Missouri State University
Sustainability Blog

Sustainability Discussion Courses – Spring 2016


Last semester, we offered the first Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) sustainability discussion course on campus: Menu for the Future. This course met for six, one-hour sessions to discuss the social, economic and environmental impacts of what we eat.

Menu for the Future Testimonial: “I really enjoyed the NWEI course about food and learned so much! The short articles kept my interest when reading and also offered many different perspectives about food topics. My favorite part was discussing the material and choosing an action item to work on. I am now more educated on food related topics, such as organic vs non organic, farmers markets, and food production systems. I also understand that what I eat matters and effects more than just myself.” – Ashley Newson, Junior at Missouri State University

Spring 2016 Discussion Courses

In the spring, we will be offering two NWEI courses: Choices for Sustainable Living and Voluntary Simplicity. Below you can read about each of these courses and see the meeting schedule. We only have space for 12 people in each course, so sign-up today to reserve your spot! These courses are completely FREE, open to all MSU students, faculty, and staff and do not require prior knowledge or experience with the topic.

Choices for Sustainable Living

Participants will meet for six, one-hour sessions to:

  • Explore the meaning of sustainability
  • Consider the ties between lifestyle choices and their impact on Earth
  • Learn about steps that can be taken to move toward ecologically sustainable organizations, lifestyles, and communities

Meetings will be on Wednesdays from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. in Meyer Library room 209 beginning January 20th and ending on March 2nd.

Course Flyer: NWEI Choices for Sustainable Living

Voluntary Simplicity

Participants will meet for five, one-hour sessions to:

  • Gain an understanding of the meaning of voluntary simplicity
  • Explore the material and psychological distractions that prevent us from caring for Earth
  • Consider how life might be enriched through the practice of simplicity
  • Develop a personal Action Plan to integrate simplicity into their lives

Meetings will be on Tuesdays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Meyer Library room 209 beginning on March 15th and ending on April 19th.

Course Flyer: NWEI Voluntary Simplicity

To sign-up, contact Jordan Schanda, Sustainability Coordinator

Or fill out the online interest form.

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Food Waste Prevention

This is a guest post by Ashley Newson, Junior at Missouri State University and Eco-Rep Coordinator.

November is Food Waste Prevention month at Missouri State University!

We all love food. We all have to have food. So why don’t eat everything we buy? An astounding 50% of food ends up in the trash. Think of the amount of food you’ve thrown out in one day, one week, or one month. Now think of the amount of food that growers and retailers throw out. The amount of food that is wasted is tremendous, but there are ways to reduce our food waste.

In honor of Food Waste Prevention month, there are several events happening on campus:



  • Just Eat It, a food waste documentary, will be shown in the PSU Theater on Thursday, November 5th at 6 PM. This film follows food from the farm, to retailer, to the back of the fridge and reveals how much food is wasted along the way. More information about the event can be found on the Facebook event page.


  • A hands-on composting workshop, hosted by Sustainable by Nature, will take place at the MSU Campus Garden on Thursday, November 12th. Attend one of the three, thirty-minute sessions at 3:30, 4:00, or 4:30 p.m. to learn all of the elements it takes to make great compost. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.

compost-pile square


  • MSU Sustainability is holding a social media contest with weekly prizes from Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks, Homegrown Foods, Farmers Gastropub and more! Post pictures to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to show us how you are reducing food waste throughout the month. Tag photos with #LoveFoodNotWaste and @MSUsustain.


Throughout the year there are numerous ways to reduce your food waste and help out others who may be facing food scarcity. The Springfield area is home to many great farmers markets, some are even open year round, that make buying local and buying more fresh produce easy. Donating food is another great way to have a positive impact; Ozarks Food Harvest is one organization that is working to rescue food and get it to those in need in our community. Try your hand at growing your own food, whether at home or at MSU Campus Garden, and then learn about proper long term storage, such as canning. Finally, don’t forget to compost your food scraps into a useful resource. For more tips and resources to help you reduce food waste, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This November, challenge yourself to reduce the amount of food you waste and support your community by buying local and donating food!

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Bottled Water Footprint

This is a guest post by Lonny Goldsmith, Content Development Specialist at Wheels for Wishes

We live in a world where we want what we want, and we want it now. We’re always on the go. Whether it’s running to and from classes, going to the library, or heading to work, we move in fast-paced world where we are looking for the convenient option a lot of the time.

Unfortunately, going for convenience means we aren’t always making the best decisions when it comes to things like eating healthy (running to the nearest fast-food restaurant) or drinking healthy (lots of soda to help you get through the day). But drinking healthy isn’t just about how much soda you drink, or whether you drink enough water, but where your water comes from.

