August 2016 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

The Fresh Swap allows first-year students to shop for popular college items FOR FREE. This program is run by the RCT promoting resource reduction and reuse in conjunction with the Free Store. Photo by Yevhen Gulenko.

Welcome to another school year! A particular warm welcome to those of you new to Oberlin. Oberlin is a place full of possibility.

There is ample passion, knowledge, resources, and desire to create change in this small, yet special community. Coming into a new community – whether as a first year or a seasoned resident breaking into a new scene – can be a challenge to navigate. Just like when traveling to a foreign country, one of the best things you can do is to understand context and history before jumping in. It’s helpful to learn the culture, to assess people and what matters to the community, and consider where you want to fit in. One of the best things about Oberlin is that there is so much going on that you should be able to find your niche; no matter your skills, interests, age, or background. If you can’t find someone already working on an issue that’s important to you, you can generally find someone else who will join you or guide you. In case you missed it, Professor John Petersen educated and inspired new students with advice for activism at Green Orientation last week.

If you’re a new student (or someone who checked out all summer) and want to review recent updates and progress, I’d recommend looking at the archives of our eNewsletters. As we move in the fall semester, there is a lot to look forward to (and not just because autumn is my favorite season). You will be hearing more student perspectives in future columns, as OES interns will be writing about their experiences, projects, and reflections (meet the team in next month’s edition).

OES Hangouts are back! Each month OES hosts a vegan potluck to facilitate community around sustainability, share ideas, and converse with others. Join us for our next one, September 14th (more in Events below)! In addition, OES is continuing celebrating our 10 year anniversary with some fun programming throughout the semester. Ever-Green Energy will be sharing their findings thus far as we explore our path towards carbon neutrality — did you know it’s also the 10 year anniversary of Oberlin College’s carbon neutrality commitment? Amidst all the general interest meetings, there are guest speakers, presentations, forums, socials, and celebrations galore. Fall semester holds hope and promise, challenge yourself to find your path.

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

Aerial shot of the J-House Garden, maintained by the student-run Resource Conservation Team (RCT)

News & Announcements:

