The Holy Cross community can now donate used, unwanted clothing and household goods to Hartsprings Foundation via an on-campus collection bin behind Alumni Hall.
Founded in 1997, Hartsprings Foundation “collects used, unwanted clothing and small household items on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut.” Savers thrift stores purchase the donated goods from Hartsprings Foundation, providing revenue to financially support six Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program locations. To date, Hartsprings Foundation has raised millions of dollars, which has helped more than 2,500 at-risk children form meaningful 1on1 relationships with mentors.
Beyond Hartsprings Foundation’s financial support to change children’s lives for the better, the collection and redistribution process of usable clothing and goods reduces the amount of material entering the waste stream, which directly supports environmental stewardship. As the College works toward its Carbon Commitment, producing net zero carbon emissions by 2040, our participation in this process will lower the amount of trash the College produces, consequently reducing carbon emissions.
Participation is easy. Simply bag any donations and place the bags into the designated bin 24/7.
All cloth items
Clothing (All sizes, styles, ages, and genders)
Bedding and Draperies (No bed pillows)
Books (No encyclopedias, textbooks, or library books)
Everyday, ordinary people are making decisions to fortify their livelihood and personal values against the possible negative impacts of climate change – The family making an emergency kit with essential supplies for an upcoming extreme weather event; the teen lobbying for an idling truck policy to limit poor air quality days; the employee participating in an earthquake drill. What does climate resilience look like in everyday life? The Holy Cross Libraries and the Office of Sustainability invite you to submit a short non-fiction story to the 2021 Climate Resilient Everyday Short Story Contest. Let’s explore how everyday people are demonstrating climate resilience and let’s amplify those voices.
All College of the Holy Cross students, alumni, faculty, and staff as well as anyone holding a Holy Cross Libraries card are eligible to participate.
Need a library card? Library cards are generally issued at the discretion of the supervisor on-duty, primarily to Worcester area clergy, Nativity School teachers, other Worcester-area school teachers, members of the Worcester Institute for Senior Education, and members of the American Guild of Organists. The HC Libraries’ ability to issue new cards may be limited due to COVID restrictions. Learn more about library access.
Short stories must be non-fiction and somehow answer the question, what does climate resilience look like in everyday life? Personal stories or stories about others are accepted.
Participants must complete the digital submission form and may only submit one story. No paper entries will be accepted.
Stories must be original and previously unpublished, including online blogs. Stories used for course or work assignments may be submitted as long as they were not published elsewhere.
Please submit non-fiction stories with 1,500 words or less, in Times New Roman font size 12 and one-inch margins. Single, 1.5, or double spacing are all accepted. The title of the story should be in the header of each page, and stories must be written in English.
Notification of the Winner
The winner will be notified by Holy Cross’ director of sustainability by mid-March. All contestants will be notified shortly thereafter, via the email address provided during submission.
The winning story will get added to CrossWorks, Holy Cross’ open access institutional repository. In addition, the contest winner will receive $250 and an announcement on the Libraries’ Newsfeed.
The Climate Resilient Everyday Short Story Contest is financially supported by a grant from the Resilient Communities program within the American Library Association.
What’s the story behind your cup of coffee? Like most commodities produced in a globalized world, the answer to this question isn’t simple.
For many of us, coffee is a fundamental ingredient in our lives. It is responsible for our productivity, millions of jobs globally, billions of dollars in capital, and has kindled a complex global infrastructure to keep a steady stream of caffeine pouring into the world’s developed nations. While coffee-drinkers may trust the cute, green “fair-trade” labels on their coffee cups, the real story of coffee—and the people who are trying to change it for the better—is completely hidden from consumers. For years, the coffee industry has been in crisis mode as millions of farmers struggle to make subsistence income and climate change hampers production, while the developed world turns a blind-eye. The real story of coffee is about, “disempowerment, abuse, and rigged markets.”
Dean Cycon, the founder of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company, is a person committed to fundamental change in the coffee industry. A self-proclaimed “seeker of knowledge, truth, and wisdom,” Dean is a pioneer in sustainable development who sees business as an opportunity to “seek a better understanding of the dynamics of everything from racism, to ecological justice, to interpersonal and intercultural dynamics.” After a career in indigenous rights and environmental law, Dean began the first international non-profit in coffee called Coffee Kids before creating Dean’s Beans in 1993. And since its inception, his company has been an experiment to determine whether a business that puts human values before corporate values can be successful—and it has.
Dean understands the coffee industry like no other. In his 30 year-long career, he has witnessed the evolution of coffee production from every angle and has developed a clear understanding of how the current system is failing its millions of farmers. Last year, Enveritas, a sustainability non-profit, determined that 71% of the world’s coffee farmers live in extreme poverty. Like us, the quality of life for a farmer is largely dependent on income, environmental conditions, and accessibility to basic social systems such as literacy and health programs. But two important factors are trapping coffee farmers in poverty: pricing and climate.
