SSI Travel Grantee: Allison Marshall

March 13th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Allison Marshall was awarded $322 by the SSI Fee Board in November of 2013 to attend the American Water Resources Association Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. The Fee Board funded her travel, lodging, and conference registration.
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The travel grant I was awarded from SSI allowed me to attend the annual conference for the American Water Resources Association. I am seeking a degree in Water Resources Engineering and I am particularly interested in trying to find creative, sustainable solutions to water resource conflicts. At the conference, I was able to present my graduate research as part of a symposium about participatory modeling. The presenters and attendees of the symposium were a dynamic group of forward-thinking, creative problem solvers who have used collaborative processes together with modeling techniques. The goals of these approaches include fostering relationships between water users or managers while supporting co-learning about the dynamics of the water resource. By focusing on relationship building and recognizing the importance of local knowledge in natural resource issues, these approaches aim to produce more sustainable solutions that extend beyond the current conflict and help to grow networks of resource managers who can collaborate on future projects as well.

By speaking in this workshop as well as meeting the other presenters and attendees, I was able to greatly expand my knowledge of this relatively new field. I gained valuable feedback that will not only help to improve my current graduate research project, but will contribute to my knowledge as I try to apply these skills in a career. I was also proud to present my research and share the experience and lessons I have learned so far. Many other attendees commented that my project gave a good example of practical application of the theory.

- Allison Marshall


Question of the Week: RecycleMania Civil War

March 12th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

ChicoBag-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win an OSU ChicoBag.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Every year for RecycleMania, OSU and UO become locked in a civil war to see who can recycle the most. As of March 11, who is currently in the lead? Please list the university and how many lbs. recycling/student they have.

Answer

Currently, UO is in the lead of the recycling civil war. While we are trailing UO, the good news is that we CUT THEIR LEAD IN HALF over last week. There’s still time to tighten the gap!

And congratulations to Dianna Fisher for winning this week’s Question of the Week!


Women’s Center Clothing Swap.

March 10th, 2014 | Brenton Keddy

Spring is here and nature is looking fabulous. Now you can too! The Winter term gloom is on its way out as spring break 2014 is coming upon us. And there is a new and fun way to update your wardrobe, and get a great start on spring term.

The Winter 2014 Women’s Center Clothing Swap is happening now!
Students, both Women and men, can participate in the Women’s Center Clothing swap taking happening during Dead week, March 10, 2014 – March 14, 2013.

Women's Center Clothing Swap

Bring your gently worn clothing items and accessories to the Women’s Center before during dead week, and then prepare yourself for some major swapping!
Swapping will continue all week during our normal hours, Monday – Thursday from 9:00AM to 6:00PM and Friday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM


Third Climate Change Conversation to be Hosted Tomorrow

March 10th, 2014 | Paige Thompson

Content adapted from Debra Whigbes

Seven Steps toward a More Sustainable Household

Date and Time: Tuesday, March 11th at 7:00 PM

Place: Corvallis-Benton County Library (645 NW Monroe)

Feeling helpless about climate change and don’t know what to do?  Consider this. Seven experts will talk about how good it can be on the path toward a low-carbon footprint.  Each presenter will briefly outline their topic, to be followed by a break-out session where audience members can seek more information from individual experts. The following presenters will teach and inspire us about how to make practical and meaningful changes in the areas of energy, consumption, gardening, transportation and simplifying our lives.

  • Sustainable Consumption – Babe O’Sullivan’s (Eugene’s Sustainability Liaison). Babe will focus on the front end of the consumer cycle, explaining how choices and behavior changes can make a huge difference in reducing the impact of what we buy.
  • The New Landscape – Owen Dell, RLA, ASLA (Landscape Architect). Owen will discuss home gardening and sustainable landscaping, connecting it to community, energy use, and food security.
  • Alternative Transportation – Glencora Borradaile (OSU Assistant Professor) & Michael Gretes, (Researcher, OHSU). This couple both have successful careers yet choose not to own a car.  They will extol the importance, economics, the lifestyle enhancement and joy of not gaining 3,000 lbs.
  • Simplicity – Dr. Steve Cook (OSU Senior Instructor).  Steve will explain his simple and sustainable lifestyle and will share his rewards, successes and challenges along that path.
  • Your Ecological Home – Skip Wenz (author of “Your Ecological Home”). Will give a positive vision and the future benefits for those householders who take home and apply these and other easy and sustainable changes.
  • Household Energy— Brandon Trelstad (OSU’s Sustainability Coordinator).  Will highlight the amazing energy reduction possible with informed appliance choices, with a special focus on the exciting new heat pump water heater that uses dramatically less energy.
  • Solar Energy: Julie Williams (founder of Seeds for the Sol).  Solar energy is the most expansive and economical shift for a long term energy source.  If we help each other transition to solar energy, today, we can stop getting ready for the apocalypse and begin our true willingness to live a fair, just, and beautiful life.

