Category Archives: Green Tips

Green Tips: Get Outside!

By: Pembroke Childs

Now that the weather is better, it’s time to get outside!

• You can feel healthier and greener by just spending a few minutes of your work day in the fresh air. “Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways
to improve your health and happiness,” says Time Magazine, staff writer, Jamie Ducharme.

• A new study shows that people who visit some kind of park/green outdoor space, even for a short time, experience mental and physical recuperative effects. More information about
the corroborating, scientific study by Dr. Hon K. Yuen, PhD, OTR/L are detailed in this article published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.

• In his book, Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life, Richard Louv, outlines “500 ways to enrich the health and happiness of your family and community”, while combating a
“nature-deficit disorder.” Be inspired by fun projects, fusing tech and the outside world like “Wild snapping.” Invent your own nature gym. Learn about how libraries play an essential role in creating nature-rich communities.

Can’t get outside?

• A micro-break consisting of stretches and desk yoga can incorporate health in your workday. For example, a simple computer reminder on your e-calendar or cellphone can encourage
you to get up every few hours and move.

• Bring the outside, in, with a simple low-light plant.

Spend time outside during your weekend, consider one of these great local destinations:
• Penn State Arboretum
• Snetsinger Butterfly Garden
• Centre Region Parks and Recreation
• Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
• Whipple Dam State Park
• Bald Eagle State Park
• Black Moshannon State Park
• Canoe Creek State Park
• Prince Gallitzin State Park

Remember to protect yourself and family from ticks.

Green Tips: What’s compostable?

By: J. Harlan Ritchey

Food waste is Penn State’s largest waste stream, so nothing makes a bigger contribution to sustainability than composting your food waste. Did you know that sorting your compost is as
important as sorting your recycling? Let’s look at what we should and shouldn’t put in the green composting bins.

Food waste: YES
This includes fats, oils, fruit pits, shells, dairy, meat, bones, peels, and coffee grounds. You may have heard that things like meat and bones aren’t compostable. That’s true for little compost piles like the ones in home gardens where there isn’t enough mass and heat to break down tough organic materials. But Penn State’s enormous composting facility handles them with
ease. Put them in the green bin.

Paper plates and paper cups: IT DEPENDS
If they have a coating of wax or plastic: NO. (Milk and dairy cartons fall into this category.)
If they are made of more than one material: NO.
If they are uncoated, then YES, compost. (You can test the item by scratching it with your fingernail to see if any coatings scrape off.)

The Green Team gets asked about these a lot. The clear plastic Starbucks cups are 1) Not compostable and 2) Not recyclable—they are the wrong kind of plastic. They have to go
in the trash.

Utensils marked as “biodegradable” (made from bio-plastic or “eco-plastic”): YES
Bio-plastics are made from plant materials like corn starch instead of petroleum. You may see websites warning you that “biodegradable” does not mean the same thing as “compostable.” But similarly to the case of meat and bones, this warning mainly applies to small composting piles at home. Penn State’s industrial-scale composting operation will break them down with no problem. Just make sure they’re marked as such.

Paper towels, paper napkins, paper tissues If it has food waste on it: YES
If someone blew their nose on it: YES (I know it’s gross, but someone once asked. Yes—you can compost your tissues!) If they are soiled with cleaning chemicals: NO.

Pizza boxes made of paper/cardboard: YES
It’s OK if the box is greasy or soiled. Of course pizza crusts are compostable too. But throw away any little sauce or condiment containers. They’re not compostable.

Food containers with coatings, or food containers of mixed materials: NO

Coffee filters and tea bags: YES

Newspaper: NO (dry newspaper goes in the recycling bin for mixed office paper)

Wooden stirrers, toothpicks, etc.: YES

Here’s the official website from the Sustainability Institute:
That’s a lot! Still have questions? Email the Green Team at and we can answer it. We can also let you know how to purchase compostable items for your next event. A
representative can even come to your event to show your guests how to compost!

Harlan Ritchey
Engineering Library
Co-chair, Green Team

Green Tips: Ridesharing and hybrid vehicle rentals at Penn State

By: James Searfoss


Looking for a sustainable way to get to and from campus? Try ridesharing with Penn State’s Zimride. Zimride is Penn State’s private ride-matching network that matches you with other
students, faculty and staff who are going the same way, allowing you an easy way to share the seats in your car or catch a ride.

