Green Game Day was a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing day for UConn football fans. The Huskies lost a close game on the field, but Mother Earth won outside the stadium where EcoHusky and EcoHouse volunteers, along with Office of Sustainability interns, took to the tailgating fields to collect cans and bottles from fans. Volunteers sporting blue Green Game Day shirts walked among the rows of cars, approaching UConn alumni, Connecticut locals and even some Illinois fans to help make their game day a bit greener.
Some student volunteers even ventured into the spirited student lot, all in the name of recycling! Unsurprisingly, they emerged with more bags than any other tailgate area.
In total, the volunteers collected 58 bags of recyclable bottles and cans.
While most of the volunteers scoured the fields, others staffed the Office of Sustainability tent in the HuskyFest fan zone, quizzing fans on their environmental knowledge and giving out prizes for correct answers. One notable addition to the prize table this year was the new UConn Sustainability Activity Book. Our youngest fans (and a few older ones) jumped at the chance to color and learn. One excited young Husky was heard walking away from the tent exclaiming: “Dad look! Jonathan’s on every page!”
From baby boomers to generation Z, all ages were equal parts enthralled, enthused and stumped by the intern’s questions. At the end of their experience at the tent, all participants had learned something about the environment and UConn’s sustainability efforts.
Once inside, fans were treated to a recycling PSA from none other than Jonathan the Husky. Likely due to the inspiring recycling video, the Huskies got off to a strong start, scoring the first 13 points. Alas, it was not to last, as Illinois came storming back to win 31-23.
While UConn’s first loss of the season was disappointing, it can teach us a valuable lesson about recycling: Care for the environment must be sustained, or else we risk losing all our progress. And vice versa: No matter what your habits are, you can always turn it around and become an EcoWarrior.
Green Game Day was a roaring success for all involved. We hope to see you during the basketball season at Gampel, or next year at the Rent!
There was something different and exciting about the second home game of UConn’s football season. For one, it turned out to be UConn’s first win of the season. But more importantly, Husky fans tailgating before the game were greeted by dozens of students in blue and green shirts carrying around trash bags, picking up bottles and cans, and giving out sustainability-themed trinkets.
Who were these students, and why were they at Rentschler Field? EcoHusky members and EcoHouse residents, along with OEP interns, had gotten together for our fall Green Game Day! Each year, the OEP partners with Athletics to educate not only UConn students but also Husky fans from all over Connecticut on the importance of recycling.
Volunteers walked around the parking lots, interacting with tailgaters while collecting bottles and cans. It was messy work – many shoes were dirtied with mysterious liquids in the process – but that did not dampen the students’ spirit. This year, 2.4 tons of recyclables were collected according to Windsor Sanitation, the most on record from any Green Game Day! Meanwhile, OEP staff and interns stationed at the Green Game Day tent during FanFest quizzed young and old on environmental facts while playing our brand new Plinko game for prizes.
Another exciting addition to this Green Game Day event was a recycling PSA video the office created featuring the one and only Jonathan the Husky! In the video, Jonathan teaches you how to recycle by recycling a plastic water bottle himself! If you haven’t seen it, it is one of the cutest videos you will see all year. It was shown on the Jumbo Tron before the game, and ‘awws’ could be heard throughout the stadium as it played. Check out our Facebook page to see it for yourself!
Thanks to our smiling, extremely dedicated, and hardworking volunteers, Green Game Day was a success! A big shout to all who made it possible. We’re looking forward to the next one in February!
Over 30 members of EcoHusky and the EcoHouse learning community got up bright and early on Saturday, October 8th, to volunteer at the Hartford Marathon in Bushnell Park. After a quick power nap on the bus, volunteers were ready for a day of excitement, positivity, and environmental awareness. Upon arrival at Bushnell Park in Hartford, volunteers mapped out the best locations for compost and heatsheet bins, as their primary responsibility for the day was to manage the waste stations throughout the park to ensure that runners and race-goers correctly disposed of food, recyclables, and foil blankets.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation has expressed strong interest in environmental initiatives over the years, with compost management as a top priority on the day of the event. Their composting partner is the KNOX Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that partners with residents, businesses, and government to make Hartford more sustainable. This year, all of the food items on the race menu were compostable, including the soup, fruit, deserts, plates and napkins. The Marathon planners were also conscious in their other purchasing decisions, as the cups provided at the drink stations were recyclable as well.
