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Sustainability Events

On-Campus Events:
Aquinas Economicology Forum
"Environmental Learning in the Anthropocene" by Dr. Mitchell Thomashow
Aquinas College, Wege Ballroom, Wege Student Center
Monday, July 20, 7:30 P.M.

The environmental field is dramatically changing, and Thomashow's presentation will explore how it requires a new iteration of curricular leadership, a new generation of practitioners, and new approaches by colleges and universities. The discussion will include the role of the liberal arts, especially the humanities, a reconceptualization of environmental science, and the foundational concepts that should be at the core of environmental learning.

The Economicology Initiative at Aquinas has been funded by a generous grant from the Wege Foundation. The lecture is free and open to the public

Dr. Mitchell Thomashow is the author of the Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (2014), Bringing the Biosphere Home (2002), and Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist (1995). From 2011-2015 Thomashow was the Director of the Presidential Fellows Program at Second Nature. Thomashow previously served as president of Unity College in Maine and Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University.
Off-Campus Events:

Care of God's Creation: The Greening of Catholicism
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 7-8:45pm
Location: Catholic Information Center: 360 Division Avenue S, Suite 2A, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The seventh theme of Catholic Social Teaching symbolizes an advance in official teaching on the environment. This theme offers us a "human ecology" where material nature is inhabited and seen as a gift of the Creator. Dr. Marko will discuss the rich writings of Pope Benedict XVI and his "green" theological vision on the environment. If Pope Francis' awaited encyclical on the environment is available, we will also explore the effects of abuse of material creation on the poor. Dr. Robert Marko is professor and Chair of Theology at Aquinas. A U.S. Fulbright Scholar who teaches Catholic social ethics. Robert has grown to see environmental concerns in light of human ecology, the glory of creation and the question of justice. Please register by calling 616-459-7267 or visit

AASHE 2015

Date: October 25-28, 2015

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo, themed Transforming Sustainability Education, will convene a diverse group of campus representatives including faculty, students, sustainability officers, staff, administrators and presidents together with business, non-profit, government and community members for a sustainable celebration. In the “City by Nature,” a culturally and historically diverse place for thousands of years located on the Dakota homelands, with exquisite green spaces and a cosmopolitan urban culture, we will gather for a look back and into the future to examine:

  • How higher education institutions can come together to lead campus and community transformation on local, regional and global levels
  • How we can work across disciplines and cultures to lead the charge on identifying educational strategies and solutions for advancing campus and community sustainability efforts
  • How we can create learning and teaching opportunities that allow students and community members to work together on current environmental, social and economic issues

Expected to draw approximately 2,100 participants, AASHE’s annual conference remains the largest stage in North America for sharing effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions which advance sustainability in higher education and beyond.

To watch videos of previous Economicology events, click here (ELM login required)

Sustainability News Community garden fits Aquinas mission and provides daily veggies for students, staff

The Aquinas College Community Garden was recently featured on >Read More

Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building awarded LEED Silver Certification
 Aquinas College’s new Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building has recently been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC uses LEED certification to designate the world’s greenest, energy-efficient and high-performing buildings.

The 70,000-square-foot athletic space was designed and constructed in collaboration by Integrated Architecture and Rockford Construction. Construction began in November 2013 and was completed in October 2014. >Read More
Aquinas ranks high on the Princeton Review list >Read the GRBJ article
The Princeton Review released its sixth-annual “Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition” this month, recognizing Aquinas College among the top colleges with exceptional commitments to sustainability. The educational opportunities and sustainability initiatives at over 2,000 colleges were reviewed and 353 college and universities made the cut. Noteworthy Aquinas programs that contributed to our ranking include the zero waste initiative, local food purchasing, LEED buildings, and others. >View the Guide
April is Energy Month! >Download the poster

Starting tomorrow April 1st the Aquinas College is launching into energy month. Join us in taking time to be considerate of energy usage. Look for posters of our energy campaigns “Be Bold, Wash Cold”, “Flip the Switch”, and “Don’t Standby: Unplug”. Taking simple steps and making small choices can create a difference!

Related to these initiatives is a competition for the apartments to reduce energy. We will be analyzing both electric and natural gas usage. The apartment with the greatest percent decrease in energy is eligible to be entered into a drawing to win a “chill” prize.

Follow the events regarding energy and sustainability through the course of the month!

