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How You Can Help Sustainable Efforts

There are countless ways the Gordon community can continue to contribute to its sustainable practices. Here are just a few ideas:


  • Request recycled materials from companies you buy from. Companies are less likely to produce recycled goods if consumers don't purchase them. Show your support by buying recycled.
  • Get Tom's of Maine or Trader Joe's toothpaste, which are made without extra chemicals but are just as effective! You can even buy a toothbrush with a handle made of recycled yogurt cups!
  • Utilize technology—communicate by phone, email or text. Avoid using large amounts of paper.


  • Take shorter showers. A standard shower-head uses 3.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Use warm water instead of hot when doing laundry. Up to 90% of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating the water; warm water works just as well as hot.
  • Turn the heat on only if necessary—try putting on a sweater before adjusting the thermostat. Turn the heat down at night or when you are going to be away for a while.
  • Do not leave the water running when brushing teeth. Brushing your teeth with the water running can use up to 5 gallons. One drop per second wastes more than 24,000 gallons per year.
  • Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.


Single Stream Recycling makes recycling even easier! Throw all recyclables into one bin. Just be sure to separate trash from recycling—recycling bags contaminated with trash will be rejected at the recycling plant.

  • Paper: Recycle computer paper, note pads, envelopes, paper bags, newspapers and glossy papers. These should be free of contamination from food or liquid. 
  • Bottles and Cans: Recycle all bottles and soda cans. These should be rinsed if possible and should not contain any food or liquid. Must have the recyclable symbol with 1-7 on it.
  • Techno-Trash: Recycle all of your old technology waste, including cables, computers, keyboards, cell phones, CDs, DVDs, fax machines, printers, phones, etc.
  • Compost: Consider composting if you live in an apartment. In an age where we produce so many things, unfortunately, we also produce a lot of waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists food waste as the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste.
  • Trash: Throw away all other garbage that can't be recycled, including food, plastic wrap, and anything without a recycling mark.


Certain wastes—batteries, pesticides, cathode ray tubes, fluorescent bulbs, etc.—can be hazardous to the environment if not disposed of properly. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) regulates these types of products under the "Universal Waste Rule." Gordon strives to comply with these regulations by recycling these potentially hazardous materials in the following ways:

Batteries: Different types of batteries usually contain various kinds of heavy metals, including nickel, cadmium, mercury, lithium, and lead. Alkaline batteries, such as non-rechargeable AA batteries, are an exception. Domestically manufactured alkaline batteries made after 1994 no longer contain mercury and can be disposed of in the trash. Imported batteries may still contain mercury, so be sure to check the label before throwing them away.

  • NiCad, lithium, and button type batteries should be recycled in the appropriate recycling bin, marked for batteries, located in most campus buildings
  • Car batteries, which are lead-acid batteries, can be returned where you purchased the replacement battery. Most automotive battery retailers will accept used batteries when purchasing a new one. Many garages, auto salvage operations, and scrap metal yards will take automotive batteries.

CRTs (Monitors & TVs): Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are screens used in standard computer monitors and televisions and may contain 4 to 5 pounds of lead, depending on the size and make. Because lead and the chemicals often used in the plastic material of the case are harmful to the environment, CRTs must be recycled rather than thrown in the trash. Avoid smashing CRT screens which can release lead and is harmful to the environment.

  • If you have an old computer monitor or television, bring it to the Physical Plant loading dock. Physical Plant will make all arrangements for the proper disposal and recycling of all CRTs it receives. To cover our costs, a donation of $5 per unit is requested, but not required.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Most fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury vapor, which is released into the atmosphere when the bulb is broken. To protect the environment, these bulbs—and the long, straight bulbs found in most ceiling lights, U-Tubes, circular, and compact bulbs—should always be recycled with special processing. Even though compact fluorescent bulbs may contain mercury, they are a good choice because they conserve energy and last much longer than standard incandescent lights.

  • Return all fluorescent bulbs, particularly those labeled "Gordon Conserves," to Physical Plant for disposal when they burn out. If you use fluorescent bulbs in lamps you own, when they burn out, bring them to Physical Plant for recycling as well.

Motor Oil: The College recycles all used motor oil from College-owned vehicles and machinery. Recycling this material saves money and helps protect the environment.

  • If you change the oil in your vehicle, return the used oil to the store where you purchased it so it can be recycled. Retailers are required to accept used oil for recycling (up to 2 gallons per person per day) if you have the purchase receipt. Some service stations and repair garages that do not sell motor oil, but burn the oil to heat their garage, will also take used oil.
  • Although Physical Plant prefers that the community disposes of used oil as outlined above, the Vehicle Shop will accept it for recycling with its own motor oil. However, to cover costs, a donation of $5 is requested, though not required. Please note: never dispose of used oil on the ground, down a drain, or in the trash, and don't leave containers of used oil sitting around in parking lots.

Thermometers and Thermostats: Various items, such as thermometers and thermostats, contain liquid mercury, which is a toxic and environmentally harmful metal.

  • What you can do: try to use alternative products that do not contain mercury. Because of the potential environmental and health hazards, mercury thermometers have been banned from sale in many locations. If you do have items that contain mercury, be careful with them. Do not throw any mercury containing product in the trash. If you break such an item, notify Physical Plant for help in recycling or disposing of it.  

To find out more about recycling and environmental issues, visit:


  • Recycle all bottles and cans.
  • Use only the number of napkins necessary for the meal—Gordon students go through approximately 60,000 napkins per week!
  • Use silverware instead of plastic ware.
  • When getting a drink, use a reusable glass or only one paper cup.
  • Bring your own mug to Lane rather than contributing to the thousands of paper cups thrown away daily.
  • Use a water bottle instead of a paper cup. Filling up a reusable water bottle will help save at the landfill and in your pocket.


Consider using bicycles to get around campus instead of using personal vehicles. Bicycle racks are provided at all major buildings and dorms for student and staff use. Most dorms have indoor bicycle rooms for secure storage and winter protection. A protected bike rack and indoor storehouse for bicycle commuters can be found in the Ken Olsen Science Center. Air for tire inflation is provided 24 hours a day at the Physical Plant Building.


Advocates for a Sustainable Future (ASF) is a student club that seeks to involve Gordon students directly in environmental efforts and education on and around campus.


Gordon invites a number of speakers to campus every year that speak on sustainability. The College also holds events around these issues. Attend these and learn more. Here is a list of events, past, present and future, that can inform your view of green practices:

  • Green Chemistry's Annual Event: April 14, 2014
  • Participate in Earth Week: April 21-25, 2014
  • ASF and Restore Creation put on annual events, including Earth Week, events on Symposium Day, organized recycling, farming and other volunteer opportunities. For more information, email or
  • Paper, Plastic, or Cotton Tote Bag? What Life Cycle Assessments Tell Us About the Sustainability of Everyday Items: Dr. David R. Tyler, Charles J. and M. Monteith Jacobs Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon: January 27, 2014
  • Conversations with the President: Gina McCarthy
    Appointed by President Obama in 2009 as Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation and recently confirmed as the new head of the EPA this past July, McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common-sense strategies to protect public health and the environment: November 4, 2013

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