skip to content

Sustainability

Enterprise CarShare Special Membership Offer Extended!

Our friends at Enterprise have extended the membership offer and discounted hourly rate! Register today and drive away with savings. Promo Code: Fall2014_2

E06561_1920x1080

RecycleMania Week 2 Results

Week 2 is in the books (or recyling center and lanfill, in this situation). Our efforts are improving but we still have a lot of room to do better. Less is more if you’re talking about recycling – less in the landfill and more in the recycling bin, so make the effort to recycle what you can! Less is less if you think about what you need to buy in the first place – have a reusable water bottle and that’s one less plastic bottle to be recycled.  It’s all about the choices you make!

The results in the tables below are cumulative – every week counts.

 

Week (Cumulative totals)

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Standing
Grand Champion weekly recycling rate, %) 2013

15.34

17.91

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

20.94

20.26

20.29

20.34

29.48

29.25

28.73

31.33

 

Per Capita Classic (lbs/per person) 2013

0.87

2.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

1.27

2.41

3.58

4.76

9.51

10.52

11.62

15.17

 

Waste Minimization
(lbs/per person)
2013

5.65

11.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

6.06

11.90

17.67

23.41

32.26

35.99

40.45

48.41

 

 

Category Overall Ranking: Week 1 Wisconsin Ranking (participating schools) Overall Ranking: Week 2 Wisconsin Ranking (participating schools)
Grand Champion 179 out of 208 6 out of 6 185 out of 228 6 out of 7
Per Capita Classic 179 out of 208 8 out of 9 179 out of 400 8 out of 10
Waste Minimization 86 out of 136 3 out 4 97 out of 181 5 out of 5
Pounds of trash generated 29,355   28,020  
Pounds of recycling collected 5,320   7,840  

Starbucks Introduces $1 Reusable Cup to Cut Down on Waste

from CNN.com; posted Jan. 3, 2013

Starting Thursday (Jan. 3), Starbucks customers will have the option to save their planet – and their wallets – a dime at a time. The coffee giant is offering $1 plastic cups, which can be reused for drink purchases at a discount of ten cents.

Jim Hanna, the director of environmental affairs at Starbucks, told USA Today that while the company has sold reusable tumblers for some time and offered the ten cent discount, he expects that the modest price of its new one, available at company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada, will encourage customers to take action more frequently. The new effort comes largely in response to consumer criticism over the volume of paper coffee cup waste – approximately 4 billion cups globally each year – generated by Starbucks.

The responsibility section of Starbucks’ website details the company’s effort to work with vendors and local authorities to get more of its paper cups recycled, and to host recurring “Cup Summits” collaborating on the issue with industry leaders from MIT, Tim Horton’s, Georgia-Pacific and Action Carting Environmental Services. By 2015, Starbucks plans to have front-of-store recycling in all its company-owned locations.

According to a 2011 report issued by Starbucks, that year, customers used personal tumblers more than 34  million times – nearly 2% of all beverages served in global company-owned stroes. While this represented a 55% incrase in personal tumbler use from 2008′s tally, Starbucks admitted to challenges in tracking cup use both in and away from their stores, and reduced the company’s goal of 25% reusable cups by 2015 to 5%.

The reusable cups are made in China, and have fill lines inside denoting “tall,” “grande,” and “venti”-sized drinks. The cups will be rinsed with boiling water by Starbucks employees before they’re refilled, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, but a least one more challenge remains: will customers actually remember to bring them into the store?

Remember…you get a much better deal when you bring a reusable mug to the Common Grounds on campus for a cup of joe – no measly dime, but 25% off the purchase price!

Take Part in ECO-RUSH Days: October 22 – 25

Another on-campus opportunity to learn more about sustainability, food issues, and where some of the electricity feeding the grid you’re using to use or recharge the device you’re reading this on! Events are free and open to everyone!

Monday, Oct. 22:  Come to DIVE! the Movie – learn how you can supplement your diet with dumpster diving … ok, not really, but you will learn a great deal about the vast amounts of food wasted and disposed of in America. Movie will be shown from 5 – 6:3O in the Alumni Rooms, University Union

Tuesday, Oct. 23:  Autumn Fest at the Mauthe Center! Come enjoy a great gathering 7 – 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 24: Food Day.  All day at the University Union. Here’s an opportunity to learn more about food issues such as hunger, factory farming, urban agriculture and more about the local foods movement. Come for a locally source meal ($1 suggested donation for students, $2 for faculty/staff) in the Phoenix Rooms, University Union, starting at 4 p.m. and stay for keynote speaker, Will Allen, a MacArthur Genius grant awardee and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. He’ll be talking about his efforts in Milwaukee to introduce local and sustainable food sources.

