September: Focus on Food Waste

This month, the Green Team blog will focus on food waste and easy steps you can take to reduce your own foodprint.

Do you know how much food in the US is never eaten?  Do you know how much it costs financially and environmentally?  If you don’t, you are not alone.  According to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, three-quarters of Americans don’t realize how much food enters the waste stream and believe they waste less food than the national average.

Here are the numbers across the supply chain for the US:

  • 40% of food is wasted which is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month
  • For a household of four, food waste accounts for $1365-$2275 annual losses
  • 10% of the energy budget goes to getting food on our tables
  • 50% of land is used for food production
  • Rotting food in landfills accounts for 16-25% of methane emissions (methane is a powerful greenhouse gas)
  • Since the 1970s, food waste has increased by about 50%

What do these numbers mean?  I’ll give it to you straight: Americans are wasting the equivalent of $165 BILLION (yes, DOLLARS!) and 150 TRILLION CALORIES EACH YEAR.  With the amount of food wasted in the US each year, 2 billion people could be fed for a year.

Are you surprised by these numbers?  Would you like to do something about it?  Reducing your foodprint is easy and makes a huge and immediate impact.   Here are some quick and easy steps to save money and the environment:

  1. Shop wisely — meal planning, using shopping lists, and buying only what you’ll need (bulk bins are great for this!)
  2. Freeze unused ingredients — leftovers and most produce freezes beautifully
  3. Buy funny fruits and vegetables
  4. Donate your unwanted or unused non-perishable foods to food pantries in your area


You’re Wasting More Food Than You Think; Mother Jones

Wasted Food: U.S. Consumers’ Reported Awareness, Attitudes, and Behaviors; PLOS One

The Environmental Impact of Wasted Food; Fast Company & Inc.

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill; NRDC Issue Paper

This Year’s 12 Greatest Strides Towards Reducing Food Waste; NRDC


How to Freeze and Store Food; Cook Smarts

Welcome Back!

LogoWow, it’s already September…how did that happen?!  It’s a good thing that the BCC Green Team is ready for the new semester!  As we enter a new academic year, we’d like to share some of our successes and challenges with you.


  • We have a new logo!  And be on the lookout for our very own BCC Green Team Stamp of Approval!  If you see either of these logos on table tents, posters, or announcements, you will know that it is in line with the mission and goals of the Green Team.
  • Have you tried out one of the three shiny new water fountains on campus?  Located in Field and SBA, these water fountains provide filtered water and a bottle refilling port.  More coming soon to campus!
  • Since 2009, we have reduced our trash by 40%!!  That’s huge!  Your efforts are making a huge difference!
  • In 2015, we are composting over 2700 pounds of waste every week.  That’s 2700 pounds of compostable waste that’s staying out of our already-crowded landfills.
  • Thanks to the gallant efforts of Kevin Kennedy and Katie Hickey, almost all of the containers and utensils are compostable!  And that includes the green straws!
  • For an easy-to-follow and detailed list of what can be recycled and composted, please check out our very own Recycling/Composting page.
  • BCC ranked 8th in the nation for RecycleMania with a recycling rate of 70.6%!!  We ranked higher than any other school in Massachusetts!  GO BCC!!!


  • Even with our terrific recycling and composting numbers, 21% of our waste (by weight) is from paper towels and napkins.  Both are compostable and the Green Team will be looking into providing more composting opportunities.
  • By volume, plastic bags represent 33% of our waste stream.
  • Special events at Paterson and other locations on campus generate a lot of trash.  Do you have any ideas on how to best address this situation?
  • As of 2014, the small appliances in offices (refrigerators, coffee makers, etc.) generated 4 metric tons of CO2.  Would you be willing to have a conversation with the Green Team about reducing our campus’ carbon footprint?

