Wesleyan has a long history when it comes to sustainability and environmental conservation. However, it’s often unclear how to actually keep green at Wes, especially since many things have changed in recent years and are continuing to change.
This is the first year that Wesleyan has a sustainability coordinator, whose role is to help further Wesleyan’s mission of sustainability, including making things clearer to you. Her name is Jen Kleindienst and you can shoot her an email at jkleindienst(at)wes. For questions regarding sustainability, you should also peruse Wesleyan’s sustainability website.
Every fall at the beginning of the year, the sustainability interns put on the Waste Not! second-hand sale. At the end of the spring, they collect copious amounts of unwanted thingermabobs—from couches to sweaters to kitchenware to lots of random decorations—and store them so that you can buy them for ridiculously low prices your first weekend on campus. This year, the sale will be on Sept. 1 and 2—there will be two locations, one on Fountain Ave and one in Exley. A percentage of the proceeds are donated to a local charity while the rest go to support on-campus sustainability initiatives and the continuity of the program in future years.
Speaking of not wasting, last year Wesleyan instituted a bottled-water free campus commitment—all on-campus stores and vending machines no longer serve bottled water. To fulfill your H20 needs, consider purchasing a reusable water bottles (or just using any vessel you find laying around, such as a jar) and filling up at the various water fountains on campus. Middletown water is very safe, but if you’re skeptical you can fill it up at the Usdan filling stations, which are filtered. If you’re going to WesWings, bring your reusable vessel to avoid paying the cup charge. Also, using a reusable mug at Pi Cafe can score you a discount on your coffee.
One of the most confusing and less publicized changes to keeping green at Wesleyan in recent years has been our recycling system. All central campus recycling (including all dorms) is single-stream, meaning that all paper, hard plastic, glass and aluminum can mix, mingle, and merge together in the recycling bins. Please make sure all recyclables are clean and not to put anything “contaminated”— such as greasy pizza boxes—in the recycling bins.
“Non-traditional recyclables” include stainless aerosol canisters, batteries, electronics and light bulbs. Most are recyclable in Exley, but check out the website to find out exactly where to recycle your non-traditionals.
Energy conservation is the obvious way to reduce our environmental impact as a community. The mundane: turn off the lights when you leave the room—make it a habit and you won’t even have to think about it. You can make sure to avoid phantom electricity by unplugging items you don’t use daily, such as your printer or your TV. Also, consider talking to your roommate before you buy a fridge. Chances are that with the meal plan you won’t have a need to store much anyways and each minifridge consumes almost as much electricity as your kitchen fridge at home. It’s warm now, but once the New England autumn and winter kick in, try not to keep your windows open. If you’re unable to lower the heating in your room, call physical plant at (860) 685-3400.
Each year, there are a couple of energy competitions—one for dorms and one for senior woodframe houses. The dorm energy competition relies on the information displayed on the dorm energy monitors that are up in the common areas of the dorms. There’s always a fun prize for the winning dorms. The prize hasn’t been decided yet this year, but will probably be something like a pizza or ice cream party. Encourage your dorm mates to reduce their energy consumption, especially in communal areas, such as the bathrooms. The wood frame energy competition—also know as Do It in the Dark—relies on monthly electricity bills and carries a cash prize.
The university is currently working on instituting industrial composting in the dining halls, but for the time being we have a residential composting system for wood frames. No worries, freshies! If you find your dorm is producing a large amount of vegetable and fruit scraps, hit up Emma Leonard ’13 at eleonard(at)wes to become part of the composting bonanza! You can also contact her to join the Composting Club.
Composting creates soil and if soil gets you going, then you should walk or bike down to Long Lane Farm on Saturdays from 10-2 to help the students on this student-run farm do their thing. Contact Josh Krugman ’14 (jkrugman@wes) if you have any questions about the farm. You could also join forces with the wild kids over at WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design @ Wesleyan), who are currently using sustainable permaculture techniques to revamp the WestCo courtyard. They could use your help every Saturday 12-4. Contact Nathaniel Dolton-Thornton ’15 (ndoltonthorn@wes) about helping them out. There will also be the fourth semester of the WILD Wes student forum this semester (a student-led course), and you can earn biology credit for taking it. Contact Nate for information!
Speaking of growing food, Wesleyan has a bitchin’ food policy group called WesFRESH. They meet weekly and are doing some amazing things with food choices and policy both on and off campus, including an assessment of our food provider Bon Appetit’s food purchases. Last semester, WesFRESH worked with the head of Wesleyan dining (Bon Appétit) Michael Strumpf and President Michael Roth to sign the Real Food Campus Commitment, a contract to switch 20% of our food purchasing to “real” food—ecologically sound, humane, local/community-based, and fair to workers—by the year 2020. If you want to get involved with them, contact Becca Wilton ’15 (rwilton@wes).
Students and student environmental organization are amazing, especially at Wesleyan. That being said, there is also a group with a much broader range in membership. SAGES (the Sustainability Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship) consists of representatives from staff, faculty, administrators, Middletown organizations, and students. They tackle topics such as recycling, procurement, and food. To find out more about SAGES, check out the website or email the Director of Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability Bill Nelligan at wnelligan(at)wes.
Lastly, environment in academics. Relatively new to the Wesleyan academic scene is the College of the Environment. You can major or certificate in environmental studies. Make sure to check out the website and email the administrative assistant Valerie Marinelli (vmarinelli@wes) the if you have any questions about the major.
Read more of the Wesleying Unofficial Orientation Series 2012 here.