Filed under: Event Planning, Green education, Waste diversion | Tags: berkeley model united nations, BMUN 57, recycling, sustainability, Waste diversion
I’m very pleased to report that the sustainability measures taken at BMUN 57 were a success! While it took a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work by BMUN staff to keep things running smoothly, I can definitively say that this year’s conference was the most sustainable in the history of BMUN.
We diverted 8 bins of food waste, dozens of bags full of note-paper, and plenty of soda cans and bottles during committee sessions. We also made use of sustainable non-plastic materials like the compostable cups that most of you may have encountered at the delegate dance and in the hallways of MLK. We nixed the waste of virtually thousands of pieces of paper that would have been used for printing proposed resolutions by projecting them all electronically, and we eliminated the paper and shipping necessary to send in position papers by allowing electronic submissions. All of this adds up!
Did you know that in the United States we recycle enough paper to supply about 38% of the total fiber needed for our paper products? That’s a pretty big number. And for every ton of paper that’s recycled, we save 3 cubic yards of landfill space! Also, every aluminum can that is recycled saves enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours! These things are worth it when you consider the energy savings and the future benefit to our planet.
But I think the biggest positive outcome of this year’s sustainable conference was the increased awareness that we’ve brought to the issue of global sustainability. Those of you that have been following this blog all year have learned many ways to reduce your impact on the world – and it can be doing something as small as recycling an aluminum can, or keeping the plastic fruit labels out of our drains. There are plenty of important ways to introduce sustainability to your own life.
For those of you at the opening ceremonies, we were lucky to hear from Professor Kate O’Neill, who talked a bit about the role of the United Nations in addressing environmental issues as diverse as climate change and electronic waste. I hope that you will all continue learning about international environmental politics, because these issues are becoming increasingly important in our modern world.
I’ll be maintaining the blog less frequently in the next few months as the semester wraps up and I’ll be graduating in May. But look for an update soon on our Kiva donation recipients. And thanks to everyone who donated – we raised about $1,400 for the cause!
I welcome any questions, comments, or thoughts on this year’s sustainability endeavors. They will certainly be carried on at next year’s conference – BMUN 58 – with Brian Huang leading as the club’s new Secretary General.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and good luck pursuing sustainability in your own lives!
Filed under: Event Planning, General, Waste diversion, Water | Tags: berkeley model united nations, BMUN 57 conference, BMUN canteen, BMUN Sustainability, stainless steel canteen
We are so excited to see you in just a few days! All of us here in BMUN have been busily preparing for your arrival. Like I mentioned last week, the sustainability staff has been preparing in lots of ways for this conference, too, and I wanted to take a moment just to remind you to bring your reusable canteen, or alternatively to bring $10 to buy one of BMUN’s stylish blue stainless steel bottles! There’s me on the left holding one.
There will be signs directing you to water fountains on campus where you can fill up during the conference weekend. We will not be selling water bottles at the dance, and we encourage all of you to participate in our greening activities by avoiding the use of individual plastic bottles over the weekend if you can help it. We’re hoping to achieve a 75% waste diversion rate – help us reach our target! We’ll be dividing our trash into recyclables, compost and waste, and you’ll learn how to sort these things if you’re not sure.
Can’t wait for BMUN 57!
Filed under: Event Planning, Sustainable purchases, Waste diversion | Tags: berkeley model united nations, BMUN 57, composting, sustainability, Waste diversion
As the conference quickly approaches, we on the sustainability staff have been doing lots of things to prepare. We’re expecting record numbers of delegates this year – our current numbers stand around 1,600! Some of the big things we’ve been working on include:
*placing orders through the university for recycling and compost bins at each building on campus that we’ll be occupying
*obtaining discounts for sustainable restaurants located around the Berkeley campus
*making signs that will direct attendees to the nearest water fountains and recycling bins, as we’re making a big push to eliminate bottled water from the conference and improve our waste diversion efforts
*renting out projectors for resolutions (rather than mass-copying multiple resolutions for each committee)
*purchasing additional compostable materials for the advisor and secretariat lounges so that all of our food waste can be composted
World Centric is the local source of our biocompostable products – check out my previous blog on their services here. You’ll surely notice them next to the water stations in Pauley Ballroom, the big room in MLK where opening and closing ceremonies are held. Usually, compostable products are marked with a recycling symbol that has a zero on the inside, since the product is made to break down within 180 days of use in a composting facility. There’s also a newer symbol that’s been introduced in European products and may make its way to the US soon, which looks like a ribbon-loop with a leaf growing out of it (see the image to the left)
We’re working hard to make the 57th year of this conference BMUN’s most sustainable yet!
Filed under: Event Planning, Recent news | Tags: berkeley model UN dance, BMUN 57, BMUN dance, going green, jungle
Just a quick note to share with you the exciting news about the delegate dance. This year’s theme is “Welcome to the Jungle!” which fits in well with Berkeley Model United Nation’s 57th session emphasis on going green.
I encourage you all to think creatively and bring a costume! It should be fun There’s going to be a casino and a DJ, and a decorated picture booth. Hope to see you there!
