Reedcycler’s Believe it or Not: From Water Bottles to Boats and Bridges

October 13th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

Reedcyclers Believe It or Not-blog

The world is a weird place.

And in the world of waste, people do odd things in order to lower the amount of trash in the world. Join me, Reedcycler, and for the next nine weeks I will show you a selection of strange sustainability and waste-related stories.

Boat made of water bottles sails the sea

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The Plastiki docked in San Francisco. Click to view larger.

San Francisco is known for its spectacles, but on March 20, 2010, the city was host to one that turned most gazes: a ship made entirely from recycled plastic. Named the Plastiki, the catamaran was to cross the Pacific Ocean to Sydney, Australia, in order to raise awareness about the massive amounts of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The entire voyage covered 8,000 nautical miles.

The vessel was created using 12,500 recovered water bottles, as well as other PET plastic waste, and came equip with solar panels, wind turbines, bicycle generators, and a small garden.

From bottles to bridges: world’s largest bottle structure

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What would you turn me into?

Water bottles are a fairly resilient material, and have been used to create a variety of objects, as showcased above. But would you want to walk on a bridge made from plastic bottles?

That’s what the team of volunteers at Ecostuff did, creating what may be the world’s largest plastic bottle structure in Timsoara, Romania. By tying together plastic plastic bottles with polypropylene rope, and securing the bottles in welded cages made of nets, the crew created 76 brick-like modules, which were attached together to form the bridge.

This post is part of the “Reedcycler’s Believe it or Not” blog series, which showcases weird waste-related stories. Tune in on Mondays each week for more.


Get Involved with the Waste Watchers

October 9th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

slide-social-mediaInterested in volunteering on campus? Gaining leadership skills? Making an impact on sustainability? If any of these describe you, the Waste Watchers club may be the right fit for you!

The Waste Watchers work on events and outreach focused on reducing waste on campus. There are multiple ways to get involved:

  • Don’t have a lot of time? Volunteer for an hour or two when you’re available. See current opportunities online.
  • Want to be part of the team? Drop by weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 6:30-8:00 pm at the Student Sustainability Center (738 SW 15th St) to work behind the scenes in brainstorming and planning outreach.
  • Ready to exercise and expand your leadership skills? Serve in a chair position (in Recruitment, Membership, or Diversity or as a Diversity Liaison). Read more on our website.


Question of the Week: Eco2Go Savings

October 8th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

Eco2Go token win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a redeemable Eco2Go token.

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

Question of the Week

The Eco2Go program on campus offers a 20 cent discount every time you use a container. After how many uses will an Eco2Go container pay itself off?

Answer

Thirty-five uses.

Use your Eco2Go container 3-4 times per week, and it will pay itself off in one term.

To join the program, purchase a token for $7 at any dining center register. Learn more about the program.

And congratulations to Amy for winning this week’s Question!


Energize Corvallis: Now Hiring Interns

October 7th, 2014 | Sam

Looking for an internship this academic year? Interested in helping Corvallis pursue its sustainability goals and projects? Look no further than Energize Corvallis.

Energize Corvallis is a local organization dedicated to helping Corvallis become one of the most energy efficient and climate-friendly cities in the United States. They are a collaboration between the City of Corvallis, Corvallis Environmental Center, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and Oregon State University Extension Service of Benton County.

Currently, Energize Corvallis is hiring for two different volunteer positions for the academic year:

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Georgetown University Energy Prize: Corvallis is one of 52 communities in the United States in the quarterfinals for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. To win the prize we need to significantly reduce residential and municipal energy use during 2015 and 2016. This is a unique opportunity to help develop, manage, and evaluate community energy efficiency programs and policies. Energize Corvallis Interns will help write the Program Plan due on Nov 11 and will then work to implement the Plan with a team of staff, volunteers, and program partners (e.g., business and municipal collaborators). Interns will also have the opportunity to participate in fundraising and budgeting work (e.g., grant writing and reporting, crowd funding, and contract development).

