Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: berkeley model united nations, converge magazine, higher education, sustainability blog
I’m excited to announce that we’ve been featured by Converge Magazine as one of six must-read higher-education sustainability blogs! Converge covers a variety of stories pertaining to technology in education, and a recent article by Jessica Napier discusses the increasing importance of sustainability in higher education institutions. This blog is among the top six!
I definitely recommend that you check out the other blogs featured on there – there is some pretty interesting content! Thanks to Jessica and Converge magazine for featuring us.
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: Green education, Sustainable purchases, Waste diversion, Water | Tags: electronic device recycling, energy saving advice, green laundry, green laundry detergent, green lifestyle tips
Hello, my name is Stephanie Chen, and I’m on the sustainability staff for Berkeley Model United Nations’ 57th session. I’m writing today to share with you some easy ways to green your lifestyle!
As the conference approaches and you are packing clean clothing for committee, I wanted to let you know there are ways that you can green your laundry routine! Why not try out the following:
o Wash clothes in warm or cold water, rather than hot water, to save energy
o Air dry your clothes the old-fashioned way, either on a line or directly on hangers that you can set out to dry (Air drying your clothes saves you and your family money AND reduces your annual carbon output by “as much as recycling your paper, plastic and metal for an entire year” – can you believe it?!)
o Buy laundry detergents from brands such as Seventh Generation that are “free and clear” of dyes and perfumes, which are potential skin irritants and allergens (Buying “green” detergents is also doing your part to make sure fewer contaminants such as alkylphenol ethoxylates and chlorine bleach pass from our waterways and sewers to rivers and oceans!)
Here are some helpful websites where you can read more about being sustainable around the home:
Lastly, if you’ve ever wondered where you can take that random old TV set or cell phone or car tire to recycle (because these things can’t just be tossed into the regular garbage!), visit www.earth911.com to find out where the recycling centers are in your neighborhood!
Less than a week till the conference – see you soon!
Filed under: Green education | Tags: BMUN, BMUN WTC, ecotourism, green travel, international environmentalism, travel tips, World Tourism Committee
Hi everyone, I’m Rachel Whyte. I’m on the sustainability staff, and am here today to share with you an interesting new trend in world travel, known as eco-tourism. I like to think of Berkeley Model United Nations as not only an amazing MUN conference, but also as a convergence of global thinkers, visionaries and wanderers all in one place. In fact, I bet that between all of our students, faculty members and members, we have traveled to most of the 192 member nations of the UN. So when I heard that we were creating a new World Tourism Committee, I thought that this was probably the most relevant committee to our current lives. For example, while I might not be working for the World Health Organization this summer, I will most definitely be flying to Guatemala to visit my Aunt Maritza.
In honor of my trip and the creation of our new World Tourism Committee, AND in further celebration of BMUN’s going green, I have decided to share with you some ways in which you can make your summer’s travels a little easier on the planet.
Environmentally friendly travel, better known as ecotourism, is defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) as, “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people,” and in its purest form, ecotourism should try to minimize the cultural and environmental impact of its operations as much as possible. These operations can come in many forms, ranging from hotels to travel agencies to tours. On a global scale, ecotourism is the fastest growing branch of the tourist industry. Although this may seem as like a great development, some of these new operations are using techniques like green washing to appear ecologically friendly, when in reality they are far from it.
Intrigued? Check out the International Eco-Tourism Society’s Five Easy Steps to eco-friendly travel.
Here is another website I found helpful: The Discovery Channel’s Planet Green travel tips.
And just in case the articles are not cool enough, here’s a quiz! Take it to find out if you are a “green globetrotter…”
Filed under: Green education, Recent news, Waste diversion, Water | Tags: bay, drains, fruit labels, ocean, plastic
Here’s an interesting story I learned about just recently. You know those little fruit labels stuck on bananas and the other small labels stuck on other packaged foods? Apparently they get washed down home sink drains pretty frequently. Small bits of plastic from the corners of packaged goods also sometimes get washed down. When this happens, they are really hard to filter out of the wastewater system: they get attached to screens and filters, block up pipes, and sometimes, they make it through all the filtration and end up in your local bay. They pollute the ocean and can even kill fish! One thing that makes small bits of plastic more problematic than other things that are rinsed down the drain, for example, is that some plastic neither sinks nor floats, making it hard to capture. Small stickers, big problem.
This is one environmental issue that has a pretty easy solution on our end as consumers. Try to make a conscious effort to remove these stickers from your fruits and veggies before you peel or rinse them in the kitchen sink, and make sure to dispose of all plastics before putting food waste in the sink. Thanks to the UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability for this tip!
Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: berkeley model UN, berkeley model united nations, BMUN, charitable cause, kiva
I am happy to announce that BMUN 57′s charitable cause at this year’s conference will be Kiva!
Kiva is a micro-finance lending platform that connects donors to real individuals in need of funding for projects of economic growth. The money thatwe collect at the conference is going to be divided into three parts, which we will distribute to people in three different countries. We’re going to emphasize individuals who are pursuing sustainability and environmental activities, in coordination with our recent efforts to “go green” this year! Some examples of who we might fund include a rice farmer in Cambodia, a farm supplier in Nicaragua, or a plantation producer on the island of Samoa.
There is a chance that the delegation that your high school is representing may be donating to someone in that very same country! But the very best thing about this year’s charitable cause is that the money you donate will double its impact every year, because the money exists as a “loan” to the entrepreneur to whom we lend, and when the money is paid back to BMUN’s charity account, we get the chance to re-lend it to someone new next year! We chose this organization because of the fusion between sustainability and internationalism.
