Sustainability is about partnership. In this spirit, representatives from seven southeast Pennsylvania colleges came together at Franklin & Marshall on Aug. 4 to learn about the initiatives of the College’s Center for the Sustainable Environment.
Professor Sarah Dawson, the center's director, led the tour with sustainability coordinators Nic Auwaerter ’11 and Tom Simpson, postgrad sustainability intern Ellie Ezekiel ’17, and three student interns: sophomores Anna Schutt and Charlotte McAdams, and senior Blaise Ebanietti.
Dawson and her team shared F&M’s sustainability measures, including a successful speaker series, green tours for prospective students, LED lighting, electric-vehicle charging stations for public use, and Sustainability Week.
Participants viewed the indoor observational beehive, one of three housed in the center to educate students and visitors alike about honeybees. The hives -- the other two are at Baker Campus -- were installed to help fight Colony Collapse Disorder, which results in the loss of 40 to 60 percent of the world’s honeybees each year.
The visit continued at a pollinator garden, filled with native plants, and the center’s green roof, one of five on campus built to aid rainwater retention. Simpson explained the bicycle loan program, 62 single-speed cruisers that students can borrow like library books on a three-week basis. The program encourages students to explore the city of Lancaster, and offers mobility to those without cars on campus.
Over lunch at the dining hall, the discussion focused on composting and sustainable food options. F&M has been lauded as a top composter, receiving an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for its zero-waste system that collects both preconsumer and postconsumer waste.
F&M was the third college host in this summer series, following tours at Villanova and Lehigh universities. On the tour were representatives from Haverford, Lafayette and Ursinus colleges, and Lehigh, Villanova, West Chester and Widener universities.
“The goal is to learn from one another," Dawson said. "Different campuses have addressed different sustainability issues, and if we can learn about what has worked and what hasn’t worked from them, then we might be able to more efficiently implement these practices on our own campus.“
One of F&M's more effective initiatives began in 2013 with the campuswide distribution of reusable, BPA-free Nalgene water bottles. The College no longer sells bottled water in the campus eateries or vending machines. The network of filling stations has created a cultural shift in water usage and significantly reduced the use of disposable bottled water.
Another initiative is greener athletics. Led by the 2016 women’s volleyball team, the Diplomats tested jerseys purchased from Atayne, an apparel company that makes jerseys from recycled polyester. The athletes said the jerseys were comfortable and breathable. More F&M teams will test the uniforms this fall, including women’s and men’s soccer and cross country.
The center will continue to collaborate in the upcoming school year with a focus on outreach.
“We are designing weekend sustainability workshops for community members to learn about major issues -- food, water, waste, energy, for instance,” Dawson said. “Both how these issues are locally and globally relevant, and how citizens can be most effective in lessening their environmental impact.”