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Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events

On-Campus Events

AQ Tree of the Year Competition
>Link to voting form
: Campus Voting Period: Oct. 25-31, 2021

As part of the Aquinas College Urban Forest Initiative, the Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) is excited to roll out the AQ Tree of the Year Competition. Big or small, any tree can be the winner! This competition is a celebration of what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs. The competition will be held October 2021, in hopes of encouraging campus exploration of the beautiful fall colors. Participants will have two weeks to nominate a tree to the online form. The C-TAC will review all submissions and select the top three submissions, based on three criteria: Conviction, relevance to the AQ community, and creativity. The public will then have a week to vote and select the AQ Tree of the Year. The competition will be primarily advertised to the on-campus community, but alums and community members can also participate. The winning tree will receive a plaque, commemorating it as the 2021 Tree of the Year.


  • Special Alumni Nomination Period: Sept. 16-19, 2021
  • Campus Nomination Period: Oct. 4-17, 2021
  • Closed Tree Committee Vote (top 3): Oct. 19-21, 2021
  • Open/Public Vote (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place): Oct. 25-31, 2021
Campus Tree Tours
  • Oct. 6, 2021: 10:00-10:45 a.m.
  • Oct. 8, 2021: 3-3:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 11, 2021: 3-3:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 15, 2021- 2-2:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 26, 2021- 2-2:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 27, 2021- 11-11:45 a.m.
All faculty, staff, and students are invited to tour the beautiful trees on campus and see the fall colors in style ... by golf cart! During these 45-minute tours, Ryan Wendt will introduce you to over 75 different species of trees and share several interesting facts about each tree. Ryan will also cover a brief history of our campus woodlands. These tours are a great way to find a tree to nominate for the AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition. Come learn all about one of the features that make Aquinas the most beautiful campus around. RSVP is required to, as each scheduled tour has a maximum attendance of five people. Tours will begin outside the main entrance of Albertus Hall. Private tours are also available at request by contacting the email above.

Green Tea Tuesday: Featuring Provost Steve Germic
Date: Nov. 2, 2021 at 3 p.m.
Location: Albertus Hall, Rm 127 (Peter M. Wege Wing)

Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 2, for "Green Tea Tuesday" with Special Guest Provost Steve Germic. Dr. Germic will present on his book "American Green." Tea, coffee, and a small snack will be provided. Green Tea Tuesday is sponsored by the Learning Sustainability Committee and Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College.

Tip the Scale Waste Competition (Spring Semester)
Jan. 31-Feb. 27, 2022

The Spring Semester version of the Tip the Scale Waste Competition is a friendly competition of all buildings on campus. Aquinas faculty, staff, and students are 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 participating building is working to beat its average (cumulative) diversion rate to date, earning a point each week that the percentage is beaten. The building with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins! In the event of a tie, the building with the highest percent change receives preference.

Campus Race to Zero Waste
: Jan. 30-March 26, 2022

The Campus Race to Zero Waste is a friendly national 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. Aquinas finished 5th in the diversion category for the 2021 competition!

"We All Live Here" Service Day
: April 20, 2022
Location: Aquinas College Campus

In celebration of Earth Day, Arbor Day and the Dominican pillars of community and service, the Aquinas College Infrastructure Sustainability Committee is proud to sponsor “We All Live Here.” Please join us in a day of service dedicated to the care of our common home on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Crews of Aquinas staff, faculty, and students will complete projects at Aquinas to honor our beautiful campus. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, planting trees, and working in the community garden. All projects will be outside, so please dress for the weather. Morning Shift: 9-11 a.m. Afternoon Shift: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Registration will be posted in March.

Off-Campus Events

Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education
: Oct. 12-14, 2021
Location: Virtual

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’s) virtual Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education is the largest stage to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities. The Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education will deliver the same inspiring content, engaging networking opportunities, and thought-provoking keynote speakers and presenters we celebrate each year in person – now virtually produced with the opportunity for an even larger global audience of innovative professionals committed to a more sustainable future. >More Information

Sustainability News

2021 AQ Campus Race to Zero Waste Winners
Our on-campus waste competition has come to a close and we have our winners! The full rankings can be found here. The Faculty/Staff Category winner is ... the Cook Carriage House! Congratulations to Zero Waste Advocates Mallory Miller, Ramil Collier, and all of the occupants of CCH on this victory! CCH finished the competition with four points out of a possible four points (plus a 74% diversion rate!) and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy. The Student Category winner is ... Hruby Hall, with four points out of a possible four points (and an 80% diversion rate). Congratulations to all the students at Hruby Hall on this accomplishment. You will be the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. We also like to recognize the building with the highest diversion rate during the AQ Race to Zero Waste. Campus Safety finished the competition with an impressive 84% diversion rate. You all are rock stars!

Aquinas College recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index lists Aquinas College as one of the top performers in the area of waste, a category that assesses waste minimization and reduction construction, waste diversion and hazardous waste management. Aquinas is the only Michigan school to be listed as a top performer in any of the index’s 17 categories. Aquinas achieved a third-place ranking in the waste category by earning 80.1%, nearly 35 percentage points above the 45.3% average score for all institutions in the category.

Aquinas featured in The Princeton Review 2021 guide to green colleges
The Princeton Review listed Aquinas College as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges in its Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. This is the 10th time the Aquinas has made the list. The guide notes the broad range of sustainability activities at Aquinas, from its seven LEED-certified buildings and one LEED-registered building to its local food program with dining services, integration of sustainability issues into the academic curriculum, efficient and innovative changes in its physical infrastructure and campus-wide zero-waste program. Released in October, the Guide to Green Colleges profiles institutions based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges. The publication’s editors analyze more than 25 data points in choosing the final 416 schools for the guide. Aquinas scored a 98 out of 99 in the publication’s Green Rating, a comprehensive measure of performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.

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. his 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.

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