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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Repair Fair Reflection: A solution for a throw away society

December 9th, 2016

14543877_10157609085345523_3528707482350643361_oOne of OSU’s long-standing traditions is the Repair Fair hosted by the Waste Watchers, a student organization whose mission is to engage students and the community in waste reduction on campus. The Repair Fair aims to directly use the Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Approach.

In the Global North, which are the countries that have traditionally been referred to as “developed nations”, consumerism is a prevailing trend. Inherent to consumerism is a throw-away culture, a societal practice focused on disposing a broken item and purchasing a new one, rather than repairing the broken item. Often times it is even cheaper to purchase a new item, rather than fixing it. In a world of finite resources, a consumerist society is a not sustainable. After the reduction of goods and resources, we must not forget about reusing before moving to recycling.

This is precisely what the Repair Fair is aiming to do. It is providing a space for reusing broken items, through professional repair. Everything from small electronics and appliances, bicycles, clothing, to housewares can be repaired. Additionally, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) skills can be learned through demonstrations of how to make your own toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.

All of this is creating alternative structures to our modern consumerist approach by saving attendees money, reducing waste, and providing individuals with the skills to take care of their own needs. Connecting with others is inherent for Repair Fairs, a community that is working on the same goal is one of the outcomes!

Repair Fairs are put on once per term, so keep an eye out for one in February!

Brought to you by Jasen Philips, SSI Lab Coordinator- Waste Reduction

Bioneers Conference 2016 Reflection

December 8th, 2016

The Bioneers Conference is an annual gathering of social and environmental activists from all over the world which provides many kinds of opportunities for its participants to engage in the idea of sustainability, and what it means to create a “sustainable” world.  The conference achieves this by offering many types of lectures and activities, including speaking panels, dance workshops, collaborative art, policy debriefs and much more.  The theory behind the inclusion of so many types of learning opportunities is that there is no one perfect or right answer for solving all of the problems we are currently facing; instead the issues require a multitude of perspectives and lenses to provide solutions that then must be implemented by various types of people across the globe.  bioneers

The programming of Bioneers heavily emphasized solutions and current strategies for facing up against some of the twenty first century’s biggest challenges. These challenges included both long-term issues like climate change and also more immediate social justice concerns facing American society today and the undeniable links between the two. Activists from the Black Lives Matter Movement and those on the front lines of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline were both there to share their experiences, insight, and stories with us. The intersectionality of these two movements, how directly linked climate justice is to racial justice and indigenous sovereignty was illustrated beautifully through words, dance and song. These social change leaders were deeply inspiring to all of us, and have encouraged us to bring a deeper commitment to direct action that fosters justice back to the OSU campus.

It was immensely refreshing to both be a witness and a participant in conversations about the various structures of oppression such as racism, capitalism, patriarchy, hetero-sexism that impact individuals abilities to participate in the conventionally offered solutions of environmentalism.  Without the acknowledgement of these issues we cannot move forward in the creation of a more ecologically sound and socially just world.  Acknowledgement of the issues in such a public manner also created a space for those who may have felt unseen or marginalized to be acknowledged and recognized in their struggles, which is imperative to building resilient communities.

Particularly inspiring and influential were the times in which we saw youth leadership around the issues. Some examples of this included Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an indigenous sixteen year-old climate change activist and leader of the global conservation organization Earth Guardians.  Xiuhtezcatl shared his experiences through both traditional presentations and hip-hop performances.  On the last day he collaborated with spoken word duo Climbing Poetree for a performance that was as memorable as it was impactful.

More than any one specific solution, the feeling of being in a room full of people committing their lives to social change was immensely activating and inspiring. We heard so many people share the ways that they have made their dreams for a better world a reality, and it encouraged us to conceptualize the ways in which we can constructively build a vision of a better world in both our time at OSU and beyond. Social change must come from the collective will, it is not something that one person can do on their own. The interconnectedness of the environment, humankind and non-human life was emphasized as heavily as the intersectionality of the experience of oppression and the multitude of fights against it. From Bioneers we took the message that only through unity with each other and the planet we share with so many other beings may we find true sustainability. With immense gratitude, we bring this back to OSU to share, in our programming, our relationships, and our activism.

Brought to you by Katheryn Crane, Jacob Parsons, Caelin Alba, SSI Coordinators.