The income of a farmer is determined by what he is paid for a pound of coffee that he produces. Theoretically, when the coffee yields are lower, the price paid for coffee should increase because of scarcity in the market and vice-versa. This is called supply and demand, but it is not the way the coffee industry operates. The price of coffee, instead, is determined by the “C-price,” a speculative value determined by the London and New York boards of trade. In this model, private investment groups arbitrarily bet on the future price of coffee, which causes volatility in the income for a farmer. Farmers may produce the same bag of coffee every day, but still experience radical income fluctuations because of individuals sitting in a board room thousands of miles away.
The coffee crisis is also an environmental crisis. Scientists predict that up to 60% of coffee-producing land will be completely unusable by 2060. Predicted increases in climate may additionally account for the loss of 72% of tree biodiversity in coffee growing regions in the future. Most importantly, coffee is now becoming increasingly at-risk for fungal disease such as Coffee Rust, which drastically reduces yields and income for farmers. In fact, coffee growing regions will bear most of the burden of food and water insecurity into the future. And this doesn’t account for the self-imposed loss of biodiversity accounted for by monoculture and pesticide use.
The coffee industry is in crisis and millions of households are at risk. In a conversation with Dean Cycon, we discuss the deeply rooted problems in the industry and open the door to discussion about the hidden world of coffee.
Alfonsi, W. M. V., Koga-Vicente, A., Pinto, H. S., Alfonsi, E. L., Sr., Coltri, P. P., Zullo, J., Jr., Patricio, F. R., Avila, A. M. H. D., & Gonçalves, R. R. D. V. (2016). Climate change impacts on coffee rust disease. AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, 51.
What actions have you taken to reduce your carbon footprint? What if I told you that it would cost less to offset your carbon emissions from travel than to buy two fast food burritos? Carbon offsets allow individuals and organizations to compensate for their emissions and reduce their carbon footprints. The average person living in the United States produces about 4 metric tons of carbon from air and ground travel per year, which would cost around $24 to offset. The money used to purchase carbon offsets is funneled towards a project that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these projects might be geared towards planting trees, developing renewable energy, or capturing methane from landfills.
But, what is carbon? Is it that bad for the environment? There is regular CO2 and rampant CO2. Regular carbon dioxide is used and created by natural life processes. However, rampant carbon dioxide is produced from burning fossil fuels for energy. Plants use regular CO2 that animals exhale, and therefore some CO2 is part of natural life cycles. But, we are also adding CO2to the air when we burn oil, natural gas, and coal for energy. We call this type of CO2 “rampant” because there is too much of it and we need to get it under control. When rampant carbon dioxide accumulates in our atmosphere and our oceans, it creates problems for the earth’s climate and ecosystems. Now that we know about rampant carbon dioxide, does the idea of carbon offsets sound more intriguing?
To get a better understanding of what a carbon offset is and how it works, let’s take the example of a Holy Cross student who lives in New York. This student drives home to New York for Holy Cross breaks and during these drives, the student produces carbon emissions. By purchasing a carbon offset, the student can continue to drive to and from New York but at the same time support a project that pulls an equal amount of carbon from the air. Even if the student is emitting carbon on the East Coast, their contribution to the carbon offset benefits everyone even those halfway across the world.
As a Holy Cross student who lives in California, I am aware of the larger carbon footprint that I have due to my air travel throughout the year. I may not have a car on campus to drive into Boston on the weekends, go for weekly Trader Joe’s runs, or pick up InHouse coffee but, I am still emitting a lot of carbon by living in California and attending the College of the Holy Cross. The question then becomes who’s responsible for these carbon emissions? Does it all fall on me? Do the airlines share the responsibility? Does Holy Cross have an obligation to offset carbon emissions from student and employee commuting? My answer is that it is everyone’s responsibility to reduce their carbon output and it starts with knowing your own carbon footprint. Calculate yours now.
It is almost finals season, which means a few things: cramming for final exams, preparing for the holiday season, and rushing to move out of dorms and off-campus apartments before we head home for winter break. Typically, many students throw out items from their dorms or apartments as they head home for winter or summer break. Are you looking to make your move out more sustainable? Here are some tips!
Invest in reusable boxes, containers, and shipping materials
Investing in reusable boxes and containers is a great way to decrease waste. Instead of buying cardboard boxes, invest in reusable containers. Not only will this save you some money down the road and decrease waste each time you move in or out of a dorm or apartment, but they also double nicely as dorm or apartment storage. For wrapping breakable items, look into sustainable wrapping materials. For instance, check out paper. For a zero-waste option, consider using blankets, scarves, or towels as wrapping materials.
