Sustainability at Culver

Conserve – Reduce – Educate

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CGA Leads the Way on Sustainability!

Once again, the young women of Culver Girls Academy are leading the way for our school and beyond!  Today marks the first meeting of CGA’s Sustainability Committee.  These trailblazing Sustainability Prefects (minus two excused absences) are pictured below along with advisers Ms. Nelson and Ms. Pinatell .CGA Prefects

The Sustainability Committee Chair and Prefect is the brain child of senior Helen Johnston ’18.  A few weeks ago, Helen proposed the idea to the CGA Council who unanimously endorsed it.  Here is a picture of Helen presenting the idea to the CGA Council.

helen and cga council 2

The Prefects left today’s meeting with the following list of “to dos” and goals.


For the dorm meeting today:

 – If you don’t shut off the lights when you leave the room, that is a room failure

– Recycling will start to become part of KLL

– Age of Consequences (film on sustainability) will be shown this Friday at 6:45 in Roberts!! There will be free pizza and dessert, plus the director will Skype in!!

 For the future/ Meeting notes

 Green Week is coming up, come to Green Life (first Tuesday of every month!) if you can. 

Camille will be seeing if we can get a dining hall representative to the meeting to change the styrofoam cups, so wait for that e-mail for more information. 

Heating has not been effective and should be fixable

Green Week- 13 gallon a day challenge- emphasize what that looks like, could you do it? (Educational/ Dorm challenge)


 Ximena: Remind everyone about turning off lights/ trash cans, higher recycling rates. Better cleaning so people do not get sick.

 Elizabeth: More effective recycling within the dorm

 Ava: Making people more water conscious, fostering a stronger bond between KLL and Sustainability. 


People clean very ineffectively, make people responsible for each set, get reusable sets for accountability. 

 Camille: (E-mailing Carol Buchannen) KLL is the big focus, getting consistent checking, hold people accountable. 

 Leanne:  Get people to stop leaving the showers on, more water conscious when cleaning the dishes. 

 Chase: Education about sustainability and what you can and cannot recycle. Create an environment where girls in the dorm can learn more sustainable habits.  


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Age of Consequences — Dinner & Movie

Please join Culver’s Global Studies Institute and the Green Life Club for an evening of conversation, film and food.

On Friday, March 16th, at 6:45 pm in the Crisp Visual Literacy Room (2nd floor of Crisp building), we will be hosting a screening of the documentary “Age of Consequences” which explores the connections between climate change and national security.

We will begin the evening with a skype conversation with Jennifer Lee, Executive Director of the American Conservation Film Festival.   “Age of Consequences” was screened at last year’s festival.  Ms. Lee will encourage our students to consider submitting short films for inclusion in ACFE’s Next Gen contest.

Following the screening, Capt. Mike Neller will share his insight on this issue based on his years of service in the Navy, as well as his private sector experience.

Pizza, drinks and desserts will be provided.

age of consequences


Food Recovery Project @ Culver

Did you ever wonder what happens to Culver’s food waste?  There are two main sources of food waste from our Dining Hall.  The first source is the scraps from individual plates as well as from the food preparation process; the second source is prepared food that is never eaten.  While the Dining staff make every effort to reduce our food waste, some is inevitable when we serve nearly 3,000 meals a day.  Over the past 3 years, we have made a valiant effort to compost food waste from the Dining Hall.  Due to a number of technical reasons, our compost program just hasn’t worked very well.  Before Fall Break, we decided to try a different tack.  We now send our food scraps (nearly 1,000 pounds/week) to a nearby dairy farm that operates a methane digester. The methane digester uses organic matter (our food scraps and animal waste) to create methane fuel used to power an electricity generator.  Culver’s food scraps now become “green” power!

The second major source of food waste is food that is prepared but never served, think the extra tray of baked ziti.   Up until now if extra food isn’t consumed, it has been thrown into the trash.  As part of Charles Mahoney’s (CMA ‘18) Service Leadership Project, the Dining Hall team, the Faculty Sustainability Committee and several Culver community members have been working on a better solution for this food.  We have acquired a machine that packages food into individual portion containers.


Culver will be using this machine that heat seals individual portioned meals in a recyclable container.

These containers will be labeled and frozen.  Once or twice a week, we will deliver the frozen containers to the Culver Food Pantry, the Meals on Wheels program and other organizations in our local community who provide food to people in need.  We estimate we will provide up to 40 meals per day once our service is up and running.  This “food recovery” program begins this week!

