Summit pushes for green

People packed into the President’s Room in Woolsey Hall on Wednesday for a sustainability bazaar.

The Better Buying Bazaar brought in more than 30 local vendors, businesses and University departments offering cutting-edge, practical ways for the Yale community to become more sustainable. The bazaar, which attracted hundreds of University staff, students and faculty, is part of the second annual Sustainability Summit, a week-long series of events organized by the Office of Sustainability to increase awareness about on-campus sustainability.

“We set aside this one week — which is traditionally an extremely busy week at Yale — to build the campuswide understanding of Yale’s sustainability initiatives, how these changes affect the work we do as a university and how members of the Yale community can participate,” Melissa Goodall, the assistant director at the Office of Sustainability, said. “This year we are emphasizing particularly the social and economic facets of sustainability.”

The bazaar showcased the services and products of companies and Yale departments that can help Yale become “greener,” by, among other things, providing more options for sustainable transportation, chemical waste disposal and organic food. The tables set up around the President’s Room featured groups ranging from the popular car rental company, Zipcar, to YouRenew.com, a 1-month-old startup that buys back and recycles individuals’ old electronics.

Hannah Morini, a fellow at the Office of Sustainability who helped organize the bazaar, said she hoped both the vendors and attendees would benefit from talking to one another.

“I hope that these business gain a lot of support and new customers,” Morini said. “And I hope that the attendants will learn what Yale is already doing [in the area of sustainability] and that we already practice responsible purchasing.”

She added that, in addition to raising awareness about green options at Yale, the bazaar was also a good opportunity for local vendors to form stronger relationships with the University — a trend she said she thought would help boost the local economy.

The bazaar, which experienced a 50 percent increase in vendor participation from last year, builds on the success of last year’s summit, said Robert Ferretti, the education and outreach manager at the Office of Sustainability.

“This is an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the success we’ve had and engage more people in what’s happening on campus with sustainability issues,” Ferretti said. “It’s grown this year — we have more people and more departments involved.”

The summit is primarily an internal event designed to reach out to departments across campus, although Goodall said some events also seek to engage New Haven community members.

This year, the Office of Sustainability coordinated more than 55 different events, compared to 20 last year. Some events are targeted to specific departments — such as presentation for the Yale Dining managers and central office staff on sustainability and dining — and others, like the bazaar, are open to the entire Yale community. The list of events include tours of the newly built LEED Platinum-certified Kroon Hall and a bike ride to be held Friday along the canal trail that will end with homemade pizza at the Yale Farm.

Looking to next year’s summit, Goodall said the Office of Sustainability will continue to build on existing partnerships with green departments and businesses in addition to expanding the week’s events. The office will use a survey designed by one of the summit’s main organizers, Luke Bassett FES ’10, to collect feedback from participants to further improve next year’s summit.

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