sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese


Rail Turned Trail


While researching the Burke Gilman Trail (BGT) and its Missing Link, I found the origins of the (t)rail particularly intriguing. Rather than loading readers down with a ton of historical data in the original BGT post, I dedicated a separate post to the history of the multi-use trail.

Rail History

The origins of the Burke Gilman go all the way back to 1885, six years before SPU’s inaugural year. The Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern (SLS&E) Railroad founders: Judge Thomas Burke, Daniel Gilman and ten investors, spearheaded an effort to get Seattle on the map as a major center for transportation and trade.  Continue reading


Sustainable Creativity as Healing


 

This month has been a tough one for me and many in the SPU community, especially with the current political, economic, and social unrest happening in our nation and world. Closer to home, a fellow student, dear friend, and committed social justice advocate recently died in a car accident while traveling to Seattle from North Dakota. Erin Kimminau and a handful of others were on their way back from showing their solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its protest against the construction of the 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This pipeline is set to be done in early January 2017 and spans from North Dakota to Illinois. It will transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily, thus impacting the tribe’s access to drinking water and disrupting sacred burial grounds.

Before the accident, I had bought fabric at a sustainable craft store in Greenwood, and the trip could not have come at a more opportune time. I brought home four different patterns of scrap fabric and planned to use them for Christmas presents. Instead, ripped strips of the fabric were offered to folks to pray over and tie together into a beautiful garland as a way to tangibly honor Erin’s life. Being able to contribute this reused and reclaimed fabric was special for me, especially after seeing the ways in which it ministered to, comforted, and healed the pain that many of us were (are) experiencing.

From the looks of Seattle ReCreative, nestled on a busy part of Greenwood Avenue, one wouldn’t imagine the potential crafting opportunities contained within the store. Here’s the creative space’s mission:seattle-recreative

“Seattle ReCreative is a non-profit organization dedicated
to promoting creativity, community and environmental
stewardship through creative reuse & art education.”

Continue reading

Connecting the Missing Link


This summer I’ve enjoyed running on the Burke Gilman Trail (BGT). Some evenings I’ll use the trail to connect my route from SPU to Gasworks Park; other times I’ll run from yoga in Ballard towards Fremont to get back home. Rain or shine, thousands of cyclists and pedestrians frequent the 19.8-mile trail every day. Extending from Bothell to Ballard, the multi-use trail runs alongside various bodies of water including Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Fremont Cut, Salmon Bay, and Shilshole Bay.

bgtmapwithpins

The Burke Gilman trail with various road access and recreational points along the way.

The BGT has been one of the best surprises and most accessible places for me to exercise, although I’ve always felt leery (Leary) about running through the Missing Link. Following those feelings, I decided to do some research on the mile-and-a-half portion and how its completion may affect trail-users at SPU.  Continue reading


COP21 -The Paris Talks Resolution


COP21 –The Paris Talks Resolution

As a follow up to my previous post announcing the COP21 or SIF15 Climate Change talks happening in Paris, I’m going to look at some of the outcomes and highlights following the conference.

The conference ended on December 12th after additional days being added for continued negotiation. There has been an agreement drafted and signed by 195 countries to reduce climate change, with specific plans outlined in that document.

The conference included over 75 speakers and included the Sustainable Innovation Forum, which was the largest business event that engaged NGO’s, individuals, and investors to be a part of the climate change around the world, in a positive way. Speeches given provided examples of ways that businesses can see profits from being energy efficient or creating zero-carbon alternatives to current products adding to carbon emissions.

Many people had a lot to say about the agreement and how they think it will have impacts for our future. The majority seem to say that it was monumental for an international agreement to be reached around the growing issue of climate change. Yale Climate Connections compiled some of the earliest thoughts on the results of the conference just days after it had concluded.cop21-unfccc-paris-agreement-1550x804

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions put together some bullet points to help sum up the conclusion of the agreement:

  • The goal to limit global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius
  • Commit all countries to reporting progress on their emissions regularly
  • Establish and reaffirm binding commitments to make “nationally determined contributions”, and resubmit these contributions every five years
  • Extending a mechanism to address loss and damage from climate change, which won’t require liability or compensation
  • Require parties engaging in international emissions trading to avoid double counting

Today, countries are signing the agreement in honor of Earth day in New York. This is a monumental occasion and I think one of the best ways to honor the earth we live on. Over 130 countries have agreed to sign the agreement, initiating their process towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change, specifically the 2 degree target.

Additionally, from the “Why not?” speech given by the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, the hope is that developing countries could skip the steps of the developed nations and go straight to low-carbon and low-impact transport solutions. The focus of his speech is really how private sector businesses can make a huge impact on how the future of emissions changes.

It is an exciting day in history, so celebrate the Earth today and the rest of your days!


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Follow up on the Food Waste Fight and Faith


In some of my previous posts I touched on the problems of food waste , as well as some solutions for the rising problem in America. I also appreciated and reflected on parts of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter in a 3 part series about how faith and sustainable practices go hand in hand. The Pope is not the only person who has noticed this connection and is asking faith communities to step up to the issue of climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency here in the states has also recognized how the faith community can partner in helping the planet. With this thought, the EPA has launched their Food Steward’s Pledge to help reach the goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent in the next 14 years.