Absolutely, it’s more convenient to run into the nearest convenience store and buy a bottle of water. It tastes better than tap water, right? Americans bought 9.1 billion gallons of bottled water in 2011, and most people don’t realize what they’re getting or what that cost is:

  • What you are getting is almost 50 percent municipal tap water.
  • Nearly all water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic produced from crude oil.
  • The amount of water used to produce the bottle can be up to triple the amount that the bottle actually holds.

Buy a reusable bottle and you’ll save loads of money as well. Fill them up from your tap or any on-campus drinking fountain instead of buying a bottle of water every time you get thirsty. If you’re really concerned about your local water quality, buy one with a filter in the bottle. Replacing a filter will still be considerably less expensive than the water bottles you’ll buy.

Yes, your short term health isn’t being impacted when you buy a bottle of water. In the long-term, the global impact is enormous. Think of how you’ll help change the world when you stop buying bottles of water.

To learn more about the bottled water footprint and how you can reduce yours, check out this informative infographic.


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Sustainability Guide

Sustainability Standardized Logo Horizontal

We have created a handy Guide to Sustainability at MSU. Use this guide to learn more about some key sustainability projects and initiatives taking place on our campus. There is a link to more information for each initiative in the guide. You can also see which projects were made possible through the Student Sustainability Fund! The map icon easily identifies things you should look for as you are walking around campus.

This guide is perfect for new students and families visiting campus this summer. It’s also a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about sustainability at MSU.


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Green Teams Update

GTsLogoWe added an exciting new update to the Leaf Two Application! We are now requiring Green Teams applying for Leaf Two to schedule a Green Team Consult with the Sustainability Coordinator. Every office is different, therefore this will aid Green Teams in identifying sustainability projects that are right for their office and gauging the results of their projects.

The Leaf Two Green Team status is reserved for offices and departments who have set goals to become more sustainable and who are involved in engaging and educating their peers. The purpose of the consult is to help aspiring Leaf Two Green Teams to identify areas of improvement and potential projects and to ensure that each Green Team is being supported in their efforts.

The Green Team Consult allows Eco-Ambassadors to describe in more detail the changes they are already making, ask questions, and suggest improvements to the program. Jordan Schanda, Sustainability Coordinator, is excited about the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Eco-Ambassadors. “I have a list of over 50 project ideas, but not all of these projects will be a good fit for every Green Team. The consult gives me the opportunity to learn more about how their office operates so that we can find the perfect project for them.”

Another important aspect of the Green Team Consult is the opportunity for data collection. Gathering information such as the physical location of the Green Team, the number of employees in the office, as well as the number of computers, desk lamps, appliances, etc… will help identify areas of improvement and quantify results of Green Team projects. According to Jordan Schanda, Sustainability Coordinator, “collecting data is essential to demonstrating success. By conducting the consult, I can determine a baseline for each Green Team and then track their progress as they implement sustainable practices and projects in their office. This will allow each Green Team to see the impact they are making, whether that is energy conserved, dollars saved, or materials diverted.”

The first consult took place last week with the Administrative and Information Services Green Team. According to Andrea Freeman, AIS Eco-Ambassador, “I had a great meeting with Jordan regarding the Green Teams process for our office. It is beneficial for all of us to consider looking at what we are doing for sustainability on our campus, how we can improve and what additional opportunities are available for each of our areas to make more of an effort toward supporting our environment. It is easy and satisfying, when you consider how even the smallest steps toward saving energy and protecting our environment can go a long way for our campus and for our community. I am appreciative of Jordan’s work and help in evaluating what more our office can be doing to support sustainability efforts.”

More information about Green Teams and the Leaf One and Two applications can be found on the Sustainability Website.

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Campus Conservation Nationals


By now you may be wondering: what are all these posters about? What is that giant lightswitch doing in the PSU? Allow us to answer all your questions!

This month MSU is competing in Campus Conservation Nationals, a nation-wide competition between colleges and universities to see who can conserve the most energy! Last year Missouri State University reduced our energy usage by 9.1% campus-wide and placed in the top 20 schools! This year we aim to reduce our energy usage even more and place in the top 10 schools! To do this, we need your help. Campus-wide participation is key to success. But first: why is energy conservation important?

Why Is Energy Conservation Important?

During the Industrial Revolution, coal became our primary source of energy. This helped to make everything more efficient and contributed to our quality of life today. Missouri State University gets a whopping 77.2% of its energy from coal! However, coal is a non-renewable resource. This means that we will eventually run out of it. Estimates of when we run out of coal vary from a few decades to a few centuries, but one thing is clear: we will run out one day.

