Keeping It Green at Oakton

Your source for the most current sustainability news from Oakton Community College

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Earth Week 2017 Events at Oakton Announced!!

Join us for our annual Earth Week Events at Oakton Community College, April 17-22. Feel free to share this pdf version and post (with permission) wherever you see fit! Thank you for helping us to spread the word on these amazing events to learn, engage with others, and make a difference at Oakton and in your communities!



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Electronic Recycling Drop-Off Wednesday April 20th

On Wednesday, April 20th, we will be hosting an Electronic Recycling Collection event at the Des Plaines campus from 3:30pm to 7:30pm in Room 1604, in coordination with the Douglas Center in Skokie and CyclePoint Recycling.  If you have any old electronics lying around your house, waiting to be properly recycled, please bring them in! Not only will you be helping to keep electronics out of the landfill, you will also be creating opportunities for individuals in our community. Douglas Center offers education, work, and enrichment opportunities to adults with special needs. These collection events and the dismantling and preparation process that follows create work opportunities for individuals involved. Please tell family and friends and invite your neighbors as this event is open to the public.

**Small handheld electronics and corded appliances are also acceptable but CRT Monitors and Televisions will not be accepted.**

E-Cycle_Oakton Community College-1

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Earth Week at Oakton Community College! 4/18-4/23

Every year, Oakton Community College prepares a week of hands-on programming to educate and engage our communities on issues related to the environment during the week of Earth Day. This year, we are happy to offer another mix of workshops, lectures, hands-on exploration, and restoration events and we welcome you to join us. All events are free and open to the public. No registration is required. Please share with your friends and families!




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Updated Look for DPC Waste Bins & Recycling Tips

A major sustainability initiative at Oakton as a result of our 2014 Waste Study was to improve diversion rates of waste on our campus, limiting what goes to a landfill. A part of this relates to how we collect our recyclables. Many years ago, it was necessary for us to sort our recyclable items into paper, plastic, and aluminum. Our hauler, Waste Management, converted to single stream in the 90’s. Our collection bins on campus however, remained the same. We are now working to give a face lift to our collection program. In place of our old bins, you will now see new (very fashionable, I might add) bins throughout Des Plaines Campus. We will also update Skokie in the future. The new bins look nicer, will save on the cost of liners over their lifetime, and help us promote our message of sustainability to our Oakton community and visitors. But we need YOUR help to be successful!



Single stream collection can improve recycling rates by up to 50%. Because ALL acceptable recyclable items go into the same bin, it simplifies the sorting process.  Yet, it is still important to recycle properly. Use the graphic below as a reminder for what can be recycled on campus. Remember, these items may go in ANY recycling bin on either campus. Though it is important to empty any liquids or food waste prior to recycling, containers do not need to be sparkly clean! A quick wipe or rinse will do. Please note: Plastic #6 is NOT acceptable for recycling. Please check the numbers inside triangles on the bottoms of your items. If it is a #6, it must go in the “trash” bins. If ever you have any questions on what can be recycled, please contact our Sustainability Specialist at or extension 1768.


More Resources!

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Waste Systems in U.S. Higher Education (Part Two in a Three Part Series by Paul Slocum–Sustainability Research Student Worker)

Waste Systems in U.S. Higher Education

(Part Two in a Three Part Series by Paul Slocum–Sustainability Research Student Worker)

             Managing waste efficiently at the college level is becoming a serious issue for many institutions, and creating sustainable systems is now a centerpiece in numerous administrative planning schedules. A college owning the reputation of being an environmentally sustainable institution is also becoming of increasing importance to potential students when looking into higher-education options. Take the University of Idaho for example, a university which exudes roughly 1,500 tons of waste a year according to a 2009 study. And of this number, the university was only able to boast a 19% recycling rate and found that up to “66% of all materials found in their dumpsters was recyclable” (UI). In response, the administration piloted a composting program which utilized food scraps and agricultural waste. The program set up an on-site facility and resulted in saving the university roughly $8,000 in annual hauling fees as it helped successfully divert 86 tons of waste from landfills. The primary objective of UI’s sustainability efforts is to eventually see a 66% reduction in waste-generation through education and campus dumpster waste-sorts with potential university savings totaling $70,000 annually. Innovative programs such as UI’s which effectively divert waste are being widely adopted in universities across the United States for their cost-saving benefits.