If you have any ideas for greening the campus or would like to get involved, we’d love to hear your ideas!  Please join us or contact Charlie Kaminski at

Stamp of Approval

Volunteer Opportunity: Housatonic River Cleanup, August 8th

Looking for something different to do before the summer is over?  Try a river cleanup with Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA)!  Meet some great people and do some good in your community; you’d be amazed at what (and how much!) gets pulled out of this one river.  Some of past few year’s highlights include a vacuum cleaner, couch, outdoor grill, olde timey shoes, and a mattress.

What: Housatonic River Cleanup

When: Saturday, August 8th from 9am to 1pm

Where: Meet at Fred Garner Park, Pomeroy Ave, Pittsfield

Gloves and trash bags are provided.  Please wear old clothes and sneakers or boots.  No sandals please!  Lunch will also be provided!  Woo!  Lunch!

To register, please call 413.394.9796 or email

Mark Your Calendars! Campus Green Up, April 27th!

Even though it is snowing at the present moment, spring is here!  And with spring comes the annual BCC CAMPUS GREEN UP!!  [cue raucous cheering]  Please join us on Monday, April 27th!  Save the date and dig out your old clothes because there’s plenty of work to be done!  [cue slightly less raucous cheering]

Most of this year’s activities will be the same as previous years, but if you have an idea of something that might fit well with the spirit of the day, please let us know and we can add it to the day’s activities.  Should we experience inclement weather, our rain/snow date is Friday, May 1st.  Sign-ups and details to follow in the next few weeks.   Morning and afternoon shifts will be available.

Questions?  Please contact Charlie Kaminski.


BCC is #1

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Stay Green…

More good news from the national Recyclemania competition:  After five weeks, in addition to being 10th in the nation right now, BCC is #1 in the state of Massachusetts.  Look who we’re up against in our state –>

Berkshire Community College 10 68.941
Massachusetts Maritime Academy 18 60.697
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering 22 59.628
Harvard University 43 49.068
Assumption College 44 48.692
Lesley University 69 39.740
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 88 35.827
Lasell College 95 34.975
Gordon College 109 32.357
Boston College 123 30.067
Amherst College 128 29.290
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 132 28.405
Boston University 135 27.579
Emerson College 163 21.186


Common Items You Should NEVER Throw in the Trash

In honor of RecycleMania, here is a list of common household/office items that should never go into the trash and what you can do with them instead:

  1. Batteries.  No, just no.  Batteries are full of hazardous chemicals that are extremely damaging to water supplies and pose serious health and environmental risks.  Our lovely Facilities team will collect any used batteries from your office and dispose of them properly.  Got lots of batteries at home?  Check with your local Home Depot or Best Buy for free drop-off.
  2. Light bulbs.  Sorry folks, light bulbs can’t go into the recycling bin.  Fluorescent bulbs, including CFLs, contain toxic chemicals and need to be disposed of properly.  For details on where you can safely dispose CFLs in your area, check out  When in doubt, always check the packaging for disposal information.
  3. Unused or expired prescription drugs.  You might be tempted to toss your meds down the drain or in the trash.  BAD IDEA.  Contact your local police department for drug take-back events.
  4. Brita water filters.  Water filters are an awesome way to reduce the amount of bottled water consumed, but what do you do with the filters when they’re all used up?  Preserve Products will recycle those old filters into toothbrushes, razors, and other household items.  You can either mail in your filters or drop them off at one of their collection points.
  5. Cosmetics.  Did you know that your conventional cosmetics contain chemicals that are not removed by water treatment?  Also, the containers can’t be recycled, but there’s good news!  Bring your containers to any Origins, Aveda, M.A.C., or Kiehl’s and they will be disposed of properly.
  6. For safe disposal of other hazardous household items, check out the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s website.

Curious about what can be recycled on campus?  Check out the Green Team recycling guidelines!

Source: 19 Things You Should Never, Ever Throw In the Trash!!

