Columns / Discourse / January 22, 2020

Sustainability scoop: Looking back and moving forward

Welcome back to our Sustainability Scoop! I hope everyone had a splendid, sustainable holiday!

Last term, we talked about what sustainability means, how it pertains to everyone, why we should care and how we can use the SDGs as a guide to think about how we can each be sustainable in our own ways!

But what about Knox? How is our own campus achieving sustainability?

Knox’s sustainability efforts branch out in diverse ways, by diverse people. In this week’s article I would like to shine a spotlight on such initiatives that not everyone may be aware of! According to the Knox Campus Sustainability Annual Report published by the Sustainability Office, in the 2018-2019 academic year we have achieved:

  1. The start of the Reuse Kits rental program! We programmed with Dining Services to rent out plates, bowls, cups and silverware for on-campus events. This reduces both money and wastes from the countless food events held on campus.
  2. The planting of a food forest on campus! Thanks to the fruitful efforts of Students for Sustainability, we will soon be harvesting apple, pear and peach trees on campus, as well as raspberry, dogwood, persimmon and hazelnut!
  3. Putting a compost bin in the Gizmo! Any leftover food that has already been served will now be composted. In addition to the 5,000 pounds of leftover food from the Caf, Knox in total has diverted 12,003 pounds of food waste from landfill. These efforts also won Knox first place in the Food Organics category of RecycleMania, a, “friendly competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction activities,” for the second year in a row.
  4. Preventing 13,510 pounds of still-good items from entering landfills thanks to the Share Shop as well as donations to local organizations. 116.3 tons of items were recycled, and 22.6% of them were diverted from landfills or from being burnt.
  5. Producing 8,663 kWh of electricity with the Wilson House solar panels.

In years prior, Knox has also achieved:

  1. A zero-waste commencement lunch! By using reusable and recyclable serving wares, the entire Commencement only produced 0.2 pounds of waste.
  2. Becoming one of the nation’s first schools to entirely stop using plastic straws.

Theses efforts have been applauded by others as well. Last year, Knox was named a “Green College” by the Princeton Review for, “the schools’ academic offerings and initiatives, campus policies and practices and green-career preparation for students.” Our sustainable efforts towards, “curriculum, food & dining, energy, waste, research and transportation,” also gave us a reputation as a “Cool School” from the Sierra Club.

So, what do you think? Was our campus more sustainable than you thought? I personally felt more proud to be a member of the Knox community after finding out about all of this. If you have any more projects ideas, the Student Senate Sustainability Committee would be happy to hear them and hopefully work towards implementation!

Neori Yasumaru

Tags:  campus sus Food Forest RecycleMania student senate sustainability committee sustainability

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