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)

Invasive Species Removal 
Date
: October 27, 2020
Join the Center for Sustainability, Tri-Beta, and Geo Club on Tuesday, October 27th to remove invasive species on our campus. Come celebrate fall and the beautiful trees on our campus, by removing invasive plants that are threatening their future. The event is a part of our broader Urban Forest Initiative and AQ's fall fest celebration. One of the goals of Aquinas' Urban Forest Initiative is to combat invasive species on our grounds to preserve and promote ecological health. There are two shift options including: 9:30am to 10:30am or 1:30pm to 2:30pm. Sign-up requested (but not required) by emailing eimerjes@aquinas.edu. Volunteers will meet outside the main (west) entrance of Albertus Hall. No experience necessary.

Off-Campus Events:

AASHE 2020
Date
: 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.

Michigan Campus Earth Day 50.5
Date: October 22, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
Location: Virtual
The Michigan Campus Sustainability Collective (MiCSC), a program focused on influencing and educating future generations on sustainability and elevating and promoting the use of sustainability on Michigan campuses, is proud to present MI Campus Earth Day 50.5. Michigan Campus Earth Day 50.5 is a collaborative event to engage faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders in a series of virtual convenings. The event will educate and provide action items for campuses to create awareness and advance environmental and social justice, including the importance of voting, how to incorporate environmental justice in curriculum, and how to improve food justice on campus. The event includes a civic engagement component, including a live voter registration. The day is split into morning and afternoon sessions geared toward professionals and student audiences, respectively. Join us for speakers from around Michigan and surrounding campuses as we improve higher education sustainability initiatives through education, including an increased awareness of the importance of public health, racial equity, and social justice.  We will facilitate connections between professionals and students with environmental justice experts.  While the momentous Earth Day 50 was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts, the Earth Day 50.5 milestone provides an opportunity to develop a collaborative space for Michigan colleges to empower the future generation in sustainability work, while increasing voter registration on campus and educating individuals about environmental justice issues and candidate stances on the ballots.

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.