Beyond this, coal contributes to pollution and almost all scientists agree that burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) is contributing to climate change, causing our CO2 levels in the atmosphere to jump from a healthy 350 ppm to an unhealthy 400 ppm. This contributes to a greenhouse effect, causing climate change and warming, and is only expected to rise! The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, part of the UN, stated in their most recent report that we should reduce our CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and completely phase out CO2-emitting energy by 2100 in order to avoid “severe, pervasive, and irreversible” impacts for both ecosystems and people. Not only this, but Americans use energy so disproportionately that if everyone on earth consumed like Americans, we would need 5 earths to sustain our resource usage. We are consuming more than our fair share, and this is not socially responsible or ethical leadership. Put simply, We must drastically reduce our fossil fuel usage. We must do this in two ways: reduce our total consumption AND phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind, solar, biomass, and even other potential renewable energy sources that are undiscovered or still in their research phases.

Campus Conservation Nationals addresses the energy conservation component of keeping our earth a healthy place to live. If we want to reduce our energy usage, we need action. We need action not just from governments and big businesses (although this is very important!), we also need action from socially responsible students, faculty and staff. We need action from you.

What Can You Do?

Leaving a healthy earth for your children to inherit does not need to be complicated. Your actions can be as simple as using natural light in the daytime and using a power strip. There are many things you can do to conserve energy. Here is a list of simple actions you can take to make a difference this April and beyond! Pick as many as you feel comfortable with.

  • Unplug everything not in use
  • Set computer monitors to sleep after 5 minutes (or less) of inactivity
  • Adjust the thermostat to conserve energy
  • Turn off all the lights when you leave the room
  • Unplug electronics as soon as they are finished charging
  • Use a power strip and turn it off OR unplug it when not in use
  • Shut down computers every night
  • Turn off lights in common areas when you leave the room
  • Open the blinds during the daytime to make use of natural light
  • Always use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use less hot water when showering, washing your hands, and washing your clothes
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use the solar-powered picnic tables between the Foster Rec Center and the Blair-Shannon Dining Hall to charge your electronics while you enjoy the nice weather!

How Can You Get Involved?

In addition to this, we have put together many fun events, competitions, challenges, and initiatives for you to participate in!

  • Energy Conservation Certification:Hang this poster on your office door/window to show off your energy conservation commitments:
  • Green Room Certifications – Residence Life
  • Take the Stairs Challenge: Take the stairs instead of the elevator and enter your flights on our website for a chance to win prizes!
  • Hour Without Power: Commit to going 1 hour without power once per week. Go outside!
  • Energy Conservation Commitment Instagram Challenge: Make a commitment and post it to Instagram for a chance to win prizes!
  • Social Media Energy Trivia: Answer our trivia questions on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win prizes!
  • Ecopalooza: Attend the ONLY solar-powered concert on Campus on April 24th! The event runs from 11:00 am to 8:30 pm on the north mall. Black bean burgers will be served on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:00 a.m.

You can find more information about all of these events on our Sustainability Website!

We hope you will take this month to reduce your energy consumption and carry your new habits beyond the month of April. The world needs you to act!

Missouri State University is committed to keeping our earth a safe, healthy, ethical place for generations to come.

We are flipping the switch in April. Are you?

Posted in Energy, Engagement | Comments Off on Campus Conservation Nationals

Conserve Energy – Setting Peak Demand

If you haven’t seen the email from Energy Management regarding energy conservation over the next few days, here is a quick overview:

City Utilities will be looking at the amount of energy we use now through Wednesday, August 27th.

They will then use this number to plan for how much energy we will use for the rest of the school year. This will tell them how much we must pay for demand – regardless of how much energy we actually end up using.

While it is important to always conserve energy, it is especially important over the next several days so that we are not overcharged for our high demand during this hot weather.

Here are some tips on how to conserve energy:

  • Turn off/unplug all electrical equipment and appliances that are not in use.
  • When leaving your office/classroom, turn off lights and computers.
  • Turn up the thermostats in those spaces where they are accessible.
  • Secure all windows and close shades, blinds and/or curtains.

This information was provided by MSU Energy Management, see below for the original notices that were sent out.

For more information, visit the Energy Management Website or contact EnergyManagement@MissouriState.edu

August 21, 2014


To all Springfield Campus faculty, staff and students –

Since we are experiencing the highest outdoor temperatures of the season, the campus annual electrical demand rates will likely be set for the entire year sometime today through Wednesday of next week.  The combination of students back for the Fall Semester and the extreme high temperatures will cause the electrical consumption to peak and therefore determine what electrical capacity City Utilities must plan for our campus throughout the entire year.  This establishes the minimum we must pay through the next 10 months for the demand portion of the electric bills, regardless of the actual electricity we consume. This is a cost the University must understandably pay, but if it is set with unnecessary consumption, we will have adversely impacted the utility expenses when it could have been avoided. 

Therefore, it is most important that we do what we can to minimize our electrical peak for these next few days.

Please help with the following:

  • Turn off electrical equipment and appliances that are not in use.
  • When leaving your office or classroom, turn off lights and computers if you are not returning for some time.
  • Turn up the thermostats in those spaces where they are accessible.