Zimride graphic "Great minds ride together"

Who can use this Zimride?
Penn State requires a valid Penn State WebAccess ID and password to join Zimride. Once registered, you can share rides to and from any Penn State campus. Sign up here.

If you have additional questions about Zimride or how to use Zimride please call 1-855-Zimride or email

Hybrid Vehicle Rentals:

Fleet Operations at Penn State offer both daily and long-term vehicle rentals. With a number of Ford Fusion Hybrids available, you have a sustainable option for any trip with one of our rented
vehicles. For daily reservations (14 days or less), the rate is $38.00 and 0.10 cents per mile travelled. Long-term reservations are also available. The typical long-term rental periods are Fall
& Spring semesters and one year, but in certain circumstances vehicles may be rented for shorter periods of time. And with gas included and a 7% reduction in daily rental rates across all
vehicles compared to the 2017-2018 fiscal year, rentals from PSU’s Fleet Operations are more affordable than other rental providers for most trips. Contact Fleet Operations at 814-865-7571 or for more information.

Healthy start to a new year!

By: Nicole Schwindenhammer

After the holidays and perhaps some overindulgence, many of us want to get back on track with our health. As a member of Penn State’s Green Team, I thought it would be a good time to write
about one of the many parts to sustainability, which is health and happiness. Penn State’s  current definition of sustainability is: “the simultaneous pursuit of human health and  happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations”. With the New Year and focusing on “human health and happiness”, we can start fresh and take
charge of our health through diet and exercise. I am far from an expert in this department but I do strive to be as healthy as I can be, at the same time finding that balance and living a life.

While there are many forms of exercise, whether it’s walking/running, joining a gym, yoga/pilates, and many other activities, remember that taking care of your health doesn’t
just start after work hours. There are plenty of healthy things we can do during our workday that will benefit our bodies and also our work performance.

As far as exercise is concerned during the workday, the idea is to not stay stagnant for too long. It is good practice to get up out of our chairs and stretch from time to time, perhaps each hour. Whatever your duties are, make it a point to move around your workplace during your shift and keep active when possible. As said many times before, take the stairs if you can, as opposed to the elevator. It really make a difference! And don’t forget about your lunch/dinner break. If  possible, try and get outdoors for a walk, even if it’s very brief. The fresh air can be very

Increased physical activity/exercise go hand in hand with eating healthier. What we put in our bodies is equally (if not more) important as exercising. During the workday, being mindful of
what we eat, whether it’s a meal or a snack, will really help keep things on track. Packing healthier lunches and snacks not only keeps the cost down, but also keeps temptation down by not visiting one of the cafes or restaurants on campus with indulgent food.

It is very motivating when we can get others involved as well in living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Departments within your workplace can share nutritious recipes, go for walks together, or even have a potluck. Hosting a potluck where everyone has to bring in a healthier dish is a great way to build camaraderie and learn about different dishes that can be made more  nutritiously.

So here’s to you and a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Green Tip: Finding sustainable products in Ebuy and Penn State’s General Stores

By: Sarah Billman

Penn State’s General Stores’ Sustainable Products page encourages customers to order sustainable products. However, once a customer opens eBuy and navigates to the General Stores Office & Janitorial Supplies punchout page how can customers like us find sustainable products?

There are several tools available to find sustainable products. First, there is the Recycled Copier Paper Guide from the General Stores website, which is helpful when ordering copier paper. Next, there are some filters in the punchout that you can employ to help narrow your choices to view eco-conscious products:

screenshot-sustainable purchases blog post

or diversity suppliers:

screenshot-sustainable purchases blog post

Additionally, when looking at products look for the following labels:

screenshot-sustainable purchases blog post

Lastly, there is a Greener Office Products section of the supplies website. Currently, it’s a little harder to access.

To make it a little easier to find here are the steps to finding greener office supplies:

  1. Go to the Supplies home screen and click on Office Supplies:

screenshot-sustainable purchases blog post

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Greener Office Products link under More Ways to Shop to display a list of available supplies:

screenshot-sustainable purchases blog post

Hosting a Libraries event?

Look in your General Stores catalog to find the blue section labeled “PSU Janitorial and Break Room Solutions” blue section in the front of the catalog for competitively priced solutions including service ware, flatware, cutlery, as well as hot and cold beverage cups. Don’t have a General Stores Catalog? You can order one through General Stores.

