BGSU Office of Campus Sustainability

BGSU ReStore sheds light on need to reuse material

Nick Hennessey, director of the Bowling Green State University Office of Sustainability, is all business as he gives a reporter a tour of the ReStore sale. We stroll down a long corridor that starts in the Sundial on the north side of Kreisher dorm, into the dorm’s lounge area. Lining the space are tables of stuff, lots of stuff, a variety of stuff from the makings of a Halloween party to books passed rows of clothes. There are microwaves, lamps, and electronics. This is a college-life version of Ali Baba’s cave. Then Hennessey stops. “I’m digging these green pants,” he said, picking up a pair of trousers from a stack. Setting them back down, he allows they probably won’t fit. Then he gestures to a nearby pile of blue jeans. In previous years, there were many, many more. “We used to get so many pairs of jeans,” he said. This year, “jeans seem relatively low for both men and women.” And that may be a good sign. “Maybe some people are hanging on to things longer. That would please me a great deal. Maybe people are having second thoughts about getting rid of stuff maybe they could reuse.” The ReStore is the culmination of his office’s When You Move Out Don’t Throw it Out (WYMO) campaign. It encourages students when they leave campus for the summer to donate what they don’t want or can’t fit in their vehicles. Some people misinterpret the treasure trove of castoffs, Hennessey said. “One of the things I like to clarify to people because we’re always hearing people come in and see all this stuff and say ‘I can’t believe students left all this stuff behind.’ The reality is they have to make intentional decision to donate it. They made the decision ‘I want to donate something to the WYMO program.’” That means hauling stuff to the lobby of their residence hall and putting it in the appropriate bids, even though the dumpster may be closer.” With the help of interns, Sierra Wilson and Wolfgang Ach, and numerous volunteers, these donated items are organized, cleaned up, and laid out for people to buy. Last year, Hennessey said, the sale netted about $4,000. That money helps support sustainability programs and education. Those proceeds, though, are not the reason for WYMO, Hennessey said. This sale itself is a demonstration of the importance of reusing goods. Last year, Ach, an environmental policy and analysis major, said, the sale kept 17,000 pounds of material from going to the landfill. “That’s amazing.” So everything is priced to go, even if that means it’s free. “I’m not going to charge someone for crutches,” Hennessey said, referencing a dozen pair or so leaning against the wall. Students get injured. They go to the Falcon Health Center, and their insurance provides them with…


Princeton Review lauds BGSU for being environmentally responsible

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University is among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the 2017 Princeton Review Guide to 375 Green Colleges. The guide, released Sept. 20, profiles colleges “with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities.” BGSU was on the 2016 list as well. “We are pleased that our sustainability efforts have once again been recognized by the Princeton Review guide,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “This recognition honors the students, faculty and staff who have taken leadership roles in making us a more environmentally aware and responsible institution.” In 2012, Mazey signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, lending BGSU’s support to the effort to promote climate neutrality and sustainability. In 2014, BGSU submitted its Climate Action Plan and began to implement it. The Princeton Review chose colleges based on “Green Rating” scores tallied using data from the 2016-17 application. On that application, administrators reported on their sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the 2017 guide. “The application is immense, time-consuming and all-encompassing,” said Nicholas Hennessy, BGSU sustainability manager. “It incorporates every aspect of the University’s operation and daily activities. Everything from academic course offerings/research, to energy usage, purchasing, student activities, and buildings and everything in between is considered in determining a Princeton ranking. “The Guide is not only a recognition of BGSU’s efforts and accomplishments in sustainability, but also creates a clearer plan for what needs to be done to move forward.” The ranking provides a good reference for prospective students who show a growing interest in attending colleges committed to the environment. “We strongly recommend BSGU and the other fine institutions in this guide to the many environmentally minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president-publisher. School profiles in the Green Colleges Guide include “Green Facts,” details on such things as the availability of transportation alternatives and whether the school employs a sustainability officer. They also provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid and student body statistics. Academic areas across BGSU offers courses that educate students about the environment and sustainability, from the School of Earth, Environment and Sustainability to construction management to biology to architecture and interior design, among others.  


BGSU taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is in it for the long haul when it comes to sustainability. Under the terms of the American University and College Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey signed with almost 700 of her peers, the university will work to reduce its carbon footprint by an average of 4 percent a year, leading to being carbon neutral by 2040. Monday marked the kickoff for Earth Week activities on campus. A short ceremony to mark the occasion was held outside McFall Center with those gathered moving to place green pinwheels outside the student union. The theme is “Action Today, Better Tomorrow.” Nick Hennessey, BGSU’s sustainability manager, said Monday that the university is close to reducing its carbon footprint by 4 percent annually, but hasn’t done so yet. “We’re working on it. We’re taking a big chunk of it. We’re right where we want to be.” He’s looking forward to finalizing the university’s greenhouse gas analysis. “The most change has occurred in the last year,” he said. Renovation of buildings helps, Mazey said. She’s proud of the number that have earned LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Certification. When the Harshman Quad, the Family and Consumer Science building, and West Hall come down this summer that will have “a major impact on our energy consumption,” Mazey said. Hennessey said the effort to reduce the carbon footprint also got a boost from the city. Now 40 percent of the electricity supplied to BGSU comes from renewable sources. Mazey praised the Friday Nights Lights Out program through which student volunteers patrol campus and turn off lights that are not needed. Hennessey said that kind of grassroots effort is essential for conservation. This year the program has been expanded, with the approval of Information Technology Services, to computers. The university is also trying to plant more trees. The university will mark Arbor Day Friday as part of the Earth Week. Mazey looks forward to more trees being planted where buildings are removed. Also, the closing of the Forrest Creason Golf Course offers additional opportunities. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere. BGSU will soon be submitting its application to become a Tree Campus USA. Piper Jones, the vice president of the Environmental Service Club who organized the event, said this was the first year a kickoff event was staged. Getting the president involved was a way of attracting attention and publicizing Earth Week activities. Those start tonight with a talk by economics professor Abiye Alamina at 7 p.m. in room 208 of the student union. Tuesday, Jordan Fisher Smith will talk about “Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature” at 7 p.m. in the student union theater. He…


From suits to nuts, BGSU project puts students’ refuse to good use (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Harshman Community Room has everything needed to equip a college student, lots of everything needed. Books, planners, printer paper are here. Cardboard crates overflow with boxes of mac and cheese, ramen noodles and Pop Tarts of all varieties. Clothes, from coats to undies, suitable for all occasions from a session in a gym to a special date or a job interview, are piled and hung around the room. Falcon spirit wear gets its own stack. Want to see how you look? There’s about 30 mirrors. Mini-fridges and microwaves are stacked on a table, and a few computers, albeit of questionable operating status, are nearby. Off in one corner is the furniture, and shoes take up an entire room size space. Welcome to the sorting operation for Bowling Green State University’s Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out project. Now in its 15th year, the drive encourages students to donate whatever they don’t want that may be usable to the drive. Boxes are located throughout campus, in dorms, at convenience stores, in the student union. It’s a form of “passive community service,” Hennessy said. The organizers will try to find new homes for their castoff goods. “Somebody’s future treasures,” said Torrance Vaughn, a student volunteer sorting through a bag of clothing. “Somebody will have a use for it.” The idea is to promote reuse and waste reduction, said Nick Hennessy, director of the BGSU Office of Campus Sustainability. On Monday with the students gone, he and Carina Weed, the intern who organized the event, and a group of student volunteers, were sorting through what was left behind. Last year, Hennessy said, the drive collected almost nine tons of material, and he wasn’t sure if that included the food. All that otherwise most likely would have gone to the landfill. “I would like to think not, but I don’t know where else it would end up.” He added: “What gets really overwhelming when you multiply that by every university. The landfills must just swell this time of year with all this stuff.” Already the tables groan with the plenty of hand-me-downs. All are carefully sorted. “We try to get as specific as possible because that helps with the final dispensation of it,” Hennessy said. Some items are of questionable use. A half-full bottle of ketchup? A portfolio with resumes? Charities such as the Cocoon Shelter will have a chance to go through and retrieve whatever personal care items they can use. “Food all goes directly to food pantries we’ve helped the out for more than a decade,” he said. On May 24 and 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a sale open to students, faculty and staff with valid identification will be held in the Harshman Community Room to sell off much of the rest. Details of the…