Classrooms Take Charge: Energize Corvallis is developing an online tool that will be available to high schools throughout the Pacific Northwest. The website will 1) encourage high school students to reduce their daily energy use and 2) reinforce climate change concepts that students are learning in class with CarbonTIME curriculum, which will be featured on National Geographic’s education website. Interns will have the opportunity to work on various aspects of this project as it is scaled up from a local to a regional level including: climate change curriculum, educational assessments, regional energy data analysis, website development, and gamification (i.e., enhancing learning objectives with game theory). Funding for this program is made possible through an Environmental Education Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Each position will require the following responsibilities:

  • Participating in trainings (schedule to be determined)
  • Working with a team of staff and volunteers to design and implement various aspects of Energize Corvallis programs
  • Helping develop a grassroots volunteer base to support and lead project outreach
  • Developing program outreach and evaluation plans with staff
  • Attending weekly meetings, including some evening meetings
  • Helping design and lead outreach days for community volunteers
  • Participating in program outreach activities such as distributing door hangers and posters, event tabling, and social media.

To apply for a position, submit a cover letter and resume to Carly Lettero, Energize Corvallis Director by the end of the day on Monday, October 13 (Carly@CorvallisEnvironmentalCenter.org). In your cover letter, please explain  why you are interested in this position, skills that you would like to learn during this internship, skills that you bring to this internship and information about your potential internship credits. Please include how many internship credits you would like to receive, your academic program and institution, your year in the program, and your anticipated graduation date. Click here for the full application and learn about Energize Corvallis on their website.


Question of the Week: Fall ‘14 Waste Watchers’ Weekly Meetings

October 1st, 2014 | Kyle Reed

Utensil-Kit-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

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

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

Question of the Week

The Waste Watchers will have weekly meetings throughout fall term at the SSC. What time are the meetings, and on what day of the week?

Answer

The Waste Watchers’ Weekly Meetings will be held on Wednesdays* from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Student Sustainability Center.

Drop on by to help plan events  this term, as well as meet others who are interested in sustainability!

More info at tiny.cc/wastewatchers

*Except Week 4, where it will be on Tuesday, 10/21 due to the Repair Fair.

And congratulations to Dann for winning this week’s Question!


OSU Featured In STARS Annual Review

September 30th, 2014 | Sam

Oregon State University is well known for its strong focus in sustainability, from our LEED Platinum rated Energy Center to our Student Sustainability Initiative. But what features matter the most and what actions will make the biggest difference?  Who decides how sustainable we actually are and whether we are moving in the right direction?

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The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE, uses a system called STARS to measure the sustainability performance of various colleges and universities around the globe.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System is a transparent, self-reporting framework for higher education institutions to earn points in four main categories. Through analyzing Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration, schools can achieve a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating. Each school’s ratings are valid for up to three years and are publicly accessible on the STARS website.

AASHE just released their 2014 Annual Review which focuses on submissions between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, which totals 105 institutions that earned a STARS rating. Oregon State earned another Gold rating this year, totaling 3 rounds of successful STARS reporting.

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AASHE noted several trends in this year’s report, including an increase in submissions from Associate’s and Baccalaureate Institutions, an increase in Multiple Reports and Higher Average Scores, and an increase in the number of schools that received Gold ratings.

The STARS reporting tool underwent major upgrades in 2013, making it hard to judge improvements made from the years prior. It is clear however that we have made advancements in campus engagement, research, grounds, coordination, planning & governance, and diversity & affordability. We also have several positive trending categories including curriculum, air and climate, transportation, investment, and public engagement.

This year’s STARS report, which highlights a sustainable endeavor from each institution, featured the OSU Repair Fairs. The Repair Fairs happen twice per term and are an opportunity for students and campus community members to bring broken or damaged items and learn, hands on, how to fix them.

This is just one of the many resources at Oregon State that show what a strong drive our university has to reach its sustainability goals. You can find more information about OSU’s resources online as well as AASHE’s review and STARS process.


Volunteer for the Bike Parking Utilization Study and get swag!

September 27th, 2014 | Alaina Hawley

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of campus, needing to park your bike but there wasn’t a place in sight? Help the OSU Alternative Transportation Advisory Committee solve the bike parking issues on campus by participating in the Bike Parking Utilization Study on Tuesday and Wednesday October 14th  and 15th, or October 21st and 22nd, from 10 am to 12 pm. Because of weather influences on bike use, the survey will only take place one of those two sets of dates; we plan to be ready to collect data on either week to capture highest use conditions.  Plus, counting bikes in the rain is not the most fun!