Why should you look for sustainable products when ordering from General Stores?

The products are competitively priced, high quality, and help the Libraries and Penn State meet their sustainability goals. Additionally, buying recycled content products help “close the resource loop” and reduces energy, water, and chemical use, while reducing pollution and solid waste production. Lastly, it also helps boosts our regional economy because the majority of the RC paper at Penn State is purchased locally from American Eagle paper mill in Tyrone, PA.

Green Tip:  Energy Saving Tips for the Cold Months

By: Amy  White

Not looking forward to your energy bills this winter?  Here are a few ways to reduce your energy consumption over the winter, helping not only the environment but also your wallet:

• Have south-facing windows?  Open the curtains to let the sun do some of the warming.  It’s solar power at its simplest (and cheapest).

• Use your ceiling fans in winter. Ceiling fans not only provide cooling in the summer but also help push warm air back down in the winter.  Just set the fan to rotate in the clockwise direction in order to push warm air down.

• Get an adjustable thermostat and set the night temperature to 61 degrees. The cooler night-time temperature might help you sleep better in addition to reducing your heating costs.

• Invest in LED lighting for your holiday decorations. These use vastly less energy than the incandescent lights used in older holiday lights and decor.

• Consider checking out a Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor from the University Libraries for a 14-day loan.  These monitors can be plugged into your home electrical devices (computers, appliances, etc.) in order to see how much energy they are using.  You can then adjust usage to reduce your personal energy consumption.

Green Tip: Penn State EcoChallenge 2017

Join the Libraries Green Committee and the Sustainability Institute for the Penn State EcoChallenge 2017, a two-week competition October 11–25 that involves changing one — or more — habits that benefit our planet. Together, we’ll show that our individual changes can add up to real impact. Last year, over 8,000 people participated in the challenge, taking almost 62,000 actions and made lasting impacts like avoiding use of over 440,000 gallons of water and traveling over 80,000 miles by foot, bike, bus or carpool.

During the competition, you’ll connect with other EcoChallengers and earn points for accomplishing your challenge. The combination of collective inspiration, camaraderie and friendly competition makes change a little easier, and a lot more fun. The Challenge is open to all faculty, staff and students, so ask others to join as well. Last year, the largest competing team had 580 members, an easy number to beat with Penn State passion!

Registration for the Penn State EcoChallenge team is easy with just a few steps:


photo of bicycle next to a hand holding a smartphone showing the Zagster app

Zagster app and smartphone

By James Searfoss


Zagster bike share is now available at University Park, offering Penn State
students, faculty, staff and visitors a convenient, affordable and healthy
way to get around campus.

Thanks to financial support from UPUA, annual memberships for students are available for just $25 for the first year of the program. Faculty/staff
memberships are $35 per year, while community members and regular campus
visitors may purchase an annual membership for $50. Single-use rides for
non-members are also available for $3 per hour.

Through Dec. 31, enter the promo code “pennstate” for $5 off a Zagster

membership. To sign up, simplydownload the Zagster app at the Apple App

or Google Play stores or visit

Each bike has a unique number that riders select within the app to disengage
the ring lock and docking cable. Alternatively, riders can get unlock codes
via text message to use with an on-bike keypad. A retractable cable mounted
to the bike allows the bike to be secured to any bike rack throughout a trip
for mid-ride stops. After the rider returns the bike to a designated Zagster
bike station, the rental ends and the bike is available for the next person
to enjoy.

85 bikes are available for use from 17 campus station locations:
Nittany Lion Inn

The Arboretum at Penn State

Earth-Engineering Sciences

Rec Hall

Kunkle Activities Center

Paterno Library

Palmer Museum of Art

Berkey Creamery

Redifer Commons (South Residence Halls)

Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

HUB-Robeson Center

Stadium West – West Bike Shelter

Stadium West – Bus Stop

East Residence Halls

Pollock Commons

Osmond Lab

Health and Human Development

University Park is the 5th largest campus in the country, spreading out over
more than 8,500 acres. Zagster bikes offer an affordable, sustainable,
healthy and fun way to get from here to there. Try one out today!

Green Tips: Marigold giveaway and composting at Penn State

marigold plants in newspaper pots for Earth Day giveaway

Earth Day is just around the corner on Saturday, April 22. To help celebrate, the University Libraries Green Committee will give away free marigold seedlings in the Franklin Atrium, Pattee Library, University Park between 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 20.

The seedlings are potted in old Daily Collegian pages holding organic soil mixed with a bit of Penn State compost, so they can be planted directly in the ground. The newspaper potting will biodegrade naturally as the plant takes root and leave you with a beautiful marigold of your very own.

This Green Committee event not only brings a splash of color into spring; it’s also a way to promote sustainability and bring attention to Penn State’s composting efforts.

According to the College of Agricultural Sciences, “composting utilizes the natural processes of decay to convert organic materials such as leaves, grass and food scraps into a valuable humus-like material.” This compost then provides valuable nutrients to plants. Anything that is organic can be composted. That includes paper towels and tissues, wooden picks and stirrers, coffee grounds and filters, paper plates and pizza boxes, and utensils made from biodegradable plastics (check the label if you’re not sure).

The most important compostable material to Penn State is probably food. Food waste is the number-one contributor to Penn State’s waste stream, so put your food waste in the green composting bins instead of the trash whenever you can. That includes meat and bones, which (unlike backyard composting bins) can be composted at Penn State due to the size and scale of our composting operations. Once the waste is totally composted, it’s blended and stored at the Organic Materials Processing and Education Center before being distributed by landscaping crews all over Penn State, beautifying not just the campus but also your marigold pot!

For more information about composting at PSU, visit Penn State also offers lots of information about how you can start composting at home at

Happy Earth Day from the Green Committee!

– submitted by J. Harlan Ritchey, University Libraries Green Committee

Green Tips: Helpful recycling tips to make March greener

by Nicole Schwindenhammer for the University Libraries Green Team

March is a green month! St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and spring will eventually arrive, bringing flower blooms and tree buds. We are entering the perfect season to become motivated again, if we aren’t already, by doing our part for our planet and being the best recyclers we can be! Here are a few helpful tips on recycling at Penn State:

  • A reusable water bottle is encouraged, but if you are drinking from a plastic bottle, make sure that the bottle is completely empty before placing it in the appropriate recycling bin. The added weight of any remaining liquid contributes to the cost of recycling, not to mention that the leftover liquid creates a big mess for the recycling crew when they are processing recyclables.
  • The hot coffee cups from cafés are unfortunately not recyclable. The cups are a mixed material made of both paper and plastic and at this time can not be recycled. In order to reduce waste, a reusable travel mug is a great idea.
  • There’s good and bad with yogurt containers. The good is that the plastic container itself is recyclable —you just want to make sure you rinse it out when you are done eating the yogurt. For University Park locations, this container would go in the “miscellaneous plastics” bin. Unfortunately, the foil lid on the yogurt container is not recyclable. The lids are made of a layer of aluminum foil, coated with plastic, so it falls in that mixed-material category and therefore goes into the landfill bin.

The staff and faculty at Penn State who regularly reduce, reuse and recycle are not only contributing to the good of the environment, but they can also elaborate what they have done in their yearly evaluations at You@PSU. The University prides itself in recycling and sustainability and is committed to doing its part. You can learn more about Penn State’s sustainability mission and how you can help by visiting

So now that we’re a little more aware of what can and can’t be recycled, let’s go out there and do our part. Let’s be motivated about recycling and motivate others as well, so that we can all make this month of March even greener!

Green Tips: Sustainable resolutions

by Sarah Billman for the University Libraries Green Team

By taking some easy steps to be more sustainable, you can have a greener 2017 and the Libraries Green Committee has some ideas to help you start your new year.

Bring a reusable water bottle from home instead of buying bottled water
Today there are a myriad of choices and styles to fit your lifestyle and water intake needs. With many places offering water bottle refilling stations, it’s an easy switch to make. Some basic qualities to look for in a good water bottle are:

  • BPA, phthalates, and chemical free
  • Leak and spill proof
  • Double-walled vacuum insulated
  • Dishwasher safe

Skip the plastic bag and bring your own bag instead
Compact, foldable bags come in lots of great colors and sizes. Buy a couple and toss them in your favorite coat, your desk drawer or in your vehicle so you always have one available when you need it.

