Winter 2020

Eco-Hero Spotlight

by Dr. Nick Hennessy - Sustainability Manager

       Since the creation of the Office of Campus Sustainability, many faculty and staff members have strongly supported sustainability in the BGSU community. These supporters have made major contributions that have marked successful milestones for the Office of Campus Sustainability. We wanted to give a spotlight to the faculty and staff members that have helped us throughout the years to show our gratitude. Therefore, we began the newsletter series- “Eco-Hero Spotlight!”

In this month’s feature, the Office of Campus Sustainability highlights the support of Bonnie Burris.

       When a staff member shows as much energy and enthusiasm for sustainability and “walks the talk” as exceptionally and profoundly as Bonnie Burris does, recognition of those efforts and accomplishments is essential.  Bonnie works in the Office of Admissions as a Data Systems Coordinator, where she sets up source formats to upload prospect data on vendors and campus events as well as processes requests for high schools and colleges to be added to BGSU’s database.

       Despite her long work days and other obligations outside the office, over the past years Bonnie has become a “go to” volunteer and highly valued supporter of Campus Sustainability in many different areas, and has earned “honorary staff” status!  She has participated in nearly all volunteer roles for the WYMO program (When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out) in the spring, which involves the massive donations by students as they move out for the year.  That has included the beginning of the program when boxes are placed in hall lobbies as well as the pickup of items as donations begin to pour in.  In fact, it would not be unusual to see Bonnie riding on a golf cart travelling from residence hall to residence hall to pick up donated items from collection boxes in the lobbies.  She has sorted literally mountains of clothing and other items for the annual WYMO sale and donation to non-profits and has created organization out of chaos on more than one occasion, always managing to intuitively find an area where she can lend her valuable skills.

       Bonnie has also helped staff BGSU’s “Zero Waste” event picnics which typically occur with first year students in August and the entire university in September, helping to assure that recycling and composting take place properly.  She assists in the Campus re Store (BGSU’s reuse concept) also, preparing for and assisting customers at those events.  Importantly, Bonnie has been a critical resource for creating connections with area non-profits and charities in need for donated items.  Linking their needs with donations has positively impacted hundreds of individuals over the years.

       Sustainability at BGSU and elsewhere has always depended on the leadership and support of a diverse array of individuals and isn’t just limited to one office.  Bonnie is a perfect example of the type of leadership and assistance provided by our campus volunteers that make sustainability programs successful. She is the first in her office to announce “re Store event today!”, to inform people of the electronics recycling box located in the office, or share information about other sustainability practices or events.  Commitment to sustainability comes naturally to Bonnie.  She states that she has “always been interested in the beautiful outdoors” and enjoys working to keep it that way and feels drawn to getting involved in green causes here at BGSU.

       Bonnies says that her best experiences with sustainability events on campus come from working alongside other staff and student volunteers and getting to know them in a casual setting.  This creates a “great feeling that we are all doing something positive to make affordable or free items available for students and at the same time educating those not familiar with the green programs on campus”.  She admits that it’s a lot of fun to drive the golf carts too!

       She has some simple tips on how everyone can get involved in sustainable living.  “Start with simple things, like using LED bulbs to save energy.  Shop for items in recyclable or reduced packaging and buy used items when you can, rather than new to save resources (and money).”  She encourages students, faculty and staff to use the re Store before buying something new, such as office supplies, and to explore what the store has to offer, especially since it’s all free!  At the same time, she encourages others to donate unneeded surplus offices supplies and other items to the store for others to use.

       Away from work and volunteering, Bonnie spends time with her husband, son and daughter, all of whom are BGSU grads; a total Falcon Family!  Perhaps her two grandsons will be future Falcons!  She enjoys gardening and just being outside, and dreams of touring the country after retirement to see all the state and national parks and wonders…”do they make hybrid RVs?” “If along the way I happen to pluck up a few weeds and pick up some wrappers or cans here and there, then I will be very content in feeling I’m still doing my small share.”

       Sounds like a plan Bonnie!  Many thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do for Campus Sustainability and for caring about the environment for future generations!

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Reduce, Reuse, & Race to Zero Waste!

by Max Frost - Sustainability Assistant       

       The Campus Race to Zero Waste, formerly known as RecycleMania, is an international competition for universities and colleges across the U.S. and Canada. Over the past summer, the RecycleMania program changed it name to Campus Race to Zero Waste to better reflect the program’s purpose. Rather than focusing on recycling, the new brand reinforces the mission to help higher education institutions divert over 90% of trash from the landfill and reduce waste on campus! The Campus Race to Zero Waste involves a more comprehensive approach that includes everything ranging from increased recycling and composting to reducing consumption, food waste, and single-use plastic waste. This approach better aligns with the Office of Campus Sustainability’s goal of waste reduction and resource conservation!