Filed under: Event Planning, General, Waste diversion | Tags: berkeley model united nations, compost, recycle, reduce reuse recycle, sustainability, waste reduction
Hello, readers! I apologize for the lack of posting over the last few weeks – the internet at my house has been out for about two weeks and I have nearly been driven mad without regular access! In any case, I have much news to share with you pertaining to sustainability. Look for many more updates from me in the next few weeks as school comes back into session and the conference date is fast approaching.
I want to take this post to share with everyone just a few of the measures BMUN 57 will be taking during the conference that I am spearheading as the club’s sustainability coordinator. Most of these measures fall under the sustainability mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” that you may be familiar with.
I’d also like to open the floor to anyone who has other suggestions about how we can incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle into the conference itself. Please post a reply if you’ve got any ideas of your own! Or email me at
1) Projecting MUN resolutions instead of printing them – to conserve printing loads of paper that would be used once or twice and then scrapped
2) Requiring online submission of position papers – for the same reason as listed above
3) Making available compost and recycling bins at major points of access throughout the conference weekend
4) Encouraging the use of tap water: with our customized BMUN canteens and with signs letting delegates know where the nearest water fountain can be found
5) Supporting local, eco-friendly restaurants
To read more, check out the full explanations on BMUN’s page here.
Filed under: Event Planning, Green education | Tags: education, GreenFest, San Francisco, sustainability
I spent a day this weekend attending GreenFest in San Francisco. If you’ve never heard of these amazing festivals that are being held in major cities around the U.S., you should try to check one out! If you’ve already missed one that’s been held locally, there’s always next year.
What is it: It’s the largest sustainability (“green consumer-living event”) event of the year , and San Francisco’s is the largest in the nation. It’s been done in SF for about 7 years now, and from what I hear, this one was by far the largest!
Who is there: Virtually every company, organization, non-profit, and vendor in the Bay Area who has anything to do with producing or selling green products (whether they’re sustainably made and harvested foods, energy-efficient appliances, etc), educating the public about sustainability in the home and your local community, showcasing programs and initiatives that are aiming to implement sustainable practices throughout the world, and helping people become healthier – “socially, economically and environmentally.” And of course any citizen or nearby resident who is interested in eating delicious sustainable food, listening to live music, learning more about ways to help the environment, and more!
Like BMUN, the GreenFest is also working to become waste-neutral. They had staff on-hand at every trash facility helping visitors of the conference determine which bin (compost, recycling, or “landfill”) each of your waste items should go into. Even more impressively, the GreenFest offsets one-hundred percent of its electricity emissions with renewable energy sources.
It was an inspiring thing to see so many people come together to learn and educate others about a common cause – sustainability for now, and the future.
Were you there? I’d love to hear about your experience – just leave a comment below!
Filed under: Event Planning, Water | Tags: bottled water, environment, stainless steel canteen, take back the tap, tap water
There’s a major facet of BMUN’s greening efforts that I’d like to tell you a bit about today. It has to do with something you may use on a daily basis, but most of us probably don’t think twice about. However, eliminating this product is one of the easiest ways that ALL of us can “green” our living habits. Any ideas? It’s bottled water! One of BMUN’s big goals this year is to eliminate the use of bottled water throughout the conference.
Some of you may be wondering what’s so bad about bottled water. After all, the ads tell you it’s cheap, convenient, and healthy, right? Well here’s a few facts for you to consider.
If you think packaged bottled water is cheap at about 20 oz for $1, you’re wrong. At this price, it’s more expensive than gasoline! There are 128 oz in a gallon, and at today’s Californian average of $2.73 a gallon – which is way cheaper than it was even a month ago , well, you do the math. You’re paying at least $6 a gallon for that convenient tote-able disposable bottled water. Not only that, bottled water is exorbitantly expensive when compared to tap water. Get this: an equivalent amount of 20 oz of tap water costs around 1/500 of a cent. That makes bottled water literally thousands of times more expensive than water from the tap.
As for the convenience of bottled water, that’s also a constructed concept. Just a generation ago, bottled water was not a marketable product. But major soft drink companies decided to begin advertising the idea for a major profit, and now it’s become commonplace in American society. The commodification of bottled water has wreaked havoc on our environment since its introduction into convenience stores and gas stations. Did you know that as much as 86% of water bottles} don’t make it to the recycling bin? Furthermore, the shipping of plastic water bottles across transnational boundaries just so that we can sip spring water from a faraway country’s idyllic springs is craziness when we have such high quality water coming from the tap. Shipping emissions generated in bottled water’s transport are contributing heavily to the carbon footprint of this unsustainable good, and even the plastic it’s packaged in required the use of petroleum. There are lots of negative externalities associated with the production and transportation of water bottles that you might not realize when you buy that shiny clean plastic bottle off the shelf of your local supermarket.
