Author Archives: alysonhutter001

A Farewell to my college home

 Hiya Readers,

house

From my move in day in August 2014, I was eager and excited to learn more about living sustainability and being able to learn and teach about the importance of living sustainable to my fellow classmates, peers and younger generations. For the past two years I have called the Sustainability House my home, it will be a bitter sweet day next week when I am moving out for the end of my time in the house. I am so excited to move onto my new apartment and take all the lessons learned in the house and apply them on my own and see the impact I can make on my friends and family outside of the house. I am sad to leave because for the past two years I have grown as a person who is trying to reduce their impact on the environment. Looking back after my two years I can recall how I had no clue what I was getting into by joining this program, but from my time I have learned so much from my fellow housemates and the lessons we have learned on sustainability. I am forever grateful of the opportunities that this house has given me.

The beginning of year one to current day I have had seven peers live beside me and each one of them has taught me more about sustainability or the difficulties that come with trying to alter our habits that have been a part of us since we were young. From the first year where we were unsure how to track our data to trying to figure out what we were should be changing as time went on. With the development of the way we recorded data change so did our habits. Long showers and endless hours with the lights on when they were not needed turned into competitions to see who could reduce their time in the shower or get to the light first and turn it off when we left a room.  My house mates have been there to push me to do more and allow me to push them so we can move forward as a group.

I have had ups and downs with living sustainable, there were many rough days wanting to come home and take a long shower, sometimes they happened and other times I would climb in the shower and after five minutes feel like it was a life time, the house has taught me by making myself aware of my surroundings allows me to alter my actions. There has been many ups as well, days that I have been moved by the passion that I see when we teach the 13th and Union classes about what we do, the way they are eager to learn. The house has given me confidence to follow passions I have always have but down a path I would have never found without this program. I know that once I leave this house behind, I will take my habits with me and it will always be a part of my way of life.

I want to thank this house for the memories of laughs, tears and memories! I also want to wish the new and returning members of future years to embrace everything that this house and program has to offer.

So this is a farewell to my college home as I take its lessons and memories to guide me into my future!

XO, Aly

PS I want to thank all of my readers for supporting me these past two years, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

Springing for Earth Week

Hiya readers,

I hope you are all embracing your seasonal allergies because that means spring has finally sprung! This past week I have spent much of my days sneezing with watery eyes, but I could not be happier because for me that means that my favorite time of year is finally here. (A fun fact I learned to help with allergies is to eat LOCAL honey because it exposes you to the pollen in your area!) Earth week is approaching in a few short weeks and everyone in the sustainability house is preparing for the exciting things they have helped plan with ECO Club and other organizations.

While we may not like the stuffy noses and sneezes, spring means that earth week is quickly approaching. This year there is a ton of fun and exciting things planned. The ECO Club has a full week of activities that will be taking place around campus. The week will begin with a clean-up at Nolde forest where many students and housemates will be helping clean up leaf litter and cleaning up the grounds. The week then be an array of activities, that will include tree planting, weighing your waste in the dining hall, a documentary and then the annual Earth Night which a big night of art, laughter, recycling and a group of people working together to educate how we should be living day by day. The Sustainability house members will be helping with most of these activities as they are all avid members of the ECO Club and many other participating clubs. The week will continue with a campus wide clean that will include the campus and the areas directly surrounding it to make sure the community we live in is cleaned as well. After a busy week, the club will be relaxing at Reading Public museum arboretum, enjoying the beauty of nature.

The house was recently toured by the ESS 101 course led by David Osgood and Barty Thompson, the students in the class are environmental science or studies students as well as other majors who are seeing what the class can teach them about the environment. The class was able to come into our house and see the projects we have done and get some insight on how they can be changing their everyday lives on a college campus. The tour included a coverage of what the members of the sustainability house do and how they are making the conscious efforts every day to be more sustainable.

More exciting things going on in the house for the rest of the semester are our Experience Event coming up in May. This will be a presentation on the work that was done since move-in day until the time we are preparing to move out. We will be providing information about the ups and the downs we individually and as a group and passing off our knowledge to the guest present at the event. The presentation will also talk about our group projects that we did in both semesters and well as what we are taking from the house as we all move into the upcoming year. We will be saying goodbye to the year and welcoming a new group of students into the program.

As the semester is approaching the end, make sure you stay informed on what the members are doing in the final weeks! Also let us know what your plans for Earth week are in the comments, we would love to know how our readers celebrate!

