Sustainability Blog

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 16:27

Recyclemania is a good-natured competition pining college and university recycling programs against each other to promote activities to reduce the waste produced on their campuses. It began in January of 2001 as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University. Miami came out on top that year and the success of the competition led them to invite other universities to participate the following year. In 2004, the program partnered with the US EPA WasteWise program, and by 2008 four hundred schools were involved! Now, for eight weeks each spring schools from the United States and Canada report to Recyclemania the amount of waste they produce, and the amount of material they have been able to recycle. This information is ranked into categories based on diversion, waste minimization and per capita recycling of paper, corrugated cardboard, bottles and cans and organic material.

The Diversion category is an all-encompassing score based on the prevention of all the above materials from ending up in landfills. The officials at Recyclemania calculate the results by adding the weight of recyclables and food organics, and dividing that by the sum of the weight of recyclables, food and trash and then multiplying this by one hundred. This year, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was ranked number one with a recycling rate of 83.897%! LMU has impressive stats across the board, ranking #2 in the Per Capita Classic, and #1 in the categories of paper, bottle and can, and corrugated cardboard recycling. This Californian private university has ranked high in most categories for years, and their Green LMU program is a beautiful example of what our own sustainability movement could become.

Rhode Island School of Design took the title in the Per Capita Classic, with a final score of 76.09 lbs per capita. As mentioned above, LMU took a close second with 72.71 lbs per capita. In the category of total recycling, Rutgers University dominated with a total of 2,333,670 lbs, second place Stanford University totaled only 1,610,644 lbs (still impressive). North Lake College, a community college in Irving, Texas claimed first place in Waste Minimization, with an impressive 4.135 lbs per capita, UB scored #51 with 34.552.

Although UB’s ranking does not stand out in the overall competition (#98 Diversion, #151 Per Capita), our school should still take pride in the fact that we participate in a program in which the efforts of the competitors serves to promote the preservation of the earth and sustainable practices in general. UB Office of Sustainability released a Climate Action Plan in 2009, and in the years since we have made great strides towards climate neutrality and in changing the culture of the Western New York community to be one mindful of our impact on the world. While there is still much progress to be made, we should note that in terms of New York State ranking UB did well, taking #1 in waste minimization, #7 in total recycling and #9 in organics, a category where we scored better than our 2016 scores each week! In a competition where positions differ by fractions of a percent that’s not half bad, and having our name listed amongst other universities who are developing sustainability programs opens up the doors for intercollegiate cooperation, and we should learn from those above us in the ranking.

For more a comprehensive analysis of the results of the entire competition, visit the links below. At the Recyclemania website you can see how every school ranked, and create your own custom ranking to compare UB to other schools based on peer group, athletic conference, state, and school size. Let us take pride in our participation and set goals to do even better next year!

-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

Relevant Links:
http://recyclemaniacs.org/scoreboard/participating-schools/list?node_id=...
http://www.buffalo.edu/sustainability.html

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 17:59

Just over a year ago I could be found walking through the Student Union, undoubtedly on my way to find my place in the line of groggy students waiting eagerly for their caffeine fix to be satisfied. The weather had been decent and distractions were easy to come by, especially when lacking the aforementioned caffeine. My somnolent mind was making a feeble attempt at organizing the tasks I had in front of me as the semester was drawing to a close, when I was stopped by a group of students tabling in the foyer.

“Hey, you look like you like to garden,” said a student who introduced himself to me as Max. The conversation that ensued was intriguing, and soon I felt an excitement arise in me. A hopeful sentiment that I may have found something to put my hand in developing at UB and to make some new friends. By the time I walked away, still keen on downing a large coffee before my first class, I was convinced to join UB Campus Garden Club for their first informational meeting, where they would be discussing their plans to rehabilitate the garden at the Lee Road traffic circle.

