From the desk of OES:
Happy holidays from OES!
Finals are over, the semester is coming to a close, and holiday season is upon us. Even though the weather outside in Oberlin might seem to indicate otherwise, today is officially the first day of winter!
I know I am not alone in my excitement for Winter Break. I hope you enjoy a relaxing break and a fun and festive holiday season. Before you check out for winter break, please heed these reminders:
- Turn it off! Remember to turn off your electronics – including your computer – your lights, and turn down your heat if you have controls.
- Pull the plug! Not only should you turn things off, but unplug them if they aren’t going to be in use. Lights, computers, printers, and other appliances can be unplugged to avoid “phantom” or “vampire” load, the electricity that is being pulled to appliances even if they are turned off; this can account for up to 10% of total electricity in a building.
OES will be out of the office until Monday, January 4, 2016. The College “shut down” from December 24 until January 1 saves the college energy costs by reducing the heating in many buildings.
While students, faculty, and staff are away this holiday season, I hope you will find practices that make you happy. I encourage you to consider what this holiday season means to you and your loved ones. Is it about gratitude and turning a new leaf? Is it about thanksgiving and celebration? Resist the urge to get caught up in stressful consumerism and traffic rage. Instead I hope you and your loved ones feel love, gratitude, reflection, meaning, peace, joy, and celebration.
In case you are wondering whatever happened with COP21 (as discussed in the last issue), here is some helpful coverage: press release from the White House, dispatch from Sandra Steingraber (who visited Oberlin this spring). 190 countries signed a historic agreement to warming to 2 degrees Celsius – with a goal of 1.5 degrees in order for small island nations above water. I am inspired and encouraged by this agreement and the discussions it’s spurred. However, the work is not done. People need to continue to be engaged to hold our governments accountable to these ambitions if we want a chance to succeed.
Happiest holidays from the Office of Environmental Sustainability! Enjoy a wonderful winter break and happy new year!
News & Announcements:
- President Signs Climate Pledge: Along with signing the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, President Krislov wrote about the pledge and climate action in his column last week. You can read it here: https://oncampus.oberlin.edu/source/articles/2015/12/10/oberlins-commitment-climate-action.
- Sustainable Technology Coordinator: On January 4, we will be welcoming on Darrel Tremaine as the new Sustainable Technology Coordinator to replace Samuel Hartman. Hartman will be leaving at the end of January. Next month we will introduce you to Darrel and review all the amazing progress Sam has made prior to his departure.
- Oberlin Dashboard Update: Power (electricity) meters will be installed in five buildings over Winter Term: Mudd, Wilder, Finney, Peters, and King. Additionally, flow (BTU) meters will be installed in Mudd, Peters, and King. Walking around town you may also notice new content in the Community Voices section; you can search for all of it on the site too: http://environmentaldashboard.org/advanced-image-search/ Three students are starting a new orb project for Winter Term to redesign and improve it.
Terracycle Colgate Oral Care Brigade: OES is implementing a new Terracycle recycling brigade on campus that will collect and recycle old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and more. Terracycle is a company that specializes in recycling hard-to-recycle products and repurposing their components for further use. Collection bins are being installed in all first year residence halls – Kahn, Barrows, and Dascomb – and in Mudd. You can also drop materials off at OES in the Service Building 209.
Upcoming Events:Enjoy winter break and the holiday season!
With the holiday season upon us, many people are looking forward to exchanging gifts and celebrating! Here’s a look at the waste that the giving season generates, presented in numbers:
All those gifts come with a lot of packaging: an estimated 52 square miles of wrapping paper and 125,000 tons of plastic packaging will be disposed of after the holiday season, and most of it will end up in the landfill instead of being reused or recycled. A whopping 25-30 million Christmas trees will also be disposed of. Christmas turkey dinners alone will generate 3,000 tons of aluminum foil waste! Unfortunately, the wastefulness of the holiday season carries on after the New Year: within three months, an estimated 41% of children’s toys will be broken, and most will be thrown out.
- 400 million fewer animals were killed last year thanks to more people opting for plant-based alternatives. Whether you’re a vegan or a meat-lover, this is great news for the animals and for our environment and shows us that small changes really can add up. More here.
- Recycle This Holiday: From trees to wrapping paper to lights, find out how to recycle in your community. The City of Oberlin is collecting defective strings of lights, cords, and power strips. Read more about this program and other holiday reuse and recycling tips for Oberlin at the Public Works Department website.
- De-Ice, Ice, Baby: Consider using non-toxic de-icing substances such as clean clay cat litter, sand, or fireplace/stove ash. Chemical de-icers can be hazardous to your pets, your trees and shrubs, and the environment. The EPA says that “Antifreeze that leak from car engines and chemical snow melters on driveways, roads, and runways can pollute surface waters and groundwater through the soil.”
- Warm Smart: When you warm up with your favorite hot beverages this winter, remember to bring your own mug or use reusable mugs to reduce waste. Speaking of hot water, if you like to warm up in the shower during cold winter days, please be considerate of how long you enjoy your shower. Sweaters and blankets can keep us warm, too, without wasting water! Or snuggle up with a companion animal, friend, or loved ones.