Between these two programs, we are significantly reducing the amount of food waste we send to the landfill while also providing useful community services.



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Holiday Sustainability Tips from Culver

Here are some holiday sustainability tips, courtesy of the Culver Faculty Sustainability Committee. 

  1. Real Tree vs Artificial vs Live Tree?  Which is the more sustainable option?  This article helps sort out this question.  Spoiler alert – if you can’t do a live potted tree, real is the way to go.  And here’s a link to Hensler’s Nursery, a great place to purchase local trees especially if you have kids as there are lots of kid-friendly things to do.
  2. Give a gift that will help a child think a bit and be curious about the natural world: Potawtomi zoo membershipan ant farma kite, games (check out this list of 45 indoor games for kids of all ages), or a tree you plant together.
  3. Skip material gifts all together! Give an experience: performance/event tickets, a camping trip, cooking classes, a hot air balloon ride. Give a service: provided by you or a local business: a baby-sitting gift certificate, a massage, a dinner out, hire a chef, dance lessons
  4. Give gifts you make yourself. For adults, these often have more meaning (and a smaller environmental impact than mass-marketed products):
    1. Cook or bake a gift
    2. Write a poem or story about the person
    3. Make a frame for a photo or other piece of art – check out these creative ideas.
    4. Contact Xenia Czifrik (jewelry) or Nick Counts (iron tools and art) Bill Browne (honey) for great locally-made products.
  5. Shop local.  Supporting local merchants helps sustain our community.  Lots of great options in Culver, Plymouth & Rochester.  And to save money and reduce waste, think about shopping at the Wesley Church Thrift Shop here in Culver on Ohio Street – lots of great items for a fraction of what new ones would cost, for the entire family.
  6. Give socially conscious gifts! Shop fair trade:
    1. Ten Thousand Villages Fair Trade Online Store
    2. Grounds for Change Fair Trade Coffee, Tea & Chocolate
  7. Put your money to work helping others and the planet. Instead of buying a physical gift:
    1. Adopt a whale, wolf or polar bear
    2. Give a flock of chicks, a pig or llama to families living in subsistence communities
  8. See if you can find or create holiday decorations that are made from natural materials, will last from year-to-year and provide a unique holiday feel (unlike the cookie-cutter decorations found in stores).  Pinterest provides a ton of inspiring ideas.
  9. Stuff stockings with nuts and fruit instead of plastic do-dads. Most of them end up in the wastebasket before Christmas day is over and last hundreds of years in a landfill. My family did this and we would always end up sitting around cracking and eating nuts for days after Christmas.
    Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday season? That amounts to 25 million tons of garbage!
  10. Wrap your gifts with newspaper (Sunday comics are great!), cloth that can be reused or wrapping paper made with recycled content. Save and re-use ribbon from year to year.
    If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet! 
    If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  11. Use holiday lights in moderation. If you are buying new lights, buy LED lights that use one tenth as much energy as conventional holiday lights and last much longer. If you enjoy holiday lights, turn them off during daylight hours and after most people in your neighborhood are in for the night. This can be done easiest with timers that can be found at your local hardware store.
    study by the Florida Solar Energy Center found that average household energy use for lighting increases 130 kwhs during the thirty-day holiday season following Thanksgiving. That’s the same amount of energy that would be consumed if every household in America left an electric oven on 350 degrees for 2.5 days!
  12. Buy energy efficient appliances and electronics, if those are on a wish list. Look for the ENERGY STAR label!
  13. Send e-greetings. Instead of sending cards through the mail. You can find great e-greetings from sites like If you must mail cards, try to keep your card list to a minimum. Send postcards instead of envelopes to save paper or buy holiday cards that are made from recycled paper. Recycle the holiday cards you receive or make gift tags out of them for next year. Another idea is to re-use part of holiday cards for post holiday thank you notes.
    The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill in a football field 10 feet high. That doesn’t even include birthday cards!
  14. Donate unwanted gifts or items replaced by new gifts. Should you receive any unwanted gifts or if you are replacing old possessions with new ones then consider taking them to a charity shop, instead of throwing them away. The Wesley Thrift Shop on Ohio Street in Culver is awesome – a great place to drop off items to give-away, and to shop for gently used things.
  15. Share these sustainable holiday tips with your family and friends! They can be a great conversation starter.

Credit to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for many of these ideas.