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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

A Sustainable Business: Tec Labs

July 26th, 2016

CaptureEver heard of Tecnu? Maybe in the days of camping with your family, and your mom is scrubbing you down after enjoying a romp through the woods? Or in the desperate search at the drug store after getting infected with poison oak? Tec Labs is a company based in Albany, OR who pride themselves in being sustainable; for the environment, and for their employees! Let’s check them out!

Tec Labs is an over-the-counter pharmaceutical company who focuses on topical products used to prevent itch from outdoor pests such as poison oak, or mosquito bites. Some of their products include the Tecnu skin cleanser that removes those pesty oils from poison oak, Licefreee products to deal with lice, insect repellent, and other topical products to put on bug bites.bites

Tec Labs was ranked 32nd in the Top 100 Green Workplaces in Oregon for 2016. Their passion is to take calicere of their customers first, and provide a product that works, but they see taking care of the environment just as important as well. In the past few years, they had a sustainability report created to evaluate how the company is doing in the following fields: Carbon Footprint, Water usage, Waste, Suppliers, and the Community. Within the next 5 years, Tec Labs has set sustainability related goals to reduce green house gas emissions by 5%, reduce water usage by 2.5%, and reduce waste production by 5%.

In addition to taking care of natural resources, and our environment, Tec Labs strives to create a sustainable work-life balance for their employees.

Keep up the great work, Tec Labs! Thanks for being an example for other sustainable businesses.

Student Sustainability Initiative Project Grant: SEC Permaculture Garden by Kyler Jacobo

July 11th, 2016

Come learn about the SEC Permaculture garden created by and for students!

permacultureHave you walked by the Southeastern corner of the Student Experience Center (SEC) lately? This year, students Kyler Jacobo, and Allen Dysart have been working through the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) Project Grant Program to establish an accessible, perennial food forest in the 500 square foot plot located on the eastern side of the building. This site is rather small for a garden, and has many utilities located on site that obstruct the otherwise blank canvas of the soil. Within the 500 square feet site there are three electrical boxes, a drain, several signs, and a manhole. This would generally eliminate the site as a candidate for food production but these students have designed an edible garden complete with compacted gravel pathways, a raspberry trellis, a raised strawberry bed, several fruit trees and a plethora of shrubs and ground covers in this space. This garden was based off of the principles of permaculture in order to maximize productivity while minimizing maintenance and impacts on the environment.

“My vision of this of this grant was to promote sustainability on campus by utilizing our land in a productive and responsible manner. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to receive funding for this grant because of the great connections and knowledge I have gained from being a part of this project. Through the SSI, I have gained valuable insight as to what I can expect in my future, collaborating with other departments while following standards and meeting deadlines,” says Jacobo.

The final design of the garden was inspired by Andrew Millison’s Permaculture Design Course where students focused on this plot of land and the space surrounding the SEC for their main class project. Although the grant project is complete for this school year, there will be opportunities to help next year. Seasonal work parties will take place and signage will be installed in the fall. The SSI will be looking for a sustainable landscaping intern early next fall term to help with projects like this. If you’re interesting in getting involved in any capacity, feel free to contact Micco at SSI.landscape@oregonstate.edu

Special recognition to students Jordan McCornack, and Georgia King who both assisted in making the project complete by helping in plant selection and the application process. Regarding university staff, thanks to Bill Coslow, head of the OSU Landscaping Department for providing technical support and arranging meetings with various campus officials such as. Thanks to Sid Cooper for giving his official seal of approval to this project. Thanks to Jen Christion-Myers for providing policy support for the grant committee, Cody Buckman for his generous loan of tools that made every work party possible, Sylvan Pritchett and others from UHDS for providing their technical knowledge, John Mikkelsen for a generous donation of Willow Oak salvaged from the Strand Hall renovations, Susan Bourke and others from the Craft Center for making the woodworks possible, and Andrew Millison for his willing partnership. Lastly, Micco Emeson for helping us stay on track throughout the year.

OSU collects 23,000 pounds during Move-Out Donation Drive

June 28th, 2016

The results are in: OSU residents donated about 23,000 pounds during the Res. Hall Move-Out Donation Drive!

results graphic

This includes an estimated:

  • 11,997 pounds of housewares
  • 6,867 pounds of clothing, shoes and linens
  • 3,103 pounds of food, toiletries, and school supplies
  • 1,000 pounds of loft kit wood

That’s 22,967 pounds total!

While the weight did not meet our goal of 28,000 pounds, it is slightly higher than the total weight from two years ago. As you can see below, last year was a record high. The decrease we saw from 2015 to 2016 is equal to 32 percent. This is primarily due to a major decrease in wood weights (1,000 to 7,618 pounds, an 87 percent decrease) and to a lesser extent a decline in clothes/shoes/linens (9,706 to 6,867 pounds, a 29 percent decrease).