       Starting in February, BGSU will be one of the 1,000+ competitors that will report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week over an eight-week period. In turn, our university will be ranked based on our recycling rate as a percentage of our total waste, our volume of recyclables per capita, as well as our total amount of combined recyclables and trash generated on campus. Each week, the Office of Campus Sustainability will be able to compare BGSU’s ranking with other competing schools to gauge our performance and learn how to improve our waste reduction practices!

       BGSU has the opportunity to compete in one or more of four main categories, including Diversion, Zero Waste, Per Capita, as well as Food Organics. The winner of each category will receive national recognition on the program’s website and be recognized in a national press release. In addition, winning universities and colleges will also receive a special award made from recycled materials. Winning aside, the goals of this competition are to motivate our campus community to reduce waste, bring attention to our waste reduction programs and improve them, and to have fun while doing it!

To learn more about the upcoming Race to Zero Waste competition, visit https://recyclemania.org/.

Tis The Season To Be Sustainable

by Max Frost - Sustainability Assistant

       As BGSU winds down the fall semester, Falcons are getting ready to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the holiday season can be magical for some or stressful for others depending on who is hosting. Unfortunately for Mother Nature, humans can be difficult guests to host during the holidays. In fact, our waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, which will equal roughly six million tons of waste created this season alone! However, it’s not too late for us to change. Give Earth the gift of environmental advocacy this season by sharing these four myth-busting facts with your friends and family:

Myth #1: Fake Christmas trees are reusable and therefore good for the environment.

Fact: Most plastic Christmas trees are reusable for only 6 – 10 years before they start to wear out. In fact, a Canadian environmental consulting firm found that artificial trees need to be reused for more than two decades to be more sustainable than natural Christmas trees! Moreover, most artificial trees are simply sent to the landfill because they are expensive and difficult to recycle.

Instead, people should choose a natural pine or fir tree for the holidays this year! The amount of emissions produced from picking up a natural tree is negligible compared to the production of artificial trees. Additionally, Christmas tree farms are generally managed and harvested sustainably! Christmas tree farms benefit the environment by producing oxygen, sequestering carbon, and providing habitats for wildlife. Natural Christmas trees are naturally recyclable as well, so consider composting or mulching your tree after the holidays! Whatever you do, try to keep your trees out of the landfill.

Myth #2: There is no harm in buying traditional holiday cards to send out.

Fact: Approximately 300,000 trees are cut down every year in the United States alone to make cards for the holidays. Instead, consider making your own cards and letters out of recycled card stock, or send e-cards via email or text!

Myth #3: The more Christmas lights, the better.

Fact: This myth could be partly true depending on who you ask, but only if LED lights are being used. Leaving your decorations lit up all night is a huge waste of energy and resources, but LED lights can help conserve resources and mitigate waste. LED lights are 80% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10x longer. As a bonus, LED lights also have the advantage of staying lit even if one bulb in the string goes out! Step aside Rudolph, LEDs are coming to town.

Myth #4: Warming up your car in the driveway on a cold, winter day is a must.

Fact: Although a warm car can be more pleasant to get into before starting your commute to work or school, idling your car is unnecessary, ineffective, and a waste of gas and money. Idling does not warm a car’s engine as fast as driving it does, and idling starts to become wasteful after just 10 seconds. More importantly, idling releases unnecessary pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which harms our health and the environment!

Do you have any suggestions for sustainable holiday practices? Let us know at greenbg@bgsu.edu

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Make Your Nest Green

by Dr. Nick Hennessy - Sustainability Manager

       Did you know that it is still possible to pursue the sustainable operation of campus, even in the time of the pandemic?  Campus Sustainability’s “Green Office Certification” program provides offices across the university with the opportunity to move BGSU closer to its sustainability goals through simple actions that can be done every day.  It takes the efforts of the entire community to  reduce our carbon footprint and use less energy, produce less waste, and in the process both help the environment and save us money/resources.  Many thanks to those offices that have already gone through the certification process. 

       We are in the process of rebranding and further streamlining this initiative to become the “Green Nest” program.  Our goal is to make participation as simple and easy to understand as possible and to get even more office’s on board.  This can be done through a no-contact, safe, virtual process, no matter how large your office or department!  Obtaining Green Nest certification provides positive role modeling to everyone who comes in contact with your office and is a strong and visual commitment to sustainability at BGSU and our existence as a public university for the public good.  If your office is interested in more information about this program or in becoming a Green Nest, contact us at greenbg@bgsu.edu

Where Are They Now!?

by Max Frost - Sustainability Assistant

       Over the years, many interns have walked in and out of The Office of Campus Sustainability doors. These interns have made major contributions and impacts that have marked successful milestones for the Office of Campus Sustainability. We wanted to know what these interns have been up to and how the work they did as an intern has impacted their lives. Therefore, we started the newsletter series- “Where Are They Now?!”

