Green Game Day was a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing day for UConn football fans. The Huskies lost a close game on the field, but Mother Earth won outside the stadium where EcoHusky and EcoHouse volunteers, along with Office of Sustainability interns, took to the tailgating fields to collect cans and bottles from fans. Volunteers sporting blue Green Game Day shirts walked among the rows of cars, approaching UConn alumni, Connecticut locals and even some Illinois fans to help make their game day a bit greener.
Some student volunteers even ventured into the spirited student lot, all in the name of recycling! Unsurprisingly, they emerged with more bags than any other tailgate area.
In total, the volunteers collected 58 bags of recyclable bottles and cans.
While most of the volunteers scoured the fields, others staffed the Office of Sustainability tent in the HuskyFest fan zone, quizzing fans on their environmental knowledge and giving out prizes for correct answers. One notable addition to the prize table this year was the new UConn Sustainability Activity Book. Our youngest fans (and a few older ones) jumped at the chance to color and learn. One excited young Husky was heard walking away from the tent exclaiming: “Dad look! Jonathan’s on every page!”
From baby boomers to generation Z, all ages were equal parts enthralled, enthused and stumped by the intern’s questions. At the end of their experience at the tent, all participants had learned something about the environment and UConn’s sustainability efforts.
Once inside, fans were treated to a recycling PSA from none other than Jonathan the Husky. Likely due to the inspiring recycling video, the Huskies got off to a strong start, scoring the first 13 points. Alas, it was not to last, as Illinois came storming back to win 31-23.
While UConn’s first loss of the season was disappointing, it can teach us a valuable lesson about recycling: Care for the environment must be sustained, or else we risk losing all our progress. And vice versa: No matter what your habits are, you can always turn it around and become an EcoWarrior.
Green Game Day was a roaring success for all involved. We hope to see you during the basketball season at Gampel, or next year at the Rent!
This October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that has shaken the global community. The IPCC was invited by the UN to report this year on the effects that we would experience if the global temperature warms 1.5℃ (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels. They released a full report along with a technical summary and policymaker summary. The report contains scientific, technical, and socio-economic findings and has major ramifications across these disciplines. The contents of this report are grim, but give us a much more concrete vision of our future—something that is vital as the world makes plans to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Since civilization hit the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, humanity has been dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air at an exponential rate. This has led to an increasing amount of sunlight and heat being trapped in our atmosphere, and consequently an increase in our planet’s average temperature. Even a slight increase in this global temperature has immense impacts on our climate and in turn the survival of life on Earth, including humans.
The IPCC report begins by defining what exactly the average global temperature was before humanity started to affect it. The IPCC defines pre-industrial levels as the average global temperature over the period of 1850-1900. The report then talks about where we are now. We have already caused a 1℃ rise in the average global temperature compared to pre-industrial levels. Effects from climate change are already happening, and at this point they are inevitable.
However, we still have control over how severe these effects become, and how long they will last. On our current global trajectory, we will reach a 2℃ increase by 2040. With the passage of the Paris Climate Agreement, the world committed itself to changing this trajectory. Countries promised to keep the increase to under 2℃, and to strive to keep the increase near 1.5℃. In reality, the agreement has little binding power. Globally, we are struggling to reach the 2℃ goal, never mind 1.5℃, which is currently categorized as ‘above and beyond.’
The IPCC report focuses on the changes in our climate that will result if we curb the global temperature rise at 1.5℃ as compared to an increase of 2℃. Although any further rise in the global temperature has and will result in devastating changes to our natural and human systems, the difference between 1.5℃ and 2℃ warming is significant. This report makes it clear that 1.5℃ should not be considered as ‘above and beyond,’ but instead as the absolute limit for global temperature rise.
By 2100, the global average sea level rise is projected to be 0.1 meter lower at 1.5℃ than at 2℃. Sea level rise will continue past 2100, and it is inevitable at this stage. However, sticking to the 1.5℃ goal and slowing the rate of sea level rise will allow more time for adaptation of coastal communities impacted by this rise. Although 0.1 meters may not seem significant, it will make a big difference in giving the world time to prepare for sea level rise.