I could not hope to relate to you within the confines of this blog all of the wonderful friendships and opportunities attending that meeting opened up for me. But by the end of that semester I had become Vice President of the club, and secured my place interning at the UB Office of Sustainability with the responsibility of managing the volunteer corps that would be taking care of the garden over the summer. Interacting with peers who see the importance of maintaining green space, especially in an urban community like Buffalo, has opened my eyes to a multi-faceted world of growth and renewal. Although I could write endlessly about the individual moments that make this club mean so much to me, I’d like to devote this blog to talking about our current projects in hope that some of you will join us on our quest to make UB a more beautiful and sustainable place to live and work.

The 20’ by 20’ plot of land that we currently manage served us moderately well last growing season, but various roadblocks including a weak water source, a lack of pollinators, and absolutely no hope for shade got us thinking about relocation. Multiple areas had been laid on the table during meetings in the fall, and after careful consideration we decided to focus our efforts on moving the garden near the solar strand. The area just north of the center for tomorrow parking lot is where our minds have been for the past few months. There, we found a more reliable source of water and plenty of trees to address the lack of shade, as well as to provide a windbreak that would be essential to our biggest project yet.

UB Campus Garden Club has proposed to the University a set of plans regarding the implementation of an on-campus apiary. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, we are talking about a location devoted to bee-keeping. Not only would this help pollinate our plants to ensure a bountiful crop, we would also be participating in the rehabilitation of our local habitat. If bee populations continue to decline at the rate we have seen in recent years, our civilization may cease to be sustainable. We depend on pollination for the growth of our food plants. UB’s resident bee-keeper, David Marotta has offered his time and knowledge to help us develop an apiary, and we have made the proper connections to initiate this development on an administrative level . But this is where we need your help. In order to prove to the University that this garden club is as force that is here to stay, we not only have to relate to the administration that our goals are to offer new educational tools and a source of fun and relaxation, but we must spread our roots and involve the University at large.

Are you part of a club, team or department on campus? If so, UB Campus Garden Club would like to invite you to build a raised bed at our current location! Our goal here is not only to fill the land we have access to with beautiful examples of what our earth can produce, but to develop long term relationships with other campus groups and give back to the school that gave us this opportunity. In concert with our efforts, and with access to our club’s various skill sets and knowledge, members of your group can engage with each other throughout the spring planning months and over the summer gardening months to grow plants you want to see and use! Gardening has proven to us to be a great team building exercise and the high visibility of the bed can be a fantastic promotional tool! There is still plenty of time for your to get involved with us this growing season and to help bring to life this endeavor UB Campus Garden Club has found passion in, so please reach out to us if you are interested. Contact information can be found below!

In studying anthropology I have been confronted with the fact that in our culture we often find ourselves separating our personal identities from the natural world around us. But permaculture does not exist in a realm divorced from the human experience. In fact, at this point the sustainability of our planet depends on the combined action of humanity. Pessimists will tell you that we cannot save the world, but UB Campus Garden Club is a good place to start thinking about it. In learning about this planet and our place on it, I find myself reaching an empowering point in my college career where I can honestly envision myself accomplishing great things. Not only in a future job as an anthropologist, but right here on this campus in the coming years. I would not have this opportunity if not for the cooperation and devotion of the wonderful friends I have made since applying to UB and joining this organization. I cannot thank them enough and I hope to meet and collaborate with more of you on this journey.

The Fall 2017/Spring 2018 UB Campus Garden Club Executive Board is…
President- Sasha Azeez: sashaaze@buffalo.edu
Vice President- Jacob Leale: jacoblea@buffalo.edu
Treasurer- Alyssa Rosenbauer/Maylan Nguyen: arosenba@buffalo.edu/maylanng@buffalo.edu
Secretary- Brendan Ash: bash@buffalo.edu
Historian- Kelsey Gramza: klgramza@buffalo.edu
Project Manager- Eric Shaver: ericshav@buffalo.edu
Summer Intern- Maylan Nguyen: maylanng@buffalo.edu
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-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 14:13

Next week UB will be celebrating the Earth with a multitude of events focused on sustainability and the enjoyment of nature. The UB Office of Sustainability (UBOS) has booked the Student Union, as well as various other locations on campus for engaging activities, informational tabling, workshops and talks. I will update this page as more information comes in, so check in during the coming days for more opportunities to have some Earth themed fun as we approach the end of the semester!

