Office of Sustainability Goes Big with Guerrilla Marketing

The University of Mississippi Office of Sustainability resorted to a little bit of guerrilla marketing to help draw attention to Green Week this year.  Students walking to class Monday morning were surprised to find a giant, 8′ cube of trash sitting next to the Lyceum.

UM Announces Commitment to ‘Climate Neutrality’

Chancellor signs American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, renewing campus focus on environmental issues

Climate

Chancellor Dan Jones signs the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones announced a major campuswide commitment Tuesday (April 22) to the goal of making Ole Miss “climate neutral,” saying the university community is focused on making sure its operations will benefit the environment as much as they take away from it.

At the ceremony, Jones signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to which some 600 of his counterparts across the country also gave their signatures. Jones said UM, which is already perennially ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in America, will continue to focus on being “good stewards of our Earth.”

“A lot of good things happen on this campus and our university every day,” Jones said. “Students’ lives are changed. We make an impact on our state, but as we are doing that in a modern society; consequently, we have negative effects on the environment, on the Earth. This is simply a commitment to joining with lots of other universities in saying we want to be the best stewards we can be.”

The announcement of UM’s renewed commitment to the environment came on Earth Day. Green Week also kicked off on campus Tuesday, bringing a weeklong focus on environmental issues and sustainability. Green Week culminates with an Arbor Day tree planting celebration among the many oaks in the Grove at 11:30 a.m. Friday (April 25).

The chancellor also expressed his appreciation of the local landscape’s natural beauty and said he was grateful for the wisdom of state leaders in choosing the then-rural site for the campus, which opened in 1848. The picturesque surroundings inspire UM employees and students to strive for the goal of climate neutrality, he said.

“I say thank you to those founders of this community who had the vision to think that this beautiful place in the woods would be a good place for this university,” Jones said. “I’m grateful not to be in an urban environment here. I’m grateful to be surrounded by beautiful trees, by rolling hills that we can see and appreciate. I’m grateful to be in a place where it’s inspiring to be better stewards of the environment and also a little bit easier.”

In April 2008, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and two months later, the university established its Office of Sustainability.

“Sustainability is about efficiency in all things; it’s a smart way to live,” said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability. “Do as much as you can with as little as necessary. Try not to waste, pollute or destroy. Respect what is around you and preserve it for coming generations.”

The Office of Sustainability is working on “green” building construction principles across campus to promote energy and water efficiency and environmentally conscious uses of building materials. Last fall, it also launched a compost pilot program, supported by the UM Green Fund, which has diverted one ton of food waste from the local landfill and produced beneficial soil enhancements for the campus garden at Residential College South. The office also runs an intern program that provides valuable experience for students.

The office also supports the establishment of the broad campus council for sustainability that is to be formed this summer. There’s an ongoing effort to fully understand how the university is affecting the environment, as well as an effort to determine other initiatives to be undertaken as UM pursues climate neutrality. Students, faculty and staff will be involved in all these efforts as the university continues to learn and make positive changes.

Jones thanked sustainability staff members who have kept the issue in the forefront at UM, including Banner and Anne McCauley, the office’s assistant director. Banner and McCauley thanked those who have been involved in the fight for sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability is here to support and move these efforts forward, but it’s by no means something we do alone,” McCauley said. “We work with people all across campus.”

The chancellor also thanked poet and UM English professor Ann Fisher-Wirth, who directs the environmental studies minor and has been active in environmental issues. Fisher-Wirth said she sees the student body becoming more engaged in those issues.

“I’m especially grateful for the leadership from the university and also for the students who are just increasingly active and outspoken and so mindful,” Fisher-Wirth said.

The chancellor said the students have been one of the main driving forces behind UM’s commitment to climate neutrality.

“My highest thanks goes to our students, who are always our best inspiration for making this a stronger and better university on almost every topic,” Jones said. “Students, thank you for encouraging, cajoling, pressuring us to be a stronger and healthier university in lots of ways, including protecting our environment.”

Award-winning Writer, Environmentalist to Present Earth Day Lecture

Rob Nixon to discuss 'slow violence' and its long-term impact on the earth and human beings

Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon

OXFORD, Miss. – Rob Nixon, the Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will discuss the slow, yet violent, impact created by events ranging from toxic drift to climate change for the University of Mississippi’s Earth Day keynote lecture.

The lecture, which is part of the university’s 2014 Green Week celebration, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 22) in the Overby Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Ann Fisher-Wirth, UM professor of English, heard Nixon speak last year and knew he was a good fit for Earth Day events.