Chart of donations since 2010

Donations since 2010

We are uncertain about why donation weights declined. Because our waste hauler does not weigh trash, we are not able to speculate on whether donations decreased due to increased landfilling of items. It is possible that the major decline we saw in wood weights was due to a decrease in the number of single-use loft bed kits used or an increase in the number of kits that were taken home by residents (in either case, this would be a win for waste reduction).

Volunteer sorting donations.

Volunteer sorting donations.

This effort involves a lot of planning, marketing and logistics. Donation bins and move-out kits are supplied to residents about three weeks prior to move-out and the majority of donations come in during finals week. During this peak time, we were so grateful to have 51 volunteers give over 160 hours of time to pick-up and sort donations! And special thanks also go out to our partners at UHDS for their continued role in the program and to all the residents who donated!

While a portion of the materials are resold at the OSUsed Store to cover the costs of the program, the majority are given to local non-profits. This year that included The Arc of Benton County, King Valley Charter School, Linn Benton Food Share and more. See a full list on our Donation Drive webpage.

Learn more about this history of the Move-Out Donation Drive on our history webpage.

The Res. Hall Move-out Donation Drive is an annual event coordinated by Campus Recycling in collaboration with Surplus Property and University Housing and Dining.

Yes, the OSUsed Store is open in summer!

June 28th, 2016

Shop at the OSUsed Store

That’s right – most classes may be out, but the OSUsed Store remains open throughout the summer during our standard store hours:

Public Sale Hours

The store is open to all shoppers on:

  • Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Fridays 12:00-3:00 pm

Learn more about public sales.

Dept./Government/Nonprofit Hours

Employees may shop for their OSU departments, government agencies and nonprofits:

  • Mondays – Thursdays at 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Learn more about shopping for your department.

About the OSUsed Store

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.

The OSUsed Store 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.

A view of the OSUsed Store.

A view of the OSUsed Store. Click to view larger.

Sustainability Alumni Profile: Dustin Quandt

June 27th, 2016

Here is another edition of our Alumni Profiles Project. What has Dustin been up to since graduating?

Meet Dustin Quandt, a 2011 Oregon State Alumni in Environmental Science. He was the very first student worker for the OSU Sustainability Office and worked as the Energy Audit Student worker.rsz_img_2601

During his time at OSU: Dustin was an Energy Audit student worker. He learned a lot about the intricacies that hold Oregon State together and how to work around that to make lasting changes. Dustin found it valuable to work with people invested in a building  or program in order to get things accomplished.

Since OSU: Dustin is now working as an AP Environmental Science teacher at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, MI. He has been doing many environmentally focused projects with his classes such as installing native plants around the high school campus, installing a boiswale, and partnering with the National Wildlife Federation to install pollinator habitats. Dustin is also revamping the greenhouse to use as a science lab for his course. Thanks to his experience working at the Sustainability Office, Dustin knows how to find his way through bureaucracy. Dustin family is also growing; they welcomed their son, Owen, into the world a year ago! Dustin chooses to lead by example for his students by bicycling to work, using reusable food containers, buying local, and cooking almost all their meals.

Thank you Dustin, for allowing us to peek into your world. We love seeing alumni continuing to take charge in new communities and maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

The Daily Barometer Goes by Bike By Logan Taylor

June 24th, 2016

Orange Media Network received a Project Grant from the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) in 2015-16 to purchase two cargo trikes to deliver The Daily Barometer in a more sustainable way. Orange Media has been and will continue utilizing cargo trikes for distribution in order to demonstrate our integrity and commitment to sustainability in line with SSI’s Climate Neutral 2025 initiative. Along with the implementation of trike delivery, The Daily Barometer conducted

twice a term delivery audits and adjusted its distribution accordingly.

ecologueFollowing our first audit Fall Term, we reduced the press run by 2,000 papers per day. We are striving to respond to the community at large, students, faculty, staff and community members, who have asked how we can be sustainable with a print medium. We strive to provide a news medium for the campus while also watching our carbon footprint. Delivering on trikes aligns holistically with social dimensions of sustainability since the trikes provide a healthy alternative to driving. The use of trikes allows any student to hold the delivery job regardless of whether they own their own vehicle.

The Sustainability Project Grant has increased collaborative efforts to building a sustainable future, sparking questions and promoting interest in sustainable alternatives across the greater campus community from students and faculty, as well as the rest of Beaver Nation.

Get your water Fresh from the Faucet at our new refill stations

June 20th, 2016

Thank you Olivia Fidler and Holly Robinson for the update on our water filtration stations and Fresh from the Faucet organization.

Fresh From the Faucet (FFtF) is a student-led initiative on the OSU main campus focusing on increasing the use of reusable water bottles, consumption of tap water, and decreasing the use of bottled water and sugar sweetened beverages. To increase access to filtered water bottle refill stations, FFtF applied for and received a Sustainability Project Grant from the Student Sustainability Initiative to install water filtration and bottle refill stations at 10 preexisting water fountains at the OSU main campus.FFtF photo

FFtF is excited to have the project well underway. So far, we have completed a water audit of campus detailing what buildings have access to filtered refill stations. A map of these results is currently being created by the OSU Sustainability Office.