All week long the Office of Sustainability will be hosting a SustainABILITY Art Show in the Center for the Arts project space, room 155. If you would like to contribute work to the show, whether it be a sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, or anything else that makes you feel a human connection to our world, contact Kaia Grosso (Kevingro@buffalo.edu) and he will help you get included. Set up will be this Sunday, April 16 and the gallery will be open all week!

Monday 4/17: Stop by the student union lobby to meet with clubs who participate in the Students for Sustainability Council. These environmentally minded organizations are looking for new members and to spread the word about the great work they have accomplished and are planning to do moving forward. As of now, there will be a table for Students for Sustainability Council, the Office of Sustainability, Fossil Free UB, and UB Campus Garden Club!

Tuesday 4/18: If you walk into the Union on Tuesday, in addition to tables for Office of Sustainability's Earth week competition, Fossil Free UB, and UB Campus Garden Club, you will find environmental documentaries looping on the large TV screen from 10-3. If you are free, be sure to stop in and check it out, they are sure to be interesting. While you’re there, stop by the Campus Garden Club table, plant a seed to take home, and buy a raffle ticket to win some nature themed prizes!

Wednesday 4/19: Mid-week the Union is going to be packed with tables including those for, Campus Dining and Shops, who will be offering information on our composting program and the resulting soil amendment that is now available, The UBOS Earth Week Competition and Outdoor Adventure Club’s Tie Dye table. Clean Up Your Campus UB will be running from 11am to 2pm where students can bring trash they pick up from around campus to the Union to see how much we can contribute to making our campus a cleaner and healthier place! This event is open to all students for however long they would like to participate. Then, from 2-3pm, be sure to stop by the Intercultural Diversity Center, SU 240, for the Environmental Network’s Environmental Justice Panel and informational session on environmental justice projects in Buffalo! Finally, if you’re going to be on campus late, drop into SU 145 c&d for Outdoor Adventure Club’s Knot Tying Workshop!

Thursday 4/20: From 8:30am-4:30pm UBOS will be hosting a waste audit in the SU Field! Waste from UB’s dumpsters will be laid out in the field and organized into categories to provide a visual representation of what we throw out on campus. For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, check out the link at the bottom of the page! At the same time, on the SU patio, the Association for Wild Animal Rehabilitation and Education (A.W.A.R.E.) will be tabling with animals! I’m not sure what type of animals they will have, but if it's anything like the last time I was able to check out their tabling, it will be worth stopping by! The Student Union will be buzzing! Indoors you will find tables for the Environmental Network who will be conducting a thrift shop, UB Campus Garden Club will be planting more seeds and raffling off a hammock, UB Fossil Free will have more information and ways to get involved, and UBOS will be continuing their Earth Week Competition! Finish off your Thursday outdoors for an open mic night and lake clean up sponsored by AKX and the Students for Sustainability Council (rain location in Davis Hall)

Friday 4/21: More tabling in the Student Union from Fossil Free UB and the Students for Sustainability Council! If you or your club would like to get a table or host an event on any of these days, it is not too late! Contact either myself or Brian Stuhlmiller of the SA & Students for Sustainability Council to book something up!

Thank you all for your contributions to Earth Week. It is this sort of action on the part of students and faculty that will make this campus a healthier, safer and more sustainable place to live and work. If you’d like to meet up with Environmental groups on campus Saturday 4/22 for the Buffalo Science March, check out the pages listed below and get in contact with any of them, as there will be members of all attending! Thanks, and have a great Earth Week!

-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

Relevant Links:
WASTE AUDIT SIGN UP:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1l1BVfcy2fov-2PI8LQY4jHsd1B0LVVV1...
http://www.buffalo.edu/sustainability.html
https://buffalo.collegiatelink.net/organization/akx
https://buffalo.collegiatelink.net/organization/campusgarden
https://buffalo.collegiatelink.net/organization/EN
https://buffalo.collegiatelink.net/organization/OAC
https://www.facebook.com/AWAREWildlife/

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 17:37

It is April, the first full month of spring and a time of the year where it is really quite difficult not to notice the beauty of our Earth’s yearly cycle. In shopping centers and in people’s backyard greenhouses, plants are being watered, gardens are being planned and hands are getting dirty. Honestly, I could write this entire post on gardening (hint:there is one to come), but this week I’d like to broaden my focus and write about a environmentally conscious phenomenon that is relatively new to me: Sustainability Month.