XO,  Aly

 

Warm weather wishes and water issues

Hiya Readers,

Hope everyone is staying nice and warm during these freezing days! Here at the Sustainability house we are trying to our best to keep our gas and energy usage to a minimum but the weather has us turning up the heat to keep the chill out of the house. We have noticed that Tom’s installation of quarter round in the dining room and living room  from last year has helped warm the once frigid upstairs to be a warmer temperature. Also we have tried to keep the thermostat at one temperature to prevent having to keep turning the dial up and down to adjust it when it is too hot or cold  which turns the fan on to regulate the temperature. By finding the Goldilocks temperature, not too hot, not too cold but just right, allows us to only have the heat click on only when it needs to and it prevents the fan continuously on to warm the house up to a comfortable temperature throughout the day.  Do any of you have tips on how to cut down your energy and gas during this time of year?

This semester the house mates have broken into groups to develop projects that can better improve the house.(You will have to wait and hear Ellen and Tom’s plan in future posts!) Jess, Hannah and I have decided that we will be focusing our project on the bathroom. The bathroom has a leaky shower and sink and we would like to try an improve both to decrease the wasted water. We have purchased a shower head attachment that changes colors the longer you have the water on. With this technology we are hoping to see our shower times decrease because we will be able to tell how long we have been in the water. The shower head attachment starts with a blue light until the water is on for three minutes, after three minutes until five minutes the light is green and once the shower is on longer than five minutes it will be red until the water is shut off.  Since the house mates already record their shower times we are hoping the color change in the shower will be another reminder to see if shower times are decreased. From my experience, my showers are sometimes a little longer than I suspected because I cannot see my timer ticking, now we will see the color change and have a reminder of how long we have been in the shower.

Another aspect of the bathroom that we are hoping to have changed is the sink, our current sink is tough, and sometimes it leaks because the handles are tough to completely turn off. Jess thought to put a motion censored faucet in to eliminate the need to tighten the handles. With a new and improved sink, we are hoping to no longer see a leaky sink when we pass by the bathroom door.

In the upcoming weeks the house is going to be into some really fun and exciting things. If you would like to keep up with all our excitement you can follow our Facebook page and  check out our weekly blog posts!!

XO,  Aly

 

Tooth Paste, Heat and Convenience

Hiya Readers,

During this past week we held our first event of the semester! As a house we had discussed planning an event that would allow us to help our peers learn about small changes they can make in the products they use daily to improve their way of living sustainable. The idea came from an event last year with homemade facial scrubs to decrease the amount of microbeads, which are small plastic pieces that take many years to decompose and pollutes the water when it is washed down the drain. Our event this year was very similar but instead of face scrub, we decided making tooth paste would be beneficial for our peers. The tooth paste we made during the event consisted of baking soda, sea salt, filtered water and essential oils. Homemade tooth paste allows for us to create less packaging waste because it can be stored in glass containers that we had collected from my young niece while she still ate from baby food jars. Also this tooth paste, even though it is kind of salty, is safe to swallow without the worry of fluoride, which is present in commercial  products.

The time of year has come when the days become shorter and the weather gets colder which will lead us to using our lights more often because the access to natural light will be shortened. With the winter months approaching we will begin to use more electricity to provide light and heat for the house. From experience last year we noticed an increase in gas and energy as the weather became colder and the need for the heat to be on became constant.  With the winter months approaching we plan to see the increase in usage but we will try to maintain the mindset to keep reducing our usage as much as possible.

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching and the easiness of convenience will start to push its way into our lives and living sustainable may begin to falter but as a group we must continue to encourage each other to keep our hard work going. The stress of the final weeks of the semester might try to sway us to return to our ways of making unsustainable choices because they are more convenient for us. While convenience is an easier route to take we must take the time to consciously make sure we are picking the route that is more sustainable because it will be more beneficial for us to break our old way of living to a more sustainable way. If  we continue to make the sustainable choices no matter what is going on in our day to day lives, those choices will eventually become the convenient choices in the future.

XO,

Aly

Is Living Sustainable really a far fetch?

Hiya Readers,

Finally we are in the swing of the semester and we are starting to push ourselves more and more to change the small everyday things we do. After a rocky start we finally have the data sheets for our monitoring up and running with a few minor holes which will be filled this month as we start adding more monitoring to the amount of water we use and the replace for the efergy meter. With a new energy meter finally here, Tom and I will be able to show the new house members how to read the meter to see the amount of electricity we are using. We even had the excitement of showing Hannah how we spike energy just by accidentally leaving a light on that we no longer need. This small additions will give us more information to be able to look into the way we can reduce our uses across the board including trash, water and energy while across increasing the amount of food we can compost and items we can recycle.