For more information contact Debra at dwhigbes@gmail, or 541-554-6979.


Question of the Week: Energy Savings from Aluminum Can Recycling

March 5th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

bottle-isolatedTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable 20 oz. OSU water bottle.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

In this week’s Recycling Mythbusters blog post, we discuss the benefits of recycling various materials. If you were to recycle one aluminum can, for how many hours would the energy savings power a television?

Answer

Recycling just one aluminum can will produce enough energy savings to power a television for three hours.
The overall energy savings from recycling cans is about 95% over creating a new can.
To learn more about the benefits of recycling different materials, visit the Ecologue:
Recycling just one aluminum can will produce enough energy savings to power a television for three hours.
The overall energy savings from recycling cans is about 95% over creating a new can.
To learn more about the benefits of recycling different materials, visit the Recycling Mythbusters blog.
And congratulations to Jessica Collins for being the first to correctly answer the question!


Recycling Mythbusters: Recycling vs. Landfilling

March 4th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

By Mythbuster Amanda Abbott

Who are the Recycling Mythbusters?

We are Kyle “Reedcycler” Reed, Amanda “Jill of All Trades” Abbott and Rachel “Waste Watcher” Tholl. This term we will be introducing you to some recycling-based myths, and busting them so you don’t have to.

From left to right: Amanda Abbott, Rachel Tholl, and Kyle Reed.

From left to right: Amanda Abbott, Rachel Tholl, and Kyle Reed.

Together we are the Recycling Mythbusters.

We don’t just tell the myths, we put them to rest.

Myth: Recycling doesn’t benefit the environment any more than landfilling does.

As a special treat for our final segment of the Recycling Mythbusters series, this week’s blog will be in video format! A transcript of the video may be read below:

Click on the image to watch this week's Recycling Mythbusters blog.

Click on the image to watch this week's Recycling Mythbusters blog.

A)  Glass is an interesting one to take a look at.  It really depends on where you are.  Some places take glass, crush it down, and use it as a base for roadways.  This isn’t really recycling it, but it’s got to be better than just dumping it in a landfill.
(Illustration: broken glass in a landfill, as a layer on a road)
K)  You’re right, but what about places that DO recycle it?
A)  Places that recycle glass do so by breaking it down into cullet, or basically broken glass.  For every 10% of cullet that is used in glass creation, the energy costs decrease 2-3%.  So by using 50% cullet, you can make more than 10% more bottles for the same energy cost!
K) So it isn’t much, but Glass is definitely busted!

Transcript

Amanda) We’re here today to look at the myth that it’s better to throw things away than actually recycling them, based on the costs of doing so. What do you think, Kyle?
Kyle) Oh, I definitely think that’s going to be busted, you?
A)I don’t know, I mean, I think they might have something, at least for some types of material. Maybe plastic?
K) Yeah, you’re right, we should probably break this down into smaller parts, and take a look at glass, paper, plastic, and metal, and see what kind of numbers we get.

Paper

paperA) Paper products are recycled by being pulped down, and remade into a lower quality paper product.  So for example, what started as a high quality piece of printer paper might then be turned into a cardboard box, then into a newspaper, and finally into toilet paper, depending on a variety of factors.
Using old paper instead of new wood can save a bunch!  Recycling one ton of paper, the amount one person uses in two and a half years, saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water!
A) And that’s not all: Recycling is better monetarily as well. It costs $15/ton more to landfill paper trash, than it does to recycle or compost it. Paper is definitely busted.