The Marathon’s efforts to reduce waste at the event are commendable; however, it was up to the volunteers from EcoHusky and EcoHouse to ensure that those efforts were seen through. Composting and recycling can have such positive waste diversion impacts, but only if the items are separated into the correct bins. Not only did volunteers ensure that this was done at the event, they also educated race-goers about recycling and composting so they could be more sustainable in their daily lives. Additionally, they tracked the bags of compost, weighing hundreds of pounds over the course of the day.
“I definitely thought the volunteers had a positive impact on the people attending the Marathon. Most race-goers were eager to learn, asking us questions to make sure they were throwing their waste out in the appropriate bins.” -Eddie McInerney, EcoHusky member
In addition to manning the waste stations throughout the park, EcoHusky also had an environmental awareness tent, with an interactive basketball and recycling-themed game that encouraged players to think about what items are recyclable, compostable, and trash, then throw the items into the correct basketball hoops.
“Race-goers were attracted to the EcoHusky tent because of its peculiar set up – needless to say, no one else had a conglomeration of “waste” items and handmade basketball hoops scattered around their table. For such a simple and low budget idea, we still managed to make a big impact with the people we spoke to.” -Katie Main, EcoHusky Treasurer
Each year, members of EcoHusky and EcoHouse refer to the Hartford Marathon as one of their favorite volunteer events. The positive atmosphere surrounding the marathon, and the receptiveness of the race-goers to the message about sustainability, consistently leave the volunteers feeling both cheerful and optimistic.
This past Saturday, members of EcoHusky attended the Yale Environmental Law Association’s conference, “New Directions in Environmental Law,” at Yale Law School in New Haven. A variety of speakers in the forms of panels, opening and keynote addresses, and discussions all united to display that the environment, sustainability, and climate change permeate a tremendous number of issues in law.
The day began with an opening address from environmentalist, author, and journalist, Bill McKibben, through a remote video call. An eloquent speaker, McKibben focused his message on using our passion, movement, and spirit as forms of currency to build countervailing power to the industries and big oil corporations ruling the world. He spoke of the necessary transition from education to confrontation, and how we cannot simply work at the margin; we must drive “core environmental change” through an active environmental movement. This, he said, will take everyone’s particular skill sets, as well as our willingness to be citizens of the globe.
Following was a panel on clean energy investing, presented by Judith Albert, Dr. Griffin Thompson, Andrew Darrell, and Daniel Winer. Each speaker provided a unique perspective on the necessity of collaboration to promote the use of clean energy. The government must work as a regulator to provide a positive role for businesses, investors must be connected with investment ideas they can be confident in, and green banks must work to leverage capital and offer long term, low cost financing for clean energy projects. There exist many barriers, as clean energy is still a new concept; however, successful communication between communities and the government can bridge that gap. The panel also spoke about the Supreme Court’s stay on the Clean Power Plan. While the recent news may have a “chilling effect” on investors, this does not diminish the long term impact of the plan.
Later were four breakout sessions to choose from, with topics such as forest resiliency and the environmental impacts of violence in Colombia and Somalia. I chose to attend the session, “Coordinating Animal Law and Environmental Law,” hosted by Paul Waldau, Randall Abate, and Jonathan Lovvorn. About a third of global climate change is linked to agriculture and land clearing, and meat facilities account for a significant amount of water and land contamination; therefore, there is a clear connection between animal law and environmental law. Animal law currently does not have the leverage that environmental law has because the connection to human health gives environmental issues more federal coverage and legitimacy. Animal law does, however, appeal to humans’ abilities to care about other species, and triggers protection instincts, but there still exist too few federal laws regarding animal rights. What Waldau, Abate, and Lovvorn hoped to convey was that environmental and animal law have mutually valuable movements that could be much more powerful if they work collectively.
After lunch, we heard from Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. What stood out most in her keynote address was the importance of bridging gaps, whether it be between millennials and baby boomers, government and private businesses, or local citizens and the government. These connections are all vital in addressing major issues and developing solutions to climate change. A common theme throughout the conference was that the issue of climate change often breaks groups apart, and what we need to do is bring them back together.
Next was another collection of breakout sessions, including Indian water rights and workers’ rights and environmental harms. I chose to attend “Drinking Water at Risk: Flint and Beyond,” a discussion hosted by John Rumpler of Environment America and Khiara Bridges, a Professor of Law at Boston University. The crisis in Flint has acted as a window to a more serious issue, a concept they referred to as environmental racism. Residents in minority communities are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and toxins, including poor drinking water quality, proximity to fracking and factory farms, and susceptibility to the toxic chemicals from manufacturing. As Bridges stated, the lead and toxins are colorblind; governmental decisions and responses have shown racial inequality. Perhaps the best solution is to frame all of these environmental and human rights issues more broadly to encourage the interest convergence necessary for positive change.