Finally, bottled water is not healthier for you than tap water, nor is it safer. That’s another misconception encouraged by the bottled water companies. Municipal tap water is typically tested thousands of times per month for a level of quality that meets the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency. By comparison, bottled water is regulated by the understaffed and overworked Food and Drug Administration, and there are restrictions as to what bottles it tests and how often.
Okay, enough, I’m sold! What’s the solution, you ask? Well, try a re-useable canteen or thermos! It’s just about the same size as a water bottle, so it’s portable, but not nearly as polluting. The cost of a nice stainless steel canteen will pay for itself after about 10 uses, and you can feel happy in the knowledge that it’s much greener in the long-term than a disposable plastic bottle. Klean Kanteen makes some really good ones that are sold everywhere from sustainably minded grocery stores to outdoors / recreational fitness shops. OR (warning: shameless plug for our product here) you can come buy one of our beautiful stainless steel canteens with the BMUN logo at the conference! They’ll be on sale throughout the conference weekend for the price of only $10! They’re really good-looking, too.
That’s all from me for now. Let me know if you have questions or comments!
Filed under: Event Planning, Food, Waste diversion | Tags: campus services, Delegate Workshop, Event Planning
I’m happy to report that I think the sustainability measures we implemented at the Delegate Workshop went very well yesterday! Some things went very well, and others I think can be improved on, but overall this was a great learning experience for me as someone new to the whole business of “green event-planning.”
Not everything ran perfectly smoothly, of course. I spent hours dealing with different on-campus departments to place an order for waste diversion bins. There was some confusion with the UC Berkeley campus recycling service over when I had placed the order – over two weeks before the date of the workshop! - and how many bins of each type I’d ordered - four recycling bins and one composting bin -, and how much it was going to cost – originally free, then later almost $100, then down to $12. But everything got taken care of in the end, when a very helpful head supervisor of the campus service promised me the night before the workshop that, despite some bureaucratic interdepartmental confusion, the bins would be in place the next morning. And they showed up! After worrying that all my hours of haggling might have proven worthless, I was pleasantly surprised.
In order to make best use of the bins, my staff and I also posted up lots of signs the morning of the workshop, instructing everyone on what could be deposited into each type of bin. We made signs directing visitors to the working water fountains (see my earlier blog on this subject here), but not all the signs made it up, unfortunately. Still, a good practice session for the much bigger conference.
In addition to the bins, both the advisors’ lounge and the secretariat lounge had breakfast foods available, with many thanks to USG of Special Events, Erin. We got to use some of our new compostable utensils and materials here. We are still using up some of the leftover plates and cups and things from last year’s conference stash, though, so our conversion to sustainable silverware is not yet complete.
Using the Delegate Workshop of about 200 attendees as a “practice run” for the Conference in February, I think I have some new ideas on what will work best next semester. I’m excited to keep learning and planning. If you attended the Workshop and have any questions, comments or suggestions for me about how to improve any aspect of the sustainability of BMUN’s conference, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below!
Filed under: Event Planning, Waste diversion, Water | Tags: compost, Delegate Workshop, recycling, UC Berkeley, water fountains
So BMUN’s Delegate Workshop is coming up in just one week – on October 18th, 2008. I have been busily running around trying to make preparations, since we are expecting around 200 attendees! Our lovely Undersecretary General of Logistics, Taumoha, has secured Wheeler Hall as the location for the workshop, so my first order of business was to check out the venue. I’ve been in this building countless times in my undergraduate years – it is the location of the largest lecture hall on campus, after all – but inspecting it as sustainability coordinator meant I had to see the building in a new light.
First, I checked out the water fountains in each of the four halls where participants would be located. Would they work? It turns out that about 80% of them were functional, and at least one worked in each hall, which is better than I had expected. I wanted to make sure that attendees of the workshop had an alternative to buying packaged water. Generally speaking, it’s common in university lecture halls to see vending machines stocked with dozens of plastic water bottles, and as a result, students often seem to forget it’s an option to drink from the tap. Faucets come into disrepair, and the university doesn’t see an urgent need to fix the problem since so few students rely on them for drinking water anyways. (I’m not swayed by the marketing schemes of the water bottles companies though, especially since I now carry my BMUN canteen around with me when I’m on campus!)
UC Berkeley is notably ahead of the curve in this regard. They just launched their I Heart Tap Water campus campaign that is working to raise students’ consciousness about Berkeley tap water. There is actually a Community Nutrition class that is assessing all of the campus’s broken fountains this semester! So cool.
Anyways, back to my inspection. I also wanted to see where the best places would be to locate waste facilities. Through the campus’s Recycling and Refuse Services we are planning to have recycling and compost bins delivered to the building on Saturday morning so that we can achieve greater waste diversion. Both the advisor and secretariat lounges will have food available, and I want to make sure that they know where, how, and what to compost and recycle.
Greening these type of events is really important to the overall long-term sustainability of BMUN in our community. I just learned recently that event-planning is considered the second-most polluting sector of industry, coming after only waste-and-demolition (!) I know, shocking, right? So I feel now more than ever that these steps will be necessary to keeping BMUN’s impact on the community minimal. I will be sure to let you all know how the event goes next weekend!