How Green is the Senate?

Executive Director

I have friends who used to laugh at my lifelong habit of reusing ribbon and wrapping paper, but today, with increasing awareness of the need to conserve resources, I am no longer saddled with the label of “cheap” but honored with the title of “green.” “Green” is becoming a part of daily operations in the Academic Senate as well, and in the past several years, the Academic Senate has implemented a number of ways to conserve resources. As early as 2006, the Senate moved to printing on 100% recycled paper for our directory, publications, and Rostrums. We also began posting papers and Rostrums quickly on our website, making them available sooner and reducing the number of copies that we needed to send out, and asked you to recycle your copy when you finished reading it. Even the company that hosts our website uses a green server that offsets all of its energy use.

Over the past few years, we have also worked with hotels to conserve resources we use while onsite. For example, when we send out requests for proposals, we look for hotels with strong “green” policies concerning what do they do with leftover food and whether there are recycle bins in the guestrooms. We also consider whether they are close to public transportation and transportation hubs. You might have even noticed that there are recycling bins and we use glass versus plastic cups during plenary sessions and institutes.

In addition, we have moved to more recycled/sustainable meeting materials such as reusable bags and flash drives instead of plastic folders. For those of you who attended the recent Fall Plenary Session, you might have also noted that we have started to go “paper lite”. Fewer materials were copied and most material was provided on our website in advance of the Plenary Session. Many participants commented that they appreciated being able to access the materials in advance of the conference, (as well as throughout) particularly the program. However, there are some tricks to “paper lite” conferences. For this effort to work, you have to download presentations to your laptop, iPad, iPhone or other electronic device and not just print them. That way you can also contribute to our sustainability efforts. In addition, our new Academic Senate Foundation had its first fund-raiser; selling reusable name badge holders.

While my friends now laugh with me and not at me, the Senate’s “green” strategies are no laughing matter. We know that you are also struggling with sustainability issues on your own campus. Thus, we have offered you a few resources—see the side bar on sustainability articles relevant to community colleges. We hope you will join us in our efforts to conserve our resources.