 

Your Energy Conservation Guide for Winter

December 7th, 2016

Keep your energy bill – and your emissions – low this winter with these energy saving tips!SAVE on digital room thermostat wearing woolly hat

Heating bill through the roof? Try this instead!

  • Open your curtains during the day to let in natural heat from the sun, then close them at night to keep heat locked in.
  • Try bundling up in a cozy sweater or soft blanket before reaching for the thermostat.
  • If you have to use heating, remember to turn it off when you leave your house, and while you sleep at night.
  • If possible, only heat the room you are using.

Decorating? Put a new spin on things!

  • Use LED holiday lights! They require about 75% less energy, and last 2 times longer than traditional lights.
  • Get a real Christmas tree! This will support local farmers, reduce your carbon footprint, and keep harmful plastics out of the environment.
  • Do It Yourself! Deck the halls with some DIY snowflakes and other decorations made out of recycled paper.

Heading out of town? Prep your home before you leave!

  • Unplug all non-necessary electronic devices such as toasters, lamps, chargers, and power strips.
  • You can keep pipes and appliances from freezing by setting the thermostat at just 50 degrees.
  • Close all blinds and curtains to keep heat in while you’re away.

Festivities!

Best of luck on any remaining finals, and have a wonderful, energy-saving Winter break!

Brought to you by Taylor Bennett, SSI CN25 Coordinator.

 

Digging into Bioswales

November 29th, 2016

Brought to you by Micco Emeson, the Living Lab Coordinator for Landscape for SSI.

Landscape Maintenance Insights

Wintertime approaches, and so do a plethora of opportunities for landscaping and gardening activities on the OSU campus. Winter is when many perennial plants lie dormafruit-tree-apple-treent, shedding their leaves and maintaining cellular processes via stored energy reserves which allow them to get through the cold, cloudy winter. This means that it is a good time to plant long lived plants such as fruit trees, native perennials, and berry bushes as the disruption of their fragile root system due to planting will have minimal effect on their growth cycle during this dormant stage. This is also a good time for pruning trees and removing invasive species.

Project Updates

Inconsiderate human development can cause the phenomenon of stormwater pollution due to precipitation which would soak into the earth naturally, but is rerouted by impermeable surfaces. Corvallis receives approximately 40 inches of rain per year, or approximately 3 ft. A 10 square foot section of pavement creates 3 ft x 10 ft2 = 30 cubic feet of stormwater runoff each year. Not only can these flows cause flooding, but stormwater picks up debris, heavy metal contaminants, and other pollutants, escorting them into the nearest surface water. In the case of the OSU Campus, either Oak Creek or Mary’s River, and eventually the Willamette, is the recipient of these fouling agents. This can cause problems for important fish species such as trout salmon, upon which many ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling depend.

Bioswales are features designed to slow the flow of water, decreasing the magnitude of surge events caused by the lack of permeable surfaces, allowing sediments to drop out, heavy metals to bind to soil particles, and water to cool. The OSU Campus hosts numerous bioswales which have been designed to intercept stormwater runoff from parking lots, roofs, and other impervious surfaces. However, these bioswales often experience invasion by plant species such as Himalayan Blackberry.

photo-one_-bioswale-graphicThe Sustainability Office hosts regular work parties to remove invasive species from bioswales and other important areas such as solar arrays to the ensure the functioning of these critical features. Following in suit, the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) is hiring a Sustainable Landscape Intern to host work parties throughout winter term and into the Spring. They will be responsible for identifying sites requiring maintenance, plan forlogistics such as the acquisition of tools, and then to work with the SSI’s marketing team to get people to these events.

Another project taking place is the installation of a new garden over at Avery Lodge on the Western Edge of Campus on 11th and Madison. The Human Services Resource Center (HSRC), housed in Avery Lodge, provides services to both students and community members experiencing homelessness, as well as financial or food insecurity. A food pantry is run from this building twice a month, which is partially supplied by produce grown by volunteers and staff of the Student Sustainability Initiative. The HSRC has expanded and has moved from Snell Hall to this newly renovated, beautiful building, carrying along with it around 4,000 feet of garden space. The Student Sustainability Initiative is working with University Housing and Dining Services, as well as the Permaculture Design Certification Course, to design and create this space. A cover crop has been planted, and students recently applied copious amounts of leaf mulch and compost to the site for soil building purposes.

