Author: Mark Walvoord

Bucking Industrial Food

The Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative (COSC) is proud to be working with our student arm, Students for Sustainability, to host the first sustainability meeting of the 2022-2023 academic year. You won’t want to miss it on Tuesday, September 20 from 3:30-5:00pm in the NUC 300, Carl Albert Room.

From 3:30-4:00pm we will give updates and get feedback from attendees on campus sustainability initiatives. These includes our petition and proposal for a Sustainability Center on campus, our grant for food recovery and composting, Students for Sustainability activities, and other educational opportunities happening in the OKC metro area.

Then from 4:00-5:00pm Mary Bixler will host “Bucking Industrial Food.” Where does our food come from and what are the environmental impacts of industrial versus local food systems? Once food gets to the consumer, what happens with food waste and how does that further impact the environment? As a board member of the Oklahoma Compost and Sustainability Association, a UCO alumna (2018), and manager of the OKC Scissortail Park Farmers Market, Mary is well-versed in the place of industrial food systems in feeding our state.

Mary will put local food systems into perspective, from planting to eating to composting food waste. In fact, you can bring a bag (paper or BPI compostable plastic) of food waste to contribute to our new compost bin!

We hope to see you there as we work together towards a more sustainable campus.

Recycling Team Unite!

by Kelly Vaughn, Assistant Director of Physical Plant –

UCO is committed to sustainability and green living! The Facilities Management Recycling team regularly collects the following recyclable items across campus:

  • paper,
  • cardboard,
  • plastics stamped with the #1 recycle symbol,
  • aluminum/tin, and
  • books. 

Items are collected weekly and regularly taken to Batliner Recycling Center in Oklahoma City. 

Since 2019 we have diverted over 548,165 pounds of items from our Edmond landfills!

Pounds Recycled Per Fiscal Year (FY)


Facilities Management is especially excited to announce the launch of new maps that identify the locations of over 400 recycling bins across campus. Check them out to find the recycling locations nearest you!

Finally, we would also like to promote a temporary glass recycling event happening now, right here on campus.  If you would like to participate, we also have free recycling boxes available for you at the Facilities Management Supply Desk so you can collect your glass off site or in your office suite, then bring the items to the site to recycle.  The glass collection dumpster is located in the parking lot (#51) between the Facilities Management building and the Baseball Field at University & Washington.

We call on you, the campus community, to do your part by merely taking advantage of these free services. It only takes a small amount of time and effort to make a lasting difference in our community!

Photo of "Glass Only" dumpster beside a map of where it is located (University Dr. and Washington, Edmond, OK)

Infinitely Recyclable Glass

The City of Edmond stopped taking glass in their curbside recycling back in 2019, and UCO doesn’t recycle glass in their regular recycle locations. But, this commodity is in high-demand by glass manufacturers and is infinitely recyclable. In fact…

  • Melting recycled glass down happens at lower temperatures than smelting it together from sand;
  • Lower temperature ovens mean less greenhouse gases;
  • Lower temperatures mean lower prices; and
  • Recycling glass diverts it from landfills, leaving more room in landfills for other items.

The Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative (COSC) here at UCO worked with our Physical Plant to have a giant GLASS ONLY DUMPSTER delivered for Summer 2022 at Lot 51 (University & Washington). So, all you have to do is take your clean, any color, glass bottles and jars over there and toss them in! [Note: no bags, boxes, lids, or “complicated glass” like auto-glass, electronics glass, plates, etc.]

What can you do to help the earth today? Recycle those glass jars and bottles, and help us fill up the glass dumpster!

Questions? Contact Mark Walvoord, x5589

Photo of "Glass Only" dumpster beside a map of where it is located (University Dr. and Washington, Edmond, OK)

