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All Project Updates


  1. Weekly Update for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Pete and Shawn--

    Zero waste activities last week were

    • Morgan White asked me to help her collect information to create a business case for styrofoam recycling. Pete, you kindly and promptly sent me some trip/cost information to get started.
    • I gathered some historic information about our glove recycling program for a call with staff at Arizona State University. They had reached out to ask about our decision making process when considering Terra Cycle vs. Right Cycle. Morgan and Shantanu filled me in on some of the cost and mission-based considerations, which I shared with the ASU representatives. They shared information about their experience with both Terra Cycle and Right Cycle, so it was a good exchange.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan


    Associated Project(s): 
    Recruited organization team, dinner with Hillel, working on getting sponsors for the spring comptetition
    Be part of the Freezer Challenge, send emails, help promote

    Producing 25000 lbs. of tomatoes,

    now have classes there looking to work with university to teach about plants! 

    economically sustaining our own building,

    looking to expand to a new location! 

    Strong producer for the campus, and excited to grow more!


    Associated Project(s): 
     Largely completed, ongoing main
    Very Well, Student intern keeps plants going, native prairie plants on south side of building, front and courtyard, woodland garden, northeast corner 
    FS mows it every years, little weeding
     suffering from invasion of violets, thought given to aiding those plants
    Coming along well, over 3 years, removed invasive honey suckle, so thick you could not walk though the woods, removing other invasive plants, put out seeds and seedlings to other native plants, used as outdoor lab for variety of classes
  5. Whats new?

    Last year was spent trying to optimize the use of freshwater shrimp in the system.  After a less the satisfactory yield we are reintroducing Tilapia into the aquaponics system in the Turner Hall greenhouses.  The produce side of the system provides fresh baby greens and serves as a propagation station for the indoor herb garden. 
    To date there are 149 customers enrolled in the reusable to-go program.  Those customers have diverted waste from the landfill a total of 2847 times by ordering their take-out using our Chews to Reuse program. 
    We recently installed a herb washing station in the kitchen and hope to expand the our herb production to offer retail packaged herbs.  We currently grow 80-90% of our herbs hyper-locally using the LED lighting just outside our kitchen.
  6. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All,  No big news for the last week. We had Thanksgiving break and were closed all last week. The week prior was pretty slow, too.


    Biggest news: Yesterday the shop was staffed by the student workers and they appear to have done a fantastic job. The shop is clean and organized, they tallied and tracked visitors and volunteer time nicely. No trouble. Next up will be training the staff to run hours when I’m not here in the summer when it’s really busy. I don’t have the infrastructure in place to do that yet but we’ll get there.

    This week I’ll be delivering the bike we built for Campus Recreation’s Student Staff Appreciation Week, building shop bikes, and working on documenting skills training and assessment for the student staff so that I’ll be able to better track their progress and abilities to do the job going forward.  


    Visitors: 45

    Sales: $101
    Memberships: 2 for $60

    Misc. used parts: 7 for $41




    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  7. Weekly Update for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Pete and Shawn--

    Zero waste activities from the past week were as follows:

    • I assisted in finding diversion rates for other campuses for a couple of students who had inquired. The AASHE website includes STAR reports from a number of campuses, which include amounts of waste diverted.
    • I received email from Jordan Powers, the Fisher representative, about her recruitment of new participants for the glove recycling program. Morgan and I exchanged emails and decided the best course of action is to ensure Jordan is aware that we agreed to postpone recruitment in light of discussions with the Division of Research Safety and to ask her to have the new departments sign up for the program via the web survey we created for that purpose earlier this year. I’ll let DRS know what happened.
    • I got information from Morgan and from Shantanu Pai about the glove recycling program in anticipation of a phone call today with Arizona State University’s sustainability coordinator. She is seeking information about our participation in the Kimberly-Clark program to help inform decisions about ASU’s program.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan

  8. SSC funds Eco Illini Supermileage

    Eco Illini Supermileage is a Registered Student Organization that designs and builds a prototype gasoline vehicle. Their focus is to make a vehicle as fuel efficient as possible and to compete in competitions such as the Shell Eco Marathon (SEM) and SAE Supermileage. In years past, they have competed in the internal combustion category, the largest category at Shell, but will compete in the electrics categories to improve fuel efficiency. The Shell Eco Marathon competition has been growing every year, with 100 teams from 10 countries and 1,200 students competing last year. The prototype category has few design restrictions to allow students to experiment with extreme fuel efficiency. The winning mileage is around 3,000 mpg each year with the American record being 4,100 mpg. This funding directly contributes to the materials required for the students to build and compete in the SEM.

