From the desk of OES:
It’s the last eNewsletter of 2016 – and what a year it’s been. This year we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) and a decade of progress since our carbon neutrality commitment. This year has been full of challenges for many people and now with a president-elect who is a climate change denier, our obstacles are not over yet. In spite of this, we have made progress. Water protectors at Standing Rock succeeded in re-routing the Dakota Access Pipeline, the divestment movement doubled, and Oberlin College has more than halved our carbon emissions since making our commitment. We can learn a lot from places where we see success. I hope we can build upon our triumphs in the new year; we need to.
Last week I attended multiple end-of-semester presentations. It was so encouraging to hear about the great hands-on work students have been engaging in this semester. In the class Environment & Society, which featured two sections this semester, OES advised two groups as part of their community-based experience component. One group worked on walking signs – to promote walking as a viable means of transportation to many destinations in Oberlin. The other group worked on biking signs – promoting bicycling as a quick and efficient mode of transporation to most campus and community locations in Oberlin. Thank you to both groups for their great efforts!
This semester OES interns did great work, too! We renovated our website. Check out our more appealing and cleaner site here. We made improvements to the Green Office Program and will be launching the program in full next year. We began work for Oberlin Ecolympics 2017. We wrote articles, engaged folks on social media, and hosted monthly OES Hangouts. We worked in dorms, did economic modeling, and considered how to make Oberlin a better, more sustainable place. Hats off to the OES interns who do so much and who make my job a heck of a lot more fun and meaningful. I appreciate you all very much.
I shouldn’t go any further without making a life-altering announcement. Please join me in congratulating Meghan Riesterer on welcoming an adorable baby into the world on November 5. Meghan and her family are doing well and enjoying their new addition, Neala Marne. She will be out on maternity leave until mid-January.
As we are wrapping up the semester and looking ahead, we have a lot to look forward to: time with family and friends, a break from work and school, new year resolutions and reflections, and holiday cheer. Enjoy a wonderful winter break, the happiest holidays, and we will see you next year!
Oh, and follow us on snapchat to get a more intimate look at what we do in the office each day, find humor in sustainability, and snap us if you want!
News & Announcements:
- Green Room Interview: Elsa Mark-Ng certified at the Gold level in the Green Room Program. Elsa was interviewed about her participation in an excellent interview that you can read here.
- OES on Snapchat: Now you can follow the OES on Snapchat! We recently created an account and will post day-to-day activities, events, tips, sustainability humor, and more. Find us at @ocsustain.
- ENVS 101: This semester OES advised two groups in the Environment & Society course, one group of four students from each section. As part of the course, community partners work with students on a project they propose. This semester we had one group working on walking signs and one on biking signs. The groups found times between popular destinations and created mock signage that the college could install to educate users on the relative times to various locations. Hopefully some such signs can be installed in the future (see a sample photo below). Both groups presented their work at the conclusion of the semester to the rest of their class and community partners and supporters.
- Welcoming a baby: Please join us in welcoming baby Neala Marne Riesterer born November 5 to Meghan and Ryan Riesterer. Meghan, Assistant Vice President of Energy Management and Sustainability, will be out on maternity leave until mid-January. Congratulations!
- Standing Rock: After weeks of fighting and dozens of activists organizing at Standing Rock, the pipeline appears to be re-routed out of indigenous lands. This is an exciting victory for water protectors and allies and demonstrates that organized resistance can deliver change.
- NEXUS Pipeline: The NEXUS pipeline which would connect Ontario, Canada through Michigan and Ohio is slated to begin construction early 2017. This natural gas pipeline runs 225 miles through much of northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Scene Magazine reports that federal approval has been granted for the project, read here. Landowners in a few remaining counties are attempting to hault this project.
For a full view of events visit the Environmental Events calendar: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/December 13th: Free Fair-Trade Tea Sampling from 3-4pm @ Azariah’s: Take a break from studying to give your feedback on some fair-trade teas. Bon Appetit Management would like to replace some hot tea with fair-trade tea and herbals, but they’d like your feedback. Come have a cup.
See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/
The holiday season has a big impact on our environment, but it doesn’t have to! Check out these numbers on holiday waste, and some ways you can help reduce those statistics.
Household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s! Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons a week going into our landfills. 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used each year, equating to roughly 50,000 trees. Help cut back on this waste with some simple changes! LED holiday lights use up to 95% less electricity than conventional lights, and will also save you money on energy costs. Don’t forget to recycle your wrapping paper, each ton of paper that is recycled can save the energy equivalent of 185 gallons of gasoline. Check out our Green Tips section above for more ways you can make this holiday season more sustainable.
- OES just joined Snapchat. Want a closer look at what we do day-to-day? Follow us and send us your campus sustainability snaps @OCSUSTAIN.
- Creative, Sustainable Gift Giving: Help cut back on the amount of waste the holiday season generates by giving more sustainably! DIY/homemade gifts can be a fun project while also creating fewer emissions than a manufactured product. Hunting for antiques or secondhand items can be fun and make really original gifts! Non-material items like tickets, time, or services are always appreciated and lead to a fun experience rather than a potentially unwanted item. Donating to a charity in someone’s name is a thoughtful way to show you support a cause they are passionate about! Finally, purchasing sustainable items like a reusable water bottle can be a really useful present while also helping to save costs and energy throughout their lifespan.
- Less Waste, Same Holiday Cheer: Start with minimal packaging. Use recycled-content wrapping supplies (or skip the wrapping altogether for a sleeker gift giving look.) If you send physical cards, send cards that are paper (recyclable) not plastic (trash.) Post the unwrapping frenzy… be sure to recycle all paper and cardboard, reuse empty chocolate and candy tins, and donate your old items and unwanted gifts.