Eliminate phantom power at work and at home by unplugging wall chargers when not in use.

Many device chargers today continue to draw electricity as long as the wall charger is plugged in not just when you’re charging your device.

Bring your own utensils instead of using the plastic disposable ones
Keep a set of bamboo or metal utensils or a spork in your desk drawer or bag and reach for it when plastic disposable utensils are available.

Take public transportation
Check with Penn State Transportation Services or your local HR Representative to find out about public transportation options available in your area.

Participate in a ridesharing program if available in your area
Rideshare participants find there are numerous reasons why ridesharing is beneficial to them and their community. For example:

  • Financial savings due to shared commuting costs
  • Decreased personal vehicle maintenance and wear and tear
  • Improved air quality resulting from fewer auto emissions
  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • More free time for riders

Not sure if ridesharing is for you? Try a Zimride or check with CATA for more information about ridesharing around Centre and surrounding counties

Borrow a Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor from the Libraries to identify opportunities for electricity reduction in your home.

  • The Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitors come with instructions for how to use them as information how to access the Electricity Calculator

Divert your trash from landfills by composting your food scraps and recycling


Green Tip: It’s time to GREEN your holidays!

by Earl Houser for the University Libraries Green Team

December is here, which means winter break and the holiday season will soon be upon us. For many, the holidays are a time spent with family and friends. This is also a time for office parties at work and social gatherings. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be a time when we create too much waste.

Consider these statistics:

  • Americans throw away about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • About 35% of Americans have an unused present collecting dust in their closets.

Here are a few tips to help make your office or home gathering more “Green”:


  • Serve food with washable utensils, plates, and glasses rather than disposable items.
  • Research sustainable food choices in your area and buy locally if possible.
  • Buy snacks and beverages in bulk to avoid extra packaging.
  • Consider dropping off extra food at a food bank or homeless shelter. Be
    sure to call ahead to find out what your local organization will accept.


  • Choose high-efficiency, long-lasting LED lights for decorating. Bring the outside in by decorating with natural materials, like pinecones and discarded evergreen branches from the outdoors.
  • If you are buying a live tree, look for one that is grown locally to minimize the emissions associated with long-distance transportation. Also, look for a post-holiday tree mulching program in your area.


  • Instead of wrapping paper, make the packaging part of the gift with decorative boxes, baskets, or gift bags which are easy to reuse.
  • Give children gifts that inspire curiosity about the natural world such as an ant/butterfly farm, science kit, a kite, or a tree that you can plant together.

Some of these suggestions can be used year round and adapted for any type of gathering such as birthdays or other celebrations!

Finally, everyone should remember that when leaving for the winter break it is very important to follow the usual “Green” practices of turning off lights and shutting off printers and other peripherals. When you save energy and resources, you protect the environment both now and for the future!

The Libraries’ Green Team wishes everyone a fun-filled winter break and holiday time!

Green Tip: Recycling tips For winter weather

by Nicole Schwindenhammer for the University Libraries Green Team

Winter is coming and you know what that means…cold, harsh winds, snow and ice. With the upcoming change in the weather, the recyclables in your bins at home and the bins themselves can take quite a beating and could become unsafe for others. Winter weather doesn’t just affect recycling at home but also can affect recycling elsewhere, in particular at Penn State in University Park as well as the campuses across the Commonwealth.

There are a few helpful tips on how to keep your recyclables and the bins safe and out of
harms way when the weather deteriorates.

  • Being informed about what kind of weather you can expect in your area is key in preparing for the weekly recyclables pickup.
  • If the winds are forecasted to become strong and gusty, watch where you place your recycling bin so that it doesn’t get blown over, resulting in recyclables spilling out on sidewalks, streets and elsewhere.
  • A big snowstorm can make for a very challenging recycling pickup day. Be sure to make a clear path in the snow for the collectors to easily get to your bin. If the snow has already fallen, don’t place your bin on top of a snow bank or any other unsafe place.
  • Always be mindful that when the surface temperatures get to freezing or below and it’s wet outside, there’s always the risk of icy conditions. You certainly don’t want to be slipping and sliding all over the place when taking recyclables out.
  • If the weather gets bad enough, watch for any cancellations in your neighborhood with the recycling pickup crew.  If they decide to collect the recyclables on a different day, simply hold on to them and resist the temptation to throw them in the trashcan. This is also true at Penn State. If the pickup crew is unable to empty the bins on campus due to the weather, the recycling stations may become overloaded. Again, simply hang on to your recyclables and either place them in another bin or wait until they are emptied and there’s more room.

