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Sustainability

It’s Recyclemania Time!

Recyclemania is Back!! The goal, of course, is to both reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we throw out in the trash by thinking before we buy AND if we do need to discard something AND it is recyclable, to put it in the appropriate recycling bin.

Recyclemania is a friendly yearly competition with other colleges and universities in North America and Canada to see who can do the best job of reducing, reusing and recycling. During the eight weeks of February 3 – March 30, we’ll be having our waste hauler record the amount of waste and recycling removed from ALL our campus dumpsters. That volume is converted to weights and entered in the RecycleMania database for all to see … and compare our progress against other schools!

In Wisconsin, the following schools are competing in RecycleMania: Carroll University, College of the Menominee Nation, Lawrence University, Saint Norbert College, UW – Madison, UW – Milwaukee, UW – Oshkosh, UW – Plattville, UW – River Falls, UW – Stout, UW – Whitewater, and Western Technical College. How will we fare against this competition?? That depends on you and your buying/recycling habits!

Stay tuned for events happening the week of March 3rd and check back here for updates on our progress and status.

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!

Build Your Own Time Capsule!

 

Send a message to future UW – Green Bay faculty, staff and students by leaving a message in a bottle during the week of Sept. 17 -21. In October, the new planters being installed on the Student Services Plaza will be filled with soil. But, some of the planters are deeper than the plants will need to live a healthy and long life. So, as many gardeners do when they have a really big pot,  we’ll be using a ‘filler’ – bottles that have been recycled on campus - to take up some of that unneeded space. This saves money on soil we don’t have to purchase and reuses bottles already present on campus.

To make the whole process more fun, everyone on campus has the opportunity to build their own time capsule to be used in the planters. With plastic bottles lasting an estimated 450 years in a landfill (that’s why it’s important to recycle them!!), take a few minutes to send your message to a future generation of students and employees. Here’s how you can participate:

Do-it-Yourself

  • Save a rigid plastic soda or water bottle and save the cap!
  • Wash and dry the bottle – set the rinsed bottle in a sunny place for a day or so to evaporate the leftover water inside
  • Write your message – is it a wish, hope, dream, thought, comment, drawing? Include a little demographic info such as your name, age, etc. so future UWGB historians will know something about you
  • Place it inside the bottle and put on the cap
  • Bring your bottle to campus the week of Sept. 17 – 21 and deposit it in one of the specially marked containers located at-
    • MAC Hall – top of the hallway ramp, next to the recycling/trash collection station
    • Cofrin Library – collection station closest to the Garden Cafe
    • Rose Hall – to the right of the collection station closest to Wood Hall
    • Theater Hall – next to the collection station
    • Instructional Services – next to the GAC Lab, to the left of the collection station
    • Environmental Sciences – just outside of ES114 lecture hall, next to the collection station

 Less Do-it-Yourself

  • Come to the Message-in-a-Bottle booth staffed by SGA, PEAC and SLO members. Booths and times are:
    • Monday, Sept. 17, MAC Hall, top of stairs by the Biodiversity Center; 11:30-1:00
    • Tuesday, Sept. 18, Union, across from the bookstore; 11:30 – 1:00
    • Friday, Sept. 21, Cofrin Library, across from Garden Cafe; 11:30 – 1:00
  • Pick up a bottle (limited quantity available, first-come/first-serve), paper and pen.
  • Contemplate and write your message.
  • Deposit it in the time capsule bin.

Who knows how valuable your signature or message will be in 40 – 50 years when the roof again needs replacement!

 

Olympic Park Sets Gold Standard for Sustainability

  from CNN.com, by Erin McLaughlin and Matthew Knight

“It’s hard to believe that this area of east London was once a dilapidated and neglected quarter of the UK capital.

With shiny new stadiums and visitor facilities nestling among the lush landscaped grounds, every detail of the 500-acre Olympic Park has taken into account environmental concerns, prompting 2012 organizers to bill it as the first sustainable Olympics.