One of the most poignant symbols of this change in global temperature is the livelihood of the coral reefs. At 2℃, more than 99% of coral reefs will die off due to coral bleaching. At 1.5℃, only 70-90% of current coral reefs are projected to die off. The loss of this incredible phenomenon would be a tragedy. The majority of the ocean’s biodiversity exists in coral reefs, they serve as a buffer that protects coastlines from tropical storms, and they function as important primary producers as well.
The frequency of a sea-ice-free Arctic during summer is substantially lower at 1.5℃ than at 2℃. At 1.5℃, an ice-free summer will happen once per century; at 2℃, it will happen at least once per decade.
In addition to the effects mentioned previously, a 2℃ rise instead of 1.5℃ will drive the loss of coastal resources, reduce the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture, and lead to greater species loss and extinction. Vector-borne diseases, such a malaria and dengue fever, are expected to increase and shift geographic regions. A 2℃ rise will lead to larger net reductions of cereal crop yields such as maize, rice, and wheat.
As the global temperature warms, the effects outlined above are expected to lead to increased poverty and disadvantages in vulnerable populations. Limiting the temperature rise to 1.5℃ instead of 2℃ could reduce the number of people who will be susceptible to poverty and facing climate-related risks by up to several hundred million by 2050.
The IPCC states that reaching the 1.5℃ goal and protecting what we can of our world requires “upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching, multi-level and cross-sectoral climate mitigation and by both incremental and transformational adaptation.” While the Paris Climate Agreement was a historical step for humankind, it’s not nearly enough to save us. The agreement was the beginning of this world transformation; true change will require continued, tenacious, collaborative effort.
This information can be overwhelming and disheartening. We at the office understand that, and know that this work requires stubborn positivity. The only way we’re going to get close to reaching the 1.5℃ goal is if we wholeheartedly believe in our mission and in the future of our world. Even if we do not reach our goal of 1.5℃, or even that of 2℃, any change we make now will still have an important effect on generations to come. So get out there and make some change happen. Reduce your carbon footprint. Vote on November 6th. Start improving your community. Collaborate with friends and neighbors. Have meaningful conversations with those around you. We are each just one person, but we still have an important, irreplaceable influence on the world around us.
Link to the IPCC’s Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/
On the weekend of September 8th, New Haven was brimming with energy. There were events happening throughout the city to foster progress for people and the environment.
The first was a summit presented by the Yale Art Gallery and Artspace, a contemporary art non-profit. This summit, called “Homage: Soil and Site” was seven hours long and drew in some of the national leaders in the environmental movement today—household names like Eddie Bautista and Elizabeth Yeampierre. Oh, you haven’t heard of them? There’s a reason for that. They are self-proclaimed environmental justice advocates, a group that has had little space or power in the environmental movement until recently.
Environmental justice, put simply, is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to environmental conditions, regulation, and change. Those on the frontlines of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation are often the most economically and politically repressed. Impoverished island nations facing increased hurricane activity, poor urban communities facing the worst of air pollution, minority communities having little influence over the siting of a landfill in their backyard, and indigenous people facing potential contamination of their rivers by powerful oil companies should be given a seat at the table in discussions of policy and change. After all, they’re the ones who have experience dealing with the problems that we’re trying to solve.
After decades of effort on the part of environmental justice advocates, we are finally reaching a point where all voices are being heard. This was evident at event number two of the September 8th weekend, a rally for “Climate, Jobs, and Justice.” This event was unique in the groups that came together in order to make it happen. There were the typical organizations that are an important presence at environmental rallies in the state, notably the Sierra Club and 350CT, in addition to other groups such as the CT Puerto Rican Alliance. This meant that there was a larger variety of speakers and performances than the typical rally. There was a presentation of an electric car, and there was also a performance by local rappers about police brutality. There was a call to action for protecting CT’s Green Bank, and there was a young Latinx girl who sung about coming together as one. One stop of the rally was to admire a fuel cell, while another was for a local group to speak on issues related to prison reform. Rallies like this give hope for continued collaboration as we strive to create a safe and healthy environment for all people.
