FAQs2020-05-12T17:13:58-04:00

Browse the list of topics for answers to your frequently asked questions. Have a question we haven’t answered? Direct your inquiries to sustainability@wfu.edu.

Academics

What sustainability-focused fields of study does Wake Forest offer for undergraduates?2020-05-12T16:52:49-04:00

Starting in Fall 2020, Wake Forest will offer two new majors: a Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Sustainability and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science. Minors in Environmental Studies and Environmental Science will continue to be offered as well. For more information, visit the Environmental Program’s website.

Does Wake Forest offer a masters in Sustainability?2020-05-12T17:06:46-04:00

Yes. The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) at Wake Forest offers a Master of Arts in Sustainability. The program offers a four-course core – global human systems; sustainable organizational management; resource management and energy science; and environmental law and policy – as well as an applied sustainability course and a capstone research project or extended practicum. The 30-credit MA in Sustainability is one of a select few across the nation. In addition to the Master of Arts in Sustainability (MAS) and a certificate program, Wake Forest offers two unique dual degree programs – the JD/MA in Sustainability and the Masters of Divinity/MA in Sustainability.

Energy

How can I reduce my energy consumption in my residence hall or office?2020-05-12T16:52:19-04:00

There are many ways you can reduce your energy consumption in your space on campus. These actions include:

  • Heating & Cooling:
    • wear an extra layer when you’re cold before reaching for the thermostat
    • close any windows when leaving for an extended period of time
    • keep windows closed on especially warm or cold days
    • keep all air vents unobstructed
    • avoid using space heaters (space heaters are already prohibited in residence halls)
    • do not leave exterior doors open
  • Lighting:
    • turn off all lights before leaving a room, even if there is a motion sensor
    • utilize natural light whenever possible
    • use LED lightbulbs in any personal light fixtures
  • Electronics:
    • unplug electronics and/or turn off power strips when not in use
  • Maintenance:
Why doesn’t Wake Forest cover its rooftops with solar panels?2020-05-12T17:11:43-04:00

The Wake Forest Reynolda Campus — the historic district through the Athletics campus — has a peak electricity demand of 10 megawatts (MW). We would need approximately 25 acres of solar farm development to offset our electricity demand. As a non-profit entity, Wake Forest’s initial investment in a renewable energy installation would not be offset by tax credits in the same way it would be for a private investor. Normally, such an investment would be accomplished through a direct power purchase agreement (PPA). Solar PPAs, however, are currently illegal in North Carolina. In 2017, NC House Bill 589 created new opportunities for renewables including limited commercial leasing options. We have identified eligible roof space on campus for the 1 MW of rooftop solar that the new program would support. If we are able to identify a qualified commercial lessor through North Carolina’s new program, design and construction would take about two years. Learn more about our renewable energy assessments at Wake Forest here.

What is “vampire energy” and why does it matter?2020-05-12T17:00:44-04:00

Vampire energy, also known 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 reduce vampire energy consumption by always unplugging your electronics after use or by plugging all of 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 to leave, lights out” policy in your home or office, expand that policy to cover your power strips as well.

What is the university’s setback program?2020-05-12T16:59:36-04:00

Each year during the holiday break in December and January, Facilities and Campus Services allows the temperature of unoccupied campus buildings to “float” between 55 degrees (to prevent freezing pipes) and 85 degrees (to avoid frying electronic devices like computers and projector equipment), while simultaneously reducing other energy demands such as lighting. Since the program began in 2008, these efforts have saved the university over $500,000 in avoided energy costs. Similar setbacks take place in select buildings during other times of the year as opportunities emerge.

Read a more detailed description of the program here.

Why shouldn’t I use a space heater in my office?2020-05-12T16:51:50-04:00

Space heaters have the potential to do more harm than good by working against a building’s heating and cooling systems. A single thermostat often controls the space for more than one individual. When one person is cold and uses a space heater, the local thermostat registers a warmer temperature and responds accordingly by turning off the heat or—worse—turning on the air conditioning, making the space even colder than before. This is harmful for both occupant comfort and energy conservation, as space heaters are much less efficient at warming a space than a central HVAC system.

