Updates from Aquinas College about COVID-19 are at aquinas.edu/coronavirus.  Updates on our plan for Fall 2020 are at aquinas.edu/saintstogether.

Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events (on-campus)

Plant Your Future: A Class Tree Planting
Date: August 19, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. 
Location: Lawn West of Albertus Hall
“The one who plants trees, knowing that he or she will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” (Rabindranath Tagore). Higher education is about more than a degree, especially at Aquinas College. It’s about fostering a community of well rounded individuals committed to leaving a positive impact on the world. The “Plant Your Future” event is a symbolic promise, a chance to make your mark at Aquinas College and to contribute to the long term health of our campus forest. At the event, each class will plant a tree and that tree will be forever commemorated with a “Class of…” plaque. Because Aquinas is attempting to reach the goal of having all trees native to Michigan on campus, the selected tree species will be a Michigan native that we are currently missing. At the event, hear from campus leaders about this exciting new program, watch as Father Stan delivers a blessing over the trees, and observe your class tree planting around Albertus Hall. As Aquinas College students, you’ve each decided to plant the tree for your future here. As a college, we will do our absolute best to ensure your tree has a magnificent future of continual growth.

AQ "Tree of the Year" Competition

  • August 24 to September 6, 2020- Nomination Period
  • September 7 to September 10, 2020- Closed Committee Voting to select the top 3 trees, based on the best testimony or case made for the tree.
  • September 14 to September 20, 2020- Open Community Voting

As part of the Aquinas College Urban Forest Initiative, the Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) is rolling out the Aquinas College "Tree of the Year" competition. Big or small, any tree can be a winner! Help celebrate what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs by sharing why your favorite campus tree is so special. Do you have a favorite campus tree? If so, tell us about it! If your tree is selected by the AQ Community, it will be forever commemorated with a "Tree of the Year" plaque. 

Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don’t Ditch it!
September 23, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. 
Location: Wege Student Center, Wege Ballroom (Top floor)
Come join the Center for Sustainability at our “Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don’t Ditch it!” event. We will have skilled community members from AQ and beyond helping students, staff, and faculty fix damaged clothing items. The event will highlight and teach basic clothing repair skills like simple sewing, hemming, patching, fixing buttons, etc. This event aims to reduce apparel waste. Instead of throwing items away, people can give their clothes new life by getting free repairs and learning to do repairs, in hopes of prolonging the life of clothing! Each person in attendance will also leave with a free sewing kit for future repair needs. Volunteers with clothing repair experience are still needed: contact Vanessa Heylmun vsh001@aquinas.edu if interested!

"Sustainability Brown Bag: Second-Hand Fashion and Conscious Consumerism"
Date: October 28, 2020 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. 
Location: Loutit Room
Speakers: Nick Carlson (Goodwill Industries) and Alice Jasper (Good for Michigan)
It is no surprise that we live in a consumerist society fueled by mass production, resulting in excessive amounts of waste. The fashion industry contributes to this waste issue in leaps and bounds. A good majority of fashion companies have been producing vast amounts of clothes in ways that compromise the health of our natural ecosystems and exploit marginalized groups of people. But there are ways to begin to shrink the fashion industry's environmental footprint by educating yourself on second-hand fashion. You can become a conscious consumer!  

Come hear what Alice Jasper (Sustainable Business Manager of Good For Michigan) and Nick Carlson (Vice President of Donated Goods Operations at Goodwill Industries) are doing about this issue and how you can participate in the transition toward a sustainable fashion future. Afterward, see for yourself how easy and fun second-hand fashion can be! Join us at the Pop-up Thrift Shop from 1:30pm to 5:30pm in the Moose Cafe. 

Off-Campus Events:

AASHE 2020
: October 20-22, 2020
Location: Virtual
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’s) annual conference is the largest stage in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities. Humanity faces a series of intensifying and interrelated social and ecological crises. Solving these crises requires a holistic transformation: a shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. With a theme of “Mobilizing for a Just Transition,” the 2020 AASHE Conference & Expo will focus on centering justice within this transformation and ensuring that it leaves no one behind. We seek to encourage higher education sustainability leaders to reflect and act on the Just Transition Principles articulated by the Climate Justice Alliance and to spotlight inspirational examples of institutions championing this work.

Sustainability News

Winner of RecycleMania Zero Waste Category
Aquinas participates in a national waste competition each spring called “RecycleMania”. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an eight week period in February and March, colleges report recycling, composting, and trash weights, to be ranked against participating colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. This year, Aquinas took FIRST PLACE in the smaller campus division of a new RecycleMania category called “Zero Waste”. The University of Michigan won the larger campus diversion. The Zero Waste main competition category is designed to help schools focus on waste reduction and zero waste efforts campus-wide and compare their results to other campuses. During this competition participating schools track all sources of their waste generation in five campuses buildings (or less for smaller campuses) during the eight-week competition period. We selected the Academic Building to “compete” in this category. Results from this category can be found by clicking here and then selecting “Zero Waste” under the section titled “2020 National Rankings.” In the Diversion category, Aquinas finished 12th (among 145 schools) in the nation and 2nd in the state. Go Saints!

Aquinas named a "Tree Campus USA"
Aquinas College received the 2019 “Tree Campus USA” designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. This designation recognizes campuses with a broad commitment to promoting healthy trees and community engagement opportunities. There are five broad requirements of the designation including: 1) Campus Tree Advisory Committee; 2) Campus Tree Care Plan; 3) Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures; 4) Arbor Day Observance; and 5) Service Learning Project. This designation is the first of many outcomes related to the college's renewed commitment to investing in the campus urban forest. Aquinas College's Urban Forest Initiative aims to provide a structure, support, investment and engagement opportunities, and plan to better manage the Aquinas College campus woodlands. This initiative is an institutional priority with several components for both the short and long term, and engagement by many individuals across campus.  
>More information on the Designation
>More information on Aquinas' Urban Forest Initiative

New Recycling Rules, Effective January 1, 2020
Recycling rules are changing for Kent County on January 1st, and that includes AQ recycling. The recycling center is no longer accepting plastic bags or shredded paper. Shredded paper can now be disposed of in the compost bins and plastic bags should be placed in the trash. Of course if you are able, you can always bring plastic bags of all types (including zipper storage bags like Ziploc) to store drop off sites like Meijer. Or better yet, ditch single plastic bags altogether and carry a reusable bag!

2019 Tip the Scale Waste Competition Winners
St. Joseph Hall officially won the 2019 Tip the Scale Waste Competition! This is the first time St. Joe's took the title since the competition began in 2015. St. Joe finished the month of September with a cumulative diversion rate of 49.42%. Regina East finished at 36.72% and Regina West finished at 23.52%. As a reward for their victory, a pizza party was hosted in the St Joe Lobby and the building also held the traveling sustainability trophy. The winner of this fall's RA Education Challenge (and a RocketBook Notebook and solar charger) was Megan Bopra! She set up a special collection waste area in her house and organized a "weekly recyclers" network among her residents. Thanks to all who participated.

Homecoming and Move-In Were Zero Waste Events!
Thanks to the help of dozens of volunteers, first year move-in and homecoming at AQ were zero waste events. Move-in wrapped up with 989.8 lbs of recycling, 38.6 lbs of compost, 38.2 lbs of comforter bag donations, and 65.4 lbs of trash. That computes to an impressive 94% diversion rate! Since 2014, that is our second highest move-in diversion rate. The homecoming zero waste effort was also successful, with a 94.12% diversion rate. Thanks again to our volunteers and extraordinary interns for making it happen.

Looking for more? Visit our News:Archives page for older news about the Center for Sustainability.