A Year in Review, 2021-2022


  • Our Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative (COSC) kicked off one year ago, May 2021, and we now have a blog, social media presence, and ~80 members (people on our email list). We met 4-5 times as a big group (mostly virtually) and heard from UCO’s Kelly Vaughn about recycling, Phil Jones from City of Edmond, UCO’s Vicki Jackson on green spaces, and more.
  • Affinity Group: We applied for and became a UCO Faculty/Staff/Student Affinity Group (thanks Cristi Moore)!
  • City of Edmond Memorandum of Understanding: UCO (President Neuhold-Ravikumar) and City of Edmond updated and re-signed our 2014 MOU. Thanks John Wood!
  • Sustainability Quotes: We released an online form to collect student (and faculty/staff) testimonials about “Why is sustainability important to you?” (STLR credit for students) and have gotten ~25 quotes! Thanks Veronica Cianfrano!
  • Food recovery and compost grant proposal: Submitted and awarded! Thanks Lauren Bieri and Susan Woods for your help.
  • Earth Week 2022: David Bass and team successfully restarted the Earth Day Fair (Wed, May 20); Veronica Cianfrano (Melton Gallery) focused on environmental justice film festival, panel, and art exhibit other days that week.
  • Students for Sustainability: The student group restarted and elected officers for next year (good work, Ryan Lykins!)
  • Faculty Book Clubs: Katrina Lacher, Ed Cunliff, and Alyssa Provencio led discussions of the books All we can save: Truth, courage, and solutions for the climate crisis and Radical hope: A teaching manifesto
  • Sustainability Center proposal: John Wood started up a 9-member subcommittee to work on this. It is progressing.
  • Sustainability Petition: Avery Geist, who just graduated, kicked this off at Earth Day Fair; about 63 signatures were collected so far. (See below to sign)
  • GLASS recycle dumpster: Delivered to Lot 51 (behind baseball field) in mid-April for campus and Edmond citizens to drop off glass for recycling. (See below for details)
  • Recycle Maps: Kelly Vaughn had her team create maps of the location of recycling bins in every building on campus!
  • Senate Resolutions on Sustainability: Alyssa Provencio and Liz Wallace got these PASSED through faculty and staff senates, respectively. The President was forwarded the wording, and responded with:
    • “Please extend my gratitude to the senates on their consideration and support of the university’s commitment to sustainability. Thoughtful care of our economic, environmental, and social systems are elemental to building our future. My best to you.”
      Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar

Isn’t that list amazing!!?? Thanks to everyone who participated, served on subcommittees, volunteered, and stayed green. Let’s keep this momentum going into the 2022-2023 academic year.


  • UCOSA sustainability resolution: Students, please contact the officers to show your support, and request they introduce it and pass it at their first meeting this fall:
  • Glass Recycle: We can’t send it back until it is full and it is a LONG way from full!  Please bring all your clean, any-color glass bottles and jars to the Glass-Only dumpster at Lot 51 (behind the baseball field at University Dr. and Washington). See, and share, the graphic below.
  • Food Recovery and Composting volunteers: We’ll have a press release with more details through University Communications after the fall semester starts. Prior to that, we’ll put a call out for volunteers to help with food packaging and delivery (on campus). Nicole Doherty and Susan Woods are the main coordinators, and more details are forthcoming.
  • Sustainability Center proposal: John Wood and team hope to have their proposal for a Sustainability Center ready for COSC’s input by the end of summer, so that we can get to administration by early fall.
    • Sustainability Center petition: Sign the petition and advertise to your UCO colleagues/peers.
  • Recycle Maps: The new recycle maps should soon be linked from (and we’ll cross-link from our blog).
  • Sustainability quotes: Haven’t given us yours yet? Feel free to submit one.
  • New members: We’ll look forward to growing COSC membership even more this Fall. Please invite your green-minded colleagues and peers to join at Under Volunteer Form, one of the options is “just add me to the email list.”
Photo of "Glass Only" dumpster beside a map of where it is located (University Dr. and Washington, Edmond, OK)

UCO Earth Week 2022

We invite the UCO community and broader Edmond community to help us celebrate earth the week of April 18-22. Now is the time for us to to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably) to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.

These events are free and no pre-registration is required.

UCO Earth Day Fair 2022 graphic with text "Wednesday, April 20, 9am-2pm, Broncho Lake,"

As for the past ~30 years, the UCO campus will be hosting the Earth Day Fair around Broncho Lake. This year we’ll celebrate on Wednesday, April 20, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. with educational tables and events.

TABLES will be hosted by UCO student groups with a sustainability focus, non-profits committed to sustainability, City of Edmond offices dedicated to the betterment of our community, and more.

