Joey Gates recognized as Staff Sustainability Champion

Campus Sustainability Office February 20, 2020
Volunteers for Ithaca Dish Truck
Volunteers make the Ithaca Dish Truck a reality, starting with the work of founding member and lead supporter, Joey Gates (bottom row, center). | Photo: Aaron Fernando

Joey Gates, Administrative Assistant for Clinical Programs at the Cornell Law School, has been recognized for her outstanding leadership in creating a sustainable culture at Cornell through the Staff Sustainability Champions recognition program.

Her nomination came with an extensive profile of sustainability efforts both on and off-campus. Cornell Law School Professor Gerald Torres lauded Gates' in his nomination form for her successful effort to create Ithaca Dish Truck, a service that allows people to reduce their reliance on disposable, single-use items by substituting reusable dishes and silverware. (The Ithaca Dish Truck has been used by the Campus Sustainability Office and Sustainable Cornell Council to reduce event waste at the annual Cornell Sustainability Leadership Summit). She was also recognized for serving as an Earth Day Coordinator and for supporting sustainability efforts on campus. In his nomination text, Professor Torres writes:

Joey has been actively involved with university sustainability committees and working groups and has helped get sustainability on the agenda since 2004. She is working hard to bring sustainable practices to events run by Cornell and understands the complexity of the issue and the complexity of working with and within large organizations. She has saved her own unit money by getting them to adopt sustainable practices during the 2008 economic downturn.

Gates founded Dish Truck to cut down on 'mountains and mountains of garbage'. Dish Truck does this by providing and cleaning serviceware items before and after events. 

Since starting in 2015, the program has avoided over 100,000 disposable dishes and 60 gallons of food scraps from going to the landfill. This results in a reduction of source point pollution, and addresses local and statewide environmental, economic and environmental justice concerns. Says Gates, “By simply replacing disposables with reusable dishes, we bring the responsibility for our by-products back into the community".

About this Program

Staff at every level play a role in Cornell's transformation to a sustainable campus. The Staff Sustainability Champions program spotlights employees who have catalyzed change for a more sustainable campus and planet with actions big and small. The form is short and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.