A Call to Action: Apply to be an Eco-Rep for 2016-17!

An example of what YOU can do as an Eco-Rep in your community!

We need you, yes you, to apply to become an Eco-Rep. Are you passionate about sustainability? Are you looking for a way to connect with Dickinson? Do you carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go? Well, the Eco-Rep program could be the perfect opportunity for you to grow as a leader.
No longer restricted to the residential halls, the Eco-Reps are now represented across Dickinson. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to apply to represent a “place” they feel connected to on the Dickinson campus. The Eco-Reps are a passionate group of peer-educators who are interested in sustainability across campus through community engagement and education.

Our beloved Green Devil showing their frustration with the disorderly recycling in the Adams Hall.

As an Eco-Rep you will…
– Attend CSE’s sustainability workshop series, Sustain-ITs, to learn how to become a peer educator.
– Organize and plan one event per semester, with CSE funding! (If applicable to your “place”)
– Volunteer 3-4 hours of your week engaging with members of your “place”
– Build lasting relationships with people who share similar interests

Sound interesting? That’s because it is!

Applications can be found here. If you have any questions about the application process please reach out to Lindsey Lyons at Lyonsli@Dickinson.edu or myself, Ivy Gilbert, at Gilberti@Dickinson.edu.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Caf Plastics?

As a fellow Dickinson College Dining Service Caf worker and an Eco-Rep, I have notice some small changes we could make with the Dining Service operations to be more sustainable! For one of my shifts I worked at the breakfast bar, refilling the numerous cereal opinions and breads. If you are curious, croissants and plain bagels are the “cool” carbs on campus. After refilling them, I realized there was no recycling bin around the area to put the plastic bags! Normally, all the plastics are placed in the trash, doomed to a life at the landfill. On my shift, I decided to collect all the plastics and bring them to the CSE office to be recycled. In addition, this collection could potentially stress the need for a plastic bag recycling bin in the Caf, not only for the breakfast bar by-products, but also for the plastic wrap used by the athletes for icing after practice. If a plastic bag recycling bin was placed and used in the Caf, the amount of waste going to landfills could (would) be reduced. Small things add up, and can really make an impact. Let’s hope some changes can be made soon!


Jessica Huang, 2019

Eco-Reps 2K16… Roll Out!

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(*Disclaimer out of date Eco-Rep logo photographed)

“New semester, new me” a common phrase you will hear as students wander the Dickinson campus trying to find places to exhibit their passions and make a name for themselves. Here at the Center for Sustainability Education, we provide a platform for students, faculty and staff to become peer educators. Over the weekend we trained and empowered 31 individuals, showing them how they can educate their communities and act as vehicles of change.

Over local pizza we discovered common passions. Exploring who are valuable partners across campus and different pathways Eco-Reps can take to accomplish goals. At the end of the night Eco-Reps were collaborating, proposing creative event ideas and exchanging positive feedback and words of affirmation. Volunteers left training excited to engage their communities.

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Watch out Dickinson College. The Eco-Reps this semester are a strong and clever bunch. You will be seeing them in residents halls, behind the the peddler, even in the halls of the library. What does this say? Well. Dickinsonians are embracing sustainability.

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Interested in partaking in peer education and being a contributing member of a supportive and active community? Consider becoming an Eco-Rep for something that means a lot to you. Have a favorite academic building? Become the Eco-Rep for that area. Bothered by your floor mates poor management of the recycling bin? Become an Eco-Rep. That simple.

Application can be found here @ http://www.dickinson.edu/info/20052/sustainability/2977/eco-reps/3

The current list of Eco-Reps can be found on our website as well: http://www.dickinson.edu/info/20052/sustainability/2977/eco-reps/5

Sustainably yours,

Ivy Jo

Turning Pintrest into a Sustainability Project

D.I.Y. Dickinson, a phrase that plastered Dickinson campus from the bathroom stalls to the side of the HUB. D.I.Y. or Do It Yourself embraces a born again arts and crafts movement that challenges individuals to make practical items using their own hands. D.I.Y. projects were made popular through Pintrest, an upbeat website filled with clever crafts using household items. The Eco-Reps saw just how popular Pintrest has become and decided to combine quirky crafts with upcycling. Upcycling and crafts are worthy bedfellows as the materials traditionally seen as waste, with a little bit of effort, can be transformed into treasures. As it can be seen, waste minimization is valued here at Dickinson.

On November 18th the Eco-Reps teamed up with the Makery; an artistic space founded on providing students the materials to make, along with WDCV the voice of Dickinson College and took to Britton Plaza with the goal of showing the campus just how easy it is to make cool things from waste items. Activities included were warping old records into bowls, transforming broken mugs into planters, turning unwanted Tee-shirts into totebags, and a plethora of jewelry crafts using e-waste. The Eco-Reps and their co-sponsors over the course of the two-hour event saw a wide demographic of students , faculty, and staff engage in the activities and leave with smiling faces.

