University of Vermont

Students on the Lawn

November 2011 Newsletter

In this month's issue:

Announcing the November Environmental Forum

Custodial Services Discusses Green Cleaning

Wednesday, November 16 @ 2pm
Davis Center - Jost Foundation Room

2:00-2:05       Introductions and announcements
2:05-3:00       Greening Custodial Services, Custodial Services Department
                               Leslye Kornegay, Director
                               Paul Campo, Quality Assurance Administrator
3:00-3:55       OoS updates, other business, next meeting agenda
3:55-4:00       Wrap-up, closing

VSTEP and the Beverage Contract

Vermont Students Towards Environmental Protection (VSTEP), a student group dedicated to coordinating environmental activities and researching and implementing solutions, has pushed for reducing campus waste since the beginning. When it first started in the fall of 1988, VSTEP boosted UVM’s recycling program and a "Trash Class" created a comprehensive Solid Waste Plan that took recycling and acceptance of recycling to a new level. And they're still at it, tackling beverages these days.

A presentation given by VSTEP members Greg Francese (Senior) and Shan McCann (Junior) at the October Environmental Forum addressed the heated topic of the next on-campus beverage contract. As many may know, the contract with Coca-Cola of Northern New England ends in 2012. VSTEP, among many other groups and individuals want to make the push to get bottled water off the UVM campus entirely. This would mean sales of Dasani, Smart Water, and other purified water products would be eliminated from the UVM campus under the legal terms of the next contract. According to VSTEP, UVM would become the first public university to ban bottled water.

Under the terms of the current contract, 80% of beverages sold on campus are provide by Coke, leaving the other 20% for milk, tea, coffee, cider, and other beverages, at the discretion of dining services and the retail stores. VSTEP's goal is to eliminate all bottled water, and change the above percentages in order to form a more sustainable beverage system. VSTEP members argued that the current system conflicts with UVM goals of respect, responsibility, and innovation. If the push is made for a different looking contract, the new contract could have many more local products, products healthier than those already provided by Coke and a greater diversity among products as a whole. Ideally, the next beverage contract will look very different in its composition, have a shorter length, and incorporate more competition between brands.

If you want to see changes like these on campus, help spread the word about the next beverage contract. VSTEP emphasizes that the key is getting the word out to as many students as possible. Look for the future of beverage sales on campus to have a greater variety.

- Tucker Bean

Bottled Water Bans Still Haven’t Reached Public Universities

During the October Environmental Forum, VSTEP made it clear that one of their goals is to eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus. This sort of ban is not something that is entirely new to the academic community. Several universities across the nation have taken the step to rid their campus stores and vending machines of bottled water.

Washington University in St. Louis was the first institution to enact a bottled water ban in January of 2009. Since then, at least eight other schools have followed. While this trend gives students and faculty at Vermont hope that they can do the same, the fact remains that every single one of the schools that have banned bottled water sales has been a private institution with much smaller enrollments than UVM. The largest university so far to get rid of bottled water has been Seattle University, with an undergraduate enrollment of around 8,000 students.

UVM’s larger size provides an obstacle for groups like VSTEP. VSTEP is working hard to get their message out, and even obtained 1500 signatures on a petition against bottled water. However, that still encompasses less than 15% of the whole student population. Compare that to a school that has already banned bottled water, the University of Portland, where 1500 students would be half of the undergraduate population.

Student population size is just one of several disadvantages that larger public institutions have when it comes to enacting sweeping change like banning bottled water, but it might be the most prevailing of those disadvantages. The work is doubled for campus groups and the challenges of getting students behind a collective cause are steeper.

On the other side of that coin, the larger student population is a good thing. If change is made, it is so much more meaningful. The amount of disposable plastic taken out of the cycle is much greater if a place like Vermont bans bottle water compared to the smaller private schools that have already done so.

Vermonters pride themselves on being a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious group. Because of that, UVM has as good of chance as any public university to ban the sale of bottled water. There is a lot of work to do, but students and school officials have a chance to send a message to the rest of the country and show that they are willing to make significant changes in the name of conservation and sustainability.

- Craig Powers

AASHE as a Resource

The mission of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.

As a UVM affiliated student, faculty, or staff member you can register with AASHE and benefit from their resource center and more!  You can get free access to this resource by registering with your UVM email address.

The online Resource Center is a comprehensive source of information on sustainability in higher education. It provides administrators, faculty, operations staff, students, and other campus stakeholders with the tools, information and guidance they need to lead the sustainability transformation. Recently, AASHE launched a page that is specifically tailored for students called Resources for Students

Submit Your Clean Energy Fund Ideas

The Clean Energy Fund (CEF) seeks participation from students, faculty and staff for its annual Call for Ideas. The CEF generates $225,000 each year from a student fee to implement renewable energy projects on campus. As the University moves towards climate neutrality, the Clean Energy Fund presents a unique opportunity for the university community to engage with energy issues and learn about renewable energy technologies. We welcome ideas for installation projects, curriculum and classes, and other innovative educational tools focusing on renewable energy.

Examples of past CEF projects can be found here:

Submit your project ideas—and comment and vote on ideas—by visiting:

The Ideas Collection process closes on November 15, 2011.

Our Clean Energy Futures Lectures/Workshops series is seeking proposals as well:

For more information, contact: Kate Blofson, Clean Energy Fund Fellow |  (802) 656-0895