Donate any leftover non perishable food items
Have any leftover cans of soup or ramen noodles sitting in your room or apartment? Instead of letting them sit there over winter break, donate them to a local food pantry. Instead of throwing them out, giving them to a shelter or food bank ensures not only that they do not go to waste, but that they go to someone who needs help, especially as we approach the holiday season. In other words, this is a great way to help your community and practice sustainable habits at the same time! Here are two local non-profits in the Worcester area that are accepting non-perishable food item donations: The Worcester County Food Bank and St. John’s Food for the Poor Program .
Donate gently used dorm items and clothing that you don’t need anymore
About to throw out your dorm lamp that doesn’t fit in the car? Don’t! Instead of throwing out gently used dorm items and clothes, consider donating them to local charities or thrift shops. This is a great idea for students living both on or off campus. Items being collected include gently used clothing, furniture, wipes, and books.
It may seem simple, but it is super important: recycle, recycle, recycle. Make sure that you recycle any recyclable items or materials instead of throwing them in the trash.
The Holy Cross Libraries have received a $500 stipend from Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), that will help the libraries engage our communities in programs and conversations on climate change.
Resilient Communities strives to raise awareness and provide accurate information about climate change to all. The pilot project has been funded by a generous grant from Andrew and Carol Phelps, the parents of a public librarian and a library master’s student.
“The College on the Hill is no stranger to severe winter storms, dangerous wind chill, or challenging heat waves. As climate change worsens, Worcester anticipates even greater weather fluctuations and an increase in extreme temperature events.” – Eileen Cravedi, Head of Access and Discovery Services
Resilient Communities programming will kick off this winter with a non-fiction short story contest and continue through Purple Goes Green Week in April 2021. Stay tuned on the Libraries’ social media accounts for upcoming events, and check out Decoding the Weather Machine in the interim.
“The College’s Libraries look forward to supporting our community in accessing resources and information that fosters carbon mitigation and climate resilience.” – Eileen Cravedi
About the American Library Association:
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit the ALA.
During my time at Holy Cross, I have never seen nor heard students talking about where the food in Kimball originates while waiting in line for food. Rather, overwhelmed with various studies and focused on getting our degrees, I tend to hear my classmates chatter about upcoming work or events. Moreover, I have observed that my generation often forgets to consciously take efforts to live sustainably. As shown in this current semester, Holy Cross Dining Services had to recall the reusable containers because over 1,200 were lost (assumed to have been thrown away). Despite this unfortunate incident that could indicate that the student body is indifferent to the efforts taken by Dining to make Kimball more sustainable, I am confident that every student at Holy Cross has a general knowledge about environmental problems. For instance, my class of 2023 read The Uninhabitable Earth before entering our freshman year, which explored various environmental issues. However, I believe that the problem in making our campus more sustainable arises from a discrepancy between the knowledge the student body has about the environment and a misconception of how their individual actions ultimately affect sustainability on campus.
As a current sophomore at Holy Cross who is interested in environmental studies, I have been exploring our local food system and ways to better integrate our school into it. During my internship with the Office of Sustainability, I have observed many of my student peers lack knowledge about the effect of their actions on our food system. However, I believe that promoting more awareness of the origins of food would encourage my peers to take action. While working with the Office of Sustainability, I have focused my efforts on bringing awareness to local food at Kimball. I aim to show my fellow classmates that the food we eat impacts the local food system.
Dining Services sources at least 20% of its food and beverage products from local sources. Yet, do students think about the food they eat, where it comes from, how it was made, or how it even got to Holy Cross? I do not blame students for this oversight, but rather see this as an opportunity to expand conversations around food sourcing. I am blessed to live in a time of convenience where I can avoid thinking about sourcing, but this luxury does not come unscathed. The increased carbon footprint that comes with the transportation of food itself, being one major negative consequence of sourcing food from distant areas. For example, Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews (2008) estimate that roughly 11% of food’s lifecycle carbon emissions comes from its transportation. Recognizing the negative environmental impact of food transportation, I have begun collaborating with Dining Services to expand awareness around local sourcing at Holy Cross. Did you know that we buy from the Worcester Food Hub and had community members involved in its formation? Buying from this local source reduces the amount of mileage that our food travels from the farm to our plates, consequently reducing Holy Cross’s carbon footprint.