Thursday, Oct. 25:  Beehive Design Collective at the Mauthe Center, 7 p.m. Come learn about The True Cost of Coal – using graphic design and great storytelling, the members of this collective give an informed presentation on the effects of mountaintop coal extraction.

Eco-Rush is sponsored by these student organizations:  PEAC, SLO, SIFE, UWGB Dietetics Club, as well as the Richard Mauthe Center and UW-Green Bay Sustainability Committee.

News Bit: Overcoming the Yuckiness of Eating Bugs and Seaweed Can Help Save the World

By Josh Schonwald, posted on Slate.com, June 25, 2012

“About 200 years ago, the lobster was regarded by most Americans as a filthy, bottom-feeding scavenger unfit for consumption by civilized people. Frequently ground up and used as fertilizer, the crustacean was, at best, poor people’s food. In fact, in some colonies, the lobster was subject to laws – laws that forbade feeding it to prisoners more than once a week because that was “cruel and unusual” treatment.

Things obviously changed for the one-time prisoner’s grub. It’s a gastronomic delicacy, the star of festivals, subject of odes to New England summers, a peer of prime rib.

I’m telling the story of the rise of lobster (as described in David Foster Wallace’s brilliant Gourmet piece ‘Consider the Lobster’) because it’s a tale of hope, a shining example of triumph over the yuck factor.

Much of the conversation about how to solve the coming food crisis caused by soaring population, diminishing resources, and a warming planet focuses rightly on technology, reducing waste, and improving food access and distribution methods. But equal urgency needs to be devoted to simply broadening our appetites. Two food sources that strike many as unpalatable – insects and seaweed – could play a critical role in not only feeding the 2.5 billion extra humans expected by 2050, but doing so in a green, climate-friendly way.

With the exception of honey (bee vomit), insects pretty much reside in Fear Factor and Bizarre Foods country. If you’re not familiar with the bug-food phobia, consider March’s Frappuccino incident. A barista revealed that Starbucks was using cochineal beetles to color its strawberry frap, prompting headlines like ‘Starbucks Lovers Bug Out Over Creepy Frappuccino Incident.’ Within weeks, Starbucks apologized, replacing the beetle juice with tomato-extract coloring. The point: insects are overwhelmingly viewed as filthy, creepy, dangerous, inedible – and not just to vegans.

But this prejudice against eating insects – four-fifths of all know organisms on earth – is slowly staring to change. A growing number of people are beginning to recognize that bugs, such as mealworms, grasshoppers, and crickets, may be the ultimate sustainable protein source. In fact, in January 2012, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization held an insect world summit of sorts – 37 international experts gathered in Rome to discuss the role of insects in achieving global food security.

Many insects are what you might call superfood – rich in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, high in essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron. More important, insects are green super-foods. Bugs are cold-blooded (they don’t waste energy to stay warm), so they’re far more efficient at converting feed to meat than cattle or pigs. Ten grams of feed produces one gram of beef or three grams of pork, but it can yield nine grams of edible insect meat, according to research from Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University. Yet insects still have virtually the same amount of protein as beef or pork. A 100-gram portion of grasshopper meat contains 20.6 grams of protein, just 7 grams less than an equivalent portion of beef.

If the protein numbers and energy efficiency don’t move you to try a grilled locust, consider this: Insects use a fraction of the water and land of conventional livestock, plus they’re climate-friendly. According to van Huis’ research, breeding edible insects, like locusts and crickets, emits just 10 percent of the methane from livestock and about 0.3 percent of the nitrous oxide. Insects are also natural recyclers that thrive on paper and industrial wastes – stuff that would normally be trashed.

Insect-eating doesn’t have a yuck factor in most of the world. Venezuelans eat French-fried ants. Ghanaians eat bread made out of termites. Thailand has more than 15,000 locust farmers. As pro-bug people like to point out, 70 percent of the world’s population eats more than 1,400 insects.

Fear of insect eating is peculiar to North Americans and Europeans. Advocates of a global surge in ‘micro-livestock’ – that’s the euphemistic term some like to apply to insect farming – are tyring to challenge the phobia.”

For the rest of this very thought-provoking article, go HERE. See what might be showing up on the shelves of Costco or Sam’s Club in the future…

An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time

Interesting idea from Amsterdam, appearing in the New York Times, May 8, 2012.

By Sally McGrane

“AMSTERDAM – An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. ‘It doesn’t work anymore,’ she said. ‘No steam.’

Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.

Conceived as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus.

Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press.

