Category Archives: Conferences

Sharing Best Practices

HESC luncheon at Meramec campus

Nine area colleges and universities from the bi-state converged at St. Louis Community College-Meramec on November 29, 2011 to learn more about waste management strategies and to consider and fight for best practices leading up to 2012 RecycleMania from January to March. The St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) invited representatives from Waste Management, Aspen, and Midwest Recycling Center to share their strategies for handling trash, recycling, composting and electronics.  Jeff Macko at St. Louis University (SLU) has negotiated a way to measure their RecycleMania trash and recycling by having Waste Management run their campuses like a wee city–taking the full trucks back for weights.  This works for SLU because of their size.  It is understandably costly to run a truck for one small campus back to the scales, then out again to area businesses.  So another best practice was negotiated with Aspen by Peggy Lauer, Director of Sustainability at Maryville University.  Aspen offers scales on each truck that can capture a weight at each bin and tally those weights onto their invoice.  This practice of tying weights to payment assures Maryville getting their measurement in a timely fashion.

Getting accurate weights was one big frustration by participating schools last year.  At STLCC, I had to calculate volume-to-weights because my recycling hauler does not have the equipment to provide actual pounds.  Another snafoo that occured for my measurements came from my trash hauler who summed our trash with 5 other companies.  That week’s measurement was 5 time larger than the week before!  I called to ask if we were being combined with an anvil company.  What I learned keenly is that participating in RecycleMania is a journey–there is yet no exact science yet in the trash biz.  What I also learned is despite not having true numbers, we are BILLED as if there are true numbers.  As a consortium, we with our numbers, want this to change.

Linda Adams from Solid Waste Management District urges schools to apply for grants

Midwest Recycling Center (featured in many earlier blogs) shared about the collaboration with STLCC to collect 232,767 lbs at no cost to the college and community because of grant support from the St. Louis-Jefferson County Solid Waste Management District (SWMD).  Linda Adams, from the SWMD, urged the HESC schools to follow suit to get supporting monies to make their recycling programs happen. Steve Fishman from the regional EPA urged our consortium schools to sign up for Waste Wise program focuing on composting.

I felt proud to have STLCC host this important regional event. Acting Vice President of Academics, Dr. Vernon Kays, gave a warm welcome and honored our work gathering to share best practices.

Acting Vice President for Academics at Meramec, Dr. Vernon Kays, welcomes the consortium member schools

Our next HESC luncheon will be in January at Maryville University where the discussing and sharing will focus on Green Purchasing.


AASHE Conference Inspires Florissant Valley Student


Evelyn Parker at AASHE Conference

Education outside the classroom can open new horizons.  For Evelyn Parker, Florissant Valley Communication major, education about sustainability crossed the country to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference.  Student Development funds from Dr. Pfeiffer, FV President, helped pay Evelyn’s way.  Yesterday, Evelyn presented her experience via powerpoint to the Flo Valley Green Team.  I was quite taken by what struck her as inspirational because I was attending different workshops on strategic planning, transportation, carbon footprinting and “trashformation.”  Evelyn was inspired by the key note speakers, workshop presenters, but more, by the whole experience of this much sharing of ideas and passion in the realm of sustainability.  Her powerpoint will be posted at soon.

We ate local food in compostable containers in the spacious, daylit LEED Platinum convention center.  Attendees morphed organically attracted to their own school colleagues sharing away from the demands of work, and flowed out to absorb the ideas and best practices from around the nation and other countries.  AASHE conferences are by all means nourishing and over-stimulating.  The conference even had a “quiet” meditation room to integrate ideas from a full 3 days.

Webster U, Maryville U and STLCC share sustainability passions

In the evenings, pods from the regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) met for dinner and debriefed the day, sharing what they were taking back to their schools for action.  Cruising around the town where I went to graduate school was a blast from the past.  I visited my former campus to find Duquesne University had greened itself quite well.  They had co-generation for heating building and great signage sharing other green building features. 

One of the key insights I brought back came from Leith Sharp (former sustainability director from Harvard)–just DO something, even if only on a small-scale.  She reminded me to never forget the core value that there is URGENT global action needed, and to act gutsier.  Look out STLCC–gutsy is my plan for my last 6 months in this sustainability role!