Category Archives: sustainable

Sustainable Politics

Since we last met…

Hi again! It’s Sam.  Not much has changed since I last wrote in terms of the state of the house. Still struggling a bit with the showers, but haven’t had any nightmares about housemates despising me again.

In terms of planning as a house, we have gotten a lot accomplished. Two of our events have already been completed (including mine which I will share about). Blake’s is going to be later this week, the 10th so that will make 3. Additionally, last week a few of us went out to the college’s faculty sustainability committee meeting to learn a bit about options for solar energy on our campus, which I think would totally be an incredible idea.

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Get Out The Vote

As I mentioned, my event for the semester is done! At the beginning of the semester, the housemates and I were brainstorming a rally that would get the campus talking about climate change and politics, which are two things people often hesitate to talk about. Political action is one of my favorite things, which is why we decided I would run the rally event. I spent two summers canvassing with groups like Environment New Jersey and NJPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) for environmental and public health issues, I volunteered with the Bernie campaign during primary season while running the ‘Albright Feels the Bern” group on campus, and now I’m Albright’s fellow for NextGen Climate, a political action group that is working to get people, especially millennials, out to vote for candidates who believe in climate change. Considering these connections, I knew that I could pull together a great collaborative event.

The event was held at the pond on November 2nd, which was a freakishly nice day might I add. (Could we thank climate change for that? Maybe. But considering the nature of the event, let’s not.) Next Gen and my housemates were the main helpers with this event, supplying me the hands for setting up the event and the food to appease the hungry students. The event was set up to be a night of performances and talk about the importance of voting for climate champions this election, which is exactly what it ended up being.

In between performances from Albright’s a cappella groups and Hot Dad Calendar (a band of friends on campus), people from all stretches of political involvement had a chance to talk. Members from the Sustainability House explained what we do and how to vote with the environment in mind, as did a staff member from NextGen Climate. Maria McDonnell from the English department was actually able to make it and gave a short speech about how important voting is as a civic duty. Besides that, I had presidents of both Albright’s National Organization for Women and Albright’s PSEA chapter come speak about their groups individual vested interests in this election. At the end, once all the performances were done, I opened up the floor for students to come up and share as well.

I was running a fever that day so I was kind of just rushing to get it over with so I could run to bed, take NyQuil and sleep my fever out, but just about everyone who commented on the event told me that it was a success. Members of the house were impressed, as were my bosses at NextGen, so I’m glad that I was able to bring the community together for what I deem to be such an important event.

Voting for “Sustainability”

All of that being said, I’d like to invite anyone who may be reading this to go out to the polls on Tuesday and vote for the environment. Make sure the candidates you are voting for 1. believe in climate change (Yes, some still don’t), and 2. have some sort of plan to combat climate change. (surprisingly, many still don’t.) Living sustainably as individuals is important, but it is even more important that we vote to change the country into a more environmentally country that takes climate change seriously.

Promise, I won’t be so political next time,

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

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to My Fellow Members of the Sustainability House,

2016-04-20_16.42.17I can’t believe this year is already coming to an end! It feels like just yesterday that we were moving into the Sustainability House to begin our junior year. Coming into this house I didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I knew what it meant to reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, and to live more sustainably, etc.; however, knowing and doing are two different things.

We all know that upon moving into this house, I was not the most sustainable person. I enjoyed my 30 minute showers, leaving lights on because “I was coming right back”, and throwing things in the trashcan because I was always on the go and didn’t have time to properly dispose of my waste.

In this letter I want to thank you for being my role models and always pushing me and each other to do better.

Thank you for all the friendly, and not so friendly, reminders to turn lights off when leaving a room. Sometimes it’s the constant reprimands that are needed to really break a bad habit. Had you all not been on my back about the little things, I most likely would still be doing them.

Thank you for making shower times a fun competition. Sometimes we need to bring out our inner child to improve our adult habits. By “saving water” for our pet fish, Roger, we were able to cut our shower times down to as low as 2.5 minutes! Never in a million years prior to living here would I have wanted to willingly take a shower under 10 minutes much less 5 minutes. But thanks for showing me that living sustainably can be fun!

Thank you for being the whisper in my ear asking “do you really need to buy this?” As I pick up almost every over-packaged item in the super market or even a new shirt to add to my overflowing wardrobe, you constantly remind me that I can live without it. Instead of buying those over packaged products, I’ve learned to buy many things in bulk and instead of buying a new shirt for the weekend I wear something I already have and change it up with a necklace. Not only has this helped reduce my ecological footprint but it has saved me money as well!

Thank you for being my own personal teachers. You not only taught me how to live sustainably but the reason behind why you should. All of our daily actions and habits have an impact on the environment we depend on and sometimes we need that reminder. You have taught me everything from what can and cannot be recycled or composted to facts about how long certain items live in the landfill. Sometimes we need that eye opener into reality to make us want to change our actions.

Lastly, I want to thank you for helping me become a role model myself. Coming into this house I would have never pictured myself teaching children as young as kindergartners and first graders on how they too can save the environment. I have learned that the most important lesson to take from this house is to pass on what we’ve learned here, to our friends, family, future roommates, etc. The only way to create a change in the world is by becoming a role model yourself.

 

Thanks again for being the world’s greatest housemates, role models, and supporters,

Xoxo Hannah

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A Year in Review

Hi there!

Happy Spring everyone, and soon enough it will be Summer because it is right around the corner!! As you already know, this semester is coming to a close before we know it! Therefore, I would like to reflect on how much I have changed and grown into a more sustainable person living here at the Sustainability House. Upon move – in, I can honestly say I was probably one of the most unsustainable person coming into this house. By this, I mean that I used to take very very long showers, always left lights on even when I wasn’t in the room and didn’t know too much about the 3 R’s (reducing, reusing and recycling). The only thing I ever did recycle was plastic bottles. I always had reusable shopping bags but I would always forget them at home. When it came to reusing things, I just didn’t. However, I was ready to change my ways of living and to learn about the issues that we are causing to our own environment. I was ready to find out new things and to pass it on to friends, family and future generations as an education major.

My journey had begun very quickly when I learned how short of a shower I needed to take. However, I went from taking at least twenty minute showers at home, to taking between a four to seven-minute shower and sometimes even less than that! I never would have thought that I would be able to shower that quickly!  Next on my journey, I learned how much energy is being used when you do not turn a light off or unplug things when you are done with them by seeing our Efergy meter numbers which calculate the amount of energy being used all day long. I also became the person in the house who would run around the house turning lights off if they were left on.

Following this, my new housemates had given me a lesson about recycling. This consisted of what I can and cannot recycle. We even put recycling rules up on the refrigerator as a reminder. This became very helpful in the first couple of weeks of living here.  By the end of the fall semester, I was able to recycle more things then I ever would have thought of myself. I was even given the opportunity of passing on my newly found knowledge about recycling to the Kindergarten Class at the Albright Early Learning Center and 13th and Union Elementary School. I can honestly say that this was such an amazing opportunity to show these children that what we do in our everyday lives really influences the environment so we need to begin to reduce, reuse and recycle to help the environment rather than hurting it.

Looking back on how I was in the beginning prior to move in, and looking at how I am today, almost at the end of the year, I am a completely different person. The Sustainability House has changed me into a person who is more aware of the damage I was causing to the environment. I cannot wait to pass on all of the things I have learned over the past year.

 ~Jess~

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

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