Something has repeatedly come up lately is when I explain to strangers that I live in the Sustainability house many times people seem eager to know what we do or there is this look that gives me the impression they think we are some green movement activist who are going crazy. The movement to be more sustainable and make the effort to “green” our way of life is a movement that I believe has more to do with just recycling. We have to do more than just recycling, We have to be more proactive in preserving our planet. while recycling is important we need to do more than just that to be more proactive. Some things we can do is buying locally and supporting small businesses to cut the impact of food transportation down which is reducing the size of our carbon footprint. Also we must be more conscious of the products we are using and where they go after we have disposed of them.

This past month three of the house members and myself have been working on projects for our Ecological psychology class where we have created projects to see how our human psychology is effected when we try to change the way we do every day things. Two of the projects have dealt with food- Tom has made us open our eyes to where our food comes from by making us log the location in which our food products have come from. For the past two weeks when I walk through the store looking for my usual grocery list, I tried to look for local products, and sometimes I just grabbed what I usually buy out of habit but when I got home to log my products it made me really think about looking for different products that are more local than just buying what I always buy. for my next trip to the store i made the effort to look for more products that are local and I did just that while searching for baking materials, I usually buy the town house brand of chocolate chips and when I picked them up I checked to see where they are manufactured and when it wasn’t local I went on to look for another brand that was. This may not be a large movement but with this project my goal is to start changing more and more products.

The more we learn within this house the more I want to teach my friends and family how easy it is to make small changes that will hopefully make an impact if we can get more and more people to make the movement towards preserving our planet.

Hope everyone is enjoying the beauty of the changing season!

XO,Aly 

Welcome Back to Year Two of Grappling with Sustainability

Hiya readers,

Welcome back to the second year of the Sustainability House! We are ready to get back into the flow of classes and living sustainable!

Our goals for the year are to be able to improve the methods we had established last year and increase our amount of public education to bring the knowledge to the campus and our friends and family.

This year we are hoping to make improvements to our objectives last year by improving how we monitor the uses in the house as well being conscious of the products we are bringing into the house and what is going back out. We hope to try new ways of changing every day things like what products we use to clean our house and how we can reuse older things,like t-shirts as rags.

We have hopes to be able to spread awareness to the area while working with our fellow classmates and peers on campus as well as the younger generations in the area. Spreading awareness about living sustainable and making a strong effort to change the way we use the earth will only be beneficial to the future we are looking to.

I am very excited to see how the program grows and to be able to participate for a second year- I can’t wait to see how the house strives to better our way of living sustainable and what we will learn and teach each other as the school year goes on. Being a returning member I am excited to see how a different group of people react to the struggles and successes of making the conscious effort to make an improvement in our usage.

Stay tuned for all of our exciting plans this coming year!

XO Aly

We make everyday Earth Day here

Happy Earth Week Readers!

Did you know that this year was the 45th year of celebrating Earth day? Most people spend Earth day planting trees, collecting garbage, cleaning up the coral reefs, signing petitions, and planning for a better environment and better planet which is exactly what we tried to do here at Albright During Earth Week

I hope you all were kind to the Earth this week during its celebratory week and I hope you continue to treat the Earth with love every day! This week the Albright Environmental Campus Outreach (ECO for short) spent the week educating the members of campus to be environmentally friend. We promoted the campus to take a pledge to be environmentally friendly by altering one aspect of their daily lives that would benefit the earth. We had a great turn out and we continued to work on campus educating others about ways to be friendly in small actions. The weeks events included ECO trivia quizzing many students about the impact of water, plastic and other wastes that we produce, Tree planting with Dr. Samuelson who explained to us about the importance of native trees and the need to keep the trees on campus native, Wednesday the ECO club had a campus wide clean up to remove the trash that was around campus and teach the importance of not littering because it can enter into the water ways, Thursday the club worked with the Horticulturist on campus to prune the plants around the pond and clean up the leaf litter that was around campus. On Friday we had an eARTh night where we worked hand in hand with many other clubs such as the Volunteer Center, Astep, The Breakfast club, AC2, enactus, Less Than or Equal to Improv and the American Chemical Society to show the visitors of the event how to use recycled materials to make art and other activities to be friendlier to the earth. This weekend we also kicked off the gardening season with Permablitz in the Albright Community garden where we had some therapy working the garden to be ready to plant and start the season!

The sustainability House members are excited that spring has finally sprung and stuck around for more than a couple of days. With final projects under way we are slowly growing more and more excited with the final outcome of them. We are also preparing to show the campus what we have been doing all year with our Experience event on Thursday at 7 pm  where we will be explaining the monitoring of our chores and the impact we have seen in the many experiments we have done throughout the year! We are very excited for the end of the year and to have so many opportunities to be able to see our hard work in action!