David Stubbs, head of sustainability for the London 2012 Games, was part of the original team that drafted London’s successful bid.

Sustainability was a key reason why London was chosen, he says, and provides a golden opportunity to show what can be achieved.

‘If you can put sustainability at the heart of a project which is the largest logistical exercise in peace time — across 26 different sports, with thousands of people attending and millions watching — then you can do it anywhere,’ Stubbs said.

Many of the park’s bridges have been constructed using gabion walls (steel mesh filled with stones and rubble) providing a visual reminder of the Games’ green goals.

‘There’s a huge emphasis on reuse and recycling,’ says Stubbs.

‘All the buildings that were knocked downs, all that rubble was sort of crushed up and used as the fillings for these gabions for the new bridges.’”

For the rest of the article on the arenas and landscape of the 2012 Olympic Games, read HERE.

 

News Bit: Fryer Grease Hits the Black Market

Story by Samantha Neary, posted in TriplePundit.com on June 13, 2012.

“We know that oil consumption is a hot topic today, especially in this volatile economic climate. For example, biodiesel has taken center stage this week with reports of increased grease theft from restaurant kitchens nationwide, subsequently creating an underground frying oil market.

With green energy becoming evermore prevalent and effective, the demand for biodiesel has inspired many to cash in. Here is how it happens: restaurants store used cooking grease in barrels to be picked up by a collection company, “green” thieves steal the grease and resell it to recyclers who then process it and sell the processed biodiesel to someone in the transportation industry. Yes, all this effort is over lard.

For years, restaurants had to pay companies to haul away old grease, which was used mostly in animal feed. Some gave it away to locals who used it make biodiesel for their converted car engines. But with a demand for biofuel rising, fryer oil now trades on a booming commodities market, commanding around 40 cents per pound, about four times what it sold for 10 years ago. Many restaurants now have contracts with collection companies to sell their grease for about $300 per container. This boost in value is tempting for thieves, especially in hard times like we face today, so the renering industry has been trying to lock down the growing market from freeloaders. But barrels of grease are still slipping through the cracks. So instead of restaurants paying collection companies, they are not paying lawyers to persecute grease thieves.

It did take some time, however, for this type of larceny to be taken seriously in court. ‘The reception in municipal court is very uneven,’ said Steven T. Singer, a lawyer in New Jersey. ‘You’re reliant upon the prosecutors, so you got to get them to understand the seriousness of this, as well as the judge.’”

Go to the rest of the story and watch the video from a security cam of a grease thief slipping away with the goods HERE.

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?

FINAL RecycleMania Results!

The 2012 RecycleMania competition is complete! This year, during the eight weeks of the event, our campus recycling rate was 31.33%, or 15.17 pounds/person. Our non-recycled trash going to the landfill weighed in at 48.41 pounds/person over the eight weeks.

The tables below show the final results  as well as where our efforts placed us among all the Wisconsin Colleges and Universities participating in the competitive category.

State of Wisconsin Results

 

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.

Share Your Ideas for Recycling, Reusing, and Reducing!

Do you have any suggestions, practical ideas, creative usage or other ideas on how to reduce your consumption of ‘stuff’, reuse/recycling the ‘stuff’ you do have in new ways rather than throwing it into the trash to go live in a landfill?

Here’s a few things to get you started:

  • Buy a reusable water bottle and refill from the Union’s ‘hydration station’ or any water fountain. Saves money, reduces plastic waste, reduces oil usage  (come to see “Tapped: The Movie” at the EMBI Green Innovations Conference on April 19th – it’s free! – and informative).
  • Make sure you use the duplex setting when you print – save some paper – and be sure to recycle the paper in the proper bin when it’s ready to go.
  • Earn some cash for your old electronics – visit Gazelle.com to see if you can sell them your old iPhone, x-box, or other electronic items.

What are your ideas – do you have one simple idea you can share?