Since different people have different temperature preferences, faculty/staff who share a thermostat are encouraged to keep an extra layer handy in case they are cold in the office. If you are still uncomfortable, please reach out to Facilities so they can investigate your space for a potential solution. If they determine that a space heater is the only solution, they will recommend an approved model that does not pose a fire hazard.

Food and Dining

Is there a way I can enjoy produce from the Campus Garden?2020-05-12T16:39:49-04:00

Most of the produce from the garden goes to Campus Kitchen or community partners. The best way to personally enjoy organic produce from the garden is to volunteer. If you or a group you’re involved in are looking for hands-on service, then volunteering in the garden is an exciting opportunity. Not only will you get to enjoy working outside, but you can also take home some of the fruits of your labor in the form of tomatoes and other produce.

Volunteer hours at the campus garden vary each semester. Check out the Campus Garden page for the most updated schedule. Note that volunteer hours will not occur on set Wake Forest holidays. Come alone, bring a group of friends from your residence hall, or schedule a volunteer event with your club or office. Located at the corner of Polo Road and Student Drive, across from Martin Residence Hall, the Campus Garden can always use an extra set of hands.

Email campusgarden@wfu.edu for more information or to schedule a service event for your organization.

How can I influence dining habits on campus?2020-05-12T16:58:52-04:00

There are a number of ways you can work to make a difference:

  • Join the Plant-Forward Dining Committee. This group works with our campus nutritionist, Brooke Orr, to brainstorm ideas, develop programs, and create events to help promote plant-forward dining, ranked as the #3 solution to climate change by Project Drawdown.
  • Take only what you will eat. The less food wasted, the less food purchased, and the more money available to consider purchasing more sustainably produced food. Reduced food waste is the #1 solution to climate change according to Project Drawdown.
  • Complete the annual WFU Dining Survey. Harvest Table relies heavily on this survey as its primary way of collecting feedback from you, the customer.
  • Stay informed about food issues. The more informed you are about food issues, the more empowered you are to make every bite count.

 

What are Wake Forest’s priorities for sourcing food and why isn’t “local” one of them?2020-05-12T16:54:07-04:00

Where our food comes from matters, and Harvest Table Culinary Group understands that. Wake Forest focuses on third-party certified food whenever possible. These foods are independently verified by reputable organizations to meet certain environmental and ethical standards. Examples include USDA Organic, Global Animal Partnership, Certified Humane Raised & Handled, Fair Trade, and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. In addition, the focus on plant-forward dining allows Harvest Table to take a “less meat, better meat” approach. As the demand for animal-based products decreases, those avoided costs can be reinvested in less harmful animal-based products such as Pasture Centered Brasstown Beef and Certified Humane Murray’s Chickens.

It’s important to understand that “local” does not necessarily equate to “sustainable.” While there are many producers in our area who are following sustainable practices, there are plenty of others who are not. Buying local helps support the local economy and reduces the number of miles a product has to travel, but all factors must be considered. That being said, if there is a local producer that is also engaging in the type of practices and certifications we prioritize, that’s a win-win.

Is “plant-forward” the same as vegetarian or vegan?2020-05-12T16:53:37-04:00

“Plant-forward” may sound like a fancy name for vegetarian or vegan, but don’t be fooled! Plant-forward is defined as “a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to, plant-based foods…and that reflects evidence-based principles of health and sustainability” (menusofchange.org). It focuses on a shift in thinking away from animal-based foods being the centerpiece of a meal. While vegetarianism and veganism are certainly examples of plant-forward dining, you do not have to give up meat completely in order to go plant-forward.

How can I get involved in the local food movement?2020-05-12T17:06:17-04:00

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Attend the regular volunteer hours at the WFU Campus Garden.
  • Volunteer with Campus Kitchen.
  • Educate yourself about the environmental, social, and economic issues surrounding food systems.
  • Vote with your dollars: ask where the food you’re eating comes from and make dining decisions based on the values that are important to you.
  • Shop at fully vetted, producer-only markets like the Cobblestone Farmers Market.

Getting Involved

How can I stay up to date with WFU sustainability efforts?2020-05-12T17:05:37-04:00

The best way to stay in the loop is to sign up for our mailing lists (on our home page) and follow us on social media (@SustainableWFU).

If you are a WFU alum with ties to sustainability, be sure to visit our alumni page and join our LinkedIn group.

