Welcome to the December WSU Sustainability Newsletter!
Happy December! ‘Tis the season when we come together, give, share, and celebrate our traditions. It’s also a time to reflect on the year past and anticipate the year to come. 2018 saw great growth in sustainability work at WSU. We enjoyed a record-breaking number of attendees at the Intermountain Sustainability Summit in March; a very successful electric lawn mower exchange community program, with our partners at the Weber-Morgan and Davis Health departments, to improve summer air quality; thriving faculty-training workshops to help foster sustainability teaching in the curriculum; and numerous campus sustainability-related events to inform and educate. Campus operations, under the Energy and Sustainability Office’s lead, have seen an increase in departmental green teams, a reduction in water use, the delivery of an all-electric shuttle bus, and increased energy-efficiency and renewable energy additions.
We wish you a very happy holiday season! May it be peaceful, restful, and most of all a joyful time with family and friends.
The holidays provide great opportunities to show people you appreciate them. This year, consider the environment while selecting gifts. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time. This amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, according to Stanford University.
Reducing waste can be fun and easy! Here are some suggestions to help.
Not all gifts come in packages. Give the gifts of time and experience. Relax, play, laugh; do something with your friends and family. It will be a gift to yourself as well! Give a gift certificate to the spa, yoga classes or a gym; give tickets to a concert or sports event; host a game night or treat loved ones to a new restaurant! WSU, incidentally, offers superb musical theater, dance, drama and other artistic events.
Taking time to make gifts tells people you put both thought and energy into their gifts. Gather materials to create something that is uniquely theirs, such as Christmas ornaments using family pictures. Or compile a recipe book accompanied by tasty homemade treats. Take a pottery class and gift your creation, or use essential oils and wax to make a personalized candle.
Perfect gifts are out there waiting for you to find them! Consignment stores, thrift shops and antique stores are a great way to find a gift while reducing waste by not introducing new material into the waste cycle. Hunt for treasures such as jewelry, books, housewares and clothes at a fraction of the price of new items.
Reusable Gift Wrap
A tremendous source of holiday waste is wrapping paper. Dress up old fabric and newspaper clippings for a modern look you can use again while passing the technique on to the recipient. Decorative tins, gift bags and boxes are beautiful and can be reused for years on end. Be sure to save ribbons and bows to reuse and purchase materials without holiday-specific patterns or images so that you can reuse them for birthdays and anniversaries. If you still want to purchase wrapping paper, go with recyclable wrapping paper.
Here’s a little food for thought as we head into the winter holiday. In the book Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken (corresponding website), one of the top options for making a personal impact with respect to reducing climate-changing greenhouse gases, and also improving health, is to embrace a plant-rich diet. Many delicious holiday meals center on favorite meats, but changing up one meal, or even one dish, to be plant-based is a start. If you are curious, open to exploration and maybe some new taste sensations, here is one site that might inspire you to try something different: https://omdfortheplanet.com/blog/the-main-dish-plant-based-recipes-for-the-holidays/.
If you are less inclined to change up your traditional meals, be more conscious of reducing food waste, which ranked one notch higher (#3) in emissions impact than a plant-based diet (#4). Food waste is estimated to account for about 8% of global emissions. Reducing that sounds like a good new year’s resolution.
The Energy and Sustainability Office and Landscaping partnered to host the Water Warrior Challenge, an incentive program designed to reduce water consumption and improve irrigation efficiency on campus. This year Ty Christiansen won the Water Warrior Challenge, becoming the 2018 Water Warrior Champion!
The Water Warrior Challenge is a program that rewards landscapers for working hard to implement efficiency-boosting improvements to irrigation systems across campus. After performing campus-wide irrigation audits and identifying areas for optimization, Landscaping and the ESO made data-driven decisions to prioritize and implement needed improvements.
For this year’s Water Warrior Challenge, landscapers improved watering distribution uniformity (how evenly irrigation is applied to an area). Distribution uniformity matters, because it keeps landscapers from overwatering an entire area, which in turn saves the university money.
The average increase for distribution uniformity was 34 percent; Ty increased his uniformity by 49 percent!
The Water Warrior Challenge is just one more step that Weber State has taken toward its sustainability goals. WSU landscapers are looking forward to implementing their projects, and their excitement is driving positive change.
