Nicole DeCarolis

Waste Reduction Team Update

The Waste Reduction Team has been sorting garbage out of the recycling for almost two semesters now. There are currently five students on the team, and at least one member is sorting garbage out of the recycling every day. We have had a good volume of recycling from the campus community, but we can always handle more, so don’t be afraid to wash out those plastic food containers and add those to your recycling.

Over the course of the past semester, we have found some very strange things in some of the recycling bags we have received from both resident halls and other buildings on campus. One of our most recent discoveries was a dead squirrel in a pizza box, which is most definitely not recyclable. Other than this very unique find, we have also been coming across many half full coffee cups in the recycling. These coffee cups are not recyclable with coffee still in them, and the coffee is also soaking all of the paper in these bags. Throwing your half full coffee cups in these zero-sort bags makes it so we cannot recycle most of the contents within these bags. Also, plastic water bottles that still contain water should be poured out before placing them in the recycling bin.

Now that the Waste Reduction Team is enduring colder temperatures, it would make our job much more efficient if you could only use blue bags to put your recycling in from your resident hall. We have been sorting through all bags that are put in dorm recycling bins due to the fact that some people are not using only blue bags for recycling. As you could imagine we have found some pretty repulsive stuff searching through bags that appear to be recycling but are actually trash.  We would like to kindly ask you to please make sure that what you are putting in the recycling bin is actually recyclable and will not ruin the ability to recycle whatever else may be in the recycling. Thank you!

From Waste Reduction Team Member, Tom Szabo

Zero-Sort Recycling

There is a misconception on campus that we do not recycle, but we do! We have a zero-sort (Single Stream) recycling here at Paul Smith’s College. That means that all of the recycling can go in one blue bin, BUT WE HAVE TO SEPARATE TRASH AND RECYCLING.

If the central recycling dumpster is 10 % or more contaminated with non-recyclable material, then Casella Waste Services will have to throw out our entire dumpster of recycling. In order to prevent this, if our custodial workers see a recycling bin on campus that is contaminated, they will throw out the entire bag to stop it from contaminating the dumpster.

The system does not accept window glass, mirrors, light bulbs, dishes, Pyrex, ceramics, foam packaging, Styrofoam, plastic bags, recyclables that contain food waste, paint or oils, hazardous materials, or universal waste.

Plastic bags are recyclable, but they cause jams within our system, which is why we do not accept them. If you want to recycle your plastic bags, Tops Friendly Markets (located in Saranac Lake) can take them.

Recyclables that contain food waste is the main reason why many of the recycling bins become contaminated. You must rinse out all recyclable items thoroughly in order for the system to accept it.

If you are ever unsure if an item is recyclable or not, throw it in the garbage!

An Adventure Beyond the Border

All it took was the  press of a button; one button, and everything changed: send. On the morning of February 10, the Campus Sustainability Office sent out a campus-wide email informing students, staff, and faculty about an upcoming trip to Montreal, Canada. All who attended would be visiting both the Biodome and Biosphere. Many showed up and took the long journey north in order to view what these two museums had to offer. In the end, students regarded the trip as being “mind-blowing,” and wanted to do a similar excursion sometime in the future. This is what they saw.

The Biosphere and Biodome are two different museums which offer separate, yet similar, messages. The Biosphere consists of exhibits exploring themes related to meteorology, climate, and water and air quality. The exhibits are intended to give visitors a better understanding of environmental issues and encourage environmentally responsable choices.Transitioning from each area, one tends to reflect on what they saw before. One exhibit displayed hanging plastic bottles and everyday trash — a symbol of the waste and greed which courses through the blood and bones of humanity. If this toxic and immortal refuse clogs our rivers and buries our forests, all of the beauty one has seen in the previous rooms are temporary, and very soon one will have to look at pictures in order to remind themselves of the natural beauty this world once held. We head now to the Biodome.


