March 2015 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

This year’s awesome Ecolympics poster, designed by Soren Carlson-Donohoe.

Oberlin is a pretty tiny place. But we have a big impact. Unlike many other small towns or organizations, Oberlin aims to chart new territory by being a leader. We change the conversation. We push the limits. Oberlin — both College and City — intend to be a model for other places on a variety of issues. We help others follow in our footsteps and learn from our mistakes.This month, the Environmental Dashboard team hosted teams from IBM and Palmer Construction (on behalf of the City of Toledo) to learn about the city and schools’ Dashboards. Some of the Dashboard crew presented at the Smart & Sustainable Campuses Conference in Baltimore. They also traveled to four other schools in Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) to facilitate faculty workshops on integrating the Dashboard into their courses.

Melissa, John, Sam, and Danny: some of the Dashboard team at the Smart & Sustainable Campuses Conference.

Everywhere you look you can find Oberlin in the media. This past month I wrote a blog post for NASPA, the organization for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, on the Ecolympics competition. I also provided Office Green Tips for businesses throughout the Northeast Ohio region in Inside Business Magazine. I was invited to speak to Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) on Earth Day about Oberlin sustainabilityinitiatives. The Office of Environmental Sustainability and the AJLC hosted tours for faculty from a private charter school in St. Louis, college students from Concordia College, alumni bringing their children to campus as prospective students, and will be hosting other schools in the Northeast Ohio region in April. Hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors come to Oberlin every year interested in what we are doing here. I see those specifically interested in sustainability aspects. I love the opportunity to share our good works — and our struggles — with others in the hopes for creating a more sustainable, equitable, and fun future for all.

April is an exciting time in Oberlin. Ecolympics 2015 kicks off Thursday, April 9th, and will run until April 30th. During this time all the college dorms and co-ops will compete against one another and Oberlin against other schools nationally in water and electricity conservation. You can learn more about the College competition and ~prizes~ at In addition, the Oberlin City schools will be competing! During this time, we’ll host dozens of community events. Some are still being finalized, but a full calendar will be up next week. More info is below, too. This kind of conservation competition was pioneered at Oberlin. Now over 150+ schools have similar competitions. Big things are happening here. Ecolympics is a great opportunity to get involved, to learn more, and to have so much fun! I hope to see you!

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

News & Announcements:

  • Art, Awards, & CLE: Some representatives from OES and some student artists took a trip to Cleveland to visit Upcycle Parts Shop for a workshop to create awards for our upcoming Green Office Program. We had a great time playing with found objects and repurposing them into our awards. See a picture below and check out the shop (it’s super cool!).
  • CBSM is Publishing: The Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) research team was asked to write a book chapter for an upcoming publication, The Contribution of Social Sciences to Sustainable Development at Universities. It’s not published yet so in the meantime, you can check out some of the first CBSM findings and reports here.
  • Compost Chaos: The company that Oberlin College has been using to pick up our organic waste (food compost), Rosby’s, is closing that business. Due to local issues, they’ve dropped all accounts and pulled out of the market. This means Oberlin College (Stevenson and OSCA co-ops) will not be having compost picked up by Rosby’s any longer. We are looking for solutions and are disappointed to hear this recent news.
  • GreenTown Kent: Oberlin will be participating in GreenTown hosted at Kent State University April 13th and 14th. Bridget Flynn and Sean Hayes, Executive Director of the Oberlin Project will be presenting at a workshop for city administrators and university staff about town/gown collaboration. See more about the conference at
  • Ecolympics 2015: Ecolympics 2015 is set to begin April 9. The three-week competition will run until April 30. Dorms can win awesome prizes like an ice cream party at Cowhaus, a water refill station, or a fruit-bearing tree by conserving the most water, electricity, or having the most residents per capita participate in Ecolympics events! Events include a fermentation workshop, carbon-neutral workouts, film screenings, guest lectures, and more! To monitor your dorm’s resource use and to see which dorms are in the lead, visit the Oberlin Dashboard at To learn more about the competition rules and prizes, community events, and for tips on how to conserve, please see See you soon!