  9. SSC funds Davenport Hall carbon garden

    This garden will engage and train undergraduates in carbon reduction measures, as it will be maintained by undergraduate students in the Brinkworth lab and in the Department of Anthropology. These efforts include composting lab members’ food waste and developing a "Carbon Garden" on campus. The students will place two large no-till, pollinator garden plots on the Southeast side of Davenport Hall in the disused space between the building and the adjacent parking lot. These plots, ringed in decomposed gravel and manually watered from a rain barrel, will hold native flowering plants and grasses. Signage explaining the garden's purpose and use will educate students on ways in which they can reduce their carbon use in their work and home lives.

  10. Weekly Update for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Pete and Shawn

    Zero waste activities from this past week were

    • I received a reply from Therese Eggett at Veterinary Medicine to obtain information for the Division of Research Safety on lab/room numbers and PIs for the glove recycling program. She is contacting others at Vet Med and will be back in touch with a more detailed reply.
    • I have a phone call set up with the sustainability coordinator at Arizona State University who emailed me a couple of weeks ago about our glove recycling program going there. She and I will talk this coming Monday.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan

  11. Weekly Update for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello Pete and Shawn--

    This past week,

    • I had emails with the BER students to answer a question about their efforts to identify teaching coordinators for the labs participating in the glove recycling program. We are seeking the information for the Division of Research Safety (DRS) as part of the effort to ensure that biohazards and dangerous chemicals are not inadvertently introduced into the recycling stream.
    • Morgan confirmed that she will do additional outreach to Anthropology about the labs/room numbers where they collect gloves. I have a second email out to Veterinary Medicine requesting the same information and also their PI names. These efforts are also part of the information collection for DRS.
    • Joey Kreiling expressed an interest in reaching out to the BER students regarding ActGreen's involvement with the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC). I have emailed him a couple of times for clarification so that I can get him in touch with the BER students, per Morgan's suggestion. I have not heard back from him yet.
    • I confirmed with the BER students that we are not yet ready to recruit new participants for the EPS recycling program (they had asked about additonal volunteer opportunites when I met with them the week before last; I said I would check on the status of the styrofoam recycling program).
    • I sent Joe Pickowitz an email to see what he has learned about operating costs to run the EPS densifier on campus.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan

  12. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Slow last week, as to be expected.

    Currently have 8 bikes for sale with a couple more queued up. Should have about 15 ready to go by end of the week.

    Instead of having student workers build bikes piecemeal, this week I’ll try having each staffer be responsible for a bike—basically just a B-a-B but for sale. The hope here is that it will be a more holistic and teachable situation seeing a bike through from start to finish, just as the B-a-B program is. I tried this with one staffer last week and he was noticeably more engaged and hustling by the end, trying to get the bike done. It’ll help that we won’t have to figure out “what’s been done?” when each staffer comes in for their shift, too.


    This week will be building bikes, organizing, and drafting student staff training guides.


    The numbers:

    Visitors: 62
    Sales: $235.50
    Memberships: 5 for $150
    Tire/tubes: 4 for $25




    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager


  13. Food Waste Management presentation to Housing

    On November 12, 2018, Sarthak Prasad from Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) presented a Food Waste Management study to compare the current mode of food waste management (EnviroPure) with 7 other food waste management equipment. 

    He recommended the Housing at UofI switched from the EnviroPure systems to InSinkerator's Grind2Energy systems as food waste processing system, before sending the processed food waste (in slurry form) to the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District (UCSD) in Urbana, IL. UCSD's Wastewater Treatment Plant  (WWTP) has existing anaerobic digesters that can convert food waste into valuable biogas for electricity generation.

    See attached the presentation in PDF form and the detailed cost analysis.