Be sure to check back to this blog after the conference to learn more about the people to whom we will donate! You will be able to see their pictures, check out their profiles, and learn what they are using the money for. Can’t wait until you know? Check out Kiva.org right now and see what kind of entrepreneurs are out there!
We hope that you’ll consider donating a small amount during the conference in order to support our cause this year. Looking forward to meeting you all soon!
Filed under: General, Green education, Waste diversion | Tags: annie leonard, the story of stuff, trash, video, waste, waste reduction
I stumbled across a pretty cool video today called “The Story of Stuff.” It’s a pretty brief video at 20 minutes long, and you can watch it online instantly at this website. It’s gives a super-informative look at all the ways we consume in today’s society, and especially here in America. Tracing the path from extraction (of natural resources) to production (of stuff) to distribution throughout the world to consumption and ending in disposal, it provides a pretty strong critique of the consumerism that has come to define us, and ends by suggesting some alternative models to consumption. If you feel like you already know a lot about, say, extraction of natural resources, you can skip around to the parts of the consumer cycle that interest you, or that you might not know that much about. While some parts might seem outside of the mainstream to the average viewer (especially the consumption section!), the narrator makes some great points, and I definitely recommend you check it out.
This video emphasizes a really important aspect of BMUN’s sustainability measures that we’ve been working on: waste diversion and a reduction in our overall consumption. By reducing the amount of paper printed for position papers that are read a few times and then trashed, and by diverting recyclables from landfills, we are cutting down on our overall consumption. It’s something that you might not think is all that big of a deal in our personal lives, but consider this one statistic I picked up in the video: the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash a day. That’s 1642.5 pounds a year! Per person! I don’t even want to think about multiplying that number by 300 million, the approximate number of American citizens. If we can work to divert or reduce that number at a personal level, imagine the savings!
It’s the little things we do that count, but working to consider the bigger issues can’t hurt either. When you see a business that you think could be doing something to improve its sustainability, don’t be shy! You can talk to a manager, or write a letter to the company. Oftentimes they appreciate the recommendation, and if you emphasize your concern about sustainability in terms of your patronage, they will surely take note. Think about what you can do to improve your own sustainability, and work in increasing concentric circles to spread the word to family, friends and the businesses you visit regularly. These are just a few ways to consider sustainability in your own life!
Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: cell phone, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, ringtone
Thought to share with you a cool article I recently read about cell phone ringtones. What does this have to do with sustainability?Well, the ringtones sound the “call of the wild” of a particular endangered species once you download it. The tones are made possible by the Center for Biological Diversity, a cool non-profit that does work to protect at-risk species across the globe. Check out their site and you can read about all kinds of fascinating animals (from the Andrew’s dune scarab beetle to the Xantus’s murrelet and everything in between) and why they’re endangered. A couple of them are pictured in this blog, too. You can donate to support their mission on their website. I’m not clear on whether the ringtone profits are actually donated directly to support the specific animals you choose to screech or bellow on your cell, but in any case, what a cool way to raise awareness about endangered species!
Filed under: Green education, Recent news | Tags: Commission on Sustainable Development, U.N. leadership, U.N. reform, United Nations, world government
I came across an article on UN reform, the economic crisis, and the environmental issues that future leaders of world government will need to address on the New York Times web page recently. I wrote about it for BMUN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (of which I am the head chair) and realized it’s a pretty relevant subject to sustainability as well. I’ve pasted some of what I wrote on the CSD blog below:
The author states that emerging nations like “China, India, Brazil and Indonesia now account for most of the world’s economic growth,”and notes that China is in fact the United States’ biggest creditor currently. And yet the Security Council and other major facets of world government continue to reflect countries whose power may have been at a peak 50 years ago. What do you think the leadership in the U.N. should reflect?
One of the most interesting parts of the article is about the 6th paragraph down, regarding the changes that globalization has had on the international economy, and the serious economic and environmental issues (like climate change, world poverty, energy sources, and nuclear proliferation) that future leaders of these countries will need to address. To what extent can sustainability and concern for the environment be fused with a need for economic growth?
Just a little something to think about!
Filed under: Green education, Sustainable purchases | Tags: gifts, holidays, sustainability
I have been notably absent from blog-writing these last few weeks as finals have taken a serious toll on my free time and creative endeavors. I am now out of finals fog, entering into a month-long holiday break and would like to share with you all just a few thoughts on sustainability in the holiday season. Some of these recommendations may be a little late in coming, but at least they are food for thought on how YOU can incorporate sustainability into your own life.
Rethink holiday gifting!Try to reduce consumption when it’s solely for consumption’s sake. Make your gifts meaningful to ensure they won’t just end up in a landfill somewhere, try to avoid products that are excessively wrapped in plastics and styrofoam.
Buy gifts that grow! Giving live plants and flowers as gifts can be fun, and sustainable too!
Reduce travel and shipping expenses. When buying online, purchase in advance to make sure you avoid express shipping, which is costly for you and the environment as well. Bundle your shopping errands together into one trip rather than several to reduce travel.
For a whole host of interesting recommendations on greening your gift-giving, check out Grist’s recommendations here. Grist is a really interesting website filled with environmental news. Environmental Defense also has some good recommendations on holiday gift giving.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, check out this article from the New York Times on buying “green” Christmas trees. Which is greener? A real tree that is grown in a Christmas tree farm, possibly dozens or hundreds of miles from your home, or a fake tree made of plastic that you store in your attic every year? Click here to find out!