Celebrating Arbor Day with a Tree Planting and Identification Project

Two students shoveling dirt near tree
Two Holy Cross students place dirt around the newly planted tree.
Holy Cross students and staff gathered on April 27th to plant a tree in celebration of Arbor Day. Every year, the College of the Holy Cross plants commemorative trees to honor some of our community members. These trees join the many others in the campus arboretum. For Arbor Day 2022, one commemorative tree went into the highly visible Stein Courtyard, symbolizing the College’s commitment to ‘caring for our common home.’ While the tree was planted, attendees enjoyed locally baked tree themed cupcakes and talked with sustainability interns about tree management.

tree themed cupcakes

In addition to the tree planting and opportunity to converse about trees, Holy Cross launched a short-term tree identification project. HC community members took photos of trees across campus, tried to identify them, and described their condition. Their observations and photos went onto the iNaturalist app for others to review and exchange thoughts. This project allowed the HC community to act as arborists for a week and get to know the different trees on campus.

Screenshot of iNaturalist App

Holy Cross remains committed to educating our community about trees through the campus arboretum and the annual tree planting event. “It’s nice to see the HC community get excited about trees for a day, and take a moment to engage with the arboretum. It’s special that a wide variety of trees can intersect with campus life in so many ways and connect with specific community members through the dedication process,” said Cathy Liebowitz, director of sustainability.

2022 Caps and Gowns Made From Recycled Materials

This spring, Holy Cross will be using caps and gowns made from recycled materials! Holy Cross is partnering with Oak Hall to offer GreenWeaverⓇ caps and gowns for all graduates this May 2022. This regalia is made out of fabric that has been spun from molten plastic pellets from recycled water bottles. In comparison to the traditional polyester regalia, production of this material reduces CO2 gas emissions by 54.6% and petroleum usage by over 52%. As of this year, over 9 million plastic water bottles will be removed from landfills as a result of over 400,000 students wearing GreenWeaver regalia at graduation.

Students are very appreciative of the opportunity to take part in a sustainable effort as their time at Holy Cross comes to an end. Senior Milly O’Brian ‘22 commented, “I think it’s really important to take steps like these towards environmental change in hopes that each individual effort will make a huge impact toward a healthier and more sustainable future. Let this be an example for future generations on how simple it is to make small lifestyle changes that better our planet!” Hopefully this simple change of clothing will reinforce the idea that we can be sustainable with better decision making, and vast lifestyle changes are not always necessary.

The College will be collecting the caps and gowns after the ceremony for students who do not choose to keep theirs, and will return them to Oak Hill. While GreenWeaver caps and gowns are a large stride for sustainability at Holy Cross, students can support a green commencement in other ways as well. Students can bring reusable water bottles to stay hydrated throughout the ceremony, carpool to the venue, and use this milestone to kickstart a more sustainable lifestyle post graduation!

Written by Olivia Ferrara ’24.

How to Participate in Single-Stream Recycling On Campus

Recycling sign found on campus binsHoly Cross’ single-stream recycling program is a critical piece of the College’s waste disposal strategy. Not only does the program reduce the amount of trash on campus, the program allows individuals to actively ‘care for our common home.’ As an individual, there are three main points to remember about recycling at Holy Cross:

Recycle clean and empty bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard only.
Keep food and liquid out of the recycling bin.
No loose plastic bags and no bagged recyclables.

Once someone places the recyclable into a blue bin lined with a clear bag (these are located throughout campus), the Environmental Services team transports the materials to one of the outdoor recycling dumpsters on campus. The College’s waste hauler takes the materials off campus for further sorting and processing.

Just one greasy pizza box or half-full soda bottle can contaminate a whole recycling bin. Once contaminated, the bin’s contents are now considered trash. Assist the Holy Cross community’s efforts to care for our common home by consciously participating in the single-stream recycling program.

Jad Victor Smaira ’25 Facilitates the Roomside Recycling Project

Healy Hall
The Roomside Recycling project aims to educate students on campus about recycling and the importance of proper waste sorting in a fun way. Residential students get the chance to learn about recycling by playing a category game. The goal of the game is for participants to place certain items (e.g. greasy pizza boxes or shoes) in the correct four categories – donate, compost, recycle and trash. Student facilitators assist participants as needed so that participants may increase their knowledge on recycling and waste sorting.

Being a facilitator of the Roomside Recycling project has been a fun experience. I get the chance to meet many students and educate them at the same time. Being a facilitator has also helped me improve my knowledge on recycling. I learned to tell the difference between what can be composted and what can be recycled. In addition, I learned the reason behind why some things cannot be recycled or composted (e.g. being too dirty or too small) and therefore need to get put into the trash stream.

