Library Gazette

Sustainability Update #4 – What’s Next

Friday, June 10, 2011 11:04 am

Tour of Recycle America

When the Sustainability Committee toured the campus recycling facilities last fall, we learned that WFU diverts tons of material from the landfill through recycling. In fact, the university gets paid for recycling certain materials.Thus, recycling contributes to sustainability in several ways: it helps the landfill by lessening the tonnage we dump, it saves the university money by lowering our tipping fees at the landfill and generates a bit of revenue for recycling valuable material. From a broader perspective, recycling contributes in other ways; it’s less expensive and more efficient to manufacture items using some recycled content rather than starting with all virgin material, so recycling contributes to lower consumption of fuel and raw materials.

The Sustainability Committee is working with campus facilities to find a date on which we can tour Recycle America, WFU’s recycling vendor. Watch the PDC announcements for the date and time. The tour will be limited to 10 people, so if you’re interested, sign up promptly.

Earth Day 2012

Terry LeGrand, President of the Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA) which organizes the Earth Day celebration, has asked me to serve on the organizing committee for next year’s Earth Day festivities. As the planning proceeds, I suspect that there will be volunteer opportunities for anyone who’s interested in contributing. I’ll post to the list-serve as opportunities arise.

Sustainability Update #3 – Forsyth Futures

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 2:59 pm

This is my 3rd installment in a series of updates about sustainable activities on campus and in town.

Forsyth Futures ( is a non-profit organization that gathers community indicators to monitor the county’s position and progress on initiatives.On May 24th, Forsyth Futures held a two-hour meeting called “Thinking for the Future: Sustainability Initiatives in Forsyth County” at which it called together representatives of organizations which are pursuing green initiatives. These included government agencies; architectural firms; non-profits and others. At this first-ever assembly, approximately 50 people attended; they were broken up into 5 tables by topic, such as sustainable food, built environment, clean air, and others. I was asked to volunteer as a scribe and capture the discussion at one of these tables.

After opening remarks, each person at my table introduced herself to her table-mates and in two minutes, described the mission and activities of her organization. It was so exciting to hear all the different projects underway in the county. Next, the group examined a set of indicators that Forsyth Futures is using to monitor each table’s area (mine was green space and the built environment) and generated a list of new indicators to be added to this list. The purpose is to document where we are and to follow the trend line to see in which direction we’re moving. Lastly, we discussed next steps, or what the group wants to happen with the larger group assembled at the meeting. Forsyth Futures is involved in revising the Legacy Planning Guide, a county-wide development plan. Despite being one of the smallest counties in the state, we have one of the highest populations and demographers predict further growth. The Legacy guide helps prepare for and shape that growth. You can read more about it at

The energy in the room was palpable and I hope Forsyth Futures will continue to arrange similar meetings at regular intervals so these numerous advocates will be aware of each others’ projects to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Sustainability Update #2 – Green Team

Monday, June 6, 2011 2:45 pm

Green Team

Dedee deLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability at WFU, has invited each operating unit on campus to establish a Green Team Captain to join her campus-wide council. Peter and I serve as co-captains from ZSR since Peter’s schedule prevents him from attending most of the events. The Green Team Captains meet quarterly with Dedee and her staff; the first meetings were designed to educate us about her office’s mission, to teach us which items recycle here on campus, and prepare us to be ‘green’ liaisons between her office and our respective areas. At our most recently held meeting, we received a report from Aramark about its sustainability initiatives, which I admit, surprised me.

In the Fresh Food Co., Aramark has moved to 100% mandatory reusable containers; no more Styrofoam. In its ‘back of the hall’ operations, the company is now recycling cardboard, glass, paper, etc. and it recycles 100% of the fryer oil; after it’s filtered, it’s sold to a company that makes bio-fuel. Trays were eliminated last year; by avoiding washing the trays, it saves 900 gallons of water each day. Aramark has switched its condiments from individual to bulk containers, saving 20 thousand plastic bottles per year. It has switched to green cleaning supplies, decreasing the amount of chemicals it uses by 60%.

In its catering operations, it has switched to compostable glasses, cups, etc. It has increased the amount of local food it uses and for some dishes, it now labels the name of the farm from which the food came. Catering now offers a bulk water option – it can provide a large drink dispenser of water and thereby eliminate plastic bottle waste. Lastly, Aramark has changed its buying practices for its office supplies, using supplies which contain recycled content or are recyclable.

Its near-term initiative is to improve its ability to track which and how much of the raw food it buys from wholesalers is locally-sourced and to increase the amount of locally-produced food it purchases. For example, it has initiated a relationship with Pilot Mountain Pride, a farm consortium, to provide produce to campus. Aramark’s initial goal is to source 10% of its food from local sources; admittedly this is modest, but it’s a start.

Sustainability Update #1 – Earth Day

Monday, June 6, 2011 2:40 pm

Sustainability Updates

This spring has been a busy one for sustainability advocates; I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been doing in a short series covering Earth Day, the Green Team, and a recent county-wide meeting called by Forsyth Futures.

Earth Day

Earth Day 2011 was a smashing success. It was held in the Education Annex at the Dixie Classic Fair this year in part because it had out-grown Davis Field and also because of inclement weather. Every possible display space was occupied by a booth, the aisles were nearly impassible at times and the children’s activities were very well attended. Many of the exhibitors wanted to help me make my home more energy efficient, but others were selling plants, food, honey, soap and the like from local farms. Several city and county agencies were there to give advice about their services, as well. In addition, there was a small stage with live music and several vendors were selling food. If you recall, we had high winds, rain, thunder, and lightning that day, so indoors was exactly the right place to hold the event. Those of you who attended the Earth Day fair on Davis Field last year may remember that several tents were blown over, presenting a safety hazard that the organizers sought to avoid.

This year, the fair organizers had a goal of producing zero waste from the event. There were several manned stations throughout the venue containing large bins for recycling paper and glass/metal/cans in addition to bins for compost. All the food vendors were required to provide plates, glasses and silverware that could be recycled or composted. I volunteered for several hours at one of the stations and directed visitors to the correct bin when disposing of their items. Used paper plates and napkins went into compost as did certain plastic glasses (paper that’s soiled with food waste can’t be recycled). On those rare occasions when a visitor had an item that didn’t fall into one of the above categories (usually this was something they’d brought from outside the fair) they were directed to use trash bins outside the building. Fair organizers were pleased with the results of the Zero Waste Challenge.

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