So long for now and enjoy the weather of the season!

~Aly

Maybe Spring has sprung ?

This week was spring break so the sustainability house was empty and quiet. While home for break I realized how much work we put into the house. I remember looking for the tally sheet for when I showered or flushed the toilet. Also I was looking for the energy meter to constantly see how much energy  was being used. Without being in the house I found myself always double checking to make sure everything I was doing was the same at school- I won’t lie my showers were a little longer at home but everything else I was pretty much the same. While being home I realized that laziness is a large problem when it comes to being more conscious of what we do in the house – I could not tell you how many times I had to follow behind my younger sister and turn off the lights in the room – she was constantly leaving lights on and I realized that being home I’m in an environment where not everyone is as conscious as I am and it made it easy to see the outsider’s perspective of just living life.  The house has already had a huge impact on how I can change my day-to-day life and maybe I can teach my sister how easy it could be to turn the light switch down as she leaves a room.

 

~ Aly

“Brrr, its freezing in here-whats the thermostat at?”

The new semester has got the Sustainability house searching for warmer days and fresh air blowing in the house. The first three weeks back to campus have been very cold and we have struggled with agreeing on the temperature for the thermostat the down stairs is heating up a lot faster than the upstairs and we have the constant struggle of having the battle of finding a temperature to keep our usage of gas down. It has been a struggle to make this frozen winter sustainable but we are trying to examine or options. A new idea we’ve had is to turn the thermostat down when we are in classes because there is not as much traffic through the doors and at nigh when it get to be bitterly cold turn the thermostat up a few degrees.

The cold does not have us down too much we are trying our best to lessen our usage while still being in an environment in which we can comfortably live. Also the cold has allowed us to have great laughs of the morning conversations the cold brings (don’t worry when its bright we have gloves!)   The house is trying very hard to keep the doors closed and try to contain the heat within, last semester before we went home for the holidays the windows in the dinning and living room along with the boys room were wrapped and sealed to eliminate any cold air from entering while the winter grew colder and colder.

The house is well underway in the second semester and we are ready to face the challenges of becoming more sustainable within the house and new and exciting ways to teach others to do the same. The spring will bring the vegetable garden back and the plans of local plant gardens. We also have some very exciting plans on showcasing simple tips to the campus on how to be more sustainable and make an impact within their dorms and within their homes.

We are looking to warmer weather and the exciting new ideas and plans we have for the semester! Keep up with the blog and see the plans that are coming up this semester and the excitement of building the sustainability house to continue to grow and be an educational process for the people living in the house and members who are learning through our development as a sustainable living house!

Until next time

~Aly

Why not use the fully functioning toilet? Science that’s why!

This week we decided to start our Sunday night off with shutting the bathroom toilet,we came to this decision after talking about the impact a non-water efficient toilet verse the efficient new toilet that has been installed in our basement. Sure it sound like a great plan – shut down one toilet to see the difference in water from last week to this week. In the name of science sure it was a great idea until night-time when living on the second floor we realized that running to the bathroom was longer than usual, we shortly learned that the basement is slightly creepy once the sun goes down for the night… The adjustment to this experiment we have happening this week has given us insight to the use of the toilet and how it can impact our water usage from week to week and month to month. We are starting to experiment with the way we can change the way we impact the world around us in many ways with in the house – we have talked to people outside of our small household and have begun to look into ways to change what we are doing to better the future of the house.

This week coming up we have decided to look at the impact of a shorter shower will have to the water and gas usage for our weekly reports of the use in the house. We plan to have the shower time be about 7 minutes person and we plan to take the numbers of water and gas usage and see the impact of the shorter showers has on our weekly usage. We as a house have decided that by testing these resources being used and measuring our differences that we will be able to find a better was to converse our use and teach others how they can make basic changes to their ways. Trying to cut back on our daily habits are hard because we have grown accustom to the long showers singing the concert of your life or being to enveloped in the warm water to want to turn it off and get out. The amount of water we waste because we are accustom to certain luxuries have to be broken to be able to make a difference in the use of water used.

We are excited to see the results of both tests to see the changes we can make in the house and then take those results and change the way we use water in our homes back home and teach others around campus that it is easy to take shorter showers to conserve water and if enough people stick to a quick shower then an impact can be made on campus, or the city or even a county.  The sustainability house is willing to take a stroll through the dark creepy basement to be able to use a more efficient toilet and have times showers to be able to shower the campus the easy efforts it is to be more conscious of the resources we usually take for granted.

~Aly