Earth Day Celebrations
Films and Lectures
Wake Forest regularly hosts nationally and internationally recognized speakers and award-winning films on themes relevant to sustainability. Check our calendar for upcoming events.
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One-third of food produced for human consumption ends up as waste, with the vast majority going to landfills where it produces greenhouse gases. While our primary goal is to reduce waste on the front end, even the best planned events can generate uneaten food. By composting food waste, these negative impacts are avoided and nutrients can be returned to the soil.
Compost Crew services are available, upon request, to all campus event hosts and are available for select off-campus events as well. The process begins with a brief one-on-one consultation between the event host and a staff member from the Office of Sustainability, in order to determine the appropriate waste reduction and diversion options. At the event, members of the Compost Crew guide attendees in sorting their waste appropriately.
“We have greatly appreciated the Compost Crew being available at each step of our event planning processes,” Leigh Anne Wray, Green Team Captain for the Office of the Dean of the College, said.
In collaboration with the WFU Waste Reduction and Recycling office, the Compost Crew is supporting significant shifts in waste diversion across campus. For example, at their most recent on-campus residency program, the Department of Counseling saw an 80 percent reduction in waste sent to the landfill over previous years.
“We were quite pleased with the results of our efforts. We now know that moving forward, this is definitely the way to go. We will put our heads together to see at which other events we can step up our ‘green’ game.” Jamie Crockett, Green Team Captain for the Department of Counseling said.
In addition to diverting food waste at campus events, the Compost Crew has also instituted a pilot program for food waste collection in select residence halls, with volunteers emptying the bins three times a week.
Additionally, all Reynolda Campus offices and departments are now able to collect waste for composting with free weekly pickup by the Compost Crew. Most recently, the Biology Department has begun collecting food waste for composting in their faculty lounge.
“The Compost Crew made it effortless for us to implement this new program by picking up the compost weekly and taking it to the collection bins. All we have to do is sort correctly! It has been a welcomed addition to our lounge area and our faculty and staff seem to appreciate this effort to reduce our waste footprint.” Michelle Ford, Green Team Captain for the Department of Biology, said.
Julia Stevens, a waste reduction assistant with the Office of Sustainability, views the Compost Crew, for which she serves in a leadership role, as a vibrant group of students ready to push up their sleeves and do the dirty work in order to make food waste collection both easy and accessible on campus.
“Although Wake Forest is working on waste reduction initiatives to make the campus more sustainable, there are many areas where food is not eaten or diverted, such as certain events on campus and in residence halls,” Stevens said. “The work we do is so important because where the staffing infrastructure of the school is not yet able to support this waste diversion initiative, a group of students is stepping up to fill in the gap.”
Are you looking to reduce waste at your next event? Want your office space or residence hall equipped with a food waste collection bin? Contact Brian Cohen (email@example.com) to learn more and to start the conversation.
During her March 21 Wake Forest Earth Week keynote address, Carter told of growing up in the South Bronx. She witnessed her neighborhood being plagued by unemployment, poor health, and increased pollution and saw a college education as her way out. While in graduate school at New York University, Carter moved back in with her parents to save money; it was during this time that she reacquainted herself with her community. With high crime rates, pollution, poverty, and other challenges, Carter saw her neighborhood needed an advocate to begin the re-imagination process—someone who had a vision for a positive, vibrant community.
In her address, Carter noted the typical situation for low-status communities: investors come in from the outside and either gentrify the neighborhood or develop resources which only help maintain the poverty level—think dollar stores, pawn shops, and payday loan marts. According to Carter, these additions do not add to the creation of community. Instead, communal spots like coffee shops, family restaurants, and parks– places which inspire and promote aspirational thinking– are central to revitalization.
As a result, in 2001, Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx, a non-profit environmental justice solutions corporation. Majora Carter began by converting a hazardous waste dump into the first waterfront park the neighborhood had seen in nearly a century. From there, she continued to work toward sustainable community development, negotiating business deals, and helping locals craft a thriving area tailored to their wants and needs.
“Majora Carter’s talk was inspiring because she spoke about her work in such a practical, accessible way. She made me feel like there are no excuses to not try to make the world a better place. She saw a problem in her neighborhood and she fixed it,” Office of Sustainability intern Savannah Baber (’19) said. “While it is of course more complex than that, Majora was able to show all of us that passion, ambition, and empathy can combine to create powerful change.”
Throughout her lecture, Carter called those at Wake Forest into action for socio-economic and environmental grassroots leadership. During the Q&A session, questions such as “What does community revitalization mean in terms of a partnership between WFU and the Winston-Salem area?” and “What is the appropriate role of students, faculty, and staff in helping to foster better relationships and opportunities in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus?” were posed. Majora gave insights, but also encouraged attendees to reflect on these questions themselves.
The takeaway message was clear: solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time, whether ecological, economic, or social, start locally.
To start the afternoon’s festivities, participants gathered to hear from Nathan Peifer, Campus as Lab Manager and Campus Garden Manager, who gave a blessing of the trees and Scott Cory, Biology PhD student, who spoke on the benefits trees provide to humans. Gail Bretan, Director of Jewish Life, also led participants in readings and song in celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees.
Following the speakers, students divided into groups to plant four trees—two persimmons and two scarlet oaks—in front of the Barn. Following the speakers and the tree planting, volunteers collected leaf litter and limbs from along the Wake Forest cross country trails. This was done for fire prevention and campus beautification efforts.
This service event, along with other efforts to care for our trees throughout the year, honor the university’s commitment to the ideals represented by the Tree Campus USA designation. Event partners included Landscape Services, Residence Life and Housing, Hillel, Campus Recreation, and Athletics.
Photos from the event can be found here.
Dr. Jill Crainshaw was awarded the Teaching, Research, and Engagement Award for her course, “Sacraments and Ordinances: History, Theology and Practice.” Her course takes a place-based educational approach to exploring liturgical and sacramental rituals like baptism and the breaking of bread. Through this course, Jill trains ministers and theologians to attend to the local needs of communities they will soon be leading. Additionally, Jill weaves sustainability concepts into her course by taking students to meet local bakers, farmers, and vintners and to explore local waterways, where they can connect place and contemplate all aspects of environmental stewardship.
This year’s Resource Conservation Award went to Josh Suzuki, Assistant Director of Operations for the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. As the Green Team for Wake Forest Athletics, Josh implemented a composting program for BB&T Field and LJVM Coliseum. As a result of this program, and through a pre-existing partnership with Gallins Family Farm, 3.2 tons of food waste from the Coliseum and Deacon Tower were diverted from landfills in 2017.
The Service and Social Action Award went to Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Alan Brown, Demon Deacon defensive end Wendell Dunn, and Bailey Allman, a Wake Forest alumna and teacher at Paisley Middle School. This award honors the inspired collaboration between these three leaders who initiated a sports literacy program at Paisley. As a result of the program, many students who were once struggling academically have found success in the classroom and can now imagine their roles as future leaders in their communities.
This year, the Office of Sustainability recognized three individuals who merged their talents to launch one very “Bright Idea.” John Shenette, AVP for Facilities and Campus Services, Dr. Jed Macosko, Associate Professor of Physics, and GIS specialist Dr. Becky Dickson are currently working together to make the campus a living laboratory for sustainability studies and practice. Their project was sparked by Physics Chair Dany Shapiro, who requested that the university administration find ways to reduce light pollution on campus. Always looking to engage students, John Shenette reached out to the Office of Sustainability to explore possibilities for a classroom-based design solution. Before long, students in this semester’s “Physics and Chemistry of the Environment” course were busy working on Operation Night Light, a project measuring light pollution with tools provided by Facilities & Campus Services. Becky Dickson, whose GIS students are mapping campus energy data this semester, will map light pollution in the fall as the group pursues new lighting standards.
