North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central is using sustainable solutions for holiday decorations

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Living trees, wreaths outside Old Main

As part of its commitment to practice environmental responsibility, North Central College is using “green” alternatives to artificial holiday decorations.

Traditionally, the College has displayed seven large, artificial wreaths at Old Main, Osterle Library and other locations around campus. The wreaths used a significant amount of aluminum and plastics, in addition to the energy required to manufacture and transport them. The past several years, however, have been different. All but two of the artificial wreaths were replaced by living evergreen trees and other natural décor.

“Evergreen trees are a renewable resource, which help clean the air as they grow,” says Brittany Graham, the College’s sustainability coordinator. After the Christmas season, the trees are transplanted in the soil around the Residence Hall/Recreation Center, Merner Field House and other campus locations—something that would be impossible with synthetic decorations.

“Artificial trees are made from petroleum, which is a nonrenewable resource that harms the environment in numerous ways throughout its use cycle, from extraction to disposal,” says Graham. “Real garland, wreaths and trees are much more sustainable than artificial.”

The festive flora is decorated with glass, gold and cardinal ornaments, representing North Central’s mascot. All are reusable for the next holiday season.

In addition to sustainable decorations, the College has committed to reducing its energy footprint while students are away. While the campus is closed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, temperatures in all buildings are lowered to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, warm enough to protect the buildings while using significantly less energy.

Graham encourages students and staff to get involved in the sustainability effort. Recently, she distributed a campus-wide email with tips on how to “green” a dorm or office, including unplugging unnecessary electrical appliances and double-checking windows and blinds.

With living decorations and other sustainable practices, the North Central community is going “green” this holiday season.

by Troy Kelleher ’16

12-13-2013