Category Archives: Campus Sustainability News

Sustainability and Campus Dining

Welcome Back!  By now Bearcat Commons has been up and running for several days, so I’d like to explain some of the measures the University has taken to make that operation more sustainable.  You may have noticed the incredible renovations that have taken place not only in the Union, but the Station and Library as well.  Facility’s Hardscape team really has their work cut out for them, adapting the compost program and continuing to strive for Zero Waste.

“Man those plates are small.”  Is a quote I heard Thursday as I took measurements for the new compost signage in the Commons.  All the better to go trayless… meaning that while it is a little less convenient, that set up has an important effect.  No more trash; in fact, everything that comes from the Commons can now be composted. (Empty your cups, scrape your plates into the designated food scrap hole, and drop your silverware in its hole.)  Will the overall operation require the use of more water?  Yes; however, Aramark Higher Education reported as much as a 25-30% reduction in food waste per person on campuses where dining trays were removed.

Welcome Starbuck’s to Owens Library.  That’s right, the international coffee powerhouse is the center of our library’s brand new “Novel Grounds”.  They are working tirelessly to reduce the environmental impact of their operations worldwide, so we look forward to helping them meet their goals right here at Northwest Missouri State University.  We will be doing our best to capture all the waste produced at what is probably the coolest venue on campus… Sorry Papa John’s.  Which by the way is now located in the Station.

OK, there is way more to sustainability than waste management, but its important for you, students and stake holders, to know that we are working to hold up our end, before we ask you to participate.  Please recycle, and take the time to make environmental stewardship part of your daily routine.

Good Luck with Classes, It’s great to have you back!!


No, that is not a typo, it’s the direction we all need to go.

As we work to make our future a “Green” one, I often wonder why my Grammy’s dresser was so small? (seems that 4 drawers was more than enough)  Why in her modest rural Pennsylvania house, the Ben Franklin quote,  “everything has a place, everything in its place” wasn’t just a cross-stitched saying on the wall?  Why did the depression era farm girl turned wartime cabby, mother, wife of a cross country trucker and teamster leader, small business owner, and pillar of her community still lived in a house not much larger than my first “real apartment”?  Why did she keep a big enough garden to can for the entire year well into her Sixties?  There are probably a dozen nifty little sayings I heard when visiting over the years, like “Better bellies bust than vittles go to waste”, and “Waste not, want not”.  I’m pretty sure I never heard my grandmother use the words “waste diversion”, “organics”, “re-purpose”, or “environmental stewardship”; probably because it was already her reality.

It is important that we recognize the folks that continue to improve our world by making things work. The following is an excerpt from Northwest’s 2013 State Recycling Award nomination:

 in 2011, Northwest Facility Services was approached by students to address the large amount of food waste being sent to the landfill  [The University Hardscape Team] modified a dumpster and constructed a tipper for the dining staff to [dump into] with scrap metal and salvaged equipment from the University farm.  In order to process the large amounts of food collected[They] recovered and modified/rebuilt an out of service feed wagon to mix and lay out the composting windrows [To turn a] 3 foot tall and 4 foot wide compost windrow our staff was able to build [a turner] by repurposing and modifying an out of service round hay baler.  Since implementing this program Northwest has diverted over 300,000 lbs. of food service organics from the landfill … 

In 2010 the Northwest Missouri State University campus generated 939 tons of solid waste, and was able to divert 185 tons of recyclables or 20%.  In 2011, solid waste actually increased to over 960 tons, but more than 255 tons or 26.5% was diverted, saving $13,400 in tipping fees, and generating $3,500 in program funding In 2012, Northwest reduced its overall waste by  15% to only 911 tons, and was able to divert more than more than 316 tons or 34%.  Tipping fees were reduced $16,621 and the program funding generated reached $12,312 or 39.4% of Northwest’s actual tipping costs.  It is this increased volume and waste management changes that made the incorporation of a baler into our operation a necessity… [In July 2012 Northwest purchased a baler with a matching grant from the State of Missouri Department of Natural Resources through our Regional Solid Waste Management District; and this is how we made that grant work.]

[2013 Busch Systems Recyclers Digest] “ … What Actions Have they Taken to Make it Happen?

In an effort to simplify the recovery process at their campus grounds, the Recycling Team at NWMSU installed their very own materials recovery facility.  Although taking on such an elaborate task is impressive in itself, what is even more extraordinary is the machinery’s design. Every part of its structure was supplied from existing equipment and scrap which their Hardscape and Recycling Team repurposed.  The top hopper made from scrap steel was not only converted from scrap material, it was also designed specifically to fit their mixed recycle bins – what a clever idea! Its platform was modified with chutes for aluminum and milk jugs that are captured in the recycling bins. Mixed plastics, HDPE colored, and glass are all sorted into boxes on the top level. PET is the main focus, but once there is enough alternative recyclables to bale, it’s dumped into the lower hopper that feeds the baler. Both the lower hopper and baler chute were developed from old farm wagon parts and plant signage. They even reused their old emergency call station polls, to create their hopper‘s “legs”. In addition, to reduce the number of cycles required in completing a bale of PET bottles, a shield was fabricated for the baler door, allowing a higher capacity of mixed material to go through…

It is clear that all aspects of this facility involved strategic planning and dedication. It is truly inspiring to see a school that takes action in reducing waste from entering our landfills. Every act makes a difference, and it is refreshing to hear of such success from NWMSU and their recycling team.

I used that quote in the nomination because it really says it all.

“Just make do” is not an admission of defeat, it is a challenge to be met.  Decide to make a difference.



Mainstream Green… 1st Edition

Yes, Hello World:

This first edition of “Mainstream Green” is dedicated to a member of the Bearcat family that really knows what “Green” is all about. Nancy Baxter is retiring after 29 years of service; contributing not only to the administration of Northwest, but providing dedicated support for its now long-standing tradition of environmental stewardship. Northwest Missouri State University’s Sustainability Program is the result of years of outreach and the determined efforts of dedicated students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Nancy has been there every step of the way, and for that (as well as many other things around here) she will be missed.

Congratulations Nancy, and Thank You!


The purpose of “Mainstream Green” is to weekly:

  •  Share Northwest Missouri State University’s efforts to promote Sustainability.
  • Lead by example, sharing operational improvements that make sense.
  • Provide readers with information about what is working for us.
  • RECOGNIZE the Students, Staff, and Faculty committed to making the difference.
  • Acknowledge the many partnerships that are so important to this program.

Thanks for Reading!

Thank you Crystal for setting us up.