Did you know that sustainable actions are part of the institutional structure at ETSU?
ETSU has an Office of Sustainability that is part of Housing & Facilities Management. The Office's August newsletter is now out, and if you are interested, you can download here to see what they have been up to on campus: ETSU August 2011 Sustainability Newsletter
I talked recently with Kathleen Moore, Director of the Sustainability Office at ETSU, and she said her work was an uphill battle, but very encouraging at the same time. Over the past year they have scored several "wins" on campus as more and more students, faculty, and staff, have been recruited to the cause.
More recycling containers have appeared around campus and efforts have paid off: since 2008 the tonnage of materials recycled has more than doubled. Dual-flush handles have been installed in residential hall toilets. A campaign for reusable water bottles is underway at the Center for Physical Activity.
The $5 Campus Sustainability Fee, put in place in 2008 by a student-lead movement, is still active and submissions for new project ideas are being solicited. This year the Office of Sustainability hopes to revamp the Yellow Bike program, encouraging students to bike and walk more places rather than drive, and design an outdoor classroom at University Woods.
Two new initiatives are underway that signal a new approach as well. In addition to top-down institutional changes, peer-to-peer advocacy programs are being established this year. One new program is Eco-Nuts, an initiative to hire 15 individual students in each residential dorm to work as sustainability advocates among their dorm-mates. For faculty and staff, departments are being given resources to form their own Green Teams to encourage green behavior in the office environment.
Kathleen said that there is hardly any regional discussion among professionals in east Tennessee about campus greening. And as such, it feels like there is very little action being taken. "We go to Warren Wilson or Appalachian State when we want to see things in action," she said. Warren Wilson College was named on of the top 10 Greenest Colleges by The Daily Green News, and Appalachian State is well-known for its degrees in sustainable technologies.
This October may mark a change in this status quo: Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd, Milligan College and ETSU are teaming up to put on a Local Food Summit that will focus on the promotion of sustainable food in the east Tennessee region. There will be speakers and workshops for a broad audience of "consumers, producers, students, educators, elected officials, and 'foodies' ," according to the announcement.
Since GINI meets the 3rd Sunday of October, the 16th, this is a great opportunity for us to help make this two-day summit be turned into a week-long celebration of sustainability. Members of the Planning Committee (...me!) have been communicating with Milligan and ETSU staff on the best way for us to do this. If you have any ideas, respond to this blog post!