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Friday, June 27, 2008

Sustainability at Art Center, what can we do?

What does this mean to students, faculty and staff?  Discuss tangible actions Art Center do to show an honest effort to this idea.
  • What are things that symbolize sustainability to you (for example, recycling bins)?
  • What are actions that people can do individually?
  • What are actions Art Center as an institution take?


A said...

Honestly, this should be pretty straightforward and seems to me the easiest problem to fix - there is no argument against it. It just has to be done.
-no more styrofoam. recyclable plastics or reusable flatware/silverware.
-recycling bins *everywhere*
-be aware of where our power is coming from and support sustainable power sources. putting solar cells on the roof is a great idea, let's move on that! what about wind turbines on the hill?
-offer incentives for students taking the bus (free maybe?), carpooling, or riding bikes
-stop watering in the middle of the day!
-install low-flow everything (toilets sinks etc)
-sell food scraps to a composter

simple things, easily done. let's get moving administration!

Anonymous said...

How about you all start bringing your own flatware and keep a bottle of Dawn in your locker so that you can wash them after use? The best way to be sustainable is to leave all of the utensils and plates and cups in the bins, regardless of what they're made of. Ask for a nickel discount for bringing your own plates.

Quit expecting everyone to hand stuff to you. Reduce your own footprint.

Jason said...

Hey Anon 9:33,

Thanks for contributing it's a great idea but hard to implement.

Plates will still have to be bought anyway so why not buy paper? Many students and faculty bring their own cups.

First of all a single styrofoam plate costs less than a nickel there for the incentive is quite low and the reward of being green is greater than getting a nickle back. Second, problem is that human behavior will prove this very difficult to implement.

Third is that we are supposed to be a world class sustainability leader which makes use as a whole look bad when we neglect such things.

W. Lee said...

It's good we're moving towards a sustainable campus.

Here are some general concerns that still need to be explored in relation to this subject:

1) Where I am from, recycling is not such a huge deal, and therefore, the education on such a subject is woeful. I must admit that I myself am not aware of what is recycled. For example do I scrape off my food scraps then deposit my styrofoam in the recyclibles outside?

2) More needs to be done to show where the recycling is at, and it needs to be relatively close to the general trashcans, not outside the lunchroom.

3) The school can reduce paper usage by a huge amount by converting their payroll systems and hiring paperwork to the computer. For example, I fill out about 7-10 pages of paperwork every term before I go and TA, and then have a one page (3 carbon) time sheet to fill out separately for every class I help.

4) Adequate timeframes and updates need to be provided on issues regarding not only sustainability but in general so that we can make sure we have the proper expectations.

4) More incentive needs to be given to ride the bus or carpool. To me the gas prices are enough as it is, however, the school should look into reduced bus fares/ passes, or getting us qualified as 'students' so that we receive the rightful fare on even the city bus systems.

Adequate time frames and updates need to be provided on issues regarding not only sustainability but in general so that we can make sure we have the proper expectations.

Anonymous said...

Jason wrote:

"Thanks for contributing it's a great idea but hard to implement."

Cop-out. You don't want to BE sustainable. You want to FEEL sustainable. Beige paper plates will make you feel better I suppose.

The best sustainability is to not generate the physical waste to begin with. The most radical environmental thinking is really the simplest.

Jason said...

You are correct I want to feel sustainable and many of the radical ideas are the simplest but also time consuming. We are even willing to pay for it because our free time is limited. In fact students already pay 60$ an hour for ACCD tuition and so why can't we demand our money be spent in accordance with the ACCD community values. I was trying to be realistic. Do you really think the majority is willing adopt a radical ways of dealing with sustainable issues? If so how do you motivate them?

I want to here more about your ideas that are simple. Tell us how your actions at school are making a smaller footprint I think it will be a true education for everyone reading this thread.

Anonymous said...

You could grab a cup and a plastic plate from home, hit the john after you're done with lunch and wash your stuff in the sink. You do pee, right? When you wash your hands, also wash your cup and plate. How much effort did that really take? Afraid of looking like an eco-geek in front of the photo chicks?

Everything starts with you, Jason. Show us your eco-determination. Good thinking is contagious. Throwing money at the problem does not solve the problem. It just makes you feel better about the problem until you are dead and the problem gets passed on to the next generation.

