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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Join the League of Waste Watchers and become a Hero!

January 9th, 2017

Join the Waste Watchers club to save the world from the scourge of waste.Want to become a waste-fighting hero? Join the Waste Watchers club to save the world from the scourge of waste. Here’s how to start your journey:

Winter Meet ‘n’ Eat

Get to know them at the Meet ‘n’ Eat on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6:00-7:00 pm in Student Experience Center 112. Nosh on pizza and meet people who share your interests in sustainability, while learning about the group and ways you can get involved to reduce waste at OSU.

Waste Watchers Weekly Meetings

Drop by a weekly meeting Thursdays 6:30-8:00 pm in SEC 112. At the weekly meetings, the team plans events and marketing at their weekly meetings. Attendance is not required every week, so come by when you can. Snacks provided.

Can’t make the meetings? Join a committee or volunteer at an event; learn how at http://tiny.cc/wastewatchers.

The Waste Watchers is a joint group between Campus Recycling and the Student Sustainability Initiative.

Five Four One: Organic, Local and Delicious

December 20th, 2016

pasta-8Located in the McNary Dining Center, the micro restaurant Five Four One started in Fall 2015 and was recently featured on the Food Management blog with the plant-based grain bowl highlighted. The Food Management post recognizes college campuses around the country who are changing the college food menus for the better towards more nutritious and sustainable options. OSU was recognized twice for items from Five Four One. Named after the area code of the Corvallis area, the restaurant strives to source locally and use 100% organic produce.

Five Four One uses a garden located here on campus, the Callahan Food Forest, located just outside of McNary Dining Center for herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and more. They also buy from farms in the surrounding Willamette Valley area for seasonally available produce! Beyond produce Five Four One makes their pizza and pizza dough in house from whole wheat flours from Camas Country Mills located 33 miles from campus in Junction City!

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-11-36-30-amFive Four One emphasizes  education in the restaurant by providing TV screens highlighting what menu items are available and where the food is sourced. Each item is made fresh and made from scratch. “Yes, making food this way is more labor-intensive than serving pre-packaged items,” Chef Lawson says. “But that’s okay. It’s all part of our mission to support local growers and serve our guests the freshest, most nutritious meal we can offer.”

In addition to sourcing locally, the restaurant emphasizes composting within the facilities. All unusable food scraps are used in compost for the Callahan garden and beyond. Read about the new Compost Policy here! When food may not be sold but is still wholesome for consumption, they donate it to Linn-Benton Food Share or the HRSC Food Pantry on campus. UHDS also partners with OSU Recycling to sort and recycle office products such as paper, batteries, soft plastics, and printer toner cartridges.

Five Four One is closed for Winter Break, but will re-open for Winter Term, Jan 9th!

Thank you UHDS for being a leader in the making OSU a more sustainable campus, and offering wonderful micro restaurants like Five Four One.

A special thanks to Dale Lawson the Chef de Cuisine for Five Four One, and Jennifer Rouse, the Marketing and Communications manager for UHDS for providing the inside details for this blog post!

OSUsed Store clearance sales Dec. 20 and 23

December 19th, 2016

End of Year Clearance graphic

Much of the OSUsed Store’s merchandise will be on sale at our End of Year Clearance Sales on Tuesday, December 20th between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Friday, December 23rd between 12:00 and 3:00 p.m.

The clearance prices are as follows:

  • 50 or 75% off specially marked items throughout the store
  • 50% off orange dot sticker merchandise (includes computer peripherals such as monitors, printers, video cards, etc.)
  • 50% off white price gun tag merchandise (includes housewares, office supplies, lab glass and equipment, and more)

Join these events on Facebook.

About OSUsed Store Sales

The OSUsed Store carries computers and computer accessories, furniture (desks, file cabinets, tables, chairs, bookcases, etc), office supplies, sporting goods, household items, bicycles and much more.

We are is located at 644 SW 13th Street in Corvallis (view on Google Maps). The store is operated by OSU Surplus Property and sells surplus equipment and material to departments on campus as well as members of the public during special public sales, in an effort to reduce landfill waste and keep money in the university.

Our public sales provide an opportunity for the general public to make personal purchases. Departments, government agencies, and qualified non-profits are welcome to shop 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, but deals are good only during clearance sale times listed above.

See more sale dates on our calendar. For more information, visit our OSUsed Store webpage or contact us.

A view of the OSUsed Store.

A view of the OSUsed Store.

Repair Fair Reflection: A solution for a throw away society

December 9th, 2016

14543877_10157609085345523_3528707482350643361_oOne of OSU’s long-standing traditions is the Repair Fair hosted by the Waste Watchers, a student organization whose mission is to engage students and the community in waste reduction on campus. The Repair Fair aims to directly use the Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Approach.