 Facilities Management is taking additional measures to conserve, including shutting down the fountains that are operated with large electrical motors.  Please join the campus community to step up and make a difference!

 Thank you for your cooperation.

August 25, 2014


To all Springfield Campus faculty, staff and students:

Thank you for your efforts to conserve energy during these recent very hot days when we are setting our peak demand for the season!  We are doing very well and making a difference!

We are tracking the peak demand of our major electrical feeds to campus as compared to the highest peak demand value set last summer.  See the graph below which illustrates last year’s peak in orange and our current 24-hour tracking this past Thursday and Friday.  Though the weekend had very high temperatures as well, the reduced activity in most of the buildings relieves us from setting peaks on Saturday and Sunday.   


So far, we have been consistently below last year’s peak demand, but we need your continued help through the next few days as the temperatures are going to continue to peak in the mid-90’s.

You can actually track real-time consumption of many of the campus buildings by going to the MSU Energy Dashboard at http://bedashboard.com/kiosk/86?autoplay=true.   (Use the drop down menu to locate buildings; this will also bypass the video, if desired.)

Please keep conserving energy by doing the following:

  • Turn off/unplug all electrical equipment and appliances that are not in use.
  • When leaving your office or classroom, turn off lights and computers if you are not returning for some time.
  • Turn up the thermostats in those spaces where they are accessible.
  • Secure all windows and close shades, blinds and/or curtains.

Keep up the good work!

Thank you!



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10 Tips for a Green Move-In


Welcome to Missouri State University! Join your fellow Bears in being more environmentally responsible by using the following tips for a more sustainable move-in.

Green up your packing:

1. Don’t worry about buying moving boxes

  • Alternative: use suitcases, backpacks, reusable bags, plastic tubs, old cardboard boxes, or even pack in trash bags. All of these items are reusable or recyclable.
  • Reminder: If you do use cardboard boxes, make sure you break them down and recycle them after unpacking.

2. Ditch the bubble wrap and packing peanuts

  • Alternative: protect your breakables with clothes, towels, and other soft buffers that you were already planning on bringing to campus. You can also reuse old newspapers or plastic grocery bags and then recycle these items when you unpack.

Buying Guide

3. Reuse first – see what you can bring from home. Often times family members have gently used household items that you can have – think dishes, sheets, throw pillows, curtains, small kitchen appliances and even furniture… Reusing saves money, time and resources!

4. Buy Reusable – water bottles, coffee mugs, dishes, containers, utensils and more. Reusables are perfect for on-campus living as they save you money, take up less of your valuable living space and they are much better for the environment.

  • Always carry a reusable water bottle with you on campus. Look for one of the many hydration stations across campus to refill your bottle and see how many bottles we have saved from the landfill!
  • Also, learn more here about our reusable cup program on campus.

5. Buy Efficient – look for the Energy Star® label when buying appliances.

6. Buy Recycled – look for school supplies made from recycled content.

What to bring?

7. Water-filtering pitcher – keep your pitcher in the fridge so you always have cold, filtered water to drink in your room. Save money and the environment by not buying bottled water or running the tap for a long period of time to get cold water.

8. Power strips – this is an easy way to reduce your energy consumption. Charging cords, TVs and many other devices draw energy even when they are not in use. Plug in all your electronic devices to a power strip and flip the switch when you are not using them.

9. CFL light bulbs – save more energy by using CFL light bulbs, which only use about a quarter of the energy of incandescent light bulbs.

10. Bike – if you have a bike, bring it! This is a fun way to get to class quickly and avoid the carbon emissions and the cost of gas associated with driving. Look for the bike paths that are marked on campus and find out more about bicycle regulations on campus here.

What are some of the ways you are reducing your environmental impact during move-in? Share in the comment section below!

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Become an Energy Star

It builds slowly, a gentle rumbling in the background, but it grows. Soon, the gentle rumble turns into a roar of motors and footsteps, of dollies and luggage carts. Yes, it’s almost time for move in once again on the Missouri State campus.

While you’re making plans on what to bring to campus, make a greener choice and consider buying Energy Star products. Whether you’re moving into the dorms or into an apartment, you can minimize your footprint by using less electricity. If you’re paying for utilities, you can save money each month.

For more information, visit http://www.energystar.gov and find out how knowledge can save power!

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Science brings new life to packing materials

Bubble wrap is for more than just keeping your breakables safe in transit and stress relief in the science lab; they’re also great for chemistry! In a pinch, these plastic pouches can be reused as reaction vessels for small scale experiments. The best news yet is that these were found to be sterile environments!

For more information, check out the news article on KSMU’s site – http://ksmu.org/post/dont-pop-bubble-wrap-scientists-turn-trash-test-tubes

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