Saint Michael’s College has been composting food waste from the dining facilities along with landscape waste such as leaves for years. In 2019 we made the transition to the use of compostable plates, cups, and utensils for events not using washable dishes and silverware. In addition, we are increasing outreach and education efforts to student housing units and in many campus buildings to further expand composting, thereby increasing the availability of nutrient-rich compost while reducing waste going to landfills.
Saint Michael’s has had a strong and ongoing commitment to reducing energy consumption through infrastructure and policy choices, and to using renewable energy sources (we have two solar arrays and two geothermal heating installations). We have reduced our carbon emissions significantly over the past 15 years while adding 8 new buildings. Currently we are coordinating a comprehensive campus energy audit, which will be incorporated into the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), which is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance, maintained by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Saint Michael’s currently has a Silver rating, and we will be submitting our updated application in the spring of 2020.
Single Use Plastic Reduction
Since 2013 when Saint Michael’s banned plastic water bottles, we have been committed to reducing use of single-use plastics on campus. Each year we provide students with reusable water bottles or coffee mugs, and provide them with reusable bags to keep in their backpacks. During the 2018-2019 academic year one of our Eco-Reps coordinated a campus-wide campaign focused on reduction of single-use plastics. Through digital signage, posters and meetings with many offices, the campus became educated about the consequences of plastics in the environment. As a result of this ongoing effort, our dining services has committed to the use of compostable plastics whenever plastics are used (utensils, cups and bowls), and we have improved the efficiency of our recycling and composting systems.