Transitioning from each area, one tends to reflect on what they saw before. One exhibit displayed hanging plastic bottles and everyday trash — a symbol of the waste and greed which courses through the blood and bones of humanity. If this toxic and immortal refuse clogs our rivers and buries our forests, all of the beauty one has seen in the previous rooms are temporary, and very soon one will have to look at pictures in order to remind themselves of the natural beauty this world once held. We head now to the Biodome.

After a hearty meal at the Biodome Cafe, one tends to forget the depressing lesson that haunts the halls of the Biosphere, and they are now ready to walk among the animals! The Biosphere consists of exhibits inhabiting exotic species of plants. Cacti, Bonsai, and other jaunty plants weave over every nook and cranny; however, there are exhibits which are much less appealing, and yet equally important.As you accustom yourself to the foreign temperatures within each exhibit, you cannot help but stare in awe at the variety of habitats and animals who live there. A popular stop along the way is the Sub-Antarctic Islands habitat. Why is it so popular? One of the attendees, Kathleen Keck, said only “the penguins!!!” Other popular sites include the Tropical Rainforest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence,  the Laurentian Maple Forest, and the Labrador Coast, which Kathleen remarked as being a “very cool exhibit.”penguins

Lurking through the halls of low-hanging branches, or frolicking among the penguin, there is a greater message working at your mind. Deep inside the soul, a hint of fear, entangled in doubt, is making its way to the surface. Several will not ask the question until they have smuggled it back to the U.S. border. Only then will they be courageous enough to pull it out of their minds and ask, “How long will it last?” The trees will one day wither away; the penguins will grow old and pass on to the next stage of life, but for the time being, we having replacements in our zoos and aquariums. There will be a day when we shall search high and low, near and far, and no plant or animal will be left. Deforestation, poaching, pollution, and urbanization are ridding the world of what’s pure and natural. But that time has not yet come. The hour is not yet over. There is still time! And if you are not going to save the planet, might as well check out the Biosphere and Biodome in Canada while these beautiful organisms are still alive!

Updates on Spring 2016 Campus Sustainability Fund Grants

Osgood Pond Portable Education Space


Deb Naybor purchased three 16-foot diameter tipis to be used as portable education space by our community. The tipis are currently being decorated by students, and will be available for sign-out by faculty and staff as of Sept.23rd on a first come first serve basis.  There is no fee.  They may not be used for camping or overnight stays, but each one will house about 15 people seated.  In order to sign out the tipis, you will need to contact Deb Naybor (, and fill out a simple form.  Assembly takes at least two people and about 30 to 60 minutes.

St. Regis Mushrooms



Students in the St. Reigs Summer Class grew over 15 oyster mushroom patches this summer. The patches were grown in Canoe Storage and served in the St. Regis Café. At the end of the summer season, the students recycled the leftover mushroom patches by using the old spawn to populate new ones as part of a workshop with Thomas Huber. These new oyster mushroom patches have been distributed around campus, and we have two in the Center for Campus Sustainability. Stop by and check them out!



SAM Fest


SAM (Science, Art, and Music) Fest was held for its third consecutive year during the Spring. This year’s theme was “The Art and Science of Time.” The event featured a mix of performances by North Country musicians and poets, TED-style talks by faculty, students and visiting guests, exhibits of works by local artists, and a showing of “Chasing Ice,” an award-winning documentary about making dramatic, time-lapse film footage of melting glaciers around the world.


Osgood Farm


Osgood Farm is approaching the end of its first growing season. Thanks to the seed money provided by the Campus Sustainability Fund and help from the Sustainability Field Experience Class, we were able to put in a good size garden and protect our delicious veggies with a solar charged electric fence. A few other projects on site included: *Growing hops provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension *Trail Maintenance and beautification projects. We were able to lay down some Paul Smith’s College provided wood chips around the main entrance of the barn.*Construction of a pig-o-tiller and chicken coop. Throughout the summer, we hosted several community days–where community members came out to enjoy the site or lend a hand with the weeding.



