Fair Offers Tips on Creating ‘Greener’ Campus and World

In just a year’s time, the University has “saved” 810 trees, the equivalent of 10 swimming pools’ worth of water and more than 717,000 pounds (or 25 garbage trucks full) of solid waste, all by switching campus-wide to the use of 30% recycled-content paper.

Those are just some of the facts that visitors learned on April 1 at the Better Buying Bazaar, which showcased some of the University’s initiatives to diminish its impact on the environment and highlighted a number of actions Yale staff and students can take personally to help create a greener campus and world.

The bazaar, held in Woolsey Hall, featured more than 30 vendors from New Haven and beyond that do business with Yale, along with a number of Yale offices or departments, which showcased their efforts to improve efficiency and decrease environmental harm. Throughout the nearly day-long event, hundreds of students, faculty and staff members wandered through the Presidents Room and an outside corridor to learn how they can work and live in more environmentally conscious ways.

The Better Buying Bazaar was offered as part of the second annual campus Sustainability Summit, a week-long series of campus activities over 60 in all that also featured a recycling expo; workshops on sustainable transportation, composting and home gardening; tours of campus construction and renovation projects designed to save energy, reduce waste and cut greenhouse-gas emissions; a bike ride; a Yale Farm workday; film screenings; and public talks featuring environmental leaders like activist Bill McKibben (see related story).

Now in its second year, the bazaar helps to inform Yale community members about how they can support University initiatives in purchasing, transportation, recycling and other areas in order to promote campus sustainability, and to help them “make better choices around their buying habits,” said Bob Ferretti, the education outreach manager for Yale’s Office of Sustainability, who represented his office at the event along with Julie Newman and Melissa Goodall, its director and assistant director, respectively. Their office was a sponsor of the event.

At a table highlighting the work of Yale Recycling Office in reducing waste, sophomore Kaetochi Okemgbo demonstrated desktop recycling bins in which the larger compartment holds recyclable paper and a much smaller one is for trash.

“It makes you realize that most of what you throw out is actually recyclable paper and very little is actual trash,” commented Okemgbo, who has worked in the office since her freshman year.

Trish Capello, a marketing manager for the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company Zipcar, spent some of her time at the bazaar encouraging visitors to take a look at one of the fuel-efficient Zipcars that was parked out in front of Woolsey Hall, where a plug-in Prius hybrid was also on view.

Yale is one of 57 universities in the nation that now offers its staff and students the Zipcar service, which allows them to rent the cars on a short-term basis if they become members.

“Yale has one of our most successful Zipcar programs,” said Capello, noting that in just over a year, 1,290 Yale students and employees have become members and that the Yale fleet has increased to 14 cars. She added that one little-known benefit of the service is that members can rent Zipcars around the world.

Capello saluted the efforts of bazaar participant Holly Parker, the University’s director of sustainable transportation systems, whose mission it is to reduce the number of Yale employees who drive to campus alone.

That Parker is making headway in that effort was confirmed by Erin Sturgis-Pascale, a senior administrative assistant in Yale’s Transportation Options office, who noted there has been a 50% increase in the past year in the number of employees who carpool and that the number of employees who commute to work on bicycle nearly doubled from 2007 to 2008.

“There are a little less than 500 people who commute by bike,” said Sturgis-Pascale. She informed bazaar guests about some of the incentives Yale offers to those who carpool or use mass transit and discussed issues regarding bike safety.

She also introduced visitors to a City of New Haven program called Street Smarts! that promotes safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by encouraging them to be cognizant of and sensitive to each other. At a table covered with a bicycle-decorated cloth, Parker and Sturgis-Pascale passed out commitment pledges for the Street Smarts! program as well as maps featuring popular bike routes in and around the city and other information benefitting those who wish to travel more sustainably.

Also helping to promote greener transportation options at the bazaar were representatives from Connecticut Transit and from the carpooling and vanpooling company Rideworks.

“We’re reminding people how much they would save in parking costs by car pooling or taking the bus,” said Rideworks representative Brooke Hoberman.

Visitors to the Yale Procurement table learned about University initiatives to ensure more “green” buying of supplies and equipment for their offices and departments.

One of the representatives from that office, communications manager Beth Lavanara, said her goal at the bazaar was to help Yale staff members identify “environmentally preferred” vendors and products. She talked about the importance of using SciQuest, Yale’s online catalogue and electronic ordering tool, for the purchase of supplies and about the University’s new contract with InfoShred, which has resulted in improved recycling of shredded paper as well as significant cost savings for the University.

Lavanara also noted that this year Yale Procurement is able to offer corn-based biodegradable foodware products at a better price for offices and departments that use such disposable goods.

Among the other vendors at the bazaar were Campus Customs, which sells organic cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts, baby clothes and more bearing the Yale name; the office supply company Corporate Express (Staples), which showcased recycled paper and other products; the lab equipment and supply distributor Fisher Scientific, which showed off some of its more energy-efficient products; Grease Guys, a company which collects an average of 123 gallons of cooking oil from Yale dining halls each week and converts it to biofuel; and the health food store Edge of the Woods, which offered visitors a taste of some of its organic snacks.

Visitors to the bazaar were also treated to numerous giveaways, including packets of sunflower seeds; informational postcards that, when soaked in water, convert to wildflower seeds; pencils made of recycled wood; and reusable shopping bags.

At a table staffed by undergraduates who work for the Yale Sustainable Food Project, sophomore Isabel Polon shared information about opportunities to become engaged on campus in promoting more sustainable eating habits as well as about the ongoing activities at the Yale Farm. She noted that she chose to come to Yale because of the commitment at the University to changing the local food culture.

Polon, who spends nearly every Friday afternoon during good-weather months working at the farm, also used her time at the bazaar to encourage visitors to attend another Yale Sustainability Summit event later in the week: a workday at the farm concluding with a special fresh-made treat.

“Come up to the farm for some pizza!” she urged. “I’ll be there stoking the fire and making pizza, and it’s fun!”

— By Susan Gonzalez

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