Wake Forest University

FAQ Archives - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

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FAQ: Recycle Bins and Totes

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Q: How do I get a desk-side recycling bin for my office?

A: The Reynolda campus transitioned to desk-side recycling collection for faculty and staff in the spring of 2015. Small blue bins labeled with “Paper, Cans, Bottles” stickers are available for pick-up in the Office of Sustainability. Any desk-side bin with a “Paper, Cans, Bottles” sticker will be regularly emptied by Reynolda campus custodial staff. Larger bins for copy rooms, conference areas, or hallways can be ordered through the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling.

QHow do I get a green recycling tote for my Residence Hall room?

A: Green recycling totes are distributed during move-in to all first-year students. Students are encouraged to keep their recycling totes for the duration of their time at WFU. The Office of Sustainability keeps a few totes in Reynolda Hall – Room 101 for students who need replacements. Students who return totes during move-out are not guaranteed replacements in the following year. Totes that are returned during move-out are cleaned and redistributed to new students during move-in.

FAQ: New Years Resolutions

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Looking  to make 2012 your greenest year yet? Consider one (or more) of the following resolutions:

  • Recycle as much as you can. Sure, you put your #1 and #2 plastics in the bin with your aluminum and glass, but did you know you can recycle #5 plastics at Whole Foods Market? Consult our “What to Recycle” spreadsheet and go the extra mile.
  • Choose to Reuse. If you haven’t received a free reusable water bottle from our office, be on the lookout for opportunities this semester. If you have, use your bottle every day! Do yourself and the planet a favor and drink clean, (almost) free tap water instead of bottled.
  • Cut the power. Make it your resolution to change one thing about your energy use. Cold office? Throw on an extra layer or blanket instead of reaching for the space heater. Even making a point of turning off your electronics at the end of the day, instead of putting them into hibernate can have a huge impact.
  • Eat fresh, local food. It may be the dead of winter, but you can still resolve to make one meal a week with local meat, dairy or fruits and veggies. By doing so, you will receive a higher quality product with a smaller carbon footprint that supports the local economy.
  • Be a change agent. Convince at least one friend, coworker or relative to do something sustainable with you. Bring them to the Earth Day Fair in April, show them how to recycle, take a trip to a farmers market or just talk to them about sustainability.

FAQ: Holiday Setbacks

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Q. What’s the deal with the university’s Holiday Setbacks program?

A. Each year during the holiday break in December and January, Facilities and Campus Services allows the temperature of most campus buildings to “float” between 55 degrees (to prevent freezing pipes) and 85 degrees (to avoid frying electronic devices like computers and projector equipment).

Since buildings included in the Holiday Setbacks program are empty, comfort is not sacrificed and the university saves big: $30,000 in avoided costs in the first year (2008) and nearly $60,000 in avoided costs during an 11 day period in 2009.

Want to learn more?

  • Read a more detailed description of the program here.
  • See a breakdown of costs avoided here.
  • Learn more about energy saving practices at the university.

Send your questions to sustainability@wfu.edu.

FAQ: Rolling the Quad

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Q. I understand that the Rolling of the Quad is a much-loved tradition at the university, but I can’t help feeling that it is wasteful and possibly harmful to the health of the trees on Hearn Plaza. Is this practice sustainable?

A. Throwing rolls of toilet paper into the trees is certainly wasteful. On a scale of wasteful practices, however, this tradition pales in comparison to many other practices on campus. From an environmental perspective, it is relatively benign.

Though we cannot control the type of toilet paper alumni, friends, and fans bring to campus, the toilet paper used by students on campus has a high recycled content and is quickly biodegradable.

With respect to the health of the trees, you may have noticed that many of the White Ash trees on Hearn Plaza have fallen ill and been replaced in the last few years. Both the Landscaping Services staff and the University Arborist have confirmed that there is no correlation between the practice of Rolling the Quad and the death of these trees. In fact, the White Ash trees that lined Hearn Plaza fell victim to the same disease and insect vulnerability that is claiming Ash trees in other locations on campus and across the country.

FAQ: Get Involved

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Q. I want to get involved with campus sustainability. What should I do?

A. There are many ways to get involved with sustainability here at Wake. From hands-on opportunities to guest lectures and film screenings, we’re here to connect you to sustainability.

Faculty and Staff

  • Join the Sustainability listserv here.
  • Get involved with your department’s Green Team. If your department does not yet have a Green Team captain, talk to your supervisor about nominating one.


  • Join the Sustainability Volunteer listserv here. Volunteer with the Campus Garden or any of our other volunteer opportunities.
  • Consider becoming a Sustainability Ambassador or Greeks Go Green Rep.
  • “Like” WFU Sustainability on Facebook Like us on Facebook
  • Follow WFU Sustainability on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

FAQ – A Sustainable Start

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Q. The new school year is starting and I want to give sustainability a try – do you have any materials to get me started?

