Small Actions, Big Impacts
The college’s Sustainability Office manages dozens of projects, public awareness campaigns and events relating to a wide range of issues that address the triple bottom line approach to sustainability: meaning that the projects consider the economic, social and environmental implications of people’s actions, said Kate Spector M’10, manager of the Sustainability Office. (See below for details about these projects.)
Kate works with a team of student interns to create a visible presence on campus and highlight ways in which every person can be more sustainable. She also serves on the college’s Campus Environment Advisory Council and the Sustainability Minor Committee, and her office partners with such other campus groups as the President’s Group on Sustainability in Dining Centers.
Her office oversees a number of public awareness programs for the campus community such as Perk Up, Tap In and the Bike Share programs, and she organizes such annual occurrences as Sustainability Week in the fall and Earth Week in the spring.
Kate’s philosophy on sustainability is that everyone can and must change their behaviors day-to-day to preserve the environment. For example, Kate recognized that she was burning through dry erase markers in a past role as a teacher.
“I was finding I was throwing away a marker at the end of every lecture,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is an incredible amount of waste. How can it be segued into something positive?’”
From there, she learned about a recycling program. A conversation with Prof. [Dan] Tryon ’89 on campus led to technology education students creating boxes for campus classrooms to collect the used-up markers for recycling.
“We submit them to the TerraCycle program, which breaks them down into their components,” Kate said. “The plastic parts get shredded and eventually put back on the market to be used to create new goods. I really enjoy making note of how resources are used, not used, or misused, and how they can be positively redirected. Really to solve a lot of these problems, we need to have a cultural change. Any way we can incite our awareness will be a catalyst for that change.”
In partnership with Cupanion, program reduces waste by utilizing refillable coffee cups:
- 2,947 purchases made with reusable mug*
- 26 reusable coffee cups refilled each day over 113 days*
In 2018-19 academic year, SUNY Oswego recycled:
- 2,881.5 tons of waste**
- 605 tons of single or dual stream (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal)**
- 7 tons of clean construction and demolition debris**
- 2,268 tons of cars/truck batteries**
- 1.5 tons of motor oil**
In partnership with Cupanion, program reduces waste by utilizing refillable water bottles
- ~4,000 water bottles distributed during summer Orientation 2019**
- 1 million 20-ounce reusable bottles filled at water stations, potentially eliminating 1 million plastic water bottles**
Fleet of 75 bikes available for use by campus members
- 25,158 miles on bikes instead of car**
- Reducing CO2 emissions as much as 10 metric tons since fall 2016**
Other Green Initiatives
- Leave Green—Rummage sale for students at semester’s end to donate any items that they no longer want or use.
- Piano Refurbishing—Refurbished existing Steinway pianos for Music Department instead of purchasing new ones.
- University Tickets—e-ticketing software that reduced the number of printed paper tickets on campus by over 20,000.
- Sustainability in Dining Services—Replaced paper with plastic or washable containers whenever possible.
- Repurposing Scrap Metal—Faculty used reclaimed and recycled scrap iron for use in the Annual Oswego Iron Pour art demonstration.
- LakerPrint—Streamlined printing system that greatly reduced paper use.
7 Simple Ways to Help the Environment
- Use reusable bags.
- Print as little as necessary.
- Use reusable beverage containers.
- Save electricity. Turn off lights, unplug appliances, regulate your thermostat when you’re not home, use energy efficient bulbs.
- Save water. Don’t run water while brushing your teeth, use only the amount of water needed to wash and rinse dishes, use liquid flush on dual flush toilets when possible, capture and redirect rainwater for outdoor use.
- Avoid taking cars or carpool when possible. Walk, bike, skateboard or carpool, and group errands together to streamline the number of trips.