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State of Sustainability a panel about campus initiatives

By Dora Chi

Section: News

March 21, 2014

The Student Union Senate Sustainability Committee held the first State of Sustainability address, giving environmentally-minded groups and individuals an opportunity to share how they are paving the way for a legacy of environmentalism throughout campus this Tuesday, Mar. 18. A series of speakers—representatives from campus environmental groups, former Chair of the Environmental Studies program Professor Laura Goldin, and notably, Jay DeGioia from Sodexo dining services—took turns showcasing their combined efforts in implementing initiatives, which range from dual flush toilets in first-year dorms to a frying oil recycling program.

Sustainability Committee Chair and Class of 2015 Senator Anna Bessendorf and Non-Senate Chair Nate Shaffer ’16 opened the discussion. This year, the Committee installed 90 dual-flush toilets, which reduce each flush by a half-gallon of water, in Massell and North Quad dorms. Eco Reps Deanna Heller ’15 and Margaret Hoffman ’15 explained the Mug Save program, which grants reusable mug owners a 45-cent discount on drinks from campus vendors such as Starbucks, Peet’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts. TapBrandeis project leaders Jeremy Goodman ’14 and Emma Balmuth-Loris ’14 spoke about installing hydration stations—two outdoor, seven indoor—and their current initiative, the water bottle pledge, where they ask students to pledge to reduce plastic bottle usage and present pledgers with a stainless steel water bottle to jumpstart their efforts.

A recipient of a 2012 and 2013 Brandeis Sustainability Fund award, TapBrandeis has secured enough stainless steel water bottles for the current and incoming student body. Students for Environmental Action Vice President Stephanie Weinstein outlined the club’s current initiatives and collaborations, which relate to bottled water, composting, real food and energy. Goldin introduced her Greening the Ivory Tower class, an experiential learning course in which students ultimately design and work of sustainability projects. The class in 2012 created projects including TapBrandeis and DeisBikes, a student-led bike sharing program.

Divestment Committee member Rohan Bhatia ’14 explained the importance of living within the carbon budget and reflected on the events which led to the committee’s formation, such as the “March 4th for Climate” rally last year and an overwhelmingly positive student vote for divestment.

Sodexo District Manager Jay DeGioia was the final presenter. DeGioia acknowledged that dining services produce a significant quantity of waste and said they will be conducting a sustainability audit to gauge areas of improvement. He said they are working to counteract their climate impact by bringing in local food vendors such as Russo’s Market and Gifford Ice Cream, implementing a frying oil recycling program and working with the campus’ new waste system company, Casella.

He announced Sodexo will soon roll out the green to-go container program, which has been absent since Sodexo replaced Aramark last summer, but he expressed uncertainty over whether the program will continue after restructuring the dining system for next fall.

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