Section: archive

Students Go Green With Help From Sustainability Grants

By Carolyn Fleder

With new Sustainability Action Program (SAP) grants, intended as a grassroots component of the Colleges environmental overhaul, Kenyon has been making strides toward more environmentally friendly practices.

The SAP grants are awarded to members of the Kenyon community in order to cultivate a culture of sustainability and increase consciousness within the community, according to the Sustainability Initiative website. This October, the Sustainability Committee awarded the inaugural SAP grants to two student-directed projects.

The first grant was a collaborative project, proposed and directed by People Endorsing Agrarian Sustainability (PEAS) and Environmental Campus Organization (ECO). The grant will fund the construction of a new hoop house near the ECO garden in the North Campus Apartments.

A hoop house is a wood and plastic structure used for sustainable farming. It works in the same way a greenhouse does, by trapping heat within the structure to maintain a higher temperature, while protecting the plants within from the elements outside. Hoop houses expand the growing season into the winter months, allowing for year-round growth.

Having a hoop house built allows for continual exploration of the garden we already have, said Tim Jurney 15, a member of PEAS who co-wrote the grant proposals. We do have this garden, which is awesome, but we cant really use it because so much of the time were here, its winter.

The grant, worth a combined $2,000, will fund the entire project from beginning to end. This includes the purchase of the wood and plastic necessary for the construction of the main hoop house structure, as well as smaller hoop houses within it that will house the actual plants. The grant also covers the costs of the seeds, soil and tools necessary to complete the project. Members of PEAS and ECO will construct the hoop house themselves.

At the beginning of next semester, they will begin to build the basic structure. At the end of spring break, members of the two organizations will return to campus early to raise the hoop house. Its going to be great, a hoop-house-raising bonanza, Jurney said. The project will continue to be pieced together throughout the year, with the hoop house expected to be fully functioning next fall.

This project is not just an ECO and PEAS project. The goal was to be able to talk about sustainable agriculture hands-on. And not just talk about it, but do it, Jurney said. This is something you can share with your friends. Anyone can get involved, and the construction times will be open for anyone who wants to help build.

A second grant was awarded to the Colleges sustainability intern, Jason Kass 13. He proposed to subsidize the purchase of a new product called the InCycle cup, which is a more eco-friendly alternative to the plastic Solo cups popular among college students. Kass declined to comment on the amount of his grant.

According to Kass, about 25 billion plastic cups are thrown away every year in the U.S., and college campuses are a major culprit. Since Solo cups are made from number six plastic and therefore hard to recycle, all of those cups are destined for landfills.

InCycle cups, which have been on the market for less than a year, are made from 50 percent post-consumer recycled material, use 50 percent less plastic than solid plastic cups and are made from number one plastic, which is the easiest plastic to recycle.

In addition to using fewer resources and being more sustainable than a Solo cup, the InCycle cup is much more durable and can be crushed without cracking, a feat that earned it the nickname indestructicup from several members of ECO. This indestructicup is available in the Market and the Bookstore in packs of 50, at $4.95 per pack, slightly cheaper than Solo cups.

The goal was to promote awareness to students about where the products they use come from, and about their afterlife, Kass said. Through his project, Kass identifies the ecological impact of frequently used items, like Solo cups, and provides an alternative.

Kass, with the help of ECO, plans to promote awareness of the cups using such green advertising methods as painting signs on recycled cardboard. In addition, he hopes to convince Greek Council to start using the cups at school-sponsored events. By drawing attention to the problem and providing a simple, cost-competitive alternative, Kass believes that the choice will be easy for students to make.

And, if the cups do well, the project could expand to include sustainable hot cups as well.

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