Finals Week Spring 2012:

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Finals week stressing you out? Well, it’s stressing the environment too. Think about it – during finals week, your lights are on longer and later, you’re working through paper like nothing else, eating and throwing out tons of packaged food and bottled water – it’s a bigger impact than many would realize. Of course, let’s not forget that at the end of the year, cleaning out your dorm room in going to be stressful and wasteful swell. We all know the old tips and tricks about de-stressing yourself, but how can we help the environment? Here’s a few good ways:

  1. Recycle your books. It’s the end of the semester, and you probably don’t need that calculus textbook anymore – nor do you probably want it! Instead of throwing it out, or just letting it sit around unused. Why not “recycle” your books by selling them to friends, acquaintances, random people on Facebook, or even back to the bookstore. Not only will you save paper by not having to have another book printed (the laws of supply and demand will take care of that one) but you’ll also make back a good portion of your money to buy your own books for next semester – which you also can and should purchase used and from others. Of course, on either side of the transaction, don’t sell or buy books that aren’t in good condition.
  2. Shut off your computer. You heard me right. Well, read me right. When you study, shut off your computer. Maybe add the iPad and smartphone to that too. You’ll save a ton of energy – you won’t be using nearly as much power – but you’ll also save time.  Shut down that computer and study, and by the time your done you’ll have time to goof around on Facebook.
  3. Eat healthy snacks. I know, it sounds like something your mother told you when you were at home. Remember the SATs? AP tests? Your teachers probably reminded you to bring two things – something to write with and a healthy snack. Well, healthy snacks are good for more than just you. They do boost brain power, and don’t put preservatives and other chemicals into your system, but they also don’t do that to the environment. An apple, or a banana is entirely biodegradable, and will therefore be much healthier for the environment too.
  4. Donate your stuff. Cleaning out your room? Don’t throw out anything – not that T-shirt you got for free from a club you’re not in, not that TV that you never used and won’t need next year ’cause your roommate’s is bigger, not even that tissue sitting in the corner. (OK, throw out the tissue. Please.) Almost everything you don’t want anymore, and that you can’t sell to a friend can be donated to charity. There are plenty of people in this world who could really use that old jacket you won’t need anymore since you’re graduating and moving back to Florida. Of course, our good friends supply and demand (full post about them coming soon!) will help prevent more waste.
  5. Pass! There’s nothing more sustainable than not having to retake a class.

Good luck everyone!

Recycled Mollys: You Are What You Drink

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

You are what you drink!

One of the Mollys in late stages of construction.

Hey SU Students! Have you been by Schine and Newhouse this week? Wondering what those statues are you’ve seen or heard about? Well, they’re called Recycled Mollys, and there here to take back the tap. The display, designed and created by the Sustainability Division here at SU, is based off similar projects at other schools. Here, however, it was decided to focus on the dangers of bottled water. The statues, which are sustainable plastic molds of people, are filled with water bottles to show the campus how many bottles we each waste. Surrounding the Mollys, and being held by them, are signs denoting a wide variety of water bottle facts – how much oil, water, energy, etc is wasted each year to make them, and more.

One of the most striking facts, due in part to the actual composition of the Mollys, is about the health effects of bottled water. Many people assume that bottled water, since its processed, is probably regulated pretty well, right? Wrong. Actually, tap water is significantly more regulated, and doesn’t contain all of the preservatives and taste-changing chemicals that bottled water does. When you look at these statues, wondering why they’re filled with water bottles, remember that if you don’t drink tap, this is what you might as well look like.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Entertains Questions at SU

April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today, I was incredibly fortunate to see current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak at Syracuse University. She presented an hour-long Q&A with the Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, James Steinberg, her former Deputy Secretary of State. Throughout the presentation, Secretary Clinton answered questions covering topics from American aid to developing nations, to how to promote human rights worldwide, and provided advice to students seeking a career in public service. The highlight, however, came from two questions regarding sustainability – one on energy diplomacy, and the other on international environmental protection.

Secretary Clinton at SU!

Secretary Clinton at SU's Hendricks Chapel with Dean Steinberg

Early on in the program, Secretary Clinton was asked about how our nation was working to address future issues in the global political economy. She discussed how she implements the QDDR, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Democracy Review, which was based on a similar program that has been used by the Pentagon for years. The program is essentially to look down the road, four years ahead, and figure out what the potential key points of diplomacy will be. One of her main examples front the first ever QDDR? Energy.