The College has two clear goals – be carbon neutral by 2040 and support the Society of Jesuits’ fourth Universal Apostolic Preference, Caring for Our Common Home. Achieving these goals requires the involvement of everyone, especially students, and includes active participation in the campus recycling efforts. Holy Cross students can better participate in recycling on campus in a couple of ways. First, students can try the Roomside Recycling category game so they can increase their knowledge about single-stream recycling and proper waste sorting. Another way students can better participate in recycling on campus is to mindfully use the recycling bins located across campus as much as possible and in the right way. As a student community, we have the ability to make positive strides toward the College’s two environmental goals through our participation in recycling.

Written by Jad Victor Smaira ’25

Sustainability in the Workforce: An Interview with Emma Cronin ‘15

Two female students laying in front of a greenhouse
Two students in front of one of the Holy Cross greenhouses
Emma Cronin graduated with a double major in English and Spanish from Holy Cross in 2015. After graduating, she interned and worked in the Obama Administration as a climate policy agent. Since leaving the White House, she has also gone on to do work at the UN Foundation in the climate sector. I spoke to Emma to learn more about her path to working in sustainability.

Q: How do you think your particular major prepared you for working in the sustainability field?

The education at Holy Cross, being a liberal arts school, is extremely comprehensive. There was a lot of stress put on creating multi-faceted approaches to complex problems, as well as stress placed on the importance of effective communication. Despite my majors not being environmentally focused, there was plenty of preparation done that made me comfortable when I began working in sustainability.

Q: How would you define the term “sustainability?” Has your understanding of what sustainability means changed throughout the course of your career?

I used to think that sustainability was all about individual action because that’s how it is marketed to the masses by big companies and corporations, but since I’ve begun my career, I have seen how it is a much larger issue and policy is needed to control climate change. I believe that climate and sustainability is the big issue of our generation.

Q: How can students become involved in sustainable initiatives at school and in the workplace?

There are tons of ways to get involved with sustainability on campus. Food waste on campus and divestment initiatives are a couple of areas that have been recently active, and you can always get involved in Worcester. My advice would be to do what you can, but don’t feel obligated to do something if you are too busy or don’t really want to.

Q: Did you have any pivotal experiences that made you interested in working toward a more sustainable future in your field?

Working in the White House was certainly a pivotal experience for me in my professional life and has made me more interested in working in sustainability. Those you can meet can and will help shape your path, so be open to meeting new people and having new experiences.

Interview paraphrased and blog post written by Anne Kiernan ’23.

Freezer Composting Program Expands to Loyola Hall

White chest freezerAfter piloting a successful freezer composting program in Figge Hall and Williams Hall, residents in Loyola Hall will also now have this composting service. The freezer is located in the basement near the communal kitchen. Students who would like to participate should follow these steps:

1. Grab a compostable bag located near the freezer.
2. Collect food waste in your room (Pro Tip: If you have a mini fridge or freezer, store this waste there to avoid unfortunate smells).
3. Bring and drop your bag in the collection freezer at your convenience.
4. Repeat!

What to compost:

  • Fruit scraps
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Meat scraps

Please keep anything containing large amounts of oil, fat, or grease out of the compost.

Take a Leaf of Faith, Join the Sustainability Community This Fall

Three students viewing research tank
Marine Biology Summer Research 2021

Our student environmental involvement opportunities are expanding. Whether it’s implementing a project with the Holy Cross Green Fund, becoming a Roomside Recycling Facilitator, or consulting with community partners through the Pothos Project, consider joining this fun and inspiring community. Explore a few options below:

Pothos Corporate Responsibility Consulting Project
Through the Pothos Project, students, with the support of alumni mentors, help Holy Cross and our local business community become more sustainable on their way to prosperity and good fortune via real-world consulting engagements. Learn more

Green Living Certification
The Green Living Certification recognizes students for their positive environmental choices. Certification is simple. Complete at least one action item in each of the six categories on the MyHC checklist and submit the form. Get certified

Roomside Recycling
Instead of a community of wishful recyclers, we’re shifting to a community of confident recycling gurus! Roomside Recycling Facilitators go door to door in residential halls with a partner to facilitate a quick waste sorting game with residents. Through this process, student facilitators educate their peers on proper waste sorting. Become a facilitator

Green Influencer Program
Holy Cross’ Green Influencer Program brings awareness to environmental issues and promotes approachable sustainable practices by having a small group of HC micro-influencers share content on their personal Instagram profiles. Sign up now