How can I get involved with campus sustainability?2020-05-12T17:02:15-04:00

There are many ways to get involved with sustainability here at Wake. You can get hands-on experience by volunteering at the Campus Garden, joining the Compost Crew or Plant-Forward Dining Committee, becoming a peer leader for sustainability through Sustainability Ambassadors, SLG, Greeks Go Green, or the Green Team, applying for an internship with our office, or attending one of the many guest lectures, film screenings, and other events across campus. The best way to get started is to subscribe to our volunteer listserv and newsletters (available on our home page) and follow us on social media (@SustainableWFU). You can also reach out to sustainability@wfu.edu at any time. We’re here to help you discover and pursue your passion. Check out the many ways you can Lead, Join, and Volunteer during your time at Wake Forest.

I’m planning an event on campus. How can I make it “sustainable?”2020-05-12T16:50:14-04:00

Follow our easy-to-use Sustainable Event Planning Checklist and our Zero-Landfill Event Planning Checklist, and feel free to reach out to us at sustainability@wfu.edu with any questions.

Are there any summer volunteer opportunities?2020-05-12T17:02:46-04:00

Yes. With fewer students on campus over the summer, the WFU Campus Garden relies on the support of regular volunteers to keep operations in full swing. The Campus Garden needs help with planting, weeding, harvesting, and composting. Most of the produce grown in the garden is donated to Campus Kitchen, allowing them to prepare more dishes to feed members of the Winston-Salem community. Email campusgarden@wfu.edu if you are interested in volunteering.

There are many other volunteer opportunities that arise over the summer. Check out the volunteer sign-up sheet to see the most updated list of opportunities, or email sustainability@wfu.edu with specific questions.

What job resources do you recommend for the sustainability/environmental field?2020-05-12T17:03:19-04:00

Fortunately, there are many resources available. The most comprehensive list that provides information on green and sustainability career pathways and job openings is this Google Doc.  Created by the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium, the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability, and the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, this list includes job boards and career pathway resources that are regularly updated.

The WFU Office of Personal & Career Development (OPCD) also posts internships and job openings through Handshake. Keep an updated profile and search the platform regularly for opportunities relating to sustainability that have been targeted specifically through the WFU network.

How can I volunteer to help with waste reduction and diversion efforts on campus?2020-05-12T16:44:35-04:00

You can have a direct impact on waste diversion by volunteering with the Compost Crew (shift sign-ups are available here and all training will be provided on-site). If you are hosting an event yourself, please follow our Zero-Landfill Event Planning Guide. It’s also important that every Deacon knows what items go in which bin and we always welcome volunteers interested in conducting outreach.

Life on Campus

I’m planning on purchasing “swag” for a group, event, or giveaway. What do you recommend?2020-05-12T16:49:19-04:00

Check out our “Sustainable Swag” purchasing guide. If you determine that a giveaway is the only way to meet your goals, make sure that the item is useful, reusable, durable, and wanted.

How can I stay up to date with WFU sustainability efforts?2020-05-12T17:05:37-04:00

The best way to stay in the loop is to sign up for our mailing lists (on our home page) and follow us on social media (@SustainableWFU).

If you are a WFU alum with ties to sustainability, be sure to visit our alumni page and join our LinkedIn group.

How are Wake’s campus sustainability efforts and achievements measured?2020-05-12T17:04:07-04:00

Wake Forest University participates in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) framework created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). We undertake this comprehensive reporting effort as a part of our commitment to transparency and accountability. Our most recent report, in which Wake Forest was awarded a Gold rating for the first time, is publicly available online. Outside groups interested in showcasing campus efforts are encouraged to draw information directly from this report.

I’m planning an event on campus. How can I make it “sustainable?”2020-05-12T16:50:14-04:00

Follow our easy-to-use Sustainable Event Planning Checklist and our Zero-Landfill Event Planning Checklist, and feel free to reach out to us at sustainability@wfu.edu with any questions.

Purchasing

I’m planning on purchasing “swag” for a group, event, or giveaway. What do you recommend?2020-05-12T16:49:19-04:00

Check out our “Sustainable Swag” purchasing guide. If you determine that a giveaway is the only way to meet your goals, make sure that the item is useful, reusable, durable, and wanted.

