Author: Katie Main

UConn Environmental Advisor Dr. Gene E. Likens

LikensOn Monday, October 19th, members of the Office of Environmental Policy and Environmental Compliance met with Dr. Gene E. Likens to discuss UConn’s water plan and ongoing campus sustainability initiatives. Dr. Likens, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was named Special Advisor to the UConn President on Environmental Affairs in July 2012. In this position, he serves as an advisor to faculty, staff, and students on topics of environmental policy, with a focus on increasing awareness of, and involvement in, current environmental issues through research and education. Dr. Likens has directed much of his attention to researching the ecology and biochemistry of forest and aquatic ecosystems, as well as the effects of land-use practices, particularly in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He was among the first scientists to discover acid rain in North America, and received the 2001 National Medal of Science, a testament to his work in the field of ecology. More information about Dr. Likens and his honors, publications, and vitae can be found at

UConn Bicycle Share Rolls Out

Fantastic news for all of the UConn “cycle-paths” out there (and for those trying to reduce their carbon footprints)!  Tomorrow (October 14th) marks the start of a new bicycle sharing program for undergraduates and graduate students.  “Cycle Share,” created and administered by the UConn Recreation Facility, will allow members of the student body to rent bike packages (i.e. bike, bike lock, and helmet) for themselves at no-cost.

The program will offer students two convenient rental options for the fall semester:

  • Long-Term Cycle Share Reservation: Ideal for those with a consistent thirst for exploration and a crazy schedule, this option is a semester-long rental that begins now and ends the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break. Students interested have until Friday, October 23rd to register in person at the UConn Adventure Center, located in Student Union Room 228 across from the Information Desk.  Act fast, as rentals are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Thursday Cycle Share Reservation: Aren’t sure you’ll need a bike for the entire semester? Try out this week-long rental option. Pick-up your bike on Thursday morning and have it back the following Wednesday by 5pm.  Registration opens up the week prior to each rental period on UConn’s RecRegistration website.

For both sharing programs, bicycle pick-up and drop-off is conveniently located at the UConn Adventure Center in the Student Union.

Can’t wait to cycle?  Visit the RecRegistration website or head to the Adventure Center today!

A row of Cycle Share bikes at the UConn Adventure Center waiting to be taken for a spin.

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy

EcoMadness 2015

This past Monday, October 5th, marked the beginning of EcoMadness. For those of you who don’t know, EcoMadness is a month long competition amongst residence halls to promote water and energy conservation. This year, Buckley, East, Northwest, Shippee, Towers, and West will participate for the chance to win a Dairy Bar ice cream party.

Each building is equipped with a meter to measure the gallons of water and kilowatt-hours of energy consumed per student each day. Residence halls will be ranked based on percent reduction and overall per capita use. Students are encouraged to cut back on water EcoMadness2015and energy use through methods such as taking shorter shows, reporting leaks to “Stop the Drop,” turning off lights when no one is in the room, and unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use.

Those students who are especially motivated are encouraged to step up as EcoCaptains, who educate and encourage their fellow residents to conserve water and energy. If you are interested in becoming a leader, contact Ben Breslau at Activity ideas for promoting conservation among residents can be found on the OEP’s website.

EcoMadness continues until November 1st, when the final dorm standings will be calculated. Weekly progress updates will be sent out to let residents know how they are doing in terms of water and energy usage. Good luck to all of the participants!

Football Green Game Day 2015


“I would describe the experience as nothing short of eye opening.” – Sara Wegher, volunteer

Last Saturday, September 26th, the collective efforts of the Office of Environmental Policy and students from EcoHusky, EcoHouse, and the Honors Program generated yet another successful Green Game Day. As the UConn Huskies faced off against Navy, our volunteers strived to collect as many recyclables as possible, educated tailgaters about recycling, and discussed with them the various sustainability initiatives at UConn. As stated by one of our volunteers, Caroline Anastasia, “The people who allowed us to educate them were very grateful.” The outcome of the football game may not have been desirable; however, the 1,520 pounds of recyclables collected, and the wealth of knowledge spread, can certainly be considered a victory.

