Paul Smith’s College is the only four year college located within the Adirondack Park,
making it unique. It is also very unique in its experiential learning, which attracts a unique type
of student. The students that go to Paul Smith’s usually have a love for the outdoors, and some
amount of consciousness of environmental issues. But at Paul Smith’s, like many others
institutions, there are misconceptions around environmental issues on their campus. This is why
getting the right information out to the campus is so important. A common misconception is that
Paul Smith’s College does not recycle, when in actuality, they do.
The system on the Paul Smith’s College campus is Zero-Sort recycling by Casella. This
means that all the recyclables like paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal cans are put in one
bin, eliminating the separating process. Many students believe that the college does not actually
recycle, because students can see facilities throw the recycling bags away at times. If a bag of
recycling is more than ten percent contaminated, it must be thrown away because the recycling
collector (Casella) will not accept more than that amount of unrecyclable material in the
recycling. To help mitigate this issue, there are now student workers that physically sort through
the recycling on the campus.
The recycling crew initiative began last Spring 2017 with four students who set up the
system that is now in place. Each day, facilities brings all of the recycling to the main recycling
container, and from there the recycling crew sorts through it. Having this physical separation is
important, because it assures that the system is recycling the maximum amount and no recycling
is thrown away if it isn’t contaminated.
The most common issue seen on the Paul Smith’s College campus is that the recycling is
not cleaned out, whether it is a soda or soup can, shampoo or conditioner, or anything else, it
must be washed out and clean. Another issue is when full coffees are thrown into the recycling.
The coffee contaminates everything else within the bag, therefore the bag must be thrown out.
Taking the time to make sure that what is being put in the recycling is actually recyclable is so
important, and something that the campus community struggles with. But do the efforts of
recycling even make a difference?
Recently there has been a lot of chatter around the topic of recycling. According to a New
York Times article “Plastics Pile Up as China refuses to Take the West’s Recycling,” on January
1, 2018 China banned the import of many recyclables from the West. Previously, the United
States had sent recycled plastics and others recyclables over to China to be made into new
products. With this ban in affect, recyclables are piling up. In some cases, people are just burying
their recyclables because there is no place for them. This action is then harmful to the
environment because the chemicals in the plastics can leech into the ground water or the
A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health showed that participants who
drank water from popular polycarbonate water bottles for a week had a two-thirds increase in
their urine of bisphenol A (BPA). According to this study, exposure to BPA has been linked to
cardiovascular disease in humans. If drinking from plastic water bottles can have this kind of
effect on human’s health, imagine the effect that plastic has on the environment.
One simple solution to this issue, is to stop buying products with a lot of plastic
packaging. I know that this is challenging, some of the cheapest things are packaged with lots
plastic. But doing something as easy as bringing a reusable bag with you shopping, so you don’t
have to use a plastic bag, can really help. Plastic bags are actually not accepted in the recycling
system on campus, but they are a big issue around the world. According to Health Guidance,
there are an estimated 300 million plastic bags that accumulate in the Atlantic Ocean each year.
This has a negative effect on sea life, because they can be mistaken for a meal, and will cut off
the airway of many animals, causing so many needless deaths each year.
So yes, Paul Smith’s College does recycle, and so should you. Getting the right
information out to the campus community is something that is currently holding the college back
from having a really successful recycling program, but you could help. Read the signs above each
bin and make sure what you are recycling is actually recyclable and that it is clean. Doing this
will help not only our environment, but also the student workers that have to sort it each day.
This Spring 2018, the Campus Sustainability Fund had three over $500 proposals that went to campus-wide, student vote. The first proposal was for SAM Fest for $2,000; the second was for the Adirondack to Appenio Sustainable Parks Communities Project for $950; and the third was for VIC Café Supplies for $8,692.54. I am happy to announce that all three proposals were passed by the students. We had 176 students who voted, which is about 25% of the student body. There is also one under $500 proposal that has been passed so far this semester. It was for a guest speaker, Sara Safari, for $461.50. Since Fall 2013, the Campus Sustainability Fund has funded over 40 projects that have helped our campus community. Thank you to all who have voted.