How can I make my t-shirt purchases as sustainable as possible?2020-05-12T16:54:43-04:00

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. The first thing to consider is whether a t-shirt (or any other promotional item) is necessary in the first place. Our “sustainable swag” purchasing guide will walk you through the process.

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.

While there are a number of sustainability-minded vendors to choose from, one of our favorites is TS Designs, located in Greensboro, as they are local and offer shirts made with organic, USA-grown cotton, recycled materials, and water-based inks. 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 sustainaility@wfu.edu.

What copy paper should I purchase for my office or department?2020-05-12T16:41:11-04:00

Based on currently available options, we recommend purchasing TreeZero paper through the Workday portal. This paper is made with 100% recycled sugarcane waste fiber and is produced by a carbon-neutral company. TreeZero and Office Depot have worked to make this paper the cheapest option available for Wake Forest. It’s a win-win!

Whenever possible, it is important to opt for paper made with post-consumer recycled content. Not only does this reduce the strain on our natural resources, but it also helps support the recycling economy. If purchasing paper made with any virgin (non-recycled) content, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, indicating responsible forest management.

Transportation

Can I survive on campus without a car? How can I get from place to place?2020-05-12T16:42:56-04:00

Absolutely! Wake Forest’s campus is compact and highly walkable, and there are many ways of getting to and from places off campus as well. Borrow a bike for the semester through the Re-Cycle Bike Share program, utilize the nine different university shuttle lines (and track them in real time on the Transloc app), request the on-call shuttle late at night, or find a ride-share match on ShareTheRideNC. If you ever need access to a personal vehicle, Zipcars are available in multiple locations on campus (low hourly rates include gas and insurance). And if you need to get to and from the airport around a break, Transportation & Parking Services has you covered. Learn more about alternative transportation here.

Does Wake Forest offer any incentive for carpooling?2020-05-12T16:42:17-04:00

Carpooling saves money, gas, and time looking for a parking space. Faculty and staff members can register a carpool and receive a free, reserved space by filling out the carpool application. Questions should be directed to Transportation & Parking Services.

Waste Reduction and Diversion

What’s the difference between waste reduction and waste diversion?2020-05-12T16:48:39-04:00

Waste diversion refers to actions taken to keep unwanted material out of the landfill. Recycling and composting are both examples of waste diversion; the waste has already been produced and the aim is to find a better use for it than sending it to the landfill. Waste reduction refers to actions taken that prevent unwanted material from being generated in the first place. In order to mitigate the issue of waste, it is far more impactful to reduce waste (by purchasing less, for example), than to divert waste. Waste diversion practices are not part of a closed system, as resources such as energy, water, and raw materials are still lost.

What should I recycle on campus?2020-05-12T17:04:45-04:00

The items accepted for recycling vary by area, so please make sure you know how to properly “put waste in its place” on campus. You can find additional guidelines detailing what is and is not accepted for recycling on campus on our Waste Reduction and Recycling page.

I’m planning an event on campus. How can I make it “sustainable?”2020-05-12T16:50:14-04:00

Follow our easy-to-use Sustainable Event Planning Checklist and our Zero-Landfill Event Planning Checklist, and feel free to reach out to us at sustainability@wfu.edu with any questions.

How can I get a recycling bin or tote?2020-05-12T17:08:48-04:00

Faculty/staff: The Reynolda Campus transitioned to desk-side recycling collection for faculty and staff in the spring of 2015. Any blue desk-side bin with a “Paper, Cans, Bottles” sticker will be regularly emptied by Reynolda Campus custodial staff. These bins, as well as larger receptacles for copy rooms, conference areas, and hallways, can be requested via work order.

Students living on campus: Green recycling totes are distributed during move-in to all new incoming students. Students are encouraged to keep their recycling totes for the duration of their time at WFU. If you never received one or you need a replacement, you may stop by the Office of Sustainability (Reynolda Hall 101) or email sustainability@wfu.edu to see if any extras are available. Students who return totes during move-out are not guaranteed replacements the following year. Totes that are returned during move-out are cleaned and redistributed to new students during move-in.

