YDS Sustainability reduces waste, has students singing “Hallelujah!”

By James Jenkins ’15 M.Div., Charles Graves ’15 M.Div., and Troy Savage ’13 M.Div.

Editor’s Note: James Jenkins ’15 M.Div., Charles Graves ’15 M.Div., and Troy Savage ’13 M.Div. are sustainability coordinators for YDS Sustainability, a cooperative team developing and implementing sustainable practices across YDS. We invited them to share the results of their recent initiatives.  

As the after-chapel Coffee Hour continues to fuel Yale Divinity School throughout the week, a fall sustainability initiative enhances the well-loved community tradition.  

On November 14, YDS Sustainability organized a surprise flash mob at Coffee Hour to promote the fall Compost, Recycle, and Reuse Campaign. The event declared “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” and introduced more reusable mugs to the community, significantly reducing the daily waste created by disposable cups. Students responded instantly with “Hallelujahs” to the tune of Handel’s Messiah

In addition, the Refectory now provides more reusable dishware and a student-run dishwashing program, making YDS dining more sustainable and convenient—with less cost and waste. Three weeks since the program was introduced, the use of reusable dishware has increased by 50 percent and at least 30 disposable dishes a day are no longer thrown away.

Other sustainable features of YDS dining include compostable dishware and new compost bins to collect food scraps for soil renewal at the Divinity Farm. In Spring 2013, the Refectory will begin selling reusable on-the-go containers. 

YDS Sustainability is a community-wide team implementing and promoting sustainable practices across Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in partnership with Berkeley Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music. Sandra Lynch, director of finance and administration, oversees the group of faculty, staff, and students addressing sustainability areas such as food, waste, energy, and curriculum. In 2009 a grant from the Rocky Mountain Institute funded sustainability plans at the School of Management (SOM), the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), and the Divinity School. A long history of dedicated individuals at YDS led to the integrated and institutionalized YDS Sustainability Team. Russell Powell ’12 M.Div. and Troy Savage ’13 M.Div. served as the initial YDS Sustainability Coordinators.

Common RoomYDS sustainability efforts have been recognized by the wider Yale community. In 2011-2012, YDS achieved a Y.A.L.E. Green Workplace Certification, the highest possible rating from the university. In 2011 the Divinity School was awarded a sustainability microloan for a project to reduce electricity usage in the Divinity School apartments. Amongst its peer professional schools, SOM and FES, the Divinity School is regarded as a leader in implementing sustainable initiatives. 

This fall, Sustainability Coordinators Charles Graves ’15 M.Div. and James Jenkins ’15 M.Div. partnered with Divinity Refectory Manager Donna Hall, Coffee Hour Coordinator Will Prosser ’13 M.Div., and Student Kitchen Manager Hannah Dreitcer ’14 M.Div. to create a better community culture for YDS dining. Students, staff, and faculty continue to express excitement with the community improvements and YDS Sustainability will continue to monitor the waste reduction and savings. 

In February 2013, Yale Divinity School will host a conference addressing community food justice and sustainability. Persons interested in participating are asked to email james.jenkins@yale.edu.

YDS Sustainability welcomes ideas and interested partners as it continues to move YDS forward as a sustainability leader at Yale and among institutions of theological education. Proactive, collaborative, and ongoing efforts can make “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” an expression of hope and progress…even an occasional “Hallelujah.”

November 30, 2012
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