Jason said...

What is truely sustainable could go on for pages. But since you choose to be so self righteous and quite rude I will share with you why I believe what I said in an attempt to be constructive.

By the way do you realize you are feeding that power hungry server farm to make a very minor point that is not even I have disagreed with but I would call unrealistic?

3 minutes on Google and I can tell you that a paper plate non coated will cost less than 3 dollars more per 500ct.

I will tell you why I think it's better to spend an additional 400-700 dollars a year on paper plates rather than styro foam.

What your suggesting would:
A) increase water consumption significantly if adopted in full.
Even if we did have a proper dishwasher system would add thousands to the labor, water and energy bills of the school. How ever, it would send and much more valuable message than the styro foam I'm fore ceramic in the cafeteria and yes it will make me FEEL good.
B)Washing plates in a hand sink is unsanitary I'm telling you this as someone who has had to pass kitchen sanitation requirements in New York, Washington , Hawaii, California and New Zealand. Sinks that food items are cleansed in are disgusting and contribute to significant bacteria growth. A dirty sink in place where you should be cleansing your hands could potentially result in more health issues among students taxing a already lame health care system.
C)You idea for me personally is a waste of time(money)and is a departure from todays culture significantly that is not saying it is wrong just unrealistic.
D) How sustainable is 1400 students buying and consuming small bottles of dish soap?
E)Styrofoam generates more energy to produce than paper plates the cost is in the material.
F)Pumping and purifying water for the most inefficient cleansing process of washing individually in a sink is absurd and wasteful.
G)This would inevitable contribute to a bug problem if everyone keep food plates in their locker.

If we would stop purchasing styrofoam instead of paper tree farming could flourish and non biodegradable materials would loss money and hopefully go out of business.

What are you trying to accomplish being a antagonist or devils advocate?

Tell us how your actions at school are making a smaller footprint?

Anonymous said...

That does it. I'm scrapping my kitchen sink and dishwasher. I just can't win.

Anonymous said...


Quite honestly, I hope you're putting much more time into your Art Center work than into this blog! It's quite an investment and your time is really valuable...

NL said...

What about using regular plates and dishes in the cafeteria? This is common in European cafeterias. When you're done eating, you remove food items from the plates, and put your tray onto a rack for washing.

If it's done there, why is it 'financially impossible' here? Using water to wash dishes is by far better for the environment than producing an trucking tons of biodegradable plates..right?

Anonymous said...

True, why can't they just WASH real plates? It's done everywhere else !

Paper plates are not remotely sustainable, they are made with plant matter that needs to be cut down, processed, transported, distributed, then hauled back to a landfill. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Back to the backlash against design. Designers suck because they are also IGNORANT, especially about sustainability. The rap against designers is that they design CRAP that hurts the planet. That’s the argument. Let’s take your favorite toy, designed by one of today’s design gods, Jonathan Ive and his team at Apple—the iPod. Apple does fantastic things with materials. Amazing things. And it has recycling programs for its products. But what it doesn’t do is prioritize cradle-to-cradle design. It doesn’t design a long-cycle product that you can open and upgrade over time. It doesn’t design a process that encourages the reuse materials again and again. It doesn’t demand sustainability.

Seems like Art center is just following by example.

Anonymous said...

Being a conservationist means living a conservative lifestyle. Until you are truly ready to re-evaluate how how you eat, how you get places, what you use, what you buy, and how you live, you're not really a conservationist.

It has almost nothing to do with cups and plates (ok, well, a little, little bit).

If you're getting all bent out of shape over paper plates yet living a life of "excess" in most other regards, seriously, why not just quit now and preserve your personal sanity? You're either "in" or you are not in.

Anonymous said...

Washing plates is not possible with the current size and configuration of the cafe.

Would you like your tuition dollars going into remodeling the cafe to install a larger area in the kitchen and hiring more staff to wash the dishes?

... Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Bring and wash your own plate.

W. Lee said...

I'm very pleased with the current sustainability issues that the school has begun to implement. The system answers many of the questions that I had in regards to recycling food and waste.

In regards to other sustainable issues, - I think it's wrong to now split points as some are doing. An all or nothing mentality gets nothing done. I'm sorry but unfortunately the world and society works on baby steps. With continued emphasis on sustainability we will be doing more than most, which I agree is not completely enough, but does help begin (and I stress begin) to minimize our environmental footprint.