Following was the panel, “Integrated Strategies for Climate Change,” comprised of Michael Gerrard, Kassie Siegel, Heather Whiteman, and Lemuel M. Srolovic. They spoke of the anticipated effects of current pledges and policies on global temperature based on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as feedback mechanisms and sensitive ecosystems. Whiteman focused on the impact of climate change on indigenous people and tribal water rights. She pointed out that tribal interests are often underrepresented in the Supreme Court; however, a notable accomplishment was the inclusion of indigenous rights in the COP21 agreement.
Lastly, Dr. Mark Mitchell, Founder and Senior Policy Advisor for the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, closed the conference with remarks that tied the entire experience together. Although there exists a disproportionate impact of certain environmental issues, we are all affected, and conferences like this one provide us with the dialogue and tools necessary to change the future.
The annual ING Hartford Marathon was held on Saturday, October 12th in Bushnell Park. This year, EcoHusky and EcoHouse volunteers partnered with ING to help educate the runners and their family and friends on the importance of composting, as well as to promote UConn’s Sierra #1 Coolest Schools Ranking.
Approximately 30 volunteers attended the event and helped “man-the-can.” Garbage, recycling, and composting bins were placed together and volunteers monitored and instructed on the disposal of waste.
Like UConn, Hartford also has single stream recycling. This means that any recyclable—glass, metal, paper, plastic—can be placed in the same bin and it will later be separated at a recycling facility. This simplifies the process of recycling and promotes consumer participation.
Runners were provided with an assortment of food options after their race including bagels, apple crumble, and grilled cheese. They were advised on what food is compostable—this applies to most products but excludes dairy and meat and thus some food had to be disposed of in the garbage bins. Fortunately, however, runners were given their food on compostable plates with compostable napkins so only the plastic spork could not be composted. Composting is an earth-friendly way to reduce methane emissions from landfills and support carbon footprint reduction. It enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and reduces the need of harmful chemical fertilizers. Compost can be used on your yard and saves money.
EcoHusky members also set up a table in the park where they had a memory-matching recycling game and sustainability themed trivia questions to engage those passing by.
In addition to promoting composting, this served as an opportunity for volunteers to inform members outside of its own community about the many sustainability initiatives and programs at UConn. Runners come from all throughout Connecticut to participate in the marathon so it offered UConn the occasion to discuss our recently earned Sierra #1 Coolest Schools ranking.
Each spring the OEP along with the UConn Department of Dining Services’ Local Routes Program, EcoHusky Student Group and EcoHouse Learning Community organizes a sustainability festival called Earth Day Spring Fling (EDSF). The event features a multitude of student groups and campus departments as well as eco-friendly vendors/exhibitors. This year’s celebration will be held on April 18th from 11:00am to 2:00pm with an inclement weather date of April 19th.
Located on Fairfield Way, students can easily stop by for a quick bite to eat on their way to and from class. Dining Services provides delicious local food (including vegetarian/vegan options) purchasable by either a flex pass or $9.00 in cash. All dishware is reusable to assist in achieving a low-waste event—with the bulk of waste being either recycled or composted. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and Mansfield community members are expected to attend. A diversity of vendors will be attending (approximately 35 to 40), including UConn’s very own EcoHusky Student Group, Kicks for Africa (a non-profit created by UConn student Chibuikem Nwanonyiri that collects lightly used shoes to send over to children in Africa), the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Lili D Magpie Creations (sustainable jewelry), Capitol Clean Cities (an organization dedicated to increasing the use of eco-friendly vehicles) and much more.
EDSF is a low-waste event.
UConn was recently ranked 5th on Sierra Club’s Cool School Survey this past year and we aim to continue improving sustainability on campus so we can reach our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Students are encouraged to come and learn more about what they can do to help promote sustainability on campus. This event offers the opportunity to learn more about environmental initiatives implemented at UConn as well as general sustainable practices. Some vendors will be selling products or handing out free samples while others may provide informational pamphlets.
Students can sit amongst their friends in the lawn area surrounding Fairfield Way and simply relax or seek out Jonathan the Husky who will be posing for photos to attract students toward our fundraising initiatives as part of the Ignite Challenge (Students 4 Sustainbility). Live acoustic music will be performed by two local bands named Skychase and Research n Development. There will also be a tree planting at 1:00pm on the east side of Budds Building.
Come join us and help UConn celebrate its biggest environmental awareness event of the year. With spring in the air, let’s cross our fingers and hope for warm weather. We hope to see you there!