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Over the course of the two hour periods, volunteers will survey a given area of campus looking at the total number of bike parking spaces, how many bikes are present and the bike rack’s current maintenance condition. As shown in the map above, campus will be divided into six sections with roughly the same number of spaces to count, then teams of two will walk their assigned zone for two hours. During these two hours, one team member will count the number of bike parking spaces, number of bikes currently parked, and the condition of the bike parking racks at each location in their zone, while the other volunteer records these numbers on a data collection sheet.

The data collected will be compiled into a report and used to direct university investment to areas that need attention. With quantifiable data supporting the need for improvements on campus it is easier to prove the need for funding. With that in mind, come help us lay the groundwork for continuing to improve bike parking on our campus.

To thank participants, the Sustainability Office and Parking Services will provide volunteers their choice of a swag item, including bike seat covers, cold cups, sporks and other fun stuff! For more information or if you have questions please contact Alaina Hawley.


Get involved! Learn about the Waste Watchers at the Meet ‘n’ Eat

September 26th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

campus-livingWant to get involved in waste reduction? The Waste Watchers are holding their first event of the year on Monday, September 29 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the Student Sustainability Center.

Enjoy snacks and meet people who share your interests in sustainability, while learning about our organization and the ways you can get involved to reduce waste at OSU.
Interested but can’t make it? Visit http://recycle.oregonstate.edu/volunteer to learn more, and consider voting for our fall winter meeting time at http://doodle.com/kuq78v9v9b444inw.

Enjoy snacks and meet people who share your interests in sustainability, while learning about our organization and the ways you can get involved to reduce waste at OSU.

Interested but can’t make it? Visit our website to learn more, and consider voting for our fall meeting time.


Question of the Week: Start-of-the-year Events

September 24th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

cup-sun-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU cold cup (straw included).

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

Question of the Week

We will be hosting several events during the start of this school year. Two of these events are the Sustainability Festival and the Waster Watchers’ Meet ‘n’ Eat. What are the dates and times for these events?

Answer

The 7th annual Sustainability Festival is this Friday, September 26 from 11 am – 1 pm, while the Waste Watchers’ Meet ‘n’ Eat will take place on Monday, September 29 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm.

Congratulations to Lisa for winning this week’s Question!


Eco Representatives – Now Recruiting for Residence Halls

September 23rd, 2014 | Sam

Are you a new student living in a residence hall? Are you interested in getting involved in sustainability at OSU? The Eco Representative program is a great way to promote sustainable practices and take on a leadership role in your dorm.

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Eco-Representatives (Eco-reps) are responsible for encouraging a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live. This position is in charge of educating residents about sustainable lifestyles and resources, assisting with marketing and outreach efforts for sustainability programs, and planning and executing sustainability-focused events.

Last year there was an Eco-rep for Halsell, West, and Wilson residence halls with a fourth hall to be added this year.

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Eco-reps manage their hall’s participation in a variety of programs and events throughout the school year. One of the main focuses of Eco-reps last year was the composting program, in which the 3 halls composted 2,797 lbs in winter and spring terms. They also participated in programs like RecycleMania and Electric or Treat, where SSI staff and Eco-reps handed out CFL bulbs for Halloween.

Eco-reps will work 5-6 hours per week and have a variety of duties including:

  • Attending and engaging with Residence Hall Council
  • Providing weekly reports on activities and events, and attending weekly meetings with Eco-Rep Coordinator and monthly meetings with Resident Director
  • Coordinating hall compost program by recruiting participants, emptying and cleaning compost bins, weighing and tracking data
  • Engaging other student clubs and organizations in Eco-Rep or general campus activities
  • Communicating with sustainability groups on campus, attending meetings when needed.
  • Assisting with marketing and outreach in the residence hall for campus wide and UHDS sustainability programs
  • Utilizing multiple tactics in marketing and outreach efforts, including tabling, canvassing, email listservs, fliers, bulletin boards, social media, and self-designed tactics
  • Recruiting, coordinating and maintaining volunteers to assist with responsibilities, as needed
  • Engaging in ongoing training on sustainability and campus resources

More information is available here, to apply submit a resume and cover letter that addresses why you are qualified and interested in the position, as well as a brief description of an event or program you might organize if hired. Send these application materials to Sonja Mae at the OSU Sustainability Office by Sunday, October 5.