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

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

Dining Services Practices New Plant-Based Recipes

Kale, white bean warm salad closeup

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.

Leslie Cerier portrait
Photo from Leslie Cerier

When students return this Fall, they will likely see a few new plant-based dishes at Kimball Main Dining Room. Have specific ideas? Dining Services always welcomes feedback.

Will Sampson ’24 on Achieving Carbon Neutrality through Renewable Natural Gas and Carbon Offsets

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.

heating boiler with metal pipes above
Holy Cross’ central heating plant, fueled by natural gas.
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.