“I heard Professor Nixon speak at last year’s conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, a 1000-member organization with nine international affiliates,” Fisher-Wirth said. “His talk was so brilliant and far-reaching that I knew I would like to bring him to the University of Mississippi for our Earth Day Speaker’s Series.

“I hope that attendees will learn about the persistence of what he calls ‘slow violence,’ environmental violence that is inflicted on both the earth and human beings constantly, but that, since it is not sudden and catastrophic, is all too easy to ignore.”

Nixon asserts that because the destruction from these events is delayed destruction, it is typically not viewed as violence at all. Focusing on environmental activists from the global South, Nixon plans to link the emergencies of the long-term to creative efforts to infuse such emergencies with urgency.

“I hope that attendees will be inspired to further research, create awareness and take action,” Fisher-Wirth added.

Nixon is the author of four books, most recently “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press 2011), which has been awarded an American Book Award and three other prizes. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and his writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice and The Guardian.

He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.

The lecture is sponsored by UM environmental studies minor, the College of Liberal Arts, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the English and history departments.

Nixon is the third annual Earth Day speaker. Sandra Steingraber, an environmental toxicologist, delivered the inaugural lecture, which featured the work and legacy of Rachel Carson, and addressed issues concerning fracking. Last year, Janisse Ray, environmental activist and poet, gave a talk about seed preservation, sustainability and biodiversity in agriculture.

UM Hosts Annual Green Week Celebration April 22-25

Author Rob Nixon to deliver Earth Day keynote lecture

UM Green Week

UM Green Week features an eco-fashion show and gala.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s sixth annual Green Week celebration kicks off on Earth Day (April 22) with the goal of opening a campuswide dialogue about sustainability.

Rob Nixon, author of “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor” (Harvard University Press, 2011), will deliver the Earth Day keynote lecture at 7 p.m. that day at the Overby Center. His session focuses on complex global issues related to sustainability, including “slow violence,” the slowly unfolding environmental effects that are often underpublicized or unnoticed.

“As we educate and support the development of the next generation for responsible citizenship, we consider these global issues to be of critical importance to their preparation,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of the UM Office of Sustainability. “Changing behaviors and habits are important, but equally important is understanding the larger context behind why we advocate for these changes. We hope Green Week brings to light both actions for individual responsibility as well as awareness of social, environmental and economic challenges that need to be addressed.

The week’s events include Business in the Green, during which representatives from International Paper, Project Green Fork and Toyota will share sustainable strategies and operational practices in the workplace. The event is set for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

Other events include the annual eco-fashion show and gala, which features outfits made from uncommon materials, and the annual Green Week Sustainability Fair. The fair will feature plastic bag knitting, an on-campus farmers market and displays from several university groups.

An Arbor Day tree planting and celebration in the Grove conclude the week’s activities on Friday.

“It is a week where we, as a community, can build our environmental conscience and strengthen our commitment to lowering our global impact,” said Kendall McDonald, a junior public policy major from Bay St. Louis who serves as the Office of Sustainability’s Green Week intern. “Green Week also plays an invaluable educational role by engaging those who have not previously been exposed to environmental issues.”

All events are free and open to the public. Green Week events are sponsored by the UM Office of Sustainability, Environmental Studies Minor, Students for a Green Campus, Landscape Services, the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, Jim Keras Subaru, the College of Liberal ArtsSouthern Documentary ProjectCroft Institute for International StudiesSally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the UM departments of English and history, and the city of Oxford.

2014 Green Week Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 22

Business in the Green – 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Oxford Conference Center

Earth Day keynote address – 7 p.m., Overby Center, speaker, Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence, Environmental Activism and the Arts”

Wednesday, April 23

Green Week Sustainability Fair – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Student Union Plaza

Udall Scholarship Workshop – 4 p.m., Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Room 311

Eco Fashion Show and Gala – 7 p.m., Bryant Hall

Friday, April 23

Arbor Day Tree Planting and Celebration – 11:30 a.m., Grove

For more information, contact Ann McCauley at green@olemiss.edu.

On Location: Sustainability Goes High Fashion

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UM photography director Robert Jordan photographs English major Kyla Clark at the Oxford Recycling Center to promote the upcoming Eco Fashion Gala, which happens April 23 as part of Green Week 2014. Theatre major Jeffery Peavy designed the dress, which is made out of plastic bags and other uncommon materials.

