Tag Archive for sustainability

Garden Season Starts Early at Long Lane Organic Farm

As soon as the last winter storm smelted away, students involved with Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm were already planting seeds, weeding, tilling fields, staking plots and harvesting winter-hardy herbs, wild garlic and fresh chicken eggs.

The student-run organic farm is devoted to allowing students a place to experiment and learn about sustainable agriculture. In addition to weekly meetings, students run public work days every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which are open to Wesleyan students and community members.

The produce grown on Long Lane is sold at the Holden Farmer’s Market, donated to Amazing Grace Food Pantry, or served to students in Usdan. About 10 students maintain the farm every summer and prepare for the fall harvest. This program has been funded by the College of the Environment, Bon Appetite and the Green Fund.

Pictured below are photos of Long Lane Farm activity on April 14: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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The farm’s resident ducks enjoy digging for worms as students till the gardening plots.

Wesleyan’s Green Team Raises Awareness of Sustainability Efforts on Campus

Current Green Team members, pictured here holding their reusable mugs, include, from left, Roslyn Carrier-Brault, Chemistry Department; Dawn Alger, Theater Department; Valerie Marinelli, College of the Environment; Liz Tinker, English Department; Anika Dane, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; and Blanche Meslin, Biology Department.

Green Team members, pictured here holding their reusable mugs, include, from left, Roslyn Carrier-Brault, Chemistry Department; Dawn Alger, Theater Department; Valerie Marinelli, College of the Environment; Liz Tinker, English Department; Anika Dane, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; and Blanche Meslin, Biology Department.

During the academic year, Wesleyan’s Green Team is researching, communicating and implementing effective strategies that increase sustainability within their own departments and the university.

Since 2014, the team has started sharing a “Green Minute” at Administrative Assistant meetings; purchased utensils to distribute to staff at annual meetings; installed a water cooler in Woodhead Lounge; encourages staff to bring their own cup or mug to meetings; received funding to install cabinets to house dishes in Woodhead Lounge to be used for key events; and encouraged the placement of houseplants in office spaces.

They’re currently focusing their efforts on managing waste sustainability, making sustainable purchases, reducing energy in their departments and encouraging colleagues to shift the culture of their areas and be sustainable.

“I truly enjoy working with my peers to raise awareness of the sustainability efforts on campus,” said Green Team member Valerie Marinelli, administrative assistant for the College of the Environment. “I especially like working on projects with practical solutions that result in reducing waste and saving money to make the University a better place.”

The Green Team shares their efforts, goals and ideas with Provost Joyce Jacobsen and the Office of Academic Affairs. Academic Affairs has been supportive of the Green Team since its beginning in 2014.

Wesleyan employees, from left, Jayana Mitchell, Anika Dane, Dawn Alger, Valerie Marinelli, Bill Nelligan, Jen Kleindienst, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Blanche Meslin and Roslyn Carrier-Brault, helped coordinate the installation of a new water filtering system in Woodhead Lounge. The water system eliminates the need to have bottled water provided at meetings held in the popular campus event space. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Wesleyan employees, from left, Jayana Mitchell, Anika Dane, Dawn Alger, Valerie Marinelli, Bill Nelligan, Jen Kleindienst, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Blanche Meslin and Roslyn Carrier-Brault, helped coordinate the installation of a new water filtering system in Woodhead Lounge. The water system eliminates the need to have bottled water provided at meetings held in the popular campus event space.

Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant in the Biology Department, created a portable trash container for her desk. During an administrative assistants meeting on Jan. 14, the Green Team members encouraged their colleagues to replace individual garbage containers with portable desk models. Meslin created the garbage container with a used coffee can. "If you have some garbage, you collect it in this small container and at the end of the workday, you carry it to one communal trash can that is shared by your entire office or department. But, really, it takes me several days to fill this little can up," Meslin said. “It makes you more aware of what should go into the recycle bin and reduces the amount of plastic garbage bags used."

Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant in the Biology Department, created a portable trash container for her desk. During an Academic Administrative Assistants meeting on Jan. 14, the Green Team members encouraged their colleagues to replace individual garbage containers with portable desk models. Meslin created the garbage container with a used coffee can.
“Since I removed my garbage can, I have been using this desktop can for my trash. I discard the contents at the end of the day into a larger communal bin,” Meslin said. “It makes you more aware of what should go into the recycle bin and reduces the amount of plastic garbage bags used.”

The Green Team is always open to new members. For more information on the Green Team, e-mail Anika Dane or Blanche Meslin. Also, visit the Green Team’s Green Tips page for ideas on how to make your office more sustainable!

Wesleyan Green Fund Financially Supports Campus Sustainability Projects

The student-run environmental arts magazine Loam is dedicated to promoting the work of pioneering individuals and organizations in the realm of sustainability. The magazine, which features a printed and online version, is one of dozens of projects supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

The student-run environmental arts magazine Loam is dedicated to promoting the work of pioneering individuals and organizations in the realm of sustainability. The magazine, which features a printed and online version, is one of dozens of projects supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

“There is no single ‘right way’ to be an environmentalist.”

This is the philosophy of the Wesleyan Green Fund, which since 2010 has provided financial support to a wide range of sustainability projects on campus. Overseen by six to eight students, and advised by Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst, the Green Fund has received 50 proposals for grants from over 30 organizations and individuals this year alone, and distributed close to $100,000 in funding.

The money distributed by the Green Fund comes from a $15 per semester opt-out fee paid by students along with tuition. About 90 percent of students participate, and on average, the Green Fund gets about $85,000 per year. The Green Fund accepts proposals from students, faculty and staff.

A monarch butterfly thrives in the West College Courtyard. The two acre garden is maintained by WILD Wes and supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

A monarch butterfly thrives in the West College Courtyard. The two acre permaculture garden is maintained by WILD Wes and supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

According to Green Fund Chair Zacko Brint ’16, at its founding, the organization’s original goals were to “decrease the carbon footprint of the University, decrease waste, increase the University’s use of renewable energy sources, and increase the visibility of environmentally responsible practices on campus.” Its focus was mainly on funding larger projects, such as WILD Wes, several capital projects at Long Lane Farm, and the first three years of salary for the sustainability coordinator. (See more examples here.)

In recent years, while the funding of large projects has continued, the Green Fund “has made significant efforts to expand the communities that we serve, and broaden the definition of sustainability,” said Brint. The 50 applications received this year range from the Sailing Club to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day symposium to a student-run papermaking club. Some proposals are to fund small sustainability-focused parts of a larger project, such as a student group wishing to print on sustainably sourced paper, which costs more than virgin paper.

“The Green Fund has supported so many projects that would not otherwise be possible on campus,” Kleindienst said. “It’s been exciting this year to see so many funded projects related to the intersection of environmental issues and social justice, including a zine on climate justice, a panel discussion on environmental justice, and a lobbying training workshop for students, which was brought back to campus to train other Wesleyan students.”

View all Green Fund projects online here.

Brint noted that because the Green Fund is not always able to fully fund all projects that apply for grants, one of their goals is to understand all funding sources on campus and build coalitions.

The Green Fund recently supported Wes For Peace, a group of 17 students who attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation's Spring Lobby Weekend. Students received intensive training from experienced lobbyists and congressional staffers, and put these skills into practice through lobbying around the issue of mass incarceration.

The Green Fund recently supported Wes For Peace, a group of 17 students who attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Spring Lobby Weekend. Students received intensive training from experienced lobbyists and congressional staffers, and put these skills into practice through lobbying around the issue of mass incarceration.

“We have established working relationships with many different offices and funding sources on campus, and if we have a project that we need help funding, we can call and help expedite the process,” he explained. “In a lot of ways, we act as a liaison for projects.

Members of the Green Fund also actively pursue projects of their own. Currently, this includes an initiative to start an Environmental Justice student forum next fall, as well as working with the administration to hire a faculty member to teach a similar course. Members of the Green Fund are also working on purchasing an electric vehicle that will serve in the Department of Transportation’s fleet.