Just by taking a few precautionary measures during the winter with recycling, you can continue to do your part in protecting the environment in a safe manner.

For more information on recycling in Centre County, visit to For any questions on recycling at Penn State, please visit or email them at


Green Tip: Book jacket crafting with Jacque Quinn

by Sarah Billman for the University Libraries Green Team

The Penn State University Libraries Green Team was created to provide leadership for “green” initiatives and to promote environmental sustainability in the University Libraries. Recent initiatives include Cleanup Day, recycling efforts, reducing waste at University Libraries events, offering green options for supplies orders, and outreach efforts to Libraries departments and other University green committees and groups.

image of crafts made from paper
This month’s Green Tip features an interview with Jacque Quinn about her crafts, some
items pictured above, made from recycled paper.

How did you get started?
When I worked part-time at the Music and Media Center in the Arts & Humanities Library, in between assigned projects, I would create bookmarks using the leftover book jackets. It was encouraging to hear feedback from faculty, staff, and students about the bookmarks, and the other paper crafts grew from there.

How did you start making stars out of book jackets?
I started experimenting with some origami and paper craft patterns and designs to use the new book jackets left over from the displays in the Arts and Humanities Library.

As the holidays got closer, I started making hanging stars to decorate the ceiling above the MMC. Everyone seemed to like them. I was ready to take them down before the start of the new semester, but everyone wanted them to stay up. So, they stayed up. Everyone, from the department heads to unit supervisors, have been very supportive of using recycled book jackets to create paper art.

What qualities do you look for in a book jacket or what makes it good for art?
The paper itself sometimes lends itself to a design. Sometimes the pattern or picture speaks to me and the design evolves around it. Sometimes the size and shape limits the design. Sometimes the weight or the finish decides what I can create with the paper.

Do you consider yourself to be a crafty person?
Yes; however, it’s because I can’t waste stuff. I have a hard time letting go of things, especially nice paper. I always have my eye out for nice paper around the library, and it’s helpful that the paper and cardboard recycling is right outside my cubicle here in the Bindery Department.

What advice would you give someone who’s just starting to craft?
Keep it simple and practice first. Start with scrap paper of similar weight of the paper you want to make your final piece out of and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

What sites do you recommend for instructions for creating recycled or upcycled art?
Go Origami and Pinterest are good places to get started. Honestly, it usually comes down to needing to use supplies that I have on hand and starting to search from there. Over time, I found that book covers don’t lend themselves well to origami because of their weight or texture and paper craft is more two dimensional and I’m drawn to the three-dimensional designs.

Is there anything else you would like to share about recycling/upcycling crafts?
Just…go for it. If you see something there, make it happen or figure out how to do it. Just try something-don’t be afraid to make mistakes. With paper, if you need a little bit of glue to hold something together the origami police are not going to come by and give you a “B-“ instead of an “A.” And, experiment around with different designs and paper types.

Be mindful of your materials and have fun!

Links to learn how to make these items:
Hanging stars:
Kusudama flower:
Hexa star:
Gift bag:

Green Tips: Office recycling best practices and reminders

by Len White for the University Libraries Green Team

The Penn State University Libraries Green Team was created to provide leadership for “green” initiatives and to promote environmental sustainability in the University Libraries. Recent initiatives include Cleanup Day, recycling efforts, reducing waste at University Libraries events, offering green options for supplies orders, and outreach efforts to Libraries departments and other University green committees and groups.

This month’s Green Tip focuses on best practices for recycling University property or offering personal items through “opportunity” emails.

University Property:
Office supplies and furnishings that are no longer needed can be offered to other Libraries departments through the Libraries’ listservs. As these are not personal items, they can be offered without an “Opportunity” tag in the subject. A reminder should be noted within the body of the text that these items are University property and are to be reused somewhere within the Libraries. A thorough description of furniture and fixtures with dimensions, condition, color, and even a picture, is your best way to find your item a perfect new home.

Shipping cost may be incurred by a department interested in larger offerings (too big to be sent via interoffice mail), especially if they have to move between buildings/campuses.