The OEP is working on incorporating environmental justice as a focus as well. We recognize the importance of indigenous people to our country and to the environmental movement. Worldwide, they are protectors of 80% of the world’s biodiversity, despite only living on 20% of the world’s land. They hold Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) that is vital to the stewardship of land, and utilized by many, including the US National Park Service. To honor this, we have partnered with Global House to hold a film screening and discussion of Sacred Water: Standing Rock Part 2 on October 3rd about the Standing Rock protests. It’s the kickoff for Indigenous People’s Week, a series of events at UConn that aim to replace Columbus Day with a celebration of indigenous people in our country. Please join us in the Global House Lounge at 5:30pm to learn more about this incredible population of people!
There was something different and exciting about the second home game of UConn’s football season. For one, it turned out to be UConn’s first win of the season. But more importantly, Husky fans tailgating before the game were greeted by dozens of students in blue and green shirts carrying around trash bags, picking up bottles and cans, and giving out sustainability-themed trinkets.
Who were these students, and why were they at Rentschler Field? EcoHusky members and EcoHouse residents, along with OEP interns, had gotten together for our fall Green Game Day! Each year, the OEP partners with Athletics to educate not only UConn students but also Husky fans from all over Connecticut on the importance of recycling.
Volunteers walked around the parking lots, interacting with tailgaters while collecting bottles and cans. It was messy work – many shoes were dirtied with mysterious liquids in the process – but that did not dampen the students’ spirit. This year, 2.4 tons of recyclables were collected according to Windsor Sanitation, the most on record from any Green Game Day! Meanwhile, OEP staff and interns stationed at the Green Game Day tent during FanFest quizzed young and old on environmental facts while playing our brand new Plinko game for prizes.
Another exciting addition to this Green Game Day event was a recycling PSA video the office created featuring the one and only Jonathan the Husky! In the video, Jonathan teaches you how to recycle by recycling a plastic water bottle himself! If you haven’t seen it, it is one of the cutest videos you will see all year. It was shown on the Jumbo Tron before the game, and ‘awws’ could be heard throughout the stadium as it played. Check out our Facebook page to see it for yourself!
Thanks to our smiling, extremely dedicated, and hardworking volunteers, Green Game Day was a success! A big shout to all who made it possible. We’re looking forward to the next one in February!
“Opportunity knocks when you least expect it.” For Katie Main, that proverb explains how she rejuvenated her passion about environmental sustainability and jump-started her path to an environmental career. As a sophomore, Katie experienced a couple of ‘reality checks.’ While she had found her place academically as a student in UConn’s Environmental Engineering program, her course load of upper-level math, physics, and chemistry momentarily distanced her from the environmental issues that led to her passion for nature and the environment in the first place, especially growing up as the daughter of a Westchester County parks and conservation employee.
Although her involvement in several environmental initiatives on campus provided her space to exercise her passion, she still craved more. It wasn’t until she heard of the Office of Environmental Policy through her active membership in the EcoHusky student group, that Katie was finally able to find a strong outlet for her passions as part of her college experience.
Since joining the OEP intern team in the spring of 2016, Katie has dedicated her time to several sustainability initiatives, including the maintenance of the Sustainability Office’s website and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, roll-out of the EcoCoin program to reduce plastic bag use at the campus bookstore, and organization of GreenGame Days. Of her responsibilities, GreenGame Days (GGDs) continue to be her favorite projects – these outreach events are a perfect fusion of her interests both inside and outside of the office. As a season-ticket holder for UConn football and lifetime fan of UConn Basketball, GGDs allow Katie to show her UConn spirit while also promoting environmental stewardship to Husky Nation.
Now a senior in Environmental Engineering, where she is a dean’s list student, mentor and member of the Engineering Honors Society, Tau Beta Pi, Katie’s versatility as an OEP intern is always on display. When she is not working on some kind of graphic design (she designed the awesome new GGD logo last year), you can find Katie buried in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory excel spreadsheet or coordinating the rollout of the new UConn Bookstore EcoCoin.
