Sustainability Happenings this Fall

September 22, 2021
OSI student interns promote sustainability at the 2021 student engagement fair.

Over a thousand first-year students arrived on campus earlier this month for Welcome Days 2021, a fun-filled week of comprehensive educational and social activities. 

As students began their orientation to life as Tommies, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives had the opportunity to reach nearly every member of the class of 2025 to convey an important message: We need everyone’s help to achieve the ambitious sustainability goals in the university’s new strategic plan, St. Thomas 2025, and to create a better world for present and future generations. 

The Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) partnered with several departments to implement Welcome Days programming and experiences that engaged all first-year students in the university’s sustainability efforts. At the Welcome Days Sustainability Session on September 5, OSI delivered an interactive presentation to all first-years, featuring information about our carbon neutrality goal, waste reduction initiatives, how to live sustainably on campus, how to get involved in academic and extra-curricular sustainability opportunities, and more. 

Student interns with OSI also hosted two “Scrape Your Plate” events in the View to educate students about the negative impacts of food waste. Between the two events, the interns counted a total of 574 clean plates, though they also recorded over 113 pounds of food waste. Everyone has an important role to play in reducing campus food waste and returning a clean plate in the dining halls. OSI interns also tabled at the Student Engagement Fair and “trash talked” at the community picnic to help people properly sort their waste and minimize contamination in the recycling and compost bins. 

Though Welcome Days is over, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives’ commitment to engage a broad and diverse group of students in campus sustainability efforts has only just begun for the school year. The office is excited to work with a team of undergraduate and graduate students in the Student Sustainability Leadership Program (SSLP), which is running for the third time this semester. The student leaders are working hard to plan events, collaborate with other campus departments and student organizations, and provide peer education on sustainability initiatives. 

Events and initiatives taking place this fall: 

  • Bike to Breakfast: Tuesday, September 28, 8-10am 
    • Did you know that St. Thomas has secure bike parking in the Anderson Parking Facility, bike tune-up stations, year-round bike storage, and numerous bike racks across campus? Ride your bike to campus on Tuesday, September 28 to receive free breakfast, learn about biking at St. Thomas, and get your bike tuned up for the fall! 
  • Home Energy Workshop: Wednesday, September 29, 6-7:30p 
    • Join OSI, Off Campus Student Life, and Minnesota's Center for Energy and Environment for a workshop on how to reduce your energy bills and environmental footprint! 
  • Request a compost bin: 
    • Students who live on campus can fill out this form to receive a free compost bin for their residence hall room! Free compostable bin liners are available in several locations on campus or upon request from facilities. Help St. Thomas reduce waste! 
  • Reusable to-go containers at T’s 
    • You can now request your food in a reusable to-go container at T’s! Just purchase a coin for $4.99 from the cashier, ask for your food in an OZZI container, drop the coin in the box at the station, enjoy your meal, and return the container in exchange for your coin back. Once you purchase a coin once, you can use your container all year long!
  • Reusable bags at Campus Stores: 
    • Now through the end of September, you will receive a free, reusable bag with any purchase at the campus stores. Campus stores will also be incorporating discounts for using a reusable bag throughout the school year. Stay tuned on the Campus Stores’ instagram!
  • Scrape Your Plate Events in the View 
    • Student sustainability leaders will continue to host Scrape Your Plate events at the View this semester. Be sure to return a clean plate to help St. Thomas reduce food waste! 
  • Trash Talking at large campus events 
    • Student sustainability leaders will also attend large upcoming events, including campus football games, to “trash talk” and help people properly sort waste. 
  • Sustainability Liaison program with Residence Life
    • OSI is also excited to expand its partnership with Residence Life this year! Several student sustainability leaders will act as sustainability liaisons to residence life to promote sustainability efforts in residence halls, including our new Guide to Sustainable Living. 

The Office of Sustainability Initiatives is looking forward to an exciting and busy year, and we hope to see you at our upcoming events this semester!