Sustainability Fest unveils gold plaque


Guests of the Sustainability Festival learn of various ways to incorporate sustainable activities into their daily lives.                        Sarah Pickar/Winonan
Guests of the Sustainability Festival learn of various ways to incorporate sustainable activities into their daily lives.
Sarah Pickar/Winonan

Julia Sand


The first annual Sustainability Fest kicked off Sustainability Month last Tuesday, but more importantly it reinstated why Winona State University deserves, more than ever, the Gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) plaque that was unveiled at the fest.

At the unveiling of the plaque, President Scott Olson said Winona State is excellent in many ways including its classrooms, its general facilities and its beauty. Winona State, however, is set apart from everyone else in three distinctive ways.

“It’s distinct in its engagement, it’s distinctive in its use of new technology and it’s distinctive in its commitment to sustainability,” Olson said.

The gold level plaque and Sustainability Fest are representative of the many ways Winona State has carried its effort in sustainability throughout the years—and the many ways it continues to carry these efforts.

Sustainability Fest kicked off the month of sustainable efforts including Bike Week, Climate Summit, Earth Day, recreation opportunities, and much more.

The results from Recycle Mania, which took place earlier this year, were also announced. In the 8-week period, Winona State recycled 44,280 pounds of paper, bottles and cans.

The resource fair was also part of Sustainability Fest. Local vendors who are known for advocating for the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) lined the Integrated Wellness Complex hallway in front of the Well, encouraging students to be a part of their movement.
The vendors included the Outdoor Education and Recreation Center, Winona Park and Recreation, Men’s Exchange, Perfect Fit, Grace Place, Chapter 2 Books, and more.

“It’s always helpful to know what’s available in your own community, to help you live more sustainably,” Cristeen Custer, the assistant vice president for marketing and communication, who headed Sustainability Fest, said. Custer said one way she lives a sustainable life is shopping at consignment shops like Perfect Fit.

Tracy Mueller, representative for Perfect Fit, was one of many vendors who encouraged the three R’s. Vendors like her encouraged students to participate in their efforts of going green.

Perfect Fit, located on Fifth Street, was opened two years ago by Mueller’s mother. Mueller and her siblings now run Perfect Fit.

“We are helping people to get rid of clothing items without throwing them away creating more waste in landfill materials, and this way there are getting something back,” Mueller said.

Mueller was a 2010 public relations major graduate of Winona State.

Sustainably, Mueller said, was just starting to get popular when she was a student, but now she sees evident progress.

“I think everything is just cleaner, and the students care more,” Mueller said.

Students’ efforts and passions are many. A group from communication studies held a structure-building contest, where residence hall groups were asked to make a model of their buildings out of completely recyclable material.

Residence halls were made of plastic bottles, food boxes, cardboard pieces, bottle caps and more. This was a way for students to see all the materials used that can be recycled, said Brie Favaro, one of the group members.

“We are recognized for being a green campus, and that is only going to be successful if students believe in it and support it,” Custer said.

Custer said sustainability is a high priority, but it is equally important to provide students with opportunities to explore sustainability.

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