PHOTOS: Eco Style Fashion Show

On Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day, Montgomery County Community College Public Relations student Katrina Lundy coordinated an Eco Style Fashion Show in the Parkhouse Hall Atrium at the College’s Central Campus. The event featured students modeling sustainable outfits from Plato’s Closet, Willow Grove, and from the College’s Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore.

RecycleMania Results: Montgomery Excels in Waste Minimization

RM_logo_2013by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College  finished the national 2014 RecycleMania competition with some promising numbers.

For the second consecutive year, the College placed second among all higher education institutions in Pennsylvania in the competition’s Waste Minimization category, collecting 17.248 pounds of combined trash and recycling per capita. Nationally, MCCC ranked 11th in Waste Minimization among public two-year colleges and 22nd overall.

In the Per Capita Classic category, MCCC finished ninth among public two-year institutions nationally, with 4.658 pounds of recycling per capita. This positioned the College as 20th in Pennsylvania and 279th overall.

In the Grand Champion category, MCCC scored a 27.002 percent cumulative recycling rate, positioning it eighth in Pennsylvania, 14th among public two-year institutions, and 142nd overall.

Montgomery collected a cumulative 37,390 pounds of recycling—an eight percent increase over 2013, ranking it 11th among public two-year institutions nationally, 14th in Pennsylvania, and 249th overall in the Gorilla Prize category

RecycleMania is an eight-week nationwide competition, held Feb. 2 through March 29, during which colleges and universities competed to see who could reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste. MCCC has participated for seven consecutive years.

According to the U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), MCCC’s recycling efforts during the competition resulted in a greenhouse gas reduction of 63 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E), which is translates to the energy consumption of five households or the emissions of 12 cars.

MCCC was among the first institutions in the country to sign American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007. The College’s sustainability efforts are led by a team of faculty, students, administrators, support staff, alumni and community members that comprise the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council.

To learn more about the College’s Sustainability Initiative, visit its Think Green blog.

To learn more about RecycleMania or to view the full list of results, visit recyclemaniacs.org.

Eco Style Fashion Show Presents Sustainable Fashion 2014

by Katrina Lundy

eco-fashion-organic-fashion-fashion-trend-that-eco-friendly-590x600What are you wearing? Youthful, sporty, and ecologically conscious is the look for 2014.

On April 22 from noon-2 p.m., Montgomery County Community College will hold its first fashion show featuring sustainable outfits from Plato’s Closet, Willow Grove, and the Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore.

Students will strut the runway in the ParkHouse Hall atrium at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell as they showcase Eco Style fashions. The event is free and is open to the public.

Sustainable fashion, also called eco fashion, is part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of environmentalism and social responsibility. At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, and 25 percent of the world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment.

According to Vogue, sustainable fashion appears to be a long-term trend for any season. In 2014, sustainable fashion is available for all ages in every style.  For example, MCCC’s Campus Bookstore carries a sustainable line of athletic clothing by Champion.  The bookstore will offer a 15 percent discount on the day of the fashion show to anyone who buys sustainable fashion.

Come out and support Earth Day with faculty, staff, students, family and friends to create awareness about Eco Style fashions and the Sustainability Initiative at Montgomery County Community College.

VOTE: ‘Cooking Green Cuisine’ Video National Award Finalist

2014CLAs-380 copyby Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College is a finalist for Second Nature’s 2014 Climate Leadership Award and needs the community’s help!

While the award itself is based on a formal application and supporting data, Second Nature is hosting a supplemental popular vote video contest, for which MCCC is one of 15 contestants nationally, and is the only one from Pennsylvania. Individuals can vote daily (one vote daily per IP address) through April 15. Winning videos will receive national media play throughout the year.

To view and vote for MCCC’s video, visit planetforward.org/idea/cooking-green-cuisine.

NOTE — Please vote from computers and mobile devices that are NOT connected to the College’s wireless network. All votes from the College network will only count as one vote.

