From the desk of OES:
Sustainability at Oberlin manifests itself in a lot of ways. There’s the flashy technology based side that the Environmental Dashboard/orbs embody, the myriad elements of green design and alternative energy across the campus, and the crowds of students and professors alike zipping around on bikes. And then there’s Ecolympics, a beautiful couple of weeks each year where the passion and drive that is so unique to the Oberlin community spills out into an amazing display of commitment and togetherness.
Formally, Ecolympics is a two-week water and electricity conservation competition between Oberlin dorms and the Oberlin public schools, coupled with a community event series focused on embodying the aspects of sustainability that are not reflected in resource use alone. In reality, Ecolympics is the dreamchild of dedicated students, faculty, staff, and community members coming together around an issue we are all so passionate about. Ecolympics has always been one of my favorite things about Oberlin. As a high schooler looking at colleges, Ecolympics sounded so freaking cool that it made me look at this little school in a state I’d never been to or really even thought about in a whole new light. For me, Ecolympics has been a time of doing homework by candlelight. It’s been me and my roommate secretly removing half of the lights in our hallway and hiding them in our room to reduce energy usage. It’s meant having to get a haircut because a few weeks of not showering to save water had some…unintended consequences on my hair. It’s been a time to break the rules a little, think outside the box. And every year it’s been so much fun.
This year’s Ecolympics was no exception! We had 26 events spread over three weeks that over 500 people participated in. The three winning dorms (Baldwin with a 21.6% reduction in electricity usage, Barrows with a 17.8% reduction in water consumption, and Harkness with a whopping 44% of residents participating in Ecolympics events) all won an ice cream party at Cowhaus! Conserving resources might not always have as sweet and tangible of a reward, but everyone who participated in Ecolmypics got the opportunity to think critically about the energy they use, how that usage impacts the environment, and how we can all reduce. Obies are always working to make the world a better place, and that passion really shone through for me this year.
Ecolympics 2017 is over, and my time at Oberlin is coming to a close. While I am excited for the next chapter, my time at Oberlin has been incredible. I’ve never felt at home in a new environment as quickly as I found my place here at Oberlin, and I cannot believe how much a part of this community I feel after only 4 years. It’s so bittersweet to leave, but I’m looking forward to the next adventure, and I know I’ll be able to carry all the love and support I’ve found here with me.
News & Announcements:
- Ecolympics 2017: Oberlin Ecolympics 2017 has concluded. The 2017 competition featured three-weeks of water and electricity reduction, sustainability education, and 26 fun events! Ecolympics saw novel participation with the college office competition, an incredible ~13,000 kWh combined electricity reduction at the public schools, and over 500 attendees tallied at events. Thank you and kudos to everyone who participated! A wrap-up article summarizing this fantastic time will be available on the OES website soon and more info is within.
- Faculty and Staff Invited to Participate in Ecolympics: The faculty and staff office competition was a new component of Ecolympics this year and was a resounding success. There were 57 respondents representing 22 campus offices. The Office of Student Health won the competition, with an average of 9.75/18 commitments met, and every employee in the office participating. The individual winner was Cindy Frantz, who met every single one of the 18 commitments we listed! One of the most exciting and unanticipated parts of the competition was the “Other” section wherein people could include actions they engage in that weren’t included on the form. This section displayed a terrific degree of creativity and enthusiasm which deeply heartened the OES team. The section includes a wealth of great responses, including: “I recycle old or broken furniture and make it useful and or whole again”, “I advocate for solar PV in Lorain County!”, and “I compost every chance I get.