In this month’s feature, the Office of Campus Sustainability reconnected with former intern Carina Weed.

       Carina received her B.S. in Environmental Science with a specialization in Sustainable Management from BGSU in 2017. After her time at BGSU, she has since enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Findlay. Currently, Carina is pursuing her Master’s in Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Management and expects to graduate this upcoming summer. To gain EHS experience as a graduate student, Carina also works as an intern with American Plastics, a manufacturer of plastic injection-molded products. In her new internship, Carina looks for opportunities to improve employees’ health and safety in an industrial setting while ensuring American Plastics complies with applicable environmental regulations.

       Giving an example of her new responsibilities, Carina says, “As an intern, I am assigned several EHS projects. A current project of mine includes making sure all Safety Data Sheets are available to employees for chemicals used at work.”

       Outside of work and class, Carina says she enjoys playing board games, going on hikes, cooking, and re-watching The Office for the 15th time in a row. To quote Dunder Mifflin’s favorite boss, Michael Scott, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky.” Clearly Carina has taken the shots in life to achieve her goals and her hard work is paying off!

Carina Weed │ WYMO Coordinator – Spring 2016 & 2017

       Carina worked as the student WYMO coordinator for Dr. Hennessy, the Sustainability Manager, in the Spring of 2016 and 2017. Her main responsibilities included marketing and facilitating the Office of Campus Sustainability’s “When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out” (WYMO) program, a campus-wide reuse and waste-reduction initiative. WYMO collects still usable, but unwanted, items from students as they move out of their residence halls to prevent these items from getting sent to the landfill. These items are then donated to local nonprofits and charities. In recent years there has also been a sale of some of the items to raise money for sustainable projects.

        As Campus Sustainability’s WYMO coordinator, Carina was responsible for everything ranging from community outreach and spreading awareness of the WYMO program to leading WYMO volunteers and coordinating deliveries of donations to local nonprofits. Her time with the WYMO program has given her some good memories, unique experiences, and new perspectives on waste reduction. Reflecting on one experience in particular, Carina says, “The craziest donation I remember was when Dr. Nick and I were going around setting up collection boxes in the residence halls, and just before we entered Centennial, we watched a student go up and place a king size crocheted blanket in the trash can outside Centennial. This blanket was beautiful and looked like someone’s grandmother had spent a lot of time on it. I ended up washing it and taking it home, and it’s still my favorite blanket to this day! It’s crazy to know what some people will just throw away without a second thought.”

       Carina says her favorite part of the internship was the local impacts her program made.

       “Connecting with local charities was absolutely my favorite part of the WYMO process as the WYMO donations make such a huge difference annually in the BG community,” Carina recalls. “I was able to see the significant impact that WYMO has on BGSU’s annual waste reduction goals after I took inventory of all donations.”

       In addition to the WYMO program, Carina also helped the Office of Campus Sustainability by organizing Campus ReStore events to find homes for remaining WYMO donations and connected with BGSU’s recycling programs to maximize the amount of waste diverted from landfills!

Carina Weed │ On Advice for Students Interested in Environmental Careers

       For those interested in careers related to the environment and sustainability, Carina encourages students and interns to consider a career in Environmental, Health and Safety! EHS is a growing job market and an increasing number of companies are searching for EHS professionals to ensure that their workplace follows EPA, OSHA, and other applicable government regulations.

       “[EHS] allows you to combine a passion for environmental protection and keeping employees safe and healthy,” Carina says, “Regardless of your major or interests, I encourage you all to really explore and understand your career options before you graduate. Look at current openings to find out what the salary may be like, how competitive the job openings may be, if the career choice growth rate is on the rise or slowing down, where you may need to relocate to find a particular job opening, etc.”

       She goes on to stress the importance of using available resources like BGSU’s Career Center and LinkedIn to gain information from professionals in a student’s field of interest.

       Carina finished our interview by saying, “Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn! I would love for BG students to use me as a resource. I was in your shoes at one point and can understand some of the struggles you may be going through!”

Do you have any special memories of Campus Sustainability interns? Let us know at Greenbg@bgsu.edu.

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Sustainability Questions & Suggestions

       Do you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions related to sustainability? If so, feel free to contact us at greenbg@bgsu.edu. Alternatively, you can reach us on Facebook or Twitter @GreenBGSU. We look forward to hearing from you!

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