We all have heard of Earth Day, established in 1970 as April 22 and then expanded by many communities into Earth Week. Now, mainly on college campuses, we are seeing the implementation of a month long celebration of the Earth, called Sustainability Month. At UB, April is the month designated, and many environmental groups on campus are looking forward to their chance to reach out to the university with exciting events and engaging activities. Such events will be mainly organized throughout Earth week, 4/17-4/21, and I will provide a comprehensive list of these on next week’s blog. But right now I’d like to bring to your attention some things you can get involved with outside of UB’s environmental organizations and throughout the entirety of Sustainability Month.

First, this week, on Thursday, April 6th and Friday, April 7th Student Engagement is holding a ‘yard sale’ in Student Union room 145. Gently used items that were collected earlier in the week will sold and all proceeds raised at the sale will be donated to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Not only does this benefit a great cause, it keeps people’s spring cleaning from ending up in a landfill. Stop in at the end of this week, perhaps you will find something you have been looking for!

Next, the deadline for nominations for the UB Slice Awards is Monday, April 10th. This is not an event, but is relevant to Sustainability Month in that it highlights the hard work that UB faculty, staff and students have done to contribute to the environmental efforts of our community. The categories are as follows: Award for Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Cross Functional Team, Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action, Staff Award for Sustainable Operations Initiative, and Faculty Award for Sustainability in Higher Education. The awards ceremony will take place during Earth Week activities, and is sponsored by the Vice President for Finance and Administration, and the UB Sustainability Office. The link to the nomination page can be found below.

On April 18th, the UB Sustainability Office encourages all to attend the Western New York Sustainable Business Expo 2017. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to engage with business leaders from around WNY who are focusing their efforts on the incorporation of sustainable business practices. Keynote speakers include leaders from Patagonia, Capital Institute and Cascade Engineering. The free expo will be held at the American Axle Building, 1001 E. Delavan, in Buffalo from 3:00-7:30pm. The link to register will be at posted at the bottom of this blog.

There will be some very interesting educational opportunities as well. On April 19th, Professor Adam Rome of the UB Department of History will be presenting a discussion of contemporary environmental issues titled ‘History Facts: From Earth Day 1970 To The Abolition of The EPA?’ in Norton 17 from 5-6:30pm. Then, on Friday April 28th, Penn State professor of atmospheric science Michael Mann will be holding a ‘somewhat lighthearted’ presentation on climate change from 8:30 to 10:45am in Davis 101. The title of his talk is “The Madhouse Effect: Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump.” These are both sure to be fascinating presentations and I encourage you to attend both if you are available. Mann’s talk, although free, requires your registration and you can find the link for that below.

Finally, on Thursday 4/27 the Professional Staff Senate’s Sustainable Living Committee will be holding an Electronics and Clothing Recycling event in the Center for Tomorrow parking lot on north campus. In addition to all types of clothing, they will be accepting a huge variety of personal electronics, a full list of which you can find at the link below. Recycling services will be provided by Maven Industries and Hearts for Homeless. Many of your electronics contain harmful chemicals that leech into the environment when thrown into a landfill, so recycling them makes a world of difference. Be sure to stop by this event if you have old equipment laying around.

This post doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the events UB will be hosting throughout sustainability month, I just hoped to highlight a handful. For a more complete list, check out the link below from the UB Office of Sustainability’s website, and as noted above, my blog next week will provide a full list of events that UB’s environmental clubs and organizations will be hosting throughout Earth Week.

