Saving the Night — A Brief Look at Light Pollution (Reduction)

01/29/2014 § 2 Comments

By:  Kayleen Glaser

Several years ago, I took a backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park in Far West Texas.  The first day I arrived, I was enchanted by the desert… it was seemingly endless, the red and oranges hues of the dirt fascinated me, it was flat for miles, and then huge mountains jutted out of the ground in the distance.  But my days spent in Big Bend were nothing compared to my nights.  “Why?” you may ask.  Because the Big Bend night sky has the least amount of light pollution in the lower 48 states.  On a clear night, viewers can observe, with the naked eye, some 2,000 stars.

When I returned to Bloomington after that trip, I started wondering what we could do in urban settings to make our night skies more vibrant, awe-inducing experiences.  The answer, in some ways, is quite simple:  light pollution reduction measures.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Our Water Supply

01/28/2014 § 1 Comment

By: Jessica Stavole, Energy & Built Environment Intern

The recent chemical spill in West Virginia has been catching national attention. The spill left approximately 300,000 people without access to fresh tap water, highlighting for many just how unappreciated our basic water supply can be. 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), the chemical released in the spill by Freedom Industries, is typically reserved for washing coal from rock in liquid tanks, preparing coal for the market. The chemical which was produced by the Eastman Chemical Company, which provided limited toxicology data to those working to ameliorate the damage. Eastman, Freedom Industries (the company who owned the vat containing MCHM and is now seeking bankruptcy), and West-Virginia American Water have all found themselves on the sharp end of a federal lawsuit. The spill has already crossed state borders and appeared in Ohio.  Cities such as Cincinnati, Ohio, shut down their intake of water from the Ohio River, supplying water to the city via reserve tanks until the spill passed through.


National Geographic Picture of Elk River after MCHM spill

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Sustainable Art

01/27/2014 § 1 Comment

By Rachel Joseph (First Year Experience Intern, Re-Creation)

Many people have a fixed and culturally defined idea of what “art” is supposed to be, what “art” has to be—a towering stone sculpture of a nude woman, a vivid painting on a large cloth canvas, an intricately detailed ceramic vase. Many people think of “art” only as a permanent installation that can be admired by the masses for centuries. They think of the concrete pieces fixed in museums or prized collections donning the hallway walls of mansions. They think of the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, the statue of David.



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Every Moment is An Opportunity

01/23/2014 § 2 Comments

By: Mary Roper, Green Purchasing Intern

Mirriam-Webster defines “opportunity” as an amount of time or situation in which something can be done. Some would say that it is a chance for progress. My good friend Sarah says that it’s the chance to do something. No matter the definition, If there is one thing I have learned during my time as an intern, it is that the Indiana University Office of Sustainability is a gateway for endless opportunities.


Every moment is an opportunity.

What I appreciate most about this program is that it not only provides opportunities for personal and professional growth, but it also challenges us interns to find unique opportunities to better our community as well. Last night, the majority of us interns met with our adviser to review our past progress and identify the opportunities that awaited us in 2014. It was during last night’s seminar that it became quite clear to me that Indiana University, its students, its faculty, its staff, and Bloomington citizens can all expect great things from the IUOS interns during the last half of the academic year.  

I take great pride in the fact that I am able to work closely with such intelligent people. My co-workers are constantly recognizing opportunities before them and finding ways grasp these opportunities and attain their goals. For instance, Amanda Redfern, the Greening of the Athletic Department Intern, believed there was an opportunity to reduce waste generated by tailgates.She was able to work with the Indiana University Athletics Department to set up a “Greening Cream & Crimson” program for football games last fall that didn’t just provide an outlet for recycling; it also educated the community on the topic.

However, it is important to note that a large part of our internships involves creating our own opportunities. As the Strategic Planning and Implementation for Sustainable Food, Angela Babb sees an opportunity for Indiana University to use its relationships with large vendors to impact the food system. She worked last fall to create the Indiana University Food Summit, an event that brought together students, faculty, staff, and community members to discuss how the university should define and track local and sustainable food for the campus. This provided stakeholders the opportunity to communicate their ideas and concerns and share resources, a huge step in this initiative.

One thing I must commend is the encouragement that is given towards students like us who want to undertake these initiatives. As interns, we receive support from the Office of Sustainability, but it is through the  collaboration of several other university departments that we have been able to seize so many of these opportunities. For example, last summer I identified an opportunity in the labs for the promotion of a recycling program, but without the help of the Indiana University Office of Procurement  and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety Management, it would have been difficult to move the project forward.

As we being the second half of the academic year, I am confident that we interns will meet and exceed many of our goals. My confidence is in the fact that I see a group that doesn’t just wait for opportunity to knock on the door; instead, I see a group that is constantly identifying ways in which it can improve our campus, streamline processes, or better our programs. Please continue to read our blogs, follow our progress, and lend your support to this year’s interns. Thank you.   



01/20/2014 § 3 Comments

By Henri Venable (Bicycle Friendly Campus Initiative Intern)

Too often the discussion regarding “alternative” transportation focuses on the car as the epitome of evil. But this causes a dangerous mentality to take root in the minds of cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians alike. It fosters antagonistic relationships between the 3 modes of transportation that, on the road, manifest into unnecessary and sometimes dangerous, behaviors. Everyone has their story about “the other side” – cars running cyclists into the curb and off the road, cyclists running stop signs and lights, or inattentive pedestrians crossing outside of crosswalks. If anything this proves only that we are all human, all flawed, and all deserving of each others’ respect and understanding.

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You’re Not Fooling Me, BP

01/13/2014 § 4 Comments

By Sarah Baulac, Education and Research Intern

I needed a post-winter break vacation vacation. (It’s a real thing) So, I packed up and spent the weekend in The Big Easy- New Orleans, Louisiana.

Between beignets in Jackson Square, I visited the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. After visiting Ernie- the 35-year-old penguin- and his friends, I continued on to the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Here’s where things get a little weird…


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