  • OES Hiring: The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) is currently hiring for one internship position for academic year. If you like community engagement, have a passion for conserving resources, desire to make connections with various groups, and love to plan events, you would be great for the Ecolympics Intern position. Deadline is 11:59PM on Sept 1. Learn more & apply here. This position will join the OES’ established internship team boasting 11 Oberlin College students doing incredible things. Meet our team in next month’s issue.
  • Oberlin College Carbon Neutrality Update: Throughout the summer, the Office of Environmental Sustainability continued its work with Ever-Green Energy to develop the Carbon Neutral Campus Resource Plan, Implementation Strategy, and Economic Approach Study. Ever-Green and its local partner, SSOE, have completed the review of campus and priority off-campus buildings. This review identified several energy conservation measures that could cost-effectively reduce energy consumption on campus and lower the Oberlin carbon profile. The measures will be prioritized for implementation based on cost and impact on energy savings. Two OC student interns have supported this effort, providing GIS mapping of the energy profiles of building’s evaluated. Additionally, the Ever-Green team is continuing its assessment of energy sources to meet Oberlin’s short and long-term carbon reduction objectives. The goal is to find sources that can be readily implemented, cost-effective, with the largest impact on carbon reduction. A student advisory group has met with the study team throughout the summer and helped identify information and potential solutions for the study. This phase of the study will wrap up this fall. Initial findings will be shared with the community in late September through the OES newsletter and forum with Ever-Green (save the date for September 20). Questions about the project can be directed to the OES.
  • Farmers Market: Do you long for fresh produce, local goods, and want to support the community? Check out the weekly Oberlin Farmer’s Market! Saturdays from 9am – 1pm in front of the Oberlin Public Library.
  • Recycling: The City of Oberlin recently released recycling rebates (for compost bins and TV recycling), a Styrofoam recycling program, a recycling progress report, and a graphic displaying what goes in blue recycling bins. Learn more at
  • Sustainable Campus Live! Competition: Oberlin College submitted two applications for a $50,000 grant competition. Out of 226 applications, BOTH Oberlin College entries made it to the second round. The second round of the competition requires each of the 22 projects to submit a video and financial overview of their proposal. If you’ve got ideas for a video to advance Oberlin College composting, email us! More on the competition here.
Upcoming Events:
For a full view of events visit the Environmental Events calendar: Through October – Oberlin Farmer’s Market | 9am-1pm behind the Oberlin Public Library: Fresh, local produce right down the street! The Oberlin Farmer’s Market hosts vendors from across the northeast Ohio area and features musical performances by local artists.
September 6 – Oberlin Community Connections Fair | 4:30-6:30 @ Wilder Bowl: The Bonner Center for Service and Learning holds this community connections fair every year to help new and returning students learn about the many opportunities to get involved with the wider Oberlin community. There will be representatives from student groups, local non-profits, and plenty of volunteer opportunities.
September 8 – Natural and Unnatural Disasters: 3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japan’s Modern World | 4:30 @ Craig Lecture Hall: Brett Walker of Montana State University investigates asbestos in the construction and, more importantly, destruction of Japan’s built environment, with a focus on the impact of the 3/11 disaster and the later clean up. He will be joined by Tang Ya, an environmental scientist at University of Sichuan.
September 10 – Oberlin Heritage Center Open House | 10am-3pm @ Monroe House: Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Oberlin Heritage Center’s Monroe House with a behind the scenes tour! Light refreshments will be served.
September 10 – Students for Energy Justice General Interest Meeting | 3pm in Wilder TBD: Students for Energy Justice is an environmental justice oriented student group focused on supporting communities affected by energy production/extraction. Learn more about their goals and how you can get involved!
September 14 – OES Hangout: Semester Start | 4:30PM @ Wilder 115: OES Hangouts are a great opportunity for students and community members to get to know the Office of Environmental Sustainability, hang out and enjoy the delicious food, and meet other people interested in sustainability. Bring a friend and a vegan dish to share, or simply enjoy provided food and company.
September 20 – Food & Forum: Campus Carbon Neutrality | 4:30PM @ TBD: Save the date! Ever-Green Energy, the group that has been working with the College to explore our carbon neutral future, will be presenting on findings thus far and opening a forum so the community can learn, share, and engage. Open to the entire Oberlin community. Students are particularly encouraged to join. Did we mention: free food?!

See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here:

Back to school season is an exciting time for everyone from parents and teachers to students of all ages, but the demand for new supplies has a real impact. Let’s take a look at the effects of back to school time, presented in numbers.

35-45% of the trash in the solid waste stream in this country comes from businesses and institutions like schools! The average college student generates 640 pounds of solid waste each year, and 142 pounds of food waste. Packaging from new clothes and other back to school items accounts for 67 pounds of this waste! 75% of students purchase new back-to-school clothes each year, amounting to an estimated $7.4 billion in spending.

Did you know?
  • You can find real-time electricity and water use in all dorms on campus – and some other campus buildings. City-wide usage can also be found on the Environmental Dashboard. Learn more.
  • The first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872 – even before women could vote – was from Ohio? More about Victoria Woodhull here.


Green Tips
  • Free Store Finds: Whether you realize that you forgot to pack something you definitely need, or you break/misplace an essential item later on in the school year, check out the Free Store located in the basement of Asia House before you run out and buy something new. Chances are, they’ll have what you need, it’s free, and way less wasteful! They’re open 7-9pm Monday thru Thursday and 1-3pm on Saturdays.
  • Make a New School Year Resolution to Go Green: Oberlin College is committed to carbon neutrality by 2025, and a big part of that goal is counting on individuals like you to reduce your consumption of energy resources. Simple changes like washing your clothes in cold water, plugging your electronics into a power strip and turning it off when not in use, and using energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs in lighting your room rather than decorative but inefficient string lights are some easy changes you can make to reduce your impact and help us reach our climate goal!

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