Category Archives: showerhead

New Year, New Semester

Hi reader friends,

The bunch of us are back to take on the new semester after very eventful breaks. Personally, I explored a lot of vegan restaurants, cooked & hiked a lot and did my share of political action against our new white house administration, which you may know is not the most environmentally geared administration.(Women’s March on NYC  & Paterson Great Falls National Park

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Paterson Great Falls National Park (1/10/17)

pictured below) 

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Women’s March on NYC (1/21/17)

Three housemates were able to study abroad as well, which I’m sure they would love to elaborate on individually.

When most of us arrived back on Sunday the 22nd, our heat was broken which left us shivering for two nights straight, but I mean at least we saved gas, right???? No, it was bad. But eventually it WAS fixed and we are back to freezing a bit less. Even with the heat functioning, there’s still some work to be done in the house, which is incredibly drafty. Up in mine and Ellen’s room, the windows let in a lot of cold air. I attempted to close up the AC by taping a folded blanket around it, and after checking in on it about a second ago I’ve noticed that the blanket has already fallen off. So, I’m gonna have to try again at that or think of something else. Ideally, I’d like to take the AC out for the winter, that way there’s much less room for drafts. Even with that, we need to work on insulation.

We’ve had our first meeting as a house already, where we have set big goals and I have already noticed our renewed determination. In our efforts to reduce waste and increase compost, we have been paying more attention to the packaging we buy when out grocery shopping. While out yesterday with Renee, she helped keep me on track and we made sure to minimize the non-recyclable or compostable waste we were bringing into the house. Another idea for a similar purpose was to have communal paper waste box downstairs that Gina could take to get shredded at her job, to then be used at compost. This became an idea because of all of the leftover papers we have from last semester and our desire not to add them to our amounts of waste.

Other than that, there’s not much to discuss yet since it is so early on. I’m taking two scheduled classes, three including the course credit from living in the House, so I’ve got plenty of more time this semester than I did last. It will be interesting to see how much more time I will be able to devote to the house all things considered. I’m excited for the events we will be hosting this semester as well, as I’ll be ideally hosting a vegan baking session with facts on environmental benefits of eating less animal based and how to accomplish that as a college student with limited food options. Now that we have formed bonds and mutual respect in the house, I think we will have an even more successful semester this time around.

I’ll keep you posted,

Sam

 

 

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A Fine Start Toward Living Sustainable

Hi There Friends,

My name is Renee Gares and I am a junior at Albright College living in the sustainability house this year. My majors are biology and Spanish, yet I am not quite sure what my future holds for me career-wise. Gina and I were already living here over the summer as garden interns, so we’re pretty familiar with the house already. With the exception of air conditioning because it was summer time, Gina and I managed to live sustainably as we composted, showered with the timer on to limit ourselves to six minutes or less, and washed larger loads of laundry. I, along with my housemates, continue to do these habits as we’re living in the house now along with plenty of other sustainable methods.

At first it was challenging to wait until a large load of laundry was dirty in order to clean it. It’s best to wash clothes in larger quantities to save on water and you should always wash on cold unless you need warmer water for a stain, whites, or whatever it may be. I’ve gotten better with this and only wash in large loads and sometimes even do laundry with Gina my roommate.

During the end of summer and the beginnings of fall, we opened many windows and doors to allow a current to flow through the house, cooling it down. Air conditioning uses a lot of energy and is expensive to run, so this was a quick solution to a hot or warm day.

For our ant problem during the summer and the beginning of the semester, Gina and I found some additional methods to get rid of them compared to harsh chemicals. We found out that ants don’t like lemons or cinnamon, and sprinkled and spritzed that around the kitchen. Eventually, the ants were gone and we still use lemons and cinnamon in our house to ward off ants.

In the kitchen, our house has also cooked some “family dinners” which limits the amount of gas used to cook, water used to wash dishes, and grocery items that could potentially be wasted. We compost any food scraps that we can to put in our compost bins out back to make soil for the next growing season. It’s fascinating watching things that used to be cardboard or a corn husk turn into nutrient-rich soil.

It’s simple to live sustainably, it just takes a conscious effort to follow through with it. The environment keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing and I will definitely carry out these practices from the sustainability house into my future home.

I hope to report back with fun reflections of our events and other things we do in the house!

Renee

 

A Few Weeks In…

14466462_1430557270292728_214094566_oHello all,

A few weeks in, and I’ve only had one nightmare about all of my new housemates despising me.

But on more of a relevant note, my name is Samantha Colombo… Or, most refer to me simply as Sam. As of recent, I am a senior majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Women and Gender Studies. I’m both shocked and relieved that I have managed to make it to senior year in one piece, but here I am. Now, I want to take some space in this post to give a little background on myself, as well as reflect on 1. my initial fears coming into this project and 2. how I feel it has been going so far.

Most of my life growing up, I was clueless about both the environment and the many issues revolving around it. I spent some time in nature, but would much rather curl up by my PlayStation playing Spyro than read or help my parents with their gardening and yard work. I think my first step into the world of sustainability was when I made the decision to become a vegetarian in 6th or 7th grade from exposure to Peta2 volunteers at the concerts and music festivals I would go to, and I’ve been vegetarian ever since.

Even so, I’ve come an incredibly long way since middle school. Fast-forward to now, you have a plant-obsessed vegan sustainability house member, former two year e-board member of the Environmental Campus Outreach club at Albright, former and present activist. From this description it may seem like I have nothing to worry about moving into the house, but much like most college students raised in capitalist America, I’ve got plenty of work to do.