In the future, Brint expects the Green Fund to continue expanding what it means to be sustainable and, in doing so, to reach new communities. He credits Kleindienst with helping the entire Wesleyan community shift towards thinking about sustainability. One such initiative involves getting more professors to incorporate sustainability modules into their syllabi. The Green Fund has provided financial backing to run a seminar for professors at Wesleyan and other Connecticut college on how they can incorporate sustainability into their courses.

Wesleyan Leading the Way in Connecticut With Its Microgrid

Alan Rubacha, director of Physical Plant, stands near the university's microgrid engine that generates power to provide heat and electricity to the school. The engine is located in the Combined Heat and Power room at the Freeman Athletic Center. (Photo courtesy of Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant)

Alan Rubacha, director of Physical Plant, stands near the university’s microgrid engine that generates power to provide heat and electricity to the school. The engine is located in the Combined Heat and Power room at the Freeman Athletic Center. (Photo courtesy of Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant)

In a story about the spread of microgrids in Connecticut, The Hartford Courant points to Wesleyan as a leader. Wesleyan’s microgrid was the first project to come online under the inaugural round of Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation statewide microgrid pilot program.

According to the Courant, the $23 million state program to create a network of mini power generation plants across Connecticut was prompted by Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, which caused widespread power outages, flooding and other problems. In the case of a widespread power outage, microgrids can continue providing power to water treatment plants, emergency shelters, hospitals, police and fire stations.

In March 2014, Alan Rubacha led a tour of Wesleyan’s new generator package that delivers 4,700 mWh annually. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In March 2014, Alan Rubacha led a tour of Wesleyan’s new generator package that delivers 4,700 mWh annually. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

The Courant interviewed Alan Rubacha, director of Wesleyan’s Physical Plant, who said these mini-power plants offer advantages that go beyond providing power in emergencies. He said the university’s microgrid, which went on line in 2014, is producing enough electricity and steam to save Wesleyan an estimated $300,000 a year in energy costs.

Not only does the university’s natural gas engine produce electricity “as efficiently as a utility,” according to Rubacha, “the big thing is we use all the heat off the back end” as steam to heat the Freeman Athletic Center.

Wesleyan’s plant was one of the first Connecticut microgrids and the overall cost amounted to $4.1 million, including a $603,836 state grant. The combination of university and state funding paid for a 676 kilowatt natural gas engine that operates continuously to power the athletic center.

The center is also a designated emergency center for the area and a distribution point for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Wesleyan’s microgrid includes some solar power as well, and Rubacha said university officials calculate that the system will pay back the entire investment in a little over a decade.

Read more about Wesleyan’s microgrid here, and learn about the new solar array in the works that will supply power to the microgrid.

Green Vendor Show Showcases Sustainable Products, Services

On April 12, the Purchasing Office organized a Green Vendor Show to showcase ecologically-minded businesses and promote new sustainable products and services awareness.

Representatives visited from WB Mason, 3M, Proshred Security, Gateway Limo, Ricoh, Sun Services, Raymour & Flanigan, Polar Beverages, KIND Snack Bars and more.

“Members of the Wesleyan community were welcome to stop by and learn about new products and services and ways they might save money for their departments,” said organizer Olga Bookas, director of purchasing.

Participants left with many free samples and raffle prizes.

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CEAS Hosts “Environment in East Asia” Student Conference

"Environment in East Asia" was the topic of the inaugural College of East Asian Studies Student Conference held March 25. The conference included an interdisciplinary panel of Wesleyan faculty discussing issues related to the environment in East Asia; break-out sessions conducted in four languages (Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean); and a wrap-up session to bring all conversations together.

“Environment in East Asia” was the topic of the inaugural College of East Asian Studies Student Conference held March 25. The conference included an interdisciplinary panel of Wesleyan faculty discussing issues related to the environment in East Asia; break-out sessions conducted in four languages (Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean); and a wrap-up session to bring all conversations together.

More than 60 students gathered in Beckham Hall for the College for East Asian Studies Student Conference, “Environment in Asia,” co-sponsored with the Center for Global Studies and the Center for Pedagogical Innovation on March 25.

Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad, Associate Professor of Music Su Zheng, and Associate Professor of Film Studies Lisa Dombrowski offered their discipline as a lens through which to view environmental concerns in the region— from using political action to regulate pollution, to music videos that call attention to smog concerns, to films that highlight the surreal aspects of man-made structures that change the landscape.

