Monday, December 7, 2009

Green Campus Initiative Report

The 2008-2009 Green Campus Initiative Report is now available on the Green Campus Initiative web page.

On page 2 of the report I wrote a letter to the Lasell Community highlighting our accomplishments. I have pasted the text from the letter below.


Dear Lasell College Community,

Since the Green Campus Task Force started its work in October of 2007, Lasell College has made tremendous progress towards making our campus a sustainable place to live, work, and study. In this report we highlight the many accomplishments we have realized on our campus in the past 2 years.

Several accomplishments are worthy of special note. First, the launching of the Lasell College Single Stream Recycling Program now provides the campus community the opportunity to recycle a majority of their waste material. In the first three months, our single stream system diverted over 4 tons of material from the landfill. We look forward to improving the system and launching new education campaigns in 2009-2010 to further increase recycling rates.

A second significant accomplishment in 2008-2009 was the hiring of Princeton Energy Systems to help Lasell College develop an Energy and Sustainability Master Plan. Princeton Energy Systems will provide consulting services to help us optimize our energy usage and evaluate the feasibility of cogeneration, renewable, and alternative energy strategies.

The launching of the Environmental Studies Major and Minor also represents a significant accomplishment for Lasell College. By increasing course offerings related to the environment, we are providing the opportunity for students in all majors to obtain the information, knowledge, and skills needed to promote sustainability in their places of work and in their home communities.

Finally, in September of 2008, President Alexander signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. By signing this commitment, President Alexander has asserted that Lasell College will do its part to help create a “thriving, ethical, and civil society” free from global warming emissions.

We look forward to engaging more of our community in these efforts as we work towards becoming a model institution of sustainability.


Michael Daley, PhD
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Chair of the 2008-2009 Environmental Sustainability Committee

Coffee and Trash

I found a cool little web tool that generates word clouds from text. I ran the application for my blog. It seems trash and coffee are on my mind the most. Images of Wordles are licensed Creative Commons License.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Half is Trash

Students in my Environmental Science (ENV211) class conducted an audit of the trash in Wolfe Hall this afternoon. Chris gets the gold star for collecting the trash during common hours. What did we find in these round receptacles of waste?

Trash from about 12 classrooms was collected for a total of about 15 lbs. Of the 15 lbs, 7 lbs were recyclable items (paper, plastic bottles, and glass bottles). Almost 50% of the weight of the trash were items that could be recycled! These results are very alarming and indicate that we still have a lot of work to do on the recycling front.

While digging through the trash we decided to separate out the empty coffee cups. The first observation was that people need to finish their coffee or dump the liquid someplace else. It was a mess. We collected about 1 lb of paper coffee cups. We then decided to sort them to determine where they were coming from. Maybe this data will help us reduce the issue at the source. We had 49 paper coffee cups in the trash. Of the 49, 33 came from the dining hall, 12 were from our campus coffee vendor Peet's, 2 were from Dunkin Donuts, 2 from Starbucks, and 1 from an unknown vendor. Why aren't students using reusable mugs?

While it won't be popular, it may be time to force an increase in use of reusable mugs by eliminating the free dispersal of paper coffee cups from the dining hall. I will not gain popularity by pushing that idea but I am starting to think it is time. Not only is there an environmental impact but the coffee cups in the trash make an absolute mess that our cleaning staff has to deal with every night.

We are working on getting a recycling bin located next to every trash bin on campus. Cost is the big issue. We are slowly purchasing more bins but it is not in the budget to do it in one fell swoop. Any donors out there? We'll gladly put your name on all the bins!