Sustainable Saint Mary's

Dear Campus Colleagues,

In my role as chair of the SMC Sustainability Committee, I wanted to share with you a number of initiatives that we will be putting forth in an effort to address waste diversion across campus and in Oliver Hall and to creating faculty and staff opportunities to engage in sustainability actions.

With the release of the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’ in June, we find it imperative to move now on those activities that can make a difference to the environment and lowering our own carbon footprint at Saint Mary’s. The Pope’s urgent challenge to us “to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.” He urges a serious consideration of ways to counteract “the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet.”

The direct example on our campus of the throwaway culture is the waste produced on a daily basis in Oliver Hall whether it is food taken but not eaten, use of disposable plates, cups and utensils or china being thrown in the trash. We can make progress to “…limit as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them…” (Laudato Si’, 22).

One of the initiatives that we will pursue this year is to reduce the use of paper products and plastic cups and utensils in Oliver Hall in two phases.

In Fall term, all disposables (paper plates, plastics utensils) will be available only at the Check Stand where diners swipe ID’s or pay for a meal. We understand that some do need to have a grab and go lunch, so they will be able to pick up a paper plate and proceed to their next destination without missing their meal. We will ask that diners bring their travel cups/mugs for beverages to go.

In Fall, you will also see clearer directions on what can be composted, recycled or must be put in the trash. There will be members of the Waste-Defense Team, led by SMC Sustainability Coordinator Riley Smith, answering questions and giving information in Oliver during the first weeks of the term.

We will also be tracking data about how much waste we have diverted from the landfill going instead to compost through Sodexo or to recycling by Republic Services. Our goal will be to have a significant reduction of loads going to the landfill.

We will be seeking feedback throughout the term on the changes and their impact or gaps experienced for diners who buy meals at Oliver. Be on the look out for a survey in the dining room at Oliver if you are a regular diner.

For Spring, we plan to have in place an effective “take-out” system that would allow us to eliminate paper goods entirely in favor of a reusable tray. Such systems have been working at peer institutions and we are seeking one for Saint Mary’s.

In addition to efforts in Oliver, there will be a full range of initiatives coming to the campus and communicated through the Sustainability newsletter to which we invite all to subscribe. These changes for our campus are significant and only a beginning. They do require your support, sacrifice, and mindfulness of the goal of reducing our dependence on nonrenewable resources. They are worthy efforts in support of a greener Saint Mary’s.

Jane Camarillo, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Student Life