Pictured below are teams of volunteers collecting recyclables, and members of the OEP educating fans about sustainability and recycling. We would like to thank all of the volunteers for their hard work, as well as the students, alumni, and families for being so receptive and appreciative of our goals.

unnamedFor more photos and updates from the OEP, check out our social media:


Green Involvement

Can you name all of the environmental groups at UConn? There are a plethora of groups and organizations on campus that are either directly or indirectly related to the environment. These include, but are not limited to:

• Eagle Scout Association
• EcoHusky
• EcoHouse
• ECOalitionwildlife society
• EcoGarden Clubecohuskylogo
• Environmental Conservation Club
• Forestry and Wildlife Club
• Geology Club
• Green Building Club
• Honors Council (Environmental Committee)
• Real Slow Food
• Resource Economics Club
• Spring Valley Student Farm
• Wildlife Society

EcoHusky works closely with the Office of Environmental Policy to organize events and projects to promote environmental sustainability on and off campus. Members of EcoHusky promoted recycling aECOhouse2t Green Game Day this past Saturday, and will be teaching the public about composting at the Hartford Marathon on Saturday, October 10th. EcoHouse is UConn’s sustainable living and learning community located in Sprague Hall, comprised of students immersing themselves in a more sustainable environment. Spring Valley Farm allows a small group of students to gain first-hand experience working on a farm, and EcoGarden Club grows crops for UConn’s dining halls, an initiative supported by Real Slow Food, a group focused on the production and purchase of ethical, sustainable food. The Environmental Committee of UConn’s Honors Couhonors councilncil is dedicated to raising environmental awareness not only to honors students, but to the entire campus, through a variety of events, such as their Alternative Recycling Initiative. ECOalition acts as a liaison between the various environmental groups and leaders on campus, encouraging collaboration and unity amongst them.

Surely, the list does not end here. The vast number of groups is indicative of not only the university’s commitment to the environment, but the students’ commitments as well. Each environmental organization on campus represents and promotes various ideals and goals, all of which are unique yet interrelated. To find out more about these organizations, you can search

HEEP Invasive Species Removal

IMG_2920For those of you who don’t know, UConn’s Hillside Environmental Education Park (HEEP) is actually a remediated landfill. In an effort to diminish the chemical pollution of the landfill, the university implemented Wetland Mitigation and Closure Plans, and later constructed the HEEP to be used for research, education, and recreational pIMG_2914urposes. Continued monitoring of the wetlands is essential to protecting the vegetation and wildlife of the park. Today, Chris Mason, UConn’s wetland scientist and contractor of the HEEP project, led an invasive species removal effort in the park. Phragmites and Japanese Stiltgrass have been spreading and expanding throughout the HEEP, likely due to the dry weather and dispersal by deer and other animals, and are known to crowd out native species. The plan was to eliminate visible invasive through the application of herbicide, and to monitor the distribution and trends of these invasive species in order to protect the existing ecosystem.

Campus Consciousness Tour feat. Nate Ruess

This Saturday, September 19th, Nate Ruess of the Grammy Award-winning band FUN and renowned Indie band The Format is coming to UConn as part of the Campus Consciousness Tour (CCT). REVERB and NextGen Climate have collaborated to systematize a music tour with an integrated environmental campaign. Having traveled to over 150 college campuses, CCT’s preeminent goal is to provide students with captivating musical performances that send a positive, educational message about social and environmental causes.

REVERB is a nonprofit organization committed to reducing the environmental impact of its tours, and promoting environmental sustainability to its audience throutentsgh a variety of approaches. Backstage greening programs, such as composting, recycling, waste reduction, and carbon offsets, as well as methods of fan engagement, including the Consciousness Village, social media campaigns, and an online carpooling resource, aim to reduce the environmental footprint of the tour, and inspire fans to create a more sustainable future. Throughout the day prior to the concert, various environmental non-profits will be tabling to promote sustainability with a variety of products, games, and prizes.

flyerWith past headliners including Drake, J. Cole, and Wiz Khalifa, CCT’s environmental message has reached over a million students since REVERB was founded in 2004. If you are interested in attending the Campus Consciousness Tour featuring Nate Ruess, Jorgenson’s doors open at 7pm on Saturday, September 19th, and tickets are on sale now. We are all very excited about this integrative green concert, as it sends a positive message reflective of UConn’s commitment to protecting the environment.

Stage II Water Supply Watch Issued

Although many of us enjoyed and continue to enjoy the beautiful, sunny weather that was characteristic of this summer, it is important to acknowledge the impact that this has had on our environment. On September 3rd, UConn issued a Stage II Mandatory Water Conservation Alert due to dry conditions that have led to a reduction in stream flows. Our own Fenton River and many others have exhibited flow rates close to or below the lowest on record for this time of year. A drop in water level is known to have an inevitable cascade effect that can lead to the loss of thermal refuges and cold water fish, as well as the diminishment of river water quality.

