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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Get Used! 5 WasteHacks to get you buying used

March 4th, 2015

WasteHacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy WasteHacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Buying Used

Prices have gone up noticeably for everyday items like clothing and bicycles. Despite this, other methods exist to live an environmentally conscience lifestyle without hurting the bank. Buying used items is an excellent way in which one can reduce their carbon footprint.

Used materials are cheaper and reduce fossil fuel emissions by reducing demand for new products. They are also relatively easy to come by and in some instances are made with more durable materials than can currently be bought on the market.

Here are a few ideas for where to buy used:

Even if these used items do get damaged, there are people and places willing to repair them. Repair Fairs are held twice per term at the OSU Surplus Warehouse and are a great way to get your items repaired instead of going out and purchasing new materials. Repairs include home appliances, clothing, and many other skills.

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

Now Hiring: Energize Corvallis Project Coordinators

February 25th, 2015

Energize-Corvallis-Stacked-Logo8-300x100

 

Energize Corvallis is hiring! Their current open position is a one-year internship for Project Coordinators, who will work to help Energize Corvallis with their mission and help develop, manage, and evaluate community energy efficiency programs and policies.

Energize Corvallis is a local organization dedicated to helping Corvallis become one of the most energy efficient and climate-friendly cities in the United States. They are a collaboration between the City of Corvallis, Corvallis Environmental Center, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and Oregon State University Extension Service of Benton County.

Currently, the city of Corvallis is competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, in which the city needs to significantly reduce residential and municipal energy use during 2015 and 2016 to win the $5 million dollar prize. The Project coordinator will work with Energize Corvallis to help the city reach these goals.

The Project Coordinator will focus on a variety of topics including community outreach, staff writing, energy analysis, and program development. Students are encouraged to register for internship credit at OSU, LBCC, or another institution of higher education if possible. Energize Corvallis is happy to work with internship coordinators. Students can also explore the opportunity of using this project as part of a senior project, thesis, or dissertation research.

For more information about the position requirements and responsibilities contact Carly Lettero at Carly@CorvallisEnvironmentalCenter.org.

Applications are due March 11th, available here.

Are you buying waste? 6 WasteHack secrets to reduce packaging

February 23rd, 2015

WasteHacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy WasteHacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Buying Less

Packaging. Found along roadways and snagged in fencing. Dangling from tree branches and caught in the eddies of rivers. Big name suppliers have an obsession with placing everything in cartons, bags, bins and plastic containers. But just because extra packaging is heavily advertised and used for “convenience” does not always mean you have to buy into it. Here are some things to keep in mind when comparing items:

  • Buy drinks that have smaller, thinner caps on them.
  • Purchase items in a bulk department. This doesn’t just include food.
  • Purchase regularly used items in larger containers.
  • Buy used. Used items don’t usually come in containers.
  • Focus on containers that can be recycled or composted.
  • Just buy less. Fewer purchases means fewer packaging items and waste.

Packaging is expensive too: for every $10 Americans pay on food, $1 of that goes to packaging.

Some companies have already switched to producing products that generate less waste. An example would be water bottles which have been slimmed down in order to use less plastic or apple crates made of recycled paperboard. Keeping an eye out for these qualities when purchasing items is an excellent way in which to reduce one’s impact on the environment as well as shift consumerism to a greener direction.

Alternatively, only buy what you need. By reducing purchases, you also reduce the packaging you use. Ask yourself before you buy: Do I really need this?

Got more WasteHacks? Share them below!

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

Feb. 27th : Lane County Carpool/Vanpool Informational Meeting

February 21st, 2015

Do you commute from the Lane County area to Corvallis? You’re invited to a Lane County Carpool/Vanpool informational meeting Friday, February 27th from 12-1 p.m. in the Memorial Union Journey Room 104 (2501 SW Jefferson Way). Free lunch will be provided!

This meeting is targeted to OSU students, staff, and faculty who live in Eugene / Springfield / the Lane County area and commute to the Corvallis campus. Employees of other Corvallis businesses and organizations who commute from Lane County are also invited. Come learn about how carpooling and vanpooling will help your wallet while helping the environment.

Lane County Vanpool Meeting Pic Large

On average participating in a carpool or vanpool reduces the cost of your commute by half. An average commute to and from the Lane County area uses approximately 4 gallons of gas, so carpooling with only one other person can save approximately 1,000 gallons of gas or 18,000 pounds of CO2, in a single year. Join the OSU Sustainability Office and Cascades West Rideshare(a program of Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments) for lunch and we’ll provide information about how commuter carpools and vanpools work and some current vanpoolers will come to share their perspective. Don’t forget to check out our online carpooling tool Drive Less Connect

Please RSVP to alaina.hawley@oregonstate.edu by noon on February, 25th so we can get a headcount for lunch and please include any dietary restrictions that you may have.. Feel free to spread the word.