MCCC’s video, “Cooking Green Cuisine,” focuses on the Landfill-Free initiative at its new Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. The Culinary Arts Institute partners with Sustainable Waste Solutions (SWS), of Souderton, to convert all waste—trash, recycling and food trimmings—into energy or materials.

To learn more about this, and other green initiatives at the College, visit mc3green.wordpress.com.

Honors Program Students Chew on Topic of Sustainable Food

by Paul Goraczko, Think Green Correspondent 

VegetablesAs far as college courses go, ‘The Geography of Food: Fast, Slow, Global, Local, Policies, Politics, Economics, Energy, Sustainability, Culture and You,’ is a full-course meal.

Assistant Professor of Geography Wayne Brew jokes that his Honors Colloquium may very well be the longest course title that Montgomery County Community College has to offer, but he ensures it is for a good reason.

“It’s because the goal of the course was to really focus on the issues around food,” Brew said.

And whether we realize it or not, there are a lot of issues and concerns that arise with the agricultural system: sustainability, environmental degradation, government agriculture subsidies, the explosion of the fast food industry, and even health problems caused by the food we consume (to name a few).

Brew’s desire to discuss these issues with students stemmed from another class that is offered at the College. The class, entitled “Food & Culture,” was co-taught by a nutritionist and a geographer and allowed students to learn about how culture plays a role in the cuisines of various civilizations around the world.

While teaching “Food & Culture,” Brew found himself wanting to discuss the issues of food more and more, but found it deviated from the intent of the “Food & Culture” course.

Thus, when Brew was given the chance to design a one-credit honors colloquium in 2009, he took advantage of the opportunity to develop a course that dealt with the issues surrounding food production.

Brew wanted students to understand that we have a global food system that is probably not sustainable.

“The evidence is pretty clear that what we’re doing right now is not sustainable and we have to figure out ways to make it sustainable,” Brew said.

Brew acknowledged that the transition from a highly industrialized agriculture dependent on large amounts of fossil fuels to a more sustainable system would be difficult, but is wholly necessary.

“One of the unsustainable parts of this agriculture is that it’s so dependent on oil,” Brew said. “Oil drives the whole process. It takes ten calories of oil energy to make one calorie of edible food. As oil becomes more scarce and expensive, how are we going to continue to support systems that are based on oil?”

Students in the colloquium were faced with tough questions like these on a regular basis.

To ensure students remained invested in these discussions, Brew made sure that the course remained student-centered. Therefore, Brew ended the course title with “and You.”

“The last thing I ended it with is ‘you,’ because I have the students keep a food diary throughout the course,” Brew said.

The diary requires students to write down what they eat throughout the day.

Brew ensures students that this diary is not so he can critique them, but so they can have an awareness of what they are eating and can see where their food is coming from.

“I keep a food diary along with them and it’s helpful for me,” Brew said. “Every time I do that, I take something new away from it, based on a pattern I see or something I think I could improve upon.”

At the end course, students were asked to reflect upon their diets in a reaction paper.

The students used resources such as Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan, along with many other articles that focused upon food issues, policies, and sustainability to inform their reaction papers.

Brew says these books give students an eye-opening look at food production in the United States.

He also supplemented these readings with the screening of two films.

The first, “Food Inc.,” is a 2008 documentary that examines and critiques corporate farming in America in what Brew describes as a “horror story approach.”

The second, “King Corn,” is a 2007 documentary that spotlights the role government subsidies play in the production of corn in America.

Other highlights of the course include two mapping projects.

The first mapping project requires students to look at how many fast food restaurants and convenience stores there are within the two-mile radius surrounding their house.

Students then read articles on “junk food geography”—meaning very poor urban or rural areas where the access to healthy food is very limited due to limited budgets or geographical restraints—and come to have a greater understanding of the food options offered to their communities.

The second project requires students to map out a supermarket of their choice. They have to document the layout, take pictures, draw a map and answer questions related to the store’s floor plan.