Earth Day activities include:

Map of UCO campus with Earth Day Fair 2022 and Glass recycling marked
  • A GLASS COLLECTION event is happening to recycle your clean, any color jars and bottles. Bring them to the Earth Day Fair under the blue tent April 20, or any time Earth Week to the big dumpster at University Dr. & Washington (Lot 51). Let’s divert those infinitely recyclable items from filling up our landfills. Recycled glass uses less energy than making glass from sand! This means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in the impact of sand harvesting.
  • Also, a ZINE MAKING and FILM SCREENING (Arctic Summer and The Bosers of Brule) event is happening 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the Melton Gallery to reuse materials as art.
UCO Earth Week 2022 graphic with announcement of glass colleciton, earth day fair April 20, and Environmental Justice events April 21

An Environmental Justice Art Exhibit, “Curating for Equity Student Spotlight Series” is on display in the Krottinger Family Gallery in Mitchell Hall from April 7-21.

This collaboration between the Melton Gallery’s Veronica Cianfrano and the School of Design’s McKenna Sanderson, highlights student artists, and a closing reception will take place from 4:00-5:00 p.m., on April 21, in Krottinger Gallery.

Following that reception, an Environmental Justice Panel Discussion will take place at UCO’s Y Chapel, 5:00-6:15 p.m., moderated by Dr. Alyssa Provencio and including panelists Guillermo Martinez Sotelo, Cheyenne Branscum, and LaTasha Timberlake. Then, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. the Environmental Justice Film Festival will commence with 4 films. See the UCO Master Calendar for details.

Edmond’s Sustainability Activities

We invite the UCO community to attend our next event: COSC welcomes Phil Jones, Sustainability Planner for the City of Edmond, to hear about Edmond’s sustainability initiatives and plans. In addition, attendees will hear about updates on UCO’s sustainability activities, including:

  • The upcoming Earth Day Fair, Wednesday, April 20 at Broncho Lake
  • Our developing proposal to form a “Sustainability Center” at UCO
  • A Food Recovery Project that is in-the-works for the fall 2022 semester
  • A glass recycling collection event (April 18-22)
  • The re-forming of UCO’s student group: Students for Sustainability
  • and more!

This event is available in-person or virtually. See details at the UCO master calendar.

Teaching Sustainability with Case Studies and Art

There are many resources available for teaching sustainability at colleges and universities. Here we highlight a few recent ones with connections right here in Oklahoma.

Organic Farming Case Study

This case study begins with a scenario at a farmers market in which two customers begin learning about organic and conventional agriculture. Later, students then use the internet to explore these topics further before engaging in a debate with each other. Students are asked to start with their opinions about organic foods – “Do you think they are healthier than conventional foods? Are they worth the money?” Then, a classroom or online discussion board debate ensues.

This case study was published by UCO’s own Mark Walvoord, Assistant Director of STLR, along with two of his biology colleagues from OU and OSU.

Source: Taylor, M. S., Hoefnagels, M. H., & Walvoord, M. E. (2022). Deep in the weeds of organic farming. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Environ-mental Justice meets Art

Students in a non-majors biology course at the University of Oklahoma (BIOL 1005, Concepts of Biology) viewed the artistic works of Patrick Nagatani entitled “Nuclear Enchantment,” (click on “Bodies of Work”), owned by the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Then, they were tasked with making their own Nagatani-style photos, complete with descriptions of how they related to some environmental problem.

Take a look at these student-produced projects from the fall 2021 semester.

Using Case Study Teaching for Problem-Posing

The purpose of this study was to examine the possible benefits of approaching sustainability-related teaching cases from the perspective of problem-posing (PP) instead of problem-solving (PS). Although most case studies (91%) in a business database of those teaching tools were setup with PS language, cases setup to have students propose what the problem is instead of, or at least before, proposing solutions to a given problem, should lead to more transformative change in their perspectives on sustainability.

This study was authored by two UCO employees (Dr. Ed Cunliff, Adult Education & Safety Sciences; and Mark Walvoord, Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning), along with a professor in Brazil who had done her post-doctoral work right here at UCO a few years ago.

Source: Brunstein, J., Walvoord, M. E., & Cunliff, E. (2021). Problem-posing in management classrooms for collective sustainability transformation. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 22(3), 477–496.

Collect Rain and Create Compost

by Mark Walvoord —

The Central Oklahoma Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) is partnering with a company, Upcycle Products, Inc. to offer discounted rates on rain barrels and compost bins for their members cities…including Edmond. First the facts, then the sustainability explanation.

