by Lindsey Abernathy, Project Coordinator | February 1, 2016
Fall 2015 saw the launch of several new sustainability initiatives on the University of Mississippi campus, including the establishment of the UM Garden Club and the inaugural Red, Blue & Green Freshman Interest Group, as well as the growth of already existing initiatives such as EcoReps and efforts to advance biking. Read a recap of sustainability projects below:
Garden Groundbreaking – Volunteers broke ground on the university’s first on-campus community garden in September. Members of the new UM Garden Club maintain the garden, growing produce for themselves and to be donated to the UM Food Bank. The garden is open to students, faculty and staff.
Fostering Residential Leaders in Sustainability – The EcoReps program grew during fall semester, with 10 students working to advance sustainability in Crosby Hall and Residential College South. EcoReps organized monthly activities and served as sustainability hot-spots in their halls.
Engaging Freshman – In August, four students joined the first-ever Red, Blue & Green Freshman Interest Group, housed in Residential College South. Throughout the semester, the students participated in dinner and sustainability-related discussions with Office of Sustainability staff as well as field trips to Brown Family Dairy and Yokna Bottoms Farm.
Active Transportation Advancements – In fall 2015, the UM Bike Shop rented its entire fleet of bicycles during fall semester. Additionally, the Bike Shop hosted two bike maintenance workshops. In November, the university was designated a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.
Sustainability 101 – Office of Sustainability students and staff spoke to nearly 20 EDHE classes and student groups on sustainability at UM during the fall semester. The presentations covered UM’s commitment, personal responsibility and ways to get involved on campus.
Sustainability Field Trips – Members of Real Food Rebels, the Red, Blue & Green FIG and students in the Office of Sustainability’s Green Student Intern Program took part in three sustainability related field trips during fall semester. They visited the Strawberry Plain Audubon Center to volunteer at the 2015 Hummingbird Festival; Yokna Bottoms Farm to learn about sustainable agriculture practices and community supported agriculture; and Brown Family Dairy, where they met the dairy cows and learned about the process of bottling and distributing local milk.
Community Outreach – Green Student Interns involved with the Green Grove Gameday Recycling Initiative and the UM Compost Program spoke with dozens of fourth grade classes at Oxford Intermediate School on the importance of recycling and composting in daily life. The interns prepared interactive activities to help the children learn which items can and cannot be composted and recycled.
Working to Reduce Food Waste – Despite some vehicle-related issues, the UM Compost Team composted more than 13,000 pounds of food waste from Rebel Market, the Grill at 1810 and the Marketplace at the Residential Colleges during fall semester. The team also organized two volunteer-based sift-a-thons to prepare the compost for distribution. As part of Food Day, the Office of Sustainability hosted two food waste weigh-ins in campus dining facilities to collect baseline data on food waste in those locations.
New Campus Sustainability Projects – The UM Green Fund awarded funds to four new projects during fall 2015. The projects include a recycling pilot in residence hall rooms in RC South; a dance performed by Mississippi: The Dance Company highlighting water issues as part of the National Water Dance event; the installation of a new bike repair station at RC South; and a project to collect and donate items that would otherwise be thrown away during move-out.
Going Green on Gameday – The Green Grove Initiative collected more than 3 tons of recyclable items from the Grove and stadium on football game Saturdays. However, since football Saturdays produced 164 tons of waste, it is evident that there is still a long way to go. More than 250 students volunteered to help educate fans on gameday or sort recycling after the games. In November, about 20 faculty and staff members stepped in to sort 1,400 pounds of recycling from the LSU vs. Ole Miss game while students were out of town on Thanksgiving break.
Turning the Discussion to Food – In October, several food-related events took place on campus and in Oxford as part of the annual Food Day observation. Events included a festival and farmer’s market, “Cost of Food” panel discussion, screening of the film “Fed Up,” food waste weigh-ins, a compost sift-a-thon and a potluck hosted by Sustainable Oxford.