Why should I bother to recycle at Wake? Doesn’t the university just send everything to the landfill?2020-05-12T16:55:51-04:00

This is a common misconception. Custodians are often seen removing bags of landfill waste and bags of recyclables from receptacles on campus and placing them in the same cart or truck. But it’s all in the color! Trash cans are lined with black bags, while recycling bins are lined with clear or translucent bags. The bags are brought to a centralized location on campus where they are sorted by color, ensuring that they end up going to the correct facility.

That being said, sorting matters! Contamination (i.e. non-recyclable items) are a major problem plaguing the recycling industry and force a significant amount of recyclable material to be sent to the landfill. The items accepted for recycling vary by area; please make sure you know how to properly “put waste in its place” on campus.

I’ve heard that glass from campus isn’t recycled. Why does Wake Forest collect it?2020-05-12T17:10:12-04:00

This is a myth! All glass collected for recycling at Wake Forest is delivered to Waste Management’s nearby material recovery facility (MRF) where it is sorted and stored and later picked up by Strategic Materials and taken to their plant in Wilson, NC for recycling.

How do I dispose of old lightbulbs?2020-05-12T16:57:56-04:00

Incandescent bulbs contain no hazardous materials and can be thrown in the trash. Due to their combination of materials, they are not accepted for recycling. Fluorescent tube bulbs should only be handled by maintenance; please submit a work order for any fluorescent bulbs to be picked up from your office and/or to have a lightbulb changed. All other bulbs, including compact fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs, should be wrapped to prevent breakage and placed in a “Technotrash” or “E-Waste” bin (located in ZSR Library, the Benson Center, Farrell Hall, Greene Hall, and the UCC). To dispose of these bulbs at home, please drop them off at the 3RC EnviroStation. It is against the law to dispose of them in a landfill.

If purchasing a replacement bulb, remember that LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient and, since they have such a long lifespan, are the most cost-effective as well.

How do I dispose of ink and toner cartridges?2020-05-12T16:47:59-04:00

Empty ink and toner cartridges are considered e-waste and should be placed in the “Technotrash” or “E-Waste” bins located in ZSR Library, the Benson Center, Farrell Hall, Greene Hall, and the UCC. They can also be dropped off at the Office of Sustainability in Reynolda Hall, room 101. If you have a particularly large quantity, please place a work order to have them picked up.

Where can I recycle batteries on campus?2020-05-12T17:10:59-04:00

Rechargeable batteries, including cell phone batteries, should be placed in the “Technotrash” or “E-Waste” bins in any of the following locations: ZSR Library, the Benson Center, Farrell Hall, Greene Hall, and the UCC.

Alkaline batteries no longer contain mercury and are therefore not considered hazardous waste. Most municipalities and counties advise landfilling alkaline batteries.

Some divisions on campus have been collecting alkaline batteries for “recycling” (technically they’re downcycled and components are recycled) and some local stores offer alkaline battery “recycling” as well. We calculated the effects (fuel, emissions, etc.) associated with this process and, due to the distance they must travel and the small amount of recoverable material, determined that there is no significant environmental benefit to recycling them versus sending them to the landfill.

What should I do with my electronic waste (e-waste)?2020-05-12T16:56:28-04:00

It’s important to keep electronic waste out of our landfills. E-waste often contains heavy metals that can leach into the ground and water supplies.

Return all WFU computers by submitting a work order for pickup. Any computer cords and accessories can be deposited into the “Technotrash” or “E-Waste” receptacles located in the ZSR Library, the Benson Center, Farrell Hall, Greene Hall, and the UCC.

Personal e-waste, like cell phones, hand-held devices, and their rechargeable batteries can also be deposited into the e-waste receptacles. However, personal computers should be sent back to the manufacturer or taken to an electronics recycler like Goodwill.

CDs, DVDs, old audio/video tapes, and alkaline batteries should all be disposed of in the trash.

What can I do with old books?2020-05-12T16:47:13-04:00

Unwanted books can be donated to Better World Books by placing them in the collection box on the ground floor of the University Bookstore (for large quantities, please contact Facilities). A portion of the proceeds from the resale of these books is donated to the Augustine Literacy Project, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that aims to improve the reading, writing, and spelling abilities of low-income children and teens struggling with literacy skills. Please see this page to learn which books are accepted for donations.

Books that are not accepted by Better World Books can be donated to Goodwill or a similar organization. If a book is beyond its useful life and cannot be donated, please email sustainability@wfu.edu to learn how it can be recycled. Due to their bindings, most books cannot be processed by general paper recycling facilities.

How can I keep items out of the landfill during move-out at the end of the year?2020-05-12T17:09:26-04:00

Challenge yourself to make it a zero-landfill move-out by following these 3 simple steps:

1) Plan ahead! A minute of planning saves 10 minutes of execution.
2) Sort out which items you want to keep and what you can clean up and donate.
3) Move out, don’t throw out! Remember: the landfill should be your last resort.

Click here to learn where to place items that you do not plan to take with you. A wide range of items are accepted as donations.

Why doesn’t the Office of Sustainability push for a ban on disposable plastic water bottles?2020-05-12T17:00:09-04:00

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. We have decided to pursue a different approach based on the following considerations.

First, we aim to make using reusable water bottles a convenient choice for all Wake Forest students, staff, and faculty. When surveyed, campus users indicated that they wanted a convenient way to obtain chilled, filtered water on campus. There are now 200+ refill stations located in high traffic areas around campus that fulfill this need and keep a running count of how many disposable bottles are eliminated through their use. In addition, we provide free reusable bottles during many of our outreach activities.

Second, we see our role as providing the information that members of our campus community need to make their own decisions – information on the environmental, financial, and health impacts of bottled water. 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.

What is composting and how/where can I participate?2020-05-12T16:46:19-04:00

Composting is the biological decomposition of organic waste (e.g. food or plant matter) by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. This decomposition produces compost, a nutrient-rich substance that can be added to soil to aid in plant growth. You can find numerous resources for composting at home online, including on the EPA’s website.

On campus, organic material is collected for composting in several locations. Pre-consumer food waste is collected at the Fresh Food Company (the Pit), North Dining, the ZSR Starbucks, and Zick’s. Post-consumer food waste is collected at North Dining. Collecting organics can be difficult in public spaces, as it’s important to keep the bin free of contaminants. The Compost Crew assists with organics collection at many university events; just look for the folks in black aprons with green bins! To request the Compost Crew at your event, please email sustainability@wfu.edu.

We are also working to increase opportunities for organics collection in other spaces on campus. Created in 2018, the office organics program provides participating offices and departments with a collection bin and weekly pick-up service. Contact sustainability@wfu.edu if you’d like to get in on the action. And a pilot program for organics collection in certain residence halls is planned for the fall of 2020.

While most organic material from campus is sent to Gallins Family Farm for processing, composting can be seen in action on campus at the Campus Garden.

Why isn’t anything from the Benson food court collected for composting?2020-05-12T16:45:45-04:00

The structure and layout of the Benson Center make this extremely difficult from a materials handling perspective. Studies are ongoing to find a cost-effective solution.

Are compostable plates, cups, cutlery, etc. the best option from a waste perspective?2020-05-12T16:45:10-04:00

While it is much better from a waste perspective to use and collect certified compostable tableware as opposed to traditional disposables, waste is still produced. Use washable, reusable items whenever possible.

How can I volunteer to help with waste reduction and diversion efforts on campus?2020-05-12T16:44:35-04:00

You can have a direct impact on waste diversion by volunteering with the Compost Crew (shift sign-ups are available here and all training will be provided on-site). If you are hosting an event yourself, please follow our Zero-Landfill Event Planning Guide. It’s also important that every Deacon knows what items go in which bin and we always welcome volunteers interested in conducting outreach.

What’s the difference between “zero-landfill” and “zero-waste?”2020-05-12T16:43:41-04:00

Many schools and organizations use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. Since recycling and composting are still considered “waste,” an event at which all waste is diverted from the landfill is best describes as “zero-landfill.” “Zero-waste is a much more ambitious goal and would require no waste of any kind being generated.

Is buying a reusable water bottle really worth it?2020-05-12T16:55:18-04:00

The debate over reuse vs. single-use applies not only to water bottles but to many other household products, like plates, cutlery, and towels as well.

The short answer is yes. A reusable bottle will save materials, fuel, and money when compared to disposable water bottles. However, the exact amount of cycles necessary to achieve the savings varies based on a whole host of complex factors. A cradle-to-grave assessment, however, can help you think more systematically about materials analysis and separate fact from fiction.

