Reinvest Vanderbilt

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SPEAR is proud to announce its partnership with Reinvest Vanderbilt, a coalition of student environmental groups advocating for divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in sustainable technologies. SPEAR allstars Skyler Hutto, Michael Diamond, and Katie Ullman are Reinvest Vanderbilt’s co-founders.

In a major victory for the movement, Vanderbilt Student Government has passed a resolution urging the University to take greater account of environmental sustainability in their investments, given the University’s commitment to “achieve the highest standards of sustainability through a process of environmental responsibility and accountability at every level of University activity.”

Following VSG’s monumental vote, the Hustler, Vandy’s student-run newspaper, published a reinvestment issue–every article in the opinion section (pages 4-5) was dedicated to the issue. 5 professors and 2 PhD candidates wrote to express their support.

Visit Reinvest Vanderbilt’s website for even more exciting updates and information!

Cardboard Crew 2012!

SPEAR would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came out to help with Cardboard Crew this year. We have just heard the final totals of how much was recycled, and we’re blown away. Cardboard Crew recycled 32.66 TONS of cardboard this year. That’s an 83% increase in recycling from last year! Great work, and let’s keep this up for years to come!!Image

Our Stance on the Coal Power Plant

SPEAR is an organization committed to promoting the most environmentally sustainable path for Vanderbilt. Currently, our university produces about 20% of its power and much of its heat from an on-campus coal and natural gas plant. In the short-term, SPEAR supports this source of electricity for our school. There are three central reasons for this choice.

Firstly, the alternative source of electrical power in Nashville is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This source also burns coal and at a higher rate than the Vanderbilt plant. As such, advocating against on-campus coal usage cannot be productive.

Furthermore, the Vanderbilt plant is a co-generation plant. Not only does it also use natural gas and solar power, but it does so very efficiently. To ask for power from sites off our campus would increase the amount of coal being burned for the same amount of electrical power. The electricity would have to travel further, have to produce additional heat, and would lack the secondary benefits of on-campus production.

Finally, there are currently no viable alternatives to coal for Vanderbilt. Natural gas is unreliable in this part of the United States, and it has a highly variant cost. While in the long-term, we expect Vanderbilt to switch to 100% green power, those options are currently either too costly, bulky, or inconsistent.

There is no question that coal is a terrible resource for us to use, and SPEAR fully expects and encourages the Vanderbilt administration to eventually replace the coal portion of the co-generation plant with a more eco-friendly option. All of this, however, is a goal for the future. In the meantime, our co-generation plant it the most efficient way to provide back-up power to Vanderbilt and out Medical Center.  SPEAR feels it is more important to focus on sustainability initiatives on campus and push for greener energy from TVA.  TVA offers the option to buy less coal powered electricity, which Vanderbilt could purchase.  Right now that electricity is extremely expensive, but in the future it may be something to consider.

Water Bottle Awareness

On Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 members of SPEAR ventured out to library lawn and constructed a pyramid of water bottles.  They used 365 bottles to show how much plastic one would use if he or she bought one bottle a day for a year.  SPEAR hopes to display the pyramid in the Commons Center so stop by and check it out!ImageImage

Cardboard Crew Success!

It was the first day first day that the class of 2015 was on campus together as they all moved into their dorms on The Commons. It was our goal to collect and recycle all the discarded cardboard, plastic, and styrofoam from this busy day. This was an ambitious goal, but with 80+ volunteers it was an amazing success. With dedicated volunteers up early in the morning and working until move in was finished, we were able to recycle so much cardboard. It was a full day of work but everyone was excited and having fun working with friends. And even after that long day of recycling on The Commons, we came back together the next day and recycled during Main Campus move in as well. With so many volunteers and hard working individuals we managed to recycle a total of 17.84 tons of cardboard and 2 full moving trucks (26 feet long) of molded styrofoam and plastic!!! With such a great turn out, Cardboard Crew 2011 was able to recycle 4.5 tons more cardboard than last year which was our previous record. We would like to give a special thanks to all our volunteers and to SustainVU. Without all of you guys this would never have been possible. Thanks so much everyone and keep on recycling!

Amount of Cardboard Recycled per Year

  • 2007: 6.73 tons
  • 2008: 8.75 tons
  • 2009: 7.5 tons and 2 full moving trucks (26 foot) of molded Styrofoam
  • 2010: 13.22 tons and 2 full moving trucks (26 foot) of molded Styrofoam and plastic film recycling
  • 2011: 17.84 tons and 2 full moving trucks (26 foot) of molded Styrofoam and plastic film recycling

SPEAR would like to thank everyone who came and helped out. We hope to see you next year!

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