Sustainability in 2016

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Hello again everyone! We welcome you back to the Sustainability House Blog and look forward to sharing this semester’s earth improving adventure with you all! After a month and a half of being free from the responsibilities of school, we at the sustainability house have returned from winter break with big plans for the spring semester. Despite our respite from being “required” to live in a sustainable manner, it seems as if the habits we adopted in our last semester are already second nature to us. While it would be quite easy to assume that upon returning to our family homes, our previously established ways of life, that all of our efforts to improve our daily habits would have flown out the window. They could have very easily, but, simple (yet surprisingly difficult to fully adopt) habits such as composting, unplugging appliances, turning off lights, taking shorter showers, and saving energy/water in general became part and parcel of our daily lives last semester and transitioning back into living at the sustainability house was barely a transition at all. Instead we have come back having our basic sustainable living behaviors in our back pockets and can focus on the fun and earth-friendly activities we have in store for this semester.

We ended our last semester with a final project that consisted of a number of exciting additions to the house. In the coming weeks we will be unveiling our info-graphics: posters for each room that portray environmental issues specific to that room and offer ways of having a reduced impact related to those issues. For example, I chose to do my info-graphic on the dining room and so, I discussed how most dishes we eat are made of foods that have traveled thousands of miles, shed light on the damaging practices of industrial agriculture, and offered the many alternatives to these earth-degrading practices such as having your own garden, supporting farmers markets, and buying organic and local foods. These info-graphics will be a great reminder to all of us living here, but more importantly, they will serve as fantastic points of discussions for our tours and make the house more tour-friendly in general. We also used chalk board paint to make one of the kitchen walls into a multi-purpose space for us to conduct our sustainability house adventures. Whether it be a place to write eco-friendly tips, maintain a central calendar, or to serve as a visual outline for our tours, this has become a very useful tool for us to conduct our business. The third project we did was create a display made from three one-gallon jugs. Each houses a different “mini-ecosystem” that demonstrates how areas with more plants, and more diverse plants, filter water much better. All of these projects served to create a more fun and interactive environment for our house tours and we can’t wait to show them off…which leads me perfectly into our plans for this semester!

This semester all of you readers can look forward to reading about the many fun activities we have planned. Our projects from last semester will be quite useful for all the tours we have planned with our local elementary school. It is really great to be a part of a community where the college and local schools have a standing relationship and that within that there is a lot of support for environmental education. We can’t wait for this opportunity pass down valuable information and skills about being a more responsible steward of the earth to the younger generations! We also have plans in the works to visit the school and do another K-cup planter demonstration (see Jess’s blog post to learn about the one we did last semester!). With earth week coming up this semester, we are also planning on hosting a clothing swap so students can trade the clothes they no longer wear for clothes they will wear! We think this will be a great way to promote alternative ways of sprucing up a wardrobe instead of going out shopping for brand new things. Plus, everything that isn’t traded/wanted will then be donated! Further down the line we will also be doing more projects to improve the house that include creating pollinator habitat in the currently unproductive plots around the house, as well as making the bathroom as eco-friendly as we can! We look forward to this semester and we hope you enjoy the coming stories about our endeavors!

Until next time,

Ellen

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