  • Mail-in order forms are due by April 10, 2022 and online orders by April 17, 2022
  • The pickup event is Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 8am-12pm at the City of Edmond Cross Timbers Municipal Complex
  • Rain Barrels are $66.50 or $88 and composters are $73.50 (stationary) or $154.50 (tumbling)
  • You can find more details at
photo of gray rain barrel on pedestal

The use of barrels to capture some rainwater is a sustainable choice because it helps reduce the runoff of materials and chemical pollutants into our rivers and stormwater systems. Our ground is less permeable due to soil compaction during construction, our landscaping/lawn practices, and the prevalence of roadways & parking lots. Compacted and concrete-covered soils can’t hold very much water, so when it becomes saturated, additional rainfall flows off, taking pollutants with it, into our creeks, streams, rivers, and stormwater systems.

Not only that, but many cities, Edmond included, are concerned about the long-term ability to provide clean water to its growing population. This is why there is a mandatory watering schedule (odd house numbers can only water on odd-number dates) as part of the regional water conservation plan. If you have a rain barrel, you can water on your “off days,” because you’re not using the faucet!

photo of vertical compost tumbler on a lawn

How about the sustainability of composting? By collecting your household organic waste, you are keeping it out of your trashcan. That helps in a few ways:

  1. it means our landfills won’t fill up as quickly (you are diverting that waste away from our municipal landfills);
  2. it means those materials won’t break down anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen while buried under other waste), which produces the very potent greenhouse gas methane;
  3. and it may mean you won’t have to put your garbage bin out on the curb as often, meaning the trash truck won’t have to stop at your house (hopefully reducing the stop-start that the truck makes, releasing less CO2, a less potent, but more abundant, greenhouse gas)

If you’re able to make some rich compost (~3-4 months if you balance your inputs and mix it regularly), that can be added to your lawn as a fertilizer and to reduce week growth; or, it can be mixed into your soil or flowerbeds both as a fertilizer and to increase soil health (or on a larger scale, as part of a regenerative agriculture plan). This increased health includes the soil’s ability to absorb more water. See how I brought that full circle?!

Sustainability Books – for You, for the Kids, for the Holidays

–by Ed Cunliff

I would not have come across these books had it not been for some literature from the Nature Conservancy. Trying hard to be a good grandparent, and the ruling is still out, I thought books would be the perfect gift for the season. You may want to consider these if you are like-minded about books and sustainability.

Be a Tree book cover

Be A Tree! by Maria Gianferrari is a simple reader. It’s nicely illustrated, a simple story, and makes a good case for us tree huggers. It includes straightforward ways for kids to connect with trees and appreciate their benefits for us humans.

Amara and the Bats book cover

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds is another simple reader and had some good activities about bats and building homes for them. My attempts at this, back when my kids were younger, were not successful. If I had this book, I might have done better.

Change Sings book cover

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman (you may have heard of her!). This is another reader for the same suggested age range as the others, but it does have the advantage of the author being someone the kids may have heard of. As with all the others, it is well illustrated and supportive of changes to protect the planet for the kids who are reading these books today!

Can I Recycle This book cover

Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling by Jennin Romer does not go on the simple to comprehend list, and by its nature is indicative of the challenge of recycling. It turns out, it’s not as easy as we thought. The danger here is that folks read the book and throw up their hands in despair, because it is too complex. The author addresses multiple areas of recycling in an easy-to-read format. Yes, recycling is complex and yes, we can do some helpful things on our own – and with our kids or grandkids.

Johnny Appleseed was the only book my babysitter read to me when I was a kid. I’m thankful for that image, accurate or not. Any sources that can help our kids get off to an early start on “green thinking” matters and sticks with them.

What children’s book suggestions do you have?

COSC an official FSSA

The Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative (COSC) applied to be an official UCO Faculty & Staff Association in November 2021. However, we included a special request – to become a Faculty, Staff, & Student Association! COSC seeks the input and perspective of all members of our campus community, which is why our leadership team includes a student representative.

This request was approved on November 9, 2021, so we’re proud to announce that COSC is now one of the campus Faculty, Staff, & Student Associations (aka, affinity groups). See

A big thanks to COSC members Alyssa Provencio for submitting our application and Cristi Moore, for the approval. We look forward to continuing our regular meetings and collaborations with student groups like the Students for Sustainability.

Screenshot of UCO's Faculty and Staff Associations website