Paul Smith's holds its greenest event ever - 2008-08-15
Summer Celebration relies on local foods, carbon-neutral travel
Contact: Kenneth Aaron, director of communications, (518) 327-6297
PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. – At Paul Smith's College, the official color is green – and this weekend, it's holding a benefit to match.
The menu at the college's Summer Celebration, on Saturday, Aug. 16, will be locally grown and raised. All travel to and from the event will be carbon neutral. Even the placeholders on the dinner tables will be recycled. By the time it's done, college officials expect to have spared tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
The event will honor Curt Stager, Ph.D., a professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith's College who has done extensive work on the climatic history of Africa and climate change.
"It's appropriate that this will be the greenest event we've ever had because it's honoring Curt," said John W. Mills, Ph.D., the president of Paul Smith's College. "But it's also appropriate because we want to do as much as possible to reduce our impact on the environment. And what we're doing for the Summer Celebration is within anybody's reach – we can all take these steps."
Much of the event's environmental footprint is created by carbon emissions generated by cars and trucks headed to campus. If 150 people travel 140 miles round-trip to the event, for example, they'd generate about 24,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. To neutralize those emissions, the college is purchasing carbon offsets. Examples of offsets include renewable energy, such as wind energy; energy efficiency projects; and planting trees, which help absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
More energy will be saved as the college's students and chefs will prepare only locally grown foods. With typical store-bought produce traveling an average of 1,300 miles from farm to plate, keeping the menu local eliminates a huge amount of carbon emissions that would otherwise be generated by transporting food. "Besides being environmentally sustainable, purchasing locally is economically sustainable, too," said Hillarie Logan-Dechene, the college's vice president for institutional advancement. "We are committed to being responsible stewards, and this event is one way that we can demonstrate that."
In addition to those measures, other steps have been taken to make the event as green as possible. The invitations and program, for example, were printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified stock with soy-based inks.
Paul Smith's College has already undertaken several other steps to make it more environmentally friendly. In 2007, the college began purchasing wind energy for all its electricity needs. The college is also participating in the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which requires the campus to take stock of its greenhouse gas emissions and become climate-neutral. Other steps taken by the college include eliminating Styrofoam from campus, purchasing only Energy Star-rated appliances on campus and implementing a Forest Stewardship Council-certified management plan for the 14,000 acres owned by the college.
The college joins other organizations in striving for carbon-neutral events. The Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, Major League Baseball teams, played a carbon-neutral game last month, for example, and the most recent G8 summit, in Japan, was also carbon neutral.
The Summer Celebration raises money for scholarships, faculty and facilities at the college, which is the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs, in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences, draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere.