Sustainability – What can you do?

I’ve lived in the sustainability house for a semester, but the real question is, what is sustainability? Many of my house mates, including myself, have posted numerous blogs and our readers may not know what they mean, apart from what they read. It is very important to be sustainable and there are many things an average person can do, even if you don’t live in an eco-house like I do.

Sure, there are simple things like turn your lights off, or turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth. This is what you are told in elementary school, but this article will go more in depth as to what you can do to help the environment. When you do good things, you start to feel good.

Water consumption

Take into consideration the water consumption that you and may not even know you use. There are many things that you could be doing that could be causing water loss or unnecessary water damage/ usage.

  • Eating meat, particularly steak can be extremely damaging and have a high amount of water intake. Although you may think it is just meat, a person needs to also consider many other animal products.
  •  << This link will take readers into a report that was completed to show the water consumption behind agriculture, and just why it takes a large amount of water for meat and animal products to be produced.
  • On page 26, there are bar graphs that sum the water usage up to see what foods you can try and avoid, if you do not want to start avoiding these foods just yet, you can look to see which practice it more sustainable to consume them. When looking further into this article on page 29, a person can see more foods that are damaging with water including nuts.
  • When looking at this data I am hoping that a person can conclude that cutting some animal products out of their diet can help conserve water on top of other efforts like showering for shorter periods of time, being conscious of what toilet they are using, or even making sure you have a full load for dish washing and laundry. There are many more uses for water that I have not covered here, like fruits, nuts, and vegetables (asparagus). It would be worth anybody’s time to investigate water consumption of the foods they eat.

Another great thing a person can do for the environment is compost!

  • Composting is a great way to recycle organic matter that a person would otherwise be throwing away in the trash. At the Albright Eco House, composting is the act of breaking down browns like cardboard or paper and breaking down greens like vegetables, eggshells, and fruit. Both batches are then thrown together into one batch and they will eventually make a soil rich in nutrients found in fertilizers.
  • You may be thinking, but I don’t have a garden, and neither do any of my friends. Which is okay, you do not need a garden to compost. There are many things within a community that people can be unaware of.
  • This hyperlink will take you to all the composting places (located in U.S.A) close to you that sell compost. reason for giving this is because although certain individuals may not be able to compost, you can still set aside things to be composted. Many of these places a person can call and see if they will take donations, or they can find a local college/schooling system that might be composting. Before I moved into the Albright College Eco house I would always set aside potato peelings from the holidays, or leftover vegetables to set aside and give to house members.

Another thing a person can do to help the environment around them is thrift shopping! I get it, there will be nothing like the newest fashion, but usually you can find many things you are looking for used. If you do not like to shop thrifty, there are also many brands that are substantially better for the environment.

  • this hyperlink in an article that goes into detail the reasoning behind why buying new clothing is not always good for the environment. It could be wasteful with water consumption, and cause water pollution.
  • Being thrifty is good on your bank account, and often on style. I know many fashion majors here who will head to plato’s closet or goodwill and find many unique clothing choices for their style. You never know what type of clothing is waiting on the rack if you do not go out.

Apart from cleaning your diet, composting and thrift shopping, there are many ways an average person can make their life more sustainable. A huge flaw that someone can work on is their use of plastics and if these plastics are recycled.

  • Straws are very wasteful and take a prolonged period to break down, it is best to say no to a straw and bring reusable ones.
  • Reusable water bottles (glass, plastic, etc) are becoming more popular. It is very easy to buy water bottles with filters in them, or easily fill up at a water fountain.
  • Instead of using plastic bags at stores, a person can bring reusable bags, and some stores may offer a discount for a person who does this. The reason it is so important is because plastic bags are very light and can blow away easily, polluting many places.
  • When having a family picnic, usually people buy cheap and easy plastic sheets to cover the picnic tables, this is not sustainable at all. These large plastic sheets can easily find themselves polluting many different habitats, most importantly, oceans.

There are many other practices a person could do to improve the condition of the environment around them

  • carpool
  • walk to places close by
  • pick up trash when they see it
  • focus on short showers
  • ride bike to work certain days of the week
  • use air conditioning less and open more windows
  • most importantly, make other people aware and influence them to make good decisions

I am hoping this article can either open eyes of people who were unaware, change actions, an educate. Like I said before when you start doing good things, you start feeling good.

Until next time,



Spring Cleaning!

As we experience warmer weather and begin to break out those shorts, sunnies, and sundresses, we tend to go throughout our old stuff in the process. Here are some tips to make your spring cleaning a bit more environmentally friendly!

Grab your friends!

Friends help make the work go faster, for sure! But sometimes they might find your trash their treasure. Instead of taking all of your old stuff to the trash, give salvageable things away to your pals!

Sort, sort, sort!

I get it, you don’t wanna do extra, but its RecycleMania! Make a game out of it! Sort the plastics with the little recycling symbol on them and carry them to the nearest recycling bin! You can clean you your space without causing more clutter in the environment.