-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

Relevant Links:
http://www.earthday.org/
http://www.buffalo.edu/sustainability/engagement/slice-awards-nomination...
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wny-sustainable-business-expo-keynote-the-t...
http://history.buffalo.edu/event/history-facts-from-earth-day-1970-to-th...
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ub-renew-distinguished-lecture-series-ticke...
http://www.buffalo.edu/content/www/sustainability/engagement/sustainabil...
http://www.buffalo.edu/sustainability/engagement/sustainability-month.html

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 10:46

Hello UB! I hope you all had a great spring break and are transitioning back into classes well, the rest of the semester is sure to fly by! First, I would like to thank you all again for reading my blog, and I appreciate the responses I have received from many of you through email and in person. And of course, a big thank you to Campus Dining and Shops for giving me the opportunity to reach out the UB community in such a manner. This week, I would like to highlight a sustainability project that one of our very own, a twenty-one year old Environmental Geosciences major, Jacob Leale, is in the process of developing.

We are all familiar with Lake LaSalle, the sixty acre lake built by the University at Buffalo in 1970 as a means to control water runoff and prevent floods. It is one of the many aspects of the university that makes it such a unique and enjoyable place to live and work. Jacob has recognized the historic utility and environmental value of this landmark and is in the process of designing and proposing the implementation of a riparian buffer zone. The goal of his project is to fashion a salubrious environment for humanity and nature to coexist and for students to have an opportunity to learn about the issues that the human development of land has raised in terms of environmental welfare. In his own words, “To truly learn is to actively demonstrate that which is taken away from the classroom.”

Riparian buffer zones are vegetated areas next to water resources that protect the water and its plant and animal life from non-point source pollution (caused by rainfall or snow-melt running over and through the ground, bringing pollutants with it), while also providing bank stabilization. The riparian zone is a three-tier system consisting of a layer of shrubbery along the lake bed, followed by a row of various types of trees set back a few yards from the bushes, and finally a blanket of reeds and other tall, grass-like plants. Studies of riparian zones show that as riparian vegetation is removed, water temperatures increase and oxygen levels decrease in a process referred to as eutrophication which decreases the viability of the aquatic system.

In choosing the types of plants Jacob would like to utilize, he has been thinking in terms of permaculture and therefore locally indigenous plants have been his focus. Shrubs like buttonbush, which are great for pollinators, and Grey Dogwood which adapts well to difficult sites and is used for slope stabilization, combat the problems Jacob has identified from multiple angles. Some options for second layer trees include Red Maple, a pollution tolerant indigenous tree with beautiful red autumn foliage and the River Birch, a species which thrives in wet environments and would provide excellent an contrast with its yellow autumn foliage. In terms of grasses, which would be closest to the road, Jacob hopes to plant species such as Switchgrass and Virginia Wild Rye which will provide the needed buffer in their root systems to prevent road pollutants like salt and oil from making it to the lake. Switchgrass also transitions from a bright green stem to a yellow stem in the fall, and Virginia Wild Rye from silvery to blue.

Am I painting a quality picture for you? This project would transform the lake in terms of beauty, cleanliness and its ability to sustain wildlife. Jacob foresees a future where the lake is healthy enough to attract and sustain songbirds, waterfowl, turtles and amphibians. Surrounded by flowering trees, shrubs and grasses our school would provide yet another quality location for pollinators to do their work. Not only would the wildlife thrive, but students and faculty would have a cleaner and safer lake to kayak on, and could potentially be able to eat fruit right off of our own UB trees!

As I mentioned before, the riparian buffer zone project is still in the design stage, with a proposal intended to formally take place later in the semester. But from my conversation with Mr. Leale, it is certain to me that this is something he is passionate about, and that he will continue to work towards for the benefit of our local ecosystem and the university he calls home. If you would like to contribute ideas, volunteer time to his project, or would simply like more information, Jacob invites you to email him at, jacoblea@buffalo.edu.

As always, thank you for reading! If you have a student led sustainability project that you would like for me to write about in the future, please reach out to me!

-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club

Relevant Links:
http://www.buffalo.edu/directory/find-people-detail-page.html?uid=jacoblea
https://www.bae.ncsu.edu/programs/extension/wqg/sri/riparian5.pdf
http://bnriverkeeper.org/nativeplantguide/
http://greentumble.com/personal-actions-that-help-to-prevent-eutrophicat...
http://greentumble.com/water-pollution-facts-causes-effects-solutions/