Outside of the OEP office, Katie spends a majority of her time involved in other campus activities, serving as the Treasurer for EcoHusky, an undergraduate research assistant in solar energy, and member of ECOalition, which is a caucus of student environmental leaders. On the off chance she is not doing any of these, you will most likely find Katie snuggled up with her best friend/dog Milo or obsessively planning her future super eco-friendly, and hopefully LEED-certified, home, on AutoCAD and Chief Architect.
And there we have it! The third installment of ‘Meet the OEP Interns.’ Next week, we will meet two more impressive interns, one of whom serves as the President of the Undergraduate Society of Plastics Engineers, and another who is a dual undergraduate/master’s student. Can you guess who?
Until next time!
Over 30 members of EcoHusky and the EcoHouse learning community got up bright and early on Saturday, October 8th, to volunteer at the Hartford Marathon in Bushnell Park. After a quick power nap on the bus, volunteers were ready for a day of excitement, positivity, and environmental awareness. Upon arrival at Bushnell Park in Hartford, volunteers mapped out the best locations for compost and heatsheet bins, as their primary responsibility for the day was to manage the waste stations throughout the park to ensure that runners and race-goers correctly disposed of food, recyclables, and foil blankets.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation has expressed strong interest in environmental initiatives over the years, with compost management as a top priority on the day of the event. Their composting partner is the KNOX Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that partners with residents, businesses, and government to make Hartford more sustainable. This year, all of the food items on the race menu were compostable, including the soup, fruit, deserts, plates and napkins. The Marathon planners were also conscious in their other purchasing decisions, as the cups provided at the drink stations were recyclable as well.
The Marathon’s efforts to reduce waste at the event are commendable; however, it was up to the volunteers from EcoHusky and EcoHouse to ensure that those efforts were seen through. Composting and recycling can have such positive waste diversion impacts, but only if the items are separated into the correct bins. Not only did volunteers ensure that this was done at the event, they also educated race-goers about recycling and composting so they could be more sustainable in their daily lives. Additionally, they tracked the bags of compost, weighing hundreds of pounds over the course of the day.
“I definitely thought the volunteers had a positive impact on the people attending the Marathon. Most race-goers were eager to learn, asking us questions to make sure they were throwing their waste out in the appropriate bins.” -Eddie McInerney, EcoHusky member
In addition to manning the waste stations throughout the park, EcoHusky also had an environmental awareness tent, with an interactive basketball and recycling-themed game that encouraged players to think about what items are recyclable, compostable, and trash, then throw the items into the correct basketball hoops.
“Race-goers were attracted to the EcoHusky tent because of its peculiar set up – needless to say, no one else had a conglomeration of “waste” items and handmade basketball hoops scattered around their table. For such a simple and low budget idea, we still managed to make a big impact with the people we spoke to.” -Katie Main, EcoHusky Treasurer
Each year, members of EcoHusky and EcoHouse refer to the Hartford Marathon as one of their favorite volunteer events. The positive atmosphere surrounding the marathon, and the receptiveness of the race-goers to the message about sustainability, consistently leave the volunteers feeling both cheerful and optimistic.
1 down, 1 to go: Women’s Basketball Green Game Day was a success! Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the women’s basketball team beat SMU 102-41 for their 30th consecutive win. By coming to this game, viewers supported the school’s athletics and recycling initiatives. Volunteers from EcoHusky and student interns from the Office of Environmental Policy collected the bottles left in the stands, and recycled almost 300 bottles and would have had to recycle more if it weren’t for the help of recycle-savy fans.
Volunteers from EcoHusky at Avery Point also came out to support Green Game Day and the women’s basketball team; it was hard to miss them as they handed out tattoos and flyers at the entrances to Gampel Pavilion. Stay tuned for Men’s Basketball Green Game Day on February 22nd as UConn plays SMU!