Plastic

A) Plastic was the one I thought might be confirmed, but actually, it’s a lot harder to find the benefit with this one.  Like paper, plastic can be broken down into levels of quality. This can be both the numbers that you sometimes see, but also plastics without a number, like plastic wrap.

plastic-shapes-accepted-examples

A) Plastics like plastic bottles are well worth the recycling effort.  For example, the state of Oregon has a deposit on beverage bottles, to help ensure that they are recycled in the community.
A) Other types of plastic, not so much.  The cost to recycle some types of hard plastic means that many places just don’t do it.  It isn’t worth the cost, and while 4% of our energy use in the united states is in refining plastic, many hard plastics aren’t worth the money to do so.
A) So we’ll call it plausible.  Depending on your type of plastic, it might not be worth the money to recycle it.  That being said, if you can recycle it, you should.

Metal

household scrap metalA) Metal is an interesting one, as it is a non-renewable resource, which can run out.  While this alone is reason enough to recycle it, let’s take a look at the costs associated with it.
A) Aluminum cans, one of the most common items, have an incredible energy difference.  For each can recycled, enough energy is saved to power a computer or television for 3 hours.  That’s about a 95% energy savings over creating a new can.
A)Metal? Busted without a doubt.

Glass

glass

A) Glass is an interesting one to take a look at.  It really depends on where you are.  Some places take glass, crush it down, and use it as a base for roadways.  This isn’t really recycling it, but it’s got to be better than just dumping it in a landfill.
A)  Places that recycle glass do so by breaking it down into cullet, or basically broken glass.  For every 10% of cullet that is used in glass creation, the energy costs decrease 2-3%.  So by using 50% cullet, you can make more than 10% more bottles for the same energy cost!
A) So it isn’t much, but Glass is definitely busted!

Conclusions

And with that, we wrap up the final myth for our Recycling Mythbusters series. Thank you for joining us on this journey of fixing falsehoods and misconceptions. If you missed a week, you can view any of the previous blogs here. And be sure to tune in next week, where we’ll meet the Recycling Mythbusters themselves.

This post is part of our “Recycling Mythbusters” blog series, where we focus on busting common misconceptions about recycling. Tune in every week to learn more.



Garden workparty event at the SSC!

March 3rd, 2014 | Annie Kersting

Winter Work Party – Come help SSI prepare for spring!!!

It’s the last garden work party of the season and we’re getting ready for spring with a bang!

Help us prepare the SSI student garden for Spring Term and:

  • Win fabulous and useful prizes!
  • Enjoy provided snacks and beverages!
  • Take a break from studying; clear your mind and dirty those hands!
  • Learn Valuable gardening tips to save time and money!
  • Meet and mingle with students from all majors!

When: March 6, 2014, 4-6 pm

Where: Student Sustainability Center, 738 SW 15th Street (near the Pride Center and INTO building)

Final Garden Work Party!

Come make garden magic happen!


RideScout: The App That Revolutionizes How to Get Around Town

February 28th, 2014 | Jake Kane

RideScout, a free and revolutionary new app, now makes life a little easier when moving from point A to point B. RideScout finds alternative modes of transportation in town that are local to your area. Many transportation services offer their own apps, but the user-friendly RideScout combines all your options into one. This app uses your current location and allows you to input a destination of your choice. Once you choose where you want to go, it provides multiple options for you to choose from. This app also tells you how many calories you would burn by getting there on foot or by bike, as well as how much it would cost in gas to drive there.

Read the rest of this entry »


Question of the Week: Disposal of E-Waste

February 26th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

spork-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU spork.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Many electronic waste items include hazardous materials. Because of this, what three types of e-waste are illegal to dispose of in landfills in Oregon?

