Carleton College Students Audit the Campus in Environmental and Technology Colloquium
Northfield, Minn.-Students in Carleton College's junior level environmental and technology studies colloquium, "Greening of the Campus," had the chance to affect the College's environmental policies this spring by conducting small environmental audits of the campus. Divided into groups of three, the students studied campus eco-literacy, energy use, the waste produced at commencement ceremonies, recycling, land use, printer ink cartridge recycling and use of water resources.
Carleton was highlighted in a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education for its efforts to adopt strategies for sustainable development, and students in the colloquium studied the greening strategies already in place at Carleton as well as the national campus greening movement.
Under the leadership of Suzanne Savanick, a 1989 Carleton graduate, the students collected data from on-campus sites, and did research on the environmental practices of other colleges. Savanick is completing a Ph.D. in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota, and is studying the use of college campuses for environmental education.
The groups of students were able to assess conservation efforts at Carleton, and some groups were able to make recommendations on how to direct those efforts. The recycling group found that a recycling bin placed right next to a garbage can got used much more than a bin placed several feet away from the can. Groups worked closely with Carleton's facilities maintenance staff to collect their data, and made recommendations to the staff at the conclusion of the class.
Commencement is held outside at Carleton, and a picnic lunch is served directly after the ceremony. Because the day is so hectic, meals have to be easy to serve, and many items are individually wrapped. The team focusing on waste at commencement worked to create a menu that would be completely compostable and recyclable and investigated signage to indicate the proper containers. They did research on alternative methods of serving food, including compostable vegetable-based utensils. They worked with administrators to implement their findings, some of which will be apparent at this year's commencement.
The printer cartridge recycling team worked with a cartridge producer to get return mail envelopes for students to return their cartridges to Hewlett-Packard for recycling. The company is able to use 65 percent of the returned cartridge in the production of new cartridges.
Each group produced a Web site detailing its research and findings, which can be viewed at [http://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/ents/stu_projects/spring01/].
"I thought the projects the students completed were exceptionally well done," said Mary Savina, professor of geology. "Because they are documented so well on the website, the information will be available to other students interested in expanding on these same topics or tackling one of the many other issues involved in greening this campus."
June 6, 2001
Contact: Sarah Maxwell - Media Relations Assistant