Wesleyan Green Team Brainstorms Sustainability Measures

Wesleyan's Green Team focuses on making Wesleyan more environmentally friendly. (Photo Laurie Kenney)

Wesleyan’s Green Team focuses on making Wesleyan more environmentally friendly. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

On July 31, nine Green Team members and a liaison from the sustainability office met outside the Allbritton Center to discuss their goals for the coming year. The Green Team focuses on finding simple measures that all Wesleyan offices can enact to conserve resources.

Anita Deeg-Carlin, administrative assistant for the Physics Department, who initiated the formation of the team in 2014, led the meeting. The team’s hope this year is to focus on small, practical steps that can spark interest and change among other community members. Anika Dane, administrative assistant in molecular biology and biochemistry, suggested the team look into the DEEP’s adopt-a-park program. The team also hopes to link up with wellness efforts and encourage employees to do a trash pick up during their fitness walks.

The group noted the importance of evaluating the progress they have made over the past year, and decided to conduct reviews of their own offices together as a group. This will help them identify areas that might need improvement.

The team also works with Olga Bookas, director of purchasing, on identifying sustainable products. The Green Team has tried to determine what disposable kitchen products have the lowest footprint. This question does not have a simple answer, and was turned over to Ruby Lang ’17 this summer, in an internship funded by the College of the Environment. Jen Kleindienst, sustainability director and liaison to the Green Team, shared some of the results so far.

“We have to be aware of a product’s entire life cycle,” Kleindienst said. “For example, a ceramic cup has to be used about 15 times before it is considered more sustainable than using disposable cups.” Kleindienst also explained the relatively new reusable Eco-to-Go food container program at Wesleyan.

Roslyn Carrier-Brault, administrative assistant in chemistry, raised the question of what to do with the lost and found items that accumulate in many offices over the course of an academic year. Kleindienst pointed out that the “Waste Not” collection and tag sale on 44 Brainerd Ave. is a great destination for these forgotten items, as well as Wesleyan’s Freecycle list.

Members of Wesleyan's Green Team: (back row, l to r) Blanch Meslin, Dawn Alger, Anika Dane, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Roslyn Carrier-Brault; (front row, l to r) Liz Tinker, Olga Bookas, Valerie Marinelli, Jayana Mitchell.

Members of Wesleyan’s Green Team: (back row, l to r) Blanch Meslin, Dawn Alger, Anika Dane, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Roslyn Carrier-Brault; (front row, l to r) Liz Tinker, Olga Bookas, Valerie Marinelli, Jayana Mitchell.

Liz Tinker, administrative assistant in English, requested ideas for potential “green minute” topics for the next meeting. The green minute is a short Green Team presentation at monthly Academic Affairs meetings that offers easy tips and tricks for reducing waste. Dawn Alger, administrative assistant in Theater, suggested having a catchy slogan, for example, “One Less”, to use as a theme for the semester that would encourage community members to use one less of any item that is inherently wasteful each day. Jayana Mitchell, accounting specialist in Chemistry, pointed out that reminder signs created by Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant for Biology, last year were effective in encouraging department members to “BYO” and should continue to be spread around campus.

Deeg-Carlin brought up the overlap of the goals of the Office of Equity and Inclusion with those of the Sustainability Office, and emphasized the importance of capitalizing on Wesleyan’s rich diversity as a resource for learning about more aspects of sustainability.

Valerie Marinelli wrapped up the meeting by suggesting the team shares their goals for 2015-16 with Provost Joyce Jacobsen and the Office of Academic Affairs. Academic Affairs has been supportive of the Green Team since its beginning in 2014.