Mason makes basketball sustainable

Striving to go green, the Office of Sustainability at Mason is raising awareness for green efforts on campus at a venue where trash seems to overflow: basketball games.

This Saturday’s basketball game against George Washington University will  host  an event called the Game Day Challenge.  It’s a competition between different universities to see who can properly recycle and compost the most during a single sporting event.

Dispute on new parkway sparks conflict on sustainable transit

The proposed bi-county parkway between Loudoun and Prince William counties is dividing area officials who believe the highway will ease traffic and advocates of sustainable transit.

The parkway, which is planned to connect Loudoun County Parkway and the Route 324 bypass in Prince William County, will allegedly ease traffic in the west of Fairfax and will be one of the only major north-south highways in the region.

The Mason REAL Food Collective challenges Mason to live sustainably

The Mason REAL Food Collective wants to raise awareness on Mason campus of what students are eating.

Recycling program encourages waste reduction on campus

For the past year, an experiment has been underway at Mason. Located in every dorm room across campus are now more than 3,000 recycling bins intended to encourage residents to reduce waste.

The initiative, spearheaded by the Office of Sustainability, was jointly funded by the Patriot Green Fund, the Auxiliary Enterprise Management Council, and a grant from the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Program.

Margaret Lo, the director of the Office of Sustainability, described the first year of the program as a success.

Innovation Food Forest promotes sustainable gardening

On the way to the Engineering and Arts & Design buildings from the Johnson Center, students and faculty can now pick up fresh fruit - straight from the source.

“Feel free to pick fruit, but I want to get these plants healthy and established before we start picking some vegetation,” said Elizabeth Torrens, project manager and volunteer for the Innovation Food Forest (IFF).

Terra Secundum: Environmental engagement through the arts

For the first time in George Mason University’s history, The Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with Northern Virginia Community College,  showcased student’s unique artwork, musical scores and spoken word centered on themes of sustainability and ecology.

The event took place on Monday, April 22 to kick off Mason’s Earth Week.

Terra Secundum, which translates to "second earth,” invites the Mason community to learn more about the importance of sustainability, applicable not only to our generation, but to the next.

Mason advances in nationwide environmental challenge

The winner of the environmental challenge will be announced on April 9 (photo courtesy of Enviance, Inc.). 

On April 2, George Mason University advanced to the “Finest Four” in a tournament geared toward environmental stability.

“The Second Annual Environmental March Madness Tournament evaluates the strength of environmental degree programs and curriculum, environmental opportunities for students, and campus sustainability efforts in colleges and universities around the country,” read Enviance, Inc.'s website, an environmental software company sponsoring the competition. “The tournament runs in parallel with the NCAA college basketball championship.”

Mason Dining seeks new solutions for waste management and sustainability

Mason Dining hosted a meeting on Monday, March 25 to brainstorm ideas with students on the future of local food purchasing and food waste at George Mason University.

Ben McElhaney, Mason Dining’s sustainability coordinator, led the meeting in order to hear suggestions for improving the university's food waste reduction system and continuing sustainability on campus.

The current Southside Food Waste Project uses a pulper, hydro-extractor and dehydrator to turn dining waste into a powdered substance.

Mason Dining takes steps to improve sustainability

As interest in sustainability increases on campus, Mason Dining has expanded some of its projects to reduce the impact of food services on the environment.

Within the next few months, Mason Dining will begin offering a reusable container called “Choose to Reuse” as a more sustainable alternative to the current disposable boxes used in places like the Johnson Center and the Pilot House.

Mason adds beekeeping to list of sustainability efforts

A new honeybee apiary is now housed at George Mason University as part of a project to improve campus sustainability.

Kathleen Curtis, executive assistant to the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, presented the project to the Director of the Office of Sustainability.

Curtis was assisted by graduate student German Perilla.

“We needed to identify and rally the support of faculty members with expertise involving beekeeping and sustainability,” Curtis said. “That’s where [Perilla] came in. You can’t get much better than [Perilla].”

Despite initial concerns of mischievous students and those with allergies, the project received the sustainability department’s approval, as well as a grant from the Patriot Green Fund.

“Not only did we receive encouragement and support, but no office acted as a roadblock,” Curtis said. “They were all very supportive, which I thought was amazing.”

Curtis first became interested in bees and beekeeping as a young child in northern California.

“I fell in love with all things that crawl [and] hop and glide,” Curtis said. “I saw a bee tree once and became very curious. I decided at a very young age that someday I’d learn to manage bees.”

Curtis got the idea to start an apiary on campus in reaction to the ongoing decline in bee populations and American dependence on pollinated crops for food.

“Consideration of our world and our connection to it can increase because of the apiary,” Curtis said. “If we want to continue our way of eating, we need to find a way to keep the bees going.”

Curtis explained that local hives produce stronger bees that live longer and that student involvement could help increase hive populations.

“A lot of people are interested in bees, but a lot more do not know how to find out about them,” Curtis said. “Since Mason has a commitment to sustainability, we should have an apiary here. It’s a natural fit.”

Perilla, a graduate student in the zoo and aquarium leadership program who has worked with bees and pollination in Columbia, was integral to the management of the apiary. Perilla insists that working with bees can increase knowledge through many disciplines including project development, business administration, conservation and conflict resolution.

“We hope that the Mason community takes full advantage of this unique opportunity,” Perilla said.

Both Curtis and Perilla hope that the apiary will not only improve pollination in the area, but foster an attitude of sustainability on Mason’s campus as well as in the surrounding community.

“Sustainability is harmony, equilibrium between man and nature, and all species should thrive,” Perilla said. “The bees will determine in a tangible way if our behaviors and actions are in agreement with our idea of sustainability.”

Perilla plans to raise strong bees in order to make them available for everyone at Mason.

“The ultimate goal is to find permanent support from the university to be able to develop the full potential of what bees and beekeeping offer to our community,” Perilla said.

For Curtis, the bee apiary is more than just a sustainability effort, it is her passion.

“I am amazed by the bees’ simple complexity,” Curtis said. “The way the hive is run, the way they manage themselves. I don’t think I will ever learn enough about them.”

The apiary is located near Patriot Circle and Shenandoah Parking Deck.