If you can’t make the meeting, or are interested in carpool or vanpooling from somewhere besides Lane County, check out the OSU Transportation Options website for more information!

Meet the Menders: Tanya Andersson

February 19th, 2015

For the February Repair Fair, we interviewed Tanya Andersson, a regular sewing volunteer. Tanya began volunteering last winter, and has helped mend clothes at three Repair Fairs.

What do you do outside of the repair fairs?

I work at OSU, I work for Parking Services. Outside of the Repair Fair I sew; I am a quilter. I’ve pretty much been sewing since I was about five, I realized, and I’m much older than five now.

Who taught you how to sew?

My mother and my grandmother together…and when I was growing up you could learn sewing in school, so I took sewing classes in middle school and high school. And I was in girl scouts, and you sew in girl scouts, so I had those opportunities.

What are your thoughts on the Repair Fair?

I think it’s a great opportunity. I’ve been talking to all of my students and all of my coworkers about it, reminding them that it is coming up and telling my students about it, saying “Oh, do you have a pair of pants that need a button replaced?”

What would you like to see with today’s societies or communities involving repair?

I think it’d be awesome if communities did things like the Repair Fair on a bigger level. You could have a Repair Fair at the farmer’s market, or something like that.

This post is a part of the “Meet the Menders” blog series, where we feature the volunteers of the Repair Fairs. Interested in becoming a repair volunteer? Contact Kyle Reed.

The Stand-Up Economist: Economics, Climate Change, and Comedy

February 19th, 2015

On Wednesday, February 25th, Oregon State will be hosting the Stand-Up Economist, a performance of economics, climate change, and comedy. The event will take place in the Memorial Union Horizon Room from 7:00-8:30 PM, with sponsor group tabling starting at 6:00.

Pricing carbon pollution, either by a tax or through a cap and trade mechanism, is widely recommended by economists as an efficient, economically sensible strategy for reining in the pollution that is causing dangerous and irreversible changes tot the atmosphere and the ocean, and threatening our present and future environment and economy. The expert economists speaking at this event will provide engaging and rich information about this important public concern.

Presenters Include:

Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., the world’s first and only “stand-up economist,” is affiliated with the Sightline Institute and a leader of the CarbonWA.org revenue-neutral carbon tax campaign in Washington State.

Jenny Liu, Ph.D. is Assistant Director and Jeff Renfro is Senior Scientist at the Northwest Economic Research Center. The Center recently completed an authoritative analysis of a carbon tax in Oregon commissioned by Senate Bill 306, on which they will report.

Stop by the event for some enlightening fun and light dessert.

Event sponsors include:

Georgetown University Prize: Community Meeting

February 16th, 2015

This Wednesday, February 18th, will be the first community meeting to discuss Corvallis’ entry in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The meeting will be at 7pm at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library (645 NW Monroe Ave).

The city of Corvallis is currently a quarterfinalist for the Prize, a $5 million incentive to reduce energy consumption. But now that we’ve made it this far, we need everyone’s help to save more energy than the 49 other American cities in the competition. At the upcoming meeting, attendees will learn how they can save energy at home with local programs and incentives and how they can help Corvallis win the $5 million Energy Prize.
The $5 million GUEP prize will be awarded to the community that reduces its residential and municipal use of metered electricity and natural gas more than any other contest entrant.The winning city will be judged based on reductions in energy use, innovation of approach, quality of community outreach, sustainability, and replicability. The Corvallis application was submitted  in June, including letters of support from numerous local businesses and non-profits, Mayor Julie Manning, the Corvallis City Council, and all three utilities: Pacific Power, Consumers Power and Northwest Natural. Members of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Energy Action Team (EAT) and Energize Corvallis – a project of the Corvallis Environmental Center – spent months assembling the town’s application.

Georgetown

The goals of the GUEP are to foster innovative approaches to energy efficiency, educate the public and engage students in energy issues, and to grow markets for products & services that facilitate energy efficiency.
The final stage of the two-year competition began on January 1st, and now it’s time for us to put our best foot forward to help make Corvallis a national leader in sustainability! Together with help from volunteers, the City, and community, Corvallis will have a good chance of becoming a finalist.
Learn how you can reduce your energy consumption here, and visit the Energize Corvallis website to sign up for some energy-saving actions that will improve efficiency in your home as well as the community.
Visit the Georgetown University Energy Prize website for more information about the contest and find out more about Corvallis’ entry in the Georgetown University Energy Prize here.

