Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events (on-campus)


Community Garden Planting Day
Date: Wednesday, May 30th from 11am to 1pm
If the sunny weather has you itching to get outside and dig in the dirt, then this post is for you. Mark your calendars for a community garden planting day scheduled for Wednesday, May 30th from 11am to 1pm. The garden is even bigger this year, so we need your help to get plants in the ground. Let’s meet in the garden (between AMC and Holmdene) and feel free to come and go during that time slot as needed. Please RSVP to Jessica Eimer Bowen if you plan to attend.

A few other notables:

  • Check out the Center for Sustainability Facebook page to stay engaged with garden activities.
  • The garden is overseen by the Center for Sustainability Department, but Christina Radisauskas (a master gardener!) performs the day to day maintenance of the garden. Please give her a high five next time you see her.
  • You are still welcome to pick from the garden, but ripe produce will be available on a plant stand for your convenience. And yes, it’s free for the taking.


To watch videos of previous Economicology events, click here (ELM login required)

Off-Campus Events:

Reaching for Zero
: June 20, 2018 from 8am-6pm
Location: Fetzer Center, Kalamazoo, MI
Reaching for Zero is a summit promoting widespread adoption of net zero energy building design and construction. The Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan Chapter invite change makers of all disciplines to attend this one-day event at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center. Reaching for Zero will feature headliner Matt Grocoff, principal of Ann Arbor based THRIVE Collective. Concurrent sessions will cover topics related to on-site renewable energy, net-zero building design, regulatory frameworks, certification paths, local case studies, and more. Summit includes continental breakfast, lunch, and networking reception. Register here.

2018 AASHE Conference and Expo
Dates: October 2 - 5, 2018
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
We stand at a key moment in history. As sustainability challenges intensify and the window for action grows smaller every day, the need for leadership by higher education is greater than ever. With a theme of “Global Goals: Rising to the Challenge,” the 2018 AASHE Conference & Expo will examine the critical role of higher education in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the world’s governments in September 2015, the 17 SDGs establish ambitious global targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. Expected to draw approximately 2,000 participants, 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. We invite you to join us and share your knowledge, achievements and ideas.

Sustainability News

Winner of the Great Guru Garbage Games
The 2018 Great Guru Garbage Games is a friendly competition of zero waste gurus fighting to prove that their building is THE zero waste champion to beat! There is both a student category and a faculty/staff category, with the champion in each category winning the traveling sustainability trophy. Each building worked to beat its average (cumulative) diversion rate to date, earning a point each week that the percentage is beat. The building with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins!! The faculty/staff winner of the 2018 Great Guru Garbage Games is Browne Center!!! Congratulations to Mark Schmidbauer and all of the occupants of BC on this victory! Browne finished the competition with a 4 points out of a possible 4 points and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy! The student winner is St. Rose of Lima, with 2 points out of a possible 4. Because Meijer Hall also had 2 points, the winner came down to the building with the highest percent change. Congratulations to Greta Baragar on this accomplishment, the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. Browne Center also had the highest diversion rate during the competition.

Regina Hall Wins the Tip the Scale: A Waste Diversion Competition for the Third Year in a Row!
The 2017 Tip the Scale Competition is finally over! Regina and St. Joseph Halls have been competing since the first day of school to have the highest cumulative waste diversion rate for the month of September! Regina won this year with a monthly diversion rate of 53.54% and St. Joe's finished with a 44.9% diversion rate. We want to thank all those who helped make this competition possible, especially the residents of Regina and St. Joe's! Join us Monday, October 16th in the Regina Lobby from 7:30 am to 10:00 am to celebrate Regina's victory with donuts and coffee.

Homecoming 2017 Was a Zero Waste Event!
Last Saturday the Center for Sustainability teamed up with several volunteers from different RSOs to run four Zero Waste stations placed around campus. Despite the heat we diverted 104.96 pounds of composting and 19.31 pounds of recycling, leaving only 10.19 pounds of trash for an overall diversion rate of 92.4%! Thank you to all of our volunteers, we couldn't have done this without you!