- Intern Final Presentations: OES interns rock! The Friday of Reading Period, the OES Interns gave their final presentations. Moses Riley, Sustainable Purchasing Intern, Liam Russo, Writer (and more!), CJ Blair, Green Office Program Intern, Brendan Nuse, Student Transportation Coordinator, Mae Kate Campbell, Communications & Web Initiatives Intern, Gabe Jacobson, Finance Metrics Intern, Julia Murphy, Data Operations Assistant, and Ian Feather, Greenhouse Gas Inventory Intern presented on their work over the past year, lessons learned, recommendations and reflections. Not present were Hillary Pan, Green EDGE Fund Liaison, Emma Ayzenberg, From Coal to Carbon Neutrality Intern, and Maggy Johnson, Sustainability Engagement Intern. OES’ interns are the reason our small office is able to accomplish so much. Thank you for your incredible insights, enthusiasm, and stellar work. Intern final reports will be available on our website soon!
- Bike to Work Week: Despite the very rainy weather, we had 52 submissions for Oberlin’s inaugural Bike to Work Week May 1st to 5th! 6 randomly selected faculty and staff will receive bike lights for their participation.
- CBSM at Senior Symposium: Abby Carlstad ’17 and Lauren Rhodes ’17 presented on their work in the Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) research lab at the Senior Symposium on Friday, April 28. They shared their projects working on the carbon neutrality awareness, as well as CBSM efforts around cold water for washing, Bike to Work Week, turn off the lights, and more! Along with Abby and Lauren, Jeremy Simon, Brendan Nuse, and Maddie Batzli will be graduating. Thank you for your wonderful work!
- Student Group Meeting: Students representing 10 different sustainability organizations affiliated with Oberlin College came together over Ecolympics to discuss their efforts. This summit proved immensely valuable to coordinate initiatives and discuss future opportunities and collaborations. Ideas are already in the works to build upon this summit and better coordinate among groups. If you have ideas or are interested in participating in this discussion and newfound collaborative, contact OES.
- Big Swap: Are you packing and realizing you just have too much stuff? Fortunately, you can donate it to Big Swap! You are free to donate as much as you want and take as much as you want! Where: Wilder Main, during finals week May 8th-May 13th. Then Asia House Multipurpose Room May 13th – Commencement and the summer! We take almost everything, but not your trash! Please do not give us items like: old underwear, broken appliances, a single shoe, empty shampoo bottles, OR open containers/bags of food. Real people handle your donations every day so please be mindful!
- Pots and Pans Collection: This year, the RCT is partnering with Ohio based non-profit, Recycle Pots and Pans. Alongside normal Big Swap operations, there will be orange crates accepting donated cookware. Anything that a family could use to have a meal together — colanders to silverware, even coffee pots. We just ask that these items be clean and in good/working condition. At the end of Big Swap, items will be donated to OCS to be distributed to families in need. If you would like more information about this drive, or about Recycle Pots and Pans e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the RP&P website at recyclepotsandpans.com.
- End of Year Dorm Food Rescue Program: This year, Oberlin Community Services (a food pantry on South Professor St.) will be placing cardboard collection boxes in the lobby of every Oberlin College and OSCA dorm. These boxes will serve as food collection bins. Instead of throwing out the food you no longer want at the end of the year, please deposit it in these boxes. Boxes will be clearly labeled, and signage will indicate what you can and cannot donate. These boxes will sit in dorm lobbies from now until 9AM on May 23rd, at which point staff will retrieve the boxes and give the food out in at the pantry. Please help us eliminate waste and supplement our choice pantry program. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Hannah Rosenberg (Hannah@oberlincommunityservices.org or 440-774-6579).
- Happy Anniversary: Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Manager, will be recognized at the Administrative and Professional Staff (A&PS) Breakfast on May 11 for 5 years of service to Oberlin College.