Following the talks, students adjourned small discussion groups. The conference was unique in offering conversation in each of four languages, noted Haddad, who is also chair of the College for East Asian Studies and professor of East Asian studies and professor of environment studies.

“At Wesleyan, we have enough language competency for students to engage in meaningful, intellectually rigorous discussions in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean,” said Haddad. “We have enough diversity on campus that any given session will likely have no fewer that four nationalities represented.”

After the sessions, the students and professors then convened to bring their observations back to the group—and to plan similar events.

Haddad was pleased with the conference, calling it “an extraordinary event that highlighted everything that is so special about Wesleyan.” She said, “Students from around the globe interacted in multiple languages discussing one of the most important issues of our time. Faculty from different disciplines illuminated and discovered new insights as we discussed our work in the interdisciplinary panel.
She also noted that student identity groups were the primary organizers of the event, “generating the ideas and the energy underneath everything. It was one of those moments in which everything comes together.”

Haddad also places the event in context of growth: “The CEAS received two large institutional grants this year. One was from the Japan Foundation to hire a new tenure track faculty member in traditional Japanese literature. The other was from the Korea Foundation to hire a new tenure track faculty member in Korean political economy. Although neither of the grants had funds for student conferences, and thus were not direct funders of the events, some of the inspiration for the event came from our wish to celebrate the growth and vibrancy of our new College.”

See additional photos of the conference below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

 Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad spoke on "Environmental Politics in East Asia." Haddad also is chair and professor of East Asian studies and professor of environmental studies.


Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad spoke on “Environmental Politics in East Asia.” Haddad also is chair and professor of East Asian studies and professor of environmental studies.

Kleindienst Speaks on Wesleyan’s Composting Efforts at CT Recyclers Coalition

Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst spoke in January at the Connecticut Recyclers Coalition conference about Wesleyan’s experience with composting (also called organics recycling).

Wesleyan’s composting efforts began intermittently in 2010 through student initiative. Beginning in 2012-13, Kleindienst, her interns, Physical Plant staff, and Bon Appetit led regular residential and dining pre- and post-consumer collection. The vast majority of composed material comes from Usdan, but other participants include approximately150 wood frame, program houses, and apartment residences, seven of nine dorms, and a handful of offices. Finished compost is sent to Long Lane Farm. Wesleyan’s trash, recycling and composting data can be seen below:

Composting

Composting

Kleindienst announced that Wesleyan is expanding its efforts with a pilot program at Alpha Delt this semester, as well as trying new waste reduction strategies in Usdan. She is also working with the city of Middletown to make composting more cost effective for Wesleyan, Middletown and Middlesex Community College, as well as advocating for state laws to make composting economically desirable.

A photo of Kleindienst and her presentation can be viewed here.

Green Team Encourages Campus to Better Manage Waste Sustainability

Wesleyan’s Green Team, currently comprised of six administrative assistants, is researching, communicating and implementing effective strategies that increase sustainability within their own departments and the university.

They’re currently focusing their efforts on managing waste sustainability, making sustainable purchases, reducing energy in their departments, encouraging colleagues and working to shift the culture of their areas to be sustainable.

Current Green Team members, pictured here holding their reusable mugs, include, from left, Roslyn Carrier-Brault, Chemistry Department; Dawn Alger, Theater Department; Valerie Marinelli, College of the Environment; Liz Tinker, English Department; Anika Dane, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; and Blanche Meslin, Biology Department.

Current Green Team members, pictured here holding their reusable mugs, include, from left, Roslyn Carrier-Brault, Chemistry Department; Dawn Alger, Theater Department; Valerie Marinelli, College of the Environment; Liz Tinker, English Department; Anika Dane, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; and Blanche Meslin, Biology Department.

Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant in the Biology Department, created a portable trash container for her desk. During an administrative assistants meeting on Jan. 14, the Green Team members encouraged their colleagues to replace individual garbage containers with portable desk models. Meslin created the garbage container with a used coffee can.  "If you have some garbage, you collect it in this small container and at the end of the workday, you carry it to one communal trash can that is shared by your entire office or department. But, really, it takes me several days to fill this little can up," Meslin said. “It makes you more aware of what should go into the recycle bin and reduces the amount of plastic garbage bags used."

Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant in the Biology Department, created a portable trash container for her desk. During an Academic Administrative Assistants meeting on Jan. 14, the Green Team members encouraged their colleagues to replace individual garbage containers with portable desk models. Meslin created the garbage container with a used coffee can.
“Since I removed my garbage can, I have been using this desktop can for my trash. I discard the contents at the end of the day into a larger communal bin,” Meslin said. “It makes you more aware of what should go into the recycle bin and reduces the amount of plastic garbage bags used.”

The Green Team is always open to new members. For more information on the Green Team, e-mail Anika Dane or Blanche Meslin. Also, visit the Green Team’s Green Tips page for ideas on how to make your office more sustainable!

Wesleyan Recognized for Efforts Diverting Food Waste

#THISISWHY

For the second consecutive year, Wesleyan recently was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its work diverting food waste. It is the only educational institution in Connecticut to receive a “Regional Food Recovery Achievement Certificate.”

Wesleyan joined the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2013. Through this program, organizations pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report results. Organizations are encouraged to follow the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert food waste. The hierarchy suggests a range of options, from reducing the volume of surplus food generated and donating extra food to hungry people to composting and landfill incineration.

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Usdan’s food waste, in tons.

“Our efforts have resulted in a dramatic increase in the amount of food waste from Usdan that is composted—from 17.63 tons in 2013 to 46.98 tons in 2014,” said Sustainability Director Jen Kleindienst. When the program began in March 2013, different bins were installed for disposing of different types of food waste. All food waste coming from meal preparation in the kitchen (called pre-consumer waste) is composted in two large Earth Tubs located near Long Lane Farm, while food waste scraped off diners’ plates (called post-consumer waste) is taken off-site to be composted, due to a lack of capacity on-site.

Students Celebrate Fall with Pumpkin Fest, Long Lane Farm Harvest

Students celebrated fall at the annual Pumpkin Fest Oct. 17.

Students celebrated fall at the annual Pumpkin Fest Oct. 17.

Several students are celebrating the fall season at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm. Farm interns are still harvesting pumpkins, peppers, beets, tomatoes, fresh flowers, thyme and other herbs this October. The student-run organic farm is devoted to allowing students a place to experiment and learn about sustainable agriculture. Long Lane students also seek to foster good relationships with local farmers.

On Oct. 17, the College of the Environment hosted its annual Pumpkin Fest at the farm. Participants received farm tours, free veggie burgers, craft opportunities, face paintings and live music performances. Pumpkins, along with other produce, were sold at the festival.

View photos of Pumpkin Fest and the farm below: (Photos by Olivia Drake, Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19 and Will Barr ’18)

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Long Lane Farm at Wesleyan University, Oct. 8, 2015.

Pumpkins, Peppers Harvested at Long Lane Farm

Pumpkins, peppers, beets, tomatoes and thyme are still growing at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm this October. The student-run organic farm is devoted to allowing students a place to experiment and learn about sustainable agriculture. In addition to weekly meetings, students run work days every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Long Lane students also seek to foster good relationships with local farmers.

The College of the Environment will host its annual Pumpkin Fest from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 at the farm. For more information see this flyer.

Photos of the farm on Oct. 8 and 10 are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake and Will Barr ’18)

Long Lane Farm at Wesleyan University, Oct. 8, 2015.

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Recycle Small Electronics, Bulbs, Disks at New Center

Nestled in a small corner of the Exley lobby, just adjacent to the entrance of the newly-renovated Pi Cafe, is a brand-new electronics and alternative materials recycling center.

Nestled in a small corner of the Exley lobby, just adjacent to the entrance of the newly-renovated Pi Cafe, is a new electronics and alternative materials recycling center. The center was provided by Wesleyan’s Office of Sustainability and is accessible to anyone on campus who wishes to recycle items that cannot be recycled in a traditional manner. The center has spaces for small electronics, inkjet/toner cartridges, lead acid batteries, alkaline batteries, CDs/DVDs, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.