Give it and potentially get it

Clothes don’t fit your fashion anymore? Donate them or take them in to thrift stores to get money back! Wether it be your heart or your wallet, you feel a little fuller afterwards.


Get a little crafty and creative with that old jug of Arizona iced tea and make a cute pot for your new succulent garden.


Make it yours and keep it green!



Let’s Take Action!

Earlier this week I was mindlessly scrolling along on facebook, as most people do until I came across a post that made really made me think. This particular post was shared by one of my friends and it read, “When are we gonna stop pretending it’s regular people’s fault the planet’s dying because they won’t go vegan or take 5 minute showers and start actually blaming corporations that produce astronomical pollution and dump toxic waste directly into the mouths of great whales…”

At first, I agreed with the post initially. Yes, why don’t we blame these big corporations? Why don’t we do something about it? Why doesn’t human civilization as a whole DO something? Until I remembered something. Change starts one person at a time! We all like to talk about change and how great and wonderful it would be, especially regarding our current climate crisis. Although I can honestly say that I don’t see many people doing anything to make this change happen!

Here, we have a post wanting to place all of the blame on “big corporations” and not the “regular people” for our climate crisis. We can’t just take an issue such as climate change and place the blame on someone else, we are all the problem! America is one of the most wasteful countries regarding water (and did you know, if you take a 5 minute shower you save TEN gallons of water?), that really starts to add up! Going vegan also helps the planet in numerous ways: It conserves water (Think of all the water it takes to produce meat), It protects soil (less erosion from cattle grazing), it clears the air, it conserves energy, and its healthy!

Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to go vegan or that you must start taking five minute showers. The point is, change starts on a small scale. So if that means going vegan, taking shorter showers, walking to the recycling bin that’s just a little bit further than the garbage can, or even bringing your own bag to the grocery store, then take action! Why should we point fingers at who did what when we can start bettering the Earth we share one step at a time? We need to start being responsible for our own actions and start taking action. It may be surprising what us “regular” people can do!

Until next time,



Are We Too Proud to Change?

Ah, the industrial revolution! A time of innovation and boomtowns. A time for a chance to make it big with mining. Parts of Berks County and Schuylkill County actually played a a major role in Pennsylvania’s mining industry, particularly with coal. Victoria and I actually come from the Coal Cracker Region in Schuylkill County. A proud region with coal flowing through our veins (pun intended). I come from Minersville, which was a hotspot for coal mining in the 1800s, but now it is a small town that has retail that took mining’s place of being the leading industry, with just a dwindling 2.5% of workers still involved with the mining industry, stated by the 2000 census.

These small mining towns seem to hold on to their deep history rather than evolve with the rest of our ever-changing world. Throughout the years, scientists found that burning this important energy source is actually too good to be true, like most things, and actually produces carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Due to the negative affect these carbon emissions have on the environment and the public, the Clean Air Act came into play during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. Ever since, there has been movements to find better energy sources and to take care of the environment; now we can utilize renewable energy sources like: wind, solar, geothermal, hydro-electric, tidal, and even biomass to create electricity for us! Plus, a lot of could provide energy for free instead of having to spend money for actually retrieving the fossil fuels and spending more to clean and process it for consumers over and over again.

For some reason, if you were to ask about twenty random people on the street in Schuylkill County, and ask if he or she thinks we should switch to renewable energy, some would most likely say, “sure, but we already are producing coal and that works just fine. It has been fine for years.” I believe this is because the average citizen who doesn’t normally pay attention to the carbon levels in the atmosphere simply because they do not need to in their daily lives, such as someone like me who has a strong interest in the environment and is literally trying to have a career in it. However, I do think it is possible if you were to take those same people and physically show them the impacts the coal industry had on our creeks (we are known for our orange ‘criks’) and explain to them what was implemented to clean our streams and prevent the seemingly ever-flowing abandon mine drainage water from getting into our main watersheds. I’m positive that if they could see the damage the mines had done to our waters, they could then begin to imagine what damage the mines can do to our atmosphere.

I am proud to call Schuylkill County my home and I will never disregard our history and our working families, but I do think that we need to shift our attitude of associating pride with current coal production to pride with being innovative and creating strong healthy communities.

Environmentally yours,

Veronica Rutecky


Energy Usage When Being Sustainable

Watching the sustainability house grow can be a very enlightening thing to see and take part in. My chore for this the month of November was to observe the energy usage of the sustainability house. I did this by looking at the data an efergy meter presented to me that was hooked up to our energy.

This meter was actually very helpful, and it even goes as far as showing the price in energy that the house costed each week.

What is a efergy meter?

An efergy meter is a small white box that can be hooked up to the house to show the data for the energy usage of the house. It is very helpful because not only does it show the amount of energy the house is using, but it shows how much it cost us weekly to use that energy. It is a very enlightening tool to have in your home and you can compete with yourself to try and have lower energy intake each month. If interested, you can find the products of efergy here:

So, why does it matter?