The project helps students to see that supermarkets are tactically designed to lead consumers to make certain decisions.

In the class’ final meeting, students learned more about locally sourced food and shared a meal that was made entirely from locally sourced food suppliers.

Chef David Green, Chef and Food Service Manager with CulinArt at the College’s Central Campus, prepared the food, which consisted of locally sourced chicken and vegetables including carrots, potatoes, and salad greens.

Chef Green led a discussion with the students in which he described the many changes he has made over the years to make the food services at the college more sustainable.

“He does amazing things,” Brew said. “He is a great spokesman for many of the things that I talk about in the course and he’s the person that actually practices these things by trying to buy all his foods locally, which is not cheaper, but is better quality and supports sustainable and organic farms.”

Overall, Brew hopes students who take the course will ultimately question the policies and politics behind food production in America.

To ensure that they start thinking more about these policies, Brew asks students to take one of the problems identified during the course and look into possible solutions for it, including systematic policy changes or economic shifts that would improve our food systems by making them more sustainable.

Brew said these papers are often the highlight of the course for him, because of the realizations, thinking, and ideas that students exhibited.

Click here to learn more about the Honors Program at the College.

College Gears Up for 2014 RecycleMania Tournament

RM_logo_2013by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) will once again take part in RecycleMania, a nationwide tournament among colleges and universities designed to increase student awareness of campus recycling and waste minimization.

After finishing second in Pennsylvania in the Waste Minimization category during the 2013 challenge – collecting 15.292 pounds of combined trash and recycling per capita – MCCC expects to maintain momentum in this, its seventh consecutive year of competing.

Pre-season practice weeks are held from Jan. 19-Feb. 1. Then, the official competition kicks off on Feb. 2 and extends eight weeks to March 29.

During the program, campuses compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, thelargest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita or have the highest recycling rate. Final results will be announced on April 11.

In 2013, 523 colleges comprising 3.5 million staff and students recycled and/or composted 90.8 million pounds of waste.  In addition, Recyclemania 2013 resulted in a reduction of 121,436 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2E).  Of the totals, MCCC contributed 34,132 pounds of recycling and averaged 4.252 pounds of recycling per person each week.

According to the U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), MCCC’s recycling efforts during the competition resulted in a greenhouse gas reduction of 48 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E), which translates to the energy consumption of four households or the emissions of nine cars.

RecycleMania is made possible through the sponsorship support of Alcoa, SCAThe Coca Cola Company, Keep America Beautiful, and the American Forest & Paper Association. Additional program support is provided by the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise programCampus Conservation Nationals, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology program.

Check out MCCC’s Think Green blog at mc3green.wordpress.com for RecycleMania stats and updates.

To learn more about the RecycleMania 2014 competition, visit recyclemaniacs.org.

Culinary Arts Institute Goes ‘Landfill Free’

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College’s brand new Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) became the institution’s first “Landfill-Free Enterprise” when it opened in August 2013. The CAI partners with Sustainable Waste Solutions (SWS), of Souderton,  to convert all waste — trash, recycling and food trimmings — into energy or materials.

“Sustainability is so important in the food industry, especially since we produce so much waste,” explained Chef Instructor and CAI Business Manager John De Pinto.

For waste that can be recycled, SWS employs single-stream advanced techniques to increase the rate of materials that are actually recycled, eliminating  byproduct waste that may end up in the landfill.

For materials that cannot be recycled, SWS employs Energy-from-Waste or Waste-to-Energy processes, which create energy, typically in the form of electricity, from the combustion of solid waste.

SWS also transforms 100% of the CAI’s food scraps — including meats and high fat foods that typically cannot be composted — into agricultural compost through a scientific process that complies with government regulations regarding disease control and ground water pollution. In addition all of the CAI’s cooking grease collected and transformed into biofuel.

Check out a short video tour of College’s brand new Culinary Arts Institute below!