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.
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.
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.
Holy 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.
The Pothos Project is a five week program that allows students the opportunity to have real-world consulting experience. Students collaborate together to improve the sustainability of a business. For every week of the program, students will participate in meetings with both alumni mentors in the consulting field and local businesses in Worcester to receive guidance on possible solutions to their business’s concern. At the end of the program, students present their sustainable recommendation to representatives of that business.
As a student consultant, I have gained valuable knowledge and insight into the consulting field. First, I learned that sustainability can be applicable to different target areas of a business. For instance, while my team’s main focus is community engagement for our business partner, we are also working on reducing paper usage for ticket printings. Secondly, I have learned how to professionally connect with stakeholders and foster communication on what they wish to gain from the consultation. The meetings with our alumni mentor were highly beneficial to establishing a good relationship with our business partner as he gave us tips on how to converse with the stakeholder.
Even with the proposed initiatives implemented, the community determines whether the practices remain in place. If the business does not receive better profit margins, they might revert back to their old methods. Therefore, students can support sustainable businesses in Worcester by purchasing from these local stores rather than big brand names. Students can also spread the message about these sustainable businesses in the area to their friends and family. In the case of my business partner, choosing the sustainable option, mobile tickets, would show the business that sustainability is a concern that is important to their customers.
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.
The Holy Cross community can now donate and recycle books to The Bay State Book Company via an on-campus collection bin behind Alumni Hall.
What do your old books support? The Bay State Book Company aims to “keep as many books out of landfills as possible.” They donate books to local schools, community centers, and soldiers. For any remaining books, the organization recycles them responsibly.
A study by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) discovered that the United States sends over 640,000 tons of books to landfills every year. By having this collection bin on campus, the Holy Cross community can give their books a new life and redistribute resources instead of creating more trash.
Participation is easy. Simply bring your books to the designated bin 24/7.
The Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) invites you to the 7th Biennial Student Leadership Conference: Humanitarian Action and Climate Change.
The conference brings together students from across the Jesuit network of colleges and universities to learn about how we, as a Jesuit community, can best respond to the humanitarian crises of the world. This year’s conference will address climate change as a seminal issue of our time and how it intersects with the field of humanitarian action. Students who attend the conference will learn how to plan initiatives on their home campuses using Laudato Si’ and the forthcoming 7-Year Plan as a framework for action.
The virtual conference will take place on: Thursday, September 30th (5-8pm) Friday, October 1st (5-8pm) Saturday, October 2nd (9am-11:15am). Holy Cross participants will join these sessions virtually. Holy Cross participants will then gather on Monday, October 4th from 6:30-8pm to plan action steps for our campus (this may be in-person or virtual).
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
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
Menus of Change is a set of principles that integrates nutrition and environmental science to develop recommendations that help food service and culinary professionals achieve optimal nutrition, environmental stewardship and resilience, and social responsibility within the food service industry. The vision is to guide food and food service professionals, like Holy Cross’ Dining Services, in creating meals that are not only delicious, but also nutritious and healthy, environmentally sustainable as well as socially responsible and ethical.
In June, the culinary team in Dining Services worked with Leslie Cerier, “The Organic Gourmet”, to develop new plant-based recipes for the upcoming semester. This four-day workshop, full of discussions and cooking demonstrations, explored sea vegetables, teff, and tempeh. Recipes included everything from miso based sauces and teff based croutons.
The College of the Holy Cross is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. Presently, over 60 percent of the College’s carbon footprint comes from heating, which is primarily fueled by natural gas. Renewable natural gas (RNG) and carbon offsets are potential assets in fulfilling this commitment. RNG emits significantly less carbon than traditional natural gas does. This gas is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and thus can be used in existing natural gas systems, such as Holy Cross’ physical plant. RNG is essentially biogas (the gaseous product of the decomposition of organic matter) that has been processed to purity standards. RNG can be extracted from landfills, livestock operations, and wastewater treatment plants.