If you would like more information on these proposals, or any previous ones, please visit our website https://www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability/campus-sustainability-fund/. Also, please remember that we are still accepting under $500 proposals until April 30th.
Last semester, Fall 2017 there was a CSF proposal for $500 for an unmanned aerial system for ecological monitoring and communications here at Paul Smith’s College. This ongoing project will enable better monitoring and tracking of changes on PSC lands and can help communicate associated values. The system has not yet been purchased, but will be soon. We are excited to see this project come to fruition.
The Beekeeping Association now has two more hives and equipment to maintain all of them. Pictured are club members assembling the new hives. They also now have kits for most of the members, which include suits, gloves, a bee brush, and a hive tool. This was the result of a CSF proposal last Spring 2017 for $475, and then this past Fall 2017 for $1,837.70. The club has had great success thus far.
This semester, a Sustainability Capstone with 14 students are building micro-campers. The trailers for these campers were purchased through a CSF proposal this past Fall 2017 for $1,297. This is a unique hands-on experience that these students get to experience, and we are looking forward to seeing their progress this semester.
A Paul Smith’s College student, Tyler Dezago, was able to have an apprenticeship with David Nicols and build his own guitar. Tyler was able to purchase materials necessary for this project through a CSF proposal this past Fall 2017 for $500. This apprenticeship also counted as a three credit hour course at PSC (INT 399). Tyler also gave a presentation on his experience and showed off his work in February 2018.
The Raised Beds at Gould’s garden have been constructed and are ready to be used next spring. The raised beds will help with organization and weeds. They will be utilized by community members and campus community members. This was a CSF proposal last Fall 2016 for $900 and they were constructed by our Farm to Table Assistant, Andrew.
The Solar Kiln is being utilized by the forestry students and students in SAF. This solar kiln will reduce the schools need for an oil powered dry kiln, which has been used before now. It will also use less electricity, which reduces the cost of utilization. This was a CSF proposal last Fall 2016 for $22,650. To make this project more energy efficient, Associate Professor of Forestry, Patrick Hiesl would like to also add a solar panel and a wood boiler to make it usable longer.
The beekeeping club now has two more hives and equipment to maintain all of them. They also now have kits for most of the members that have suits, gloves, a bee brush, and a hive tool. This was the result of a CSF proposal last Spring 2017 for $475, and this Fall 2017 for $1,837.70. The club has had great success thus far.
All of the lamps across campus have been updated to LED light bulbs. The LED bulbs have an extended life of 50,000 hours, which will save the college about 25,288.80 kWh annually. This will offset about .63% of the colleges overall electricity consumption. Each bulb will save $52.38 annually and the entire system will save $5,028.48 annually. This was from a CSF proposal last Fall 2016 for $15,384.
This Fall, the Campus Sustainability Fund had two over $500 proposals that went to campus wide student vote. The first proposal was for the Paul Smith’s College Beekeeping Association for $1837.70, and the second was for a Capstone project for next semester for $1297, and both were passed! We had 186 students that voted, which is only about 24% of the student body. Two under $500 proposals were also passed this semester. The first proposal was for a guitar making apprenticeship for $500, and the second was for a GIS class to make maps to show the benefits of installing a solar farm for $344.75. Since Fall 2013, the Campus Sustainability Fund has funded 35 projects that have helped our campus community. Thank you to all voted. If you would like more information on these proposals, or any previous proposals, please visit our website https://www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability/campus-sustainability-fund/
On April 29th, there will be a People’s Climate March in Washington, DC and Paul Smith’s students are encouraged to be a part of it!
A charter bus has been secured to take any who are interested from PSC on Friday morning (4/28) to DC for the march/rally on Saturday between 10am and 4pm. Friday night those who attend will be staying in a quad style hotel room and eating breakfast at the hotel Saturday morning. The bus will be back to Paul Smith’s around 6am Sunday morning. The cost per person is $125, this included hotel and bus expenses.
All those interested are encouraged to email Tom Huber at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP. For more information on the march itself, visit https://peoplesclimate.org/?source=350