A. You are in luck! From recycling to dining, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn how you can receive your personal recycling bin, Green Guide, reusable to-go container, reusable water bottle and Zipcar membership.

Personal Recycling Bin

Who: Returning students

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursday, September 8 and Thursday, September 22, from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Test your recycling IQ at one of our Think Green Thursday events and walk away with a green recycling tote of your very own. The bins stack, so bring your roommate and you can create a comprehensive recycling collection system in your residence hall room. Supplies are limited and bins are awarded on a first-come, first served basis.

Green Guide: A Deacon’s Guide to Sustainable Living

Who: Everyone

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursdays, from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Have a question about alternative transportation at Wake? Want to sample some locally sourced cuisine at a downtown restaurant, but don’t know where to go? Interested in getting involved with sustainability at Wake Forest? The 25-page second edition of the WFU Green Guide answers all your sustainability questions. Though the first edition was written for students, by students, the second edition also includes resources requested by faculty and staff.

Reusable To-Go Container

Who: Anyone who eats at the Fresh Food Company

Where: In front of the Reynolda Fresh Food Company (aka The Pit)

When: August 26 – September 7, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

What: If you eat at the Pit, you are eligible to receive one free green reusable to-go container. Don’t throw away or lose this container. When you are finished with your meal, return the bin to the North Campus store or the Fresh Food Co. Green Scene Express, so that it can be washed and reused. In exchange, you will receive a clean container or a plastic key-tag. After this 2 week free distribution period, any replacement containers will cost you $5, so be sure to pick up your container or tag between August 26 and September 7.

In addition, Faculty and staff may purchase blocks of meals from the Fresh Food Co. accounting office at a discount. They will receive one free to-go container with purchase even after the 2 week free period.

Learn more about changes to the to-go program and other exciting dining initiatives here. (Hint – the to-go process has been improved and streamlined.)

“Choose to Reuse” Reusable Water Bottles

Who: Everyone

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Earn a colorful re-usable water bottle during our “Choose to Reuse” Think Green Thursday event. Learn about the positive impact you can make by choosing a reusable bottle over single-serve bottled water and take the water taste test. Can you tell the difference between tap and bottled water?

Zipcar Membership

Who: Any individual over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license or any university office/department

Where: Zipcar.com/wfu

When: Anytime

What: No car? No problem. For just $35/year, you become part of a car sharing program that supplies a car, gas, insurance and roadside assistant for a low hourly rate. Take the car to your meeting off-campus, to Target for supplies, or on a weekend trip. The best part? University students, faculty and staff receive $35 in driving credit to be used in the first month of membership – it’s like getting the membership for free. Visit the WFU Zipcar web site to register or stop by our office (Reynolda Hall 101) if you have any questions.

By Caitlin Brooks, Wake Forest Fellow

FAQ: Water Coolers

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Q. Our office uses a water dispenser instead of individual bottles of water. Is this still bad for the environment? Is it a waste of money?

A. At a 1000x 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.

A number of campus facilities have water fountains with attached water bottle refill stations that dispense filtered, chilled tap water.

In terms of the environment, the transportation of bottled water wastes fuel and causes the generation of related greenhouse gas emissions.   If staff members in your department still want dispensed water, because they want it chilled or because they perceive a taste issue with tap water, that’s their choice to make. You can, however, encourage them to reduce waste by reusing a glass, mug, canteen, or bottle instead of using disposable cups.

FAQ: Sustainable printing at home and at the office

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Q: I know that I should consider the environment when printing, but there are so many options, I don’t know which method is the best. What is the most sustainable printing method?

A: With a myriad of options from paper type to printing device, the choices available to you can be dizzying. The absolute best way to protect the environment is to think before you ink. If you do not need a physical copy of a document, save the ink, paper, energy and trees and don’t print it. Read and distribute it electronically. If you must print, use the following list to determine the method that works for your situation:

  1. Print to a networked copier device. The Reynolda campus alone employs 185 of these devices networked to thousands of personal and office computers. Copiers like those used by the university provide huge energy savings for the university over laser printers and personal inkjet printers because when not in use, they enter a hibernate mode that does not actively consume energy. Laser printers on the other hand are on all the time unless you intentionally turn them off. An additional benefit? Many copier devices have duplex printing capability meaning that they can be set to print double-sided automatically resulting in up to a 50 percent reduction in paper and toner use. The university models are also equipped with scan-to-e-mail technology to further decrease paper waste and provide all the documents you need right in your Wake e-mail account. As with any device, be sure to print double-sided and on paper with a post consumer recycled content of at least 30 percent to minimize your waste. Students can use the copiers located in the library and faculty and staff should utilize their networked department copier devices.
  2. If you cannot use a copier device, use a laser printer. Though nowhere near as energy efficient as a shared, networked copier device, laser printers can be used in more sustainable fashions to decrease their negative impact on the environment. Purchase remanufactured toner cartridges from companies dedicated to taking them back once they are empty. Try Office Depot for starters. Be sure to ask what happens to the cartridges at the end of their life spans, once they can no longer be reused.
    Again, set your printer to duplex print and print double sided every time. Use recycled paper and limit your printing. Turn off the printer when not in use and unplug it to eliminate vampire energy use. And at the end of the life of your laser toner cartridge, make sure to recycle it by placing it in your office’s toner recycling bin or mailing it back to the company that sold it to you, where it will be remanufactured, down-cycled, or disposed of in a way that doesn’t wreck the planet.
  3. Use your personal inkjet printer only as a last resort. The biggest problem with personal inkjet printers is their disposability. The printers themselves are so cheap (and cheaply made) that when they break, we usually just send them to the trash can and buy a new one for less than the price of repair. Disposal methods are different for university owned and privately owned printers. If and when you find yourself with a useless personal inkjet printer, take it to the 3RC EnviroStation for proper disposal. If your university-owned printer stops working, put in a work order with Facilities and Campus Services so that the unit can be stored and disposed of properly. Be sure to print double-sided and purchase the highest percentage of post consumer recycled paper you can afford. Buy inks that are water or plant-based instead of petroleum-based to minimize the consumption of fossil fuels and help limit pollution at the end of their life cycle. When the cartridge is empty, bring it to the University Bookstore on the Quad so it can be refilled for a small fee. If it can’t be refilled anymore, place it in the TechnoTrash bin in the Book Store, ZSR Library or the Office of Sustainability so that it can be recycled appropriately. Never trash your cartridges!

For even more sustainable printing tips, check out the university’s Sustainable Printing Guidelines.

FAQ: Landscaping water usage

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Q. I’ve noticed how beautiful the Wake Forest gardens are, but isn’t all that landscaping water intensive, particularly during the summer when the flowers are in bloom and water is at a premium?

A. Though landscaping, particularly on a large scale like at the university, requires a lot of input, there are many simple ways to minimize the amount of water needed throughout the lifecycle of the gardens. According to David Davis, Manager of Landscaping Services at the University, plans for water use reduction begin in the design phase and extend throughout the life of the plant. From plant selection for particular locations on campus to planting schedules and water wise practices such as “spot watering,” the university’s landscaping department tries to minimize their water use while maximizing the beauty of the grounds.

David Davis provides details below:

At the design phase we simply choose plants that most likely suit the site in regards to available water.” For example a south facing slope would naturally be much drier than level or low ground on the north side of a building. Simply put, choosing the right plant for the site is the first and maybe the most important step in the process.  At installation we amend the soil with organic matter which improves overall soil structure and holds moisture. After planting we add mulch which insulates the soil from drying winds and the sun and helps to conserve moisture.

Whenever possible we try to plant during the dormant season to allow plants to establish a good root system before the summer months therefore requiring less watering the first season. However sometimes circumstances dictate that we plant during late spring or summer when water needs are high. Much of our new shrub and tree planting is hand watered from a spigot or a mobile water tank. Although time consuming hand watering or spot watering is very water wise as only the plants that need water receive water rather that the entire surrounding landscape.

We have recently installed several new irrigation controllers which are controlled by a PC. These new smart systems are linked to a “weather station” here on campus which will shut the system off in the event of a significant rain. There are also flow sensors that monitor and shut down the system should a major leak occur. A notification is then noted on the PC that there is a problem allowing us to find and fix problems in a timely manner. Also many of our new irrigation systems have drip irrigation for the shrub beds rather than sprinklers. Drip irrigation is very efficient putting water only where it is needed.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern

FAQ: Recycling Myth

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Q. Why should I bother to recycle at Wake? Doesn’t the university just throw away all the recyclable waste?

A. A significant percentage of university waste is diverted to be recycled including several dozen tons of cardboard each year. It is true that around 40 percent of recycling bins are contaminated by non-recyclables, like food waste, causing the contents of those bins to go to the landfill. The contents of the remaining 60 percent are diverted to a recycling center. Each marked recycling bin is lined with a clear bag so that Facilities staff members can easily determine if the contents are contaminated. All bins designated for trash contain opaque black trash bags.

For a quick list of recyclable materials, download our “What to Recycle” table, and remember – sorting matters!