02 September 2008

Oberlin: Carbon-free Commencement

Wow, talk about going the whole nine yards...

...Oberlin is trying to surpass the standard. Beginning last spring, students, faculty and staff joined together to form the Green Commencement/Reunion committee, which has reinvented the mentality surrounding the weekend.

...a highlight of the 2008 Commencement is a $5,000 donation from Bon App├ętit, the food services management company for the College, to offset the carbon emissions for the entire event.

Purchasing carbon offsets has become popular in recent years, though the mechanics of the process still mystify many. Basically, when an individual or an institution acts in a way that creates carbon emissions, they can pay an organization such as Carbonfund.org — Oberlin’s site of choice — and the money will go to projects that reduce atmospheric carbon, such as wind farms, solar fields and reforestation efforts.

Danielle Young, the interim executive director of the Alumni Association... designed a rideshare website where visitors can post their travel information and find carpools either from the airport or across several states... In addition, Young set up an online reservation system with the Cleveland Hopkins Airport, so as to avoid sending College vans every hour as she has done in the past.

The College is also renting hybrid cars for those who need assistance getting around campus during the event-filled weekend.

...the College will serve 25 to 30 percent local food on compostable corn plastic bioware. Diners can mop their lips with non-toxic paper napkins without any colored dyes. Thirsty visitors will notice that the 1,300 plastic bottles of water usually present at Commencement have been replaced with pitchers and glasses.

Pretty impressive. Gotta tip your hat to that kind of effort. But the best line in the article: "If we can make Commencement carbon neutral, the next step might be doing the same for Parents Weekend, Safer Sex Night and Drag Ball.”

No, mom and dad! That was last weekend! This is Safer Sex Night and I... um, made plans.

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