‘In Europe, we thow out so many things,’ said Martine Postma, a former journalist who came up with the concept after the birth of her second child led her to think more about the environment. ‘It’s a shame, because the things we throw away are usually not that broken. There are more and more people in the world, and we can’t keep handling things the way we do.

‘I had the feeling I wanted to do something, not just write about it,’ she said. But she was troubled by the question: ‘How do you try to do this as a normal person in your daily life?’ Inspired by a design exhibit about the creative, cultural and economic benefits of repairing and recycling, she decided that helping people fix things was a practical way to prevent unnecessary waste.

‘Sustainability discussions are often about ideals, about what could be,’ Ms. Postma said. ‘After a certain number of workshops on how to grow your own mushrooms, people get tired. This is very hands on, very concrete. It’s about doing something together, in the here and now.’

While the Netherlands puts less than 3 percent of its municipal waste into landfills, there is still room for improvement, according to Joop Atsma, the state secretary for infrastructure and the environment.” ….

Read more about this innovative concept of Repair Cafes here.

Do you think a similar concept would work in the U.S., or are we too deeply enmeshed in the ‘Take-Make-Waste’ economy?

Garbage Glut: Each of Us Toss Out 7 Pounds of Trash a Day, Spending Billions to Manage It

Read the following excerpt published in The Wall Street Journal by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Edward Humes. Click HERE to read the entire article. Humes’ book, “Garbology” was recently published.

“Each week, we push our trash to the curb, and it seemingly disappears. But where does it all go: the spent cartons of milk, the computer keyboard fried by spilled coffee, those empty dog food cans?

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to find out. In 2009, they began attaching transmitter chips to thousands of pieces of ordinary garbage. They tossed this “smart trash” into the bin, sat back and watched the tortuous, disturbing path that our garbage often takes: the meanderings of electronic waste as it headed for distant shores, of ratty old sneakers that ran the equivalent of a dozen marathons, of printer cartridges that transversed the continent not once but twice on the road to recycling.

This clever experiment threw a spotlight on the biggest, costliest, dirtiest secret about our garbage: our ignorance of how much we produce, what it contains and what happens to it once it leaves our hands.

Take the nation’s official trash tally – used alike by environmentalists, buisnesses and policy makers – which maintains that the average American tosses out 4.4 pounds of trash a day, with about a third getting recycled and the rest going to landfills. These numbers are found in the Environmental Protection Agency’s exhaustive annual compendium “Municipal Solid Waste in the United States” – America’s trash Bible – and are determined by an array of byzantine estimates and simulations, based on manufacturing data and the life expectancy of products.

But the EPA’s “materials flow analysis” dates back to the bad old days when there were 10 times the number of town dumps and many more illegal ones, with little actual weighing and regulation. Today the business model of the landfill and recycling business depends on precise measurement (and billing per ton), so we have much  more real-world data. Using these sources, the most recent survey conducted by Columbia University and the trade journal BioCycle found that Americans actually throw out much more than the EPA estimates, a whopping 7.1 pounds a day, and that less than a quarter of it gets recycled.

So how does America’s trash weigh in? Here are some key numbers from the emerging science of garbology: 

  • At 7.1 pounds of trash a day, each of us is on track to produce a staggering 102 tons of waste in an average lifetime.
  • Trash has become America’s leading export: mountains of waste paper, soiled cardboard, crushed beer cans and junked electronics. China’s No. 1 export to the U.S. is computers, according to the Journal of Commerce. The United States’ No. 1 export to China, by number of cargo containers, is scrap.
  • American communities on average spend more money on waste management than on fire protection, parks and recreation, libraries or schoolbooks, according to U.S. Census data on municipal budgets.

As these snapshots suggest, garbage costs are staggering. New York City alone spent $2.2 billion on sanitation in 2011. According to the city’s department of sanitation, more than $300 million of that was just for transporting its citizens’ trash by train and truck – 12,000 tons a day – to out-of-state landfills, some as far as 300 miles away. How much is 12,000 tons a day? That’s like throwing away 62 Boeing 747 jumbo jets daily, or driving 8,730 new Honda Civics into a landfill each morning.”

Read the rest of this WSJ article HERE.

 Some final facts on Our Annual Waste (from Garbology)

  • 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts
  • 40 billion plastic knives, forks and spoons
  • 28 billion pounds of food
  • Enough steel to level and restore Manhattan
  • Enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas

News Bit: NIKE, NASA Just Do It, Partner on Waste

By Leon Kaye, TriplePundit.com, April 9, 2012

“Last week NASA and NIKE kicked off ‘LAUNCH: Beyond Waste Challenge’ to find 10 ‘game changing’ innovations that could revamp current waste management systems. The immediate steps are to find new methods to minimize waste or alter it into new products. In the long term, the goal is to have these new waste processing systems aid space travel in the future.