Anna Marie Carr received this year’s Leadership Award for her unprecedented efforts to reduce waste across HR Office operations and events. Examples of her efforts include the HR Staff Rewards & Recognition luncheon, where she worked to create a nearly waste-free event attended by over 250 people. Anna Marie worked with Aramark to ensure the use of compostable cups, plates, and serviceware, collaborated with the Office of Sustainability and Facilities to secure compost bins and Compost Crew volunteers, and purchased reusable centerpieces. For the same event, Anna Marie worked with JL Bolt to craft awards from old Reynolds Gym flooring. This innovative event-planning model has since been deployed across HR events, including Workday Pop-Up labs, Leadership Summits, and Talent Forums.
Lastly, Champion of Change Awards, which recognize individuals who have made an impact on campus sustainability, were presented to Hilary Floyd, Michelle Ford, Tim Vandermeersch, Jordan Mullens, and T Taylor.
As the Green Team captain for the School of Divinity, Hilary Floyd supports colleagues and graduate students in implementing sustainability practices. She has helped the school switch to 100% post-consumer recycled content copy paper and transition to online applications. In addition, “Commonplace,” the Divinity student sustainability-focused organization that Hilary supports, collects food waste for composting at the school’s twice-weekly lunches.
As the new Green Team captain for Biology, Michelle Ford hit the ground running. In her short time in this position, she has fully committed to waste reduction, incorporating food waste collection at two departmental events and leading the department in making the switch to 100% post-consumer recycled content copy paper. She inspires others by applying a sustainability lens to all of her decisions.
Tim Vandermeersch is the Resident District Manager for Aramark at Wake Forest and a member of the Deacon Dining Green Team. Tim’s spirit of innovation and willingness to explore new ideas has led to dramatic increases in both sustainability and customer satisfaction in dining. In residential dining, over 30% of the food Aramark procures is now from sustainable production sources.
Jordan Mullens has been a true leader as the Greeks Go Green representative for Delta Zeta sorority. She has implemented an organic waste collection program for composting on the DZ halls to divert waste from landfills and raise awareness of the issue of food waste. This past fall, along with her sorority’s Vice President of Philanthropy, Kimi Morris, Jordan helped organize Pink Goes Green, a series of events and activities on campus aimed at increasing recycling rates among peers. Activities included campus outreach and a recycling competition at a football tailgate.
T Taylor fully embodies her leadership role as the Graduate Hall Director for Kitchin Residence Hall. This past fall, a pilot campaign on energy and water conservation was launched in Kitchin Hall. T made the program a priority among her staff and engaged her RAs in the planning process, empowering them to assert their own leadership and be an integral part of the solution.
Congratulations to all of our Champions of Change for their work to make Wake Forest an even more sustainable place to live, work, study, and play.
Previous Champion of Change Winners Include:
Academics and Engagement
- 2014: Lynn Book, Angela Kocze, and Wanda Balzano for Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability
- 2015: Ron Von Burg for Humanity and Nature and Coasts and Climate Change (Belize)
- 2016: Sarah Mason for FYS “Counting on Sustainable Energy: Does it Add Up?”; Vanessa Zboreak Sustainability Law and Policy courses
- 2017: Amanda Lanier for Environmental Education at Reynolda Gardens and Preston Stockton Reynolda Meadow Project
- 2018: Jill Crainshaw
- 2014: Resident Life & Housing for Radical Energy, Water, and Waste Reduction and Financial Services Paperless Processes
- 2015: Office of the Registrar for the Paperless PIN project; Surplus Property Program for Radical Waste Diversion
- 2016: Office of Research & Sponsored Programs for Paperless Processes; Jessica Wallace and John Wise for Zero Landfill Program at North Dining
- 2017: Facilities & Campus Services and Residence Life & Housing for Upper Quad Residence Hall Renovations
- 2018: Josh Suzuki
Service and Social Action
- 2014: Shelley Sizemore for Food Justice
- 2015: Steve Boyd for Religion and Public Engagement