From this project, we have learned the importance of positive working relationships and the amount of collaboration it takes to make such a project happen. We are fortunate to have very supportive collaborators. These connections have been highly valuable and will continue to be so in the future. In addition, we learned the value of being familiar with the environment in which we were working, the OSU campus. By cataloging the locations of all water fountains on campus, we were able to better identify where new refillable water bottle stations would receive the most use.

The hope of this project was to remove barriers between people and living a sustainable lifestyle by making tap water easily accessible. Fresh From the Faucet will continue its efforts in making OSU a place of health and sustainability for all.

Meet the #BeavsRecycle team!

June 16th, 2016

The #BeavsRecycle campaign is a movement that celebrates the high rates and long history of recycling at OSU. The campaign kicked off this last year on America Recycles Day, November 15, and was headed by the coordinators of the Waste Watchers, as well as two Waste Watcher volunteers. We spoke with the volunteers to see what got them on board:

Members of the BeavsRecycle committee are pictured.

The BeavsRecycle committee, pictured from left: Kyle Reed, Callie Limbaugh, Andrea Norris, Tyler Coleman, and Christine Melancon.

Q: What has been your favorite part of the #BeavsRecycle campaign this year?

Callie: My favorite part of the #BeavsRecycle campaign was talking to spokespeople and seeing that so many people on campus were not only willing to give their time to the campaign but that they were also passionate about recycling.

Q: Why did you join the campaign committee?

Christine: I joined the committee to meet new people who cared as much about the planet as I do, and to feel like I was having a positive impact on the OSU community.

Q: How did you get started recycling?

Callie: Since I was a little kid, my parents always took me with them to return cans, (yeah I was the annoying little kid at the can return.) It definitely had an impact on my future life and how I recycle.

Q: What would you like to see the campaign do in the future?

Christine: I would like to see the campaign grow to reach more people. I hope our events will be able to engage a lot of new people who aren’t as familiar with who we are and what we’re doing.

#BeavsRecycle is a campaign that celebrates the high rates and long history of recycling at OSU. The campaign is planned by the OSU Waste Watchers, a volunteer club run by Campus Recycling and the Student Sustainability Initiative.


Salem to Corvallis Valley Vanpool

June 15th, 2016

IMG_0018Need a great new option for vanpooling between Salem and Corvallis? There are now AM pick-up and PM drop-off locations in Salem, Monmouth and Corvallis.

Use the Valley Van Pool as an alternative to driving an individual vehicle when commuting! It is only $120/month for full time riders, and $135/month for part-time riders.


The AM pick-up locations are:

6:20 am Safeway, 1455 Edgewater Street NE, Salem

6:45 am Bi-Mart, 6:45 am 444 Pacific Avenue S, Monmouth

7:15am Hewlett-Packard, 1000 NE Circle Blvd., Corvallis

7:25am OSU, 530 NW 27th Street, Corvallis


The PM drop-off locations are:

4:30pm OSU, 530 NW 27th Street

4:45pm Hewlett-Packard, 1000 NE Circle Blvd.

5:05pm Bi-Mart in Monmouth, 444 Pacific Avenue S

5:30pm Safeway, 1455 Edgewater Street NW

Ride on!

Contact Morry McClintock for more info: work phone (503-910-1459), e-mail morry.mcclintock@ca.benton.or.us 

Sustainable Student Spotlight: Rikki Gibson

June 13th, 2016

Public transit is an easy way to reduce total emissions by reducing the amount of cars on the road. Corvallis offers free bus transit, and Oregon State Computer Science major, Rikki Gibson made an app that makes it even easier to skip the car, and ride the bus.

StaRikki Gibsonrting the summer of 2014, Rikki Gibson wrote the Corvallis Bus mobile (iOS, and Android) and web application. It’s a simple app for your phone that tells when your bus is arriving to your stop. You can save arrival times for your favorite stops. Rikki wanted a personal project, and he says, “after seeing existing apps and the website for finding bus arrival times, I had some ideas on how it could be easier to use.”

Convenience is an important concept for more sustainable actions. If it’s easy, people are more likely to take action! Rikki also sees his app as “a way to CorvallisBusScreen2save time waiting around at the bus stop or driving around campus or downtown looking for a place to park.” The app has been downloaded over 1500 times and Rikki personally knows several people who started riding the bus because the app made it more convenient to do so. Using the bus can also save money that would otherwise be spent on gas making it economically sustainable.

As technology keeps growing, we hope more people find sustainability related projects to get passionate about. Rikki hopes his app “helps people use fewer resources to get where they need to go.” All you need is your smart phone and a bus stop! Interested in creating an app that may reduce emissions, save electricity, or some other sustainability related service? Check out the OSU App Development Club!

Thank you Rikki, for proving a valuable service that encourages the Corvallis community to ride public transit!

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