Oberlin College students, Scott, CJ, and Becca, in front of Upcycle Parts Shop.

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.April is an exciting month for events with Ecolympics 2015. Below is only a few of the exciting events that will be kicking off soon. Check out the Ecolympics calendar here for more!

April 3Jamie Kilstein Hates Standup – An Hour of Political Rants, Music, and Cat Stories @ 7:30pm at The Cat in the Cream : Jamie has a new book out, “Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will.” Jamie co-hosts Citizen Radio with Allison Kilkenny, which has been praised by Janeane Garofalo, Noam Chomsky, Robin Williams. He and his co-host were named by The Nation Magazine as top “media heroes”. Topics will likely include politics, journalism, animal rights, and more. This event is sponsored by Oberlin Animal Rights (OAR). Community members, public, ALL are welcome; however, language and content might not be appreciated by all. This is a free event! [Calendar] [Facebook]

April 9Beginning of Ecolympics 2015: Ecolympics 2015 officially kicks off at midnight on Thursday, April 9th! Ecolympics is a 3-week long water and electricity conservation competition during which all Oberlin dorms compete against each other and Oberlin as a whole competes against other colleges and universities across the country. The Oberlin K-12 schools will be participating as well. Dorms can win awesome prizes like an ice cream party at Cowhaus, a water refill station, or a fruit-bearing tree by conserving the most water, electricity, or having the most residents participate in the ~30 Ecolympics events! More information and beautiful posters coming soon. Follow the hashtag #OCEcolympics2015 on twitter, facebook, and instagram for pictures, events, tips, and more!

April 11thEcolympics Workout #1 @ 2pm in Phillips Gymnasium: Burn calories, not fossil fuels! Get your body in motion during three Ecolympics workouts — one each week of the competition. These workouts will be powered by our amazing bodies, not electricity (no treadmills). Whether you just want to get acquainted with weight room equipment, check your form, build strength, or just have some fun, these workouts are for you! No prior experience is required. Please wear clothing conducive to working out (athletic shoes and comfortable clothing). The first session is especially for folks who don’t feel comfortable in the gym. This will be as much of a tutorial as a workout; don’t expect to leave the gym drenched in sweat, but we hope you leave feeling inspired and empowered to embark on your own. We particularly encourage women, trans folks, and anyone who is new or doesn’t feel comfortable in the gym to get oriented.

For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website:

As we gear up for Ecolympics 2015, here’s a reminder of our successes from last year, and some tips for an awesome conservation competition this year, in numbers.
In 2014, the dorms conserved 13,182 kWh of electricity–enough energy to power 1.3 American homes for an entire year. This was an increase of 3,112 kWh conserved over the 2013 competition, enough energy to power the Firelands apartment complex for all of April!Last year’s competition also saw a reduction in water usage of 55,890 gallons, enough to fill about 2,300 bathtubs! We saved 1,353 gallons more than in 2013, equivalent to about 54 ten-minute showers, and placed among the Top 5 water reducers in the nation during Campus Conservation Nationals!

Let’s keep up this momentum for the 2015 competition!

Did you know?
  • Oberlin’s website is powered by renewable energy. See more here:
  • Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) is the largest electricity and water reduction competition for colleges & universities in the world! See more at

Green Tips

#Ecolympics2015 starts in just over a week, on April 9th! Here are some tips to conserve resources and help your dorm win awesome prizes:

  • Waste Less Waste: Located in the AJLC, the Living Machine filters waste water from all the toilets in the building and recycles it so it can be used in the toilets again! If you are in the area, consider using the bathroom in the AJLC to help conserve water. You could even win cool prizes by participating in the Poop Campaign! Some other ways to reduce water consumption include taking fewer or shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, washing, or shaving, and filling work orders to repair leaky faucets/showers.
  • Homework Party: If you’re someone who normally does your work in your room, a great way to conserve electricity is to work in communal spaces and take advantage of natural light or lights that may already be on.
  • Slay the Vampires: Many electronic devices continue to use electricity even when they’re turned off. Plugging your electronics into a power strip, and turning off the power strip when not in use, ensures that no energy will be wasted.

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