- 2016: Justin Catanoso for Climate Change Reporting; Marianne Magjuka for NC Power Dialog
- 2017: Dr. Angela King for Enno Farms – Model of Sustainable Practices
- 2018: Alan Brown, Wendell Dunn, Bailey Allman
- 2014: Abby McNeal for the UgMo Wireless Soil Sensor System at Spry Soccer Field
- 2015: JL Bolt and Frank Shelton for Repurposing Discarded Wood (“Saw-stainability”)
- 2016: Lee Collette and Eric Stottlemyer for Contemplative Approaches to Global Sustainability (Alaska); David Link for Honeybee Program at WFU Campus Garden
- 2017: Lesli Tuttle for Electronic Tax Form Adoption; Steven Fisenne for Chemical Inventory System; Customer and Custodial Services for Dry Floor Stripping
- 2018: John Shenette, Jed Macosko, and Becky Dickson
- 2016: Alyshah Aziz for Re-Cycle Bike Sharing; Dan Rossow for Sustainable Event Planning at Reynolda House
- 2017: Sebastian Irby for Interdisciplinary Major in Sustainability Studies
- 2018: Anna Marie Carr
Champions of Change
- 2014: Green Team Captains Peter Romanov (ZSR Library), Darlene Starnes (Office of Multicultural Affairs), and Carol Lavis (Department of Theater and Dance) for innovation in leadership
- 2015: Green Team Captains Kate Ruley (Aramark) and Barbara Macri (Human Resources)
- 2016: John Noble (Waste reduction at The Bridge), Tanisha Ramachandran (Social justice – Department for the Study of Religions), Natascha Romeo and Sharon Woodard (Intersections of health and sustainability in HES courses), Preston Stockton and John Kiger (Mentorship in the Campus Garden), Janine Tillett (All-star volunteer in the Campus Garden), and Gail Bretan (Inclusive programming – Tu B’Shevat)
- 2017: Sarah Fahmy (Student-Athlete Sustainability Network)
This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, WFU Athletics, Landscape Services, Resident Life & Housing, and Campus Recreation.
About Majora Carter:
Majora Carter is responsible for the creation and implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems.
At Sustainable South Bronx, Carter deployed MIT’s first ever Mobile Fab-Lab (digital fabrication laboratory) to the South Bronx – where it served as an early iteration of the “Maker-Spaces” found elsewhere today. The project drew residents and visitors together for guided and creative collaborations.
After establishing Sustainable South Bronx and Green For All(among other organizations) to carry on that work, she opened a private consulting firm to help spread the message and success of social enterprise and economic development in low-status communities – which was named Best for the World by B-Corp in 2014. Her work is characterized by an emphasis on talent-retention on the corporate and community levels.
Clients include industry leaders in many fields, municipal and federal government agencies, and leading educational institutions across the US. From this vantage point, Majora co-founded the now 750+ member Bronx Tech Meetup, as well as the StartUpBox Software Services company which is rebuilding the entry level tech job pipeline by using market forces and established business practices to help diversify the US tech sector. Clients include Digital.nyc, PlayDots, and GIPHY, among others.
Majora Carter has helped connect tech industry pioneers such as Etsy, Gust, FreshDirect, Google, and Cisco to diverse communities at all levels, and she continues to drive resources that value diversity into the communities historically left out of economic growth trends.
This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Rethinking Community, the Sustainability Graduate Programs, the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, the Department of Engineering, and the Intercultural Center. RSVP here.
Monday, March 12 – Friday, March 16
Create a banner displaying your love of trees in honor of Wake Forest’s Earth Week and our Tree Campus USA designation. Student organizations, offices, and departments are encouraged to register together. All materials will be provided and banners will be displayed on the Upper Quad.
Spring Equinox Celebration
4:00 – 6:00 pm | Campus GardenThe Spring Equinox Celebration is a festive gathering of people, plants, and animals hosted by the Wake Forest University Campus Garden. As a community, we will welcome the start of spring by spreading wildflower seeds. Participants will get a full-sensory experience of a garden in springtime through samples of garden-fresh food and interactions with llamas, sheep, and chickens.