In neighboring Kankakee, IL, Kankakee Community College has been developing similar programs in regard to food waste and recyclable materiel conservation. The small Illinois community college found that up to 30% of their campus waste was in food scraps– thereby necessitating an effective composting program so as to save on annual landfill costs. Although their food-diversion program is currently being developed, the college boasts high diversion rates for recyclable products: “We divert 59% of other products (recyclables) ie. Plastics, electronics, wood scraps” (Jacobson). According to KCC’s 2009 waste study, the college produced 100.8 tons of total waste, of that number 69% of their total waste was diverted and only 60 tons of waste went to landfill (Jacobson). Such high percentages of waste diversion are a benchmark for Oakton and other ICC institutions to progress towards.  Although Oakton has a much larger student population than other Illinois community colleges, diverting 50-70% of our recyclables is a very feasible goal that we can all work towards through education and inspiring sustainable practices within our students.

Check out Part Three Next Week….

Nagaweicki, Tom. University of Idaho Waste Characterization. University of Idaho. June, 2009. Web. Retrieved from:           FjAA&            ustainability%2FWaste%2520Characterization%2520Study.ashx&ei=gB-DVdTYEIW6-            AGU_ICICg&usg=AFQjCNG75blHe3uUQ570rNp908m9Nd64YQ

*Taken from Interview with Bert Jacobson, Dean of Environmental and Institutional        Sustainability, Kankakee Community College. June, 2015.

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2nd Annual “Students for Zero Waste” Conference–Call for presenters and attendee information

2nd Annual “Students for Zero Waste” Conference

Durham, NH
October 9-10, 2015
In 2014, the 1st annual #SZW14 Conference was a resounding success, bringing together over 160 students from 50 campuses across the country!
This year, we are projecting over 350 students to come together for a weekend of discussions and workshops about the global waste crisis, zero waste solutions, and campus skill building case studies of zero waste initiatives.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Max Liboiron; “WASTE: Problem, Solution, Scale and Action”

Assistant Professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Max’s research and activism focuses on how harmful, usually invisible, phenomena such as disasters, toxicants, and marine plastics become manifest in science and advocacy, and how this relates to action. Founder of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) and re-designer of New York University’s Green Grants program, Max has experience in campus and community organizing. For more on Max check out her website and the Discard Studies Blog, of which she is managing editor.

More information about the conference including photos and testimonials from last year, a call for workshops, and information on overnight lodging and how to register is available on our website.
Travel Scholarships!
The Post-Landfill Action Network is committed to making this conference accessible to all who wish to attend. Registration is very low cost compared to most national student conferences, and included in the cost is all meals during the duration of the conference, and free overnight housing in local churches. Last year, PLAN offered over $5,000 in travel scholarships to students traveling long distances. If you will be applying for a travel scholarship this year, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. We will open the application for travel scholarships in July.
Deadline Friday June 5th
Workshop presenters get free registration to the conference and will get top priority for travel scholarships.
Check out conference structure and example submissions below. Please feel free to submit proposals that are not on this list!
Rough Conference Outline:
Plenary: The Global Waste Crisis
Seeking 10-15 min presentations on the following topics:
  • Over-consumption
  • Social, economic and environmental injustice
  • Plastic pollution and toxicity
  • Debunking false solutions and greenwashing
Workshops: Skills Building for Zero Waste
Seeking 90 min workshops:
  • Leadership and student turnover
  • Volunteer Recruitment and Management
  • Grant-Writing 101
  • Maintaining Work-Life Balance (How to not get burnt out)
  • Creating Management Hierarchy for Internships or Work-Study positions
  • Storytelling
  • Power-Mapping
Plenary: Solutions for Zero Waste
Seeking 10-15 min presentations for 4 different plenary sessions:
  • Personal: Zero Waste Lifestyle, Community Organizing…
  • Campus: Campus Wide Zero Waste Projects, Industrial Composting, etc….
  • Industrial Recycling: Carpet, Textile, Electronic Waste, & other Hard to Recycle Materials.
  • For-Profit Zero Waste: Extended Producer Responsibility, Business solutions for zero waste, pre-cycling, upcycling, etc..
Workshops: Action & Implementation: Campus Zero Waste Solutions:
Seeking 90 min workshops:
  • Setting up an Industrial Compost Program
  • Improving Recycling and Composting Rates
  • Campus Waste Audits
  • Bin Design for Zero Waste
  • Zero Waste Stadiums
  • Zero Waste Events
  • Zero Waste Tailgating
  • Campus Procurement for Zero Waste
  • Banning Plastic Bags, Styrofoam, or Plastic Bottles
  • Institutionalizing Zero Waste – How to set campus-wide goals
  • Campus Thrift Stores
  • Campus Free Stores
  • Students for Zero Waste Clubs

We want to accommodate you! If your idea does not fit within our structure just fill out as much as you can and we will do what we can to fit you in!

For more information about the conference including: logistics planning, overnight information for students, or other opportunities to present, table, or sponsor the conference, please feel free to contact at any time!