Other colleges and universities are utilizing RNG and carbon offsets in a cost-effective manner to achieve carbon neutrality. My proposed plan of action for Holy Cross is to contract with a major in-state energy or waste management firm to access RNG at a competitive and stable rate. The University of New Hampshire has achieved carbon neutrality by utilizing RNG. UNH partnered with Waste Management to develop a landfill biomethane plant, which now fuels most of the campus. UNH sold renewable energy certificates to finance the capital costs of the project. Similarly, with its own RNG plan, Duke University is approaching carbon neutrality. Duke partnered with Google and Duke Energy to develop a livestock biogas plant.
Meanwhile, Allegheny College and American University have achieved carbon neutrality through carbon offsets, which are voluntary offsite investments made to negate emissions. For Allegheny and American, these measures included investing in responsible trucking, forestry, international energy sustainability, and further insulation on their campuses. To reduce its carbon footprint and as an alternative to converting to RNG, Holy Cross could maintain its traditional natural gas system while increasing its portfolio of carbon offsets.
There are commercial RNG facilities within proximity of the Holy Cross campus. These locations are listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as sellers of biomethane, a form of renewable natural gas. Some Massachusetts locations include Westminster, New Bedford, Haverhill, Hadley, and Rutland. Holy Cross can explore contracting opportunities with these locations individually, or through a major energy or waste management partner.
In accordance with the Jesuit tradition, Holy Cross is committed to active engagement with the world. The Society of Jesuits’ Universal Apostolic Preferences call us to act urgently on today’s environmental crisis, “whole nations and peoples need an ecological conversion if we are to be honest custodians of this wonderful planet.” By reducing its carbon footprint through renewable natural gas and carbon offsets, the College is dedicating itself as an honest custodian of this planet. We gain new strength to care for others and for creation when we replenish our common home.
I see three major steps in reducing the College’s carbon footprint through RNG. First, Holy Cross should continue building efficiency projects to minimize heating demand, and consequently, natural gas usage. Second, the College should contract with a major in-state energy or waste management firm to access RNG at a competitive and stable rate. Finally, Holy Cross should replace conventional natural gas purchases with RNG from a new contract. These measures will lead to significantly reduced carbon emissions, advancing the College’s mission to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Do you have something that interests you? That drives you? That inspires you? Do you know where to turn for support to engage with your ideas? Or, do you wonder how to filter through the multiple Holy Cross opportunities to pursue such interests boldly? Have you considered becoming an Ignite Fund Project-Based Learning Fellow?
As an Ignite Fund Project-Based Learning Fellow, I pursued my passion for the environment within the Worcester community through a project at Cookson Field. Initially, my Ignite Fund project began as a component of my College Honors thesis as I knew that I wanted to conduct field research while at Holy Cross. Soon after realizing that I wanted to incorporate fieldwork into my thesis, I began brainstorming locations for this research, and Cookson Field immediately came to mind due to the park’s proximity to campus (it’s a five minute walk away!).
However, I also knew that if I was going to study Cookson Field, I wanted to contribute something back to Cookson as a kind of thank you to the surrounding community and the place itself. Consequently, I developed a plan to remove a broken-down swing set and numerous unusable benches scattered throughout the park and to install a new bench. Additionally, I planned to plant trees and a pollinator garden in the park so that these improvements were aimed at enhancing the park experience for both people, plants, and animals alike. This plan to connect my ecology research with improvements to the park led me to consider the Ignite Fund and the J.D. Power Center for the support I needed to pursue such a project.
The Ignite Fund Project-Based Learning Fellowship is directed at students interested in connecting their academic interests with real-world problem-solving. The process to become an Ignite Fellow is straightforward. First, come up with a rough project idea and schedule a meeting with the director of the J.D. Power Center for a preliminary discussion of the project concept. Then, complete a short online application explaining the project, its connection to your Holy Cross coursework, and the budget (the applications are accepted three times throughout the year, so keep a look out for those dates). If the project receives approval, the only other steps (besides completing the project) include spending the funds within the six months in which they were approved and submitting a final report to the J.D. Power Center.
Through my fellowship experience, I gained invaluable skills in both grant writing, designing a community project, and collaborating with local organizations and agencies (e.g. Worcester Parks Department). I encourage students to think about all the possibilities the Ignite Fund and similar opportunities at Holy Cross hold as they continue to explore their curiosity and passions here on the Hill!