Earlham College’s Strategic Plan (approved in 2002) calls on us to make the College “a more responsible community in its operations, especially in its use and disposal of scarce physical resources.” In its section on Simplicity, Principles and Practices (2005) asks each of us to consider, “Am I careful about how I use both human and environmental resources?” and “Do we as a community work for an environmentally responsible and sustainable future?”
The College’s approach to environmental responsibility is embodied in an Environmental Plan, approved by the Faculty and the Board of Trustees in 2004-05. The Plan calls for the College to consider improving its impact on the environment in six areas: (1) new and remodeled buildings, (2) energy conservation – buildings and grounds, (3) energy conservation – transportation, (4) water use, (5) solid waste, recycling and composting, and (6) land use and stewardship.
The College also has an Environmental Responsibility Committee (ERC), which “monitors and encourages the implementation of the Earlham Environmental Plan, provides consistent and long-term oversight and coordination for campus environmentally-oriented activities, serves as the central point of information and education on campus environmental issues, and makes recommendations to appropriate persons or college units.”
The Key Seven Areas
- The Earlham Environmental Plan divides Earlham’s environmental responsibilities and practices into seven different areas.
- New and Remodeled Buildings
- Energy Conservation — Buildings and Grounds
- Energy Conservation — Transportation
- Water Use (including storm water)
- Solid Waste, Recycling and Composting
- Land Use and Stewardship
- Culture of Sustainability
Earlham's Recycling Program is one way for community members to live out environmental values fundamental to the College's overall mission of education "carried on with a concern for the world in which we live and for improving human society" (as described in Earlham's Mission Statement).
Opal Thornburg stated in her history of Earlham College, "The past is prologue, and that past can provide light to illuminate the years ahead." As part of the "Three Rs," recycling today builds on Earlham's rich history of reducing consumption of pre-packaged, transported food and energy and of reusing discarded, donated items in both practical and ingenious ways, as in the following examples:
- Earlham College was self-sustaining from its inception in 1847 until at least as late as 1872. Earlham's "fruits, vegetables, cereals, and meats were provided largely by the school garden, orchard, and farm …." (Thornburg)
- Earlham's gardens and dairy were still productive during the war years of the 1940s, when students helped shorthanded staff with apple picking, potato digging and leaf raking. From 1937 to 1945 Earlham's Holstein dairy herd supplied as many as 125 gallons of fresh milk to the campus daily, which was pasteurized for drinking and occasionally processed into ice cream. The dairy was dismantled in 1956.
- A greenhouse, donated in 1941 by Joseph H. Hill to the Biology Department, was erected on campus and additionally used to grow bedding plants.
- A cooperative (bulk food) store venture was operated by staff in 1939 and for a few years thereafter.
- From 1904 until 1947, at the urging and financial assistance of Earlham's engineer, Marmaduke Gluys, electrical current was economically generated at the College as a by-product of the heating plant, using secondhand machinery.
- During the coal shortage that began in 1917, the College community saved heat and energy by: turning radiators off in vacant rooms, using hot water sparingly, getting up 1/2 hour later, and going to bed 1/2 hour earlier.
- The refrigeration unit used to operate Earlham's dairy was acquired in 1928 by five of Earlham's maintenance staff, who drove to Washington, D.C., and extracted it, at junk cost, from a WWI battleship.
Building upon these examples from Earlham's past, our mission is to discover ways of implementing the "Three Rs" — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — in campus life today and for the future.
Earlham College has implemented an action step by signing the Talloires Declaration. The Talloires Declaration is a commitment from university leaders and administrators to strive for environmental sustainability in higher education. Now it is up to each of us to play our part.
Successful environmental initiatives are effective only when these move from planning to action. Your predecessors at Earlham College have established a viable framework to enable you to be involved at the individual level. What can an individual do to have a direct impact on the Earlham College community and surrounding areas?
- Become involved by being active! Volunteer to be an environmental champion on campus. Let us walk the talk, from rhetoric to action.
- Reuse plastic bags and if ready to discard, discard at locations in the large commercial discount stores or supermarkets in the area.
- Use a reusable shopping bag. Several of the local stores now sell very economical shopping bags that can be used over and over again. Use these instead of plastic or paper bags.