Answer

Under House Bill 2626, it is illegal to dispose of 1.) televisions, 2.) computers (CPUs and laptops), and 3.) monitors at any Oregon landfill.
If any of the above items are found in OSU waste, we may be fined and be liable for the cost of removing the items from the landfill.
Under the Oregon E-Cycles program, manufacturers are required to provide free recycling for the a minimum of seven items of the above at a time. In January 2015, printers, keyboards, and mice will be added to the Oregon e-cycles program.
For information on how to dispose of e-waste on campus, visit our webpage:

Under House Bill 2626, it is illegal at any Oregon landfill to dispose of the following:

1) televisions

2) computers (CPUs and laptops)

3) monitors

If any of the above items are found in OSU waste, we may be fined and be liable for the cost of removing the items from the landfill.

Under the Oregon E-Cycles program, manufacturers are required to provide free recycling for the a minimum of seven items of the above at a time. In January 2015, printers, keyboards, and mice will be added to the Oregon e-cycles program.

For information on how to dispose of e-waste on campus, visit our webpage.


Recycling Mythbusters: Biodegradable vs. Compostable

February 25th, 2014 | Kyle Reed
If you throw a biodegradable item into the compost at home, it will break down into a more natural form – for instance, biodegradable paper will turn into tiny bits of paper. However it will not offer nutrients to the soil in a compost bin. This is why biodegradable products do not belong in compost bins. However, it is morally difficult to throw biodegradable items into the trash can because landfills typically do not offer the moisture- and sunshine-rich biome that biodegradable products need in order to break down into their smallest and most basic form.
For an item to be compostable, it must break down into organic materials that can offer nutrients to the soil and plants around it (the technical term is humus: any organic material that has reached a point of stability and can offer those healthy nutrients). Compostable items are usually food waste, such as apple cores, banana peels, orange rinds, etc. Very rarely do any other products qualify to be thrown into the compost bin. Although plenty of products are sold as biodegradable, plant-based, or bio-based, these are not compostable.
To be safe, your compost bin with all its delicate plants and bugs and worms should not have any products other than food waste in it. Keep the compost bin clear of any plant-based products, because although they can biodegrade, they cannot offer your plants anything but an obstacle to grow around.

By Mythbusters Rachel Tholl and Kyle Reed

Who are the Recycling Mythbusters?

We are Kyle “Reedcycler” Reed, Amanda “Jill of All Trades” Abbott and Rachel “Waste Watcher” Tholl. This term we will be introducing you to some recycling-based myths, and busting them so you don’t have to.

From left to right: Amanda Abbott, Rachel Tholl, and Kyle Reed.

From left to right: Amanda Abbott, Rachel Tholl, and Kyle Reed.

Together we are the Recycling Mythbusters.

We don’t just tell the myths, we put them to rest.

Myth: If something is biodegradable, it is also compostable.

When something is called biodegradable, it means that it will break down into smaller parts after being disposed of. However, being biodegradable does not mean that it is also compostable. The largest reason for this is that while a biodegradable item may break down into smaller bits, these components may not be able to provide any nutrients when used as compost.

Click on this image to watch a video about composting in the PRC.

Click on this image to watch a video about composting in the PRC.

For an item to be compostable, it must break down into organic materials that can offer nutrients to the soil and plants around it (the technical term is humus: any organic material that has reached a point of stability and can offer those healthy nutrients). And while some items may indeed do this, they must do so within the 90 day composting process to be accepted as compostable at the Pacific Region Compost (PRC) facility. Here, compostable items are subjected to high temperatures, which assists in breaking them down.

Compost made at the PRC is sold to local businesses, farmers, gardeners, and landscapers around Corvallis and the surrounding areas.

Want to learn more about composting in your department? Click here.

Want to learn more about composting in your department? Click here.

Compostable items sent to the PRC include: food waste (such as apple cores, banana peels, orange rinds, etc.), paper towels and napkins, tea bags and coffee grounds, 100% paper plates, and compostable servingware. Although plenty of products are sold as biodegradable, plant-based, or bio-based, these are not necessarily compostable, and only servingware specifically labelled as compostable should be put into a compost or yard debris bin.

If you are the owner of your own compost, or are using a department composting worm bin, you’d best leave out large items like compostable servingware, as they will take much longer to break down than food waste or fibrous paper.

If you’d like to learn more about composting on campus, click here.

This post is part of our “Recycling Mythbusters” blog series, where we focus on busting common misconceptions about recycling. Tune in every week to learn more.