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: 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: Food, Recent news, Sustainable purchases | Tags: carbon footprint, FDA, greenwashing, natural, orange juice, twinkies
Read a cool article on New York Times a couple of days ago about Tropicana (owned by PepsiCo) which recently considered the question, “How much does your morning glass of orange juice contribute to global warming?” They calculated all of the aspects of producing orange juice in a carton – ranging from the growth of the oranges, to their processing, packaging, and shipping. While I was reading, I assumed that the shipping (from growth of the orange to production site to your friendly local grocery store) would be the biggest culprit of emissions. Surprisingly, it found that the orange groves themselves were the largest source. (You’ll have to read the article to find out why!)
It’s interesting that PepsiCo would choose to embark on calculations of these sort, but not surprising. The author of this article suggests that with growing consumer awareness about “green” products, there will be rising demand for ads that emphasize a low “carbon footprint.” But how to tell the difference between factual calculations, and false claims of sustainability, commonly known as “greenwashing” – which I’ve blogged about in a previous post? It’s a tough line to draw! Think about it.
How often do you see products that claim they are green, or help to improve the environment? Ever seen the word “natural” used on a food product – and did you know it means exactly nothing? It’s a claim that virtually ANY food (including Twinkies!) is allowed by the FDA to declare, since if you trace an ingredient back, eventually it came from a “natural” source. So think twice the next time you see a label that promises it is “all-natural,” and think harder about where your food comes from and how it got to you.
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!
Filed under: Food, Sustainable purchases, Waste diversion | Tags: compost, recycling, waste, WorldCentric
Here at BMUN, we hold weekly meetings to prepare for the big events we put on: the Delegate Workshop in the fall, and the Conference in the Spring. Dinner is served at most meetings, and 60 people can easily generate a lot of waste – like soda bottles, leftover food scraps, and one-time-use utensils and plates. So in order to adhere with our newly adopted goal of waste diversion, we’ve begun putting out collection bags for recyclables and compostables, next to the trash can. At the end of each of our weekly meetings, we deposit our collected compost waste and recyclables in an on-campus bin.
What exactly is composting, you might ask? Once relegated to the backyards of tree-hugging environmentalists, it’s become increasingly common in areas throughout California in the last decade. The Bay Area has been at the forefront of this trend, distributing green bins to the residents of Berkeley to collect food wastes ranging from wilting vegetables to egg shells to leftover sandwich crusts – stuff you’d normally toss in the trash but which can actually be diverted to composting facilities to be processed into rich organic fertilizer. Food-soiled paper products (like napkins and paper plates) can also be composted easily. UC Berkeley has embraced this practice, and there are now big green composting bins available outside of every dining hall on campus.
But we at BMUN also decided to take it one step further. In addition to collecting and separating our trash into food leftovers, metal and glass recyclables, and plastic trash, we opted to place an order through WorldCentric for compostable utensils and eating materials – everything from plates and bowls to cups, spoons and coffee lids. The difference about these compostable materials is that they are made out of organic materials – things like corn and potato starch, or bagasse which is derived from sugar cane. This way, we’re avoiding the use of paper plates (often made of virgin materials), styrofoam cups and plastic disposable utensils, which can take hundreds to thousands of years to biodegrade, often leaving behind harmful leached chemicals in the earth. For more information on compostable materials, check out WorldCentric’s FAQs.
Our order from WorldCentric came in this week, and we’ll be using the materials at the Delegate Workshop in just a few days. Be sure to check it out, and ask me on the day of the workshop if you have any questions! We’ll have some signs up about what can be composted. That’s all for now! See you on Saturday.
Filed under: Sustainable purchases, Waste diversion, Water | Tags: canteen, tap water, Tuxedo Ranch, water bottle
As part of our effort to make BMUN as sustainable as possible, one of our big goals for this year was to educate the club’s members and participants of the conference on the fallacy of bottled water. So, we placed a big order for re-usable stainless steel canteens, and they just arrived a few days ago! All of our secretariat will be carrying the bottles, and they will be available for purchase at the upcoming Delegate Workshop as well as the Conference next year.
We placed our order with Tuxedo Ranch, a supplier of many environmentally friendly products ranging from canteen water bottles to sustainable apparel, and the order came out beautifully. The canteens are a deep sapphire blue, with the BMUN logo displayed brilliantly on one side in a crisp white. The top of the bottle has a small lip for convenience of use, and features a looped lid that can easily be hooked on to just about anything. So far we love them!
There are several reasons we decided that this would make a good purchase for the club. First, because we want to encourage everyone to consider replacing their bottled water with tap water. Bottled water has immense externalized costs, ranging from transnational shipping (from places as remote as Fiji) and the petroleum-based production of plastic, to the social costs of extracting water from communities for the purposes of commodification. Secondly, because eliminating bottled water means that fewer plastic bottles end up in the trash can or recycling bin, which builds on one of our primary goals of waste diversion in BMUN. And finally, because tap water is delicious – and just as safe as bottled water. To learn more about why you should try the tap, check out Food and Water Watch’s informative site here. (I’m going to write a separate blog just on bottled water sometime in the future. Check back soon!)
That’s all from me for now. Check for an update from me soon about our plans for the upcoming Delegate Workshop!