07/31/2012 § Leave a comment
By Mark Milby, No Waste Program Coordinator
It’s an interesting time for folks concerned with waste. New packaging products boasting less environmental impact are making their debut every month, and frankly, it’s getting confusing. Accordingly, there’s an argument raging in the waste industry over the pros and cons of these products. As IU’s No Waste Coordinator, I get a lot of questions from event planners, department heads, and curious students about which products they should be using. But don’t worry – I’m here for you. Let’s decompose all the trash talk into the bottom line.
07/31/2012 § Leave a comment
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Last Day to Register for the Summer 2012 Sustainability Internship Symposium (posted 7/31)
Today, July 31st, is the last day to register for the Summer 2012 Sustainability Internship Symposium on August 3 from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm. The symposium will feature the summer research projects of IU Bloomington’s sustainability interns. The agenda will include:
– Complimentary lunch featuring local food
– Project presentations by three interns
– A poster session illustrating project findings for each intern
Visit the webpage for the 2011-12 academic year symposium to get a better idea of the event’s structure. A full listing of this year’s interns and their projects can be found here. We encourage you to register now to help us plan appropriately for the event. We hope you will join us in celebrating our students’ contributions to the campus sustainability initiative.
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07/30/2012 § Leave a comment
By Haley Prihoda, Conserving Natural and Cultural Heritage in Dunn’s Woods intern
I could not be more grateful for my internship with the Office of Sustainability this summer. The experience has revealed all that I have taken for granted and helped me understand the larger consequences of my thoughtless actions. From an alternate perspective, however, it has also inspired me with a sense of self-worth by highlighting the significant contributions one person can make.
As I look back at the beginning of this summer, I truly see a different person. Entering the summer internship program as a history major with very little background in sustainability, I admittedly felt like a fish out of water. My peers continually impressed me with their knowledge, dedication, and passion for the field. During our debates and discussions, this passion was often palpable, with everyone contributing well-informed, yet unique perspectives. As the weeks continued, my familiarity with the issues increased and I was proud to consider myself more informed about the topics we discussed (global warming, environmental politics, alternative energy, ecosystem services, etc.). As my knowledge grew, so did my passion. I began to feel a stronger internal connection to the crisis at hand. I wanted to address the issues, and, possibly even more importantly, I wanted to spread the message: The world needs our help. « Read the rest of this entry »
07/30/2012 § Leave a comment
By Sara Swan, Campus Garden Coordinator
Policy can have a lasting-if sometimes subtle- impact on sustainability, and in my favorite sustainability sector (FOOD!), it is no different. In fact, food policy is a major determinant of what gets grown and how. Currently, the House is hashing out their version of the new farm bill, which will determine everything from farm subsidies to food stamps. And that’s pretty important, to say the least. However, being approximately 624 miles from the farm bill debates, it can be hard to feel involved.
Luckily, Bloomington is a fantastic town for joining the fight for a more just, sustainable food system that guarantees everyone the right to eat healthy food. For example, tonight the Bloomington Food Policy Council will meet in the Council Chambers in City Hall at 5:30 p.m. The Council needs more volunteers and is a wonderful way to affect policy on a local level. Some of their current projects include drafting a food charter for Monroe County and assessing where exactly Bloomington is in terms of food security.
If you prefer to get your hands dirty, community gardens like the Community Orchard and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard Gardens would love to have you as they seek to grow nutritious food for all. On campus, we have SPROUTS and a number of food-related clubs .
We also have the IU Office of Sustainability’s Campus Garden. I’m a little biased, but I’d say it’s pretty amazing. Everytime you volunteer at the campus garden, you are helping to make a lasting impact on our campus food system as the food grown in the garden goes to RPS and IMU Dining (You can also get free veggies by volunteering as all volunteers are entitled to garden produce).
However you choose to get involved in sustainability issues, it’s important that you do. These wonderful programs are only as strong as their volunteers, so go out and make some change! (And probably make some great friends along the way)
07/26/2012 § Leave a comment
By Bill Brown, IU Director of Sustainability
Is this what climate change feels like? The first six months of 2012 were the warmest ever recorded in Indiana, in the continental United States, and across the globe (according to NOAA’s National Climate Data Center). The last 12 months were also the warmest ever recorded.
The USDA now counts 1330 counties, a third of the nation, in their “drought disaster zone,” and 50 of Indiana’s 92 counties are included in this designation.
As the climate continues to warm, can we expect more of this extreme weather we have witnessed in 2011 and 2012? Indiana and Big Ten climate scientists recently answered that question with a “yes.”
Professor Scott Robeson, chair of the Indiana University Department of Geography and Purdue’s University’s Paul Shepson, a professor of analytical and atmospheric chemistry, recently wrote an opinion page letter in the Indianapolis Star linking current extreme weather with climate change. Their letter was co-authored by climate scientists from all twelve Big Ten universities, and similar letters appeared in major newspapers across the Midwest. « Read the rest of this entry »
07/24/2012 § Leave a comment
By Erica Bramlet, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale Coordinator
There are costs to almost everything we do. Should you risk the stomachache and eat that dessert? Should you watch an hour of TV and put off your work or homework until tomorrow? Sustainability is no different, and you can’t really talk about the S word these days without also talking about costs and benefits—economic, health, social, environmental, etc.
Convenience and comfort are two things almost every American is used to, no matter how much we may complain about that parking spot being miiiiiles away from the store. But sometimes when we put an actual value or price on that convenience, feelings change, as hopefully some of yours will as I provide a few examples that recently changed my mind about some not-quite-so-sustainable behaviors.
07/24/2012 § Leave a comment
By Carolyn Raider, Utilities and Conservation Intern
A year ago today I was teaching some of the brightest students I’ve worked with photography in the Galapagos Islands. My female co-leader Alex was an incredible instructor, not to mention one of the most environmentally-conscious individuals I’ve met to date. By the end of our trip, she had influenced every one of our students to always reuse their water bottles, refuse straws in restaurants, and to care about their carbon footprint. Since I met her I’ve been fascinated as to how she influences people to change their behavior, to care.
My goal of the summer and into the fall semester is to inspire people in the same way she did, but on the larger scale of a university campus. Being a primary orchestrator in the Energy Challenge and promoting general information about energy consumption here at IU, I’ve taken this goal to heart. Shahzeen Attari’s Human Behavior and Energy Consumption class (take it if at all possible) this past spring gave me fodder to promote the change I’ve been pursuing. I’ve since been revisiting articles of expert authors in the field and brainstorming how they can apply to my projects. « Read the rest of this entry »