7 printing WasteHacks to make the most of your machine

February 16th, 2015

Wastehacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy Wastehacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Printing

When it comes to printing, the simplest answer to being environmentally conscious is just to print less. In our digital age, there are electronic alternatives to nearly every document. But when you do need to print, these WasteHacks could help you save big:

  • Always print double-sided whenever possible.
  • Set your printer to print in black and white. The chemicals and practices used are less harmful.
  • Set margins to .75 to maximize the amount that fits on a page.
  • Why waste ink? Printing in draft mode reduces ink usage.
  • Try an eco-font! These fonts have small holes in the letters, reducing ink consumption by up to 25%.
  • If you print out your class powerpoints, you can fit multiple slides onto a single page to reduce pages printed.
  • Look up the model of your printer before taking it in to be fixed. Most companies upload the manuals online, which may help identify a problem.

Many of these tips can be automated by changing the settings of your printer in the printing menu. Never forget to print double sided again!

Do you have your own printing WasteHack? Share with us below!

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

8 repair Wastehacks that will make you think twice about throwing your belongings away

February 9th, 2015

Wastehacks [wāst-haks] pl. noun – any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that reduces waste in all walks of life.

This term, Campus Recycling and the Waste Watchers will share with you easy Wastehacks so you don’t waste time or materials.

WasteHacks for Repair

Repairing broken items has become something of a niche skill in today’s society. However, many broken items which we toss out are actually able to be fixed, provided they receive a little love and attention. Here’s a few ideas for commonly broken items that will save you money:

  • While tears in jeans may be a fashion statement, fix unwanted tears with patches. Use old jeans for the material!
  • Extend the life of your holey socks with just a little thread by darning.
  • Bathroom sink clogged? Drains are usually a lot easier to fix than you might think. Try out these methods before resorting to a plumber or intense chemicals.
  • Fixing a flat tire can be done in only a few minutes. For other bike repair, the Dixon Rec. Center is a great resource for students.
  • Never get stuck on a zipper again.
  • Lost your manual? Most manuals can be found online by searching for the item’s model number.
  • Be prepared for repair by building your own DIY toolkit.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take something apart. A little tinkering could go a long way.

There are many resources available to your disposal. A quick internet search and some tools can often save you a lot of money.

Have your own repair tricks? Comment below!

Wastehacks” is a weekly blog series where we share quick waste reduction tips. Tune in every Monday this term for more.

AASHE 2014 (Samantha Walter)

February 9th, 2015

At the 2014 AASHE Conference (Portland, Oregon) 2014 AASHE Conference (Portland, Oregon)

2014 conference for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education was an extremely informative and gratifying experience. During the conference I attended a variety of sessions, the most enlightening ones involving communication strategies surrounding sustainability. I learned a great deal about the barriers that sustainable practices are facing in the media industry and what changes are needed to connect with certain audiences. As is true with many innovations, the concept of sustainability is struggling to take off because it has not yet reached critical mass, or the minimum number of people for the concept to diffuse into American society.

These key concepts in communication will be crucial to develop my career as a New Media major and for my current job at the Sustainability Office. Understanding one’s audience and why a particular concept is struggling to be accepted can make or break the diffusion of an innovation. These same concepts can be applied on a macro and micro level of sustainability as well as most other concepts.

Surrounding the topic of sustainability, I learned that we are often targeting the wrong audience with our messages. The small percentage of people that have already embraced the concept of sustainability don’t need any more convincing, even though they are the ones our messages reach most frequently. To make the biggest difference we need to target the later adopters, or the ones who require some convincing through education and/or peer pressure. Once these people grasp the concepts we are trying to promote, the knowledge should spread at an unprecedented rate.

By learning these skills at the AASHE conference, I was able to educate others in the sustainability community here at OSU and hopefully they will utilize these concepts to further their own ventures in sustainability. In the future I plan to apply all of the communication concepts that I learned to my various media roles. As a New Media major, in the future I will likely deal with many concepts that bear similarities to the sustainability concept and will use the techniques I have learned in those as well.

It was a pleasure to be one of the host universities at the conference as well, alongside schools like Portland State and Lewis and Clark. Along with other attendees from OSU, I spent time at our university’s table handing out information to AASHE guests and answering questions about OSU’s practices in sustainability.

Attending the AASHE conference this year was extremely useful for my personal, academic, and professional life. I learned an unprecedented amount of information that I plan on applying during my time here are OSU and in my future career. Thank you for funding this invaluable opportunity.

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