Colgate has taken significant strides to make our campus more environmentally friendly. An example of one such improvement is the 1981 installation of a woodchip burner in our power plant. The woodchip burner has drastically decreased the amount of CO2 emitted by campus heating by upping efficiency. Buildings and Grounds is currently pushing the possibility of converting to 100 percent woodchip-fueled heating, which would eliminate entirely our use of oil as a heating resource in the power plant.
Taking into account the drastic measures which have been taken to improve the environmental degradation caused by carbon emissions from campus heating, it is a wonder that other buildings have yet to make even simple updates that would help the environment.
Let’s consider the particular investigation of Case Library, which just completed a major renovation. The library currently uses Inkjet, petroleum-based inks, for all its printing. I suggest the library seriously considers converting to environmentally friendly soy-based inks. In 1996 the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Research Center performed a research project that “evaluated the environmental impacts and associated economics of using soy-based inks instead of petroleum-based inks.” They concluded that the typical petroleum-based inks not only require 15 percent more ink for the same print job, but also print with lower quality. The two types of inks require the same amount of cleaners and are comparably priced.
Soy-based inks emit less than one fifth the environmentally harmful chemicals that petroleum inks do. Soy beans are grown in the United States, so purchasing soy inks supports the American economy and provides a sustainable alternative to our current dependence on finite foreign petroleum oil.
If you are tired of hearing about sustainable alternatives that help the environment and feel like there is always a catch, it is worth noting that soy inks already have an extremely high acceptance rate. Ninety percent of American daily newspapers have already converted to this type of ink and 25 percent of the nation’s offset printers use them.
Colgate sets an example for other colleges with its phenomenal academic opportunities, but it is also important that we set an example through our advocacy of environmental protection. Minor changes, such as substituting Inkjet petroleum-based inks for soy-based inks in our library, would make a huge difference.