This move towards encouraging members of the faith community is based on changing food waste through systemic channels. In an interview with NPR, Gina McCarthy the EPA Administrator says that this strategy allows the EPA to tap “into incredibly motivated and dedicated people”. NPR’s report goes on to highlight many religious groups who are taking part in the food waste fight, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or other faith groups.

Continue reading


What do you want?


Hello Readers!

This blog post is a little out of the ordinary, because it’s all about you. I’m curious to know what the audience of a Sustainability blog is interested and how SustainableSPU can be different from other blogs you may follow. We as an institution are committed to pursuing sustainability, but that doesn’t mean just through one venue. Educating and informing students, faculty, staff, and community members is a big part of my goal as a Sustainability Intern, and considering I have just a few short months until graduation I’d like to do the best I can now. Please comment below with how you found our blog and what you would like to see more of so that this blog can serve its followers. Thank you! Lauren

Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 – United Nations Climate Change Conference


This year in December, the conversation around the planet’s changing climate will continue in Paris as many delegates and representatives gather from countries around the world. According to the homepage for main issues, “the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.” This is a lofty goal for a conference that is less than two weeks long with numerous diverse parties from both private and public sectors.

Now less than a week away this conference has all the details figured out. I’m going to highlight a few of the basics, but feel free to explore the links provided as your interest is peaked.

If you’re interested in getting a crash course on what the conference is all about, you can dive in to this quick read written in July. It outlines why there is a conference in the first place and how businesses are involved. Continue reading


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Water Conservation on Campus & the Water Crisis around the world


A central theme of sustainability is avoiding waste of resources in order to create a better foundation for the future. I thought I’d share some ways SPU is stepping up its game and asking students to engage on the issue of water. If you live on campus, you may have noticed some new signage in your bathroom bringing attention water conservation and giving students a few practical ways to do so. In a previous post, I described this summer’s  water shortage and the subsequent voluntary reduction implemented by Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma. In addition to the operational changes we made this summer to reduce campus water consumption, we are asking students to help reduce water use this fall.

There are many benefits to saving water:

  • Saving water just means using less so that it can be used by others in your area. When water is used it must go through a treatment or cleaning process before it can be used again. The typical treatment for our drinking water in the United States is a five step process that is regulated on a federal level; it uses time, energy and financial resources to clean our water. So limiting the need for that redundant process is beneficial to everyone, especially if you live in a water scare region or in times of drought.
  • Conserving water isn’t just based on communal concern, but can also be based on finances; using less means paying for less. This is also key when the cost of water varies from place to place and certain people are controlling how much you must pay for clean water (be on the look-out for a future a post on the privatization of water!). As fresh water is a limited resource to be used by people, we have to think about how that 1% of the Earth’s water is shared among the approximately 3 billion people.

Continue reading


Reusable Water Bottles –There is a plethora of options, so do you have one yet?


It’s fairly known and understood that single use plastic water bottles are bad, especially when they aren’t recycled and then end up in landfills and oceans. Yet, they still get used and used a LOT because of their perceived convenience. We wrote about this several years ago, yet newer statistics have been difficult to come by. Generally speaking though, single use plastic bottles are harmful because they take a lot of energy and a lot of water to produce (check fact #5). Also, paying for bottled water when your tap water is just as good (or could be) is a waste of money.

In case you haven’t yet adopted a reusable water bottle solution, I thought I’d highlight some companies that are working not only to reduce waste, but also doing some pretty cool stuff with their profits. All of these companies have been in business for at least 5 years, and most are West Coast based. They also want to fight the bottled water market by providing unique and interesting alternatives, so I encourage you to check out these people a bit more (two are SPU alumni!).

Klean Kanteen –Est. 2005 in Chico California

Joined 1% for the Planet in 2008, donating more than 1% of annual sales to nonprofits working to protect and promote the health of the planet. With a simple statement: “our bottom line is simple: to provide affordable, safe, healthy, high quality products and accessories and to promote and encourage health, sustainability and environmental awareness.”  Continue reading


Dumpster Diving (Part 2) –Success is sweet!


*Disclaimer- SPU is not paying me to look through your (or anyone’s) dumpster, nor is it advocating any type of illegal behavior. *

Check out part one of this series.

This is a follow up post with the results of my experience on dumpster diving for food! I wanted to share my experience to show that it really can be a fun and waste saving experience for everyone! Here’s the scoop on what we found. Photo 1 . The box of donuts was on top of the compostable bags, not actually inside them, in the dumpster at a local donut shop. It was pretty convenient and they were very delicious!Photo 2

Photo 3

The other foods were found inside one of the eight compostable bags outside of a local bakery. It was all about finding the bag with the uneaten food and not the bags from consumers after they’ve eaten filled with crumbs, napkins, and wrappers. I went with a fellow dumpster diving novice as well as a more experienced friend who showed us the ropes. He explained how to look for the best bags, and he actually climbed inside both dumpsters! We used our phones’ flashlights and didn’t have cars, so walked about 30 minutes with our spoils back to my friend’s house, where we enjoyed some donuts and saved the rest for lunches. This was a great experience and I learned so much about our waste here in Seattle!Photo 4