- Greenscene: If you’re looking for a job, internship, event, or sustainability-related discussion, the local Oberlin Greenscene listserv is a good place for updates. You can subscribe by emailing email@example.com with NO SUBJECT and only the following command in the body (delete your signature if you have one): subscribe greenscene
For a full view of events visit the Environmental Events calendar: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/Now through May 22nd: RCT Unwanted Item Collection @ All Dorms and Village Housing/Off Campus: The RCT has placed blue crates in each dorm and co-op where you can leave unwanted clothes, school supplies, and dorm furnishings. The RCT will collect these items and make everything available (for free!) in Wilder Main during finals week! If you live in Village Housing or off-campus, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a pickup. All unclaimed items will be sorted and donated or taken to the Free Store. [Facebook]
Now through May 22nd: Recycle Pots and Pans @ All Dorms and Village/Off Campus: This year, the RCT is partnering with an Ohio based non-profit called Recycle Pots and Pans. Alongside of normal Big Swap operations, we will be running a cookware drive sponsored by Recycle Pots and Pans. As you pack up for the summer or for graduation, you can set aside any kitchen or cookware items that they may be looking to get rid of. Instead of putting them in the Free Boxes in dorm common areas, we ask that you put them in the orange crates that have been put out in the same location! Donated cookware can be anything that a family could use to have a meal together — anything from colanders to silverware, even coffee pots. We just ask that these items be clean and in good/working condition. These items will all be available during Big Swap in Wilder Main as usual, but instead of whatever remains at the end of Big Swap going into the Free Store, they will be donated to OCS to be distributed to families in need.
May 8th: OES Hangout: Sustainable Collaboration @ 2:30pm in Wilder 115: OES Hangouts are monthly potlucks for anyone and everyone interested in sustainability! This month we are bringing together sustainability groups on campus for a knowledge share. Bring a vegan dish to share, or simply enjoy provided food and company.
May 8th-13th: Big Swap @ Wilder Main: All week in Wilder Main, the event you’ve been waiting for! Pick up FREE clothes, dorm goods, books, and a whole bunch of other items! Drop off gently used items that you’re no longer using, or place them in the blue crates in your dorm/co-op and we’ll pick them up for you.
May 20th: Commencement/Reunion Weekend Solar Array Tour @ 11:30am: Meet at main entrance of Jesse Philips Physical Education Center, 200 Woodland St. Join us rain or shine for the opportunity to see the largest solar array on any liberal arts college campus. About the same size as Tappan Square, this array generates about 12% of the college’s electricity. Join the Office of Environmental Sustainability for a walk to view the 2.27 MW solar array. The group will meet the Sustainability Coordinator at the Jesse Philips Physical Education Center and walk together to the south side of the array (off Prospect St.) where the group can learn about the array and have the opportunity to ask about sustainability initiatives at Oberlin more generally. Please wear comfortable shoes. If wet, the site might be slightly muddy.
See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/
Here’s a look at the 2017 Ecolympics competition, in numbers:
In the 2017 competition, the dorms saved a total of 3,477 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s enough energy to power 915 iPhones for a whole year! Baldwin topped the charts in dorm electricity conservation, with a 21.6% reduction in electricity use. Harkness won the co-op kitchen electricity conservation competition with a 0.6% reduction in electricity usage, and secured the participation competition with an impressive 44% of Harkness residents having participated in an Ecolympics event. Finally, Barrows took home the water conservation competition with a 17.8% reduction in water consumption!
This year was the 4th year that the Oberlin Public Schools participated in the Ecolympics competition. All 4 schools managed to reduce their electricity usage, but it was Eastwood Elementary who brought home the gold with a 38.9% reduction in electricity usage! The city schools conserved a whopping 12,974 kWh of electricity, nearly 4 times the electricity savings that Oberlin College students managed….sound like the college students need to take a lesson from these amazing kids!
- The Big Swap: As the end of the semester draws near, and you’re packing your things up, don’t throw things you don’t want anymore in the trash! Just because you don’t want or need something anymore doesn’t mean someone else can’t put it to use. The RCT has placed blue crates in each dorm and co-op where you can leave unwanted clothes, school supplies, and dorm furnishings. The RCT will collect these items and make everything available (for free!) in Wilder Main during finals week! If you live in Village Housing or off-campus, you can email email@example.com to schedule a pickup. All unclaimed items will be sorted and donated or taken to the Free Store. Check out the Facebook event for more info!
- Eat Local: The Oberlin Farmers Market opened for the season on May 6th! The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in front of the Public Library, and features fresh, local food, and live music. Check out their website here for more information.