UConn’s Surplus Department plays a significant role in helping the University achieve its environmental goals, especially when it comes to waste reduction and recycling. The main objective of Surplus is to help all University departments properly dispose of University property—furniture, electronics and equipment that are no longer needed or serviceable. Surplus works in conjunction with Central Stores and both departments are part of Logistics Administration.
Although we typically think of recycling when we see the three arrow symbol, the real meaning is the “Three Rs” of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and recycle. Often, the OEP focuses on outreach aimed at changing individual behavior in order to increase recycling of everyday items, like bottles, cans, paper and cardboard. This past year, we’ve collaborated with the Surplus Department to raise awareness about the benefits of institutional efforts across the entire waste hierarchy. Surplus services translate directly to increases in the Three Rs and better quantification and reporting of these benefits have helped UConn reduce its environmental footprint and achieve the #1 ranking in the 2013 Sierra Club Cool Schools survey.
Special thanks to Annemarie Ryan of Surplus and Central Stores for writing and contributing this informative post about how her department helps UConn reduce, reuse and recycle!
The Surplus Department’s first task is to reduce the number of items that are purchased by recirculating existing extra (or surplus) items. Surplus items are transferred to and from departments—tables, chairs, cabinets, lab equipment, electronics, and more. In addition to sparing the environment, this saves taxpayers money; receiving departments do not spend state funds buying new items.
University employees are welcome to visit the Surplus Showroom to “tag” furniture, electronics, and equipment for departmental use at no cost—a great way to reap savings and spare already stretched budgets.
The Depot Campus Showroom located at 6 Ahern Lane is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 3pm.
The Surplus Department supports reuse by selling items at the Public Surplus Store. “Much of the furniture and equipment gets a new life, either by being used by other departments or sold at our Public Surplus Store,” said Joe Hollister, Surplus Supervisor.
Public Surplus Store
The Public Surplus Store located on the Depot Campus at 6 Ahern Lane is open 10am to 3pm on the second Friday of every month. It is open to all University staff, students, and the general public. Only cash payments are accepted.
Finally, the Surplus Department recycles what cannot be reused. Other surplus is recycled to certified recycler companies. Last year alone, the Surplus Department recycled 230 tons of obsolete equipment and 84 tons of electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste consists of damaged or discarded electronic devices and associated materials. E-waste items cannot be discarded in regular trash due to their high concentrations of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Some of the e-waste recycled last year: computers, monitors, office equipment, cell phones, blackberries, and television sets.
In addition, Central Stores provides a pickup service to departments for recycling their used printer and fax toner cartridges. Over the past three years, more than 9,500 cartridges have been recycled using this service.
New E-Waste Recycling Bins
As part of the University’s ongoing environmental stewardship efforts, Logistics Administration, including the Surplus Department and the Document Production Center, has partnered with the Office of Environmental Policy to improve an important component of the University’s e-waste program.
New e-waste recycling bins designed by the Document Production Center are conveniently located at highly visible and well traversed areas, including the Student Union, the Co-op, and Homer Babbidge Library. Each location has one bin for inkjet cartridges, a second bin for batteries/laptop batteries, and a third bin for cell phones.
The entire University community—students, staff, and faculty—are encouraged to use the new e-waste recycling bins to keep their e-waste out of landfills.
Last summer, Surplus ran a very successful cleanup campaign. Departments were given a special opportunity to easily dispose of their surplus. Surplus employees went to departments’ locations, completed paperwork, and picked up surplus—all in one shot.
“Summer is the best time for us to help departments dispose of surplus and clean up their classrooms, labs, and offices because we have UConn students working more hours during the summer break,” said Hollister. “We thank all departments who took part in this initiative to help UConn advance its environmental goals and campus beautification efforts.” Jeff Ward, Hollister’s right-hand man added, “We also extend a special thanks to our student workforce. We could not have completed this massive job without our student employees who dug in everyday and never complained.”
Processed requests ranged from picking up laptop computers to hauling away multiple truckloads of surplus. Some impressive facts and figures:
88 surplus pickups received and processed from almost as many departments.
32 full truckloads of furniture and electronics removed. (Surplus trucks are 7 feet wide x 14 feet long.)