This is just a snippet of the exciting things that the SSI has the pleasure of taking part in. If you would like to get involved, email Micco at ssi.lab.organizer@oregonstate.edu

Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge

November 17th, 2016

The Oregon Drive Less Connect Challenge ran from Oct 1-Oct 15 and the results are in! In just 15 days, thousands of Oregonians succeeded in finding alternative transportation to work, school errands and more.

dlc

Here is our collective impact:

TOTAL PARTICIPANTS: 4,797 Oregonians.

TRIPS LOGGED: 91,628 trips.

NON-DRIVE ALONE MILES*: 819,525 miles!!

POUNDS OF CO2 REDUCED: 530,436 lbs

GAS SAVINGS: $93,947.

*These miles include bike, bus, train, carpool, vanpool, walking trips, and teleworking.

Be sure to visit Drive Less Connect’s Website to find a biking partner, a carpool buddy or track your trips and savings for more inspiration!

Pedal Corvallis Outreach Ambassador: Now Hiring!

November 4th, 2016

Remember a few months ago our exciting announcement that Corvallis now has a bikeshare program? Now there is a wonderful opportunity to become involved. Pedal Corvallis is now hiring for an outreach ambassador.pedal

The goal of the bikeshare program is to offer an affordable and easily accessible transportation option to residents and visitors to encourage active transportation. Bike sharing promotes health, connectivity, livability, and economic development. Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments is seeking an intern to promote awareness and encourage enrollment of the bike share program. The focus of the program is to help medicaid recipients get around.

Zagster8-RealThis is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with stakeholders, healthcare providers, and build public speaking skills. The duration of the internship will be Jan 9-June 16, 2017 ranged from 8-12 hours/week. This internship if for credit for students currently enrolled. There is also a $300 stipend per term, as well as travel compensation.

Find more details here!

Before applying, candidates should be familiar with the information at www.ocwcog.org/pedal and www.zagster.com/pedalcorvallis.

How to Apply? 

Submit via email, fax, or mail by November 15th 2016 at 5 p.m. Candidates should send a cover letter explaining why they consider themselves suited for the position and a résumé of qualifications and relevant experience.

Provide via email to: hrrecruit@ocwcog.org;

Via mail to: Human Resources, Attn: Pedal Corvallis internship, Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments Suite 201, 1400 Queen Ave SE, Albany, OR 97322;

Via fax to: (541) 967-6123.

Climate on Campus

November 1st, 2016

Written by Taylor Bennett, Climate Neutral 2025 Education Coordinator, Student Sustainability Initiative

Everyone has the power to do something about climate change, but there is one group in particular who is tasked with an especially important role; youth. The term “youth” applies to the 15-25 year age group, which encompasses most of the students at a 4-year university. Being at a university also provides a unique opportunity for engagement as educational resources, clubs, organizations, and professors are never more than a short walk away. For this reason, the atmosphere of a college campus is usually full of passion and possibility. That’s the outlook necessary for tackling a problem like climate change.

It may seem like our “campus bubble” separates us from the issue, but in fact, the opposite is true. We have essentially limitless resources available to help us develop creative ways to approach climate change on a campus and community level. The only other things needed to be successful in a task like this are determination and enthusiasm. Climate change affects all of us, but it doesn’t have to be the doom and gloom scenario it’s often made out to be. If we all took the initiative to seek out available resources and become involved in climate action, what a wonderful and sustainable place OSU could be!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Climate Science major or not – although there is a fantastic new program for that – we can all play a role in creating a climate friendly Corvallis. If you would like to get involved, here are a few things to get you started…kelley

Know Your Climate: Know about climate change but not sure how to approach it? This two-workshop series will provide tools and resources you can use to talk about the issues and get involved in the climate movement. Attendees will participate in group discussions, learn how to upcycle disposable products, and get connected to useful climate literacy resources.

Nov. 9th & 16th 5:00-6:30 pm in the Student Involvement Lounge (SEC 112). Dinner provided.

Climate Science Option: The Climate Science option is built on a strong foundation of physical climate system science as well as an emphasis on the intersection of climate with biological, social, political, and economic systems. All students participate in “hands-on” experiential learning through field classes, project focused classes such as Climate Data Analysis and Climate Modeling, and senior research or internships. A broad set of electives allows students to pursue additional course work to prepare them in their specific areas of interest.

For more information, contact Karen Shell, Program Head: kshell@coas.oregonstate.edu

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