Recently, a few of us had the chance to get out of the office for the afternoon and head over to the Oxford Recycling Center, which is kind of a photography goldmine, I think—tons of old electronics, crushed cans and a truck full of wet newspapers. What more could you ask for? The weather was also great for the shoot: overcast and a little windy.  We were there to take photos to promote the University of Mississippi Office of Sustainability’s Eco Fashion Gala, which is taking place during Green Week 2014 in late April. Two students modeled clothes made out of plastic bags and other uncommon materials. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product and attending the fashion show!

Growing Field of Study

Many sustainability-related courses are being offered next semester

RKJ_0889-EA few weeks ago, I was assigned the task of looking through the entire course catalog and finding every single class related to sustainability. When I say sustainability, I am referring to three different yet interdependent aspects of it — environmental, economic and social — and I was really surprised by the variety of classes that I discovered.

In the art department, courses include Art 373: Book Arts during which students learn how to bind their own books, and Art 315: Craft of Old Master Drawing/Painting during which students learn how to create various antique mediums such as natural chalks and handmade paper.

The biology department offers a wide array of classes related to environmental sustainability. The first step to obtaining environmental sustainability is understanding how the environment works, and that’s why classes such as Bisc 322: General Ecology are great to take. This class allows students to gain a deeper understanding of ecosystems in order to fix some of the environmental problems that humans have caused.

I looked not only for classes such as ecology but also ones that conveyed a deeper understanding of the world, that allow students to get an inside view of some of the critical topics of sustainability outside the realm of environmental issues. These classes may spark ideas about changing the world to become a more sustainable place both economically and socially. Classes such as Econ 406: Natural Resource Economics; Engl 358: Power, Knowledge and Gender; PPL 360: Global Perspective, Issues and Policies; Anth 331: American Indians and the Natural World; and Soc 355: Sociology of Human Rights are on my list, just to name a few. The areas offering courses vary from political science, journalism, public policy, English, Southern studies, international studies and philosophy. To view the entire list we are working on, visit the Office of Sustainability’s website.

For anyone interested in deepening your understanding of sustainability and environmental issues, consider the environmental studies minor. The minor, directed by English professor Ann Fisher-Wirth, is designed to introduce students to an interdisciplinary approach to environmental concerns including viewpoints from the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. The program has been growing in popularity as more students discover this meaningful course of study. Visit environmentalstudies.olemiss.edu to learn more.

I am so excited about scheduling my classes for next semester, and I am happy to announce that next semester’s course catalog on My Favorites is now open for viewing. I highly recommend checking out our list of sustainability courses or even just taking a deeper look at all of the courses available on the course catalog. I think students will be surprised by what they find.

Native Plants: An Essential Component in Healthy Ecosystems

Visiting speaker Doug Tallamy to host roundtable discussion on April 14

Gulf Fritillary, c.hart

Photo by Curt Hart

Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, will speak on the importance of native plants in healthy ecosystems during a public lecture on Monday, April 14 at 4 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Tallamy has found in his own research, and in the research of others, that native plants provide essential food for native insects, which in turn are food for other animals. Thus, native plants provide the foundation for a healthy, diverse ecosystem, which has many benefits for humans.

“Gardening with natives is no longer just a peripheral option …,” Tallamy writes in his book. “It is an important part of a paradigm shift in our shaky relationship with the planet that sustains us — one that mainstream gardeners can no longer afford to ignore.”

Tallamy travels the country in a lecture series explaining this idea, providing both information and inspiration.  Prior to the public lecture, Tallamy will help facilitate roundtable discussions of concrete ways that native plants can be incorporated into the landscapes of the community. Ole Miss students, faculty, staff and others in the Oxford community who would like to participate in these discussions (for which space is limited) are encouraged to contact Anne McCauley in the Ole Miss Office of Sustainability.

For more information about Tallamy, his book and native plants, click here.

Donate to the UM Green Fund

Empower Students’ Sustainable Projects with Your Support

GreenFund_DonorThe UM Green Fund needs your support. For less than the cost of a meal at Newk’s, you can make someone’s sustainable project goals a reality.

You may have noticed more hydration stations on campus, used an H2Otty Toddy water bottle instead of a plastic one or read about the pilot composting program taking place at the residential colleges. Those are all Green Fund projects, and the more donations we receive, the more projects we can implement.

The Green Fund is funded by donations from students, faculty, staff and alumni and by a baseline contribution of $15,000 per year from the university. For every dollar that is donated to the Green Fund from students, the university matches half of that donation. Therefore, your $10 donation automatically becomes $15.