Ogden City approved the creation of the Natural Resources and Sustainability Stewardship Committee on Nov. 20. According to the proposal, the committee will “advise the Council and Mayor regarding sustainability and natural resource stewardship educational programs, including: waste reduction/recycling, disposal of hazardous materials, power and water conservation; air quality and open space; recommending environmental policies and programs to assist the city in becoming more sustainable; identify grant funding opportunities; encourage pursuit of state/federal support; and other actions and duties as assigned by the Council or Mayor.”
The committee will consist of 7 to 9 volunteer representatives, appointed by the Mayor, and additional non-voting members from the Public Services Department and Council staff. Committee meetings will be open and the public is welcome to attend.
In early November, a food drive was held at WSU’s Davis campus that helped to fill the shelves of the Weber Cares Food Pantry. Reusable bags were given to staff and faculty with lists of food and basic necessities inside; these people returned from shopping with bags full of items to donate. The volunteers at Davis Campus were extremely helpful and understood the need for WSU students’ food security. Thank you to all who participated and to Kayla Hickman and Hailey Burton for organizing the drive.
If you would like to show your support and have a similar event at the main campus, email Haileyburton@weber.edu.
Next semester, The Food Recovery Network (FRN) will be looking for volunteers to help recover food on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 to 3:45 p.m. Students can receive volunteer hours for participating in recovery.
FRN is a student-led organization focused on the recovery and distribution, to people in need, of food that would otherwise have gone to waste in grocery stores or restaurants. FRN connects equity and social issues with sustainability: the process reduces food waste and helps disadvantaged people cover their nutritional needs.
The food will go to Ogden’s local homeless shelter, the Lantern House or Weber Cares Pantry. Our goal is to combat food insecurity so that no student will have to choose between buying textbooks or their next meal. Contact Haileyburton@weber.edu to voice your support for resources to help campus-based food banks/pantries and other food-insecurity initiatives or to get involved in volunteering.
This year Hal Crimmel, professor and chair of the English Department at WSU, completed a film project titled The Rights of Nature: A Global Movement. He worked with María Valeria Berros of Ecuador and WSU geography alum and filmmaker Isaac Goeckeritz. The film explores the approaches of indigenous communities to nature in contrast to the Western view and legal system, which tend to view nature as property and a resource for human use.
A summary of the film notes,
“As pressures on ecosystems mount and as coventional laws seem increasingly inadequate to address environmental degradation, commmunities, cities, regions, and countries around the world are turning to a new legal strategy known as The Rights of Nature.
This film takes viewers on a journey that explores the more recent origins of this legal concept, and its application and implementation in Ecuador, New Zealand and the United States. Learn how constitutional reforms adopted in Ecuador have helped recognize nature as a legal entity, and how partnerships between the Maori and the government of New Zealand have led to personhood status for rivers, lakes and forests, and a renewed sense of balance between people and nature.”
The film had its premier in November at the 25th annual Barcelona International Environmental Film Festival. It was chosen from 1200 submissions. It also premiered as Discussion Screening (a different category of premiere) in May 2018 at DOK.fest in Munich. DOK.fest is one of Europe's largest documentary film festivals, attracting about 40,000 people annually.
The film has also been screened at Duke University in North Carolina, in Ecuador at the International Rights of Nature Symposium, and in Brazil, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Switzerland, with an upcoming screening in Colombia.
Take note, its first screening in Ogden will be coming up in mid-February on campus. More will come on this in the January/February newsletters. In the meantime, you can see a trailer of the film here:
The Energy & Sustainability Office is proud to announce the following departments have recently achieved certification:
New Green Teams
Non-Traditional Student Center
WSU Online - eLearning Team
Jerry & Vickie Moyes Center for Supply Chain Excellence and the Center for Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility
Counseling & Psychological Services Center
Health Administration Services
Please congratulate your colleagues on their green achievements!
Get on the Green Team
If you are interested in getting your office or department involved in the Green Certification Program, contact Kayla Hickman at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.weber.edu/sustainability/green-department.html The purpose of the Green Department Program is to engage WSU offices and departments in the work of making the entire university more sustainable and carbon neutral. The program is voluntary and competitive. Participating departments acquire points through sustainable practices. The number of points achieved determines certification at the bronze, silver, gold or green levels.