In the Global North, which are the countries that have traditionally been referred to as “developed nations”, consumerism is a prevailing trend. Inherent to consumerism is a throw-away culture, a societal practice focused on disposing a broken item and purchasing a new one, rather than repairing the broken item. Often times it is even cheaper to purchase a new item, rather than fixing it. In a world of finite resources, a consumerist society is a not sustainable. After the reduction of goods and resources, we must not forget about reusing before moving to recycling.

This is precisely what the Repair Fair is aiming to do. It is providing a space for reusing broken items, through professional repair. Everything from small electronics and appliances, bicycles, clothing, to housewares can be repaired. Additionally, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) skills can be learned through demonstrations of how to make your own toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.

All of this is creating alternative structures to our modern consumerist approach by saving attendees money, reducing waste, and providing individuals with the skills to take care of their own needs. Connecting with others is inherent for Repair Fairs, a community that is working on the same goal is one of the outcomes!

Repair Fairs are put on once per term, so keep an eye out for one in February!

Brought to you by Jasen Philips, SSI Lab Coordinator- Waste Reduction

Bioneers Conference 2016 Reflection

December 8th, 2016

The Bioneers Conference is an annual gathering of social and environmental activists from all over the world which provides many kinds of opportunities for its participants to engage in the idea of sustainability, and what it means to create a “sustainable” world.  The conference achieves this by offering many types of lectures and activities, including speaking panels, dance workshops, collaborative art, policy debriefs and much more.  The theory behind the inclusion of so many types of learning opportunities is that there is no one perfect or right answer for solving all of the problems we are currently facing; instead the issues require a multitude of perspectives and lenses to provide solutions that then must be implemented by various types of people across the globe.  bioneers

The programming of Bioneers heavily emphasized solutions and current strategies for facing up against some of the twenty first century’s biggest challenges. These challenges included both long-term issues like climate change and also more immediate social justice concerns facing American society today and the undeniable links between the two. Activists from the Black Lives Matter Movement and those on the front lines of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline were both there to share their experiences, insight, and stories with us. The intersectionality of these two movements, how directly linked climate justice is to racial justice and indigenous sovereignty was illustrated beautifully through words, dance and song. These social change leaders were deeply inspiring to all of us, and have encouraged us to bring a deeper commitment to direct action that fosters justice back to the OSU campus.

It was immensely refreshing to both be a witness and a participant in conversations about the various structures of oppression such as racism, capitalism, patriarchy, hetero-sexism that impact individuals abilities to participate in the conventionally offered solutions of environmentalism.  Without the acknowledgement of these issues we cannot move forward in the creation of a more ecologically sound and socially just world.  Acknowledgement of the issues in such a public manner also created a space for those who may have felt unseen or marginalized to be acknowledged and recognized in their struggles, which is imperative to building resilient communities.

Particularly inspiring and influential were the times in which we saw youth leadership around the issues. Some examples of this included Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an indigenous sixteen year-old climate change activist and leader of the global conservation organization Earth Guardians.  Xiuhtezcatl shared his experiences through both traditional presentations and hip-hop performances.  On the last day he collaborated with spoken word duo Climbing Poetree for a performance that was as memorable as it was impactful.

More than any one specific solution, the feeling of being in a room full of people committing their lives to social change was immensely activating and inspiring. We heard so many people share the ways that they have made their dreams for a better world a reality, and it encouraged us to conceptualize the ways in which we can constructively build a vision of a better world in both our time at OSU and beyond. Social change must come from the collective will, it is not something that one person can do on their own. The interconnectedness of the environment, humankind and non-human life was emphasized as heavily as the intersectionality of the experience of oppression and the multitude of fights against it. From Bioneers we took the message that only through unity with each other and the planet we share with so many other beings may we find true sustainability. With immense gratitude, we bring this back to OSU to share, in our programming, our relationships, and our activism.

Brought to you by Katheryn Crane, Jacob Parsons, Caelin Alba, SSI Coordinators.


Your Energy Conservation Guide for Winter

December 7th, 2016

Keep your energy bill – and your emissions – low this winter with these energy saving tips!SAVE on digital room thermostat wearing woolly hat

Heating bill through the roof? Try this instead!

  • Open your curtains during the day to let in natural heat from the sun, then close them at night to keep heat locked in.
  • Try bundling up in a cozy sweater or soft blanket before reaching for the thermostat.
  • If you have to use heating, remember to turn it off when you leave your house, and while you sleep at night.
  • If possible, only heat the room you are using.

Decorating? Put a new spin on things!