SOS! Meet our New "Saints Out Sustaining" Program!
Saints Out Sustaining (SOS) is a spontaneous reward program designed to encourage sustainable behavior on campus. By getting involved with sustainability on-campus you have the chance to be identified as a "Saint Out Sustaining" by one of our Zero Waste Gurus or Housekeeping staff. When you get caught "out sustaining", you will receive an SOS slip. Fill the slip out with your information and bring it to the Campus Safety Office for a chance to win a Go-Pro Hero at the end of each quad! If you have multiple slips, the better your chances. Email Malory ( with any questions. 

Tip the Scale 2017: A Waste Diversion Competition
Are you ready to Tip the Scales? "Tip the Scale" is an on-campus competition between St. Joe's and Regina which begins on August 28th and continues through the end of September. The building that diverts the most waste away from the landfill is the winner, and holder of the student traveling sustainability trophy! This competition is a great opportunity for first year students to learn more about Zero Waste at Aquinas and practice their sorting skills! Look for weekly updates on the competition and current diversion numbers for each building on the Moose, Sustainability Initiative website and the Center for Sustainability's social media pages. Tip the Scale towards higher rates of diversion and prove that you are the leader in zero waste!

Winner of 2017 AQ Unplugged Energy Competition- April 24, 2017
We're excited to announce that Holmdene Manor won the AQ Unplugged: Energy Competition! They reduced their electricity consumption by 41% from their February baseline, the highest reduction among participating buildings. Honorable mentions go to Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center and Hruby Hall for significant reductions in their electrical consumption. As winners of the competition, Holmdene will hold the faculty/staff traveling sustainability trophy for the summer! To stay up to date on our latest campus energy consumption, check out our energy monitors. They can be found on our website in the left-hand menu or in the lobbies of many buildings around campus. >view full results

Winner of the Great Guru Garbage Games
We're closing out the month and the quad with a new home for the Sustainability Trophies in Albertus Hall and Mother Euphrasia Sullivan Hall! Congrats to Rob Peters and Sister Damien Marie Savino for winning the Faculty/Staff category of the Great Guru Garbage Games! Albertus finished the competition with a 73.2% diversion rate, a 5% improvement from last semester. Congratulations also to Aimee Judd and team for winning the student category of the Great Guru Garbage Games, with an 83.2% diversion rate or 23% improvement. Kudos also go out to Campus Safety with the highest diversion rate during the competition of 93.8%!!! Thanks so much for participating and working so hard. We're on our way to Zero-Waste! >view full results

Aquinas College Named Sustainable Business of the Year
On October 12, 2016, Aquinas College was named the Sustainable Business of the Year by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. The award recognizes organizations that best represent the values of the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Past winners of the West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year include Brewery Vivant and Organicycle. This year’s finalists also included Amway, Catalyst Partners, the City of Grand Rapids, Disher Design & Development, Grand Valley State University, Herman Miller, Kent County Department of Public Works, and Rockford Construction. For more information, look here.

We Had a Zero Waste Homecoming!
We are excited to announce that Aquinas' 2016 Homecoming was once again a Zero Waste event! We'd like to give out a big "Thank you" to all of our volunteers, as well as Brigid Avery for her dedication to compostable cups. Overall, we collected 124.32 pounds of compost, 14.2 pounds of recycling, 0.11 pounds of Terracycle, and only 7.16 pounds of trash! This means that our overall diversion rate was 95.1%, well above the 90% minimum required diversion rate for Zero Waste. Happy Sorting! 

Results from the Tip the Scale Competition
The results from our September Tip the Scale Zero Waste competition are in! Regina Hall won the competition with a cumulative diversion rate of 47.6%, and Saint Joseph Hall was close behind with a 42.8% diversion rate. We'd like to congratulate both halls on their great improvement since last year's competition, when the ending diversion rates were 43% and 35.5%, respectively. To celebrate Regina's success, a small doughnut party will be held in the Regina Lobby from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on October 10th. 

Aquinas to be Honored by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
At the upcoming WMSBF Triple Botton Line Bash (See Off-Campus Events above for details), Aquinas' own Deborah Steketee will be inducted into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame. In addition, Aquinas alum Eric Saigeon of Intertek is being honored as the "Future Hall of Famer." If you have not yet voted, please consider supporting Aquinas College as a candidate for the Sustainable Business of the Year. Vote here by October 7th to help Aquinas win.

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