October 01, 2008

Ashley Hanna '09 was among those reporting on sustainable environmental practices at Bucknell.

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LEWISBURG, Pa. – When Christine Kassab, Class of ’09, began collaborating with Bucknell University’s Dining Services, her goal was to eliminate disposable foam dish ware on campus.

Two years later, according to Kassab, Dining Services has increased its use of local foods in its menu, implemented a reusable mug program, instituted “no tray” Tuesdays and Thursdays to reduce food and water waste and, last week, introduced a pilot program promoting reusable takeout containers.

Kassab is still working on putting an end to the use of foam, but she is thrilled with the progress Dining Services has made thus far toward sustainable practices.

Environmental assessment
Kassab’s report was one of several given at Wednesday's Bucknell University Environmental Assessment Summit, where students, faculty and staff received an overview of the results of a year-long investigation into the environmental impact of campus operations.

The project, part of a “campus greening” initiative being led by the Bucknell Environmental Center, saw more than 70 participants seek to discover and implement more sustainable policies and practices on campus.

In addition to Kassab, other presenters included Dina El-Mogazi, sustainability coordinator with the Center. El-Mogazi coordinated 10 assessment teams focusing on areas ranging from education and energy to solid waste, landscape, purchasing, facilities and water.  

'Small city with noble purpose'
She said that the project is important because “Bucknell is a small city of 5,000. But it’s a small city with a noble purpose, which is to educate and inspire the next generation to think about and relate to the world around them. This is about looking at our relationship with the earth.”

Also speaking at the event were:

  • Molly Burke, Class of ’10, who shared the results of her research comparing the carbon footprints of virgin and recycled paper at Bucknell.
  • Ashley Hanna, Class of ’09, who, under the mentorship of assistant professor of civil engineering Stephen Buonopane, surveyed sustainable practices in the Bucknell-built environment.
  • Mark Spiro, associate professor of biology, who discussed student and faculty research into biodiversity on campus.

The results of the assessment are “the culmination of the first step,” in greening the campus said Peter Wilshusen, assistant professor of environmental studies and co-director of the Center. “We’re creating a baseline for moving forward.”

Campus-wide momentum
The campus greening initiative is part of a wider and longstanding focus on environmental education and sustainability. The environmental studies major was established in 1979, creating a formal link between academics and environmental activities on campus. Since then, more than 100 courses across 20 academic departments have incorporated sustainability into their curricula, and environmental policies and practices have expanded.

This campus-wide momentum led to the establishment of the interdisciplinary Environmental Center in 2005.  

University leadership is committed to expanding these sustainability efforts. In January 2008, President Brian C. Mitchell announced that he had signed on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, enhance stewardship and foster the concepts of sustainability and environmental ethics into the curriculum. To guide that effort, the president established a Campus Greening Council consisting of representatives from across the University.

Next steps
The Greening Council will review the written environmental assessment and “figure out how to make it all work,” said Dennis Hawley, associate vice president of facilities and chair of the council. “Setting priorities is fundamental to our success,” he said. Before the session concluded, summit attendees brainstormed and submitted their recommendations for next steps to the council.

The written environmental assessment will be available in January 2009.

Visit the Bucknell Environmental Center or this previous press release for more information about environmental initiatives at Bucknell.

Contact: Division of Communications