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: 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, 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: 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, 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!
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!