Menlo College Launches Sustainability Task Force

Menlo College student Katrina Ford, ’15 had to do some explaining to bring the concept of a Sustainability Task Force to the College campus. The campus had an electric charging station for electric cars, and Zipcars to help students avoid owning cars, but there wasn’t a program to monitor plastic bottle usage, and recycling, or a developed plan to decrease utilities usage.

To initiate her cause, Katrina partnered with Angela Schmiede, Director of Internships at Menlo College, to create Menlo’s Sustainability Task Force (STF). Katrina’s first goal was to encourage students, faculty, and staff to ban the use of plastic bottles on campus. To help educate the campus community, she arranged a viewing of the documentary, “Tapped,” on campus that shows why plastic bottles are detrimental to health and the environment. In an effort to support the bottle ban, new filtered water dispensers were installed in several sites so that people can easily fill their own reusable bottles on campus. Katrina’s next project was to organize a group of students to refurbish a squadron of recycling bins. The campus also participated in a ‘lights out’ campaign on Earth Day to increase awareness of the impact of energy conservation.

Sustainability efforts have multiplied since spring as the facilities staff implemented projects including additional water stations, electrical light conversions that have led to a 25% reduction in the number of kilowatt hours used by the College, eco-friendly washing machines, low-flow dorm showerheads, and developed plans for a possible solar panel installation. The cafeteria ordered reusable “to go” boxes for lunches, and the parking staff created a bike pedaling incentive program. In addition, the College lessened its reliance on the public water supply by redirecting its well water for landscaping.

“This year, the students will create a sustainability club and create several educational initiatives to help reduce the use of water, energy, and other resources on campus,” said Dr. Schmiede. Katrina, an entrepreneurship major said, “One day, I’d like to help underprivileged students with an after-school program where mentors can enrich students’ lives by directing them to resources for college, jobs, and everyday life. Sustainability is a worthy outreach effort that not only fosters my dream but significantly impacts and inspires the community.”