Later that night The Center for Sustainability Education hosted a Sustain IT Workshop in Landis House with Jasmin Parra ‘17, visiting as part of the Eco-League. Parra taught a group of seven how to crochet used plastic bags into bags. The group was comprised of students and staff who by the end of the night all left with a new skill and perspective on the value of items destined for the landfill.

The success of these two events only reflects the willingness of the Dickinson community to learn how to live sustainably. As a person who grew up turning old paper cups into cootie catchers, watching people who had never considered a broken mug a treasure have that epiphany made all the work leading up to the event worthwhile. The message of D.I.Y. Dickinson goes beyond making fun trinkets, and on November 18th students and faculty took time out of their day to embrace sustainable creativity.

If you enjoyed upcycling, check out the Makery a space that exists year round to foster sustainable art.

Reinventing Eco-Reps: Sustain It Workshop Series

When asked “who are the Dickinson College Eco-Reps?” the popular opinion on campus is “that one kid who takes the compost out in my dorm, right?” Wrong. Eco Reps are so much more.

The Eco Rep program highlights empowered and educated individuals striving to become peer educators across campus. Get lost there? Not a problem. This year The Center For Sustainability Education is rolling out a new program for the Eco-Reps; reinventing the way the campus views the volunteer habit changers. As part of the program, “Eco-Reps” now encompasses students, faculty, staff, clubs, organizations, special interest housing, offices, sports, etc. It is a no-brainer. The mission of the program is to try and educate the campus on sustainable practices in an attempt to change habits, why not create an inclusive environment for anyone with a green bone in their body to become an empowered leader?

The program is two months in and Dickinson is responding well. A series of lectures have replaced mundane meetings notorious for sucking the fun and motivation out of the passionate student body. These lectures are titled the “Sustain It” workshops and highlight frequently asked questions, misconceptions, and even help students turn programming into effective campus climate changers. Our first workshop was on October 21st and was titled “Single Steam Recycling: The Whole Story” helping Eco Reps AND non-Eco-Reps understand where the recycling goes and the process Dickinson is tied into.

What is Single Stream Recycling, Dickinson asks? You know in the HUB how there are different sized slots in the recycling bins, one for paper, plastic, glass? Single Stream Recycling says that the material does not matter for it all goes to the same facility! Those traces of food in the bottom of the parfait container? No worries the facility we partner with is sophisticated enough to overcome the left over gunk. We learned in the workshop that the waste goes from Dickinson’s facilities (when the large bin is full) to Waste Management in York, PA or Waste Management in Philadelphia, PA. From here the materials are sorted and then sold on the recyclables market, nifty.

Cardboard is a different story. When collected and broken down the corrugated cardboard is taken to Project S.H.A.R.E., a local food pantry, where is it bailed and sold on the market. Profits are then used to buy food for the pantry and waste is turned into a way to alleviate the stress of poverty on the community.

Second guessing what you can and can’t recycle, we can help you there as well.

The campus is well postered and on these posters/ stickers it is outlined what should go in the bin. This applies to composting as well. While Eco-Reps should not be known for being the kids who take the compost out, it is still one of their responsibilities. Composting is BIG on campus, with all the collected food waste being transported to the Dickinson Farm for compost.

With all this information now at the hands of those who attended the meeting (and you by extension), where do we go from here? The audience was asked to answer reflection questions and come up with personal goals for spreading the word. The community members came up with some clever ways to address the problems with education such as “Educate First-Years through mandatory orientation workshops,” “Educate R.A. staff and other members with influence,” “Personally become an active advocate.” All fantastic action statements to hear from a newly empowered audience.

In conclusion, the next workshop will highlight how to program in a way that leads to action and will be held on the November 8th in Kaufman 178. Swing by and join the movement.

Here is a link to the powerpoint from the presentation, check it out:

Sustain IT- Recycling

Energy Challenge 2015

2015 Dickinson Energy Challenge Announced: March 16 – April 6, 2015
The 2015 Energy Challenge is being hosted March 16 – April 6, 2015. The theme of the challenge is Spark the Change, and the goal is to reduce energy consumption across Dickinson’s campus. We are striving to reduce our emissions, by changing behavior to reduce electricity consumption. A residence hall competition will be hosted between 15 buildings (starting 3/16) to see who can reduce their consumption by the greatest percentage from baseline data. Prizes will be awarded for greatest reduction (electric heat & non-electric heat). Change your Facebook profile pic to show your commitment, come to our events throughout the challenge, and support the weekly themes:
  • Week 1: Unplugged
  • Week 2: Do it in the Dark
  • Week 3: Power Down and Go Outside
Kickoff Event: Desserts in the Dark, March 16, 7:00 pm on KW Lawn
Finale Event: Bonfire, April 10, 8:00 pm on Morgan Field
We can do this Dickinson. Do you have WATT it takes?
Check out the Energy Challenge Promo Video:

Contact sustainability@dickinson.edu for more information.