Osgood Barn Restoration


The Old Barn got some much needed attention at the Osgood Site this past Spring. Students in the Sustainability Field Ecology Class worked with Professor McLeod to jack up a section of the barn that was drooping; they replaced the floor joints, installed a new floor of the barn (wood was milled from Paul Smith’s College Property), and replaced the barn doors! All the power tools were powered with a mobile solar panel (panel on a cart) built by the students as part of the class. The place is looking good!






Bike Patrol

The Northeastern LGBTQ+ Conference is an event which is attended by a vast number of college students every year. Taken place at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York this past Spring, Paul Smith’s students and advisors had the opportunity to attend many educational seminars about various topics within the LGBTQ+ community.


Officers will be using the newly purchased bikes on patrol around campus this Fall. Thanks to Office Paul O. who applied for a Campus Sustainability Fund Grant to support the project. The bikes are fully outfitted with all the emergency equipment that is also available in the patrol cars. Bikes will help cut down on the departments emissions, help make the officers more accessible to the community, and get some extra exercise while on duty! Be sure to give them a wave as they bike by!!

St. Regis Mushrooms


The St. Regis Café Class raised two pigs this summer. The pigs were purchased from local farmers and Paul Smith’s College alumni, Dan and Sarah Burke, at Atlas Hoofed It Farm. Students helped build the pig pen, and collected pre-consumer food scraps to supplement the pigs diet. Current student and Garden Assistant, Tyler Hinkley-Maier, fed them all season long. Black and Tan are the names of the two pigs, and they currently live behind the Horse barn. Both pigs will be butchered this fall and served in the St. Regis Café all year. They were a great addition to the summer Farm-to-Table Program.

What’s happening at the St. Regis: Mushrooms!

Several weeks ago we were able to harvest our first batch of student grown and student harvested Oyster Mushrooms. Mushroom patches were purchased with a Paul Smith’s College Campus Sustainability Fund Grant from Fungi  Everyday, twice a day, the mushrooms were sprayed with water, this helps the mushrooms grow by keeping him moist. The mushrooms are covered with a plastic bag that has holes poked into it. The mushroom patch breathes through these holes; mushrooms will also grow through these holes.


During the first 7-10 days is when we first started to see the primordia, which is the earliest stage of mushroom formation. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 days later that the primordia started to mature and reach full maturity. Once the mushrooms reached this stage we moved 4 or 5 patches “bags” into the dining room, using them as a center piece for the room. Our mission as a farm to table restaurant is to educate our customers and provide them with a visual as to where and how their food is being grown.  Throughout the week we offered a special oyster mushroom dish, which seemed to be enjoyed by everyone who ordered it.


On Friday we did a special presentation of the mushrooms in our dining hall. Kids seemed to be the most “wowed” by the mushrooms.  We had finished our mushroom supply that week. The cool thing about the mushroom patch is that it will regrow, even after the first harvest. As long as they are misted and maintained, we should be able to keep harvesting once the mushrooms mature again. The experience of growing mushrooms that we actually use in the kitchen has opened my mind to new ideas and uses of locally grown products.

Produced by, Tyler Hinkle-Maler

Garden Assistant and St. Regis Restaurant Student

Climb it 4 Climate

Climb it 4 Climate is an unsupported thru-hike of the 46 High Peaks designed to raise funds for programming at Paul Smith’s College’s Osgood Farm, a site devoted to mindful living practices that promote change on a community level. PSC instructor Bethany Garretson aims to complete the hike in just 8-10 days.

This isn’t about climate change awareness. It’s about climate change action. By inspiring people to live in more active, locally-oriented and hands-on ways, we can make a tangible difference.

How can you help?
You could donate an amount ranging from $25-$1,000 OR you can hike a high peak yourself! Just send a photo from the summit, along with the hashtag #Climbit4Climate. A donor will give $10 to the fund every time someone sends in a tagged photo, up to 200 peaks climbed.

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