Monday, March 19
Plant-Forward Cooking Class
3:00 – 4:00 pm | Reynolds Gym Seminar Room A330
Tuesday, March 20
Fifth Annual Champions of Change for Campus Sustainability
12:00-1:00 pm | Reynolda Hall Green Room
Join us in recognizing the work of those who have enhanced the culture of sustainability at Wake Forest at the fifth annual Champions of Change: Campus Sustainability Awards ceremony on March 20. Light snacks will be served. RSVP here.
Tuesday, March 20
Amplify: Women’s Leadership Expo
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Amplify: Women’s Leadership Expo will provide a range of offerings that explore the challenges and opportunities for women leaders. Participants will deepen their self-awareness, confidence, exposure to different leadership styles, and sense of support for women in leadership. This event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Center and Office of Student Engagement.
Wednesday, March 21
Majora Carter Keynote
7:00 – 8:30 pm | Brendle Recital Hall
Majora Carter is a leading urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning-broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and implementation of numerous green infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Rethinking Community, the Sustainability Graduate Programs, the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, the Department of Engineering, and the Intercultural Center. RSVP here.
Thursday, March 22
3:00 – 6:00 pm | North Sutton Lawn
We’ve teamed up with Outdoor Pursuits to host a free bicycle tune-up station on campus. Stop by the North Sutton lawn, across the street from Poteat field, where mechanics from Ken’s Bike Shop will pump up your tires, make minor fixes and adjustments, and offer advice on larger repairs that cannot be done on the spot.
Thursday, March 22
Environmental Education Abroad
5:00 – 6:00 pm | ZSR, Room 204
This panel of students will share their experiences of pursuing environmental education abroad. Student panelists include Blake Wynveen (Panama), Mackenzie Howe (Australia), and Yuning Feng (Costa Rica). The panel will be followed by an ENV Program reception. Hosted by the ENV Program and Global Programs and Studies.
Friday, March 23
Campus Beautification Day – Arbor Day Observance
3:00 – 5:30 pm | The Barn
Celebrate Arbor Day and Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees, at the Barn and the surrounding cross country trails. The event will feature a tree planting ceremony, a cleanup of the woods around the trails, and a cookout with grass-fed beef and veggie burgers. Register to participate and receive a Cloud Organic Earth Week t-shirt. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, WFU Athletics, Landscape Services, and Campus Recreation.
Saturday, March 24
Forsyth Creek Week Clean-ups
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
This is your chance to do something proactive to help our waterways! As part of Creek Week, clean-ups will be held from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturday, March 24, in both Clemmons and Lewisville. Further information about Creek Week and ways to get involved can be found here.
Monday, March 18 – Saturday, March 24
Yellow tree tags around campus offer the calculated value of ecosystem services that the trees provide, the positive benefits of trees in our landscape, and sentiments from authors about the inestimable value of our beloved trees. Share your favorite tree tags by tagging @SustainableWFU on social media.
Friday, April 6
Environmental Law Symposium
8:45 am – 4:30 pm | Worrell, Room 1312
The Wake Forest Law Review’s Spring Symposium will bring together environmental and human rights experts from around the world to discuss the interplay between human rights and natural resources. The symposium will address topics ranging from the exploitation of resources and the effects on marginalized and underrepresented groups in the US to the inhumane treatment of global environmental defenders.
In fact, my daily sustenance depends on orange groves in Okeechobee and orchardists in Brazil, Ethiopian rainfall and aquifers in Arizona, a harvest of grain from the soils of the Heartland and the health of a dairy cow in Duluth. And if you’re a caffeine addict like I am, you may be interested to learn about the social and environmental complexities of the coffee trade. My first attempt to produce food from the Earth opened my eyes to the reality that eating is an environmental act. (With a nod of respect to Wendell Berry who first said, “eating is an agricultural act.”)
Our diets have a direct impact on the environment. Compare, for instance, the head of lettuce grown in California to the head of lettuce grown in Forsyth County. One requires large amounts of fossil fuel for refrigeration and shipping to arrive on our plates, while the other can be picked up at the farmers’ market or harvested from the backyard. Reducing the carbon footprint of our meals by eating locally, eating less meat, growing and purchasing organic produce, and diverting food waste from landfills helps sustain our environment and also positively impacts our personal health. As it turns out, the wellbeing of our bodies and the wellbeing of the earth are inextricably linked by food.
You can begin to explore the relationship between your diet and the environment by growing food for yourself in the Campus Garden. The hands-on experience of transforming a seed into a salad provides meaningful insight into our profound dependence on this Earth. Campus Garden volunteer hours are hosted every Wednesday and Sunday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. In fact, the four carbon-reducing solutions mentioned in the paragraph above are represented by initiatives here on campus. You can get involved by exploring these links: Compost Crew, Plant-Forward Dining, Campus Kitchen.
Simran Sethi, a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy and author of the award-winning book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, will share insights on how the cocoa industry can, and should, be a driver for social and environmental change. The event will include a guided tasting of four distinct cocoa origins as a means of helping chocolate lovers better understand craft chocolate and make decisions that will support a more sustainable chocolate industry. Registration is capped at 50 individuals, please reserve your spot here.
Drawdown transforms the doom-and-gloom narrative of climate change into a story of courage and possibility. It shows that 80 solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are already in place, economically viable, and being implemented in communities around the world with steadfast determination, and that 20 more innovative solutions are coming out of the gates.
Nevertheless, the idea of reversing global warming is hard to comprehend on an individual level. It’s no wonder that throughout Wilkinson’s visit, the question of “How can I get involved with Project Drawdown?” surfaced again and again at different engagements.
The answer, as explained by Wilkinson, is that all solutions presented in Drawdown depend on how individuals and institutions choose to invest their time, energy, finances, and thought into reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Drawdown proves that while decisions made by industry, government, and other groups have a major impact on our future on this planet, individual decisions are equally as important.
To help you determine what you can do to make a difference, we have compiled a list of five of the 26 Drawdown solutions being implemented at Wake Forest that you can adopt today.
Advocate for women’s rights. If you add solutions #6 and #7, Educating Girls and Family Planning, empowering women and girls is the number one solution to reversing global warming. Due to existing inequalities, women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, women and girls are vital to successfully addressing climate change and humanity’s overall resilience. Join the WFU Women’s Center for events such as Passing the Mic or become a peer educator for women’s equity with the L.E.A.V.E.s Program. By improving the rights, well-being, and equity of women and girls, we can improve the future of life on this planet.
Say no to food waste. Eight of the top 20 Drawdown solutions pertain to food. The #3 ranked solution is Reduced Food Waste and the #4 solution is a Plant-Rich Diet — both of which people can adopt immediately and at no cost. That being said, how many times have you tossed out milk that hasn’t gone bad, or forgotten about leftovers in your refrigerator? Remember to take only what you want to eat when eating at a dining hall, be sure to prioritize leftovers, grocery shop only when needed, and use your senses to determine when food has gone bad instead of relying solely on ambiguous sell-by labels.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. To quote Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Shifting to a plant-rich diet is a demand-side solution to global warming. By dining multiple times per day, imagine how many opportunities you have to turn the tables. With Wake Forest’s dedicated to plant-forward dining, it’s easy to turn Pollan’s mantra into a daily routine.
Get there the green way. Transportation produces the equivalent of 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions annually. At Wake Forest, students, faculty, and staff have access to SharetheRideNC, Zipcar, the Re-Cycle Bike Share Program, Wake Forest shuttles, and local public transportation and ride-sharing opportunities from PART.
Take action. Get involved locally and nationally with those who are already implementing solutions. For example, join the local Sierra Club chapter, become a member of the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, support female education and empowerment, and elect local, state, and national representatives who support clean water, air, strong climate action, and community well-being. Remember, only you are in charge of how you spend your time, energy, finances, and thought— put your power to good use.