November 2014 eNewsletter

OES Staff and Interns tour the renovated central heating plant with Project Manager, Leo Evans.

The topic of our OES Hangout discussion this month was “what sustains you in this work and what are you thankful for”. This proved to yield fruitful discussion. Any kind of work that aims to ultimately transform massive institutions — whether that’s related to food systems, natural resource protection, or prison reform — can be daunting. Overturning systems of oppression and degradation takes a lot of work; its challenging, tiring work. I continue to be reminded of the wicked nature of the problems we’re tackling, especially as issues in Ferguson and even Cleveland make national headlines.

I am sometimes overwhelmed and saddened by what seem like insurmountable challenges before us. In such times, I try not to feel dis-empowered and instead choose to dwell on glimmers of progress, transformation, and hope. This thanksgiving season, I am incredibly thankful for all the warriors and workers on the ground pushing for justice. I am thankful for our collective progress. There is much to be grateful for. I hope you and yours are able to reflect on what you are grateful for and what truly matters this season.

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

A group from Marietta College toured Oberlin College to learn about environmental efficiency efforts

News & Announcements:

  • Recycling Trucks: The City of Oberlin launched new carts for refuse and recycling collection as well as new trucks to replace the ones destroyed in last spring’s fire. The trucks have a hybrid engine, making them very fuel efficient, and an automated arm to make collection burdensome. Residential recycling is now single stream, which is expected to increase recycling participation. The new carts are on wheels to make it easier for residents to bring them to the curb. Commercial recycling will resume at the start of the new year. See below for a celebration for the new trucks.
  • Ink & Toner Cartridge Recycling: Recently OES launched a new ink and toner cartridge recycling program for campus. The program works with the supplier of workstation printers, Konica Minolta, to recycle their cartridges. Collection boxes are located in Peters, Service Building, Rice, Kohl, Stevenson, Science Center, Mudd, and Carnegie. Staff are encouraged to utilize this new program.
  • Recorded talks: In case you missed one of the many terrific events we had in November, we have some great opportunities for you. OES will sponsor another showing of Cowspiracy in the spring at the Public Library. Additionally, Steve Hamburg’s lecture will be available for the Oberlin community on OES’ YouTubepage soon, as well as the “Where Do You Get Your Protein?” conversation on plant-powered athleticism.
  • From Coal to Carbon Neutrality: If you remember prior From Coal to Carbon Neutrality efforts, you might recall we promised we could create a website to document initiatives, progress, FAQs, and more. The information, stories, and timeline is being diligently compiled by OES Intern, Emma Ayzenberg. We hope to have the site live in the spring.
  • Shopping Season: During this holiday season, many small and local businesses wish for your patronage and support. From Black Friday to Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday, consider supporting businesses that echo your ethics and/or are located in or around your community. The Alternative Gift Fair, the Cleveland Flea, Oberlin businesses, and DIY online sellers are a good place to start. Many are offering great deals for all your holiday desires.

Upcoming Events:
For all environmental-related events on campus – check out the Environmental Events Calendar! If you would like it to be shared with you, email Bridget. If you would like one of your events to be added to eNewsletter, please email us.

  • December 3rd: Environmental Studies Candidate Talk, Dr. Chie Sakakibara: Singing for the Whales: Environmental Change and Cultural Resilience Among the Iñupiat of Arctic Alaska @ 4:30 in the AJLC, Hallock Auditorium: “How is collective uncertainty about future environmental conditions expressed and managed in indigenous practices? How deeply does climate change penetrate the cultural core of Iñupiat society in Arctic Alaska? In addressing these questions Dr. Sakakibara will explore how the Iñupiat reinforce their cultural relationship with the bowhead whale to better cope with an unpredictable environment and future.  Her research suggests that vulnerable populations confront environmental uncertainty by reaffirming their cultural identities and traditions.”
  • December 2-6Alternative Gift Fair @ Science Center: This year’s Alternative Gift Fair will offer a selection of handcrafted jewelry, textiles, bags, winter apparel, quilts, iPad cases, wallets, as well as fair-trade coffee, chocolate, pecans, and much more.
  • December 11OES Hangout: Winter Celebration @ 5:30PM in Wilder TBA: OES Hangouts are monthly potlucks that welcome anyone & everyone to hang out with the Office of Environmental Sustainability and others interested in sustainability. This month we will celebrate; take a break from end of the year busyness, reflect on all that’s been accomplished this semester, and look ahead to future ideas, resolutions, festivities, and spring semester. Bring a vegan dish to share, or simply enjoy provided food and community.For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website:


This Thanksgiving, people all across the country gathered with loved ones to celebrate. For many, Thanksgiving traditions include eating a turkey as the centerpiece of the meal. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of this custom.

It’s estimated that Americans consumed 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving, as compared to the 2 million turkeys that are consumed in or exported from the U.S. each day during the rest of the year. A typical farmed turkey gobbles up 75-80pounds of feed and 36.4 gallons of water during its lifetime of 14-18 weeks. That means that the turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving alone required 3 billion and 450 million to 3 billion and 680 million pounds of feed and 1 billion and 675 million gallons of water. To top it all off, Americans throw away over 1/3 of all edible turkey meat each year.

Did you know?
  • The City of Oberlin Public Works Department is accepting noon-working holiday lights, power cords, and power strips for recycling during the month of December! This items can be dropped off at City Hall (85 S. Main St.) from 8am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday.
  • The City of Oberlin’s new recycling trucks are now in use! The trucks have a hybrid-hydraulic engine, making them very fuel efficient. Recycling is now single stream, which is expected to increase recycling rates! The new bins are on wheels and will make it easier to recycle. Commercial recycling will resume at the start of the new year.

Green Tips

  • Sustainable Homemade Gifts: Making edible gifts, such as vegan breads, cookies, preserves, dried fruits, nut mixes, or herbed vinegars is a great way. Give the baked goods in holiday tins or baskets that can be reused year to year! Homemade, non-toxic bath products, like sugar scrubs or bath salts also make terrific and inexpensive gifts for your loved ones.
  • Season’s Greetings: Almost 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold in the U.S. every year — enough cards to circle the planet 10 times! Sending electronic holiday cards is a simple way to reduce the amount of holiday waste. There are a number of websites that offer a selection of holiday e-cards that can be personalized and sent to family and friends. If you do prefer the more traditional route of sending cards through the mail, look for holiday cards printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. 
  • Bring the Outdoors In: You can make beautiful holiday decorations with items found in nature: A bowl of evergreen boughs and fresh fruit, a basket filled with fallen branches, winter berries and pinecones, and seasonal plants like poinsettias make inexpensive holiday décor. Once the holidays are over, your decorations can be added to the compost pile. 
A large group of Oberlin students in Cleveland demonstrating after the Michael Brown grand jury decision and death of Tamir Rice and others in Cleveland.

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