Office of Environmental Sustainability

Resource Conservation Team

Our mission is to help Oberlin College decrease its ecological footprint and meet its commitment to climate neutrality by reducing the amount of resources it uses and the amount of wastes it produces.

By creating closed-loop systems at a low cost, the College can become a more efficient, sustainable, and even regenerative institute.

To meet our goals, we use research, education, and community collaboration to implement recycling, source reduction, and ecological regeneration. RCT logo

Recycling is the process of taking the materials and products we use and discard in our daily life and remaking them into useful products.

Source reduction occurs at the beginning of resource use, rather than the end. It involves trying to use fewer resources in design, manufacturing, and use of a product such as reducing packaging or eating sustainably farmed and locally grown foods.

Ecological regeneration is a systems model that once set up, is self-managing and continually productive of ecologically beneficial practices. An example is worm composting. Worm composting not only eliminates organic waste, but it produces worms, builds organic material in the soil, and builds the capacity of the soil to hold carbon.

Although recycling is very important, it is not enough. Not only are many things not recyclable, but the production processes themselves use energy and create waste byproducts. Sustainability is also not enough. We need systems (energy, water, food) that are productive of ecologically beneficial practices.

We hope to make recycling, source reduction, and regeneration part of daily life at Oberlin, and extend that research, ideas, and skills to people outside of Oberlin College too.

Waste reduction, conservation of resources, and regeneration have benefits that reach beyond the strictly ecological into areas such as economics, human rights, politics, and ethics: areas that affect our daily life as much as the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.