“You can recycle that?!”

When I started working for the Sustainability department I knew the basics of recycling, and had a basic understanding of what I could compost. Since they, I have been enlightened in the most eco-friendly of ways. I could probably get a Dr. Seuss spin off book published at this point, and call it, “Oh, the things one can Recycle.” The first big surprise for me came in the form of a milk carton. These are recycled with plastics, not paper. This, too me, was mildly surprising. The next thrilling bit of new information I learned deals with Styrofoam. This foamy substance is in fact..recyclable! Though I was under the impression that it can only be thrown away, we actually can recycle this with wood if it is small enough. Awesome. Composting, I am learning, is about a million times cooler then I realized before working with sustainability. I have had my own personal compost for a while, but have been only using for basic food waste, like banana peels and coffee grounds. Little did I know, many products that touch food waste are also compostable. Paper plates, coffee cups, napkins, and dirty pizza boxes can all be composted. I have also been surprised on some of the things PLU students think are recyclable that most certainly are not. Starting with the grossest: used condom-NOT recyclable. Used Feminine products-NOT recyclable. Half full Doritos bag-NOT recyclable. There are also a few things we find in the garbage that are recyclable that many students do not realize, like a paper coffee cup. Every piece of a coffee cup from the Market is recyclable-the lid goes to plastics, the cardboard sleeve goes to paper, and the cup itself goes to compost. Knowing how much of our “waste” at PLU can actually be recycled is incredibly motivating, especially in the sustainability department, and helps set even higher goals to reduce the amount of garbage on campus. Thinking is a good thing to do before one uses a garbage can.

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Minutes from Latest Sustainability Committee Meeting

Sustainability Committee

10/13/101 Chair: Kevin O’Brien
3:45-5:00 PM Treasurer: Ethan Manthey
Garfield Bookstore Secretary: Stena Troyer
Community Room Pro Tem Secretary: Romey Haberle

Future Fall Meeting dates:
Nov 10th UC Scandinavian Center Annex
Dec 8th UC Scandinavian Center Annex

Members Present:
Alyssa Henry, Ethan Manthey, Anna Pfohl, Stena Troyer, Rob Audet, Joe Bell, Joe Kowalczyk, Wendy Robins, Romey Haberle, Lauri McCloud, Kevin O’Brien, Brett Rousseau, Emily Dooley, and Gretchen Howell.
1. Approval of minutes of 9/15/12 meeting
The minutes were approved unanimously.

2. Announcements & Requests
• The committee’s next two meetings of the semester will take place in the annex of the Scandinavian Cultural Center.
• Through a matching grant from Solar4RSchools, solar panels will be installed on Facilities. Development aims to raise the required $20,000 in matching funds through contacts with alumni between now and March 2012.
• UnPLUg began on 9/29 with an “Hour of no Power” from 9 – 10 pm, with approximately 120 students participating. Pledge forms were distributed to students and have elicited a good response, but running this event without the competition between dorms has given it a different feel this year.
• As part of the month’s unPLUg activities, there will be a showing of Lost Mountain on Oct 26th from 7-9 pm in Xavier 201. A follow-up faculty panel will discuss the film.
• GREAN took a group of 10 students to the Moving Planet rally in Seattle by bus on September 24, increasing awareness of regional sustainability and environmental issues as well as stimulating interest in participation in PLU GREAN activities.
• Progress is being made to encourage non-vehicular commuting to campus and campus events, and conversations are ongoing with Pierce County about painting bike lanes on Park Ave and other streets adjacent to campus.

4. Reports from AASHE (Part 1)
• Students reported on their impressions from the AASHE conference. They were encouraged about how well PLU is doing relative to other schools in terms of implementing sustainability measures on campus, the growing culture for sustainability at PLU, and the existence of the Sustainability Committee made up of students, faculty, and staff.
5. Green Fees
• To date, one proposal has been submitted. More are expected and hoped for before the Nov. 1 deadline.
• The committee discussed possible proposals that the committee might encourage. Possibilities included:
o Solar panel projects
o A student or student/staff/faculty workshop on sustainability, perhaps in conjunction with the Wang Center Water Conference
o Bike racks and/or bike helmets
o Enhancements to the community garden in the form of greenhouses or expansion.
7. Sustainability in the Curriculum
• Sustainability Fellow Brett Rousseau is working on sustainability in the curriculu, and is exploring the possibility of a proposal to create a Sustainability General Education requirement. She requested that the committee support her work and endorse a definition of sustainability for curricular purposes. After discussion and clarification that, the committee endorsed the following working definition for this purpose:
Sustainability means care for people, the planet, and prosperity, both now and in the future. Teaching about sustainability requires critically analyzing and engaging the inseparable importance of environmental, economic, and ethical principles.
• In discussion, the committee decided that it would not be realistic to require any course fulfilling a sustainability requirement to substantively explore environment, ethics, and economics, and so suggested that courses should be required to have a significant unit on at least two of these three areas.

—– Planning Calendar —–
November 10th: Green Fees Decisions Finalized
December 8th: Begin fellows campaign for spring
February: Discussion Mission & Long-term goals of commitee
March: Earth Week
April: Fellow Selection
May: Elect Officers for next year.
Discuss Priorities and Goals for 2012-13

Summer 3D Digital Modeling course

This summer, professor Spencer Ebbinga led a class to help discover what could become of the Fred L. Tobiason Outdoor Learning Center.  This is just a taste of what the class came up with.  What do you think?