We should however continue to seek other alternatives to other forms of waste such as the gigantic paper trails of paperwork generated by the school. Most of this can be automated into a paperless system that once departments are educated on it will make their jobs substantially easier to do and cut down on paper waste.

Anonymous said...

"Washing plates is not possible with the current size and configuration of the cafe."

I have eaten at countless cafeterias that were 50% smaller and up to 2 times larger than Art Center's. The cafeteria is operated by Sodexo, a large, profitable company.

Your argument does not stand.

Anonymous said...

I think I just saw that the three different new waste bins in the cafeteria actually just get put back together and thrown away in the same outside trash bin before they get picked up? Is this true?

I also heard that the recent announced sustainability actions by the administration do not have enough funding to last and will be removed soon. Now that I think back, they never did explain how they suddenly came up with the money to pay for it. In the past they always said they could not do it because of cost. So I guess no surprise that they now do not have the money, and only wanted to APPEAR to pretend to listen to students.

Great, it appears to be yet another false promise by our schools leadership.

Anonymous said...

I suppose they could pay someone else big dollars to haul it all away in a truck and then do the same thing once they get it back to east-los. Will that make you feel any better?

Anonymous said...

I agree with NL, I have been in far smaller venues where ceramics and real utensils are used. AND that's what the folks on the other side of the cafeteria already use.

So we know dishwashing does happen.

Hire another dishwasher.

And there should be a public apology for the cheap shot of promising the community some real change in the cafeteria, publicizing it, and then going back on the promise--but only after using the promise for good publicity. It was shameful to treat/use the eco-council this way.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not in the materials, the cost, the labor or the space of washing the dishes.

The problem is that you have had the nerve to have expectations of the school's leadership. How dare you? If you were dealing with people that knew their responsibility to you, the school and the "right" thing to do, things would be different.

This is not the first time that the school has reacted to student demands by placing psuedo recycling canisters in the cafeteria. As soon as you pests move along and graduate, they'll get back to regular garbage cans again. Wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Sodexho is not going to pay for a renovation to include another dishwasher when this place is not really profitable, esp. now, with fewer students. Guess who would have to pay for it?

If you really want a reconfiguration of the cafe, ask the trustees to put your $ into that.

Is that how you want to spend your precious $?

Anonymous said...

anonymous said on 8/04...
"Sodexho is not going to pay for a renovation to include another dishwasher when this place is not really profitable, esp. now, with fewer students. "

I do not see how hiring another dishwasher would mean retooling the whole kitchen. It seems to me we have a whole lot of architects with less to do these days perhaps one of them could address the sink arrangement.

I am saddened by the negativity of this whole thread, and that clearly some (admin?) are clearly antagonistic to the whole idea of making the campus more responsible.

It is also disheartening that the larger campus doesn't know about this: no recycling! no composting! Nothing, no public statement addressing the backward movement on this issue.

Anonymous said...

"and that clearly some (admin?) are clearly antagonistic to the whole idea of making the campus more responsible."

They are not antagonistic about responsibility. They are antagonistic about having to make changes brought about by people other than themselves. They'd shoot their own foot rather than give in to you, as a matter of principle.

Anonymous said...

And is it not funny how when they are talking about dishwashing equipment and plates, money is in desperately short supply.

Yet when they discuss transporting themselves to Barcelona or some other vacation destination, suddenly those expendatures become "Investments in the future".

Being an Art Center administrator is a fantastically cushy deal in life. Few people get to have such nice economic securities. The pay is pretty good, certainly enough to support a family in L.A. The travel opportunity is there and ( unless you break from the administrative culture) your job is typically a job for life. If you can crack into the upper ecehelon at Art Center, you can actually relax when you go home at night.

Frank said...

Disposable paper towels in the bathrooms are horrendous. Not only do they need to be purchased, transported, installed, trashed and disposed of, then trucked to a landfill.

BUY ELECTRIC AIR DRYERS, they are a lot better on the environment.

Anonymous said...

When I was a student there, I remember the management [types] using the exorbitant utility bills as one reason for higher tuition expenses.... To that I responded why not put some awnings on the west facing widows.... Well, that never happened...