  • Use LED holiday lights! They require about 75% less energy, and last 2 times longer than traditional lights.
  • Get a real Christmas tree! This will support local farmers, reduce your carbon footprint, and keep harmful plastics out of the environment.
  • Do It Yourself! Deck the halls with some DIY snowflakes and other decorations made out of recycled paper.

Heading out of town? Prep your home before you leave!

  • Unplug all non-necessary electronic devices such as toasters, lamps, chargers, and power strips.
  • You can keep pipes and appliances from freezing by setting the thermostat at just 50 degrees.
  • Close all blinds and curtains to keep heat in while you’re away.


Best of luck on any remaining finals, and have a wonderful, energy-saving Winter break!

Brought to you by Taylor Bennett, SSI CN25 Coordinator.


Digging into Bioswales

November 29th, 2016

Brought to you by Micco Emeson, the Living Lab Coordinator for Landscape for SSI.

Landscape Maintenance Insights

Wintertime approaches, and so do a plethora of opportunities for landscaping and gardening activities on the OSU campus. Winter is when many perennial plants lie dormafruit-tree-apple-treent, shedding their leaves and maintaining cellular processes via stored energy reserves which allow them to get through the cold, cloudy winter. This means that it is a good time to plant long lived plants such as fruit trees, native perennials, and berry bushes as the disruption of their fragile root system due to planting will have minimal effect on their growth cycle during this dormant stage. This is also a good time for pruning trees and removing invasive species.

Project Updates

Inconsiderate human development can cause the phenomenon of stormwater pollution due to precipitation which would soak into the earth naturally, but is rerouted by impermeable surfaces. Corvallis receives approximately 40 inches of rain per year, or approximately 3 ft. A 10 square foot section of pavement creates 3 ft x 10 ft2 = 30 cubic feet of stormwater runoff each year. Not only can these flows cause flooding, but stormwater picks up debris, heavy metal contaminants, and other pollutants, escorting them into the nearest surface water. In the case of the OSU Campus, either Oak Creek or Mary’s River, and eventually the Willamette, is the recipient of these fouling agents. This can cause problems for important fish species such as trout salmon, upon which many ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling depend.

Bioswales are features designed to slow the flow of water, decreasing the magnitude of surge events caused by the lack of permeable surfaces, allowing sediments to drop out, heavy metals to bind to soil particles, and water to cool. The OSU Campus hosts numerous bioswales which have been designed to intercept stormwater runoff from parking lots, roofs, and other impervious surfaces. However, these bioswales often experience invasion by plant species such as Himalayan Blackberry.

photo-one_-bioswale-graphicThe Sustainability Office hosts regular work parties to remove invasive species from bioswales and other important areas such as solar arrays to the ensure the functioning of these critical features. Following in suit, the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) is hiring a Sustainable Landscape Intern to host work parties throughout winter term and into the Spring. They will be responsible for identifying sites requiring maintenance, plan forlogistics such as the acquisition of tools, and then to work with the SSI’s marketing team to get people to these events.

Another project taking place is the installation of a new garden over at Avery Lodge on the Western Edge of Campus on 11th and Madison. The Human Services Resource Center (HSRC), housed in Avery Lodge, provides services to both students and community members experiencing homelessness, as well as financial or food insecurity. A food pantry is run from this building twice a month, which is partially supplied by produce grown by volunteers and staff of the Student Sustainability Initiative. The HSRC has expanded and has moved from Snell Hall to this newly renovated, beautiful building, carrying along with it around 4,000 feet of garden space. The Student Sustainability Initiative is working with University Housing and Dining Services, as well as the Permaculture Design Certification Course, to design and create this space. A cover crop has been planted, and students recently applied copious amounts of leaf mulch and compost to the site for soil building purposes.

This is just a snippet of the exciting things that the SSI has the pleasure of taking part in. If you would like to get involved, email Micco at ssi.lab.organizer@oregonstate.edu

Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge

November 17th, 2016

The Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge ran from Oct 1-Oct 15 and the results are in! In just 15 days, thousands of Oregonians succeeded in finding alternative transportation to work, school errands and more.


Here is our collective impact:

TOTAL PARTICIPANTS: 4,797 Oregonians.

TRIPS LOGGED: 91,628 trips.

NON-DRIVE ALONE MILES*: 819,525 miles!!

POUNDS OF CO2 REDUCED: 530,436 lbs

GAS SAVINGS: $93,947.

*These miles include bike, bus, train, carpool, vanpool, walking trips, and teleworking.

Be sure to visit Drive Less Connect’s Website to find a biking partner, a carpool buddy or track your trips and savings for more inspiration!

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