Click on a picture to learn more about our green game days this spring! Thank you to everyone at the games who donated to Kicks for Africa. Collection of lightly used sneakers will continue throughout the semester at bins placed around campus.
by: OEP Sustainability Coordinator Laura Dunn, OEP Intern Skyler Marinoff, & OEP Director Rich Miller
In the interest of keeping climate change at the forefront of the UConn community’s attention, the Office of Environmental Policy will help coordinate a system-wide interdepartmental “teach in” this upcoming April. Tentatively titled “Our Environment: A Dialogue on Change,” this week-long effort, from April 15-22, is set to continue building on the momentum set by a number of successful Climate Impact Mitigation and Adaptation (CIMA) events in the spring of 2012.
Kicking off in March last year, the CIMA lectures featured university faculty and guest speakers such as independent journalist and author, Mark Hertsgaard, and the Teale Lecture speaker, Michael Mann, an award-winning climatologist. Other events included a panel discussion focused on incorporating various aspects of sustainability, a Climate Impact Expo in the town of Mansfield, and an interactive Eco-footprint exhibition developed by the EcoHusky student group. Very importantly, President Herbst reaffirmed the institutional commitment to UConn’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which had been approved by her predecessor in 2010, and endorsed a new Climate “Adaptation” section of the CAP that spoke of our dedication to help communities more proactively address the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The reactions of students were very positive, as shown by the overwhelming attendance of the Michael Mann lecture and the passionate participation in discussions during both the sustainability panel and at the close of each lecture or expo.
This year, the UConn community can expect another well collaborated and dynamic CIMA week planned by the organizing committee of student, faculty, staff and town representatives. Given the success of last spring, the committee aims to focus the month of April on the environment in whatever way relates best to each department. In order to reach a wider audience and engage in a broader discussion, CIMA 2 will feature a week long “teach in” in which faculty are provided with pertinent instructional materials that can be incorporated into a class or two during the teach-in. Scheduled for the week of April 15th to April 22nd(Earth Day) this series will also encompass various events focused on the environment and culminate with the annual Earth Day Spring Fling, the annual main and regional campus celebrations co-sponsored by the OEP, Dining Services, EcoHusky and EcoHouse!
Other events planned for April that relate to “Our Environment: A Dialogue on Change” include:
(1) 5 April – Humanities Institute “Day in the Humanities,” (2) 9 April – special lecture on ‘Silent Springs’ by historian, Naomi Oreskes, (3) a “Coastal Perspectives Rachel Carson Symposium” at Avery Point, (4) 12 April – a tentatively scheduled Law School special conference on natural gas and nuclear power, (5) 18 April – a Teale Lecture Series presentation, “The Lost Woods of Childhood” by poet Allison Hawthorne Deming.
This past October 24th was the 10th annual Campus Sustainability Day (CSD). CSD is an occasion for college and university campuses to celebrate the unique role they play in the movement towards a sustainable society. Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), CSD is a national event with 151 institutions participating from coast to coast. This was the first year that the University of Connecticut joined in.
As a center of higher learning and forward thinking, UConn has a growing culture interested in practicing and spreading awareness about sustainability. From student organizations to faculty and staff initiatives, UConn has distinguished itself as one of the “greenest” schools in the country (as we were proudly recognized by the Sierra Club!). The contributors to UConn’s CSD were equally diverse, including sustainability staff from the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP), the EcoHouse Learning Community, Green Grads, EcoHusky Student Group, Spring Valley Student Farm, and even Ballroom Dancing Club.
The first part of CSD focused on sharing information about the various opportunities available for students to get involved in the green movement on campus. This was a great opportunity for these groups to advertise their ongoing activities and projects. Tables, tents, and displays were set up on Fairfield Way. Participants brought games, produce, and a range of information for students to take on their way through campus. The fair-style event provided a physical representation of the sustainable movement at UConn.
The second component of CSD was a review of UConn’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) by sustainability intern Emily McInerney. The CAP is a guidance document that is a product of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) intended to outline steps to lead UConn to carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Emily gave a brief presentation on the history of the CAP, its progress since implementation in 2009, and what the future holds in light of the goals it sets out.
The talk set the stage for a breakout session in which the (mostly undergraduate) crowd formed groups to discuss the student-centric aspects of UConn’s CAP and sustainability initiatives. Conversation focused on ways in which students can learn about and get involved with sustainability programs on campus. Groups identified information gaps, including the general lack of awareness about electronic waste recycling and car share programs, and pressing campus issues like food waste, recycling, and sustainable transport.