In your materials impact assessment, you can consider the resources required in terms of raw material extraction, materials processing, manufacturing, labor, distribution, use, repair/maintenance, and disposal/recycling. In this case, you would consider the source of the plastic, extrusion of the material, labor inputs, source of the water, transportation from water source to distribution hub, cleaning, and disposal and/or recycling resources. Numerous academic and industry studies have been published on these comparisons and are easily accessed online. Some, like this University of Michigan publication, provide straightforward summaries.

Financially, the calculations are much simpler. Bottled water is roughly 2,000 times more expensive than tap water (at Winston-Salem’s rates). Even with the upfront cost of purchasing a reusable water bottle, the payback is extremely quick.

Our office uses a water dispenser instead of individual bottles. Is this still bad for the environment? Is it a waste of money?2020-05-12T17:07:38-04:00

At a huge mark up, jugs of water are still an expensive alternative to tap water. Like individual bottles of water, dispensed water can be seen as more convenient and more consistent in taste. It may even be perceived as safer. Since the municipal water supply is tested regularly, the latter is merely a perception. Our campus now has 200+ water bottle refill stations that dispense filtered, chilled tap water. This makes refilling water pitchers for events and glasses for everyday use quite easy and environmentally friendly.

In terms of the environment, even though water dispenser jugs are typically reused, the transportation of bottled water releases greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, an external cost that is avoided by the use of the refill stations on campus.  Regardless of how staff and faculty obtain their water, you can encourage them to conserve resources and reduce waste by using a reusable bottle, glass, or mug, when filling up.

I understand Rolling of the Quad is a much-loved tradition at Wake Forest, but is it sustainable?2020-05-12T16:57:08-04:00

In terms of Wake Forest’s waste generation and environmental impact, Rolling the Quad pales in comparison to many other practices on campus. That being said, throwing rolls of toilet paper into the trees is certainly wasteful and puts the burden of cleanup on Facilities staff.

With respect to the health of the trees, both the Landscaping Services staff and the University Arborist have confirmed that there is no correlation between the practice of Rolling the Quad and tree health.

Is double-sided printing the default on campus?2020-05-12T17:08:17-04:00

Yes. Since the launch of the Pharos Printing Systems in 2013, starting with the ZSR Library, double-sided printing (also known as duplex printing) has been the default printer setting for machines across campus. If your computer does not default to duplex printing and you do not know how to change the settings, please contact Information Systems (336-758-4357). If necessary, any print job can still be manually set to single-sided printing.

Water

Exactly how much water do I save by using the green-handled low-flow toilets and urinals correctly?2020-05-12T16:40:36-04:00

Old style toilets use anywhere from 2.8-3.5 gallons of water with each flush. Frequently, this wastes water without serving any real purpose. Each low flush (pushing the green, anti-bacterial treated handle up) of the updated, low-flow toilets uses only 1.4 gallons of water per flush. This saves from 1.4- 2.1 gallons per low flush.

The pint-flush urinals save even more water than the low-flow toilets. An ordinary urinal uses one gallon of water per flush. These new urinals cut water use by 87.5 percent compared to traditional urinals.

In addition to these toilets and urinals, the university also widely employs low flow faucets and showerheads, which use 40 percent less water without sacrificing comfort.

Our office uses a water dispenser instead of individual bottles. Is this still bad for the environment? Is it a waste of money?2020-05-12T17:07:38-04:00

At a huge mark up, jugs of water are still an expensive alternative to tap water. Like individual bottles of water, dispensed water can be seen as more convenient and more consistent in taste. It may even be perceived as safer. Since the municipal water supply is tested regularly, the latter is merely a perception. Our campus now has 200+ water bottle refill stations that dispense filtered, chilled tap water. This makes refilling water pitchers for events and glasses for everyday use quite easy and environmentally friendly.

In terms of the environment, even though water dispenser jugs are typically reused, the transportation of bottled water releases greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, an external cost that is avoided by the use of the refill stations on campus.  Regardless of how staff and faculty obtain their water, you can encourage them to conserve resources and reduce waste by using a reusable bottle, glass, or mug, when filling up.