Those interested in participating in the program have until May 15 to submit ideas for the elimination, transformation and mitigation of waste. LAUNCH is also seeking proposals for waste reduction education and financial strategies. This initiative welcomes any innovations that can help with waste diversion or zero-waste strategies that can benefit in households, communities, businesses or industry.

The fundamentals behind LAUNCH are growing concerns over the effects that the world’s increasing population coupled with diminishing resources call for a complete redesign and rethink of how societies approach waste. Current practices from the obvious, incineration and landfill disposal, to even more sustainable processes like recycling and ‘upcycling,’ (which use energy and do not always address consumerism and the accumulation of ‘stuff’) are untenable in the long run.”

To read more about how shoes and rockets work together go HERE.

News Bit: Want Young Customers in China? Cut Your Emissions.

By Jessica Shankleman, Greenbiz.com, April 3, 2012

“Businesses have been urged to accelerate their environmental footprinting strategies to include emerging economies, after new research by The Carbon Trust revealed young people in China could hold the key to unlocking mass demand for greener products.

The survey of 2,500 young people across six countries carried out the TNS found 83 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds in China would be more loyal to a brnd if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint. In contrast, just 57 percent of U.S. respondents and 55 percent of young people in the U.K. made the same claim.

Globally, 78 percent of young people said they want their favorite brands to reduce their carbon footpring, but again those in China showed the highest demand for emission reductions with 88 percent calling on firms to cut their footprint.

South Africa came in second place with 86 percent of respondents calling on blue chips to reduce their impact, followed by Brazil at 84 percent. Again the U.S. and U.K. lagged far behind, with only two thirds of respondents demanding more action from big brands.

The analysis was launched just days after The Carbon Trust unveiled the first four Asian companies to receive the Carbon Trust Standard, its independent label awarded to companies that reduce their organizational carbon footprints year-on-year.

Tom Delay, chief executive of The Carbon Trust, said the survey results were “startling” in that they revealed how Chinese consuemrs could lead the global demand for greener goods.

‘Sixty percent of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35 percent of those in the U.S.,’ he said. ‘Perhaps it is the Chinese, no the U.S. consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for new low carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy,’”

Read the entire article HERE.

Would you buy from a product from a company that could document that product’s carbon footprint? And would you be loyal to that company because it makes the effort to be transparent on the environmental impact of the product?

News Bits: Young People Not So ‘Green’ After All

Interesting article by Martha Irvine, Associate Press National Writer…

“They have a reputation for being environmentally minded do-gooders. But an academic analysis of surveys spanning more than 40 years has found that today’s young Americans are less interested in the environment and in conserving resources – and often less civic-minded overall – than their elders were when they were young.

The findings go against the widespread belief that environmental issues have hit home wih today’s young adults, known as Millennials, who have grown up amid climate change discussion and the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ The environment is often listed among top concerns for young voters.

‘I was shocked ,’ said Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is one of the study’s authors. ‘We have the perception that we’re getting through to people. But at least compared to previous eras, we’re not.’

Twenge, author of the book, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” has spent much of her career publishing work that challenges or attempts to explain commonly held beliefs about young people.

This study, published online this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looked at the life goals, concern for others and civic orientation of three young generations – baby boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials.

Based on two longstanding national surveys of high school seniors and college freshmen, Twenge and her colleagues found a decline, over the last four decades, in young people’s trust in others, their interest in government and the time they said they spent thinking about social problems.

Steepest of all was a steady decline in concern about the environment, and taking personal action to save it.

Researches found that, when surveyed decades ago, about a third of young baby boomers said it was important to become personally involved in programs to clean up the environment. In comparison, only a about a quarter of young Gen Xers – and 21 percent of Millennials – said the same.

Meanwhile, 15 percent of Millennials said they had made no effort to help the environment, compared with 8 percent of young Gen Xers and 5 percent of young baby boomers.

Millennials also were the least likely to say they’d made an effort to conserve electricity and fuel used to heat their homes.

In the case of heating fuel, 78 percent of young baby boomers and 71 percent of young Gen Xers said they cut back, compared with 56 percent of Millennials.

It is important to note that most of the survey data available for Millennials was collected before the country’s most recent recession hit.

Even so, those working in the environmental field – including some Millennials themselves – aren’t that surprised by the findings.”

The article continues HERE.

Are you surprised by these findings?? Add a comment…

To read the full scientific article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology CLICK HERE.