My freshman year at Hesston College in 2010 was a little different than most students’. I’d lived my whole life in Hesston and already knew many of the faculty, staff and even a few students.

I started off slow, not getting too involved until I figured out how things worked around campus. I took a job cleaning some of the buildings and taking care of trash and recycling. I noticed that even on a small campus, there’s a lot of waste. Not trash, but waste. The campus had just started single stream recycling, which helped lower the amount of trash going to the landfill, and put more of the waste back to good use, but there was still a lot. I think that’s when my eyes started to open. And after the beginning of my sophomore year, I realized just how closed they’d been.

The First Year Experience class was reading No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (Picador, 2010), so I thought I’d read it, too. It made me think about ways we could improve our lives just by making a few simple adjustments and not wasting so much. I was also learning about solar power, wind power, composting, recycling, piezoelectricity… wait, those have been around for how long?! Why weren’t we using this knowledge more? Why do we waste so much energy and natural resources? Why do we buy so much and throw out even more? What can we – no wait – what can I do to live more sustainably?

Money seemed to be the common denominator answer to most of my questions. Sure it might cost a little more at first, but it saves money in the long run. Believe me, I get the money thing. In the last 20 years, my wife and I ran two restaurants and a small catering business and I managed the local food market. With those experiences and three children added to the equation, I understand that money is a big decision maker.

So now you know the biggest difference between me and most second year students – I’m not a traditional student. I’m not even enrolled in any classes. I’m 43-yearold Randy Toews, Environmental Services Manager at Hesston College.

While my story may have started off a little misdirected, it’s all true. And I do truly consider myself a student here. I can say that in the last two years, I’ve learned more about the way I want to live, the person I want to become and that one person can make a difference just by trying to live as a better environmental steward.

That’s my Hesston College (Sustainable Stewardship) Experience…so far…

— Randy Toews, Environmental Services Manager

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