If items are not claimed within a reasonable timeframe, or they need to be removed right away, please contact Facilities via the Help Desk for disposal through *Lion Surplus.

Personal Items:
If you’ve been in the Libraries for any length of time, you more than most likely have seen the “Opportunity” emails from other employees. You can get some great deals on some interesting things, but in case you would prefer not to receive these emails, “opportunity” is always the first word in the subject line. This is done so that anyone not wanting to receive these emails can easily filter them to a junk folder. Personal furnishings, decorations, small appliances, and electronics are to be taken back home when they are no longer needed or must be disposed of. As always, personal recycling to include batteries, CFL light bulbs, electronics, and small appliances are not to be brought into work for disposal. These items should be disposed of through your local municipality’s recycling locations. Find a recycling center near you by checking this website!

*Lion Surplus:
Lion Surplus is a store that handles the removal of University-owned equipment in environmentally responsible ways, such as sales, bids, and auctions. The store is open to students, faculty, staff, and the public.

Store inventory constantly changes and includes a wide variety of items. Lion Surplus routinely carries desks, chairs, cabinets, computer hardware, desk accessories, office equipment, electronics, scientific equipment, and much more.

Lion Surplus also hosts several auctions each year and routinely places items on eBay, LabX, and

Lion Surplus is located at the corner of Services Road and Big Hollow Road, and can be found on Google Maps linked at the bottom right of its Contact Us page. Payment methods accepted include cash, personal checks, credit and debit cards.

6:30 a.m.-5 p. m.
Closed weekends and University holidays

Green Tip: Green your library event!

by Verne Neff for the University Libraries Green Team

The Penn State University Libraries Green Team was created to provide leadership for “green” initiatives and to promote environmental sustainability in the University Libraries. Recent initiatives include Cleanup Day, recycling efforts, reducing waste at University Libraries events, offering green options for supplies orders, and outreach efforts to Libraries departments, and other University green committees and groups.

This month’s Green Tip offers suggestions and guidance for planning and hosting greener events.

The general recommendations include:

  • Hiring eco-friendly caterers or discussing sustainable options with vendors.
  • Purchase eco-friendly supplies when possible with items that can be compostable or recyclable (for example, pizza, napkins, bottled drinks, salad, paper plates, paper bowls, compostable flatware, paper tablecloths, dessert).
  • Reusing or recycling food packaging or returning it to the vendor.
  • Providing a brief explanation to the audience at the beginning of the event to show in which containers the waste should be deposited.

The sustainability site at Johns Hopkins University offers additional information and an excellent guide for planning green events.

A green event is one that is organized with the goal of minimizing waste and promoting sustainable actions throughout all steps of the process. A green event is not simply limited to recycling alone — it takes a “whole systems” approach to the vast flow of resources and waste that can be generated in organizing an event.

This whole systems approach aims to first reduce the total amount of resources being used including material and energy resources, then encourages the reuse of resources that can be reused, and lastly makes sure that materials are disposed of properly through recycling or composting as much as possible.

The University Libraries Green Team meets once a month and welcomes employees from all locations. If you are interested in joining us and assisting with our efforts, please email us at

Green Tips: Highlights from Earth Day

interior horizontal photo of table with flowers, promotional event sign on easel, and student writing on paper on table

Members of the Green Committee handed out 400 marigolds in biodegradable newspaper pots, twice its effort of 2015, for Earth Day 2016.

Doubling its impact from 2015, and despite the threat of rain, the Libraries’ Green Committee handed out 400 marigolds potted in biodegradable Daily Collegian newspaper-print pots on Earth Day 2016.

Winners of the Green Committee’s prizes — among which were several bags of Penn State compost donated free of charge — included:

Jeff Faber, I-Tech: Penn State compost
Tracy Dietrich, ILL: Penn State compost
Trish Notartomas, Access Services: potting soil
Lauren Roberts, student: compost/potting soil mix
Ceilia Zemanek: Penn State compost
Cassie Venditti, student: potting soil

An album of photos on Box taken by Wilson Hutton during the event is available for viewing and downloading.

Green Tips columns
On a related note, the Green Committee is interested in reviving its regular Green Tips columns in Library News. Do you have a suggestion for a column topic? Email it to UL-GREEN@LISTS.PSU.EDU using the subject line “Green Tips.”