Energy diplomacy is important – it affects our politics across the world. For example, if Europeans are dependent of Russian natural gas, then they will oppose any worldwide treaties that would affect Russia’s ability to produce this gas. We saw this years ago during the 1973 Oil Crisis – we supported Israel politically and militarily, so the nations of OPEC, which were mostly in the Middle East and opposed Israel, decided to cut our supply of oil.

What Secretary Clinton pointed out is that there aren’t many people with expertise in energy diplomacy. She’s recruited a whole bunch to help steer our nation in the right direction, but there needs to be more experts on the topic. This doesn’t mean, however, that we aren’t still making progress. In fact, we just signed a momentous transboundary agreement with Mexico regarding oil drilling in the Gulf, following the BP oil spill of 2010.

Later on in the talk, Mrs. Clinton was asked about her thoughts on our worldwide environmental policy following our celebrations of the 42 annual Earth Day yesterday. Clinton described herself as a “perennial optimist,” and reminded us that while we are making progress, the problem isn’t just going to magically disappear. She acknowledged that there has not in fact been a big climate deal made in the Obama administration’s first years, but reminded us that those years did coincide with an enormous financial crisis. During a time of economic downturn, the front-end costs of environmental sustainability might have seemed a little lofty, but she was pretty confident that it would have been a worthwhile investment in the long-term.

Secretary Clinton proceeded to explain that she was very confident in the future of our world’s environment following the recent conference in Copenhagen. In fact, the summit resulted in the first agreement in which developing nations agreed to climate change measures. Up until now, the attitude had basically been: “It’s not our problem. The developed nations caused it. Let us do what they did to get on their level, and then we’ll make change.” However, that’s all changing. Following further work at Cancun and Durban, Secretary Clinton is confident, and excited to see the work that continues at Rio 2020. In other news, the USA has also officially joined the Clean Air and Climate Coalition, which is a group that has grown to include 10 nations and focuses on reducing the emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses.

On the home front, SOS Clinton believes that we are finally taking responsibility and slowly cleaning up our own house. We can’t go after other polluting nations until we get our own problems in check – we need to fix the dangers of hydrofracking, push for other alternative energy sources, and generally be more sustainable. Her diagnosis? We’re getting better.

Celebrate Earth Day the Easy Way!

April 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since there is no official governing body over Earth. The flag holds a photo transfer of a NASA image of the Earth on a dark blue background. It has been associated with Earth Day. Although the flag was originally copyrighted, a judge ruledhttp://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/Copyrightability/articles/EarthFlagVsAlamoFlag_A.shtml that the copyright was invalid. Earth Flag Ltd. v. Alamo Flag Co., 154 F. Supp. 2d 663 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Earth Day everyone! Created simultaneously in 1969 by Senator Gaylord Nelson UNESCO‘s John McConnell and first celebrated on April 22nd, 1970, Earth Day is a celebration of all things awesome about the environment. Here’s some ways to celebrate in a sustainable way:

  1. Go outside! It’s nice out. « Read the rest of this entry »

Fueling the Next Generation

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s really nice outside right now. The grass is green, the sky is blue, there are a few puffy clouds in the sky. The sun is nearly blinding. The thing we need to think about is: How are we going to keep it that way?

One of the major issues looming over our heads, threatening our environment, and has taken over much of the environmental sustainability debate, focuses on one thing: Cars. Cars use oil, which creates environmental issues in its extraction, its processing, and its use. Cars create CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, which ruin our atmosphere and worsen the greenhouse effect on our planet, causing much-feared global warming. So what do we do?

Fuel Cells. « Read the rest of this entry »

Recycling 101: 3 Case Studies

April 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

During the first breakout session of this year’s Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC) Conference, held this year in the Syracuse University Sheraton, presenters from three different colleges and universities presented some case studies about personal experiences with the challenges of campus recycling.

Lorinda Hill: Night Maven

First up was Lorinda Hill, the recycling coordinator at « Read the rest of this entry »

Chief Jake Edwards at NECSC Conference 2012

April 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today is the start of the annual Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium Conference, being conveniently held this year at the Sheraton at Syracuse University! This morning, leaders in sustainability from college and university campuses all across the northeastern United States filed into the Regency Ballroom at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center for the first event of the day, a panel with Presidents of a few local universities – SUNY Empire State, RITOnondaga Community College, and our neighbor, ESF’s own Cornelius Murphy – who sat down to discuss a variety of sustainability topics, and how they have related to their work at their respective universities. However, the centerpiece of the day came just around 2 pm, when Chief Jake Edwards, of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, rose to give his keynote address.

Chief Edwards, who was speaking in the place of Onondaga Faithkeeper Oren Lyons « Read the rest of this entry »

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