It is imperative that we recognize that all environmental conditions, including droughts, affect everyone to some degree. Furthermore, everyone’s actions can either positively or negatively affect the situation at hand. Drought or no drought, UConn works to conserve water each and every day through a variety of efforts. The operation of the Reclaimed Water Facility and the installation of low flow shower heads and faucet aerators are just a few of our campus’s consistent approaches to water conservation.

Nevertheless, it is crucial that students, faculty, and staff on campus take additional measures to conserve water during this alert. Upon the issuance of the Stage II Water Supply Watch, mandatory conservations became and remain effective. These include restrictions on lawn watering, washing motor StopTheDropvehicles, and using water for dust control. Equally as important are the voluntary measures that we can all enact to conserve water throughout our daily routines. These measures include taking shorter showers, washing laundry in full loads, turning off the sink while brushing your teeth, and reporting leaky fixtures to “Stop the Drop.” We hope and expect that most members of the UConn community strive to implement these measures everyday despite the current dry conditions; however, if you are looking for a reason to begin conserving water, this is certainly the time.

A Bright Idea from UCONN and Eversource

lamp flyerThe start of the semester is looking bright, and we’re not talking about the glowing faces of the students strolling to their 8AM classes. We’re referring to the 4,500 LED lamps distributed to new and returning students this past weekend.

In past years, students picking up their textbooks at the Co-Op have been provided with fluorescent and LED bulbs; however, this year, UConn and Eversource exceeded all expectations with the allotment of energy efficient LED desk lamps. For those who do not know, light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, deviate from CFLs and incandescent bulbs in their light production efficiency. LEDs expend 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs with a lifetime up to 25 times longer.

We are all very grateful to Eversource, UConn’s electric utility company, for its generous support. Apart from being energy efficient, the lamps distributed were eye-catching with a sleek design and UCONN logo in an array of colors. The built in USB port was also a great feature. It is no wonder that all 4,500 lamps were distributed by Day 3 of the event.

This success can be defined not only by the great amount of lamps given out, but by the message the event conveyed. To students and parents present, UConn’s commitment to the environment was made all so evident. This and other displays of effort and success are reflected in UConn’s #8 ranking in 2015 and consistent top ten ranking in Sierra’s Cool School annual sustainability survey of the greenest colleges and universities in the United photo 2new photo 1

Sustainable Shopping

Like a lot of girls, I love to shop. As a consumer, it is important to be conscious of the impacts of your clothing purchases. It is estimated that over 90% of the clothing purchased in the United States comes from abroad. A sweater that you notice hanging on the rack or a pair of shoes you come across at a department store might have traveled thousands of miles, using up energy and polluting the planet with coal on its journey to reach you. The latter motivated me to become the type of consumer who primarily purchases consignment clothing.

What is Consignment?clothing pic
Consignment clothing shops is a clothing shop that sells clothes that are owned not by the shop’s owner, but by the individual who had given (consigned) the clothes to the shop for the owner to sell. Both the shop owner and the individual who donated the clothing receive a portion of the profit once the clothing items are sold.
Consignment clothing produces a significantly smaller carbon footprint. While the sweater or the pair of shoes might have first come from thousands of miles away, it most likely made itself into the consignment clothing shop after someone in the local community wore it, and then sold or donated it to the shop. The only carbon emissions associated with the sweater or pair of shoes is the fuel that it took the donator and the shopper to drive to the store. The amount of emissions would be significantly less or virtually zero if either person walked, biked, or took public transportation to the consignment clothing store.
Consignment clothing items are tremendously discounted as well. I have always found that $50 at a consignment clothing store will earn me at least three or four times more than spending $50 at a department store. Purchasing discounted items does not mean sacrificing style. A majority of consignment stores tailor to the style of the glamorous, uptown, modern woman.

The 3 R’s
While the idea of wearing something that someone else wore can be a turn off to some people, the clothing is first washed before it is placed on the racks, and the clothing must be gently used. Buying and using gently worn clothing follows one of the main principles of environmental friendliness. These clothing items, if they had not been donated or sold to the consignment shop, could have easily ended up in a shopping pic

The packaging associated with brand new items often ends up in landfills as well, especially if the new clothing item is ordered online. The new clothing items can come wrapped up in a lot of plastic, tissue, etc. Gently worn clothing items purchased in a consignment clothing shop eliminate that unnecessary packaging entirely.

You can support consignment clothing shops by participating as a donor or seller. Bring your gently used, unwanted clothing items, shoes, and accessories to a consignment clothing store. You will be paid for your generosity and environmental stewardship!