Green Beat

By Sarah Krumholz

Though the Macalester campus has a LEED Certification for Markim Hall, numerous recycling bins in traffic areas, and an overall positive attitude toward the environment, it could do an even better job to reduce waste and increase sustainability. This is where the Student Sustainability Network comes in. Lead by Natalie Locke ’11, the Network is comprised of students from almost every work-study department on campus. At the meetings, which occur biweekly, students discuss and share ideas about improving certain departments at the school. Students discuss ways to decrease waste or design projects to raise awareness about how students can easily improve the college’s reputation as an environmentally friendly school. Recently the group has discussed three main topics: sustainable reservations, lowering waste in Café Mac, and planning for this year’s RecycleMania event. Members tossed around ideas and came up with some promising long-term solutions.

The Reservations department on campus, which is responsible for reserving spaces at Mac for on-campus departments and groups, is targeting the weekly poster run. The current process involves students dropping off 21 copies of a poster at the Info Desk prior to Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoons, reservations assistants put up the poster in 20 locations on campus. In order to reduce waste, reservations is encouraging student organizations to drop off posters that advertise events at least 7 days ahead of time. Additionally, Reservations is working with the creators of the “Onesies” to use old posters that would otherwise be thrown in the recycle.

Over the summer, Reservations plans to make information available about low-waste, sustainable events. To do this, Reservations will take into consideration amount of electricity or heating used as well as food waste from catered events. Changes will go into effect fall semester 2010. The changes will not be dramatic; rather they will make communication easier and sustainability more possible.

In Cafe Mac, sustainability worker Abby Colehour ’12 is working to make students aware about daily waste. She completed a break down of food that is thrown away and discussed with the group how to advertise ways to reduce waste.

In addition to discussing waste, Colehour talked about where Bon Appetit buys its food. She spent several weeks working on statistics about origins of meat, dairy, and grain-based foods and collaborated with the group about how to educate students about local vs. non-local foods. Additionally, she plans to work with Bon Appetit to phase in more local products.

Recyclemania also came up at the meeting, and students planned some of the early advertising efforts for the event. More details will be discussed in the upcoming meetings.

The Sustainability Office has also just released information about a small grant fund. Students can apply for small amounts of money to complete sustainability projects on campus. Students can apply online (at for grants up to $1000. Projects that include faculty, student, and staff collaboration are encouraged, and applications are rolling.