Give Your Opinion of the Community Garden
Consider taking this garden survey to have a stake in this fruitful part of campus. Click here to take the survey. You must have an ELM password to take the survey.
Make Your Own Terracycle Box
Want to help AQ reach zero waste by 2014? Start by making a personal Terracycle collection box! Download and print out the label, and start collecting everyday waste such as snack bags and candy wrappers. When your box is full, simply empty it at your nearest Terracycle station!
Results of the Community Garden vote at Homecoming
At Aquinas' homecoming, you were asked to vote on the next crop to incorporate into our community garden. The options were: Strawberries, Potatoes, and Squash and the voting results from Homecoming are in! The winner was Strawberries by a long shot, with 301 votes. Potatoes came in second with 87 votes and squash in third with 38 votes. Spring can't be here soon enough.
Zero Waste Success at Homecoming
The zero waste team was busy at Homecoming 2014 (September 27) to help alums properly sort waste during campus activities. Because of their hard work, we achieved a 90% diversion rate (by weight). Congrats AQ and a big thank you to all volunteers!
RecycleMania 2014: AQ is Best in the State

Over the last two months RecycleMania has been taking place at Aquinas as well as on college campuses across the country. During this year’s 14th annual national tournament, 461 schools participated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. That represents more than 5.3 million students and over 1.2 million faculty and staff!


Schools competed in 11 categories to see which institution can:

  1. Recycle the most paper, cardboard, cans/bottles, and food waste on a per capita basis;
  2. Produce the least amount of waste; and
  3. Recycle the largest percentage of their overall waste stream.


The top category, Grand Champion, combines trash and each of the core recyclable materials to determine a school’s recycling rate as a percentage of its overall waste generation.

The results for this year are in:

  • National Grand Champion Ranking: Aquinas took seventh place. (In 2013, Aquinas took 78th place.)
  • State of Michigan Grand Champion Ranking: Aquinas took first place. (In 2013, Aquinas took second place.) We competed against Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Albion College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Kendall College of Art and Design, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Western Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College.

Great job Aquinas faculty, staff and students! We applaud your effort in working to recycle, compost and use the special collections on campus. Continue to be selective about your waste stream and help us reach our goal of Zero Waste by 2014. To view AQ’s performance in other RecycleMania categories, visit

Greener Grads: Donate Your Gown
Join Greener Grads in our goal to recover, repurpose and reuse one million graduation gowns this year. Together we can reduce the mass production and breathe new life into old gowns. Donate your gown after graduation, and we will make sure it gets a new life, stays out of the landfill and keeps our planet healthy and green. It may seem like a small contribution to you, but every gown counts.

A collection bin will be in place at Aquinas’ graduation ceremony, but you can also drop off your gown anytime to the Center for Sustainability (AB 255). Learn more here.

AQ Featured in Princeton Review
We are pleased to report that Aquinas College was selected for inclusion in the 2014 edition of “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.” This one-of-a-kind resource -- published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council - is the only free, comprehensive guide that focuses solely on colleges that have demonstrated a notable commitment to sustainability. Check it out!
AQ Community Garden

There is a new location for the community garden! It is now located east of the AMC. The goal is to have two, 4x8 ft raised beds managed in square foot gardening style.  A Square Foot Garden does not use any fertilizer or have any weeds because one type of plant is grown within a square foot, and the soil mixture used does not contain weed seed. Also the raised beds allow people who have difficulties tending a regular garden, an opportunity to garden easier.

Gardens are a great use of land area. They filter rainwater, restore oxygen to the air, and provide a place to put your compost. Community gardens provide an opportunity to meet new people and build relationships in a relaxed environment, because gardening is a form of stress relief!

We are looking for committed garden volunteers, who are able to spend one day a week (Monday – Friday) to help water and weed the garden throughout the summer. Ideally, we will have two volunteers scheduled for each week day (i.e. 2 every Monday, 2 every Tuesday, etc…). You can complete your garden work anytime during the day, and it should not take more than 30 minutes to an hour. If you have any interest in being a “serious” garden volunteer and committing to at least 30 minutes each week, please send a confirmation email to Jessica Eimer at indicating: How many hours per week you plan to volunteer, as well as possible days and times of the week that you are able to work in the garden.

Important Volunteer Notes: 1. Volunteers must gain approval from their supervisors, if they are volunteering during their shifts. 2. Staff/Faculty members can work on the garden during normal business hours, but they cannot be officially on college time. Hourly employees must punch out, and all employees are still expected to complete their weekly hours.

AQ Bike Auction
Do you have a bike that you no longer want? Here is your chance to get rid of it. The Aquinas College Campus Safety online bike auction will once again be open to all staff, faculty and students. However, this year you have the opportunity to bring your old or unused bike in and have it auctioned off. There will be a $5 entry fee for every bike you wan tin the auction, but all money made on the bike will go directly to you. This is your chance to clean out the garage, she or porch and finally get rid of that bike no one rides. Bike condition is not important, all bikes will be sold "as is" and may be inspected by potential buyers. For more info or to sign up you rbike, please e-mail Ryan at or call (616) 632-2449. This year's online auction will take place from April 21 - May 2 on the Campus Safety website. All bikes must be entered into the auction by Friday, April 11 at 4 p.m. Don't miss out on this wonderful opportunity.
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