In 2013, the Green Fund donations totaled $4,350. If just one in six of the 18,000 students on the Oxford campus donated $10, then the Green Fund would increase by $30,000, and with the university’s matching contribution, these donations would total $45,000. If one in three students donated $10, this number would dramatically double to $90,000, and if every student donated just $10, the Green Fund would jump to $270,000.

Your donation will help the Ole Miss community implement sustainable projects, which will lessen the university’s environmental impact. Students, faculty and staff are all eligible to submit project proposals to the UM Green Fund Committee. The committee, composed of students, faculty and staff, accepts project proposals once a semester. The more donations the Green Fund receives, the broader the spectrum of projects can be.

Students interested in contributing can do so by logging into myOleMiss and selecting “Donate to the UM Green Fund” in the left sidebar. UM employees can make donations here. You can make a contribution using a debit/credit card in whatever amount fits your budget — every amount helps.

 

Proper Disposal for that Old Computer

Ole Miss enters partnership to recycle electronic waste

computer_recycling_birmingham_alThe University of Mississippi has partnered with Magnolia Data Solutions to recycle its electronic waste, which ranges from computers to cell phones and digital cameras. Recycling electronics is important because that technology contains toxins that can have adverse effects on the environment, said Christopher Lumaghini, owner of the company.

With more than 11,000 computers and laptops on the university’s inventory, UM’s actions have a significant impact on its environmental stewardship.

“Based on other programs across the state or even region, Ole Miss has a strong program currently in place, and we are pleased to be working with the university,” Lumaghini said.

Magnolia Data Solutions holds a certification as an R2 recycler, the highest operating standard to which an electronic recycling facility can be accredited, he said. The certification distinguishes companies that highly value environmental and legal compliance, worker health and safety, and facility security. Without this certification, the university would find it almost impossible to verify that the electronics and toxic materials are being handled appropriately and not being shipped to other countries with looser standards.

“R2 certified facilities are audited regularly on more than 50 areas of operational performance and must comply with all components of the standard,” Lumaghini explained.   “R2 prohibits the export of electronic waste, eradicating the possibility of illegal dumping of harmful metals in Third World countries. R2 also has strict policies on how a facility handles personal information, which is stored on hard drives.”

Magnolia Data Solutions, established in 2008, receives and processes the electronic waste in Jackson, Miss., at its 30,000-square-foot processing facility.

Lumaghina said that when equipment arrives at the facility, it is weighed and then entered into the company’s track software. From there, the electronics are sorted and de-manufactured by technicians.

“The de-manufacturing process generates wastes, some which hold a negative and some which hold a positive value,” he said. “All of the waste is then sent to the appropriate smelter for final processing.”

The university makes every effort to reuse equipment or transfer it to another state agency before recycling is considered. However, once reuse options have been exhausted, having a certified Mississippi-based recycling company to handle the waste appropriately is a great option. Magnolia Data Solutions collects and processes a wide array of electronics and universal wastes.

“The most common items processed are computers, printers, miscellaneous components, televisions and monitors,” Lumaghini said.

Lumaghini is pleased with the increase in amount of electronics recycled in Mississippi since the company opened in 2008.

“As consumer awareness and corporate responsibility increases, it creates a new level of obsolete or nonworking electronic products to be disposed of properly,” he said.

Let the Games Begin!

Registration for Green Cup ends March 7; competition kicks off March 17

In March, the Office of Sustainability will host the annual Green Cup, a competition among all Greek organizations to recognize the “greenest” chapters on campus.

The Green Cup provides the Greek community an opportunity to be proactive and address environmental issues firsthand. Competing chapters will earn points in several categories including baseball game-day recycling promotion, eco-project innovation and 2014 Green Week participation.  In addition to these events, participating chapters will expand their sustainability efforts by creating a green leadership position within the organization. Chapters will also be challenged to educate their members on adopting more sustainable habits.

This competition is designed to be a fun learning experience for all who participate. No prior knowledge or practice of sustainability is required, only a willingness to get involved and make some positive changes.

Participation in the Green Cup competition will not only impact competing chapters (and earn them Green Cup points!) but also the Ole Miss community. Ole Miss has been named one of the most beautiful campuses and, with the help of the Greek community, we can keep it that way.

An informational and training session for interested chapters will be held on March 5 at 7 p.m. in Lyceum 200. Registration for the competition will end on March 7. The competition will begin on March 17.

For more information, please email greencup@olemiss.edu.