Eco-Rep Meeting

Our volunteers meet bi-weekly to touch base on the status of composting and recycling in the residential buildings and to brainstorm event ideas. Our past meeting we also filmed our organization’s pledge for the Energy Challenge—stay tuned for the release of the promo video. Before filming we all grabbed dry-erase markers and wrote on the board words that come to mind when we think of “Eco-Reps”. Check out our word mural that we created for the backdrop of our video:

ecorep mural

Round table brainstorming:


Follow that Recycling Truck!

Ok, we didn’t exactly follow the truck in live action, but we did head to Waste Management’s nearly 67,000 ft2, LEED-certified, Materials Recovery Facility (WRF) in Northeast Philadelphia, PA. When single stream recycling is collected at Dickinson, it is taken to facilities, placed in a compactor, and then picked up by Waste Management (WM) and taken to the either the York, PA recycling center or the WM Philadelphia MRF. Members of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education and Facilities Management Team had some questions, so we embarked on an all day field trip to tour the facility.


Waste Management invested over $20 million to create one of the most advanced single-stream technology plants in operation at a former brownfield site. The Philadelphia MRF is the largest such facility in the region and can sort and process more than 20,000 tons of recyclable newspaper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastic each month.

We took the tour, which you can reenact here. I encourage the view! Read on to see what we learned.

I personally, have wanted to follow the truck since I started working at Dickinson. There are always so many questions surrounding what can and can not be recycled. Where does it go? How is it sorted? Can/should plastic bags be used or not? Can we recycle this cup or this plate?

Well, I have created this short list of lessons learned to help you better understand:

1. Plastic bags are the worst! They really clog up single stream sorting and make tons of extra work. Even a $22 million system can’t deal with them, and employees climb into the system multiple times each day to get out the plastic bags gnarled bags. SOLUTION: Collect plastic bags separately to be recycled. Current Dickinson collection sites are Kaufman Lounge, Kline Center across from the trainer, Durden Athletic Center hallway, and HUB near mailroom.

2. Food waste contamination should be kept to a minimum, but doesn’t necessarily exclude and item from being sorted as a valuable recyclable. Food waste (i.e. milk in a carton) can rot/mold and deteriorate the product so washing is recommended- Not washing does not equal item rejection. SOLUTION: Wash jars and cans. Labels can remain on. Lids can be left on as well. Pizza boxes are recyclable as long as not grease soaked.

3. This facility is commodity-based. They seek what they can sell. They don’t recycle, they sort and others recycle. The market varies, and all items aren’t always wanted equally. Mixed color (green/clear/brown) crushed glass (resulting from single stream sorting) is not a hot market item now. No one wants it. They  SOLUTION: Reuse glass containers, then reuse them again and again. Bottle banks (return deposit stations) are a great idea as they keep glass colors sorted making the product much more valuable.

4. The waste from the MRF in Philadelphia then goes to a SpecFuel facility where municipal waste that would otherwise be landfilled is made into alternative fuel pellets. Mind Blown. So many questions around this. Seems like everything we need to know is HERE. I’ll be chasing this rabbit if anyone is interested. SOLUTION: Research

5. They accept paper cardboard, milk, and juice containers! What? I didn’t know. They love these things right now. SOLUTION: Use reusable when possible, then recycle the rest!

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6. Styrofoam is a NO! Some styrofoam has numbers on it. The $22 million sorter can’t handle it. It can be recycled at specific recycling centers, but shouldn’t be sent through single stream sorter. SOLUTION: Let’s find a local taker of styrofoam and sort it out- or not use it at all!

7. There are real people on the line. Men and women. Nice men and women. Don’t put crap, hazardous waste, batteries, e-waste, paints, toxic things, etc. into single stream. Someone- a real person,  has to pull that out by hand, and transport it. It’s unfair, dangerous and rude. I repeat, there is someone on the line pulling out gross, weird things all day! Don’t make their job any harder. SOLUTION: Sort out potentially dangerous items, e-waste and hazardous materials on your own. Stay tuned for a blog post on e-waste soon.

What do you think about these posters? What’s missing? What’s unclear?


Lindsey Lyons
Assistant Director
Center for Sustainability Education
Dickinson College

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