the responsibility of taking care of this historic landmark.”

Graylyn is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and is a landmark with local historical importance.

Renovations will be completed this April. An open house is scheduled for April 9th. You can follow the Mews renovations on the Graylyn blog.

By Caitlin Brooks, Wake Forest Fellow

Surplus property program now open

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The university’s surplus property program is open for business. The program allows offices and departments to release university-owned furniture and office accessories that are no longer needed to an on-campus storage facility.

Staff can then shop at the surplus warehouse for “new” furniture and fixtures free of charge. Not only has this saved the university money, but it has kept older furniture out of the landfill.

As of the end of September, 250 units of furniture, weighing in at more than 8.5 tons were diverted from the landfill and adopted for reuse through the surplus property program.

In only the first three months of operation, Surplus Manager, Alan Winkler, said that nearly $100,000 in expenses have been avoided through the program. This number includes only avoided cost of purchasing new furniture. The savings would be even greater after factoring in the avoided cost of hauling the tons of old furniture to the landfill.

If you are interested in shopping the warehouse, contact Winkler at campus phone 4071 or at for directions. Shopping hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Friday mornings. Departments and offices can take any item for free, but there is a $30 delivery charge if delivery service is requested.

Anyone with excess university furniture and office accessories should submit a pick-up request at http://www.wfu.edu/facilities/surplus/. Pick-ups from any university location are complimentary. Furniture should be in good, working condition.

By Caitlin Brooks-Edwards, Wake Forest Fellow

Move-out waste reduction efforts yield increased success

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Move Out 2011Residence Life and Housing, Facilities and Campus Services, and the Office of Sustainability improved on the success of the end-of-year move-out waste reduction efforts again this year. Through effective programming and student involvement, 10.136 tons of books, house wares, clothing, paper and other items were diverted from the waste stream. This number, 13.34 percent of the total waste stream for campus move-out, represents a nearly 6 ton increase in waste diverted over last year’s total.

Deacs Donate, a program designed by the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing to collect house wares, furniture, clothing and canned goods disposed of by students during move-out, put 7100 pounds of goods into the hands of the Salvation Army and those in need. In addition to bags of clothing, towels, bedding and small appliances, 108 area rugs, 90 shelving units, 8 televisions, and 22 pieces of furniture were collected through this program.

Students once again kept used textbooks out of the dumpsters through the Better World Books program. Large cardboard collection boxes were placed near check-out lines in the Campus Bookstore so that students could make the quick decision to donate books that the bookstore was unable to buy back. More than 1500 pounds of books from the university will be sold to fund literacy programs around the globe.

Nearly 5 tons of paper was collected for recycling between May 6, when the first students moved out of residence halls and May 16, when all seniors vacated their residence halls. This category represents that largest increase in waste diversion of any single category. Students recycled 10 times as much paper this year as was collected during the pilot Recycle Your Notes campaign last year. This success can be attributed to new individual paper recycling bags, designed and distributed by Residence Life and Housing.

First-year students were given the option of returning or reusing the green personal recycling totes distributed during orientation this year. Through an effective collaboration between Residence Life and Housing and Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager, Megan Anderson, more than 600 bins were collected for redistribution to returning students next year, which kept 1278 pounds of plastic out of the waste stream.

That the total waste diverted more than doubled from last year is encouraging. In order to maximize the positive environmental impact of our programs, however, the total waste created by the campus must be minimized. By measuring and monitoring the total waste generated during this period, the university has taken a critical step toward supporting students in reducing that number.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Call to Action: Reduce Move-out Waste

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Image courtesy of RL&H

Though many seniors may be in denial, the end of the semester is just around the corner. End-of-year move-out can be one of the most wasteful times of year on the Reynolda campus, as students rush to pack up their possessions and dispose of unwanted belongings.

To combat this, a number of programs are available to make it easy for students to donate or recycle unwanted possessions to prevent these items from ending up in the landfill.

Last year, students diverted 4.4 tons of waste from the landfill during move-out. Can we top that this year? Read on for a summary of the move-out programs planned for this year.

Deacs Donate

What? Reusable house wares, clothing, small appliances, school supplies, canned/dried food and furniture

When? April 29 – May 16

How? Smaller items can be placed in donation boxes in the lobby of every residence hall. Bulky items (futons, shelving units, rugs, etc.) can be taken out in front of each residence hall and placed next to the Deacs Donate sign. Deacs Donate donations are collected daily by the Resident Student Association, in collaboration with the Salvation Army.

Last year, Residence Life and Housing’s Deacs Donate program helped students put 5,225 pounds of clothing and dorm room essentials into the hands of those in need.

Residents of the Polo Rd. and Rosedale Circle RL&H Theme Houses should contact their resident advisers for information about the location of the donation bins in their areas.

Questions? Contact Ashley Jones ( ) or Cherise James ( ), RSA advisors

Better World Books

What? Textbooks

When? April 29-30, May 2-5

How? All books can be deposited in collection boxes located conveniently near the registers in the school textbook department.