Finally, the discussion turned towards ways to address these problems or promote the progress that UConn has made. Including sustainability-related information early in students’ UConn experience such as during freshman orientation or campus tours received widespread support, as did adjusting the parking fee structure to encourage alternative transit or carpooling. Students suggested that simple relatable messages could be effective in addressing issue like food or electricity waste.
Overall, CSD proved to be a success. The greatest accomplishment of 2012’s CSD was the collaboration and communication that occurred between the diverse factions of students and organizations. Networking, conversation, and education were focal points of the day’s events and these exchanges between the different parties will be a platform for which UConn can continue to build itself, both in practice and in philosophy, as a school dedicated to long-term sustainability. We look forward to participating in 2013!
“Climate Impact, Mitigation, and Adaptation: a Reflection on Our Future,” was a four day climate-centric event that occurred in late March. The intent of CIMA was to engage all levels of the Storrs and UConn communities in productive discussions about the implications that a warming climate will have on our society and our environment. As public concerns grow about environmental issues and global warming the conversations have often focused on the science behind climate change and what people can do to mitigate its causes and impacts. This event was progressive in its inclusion of climate change adaptation, or what steps people may take to alleviate the harmful effects of global warming and even to explore where humans may stand to benefit from a warmer environment. This theme was consistent throughout the week; each speaker wove their own experiences and backgrounds into the central ideas of CIMA.
CIMA’s opening ceremonies included brief talks by DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty, Dr. Gene Likens of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, and UConn’s President Susan Herbst. The event culminated in a rededication of the University to its Climate Action Plan as well as a signed endorsement of a new “Adaptation” section by President Herbst. Guests and speakers alike stuck around the North Reading Room of Wilbur Cross for the following reception, featuring local food and drink arranged by UConn’s Dining Services.
Tuesday’s events were focused on community engagement. Independent journalist and author, Mark Hertsgaard, spoke during the day as well as at the event, Climate Impact Expo: Actions for Cool Communities, that evening. As the keynote speaker, Hertsgaard’s talk, “Inspiring Our Communities To Fight Global Warming,” detailed cases where communities had come together to implement responsible practices and planning in their own areas. The Climate Impact Expo was a forum for Mansfield community entities striving to forge a sustainable culture to showcase their organization and build connections for future collaboration.
Students were emphasized during Wednesday’s CIMA events. The day began with a climate and environment research and interactive Eco-footprint exhibition in the Student Union. Displayed all day, the aim was to allow students and passersby to peruse cutting edge UConn based research into climate change and adaptation or else evaluate their consumption practices in such categories as water, energy, and food. The Student Day culminated with the afternoon’s panel discussion, “Sustainability: What UConn Students Should Know,” which strove to bring students into an open conversation with professionals as well as other students about environmental, agricultural, and industry based aspects of sustainability. Panelists David Tine and Paul Popinchalk of the Glastonbury based energy consulting firm Celtic Energy brought pragmatic insights into the outlook of alternative energy alternatives, stressing that the first step is increasing efficiency of current technology. President Herbst’s newly appointed environmental adviser, Dr. Gene Likens, discussed his views on the student role in sustainability and discussed his experiences in environmental research. Julia Cartobiano, an organic farmer, Trevor Biggs and Laura Dunn, two UConn students, discussed their views and history in sustainable agriculture as well as answered questions concerning the harmful effects of industrial agriculture.
The culmination of CIMA occurred on Thursday March 29th, with the last Teale Lecture of the year featuring controversial climatologist Dr. Michael Mann. He spoke about his research into climate change, his findings, and some of the legal troubles that hindered its acceptance by the public. As introductions were given by Dr. Kathleen Segerson and Provost Peter Nichols students, community members, staff and faculty poured through the doors of the Konover Auditorium to hear Dr. Mann speak. The event was so well attended that the aisles had to be cleared and multiple rooms on campus were commandeered for remote viewing. The talk was well delivered; Mann showed his expertise at bridging the gap between the public and scientific community. An engaged audience led to an interesting question and answer session and contributed to an ideal ending the week of Climate Change awareness.
CIMA proved to be a groundbreaking event at UConn. The level of collaboration between diverse academic departments, the Mansfield community, and the student body was inspiring and should serve as a model for future projects. As such, the great success of CIMA was not only the unique approach it took to Climate Adaptation but the scope of the groups that were engaged in the conversations it provoked. With Climate Change on the minds of the Storrs Mansfield public and academic communities, as well as the action items of the newly adopted Adaptation Section of the Climate Action Plan, CIMA has helped set the foundation for assimilation of research, outreach, and infrastructure into the progress of the movement towards sustainability at UConn.