There are so many more ways in which Holy Cross as an institution can become more sustainable, and it is these small steps that eventually add up and lead to a wave of change. With my work, I hope to inspire a change in my fellow classmates to understand their individual effects on the environment and to act in ways that are more sustainable. A simple first step you can take is to make efforts to consume locally sourced food. Whether on or off campus, I challenge you to find out where your ingredients come from. If you are on campus, Dining can share this information to help guide your efforts. If you are at home, you can quickly check the produce label at grocery stores. After all, our generation is the future, and we will have to find a way to adapt to modernization in a way that simultaneously protects the quickly changing environment, and eating local food is one easy way to help.
Even with careful thought and passionate execution, some sustainability projects take more than one trial to get right. For instance, the innovative freezer system used at Williams Hall and Figge Hall took over two years to develop. During the first attempt, the Student Government Association co-directors of environmental concerns and Presidential Task Force on the Environment members installed an aerated static pile composting system right outside the two buildings. However, student residents solemnly participated because the system was located outdoors. Possibly worse, the Facilities Department received complaints about bad odors. The implementation team decided to conclude this first attempt and pivot the project to a different model.
Today, student residents at Figge Hall and Williams Hall may successfully compost their food waste through a compact freezer system. Instead of traditional indoor collection bins, students will find small freezers at the collection zones. These freezers require less frequent pickup and provide flexibility for changing demand. They also mitigate icky smells and increase user convenience. When students have food waste to discard, they simply place their waste in a bag into the freezer. An Environmental Services staff member then removes the waste and brings it to the compost compactor located near Kimball Hall. Holy Cross’ hauler, Waste Management, picks up the organic waste and turns it into rich soil.
While some projects happen rapidly, many others take time, trial and perseverance to implement. The freezer composting system at Figge Hall and Williams Hall exemplifies this process.
The first topic of my Political Economy course, taught by Professor Justin Svec, explored the logic behind externalities. An externality occurs when one agent’s action affects the welfare or profit of another agent. There are both positive and negative externalities where positive externalities raise some other agent’s welfare (or profit) and negative externalities lower them. The problem with externalities is that the acting agents do not internalize the full costs or benefits of their actions leading to the socially inefficient equilibrium. More specifically, positive externalities are under produced while negative externalities are over produced.
Thinking in terms of sustainability and our life at Holy Cross, this simplified example of a student bringing a reusable thermos to Cool Beans will show how a positive externality is under-produced.
Reduce your consumption of single use cups, lids, and straws
Having to carry the thermos around campus
Reduces the waste Holy Cross produces
Having to rinse out the thermos after each use
Individuals behave optimally by setting their private benefit equal to their private cost. In this case, the student would fail to internalize the benefit of the reduction in waste for Holy Cross. Thus, the student’s cost of bringing a reusable thermos outweighs the benefits leading the student to choose not to bring a reusable beverage container to Cool Beans.
Shifting gears to negative externalities, I have outlined a simplified example of a student choosing to litter to show how a negative externality leads to overproduction. In this example, the student fails to internalize the cost to the greater Holy Cross community. That being said, the student’s private benefit is equal to their private cost leading the student to choose to litter instead of walking to a trash can.
Easier than walking to a trash can
You see a dirtier campus
Every other student sees a dirtier campus
There are multiple interventions that college campuses can implement to help the community reach the socially optimal equilibrium. These interventions include command and control and Pigouvian tax/subsidy. Command and control can occur when the college administration mandates a certain level of production. One example of this is if the college were to limit the take out containers that the cafes on campus were allowed to use. In doing so, students might be nudged to bring their own reusable containers. College administration can implement Pigouvian taxes or subsidies that match the size of the negative or positive externality. Similar to Pigouvian subsidies, our very own Cool Beans has implemented various efforts to incentivize students to bring their own reusable thermos. These efforts include discounting drinks when students bring their own beverage container and selling reusable thermoses for students to use.
Recognizing the added benefits of a positive externality and the extra costs of a negative externality, I hope that we can make the conscious effort to produce more of the good and lessen the costs we impose on our environment. Let us work together to reduce our waste, reuse our beverage containers, and recycle our clean bottles, plastics, paper, and cardboard.
Relatable moment: Standing over a trash bin and a recycle bin awkwardly waving that hand over each opening trying to decide if that item we’re holding is recyclable. Then deciding that we’ll throw it into the recycling bin in the hopes that it will get recycled.
This is wishful recycling.
When someone tosses items in the recycling bin and hopes that they are recyclable or thinks that they should be recyclable, that person is a wishful recycler. While well-intentioned, wishful recycling results in a contaminated recycling stream, sending perfectly good material straight to the landfill. It’s avoidable! Waste Management, Holy Cross’ waste hauler, recommends three rules:
1) Recycle all clean and empty plastic bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.
2) Keep food and liquid out of the recycling.
3) No plastic bags.
With everyone’s participation, Holy Cross can expand its 35% waste diversion rate.