27 pallets of e-waste recycled—roughly a full tractor load weighing about 15.5 tons.
Surplus Policies and Procedures
The Legal Stuff
Per Public Act 91-256, the University has the authority to dispose of surplus, unused and/or unserviceable equipment and supplies. Proper disposal of University property is required pursuant to Section 4a-77a of the General Statutes. Surplus Management determines if items sent to Surplus will be recycled to the University or discarded. After 30 days, surplus not selected for transfer to another department may be sold at the Public Surplus Store. University property can never be discarded without approval by Surplus Management.
ACT 39 Forms and Kuali (KFS)
To obtain surplus, departments complete an ACT 39 Form, available at the Surplus Showroom. To send items to Surplus, departments complete an ACT 39 Form or use the KFS Capital Assets System.
For complete information about Surplus procedures, visit the Central Stores website or contact Surplus at 486-3094.
One of the most frequent questions we get at the OEP is “can I recycle X,” followed closely by “what recycling goes in each bin?”
At UConn, we have had single stream recycling since 2009. This means that any recyclable material can go in any recycling bin. Sometimes this is also called mixed recycling. We have a number of different types of recycling bins on campus – we have the new green bins outside that are coupled with trash cans, we have the older rectangular cans with paper and bottle/can restricted lids, we have the small blue recycling bins for individual rooms or offices, we have white and red and yellow bins in the dorms. Despite the difference in bins, any recyclable can go in any bin!
However, even with single stream, there are still a lot of questions about what is recyclable and what is not.
Some common items:
Plastic grocery bags – these cannot go into single stream recycling. However, they can be recycled at most grocery stores. This goes for any sort of recyclable plastic bag (such as newspaper bags, or plastic bubble packing material)
Paper coffee cups – these are generally not recyclable because the paper is actually lined with wax to prevent your hot beverage from leaking out of the cup. Often the plastic lid and the paper sleeve are recyclable though!
Books – Check with your recycler, but Willimantic Waste Paper Company, the recycler for campus accepts paperback books for recycling, just put them into any recycling bin.
Shredded paper – Although shredded paper is recyclable, it can’t go into the single stream because the small pieces can’t be sorted out. Offices on campus can contact central stores to pick up confidential documents for shredding. If your recycler can’t take shredded paper, contact them to find out where you can take shredded paper for recycling.
Ziplock Bags – Unfortunately these can’t go in the recycling. Consider washing and reusing them, or purchasing reusable zipper bags for your snacks.
Envelopes with clear windows – These can go in the recycling bin!
Anything with food waste or grease – Even if the material would be otherwise recyclable, if it has food waste, please wash it before putting it into the recycling so you don’t contaminate the load. If it’s contaminated with grease (such as cardboard from a pizza box), it can’t be recycled.
Check out this awesome video from WilliWaste explaining how their single stream recycling system works!
Tomorrow there is a clothing swap on campus! Organized by two fabulous RAs in the CT Commons dorms, this is a great opportunity to send clothing you don’t want to a new home!
The event is on Tuesday, October 1st from 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. in the Branford Lounge in CT Commons. You can drop off your contributions from Noon until 10pm at Branford on Tuesday, or at the Branford Office today.
This event is an awesome example of the culture of sustainability we’re working hard to promote at UConn, and we here at the OEP are thrilled to see RAs creating these opportunities for their students!
Feel free to bring all swapping items down to the Branford Office at anytime for the event on October 1st. The actual refreshments and swap will start at 4 and go until 10pm!
Note that all unclaimed items are donated to various local non-profits that provide clothing to people in need. Out of respect for fellow swappers and your community, please bring items nice enough to lend to a friend. Do not bring ripped, dirty, stained items or those with broken zippers, etc. All items must be freshly laundered and/or dry cleaned before arriving at our swap events. Thank you for your understanding.
If you have clothing that is not in good enough condition to swap or donate, consider putting it in a Clothing recycling box, such as Planet Aid so that it can be recycled as a textile, rather than just putting it in the trash.