Students always seem to end up with textbooks that the bookstore just cannot buy back at the end of the semester. Better World Books collects and resells these volumes to fund literacy initiatives at home and abroad. Those books that cannot be resold are donated directly to partner programs around the world. This year’s campus partner for the drive is Invisible Children.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

Recycle Your Notes

What? Class notes and all recyclable paper

When? April 29 – May 16

How? Recycle loose-leaf notes, class handouts, fliers and other paper and small pieces of cardboard by depositing them in the blue paper recycling bags given to all residents. Full bags can be placed next to the BLUE paper recycling signs outside residence halls.

Questions? Contact Megan Anderson ( )

Box Bonanza

What? Reusable to-go containers

When? April 27, 10 p.m.

How? Office of Sustainability interns will be storming the residence halls to collect any stray reusable to-go containers. Students may leave these containers outside their rooms for collection, may hand over the containers when interns come knocking, or may place the containers in collection bins located in the Fresh Food Company.

For the week of finals, bio-compostable disposable to-go containers will be used in all dining establishments.

Recycling Tote Collection

What? Small green recycling totes with white handles

When? April 29 – May 16

How? If you received a green personal recycling tote on move-in dayand do not wish to keep it, place it next to the GREEN recycling bin signs outside residence halls.

Unwanted totes will be cleaned and redistributed in the fall.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

‘Tapped’ screening sparks emotional discussion

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Photo by De'Noia Woods, Photography Intern

Pugh Auditorium was abuzz with discussion after the closing credits of Tapped on January 25, 2011. The film screening, which officially began the university’s “Choose to Reuse” campaign, drew a diverse audience from university departments and the wider Winston-Salem community.

Tapped explores the bottled water industry and brings into question the marketing campaign that resulted in the sale of nearly 8.5 billion single serving bottles of water in the US in 2009.

The film focuses on the fundamental human right to clean drinking water.. The filmmakers explore several key issues, including the bottled water industry’s extraction, export and resale of ground water and the bottling and distribution of municipal tap water at a 2000 percent mark-up. According to the film over 40% of bottled water comes from municipal sources.

The film also brings to light the negative health effects caused by the production of PET(E) plastics used in single-use plastic bottles.

Response to the screening was as diverse as the audience members themselves. A few criticized the university’s decision to screen the film given what they perceived to be an overt anti-corporation message. Others left the screening alarmed by what they had learned and ready to make changes.. Either way, audience members left with more information upon which to make consumer choices.

The “Choose to Reuse” campaign is designed to help students make informed decisions and to consider the power they have as consumers. The first 50 audience members at the Tapped screening received free reusable water bottles, courtesy of Great Outdoor Provision Company. More activities and programs designed to educate students about the issues surrounding consumer choices are planned for the rest of the semester. Many activities will provide further opportunities to win free re-usable bottles.

“There are so many documentaries and television shows focusing on environmental problems that are just too big to tackle, it can seem overwhelming,” senior Frannie Speer, the Office of Sustainability Choose to Reuse intern, said. “Choosing a reusable water bottle is an easy, doable first-step in reducing our personal waste footprint.”

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Read more about the Choose to Reuse Campaign:

WFU News Service

Her Campus

Winston-Salem Chronicle

For more information, check out these informative links:

The Story of Stuff: A short film about the issues surrounding bottled water consumption

New Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager hired

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Megan Anderson, nicknamed “Captain Planet” by her friends, unabashedly loves trash. In almost any other profession, this trait would be considered a little bizarre, but as the university’s new Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager, Anderson’s affinity for garbage is a great asset.

“The average American disposes of 4.5 pounds of trash a day. Trashing things has always been convenient, people just don’t have to think about it,” Anderson said. “There needs to be more education about trash. When you get rid of it, it doesn’t just disappear.”

The educational component of her work is a passion of Anderson’s. Before taking up the post at the university at the beginning of the semester, she spent several years traveling throughout Asia and Africa. In all the places she traveled, she made it a point to give back to the community through education appropriate to each locale – from teaching English in Japan to helping to educate locals about microfinance in Burma.

Anderson hopes to work through her new post to continue to educate those around her. She will work closely with the interns in the Office of Sustainability to promote and ensure the success of RecycleMania, an eight-week nationwide waste reduction and recycling competition that launches in February. Last year Wake Forest led the ACC in waste reduction – an honor Anderson will work to keep intact this year.

Anderson will also work to increase transparency of waste diversion and reduction efforts on campus. Anderson and the rest of the Facilities & Campus Services Staff work to reduce all sorts of waste by recycling basics like glass, plastic, paper and aluminum to recycling and repurposing light bulbs, batteries, furniture and yard waste.

“We are already doing a really great job, we want the university community to feel proud of what we’ve all accomplished,” Anderson said.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

“Tapped” Screening – 1/25/11

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Join the launch of our campus-wide Choose to Reuse campaign by attending the screening of the award-winning documentary, Tapped.

The screening will begin at 7:00 pm in the Benson Center’s Pugh Auditorium. The first 50 in attendance to sign a pledge to reduce bottled water consumption will receive one of Nalgene’s new OTF reusable water bottles.