University of Minnesota Duluth
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University of Minnesota Duluth
UMD Sustainability

Summer is here!

While it might still be a little grey outside, Summer is in full swing! The end of Spring Semester is always a little hectic around the Office of Sustainability as we celebrate Earth Month all April long. This year, we focused on reducing waste. More specifically, we looked at reducing waste in three areas: food, energy, and in daily living.

You might have seen our tweets with tips to reduce energy or our awesome interns in the food court helping to educate students on where their plates and wrappers from lunch should go.


You also might have seen a few very pretty pictures floating around Instagram with the hashtag #myfavoriteplace17. We wanted to see your pictures of your favorite place on Earth. Here is April’s winner, junior Carly Christensen!


When zero-ing in on food,  our first thoughts went to our friends at UMD Dining. Did you know that aside from the small amount of food that goes uneaten (which is pulped and sent to composting), Superior Dining is waste free? In order to help reduce the amount of food that gets sent to the pulper, Dining has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank so uneaten pans of food to others who will eat it. Most importantly, there is an effort to forecast the amount of food that will be consumed during each meal. Not only does this help cut down the leftover food, but costs and prep time as well, making the entire process more efficient. In order to get as close as possible to achieving this goal, extensive data is kept on the number of students eating each meal, the number of pans of a certain dish previously produced, and the number of people who elect to eat the dish. This data is based on a six week food schedule. Other factors such as the weather and point in the semester (how close it is to finals, for example) are all taken into consideration as well. The process has come down to a certain science and is usually as accurate as one pan away!


Behind the scenes throughout the summer, the kitchen is working on taking all of that fresh organic produce from the UMD SAP Farm and preserving it until students are back on campus in the Fall. There are a number of ways the kitchen goes about this. This first is just regular old cleaning and freezing to vegetables. This method works particularly well with vegetables like squash. In addition to this, Dining uses methods like flash freezing. Not only does this preserve the produce, but additionally keeps it fresh.



During the second week of April, we wanted to give you some helpful tools to reduce energy in your life. Did you know that in each light bulb, only 10% of the energy is actually used to produce light, the other 90% of the energy just creates heat. Purchasing CFLs or LEDs instead of old incandescent bulbs may seem kind of expensive, but you could save up to $70 in annual energy costs by replacing your 5 most frequently used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified bulbs! What a payback!



During Earth Week, the third week of April, we focused on everyday waste. What better way focus on this topic than to dig through your waste? A couple of brave students partnered with a Sustainable Management class to conduct a trash audit in LSBE. Here is what they found: in the 155.8 total pounds analyzed, 36% was compostable, 24% recyclable, and 40% trash. This means that more than half of the waste headed to the landfill from LSBE alone could be diverted. The main barriers to action are the lack of recycling and compost bins in classrooms and offices as well as a need for more education.

Earth has no time to waste

April 17, 2017Brinda DewanUncategorizedComments Off on Earth has no time to waste

April at the Office of Sustainability means Earth Month. This year we are using the theme “Earth Has No Time To Waste”. Throughout the month, we will be highlighting some of the different ways that we as a campus and you as an individual can reduce waste in food, energy, and in general. Every week, we will be giving out prizes to help you accomplish your waste reduction goals and all you have to do is add your photo of your favorite place on earth to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, tag us and use the hashtag #myfavoriteplace17. So stay tuned and don’t forget to show us your favorite place on Earth for Earth Month!

This week is waste reduction week!

Fact #1: Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year and  only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling.

What you can do: Bring reusable bags and containers when shopping, traveling, or packing lunches or leftovers. Choose products that are reusable, or refillable over single-use items.


Fact #2: Clothing and household textiles currently make up 5.2% of the waste in landfills. The average lifetime of a cloth is approximately 3 years and if the average life of clothing was extended by just three months, it would reduce by five to ten percent their carbon and water footprints, as well as waste generation.

What you can do: Consider choosing used clothes. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.


Fact #3: Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic beverage bottles every hour!

What you can do: Use reusable water bottles. Not only will you save a of money by switching to reusable water bottles, you will be throwing a lot less empty (and unempty, for that matter) water bottles into the trash.


Fact #4: Infinitely recyclable and highly durable, nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today. Aluminum is 100 percent recyclable and retains its properties indefinitely. Over 75% of all aluminum foil produced in the United States is used for food packaging and much of that ends up the local landfills.


What you can do: One of the easiest ways to save energy and money is to reuse that old aluminum foil.  Instead of balling it up and tossing in the trash, lay it flat and wash it with soap and water.  Don’t forget that aluminum foil is also dishwasher safe, so just place it on the top shelf when running a load and you will be left with clean reusable foil sheets.  You can reuse foil sheets time and again, saving you money from having to purchase new supplies.

Behind the Scenes: REC Sports Gyms

April 13, 2017Cassandra OrtbergEnergy, Featured, Green BuildingComments Off on Behind the Scenes: REC Sports Gyms

In honor of energy waste week, here’s a glimpse of how UMD is implementing energy efficient technologies around campus!

17918255_1525881390765103_1046757532_nDuring March, two of the REC sports gyms got a facelift. Thirty-two inefficient light fixtures were replaced with new energy efficient LEDs. Before the fixtures used 400 watt bulbs for a total of 12,800 watts, now they use 150 watt bulbs reducing the total electricity usage to 4,800 watts. That’s electricity savings of 63%!

In addition to using more efficient bulbs, dimming and occupancy sensors were installed to save even more energy. In one gym, the lights will dim to 40% after 10 minutes and turn off completely after another three minutes. In the other gym, the lights dim to 40% after 10 minutes and stay dimmed. Facilities Management is doing a trial to determine which system people seem to like better. 

So if you walk in and the gyms are dark, wave your hands and know that UMD is working on energy efficiency!

UMD Sustainability
The UMD Sustainability website is administered by the University of Minnesota Duluth's Office of Sustainability.
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