My biggest fears coming into the house had to do with showers and air conditioning. Although I had shortened my showers from 40-60 minute showers freshman year to a much less drastic average 15 minute shower, I knew I was going to have to sacrifice my precious shower time even more.  Additionally, I just love being freezing when I sleep. I love blasting the air and becoming an immobile blanket creature. As you can imagine, that probably is not one of my most sustainable behaviors. I realized that too, which made me nervous when the time to move in got closer. Other than that, I was mostly excited to learn ways to further my desire to learn a sustainable lifestyle.

Now it’s almost October and I’ve been here for a month learning the ropes. Much to my surprise, I still get to use air conditioning like your average person. I have been more mindful than I may have been otherwise, but lately it has been cool enough to just have the window open for my ideal amount of sleep chilliness. As for showering… it has been a challenge. From my first shower in the house, I learned that there was a lovely little timer that turns the water to the lowest water pressure setting after five minutes. Basically my shower options are learn how to shower within five minutes, leave the shower at five minutes with conditioner still in my hair, or stand in the shower for 10 minutes longer trying to wash out the rest of my conditioner with what seems like the lowest water pressure in the world. Currently I’ve been striving for the first option, but I’m not quite there yet. I shower around three times a week, but since I skip most days I have a big job to do the days I actually decide to shower, so I’ve resorted to applying my shampoo to my hair pre-shower. This way, the second I get in I can immediately wet and lather my ridiculously knotty and long hair which saves a bit of time. I have faith that one day I’ll master this task, but it gets more difficult the cooler it gets outside. I’ll keep you updated on that!

So far, I’ve found learning about composting the most fascinating. I would help my dad compost at home over the summer, but composting at the sustainability house is so much more legit. I’m sure I will have a lot to show my dad next time I make my way home to New Jersey. Otherwise, I’ve been having a great time getting to know the lovely people in the house, discussing our personal goals and desires with one another, and planning ahead for what should pan out to be an eventful year.

Also I am happy to report that, as far as I can tell, my housemates do not despise me outside of my one nightmare

Until next time,

Sam

 

 

 

 

 

5 Minute Showers?!?!?!!?

Hey Readers!

Well it’s getting near the end of school year and everything is begging to get very stressful. With test and papers coming up it is difficult to keep living in a sustainable manor, but we are still going strong. The biggest thing is we are teaching more people about living sustainable. Whenever we have people over they always notice and ask about our info graphics. They are eager to learn what they can do to help reduce their affect on the environment and other ways they can be more sustainable. They often give us other ideas for ways we can help better educated the local campus and neighborhood and what they would also like to see in the house.

The one thing that everyone asks about is our new shower head that places a time restriction on how long you can be in the shower. We began this experiment by setting the timer to eight minutes. At the begging of April we decreased the time to five minutes. This is where it gets very tricky to time out your shower. Luckily for me I have not had been needing to take a lot of showers since I broke my foot, but the others are finding it difficult to shower in the allotted time. The timer works by giving you notice one minute before the time runs out. When time runs out the water pressure is decreased to about 10% of the original flow. I had to learn the hard way that if you turn the water off the timer has to reset its self. This new tool is allowing us to be even more conscious of our water consumption. Even though it is very easy to stand in the shower for 15 minutes after a long day, we must use this to remind us of our goal as a house. When we go home, we are all talking to our families and friends about this and how it has become second nature for us to take shorter more efficient showers.

Overall the house is still going strong. We are preparing for our final projects which include more info graphics and making the house more tour friendly and creating new gardens in the front of the house. Unfortunately Mother Nature has not been that cooperative and we have been dealing with extreme weather conditions. These conditions have not allowed us to begin the planting, but we have been able to use the time to figure out what we want to do. We are excited to start getting more spring time weather and be able to enjoy the outdoors. We have been noticing more people walking around outside and along campus instead of driving. We are hopeful that the students will begin to take advantage of the weather before the conditions get to hot or in this case, begin snowing again.

Until next time!

Tom

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

 

K-cup Planters & Kindergarten

Hey everyone!!,

We are finally at that time in the semester where everything is really coming together. Last time, I talked about the showerhead we really wanted to demo. Unfortunately, we never heard anything back from that company. I am currently working on finding another showerhead that does something similar or ever better! If anyone can think of any other showerheads that do something similar to this please post them in the comments!

My job this month was to get a jump-start on our partnership with the Albright Early Learning Center. We will be working with their Kindergarten Class this semester to teach them what it is like to live sustainable. For our first meeting we will be talking with them about what recycling is, how to recycle, why is recycling important, its impact on the environment and what can and cannot be recycled. Not only will this be an informational meeting with them but we also will be making K-cup planters with them! Okay so now you are asking yourself what is a k cup planter and what does that have to do with recycling?

A K-cup planter is made from recycled K-cups from a Keruig coffee machine. After brewing your coffee, tea or hot chocolate the K-cups can be taken apart by, removing and recycling the aluminum foil on the top and composting the grounds and filters. Then you rinse them out and set them aside to dry. Once they are dry, you fill the cup half way with soil and put your seeds in. Now that seeds are in place, you fill the remainder of the cup with soil and pay it down until it is firm. Then you add 1 tablespoon of water to the cup. Lastly, move the K- cup planter to a safe spot where it will get plenty of sun.

We all are very excited to get into the Kindergarten and work with the students to show how much recycling means to us, and how important it is overall. By passing on the information we know we are saving the environment one person at a time. The children will be able to go home from school that day and tell their parents about what they learned in school about how to recycle, what to recycle and why its important to recycle. The children can work with their parents and create a successful way that will work in their house to recycle and now that is even more people that are recycling just by visiting one classroom and talking to only a few children. However, can you imagine how successful this project will be when we present it to the five 1st grade classes in the spring semester? We cannot wait to see the outcome of these projects and help the environment any and every way we can! Can’t wait to let you know how our project goes!! Talk to you soon!

~Jess

Here are pictures of what the K-cup planters look like !

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