MCLA’s 2015 Green Living Seminar Series: Issues in Climate Change

Every semester, our friends in the North host a Green Living Seminar Series focusing on different aspects of environmentalism and sustainability.  This spring’s theme is Issues in Climate Change and features local leaders in the field. Tonight’s seminar is “Clean Energy Policy in the Commonwealth” with State Senator Ben Downing.  Please click here for more information on this and other Green Living events.


The Green Living Seminars are held every Thursday evening at 5:30 pm in Murdock Hall, room 218 on the MCLA campus.    These events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  Podcasts are available after the event.

Small Things

“Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.” 

Mother Teresa

‘Tis the season of love, so I thought it would be a nice time to reflect on the small things we can do to live more sustainably.  Many people get frustrated when they can’t make huge changes, like buying an electric car or going off the grid, but the little acts are important.   The little acts, performed with great love, can create a paradigm shift that opens up more opportunities for sustainable living and a cleaner, greener future.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Recycle! Now is a great time to start recycling as we are in the middle of Recycle Mania!
  • Compost!  Did you know that almost everything from the cafeteria is compostable?  The only things that can’t go into the compost bins are glass, plastic, and metal.
  • Turn off your computer monitor when you leave your office This simple act can save a lot of money and energy.
  • Go vegetarian or vegan!  Factory farming is a major contributor to climate change and produces massive amounts of pollution.  Giving up or reducing your animal product intake is a compassionate choice that’s also good for your health!  Choose veg!
  • Divest from fossil fuels!  Did you know that this week is Global Divestment Week?  If you have a retirement account or investments, you can choose where your money goes!  This small act sends a powerful message to the fossil fuel companies. 
  • SUBSCRIBE TO THE BCC GREEN TEAM BLOG!  Sign up with your email to get updates on campus green events, local volunteer opportunities, and eco-friendly tips. 

Recyclemania is Back!

recyclemania_itsbackRecycleMania 2015 starts this week (and will end on March 28th).  Last year BCC finished 24th out of 259 colleges and universities, with a 54.7% recycling rate. We beat – no, CRUSHED, schools like Harvard and MIT.

We’re going to have a hard time topping that this year, but we’d like to try – by getting to a 60% recycling rate for starters.  For a refresher on rules of the competition, and on what you can and cannot recycle and compost, see the brief FAQ (and links) below.

Here’s to another great competition!


Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I bring recyclables from home?

No – I can’t believe you even asked that!  That’s cheating (plus I don’t think Dave, Tammy, and the custodial staff would appreciate it).

Can I clean out my office?

Yes!  It is within RecycleMania rules to clean out your office, throw away old papers, etc., during the contest, as long as it is something you would normally do anyway (and hey, um, aren’t we going to be doing a lot of office cleaning in the next couple of months?). If you clean out old files between now and March 28th that will count toward our total.

What can I recycle?

Please see the Green Team’s Recycling page for all kinds of information on what you can recycle on campus:

How can I find out more about RecycleMania or follow results over the next ten weeks?

The competition runs from now until the end of March.  Go to the RecycleMania website at

What can I do to help?

Aside from doing your best to recycle, you can encourage students to do the same.  For example, please remind students to throw bottles and paper in the recycling bins outside the classrooms (rather than the small trash cans inside the classrooms, if there is one).  For those students who find it difficult to hold on to their Vitamin Water bottle for an extra ten feet, public shaming is encouraged.

The contest also measures how much we reduce waste – so it is helpful if you can find ways to reduce paper forms, paper handouts in classes, and so on.  (And: the college is saving several thousand dollars a year because we’ve reduced the number of trash pickups).

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact Chris Laney at 236-4631, or


Welcome Back!


It might be cold and snowy, but the weather can’t stop the Green Team!  We are looking forward to keeping the green momentum going this semester with our annual Green Up Day, Recycle Mania, and our continuing efforts toward a zero-waste campus.  We are kicking off this Spring 2015 semester with our first meeting on Friday, February 13th at 1:30pm.  We’ll be the cool kids in G-10.

Stay tuned for more information in the coming months!  Enjoy the rest of winter!

Image Courtesy of R. Broch