Well, living in the sustainability house means being sustainable, right? We try and compete with ourselves as I had mentioned previously and improve our numbers each month. Although one might think, what can do to conserve energy other than unplugging chargers and appliances and turning off the lights, there is much more!

What you can do! 

As I said before, yes, you can unplug your appliances and focus on the lights, but you can develop more habits to help conserve energy. Some of these being to hang dry your clothing. This can conserve much energy in the long run and can help elastics in your clothing last longer as a bonus. Another thing you can do is focus on not leaving the fridge open when you are grabbing something from it, just get what you need and run. Not only can you improve by adopting certain habits, but you can buy appliances that will help as well. You can buy ecofriendly light bulbs, and set timers on heaters to turn off when you are sleeping.

One of the main house goals we set is to try and impact the people around us more than previous years. Please let us know if you will be trying any new ways to conserve energy, or if you have any new ideas on what the sustainability house can do! Opinions are always welcome!


This Millennial is going Minimalist!

Others: “Minimalism is just a fad”

Me: FIRST OF ALL, its actually helping our planet; if you do it right.

Minimalism is a practice of only purchasing or owning what one needs; in other words, the art of owning the bare minimum. It reduces purchasing single-use plastics, and feeding into the trap of consumerism. I am currently attempting to live a complete minimalist lifestyle since it seems easy on paper, but oh its way harder than you think!

Before I began my slow-moving journey, I watched a couple of videos on YouTube and Buzzfeed to see how other millennials who are rocking social media do it. They all basically got rid of their unneeded clothes, products, and junk and brought themselves to square one of the process: making low-waste decisions. One thing I noticed was that a lot of them ended up practically throwing away everything, which created a huge hole in their goal: producing more waste into landfills.

I, the owner of a ton of high school T-shirts, beauty products, candles, teas, and old clothes, didn’t want to just throw it all away and still be useless. Instead, I looked at what I absolutely needed, wanted, couldn’t really donate, could donate without a second thought, and didn’t want to go to a complete stranger. I began with my huge collection of unused artisan soaps and Bath and Body Works products. Realizing it would take years to use everything up and not wanting to hold onto all of it, I posted on Facebook that I was willing to either sell or just give them away. An old high school acquaintance who has a growing child happily took them off my hands. Then, I shoved everything I wasn’t attached to in a big box to be taken to a consignment shop and GoodWill. The things I loved but didn’t need I gave to friends who I know would appreciate them.

The trick was finding out what to do with my T-shirts from high school, since I couldn’t really donate them or give them away due to them having the clubs I was in or my name on them. I decided to make a quilt out of them instead, because you can never have too many blankets! They are currently in a box waiting for me to take them on during my winter break.

The other hard part of this whole process is using up my beauty products, since no one wants used makeup or hair products. I want to purchase new items all of the time because they either smell amazing or they have new colors, formulas, finishes, and everything a girl can want. So, I took up Project Pan: a trend that started on YouTube that encourages using up every little bit of one’s products before purchasing new items. This concept seems easy, but you try not having to buy that new state-of-the-art fishing rod until your old one breaks, or the like. Its difficult! But, not buying anything until you completely used what you have teaches you to appreciate your belongings a little more. What to do when I finally use up everything? Hit up Pinterest and get crafty, of course!

I know this is rather long, but what I want people to get out of this is that helping to save the planet is a process that can take up a lot of time. It took me a whole summer to finally get rid of things I don’t need in an environmentally friendly way, and I’m no where near to being done yet. Also, you really need to get creative with how you reduce, reuse, and recycle. You can make something entirely new like a clock with bottle caps and an old broken umbrella (a project I have in mind) or make someone’s day by giving them an article of clothing that meant a lot to you or things that everyone literally needs like soap! Reduce your carbon footprint, but make that impact YOURS.

Keepin’ it green,

Veronica Rutecky


Saving Electricity.. it’s so simple

Hello All,

     I’m Jada Parris and I am studying Environmental Studies and Spanish. Currently I am living in the Sustainability House which has been very rewarding to me. I live with four other people whom are also very interested in living in a sustainable manner and being more aware of the amount of resources and energy a person uses everyday.

I have been looking into electricity and how much of it is used in homes and buildings, and the numbers are indeed scary sometimes. In many households, plugs are left in the socket all the time. I believe that it is an unconscious habit that people have and don’t really think much about. One easy way to save on electric is by unplugging appliances whenever you aren’t using them. Another great tip is to put timers on things such as televisions at night time so the tv isn’t watching you while you sleep.

Pennsylvania is number 32 in electricity use in the United States. Most of the electricity is used on heating in homes. Depending on where you are, electricity can be dispersed differently. A small challenge for your household is to see how many sockets will you begin to unplug when they are not in use? (excluding appliances such as the refrigerator)