- Recycle as many commodities as possible. Please keep the recycling stream clean of contaminants.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- The buildings are a smoke free environment. When disposing of cigarette butts, please use the urns provided to keep the grounds clean and looking green.
- Use as little water as possible. Turn off faucets if not immediately using water.
- Discard trash into trash containers. Litter on campus literally has a direct impact on our environment. If you see a piece of trash on the ground, please place it in a trash container. If it can be recycled, place it in a recycling container.
- Donate items rather than discarding them. There are several local charities that would be delighted to sell gently used items through their thrift shops.
- Protect our storm water drains from contaminants such as vehicle oils, anti-freeze and other substances.
- Close windows in buildings that have controlled atmospheres.
- Use batteries that can be recharged — this keeps batteries out of the landfill and can save money.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs in light fixtures and lamps.
- Use drinking containers that can be reused.
- Carpool if going to shared activities.
- Ride a bicycle instead of driving a car short distances. Exercise is good for your health, good for your wealth and good for the environment.
Every attempt is being made to ensure that there are recycling containers for every building on campus. In academic, administrative and residence hall buildings there are containers for commingled products (glass, plastic and cans) and newspapers. Some facilities have locations for non-glossy office paper and cardboard. The program continues to grow; if you have a need for containers, please let the Maintenance Department know.
There are also external recycling bins located throughout campus provided by Earlham College in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. These containers, constructed of recycled commodities, are for commingled items (glass, plastic and cans).
Blue dumpsters are available to the Earlham community for office paper and commingled items. As of this time these units cannot accept cardboard.
We are extending the recycling of cardboard to selected locations at Earlham Hall (Dining Services loading dock area), Lilly Library, Bolling Center and Carpenter Hall. It is our objective to eventually recycle cardboard from every building on campus.
Throughout the year there are special recycling opportunities such as book recycling, electronic scrap recycling and other initiatives. Watch for these and participate!
Products that Can Be Recycled at Earlham
Until the local markets can process more commodities, we're limited to recycling:
- Commingled items: metal cans, glass and plastic containers.
- Paper: white or colored office paper and envelopes.
- Newspaper: without glossy inserts. There are newspaper recycling containers at various locations throughout campus and these will grow in number.
- Cardboard: selected locations, excludes cereal boxes or carrier board (soda can boxes, etc.).
If you are unclear about what can be recycled, consult posters throughout campus or review the recycling brochure.
Whose Responsibility Is Recycling?
The simple answer is that it is each individual's responsibility to do his or her part — we need to set the example each and every day. Earlham College will be '"green" only if we all do our part, individually and collectively.
- Houses: It is the responsibility of occupants to comply with the recycling guidelines for the City of Richmond. Generally the City of Richmond recycles glass, cans, plastics and newspaper without glossy inserts. The City does NOT recycle cardboard through the residential program. Items should be placed in the blue Richie Rollers provided at the curb on the appropriate bi-weekly pick-up date.
- Residence Halls: Residents should use the containers placed in their buildings for recycled commodities. These are emptied by the Housekeeping Department.
- Academic and Administrative Buildings: Individuals are encouraged to recycle commodities at the locations throughout the buildings. Emptying these containers is a cooperative effort between Housekeeping and student recyclers.
For a list of specific items appropriate for recycling, visit Recycling Information online.
For a comprehensive look at where to recycle items in the Richmond and Wayne County area visit Richmond Recycling Resources.
Striving to be Green
Earlham College is endeavoring to enhance the greening of buildings by increasing the use of technologies to minimize the consumption or discarding of resources. From a simple initiative to installing recycling centers and locations in each building to complex energy management systems, Earlham is striving to green our environment. Some other initiatives are:
- Installing energy efficient light bulbs
- Increased utilization of energy management systems
- Encouraging architects to design buildings utilizing the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines
- Using automated water fixtures
- Installing automatic room occupancy light sensors
- Providing external recycling centers throughout the campus
- Increasing the types of commodities being recycled
- Partnering with the City of Richmond on storm water programs to help keep our waterways clean
- Installing energy efficient windows during the remodeling of buildings.
Being green involves each one of us doing our individual part. We are looking forward to working together to enhance the environment in which we study, work and play.