sustainablespu

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


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


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


1 Comment

Dumpster Diving –Just for hippies or for everyone?


With the end of my lease in September, I did a lot of preparing to move, which included taking an inventory of all the items I currently own and what I would need in my new place. I used to live in an apartment with six people but now live in an apartment with just two! This means that I had to do some searching for furniture, particularly free furniture (because who wants to pay for it when you have to pay first and last month’s rent and a safety deposit). Tim previously wrote a post on Shopping Alternatives that mentioned various forms of freeganism, but I’m diving head first into the topic (pun intended).

My version of dumpster diving doesn’t actually involve getting in dumpsters thankfully, but I’m not opposed to it Continue reading


Ride Sharing: Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others–are they good for the environment?


Through marketing (mostly radio ads and Facebook) and my friends, I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Lyft and Uber. Sidecar isn’t as popular here in Seattle, but it still got my attention while researching ridesharing applications. Former sustainability assistant and blogger extrodinaireTim wrote a post about Lyft two years ago when they first started becoming popular here in Seattle, and since then there has been a bit of controversy about the legality and regulation about these kind of application based vehicle services (dubbed Transportation Network Companies by the city). Although these services were legalized in Seattle about a year ago, there are still concerns about insurance and potential conflict between statewide and local legislation.

Image Credit: Jeff Blucher, Flickr

Image Credit: Jeff Blucher, Flickr

As a car owner, I know how bad traffic can be, especially during rush hour. I also know that I contribute to traffic, and I feel especially guilty when I’m driving a short distance I could be walking, or when I’m the only one in my car. With all the hype I’ve heard lately, I wanted to know more and know if the companies are helping to alleviate the use of personal vehicles for single occupants.

Photo Credit Rob Barrett, NY Times, 2008

Image Credit: Rob Barrett, NY Times, 2008

After reading a number of articles, I found some on the basics of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and others relating to the politics and the environmental factors. These articles all helped me to better understand about the issues at hand.

What’s legal here in Seattle and what was all the controversy about?

The current regulations on TNCs were passed in July of 2014 and include:

  • Licensing and insurance requirements for drivers in the networks (there are specific requirements, but all listed pretty generally in news articles).
  • Removal of the cap on the number of drivers for each TNC, so there can be many drivers from Uber, Lyft, or other companies.
  • The creation of an Accessibility fund, which charges 10 cents per ride in vehicles not equipped for wheelchairs in order to create a wheelchair accessible taxi service.
  • Changes made to benefit taxis and for-hire drivers. The City will increase the number of taxi licenses they issue over the next four years, and for-hire drivers are now allowed to pick up passengers that hail them on the street instead of being restricted to arrange-in-advance rides only.Ridesharelogos

Continue reading


3 Comments

3 tips from Zero Waste “Gurus”


What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a philosophy of reduction and recycling that leads to the production of no (or very little) garbage. It is a way of living that changes how much garbage you produce, but doesn’t have to change everything about you. You can still be yourself, but a more resourceful version of yourself that is kinder to the planet and your wallet. There’s a graphic that I think is really helpful in explaining what zero waste is all about that I’ve pulled from our department’s main website.
flowchart1zerowastecycleedit_Page_1

The top portion is a traditional waste stream that puts most items directly into the landfill while using lots of natural resources and energy to get them there.

The second graphic however, is a cycle that continues to reuse the same resources over and over again, with very little or nothing headed to the landfill. This cycle not only uses fewer natural resources, but also saves energy in production through reusing materials many times before recycling. Using recycled materials also reduces energy and cost for manufacturers. Continue reading


1 Comment

Inexpensive and good for you -10 ideas for 10 dollars or less for your Friday night


In Seattle many of the students at SPU have a hard time finding fun activities to do that won’t break the bank. Seattle has exponential opportunities to try something new, but it might cost you a pretty penny. Here are some ideas for students (or people on a budget) for Friday nights.

1) Board games at a local game store (Free + bus fare and snacks) This activity can be totally free! For SPU students Blue Highway is a walk up the 3rd Ave. hill to upper Queen Anne. If the weather isn’t ideal, the 13 also goes up the hill and stops just two blocks away from this fun game store on the corner of Boston Ave. and Queen Anne. The staff is really helpful at teaching you a new game if you need help, and sometimes they even have fun events in their store. It’s also a great place to try before you buy, and then invest in a favorite game once you have a little extra cash. Their Friday hours are 10 am to 11 pm. Playing board games is a great way to connect with people and exercise your brain. This location isn’t the only one though; there’s another game store in Ballard as well.

2) Visit a park and play Frisbee (Free if you own a Frisbee)

view-from-bhy-kracke-300x225

The view from Bhy Kracke Park. Photo credit: SeattleStairwayWalks.com.

Seattle has so many gorgeous parks, and I’m certain other cities and towns have parks with spacious lawns for Frisbee. Getting out and running around a bit can be really fun, no matter how uncoordinated you may be. For Seattlites and other pacific northwesters it can get dark pretty early in the evening, so checking out options for a glow in the dark disc is a must, finding an affordable one isn’t too difficult, just stay away from specialty ones, or the lit ones that require batteries. A few of my suggestions for parks are Discovery park in Magnolia or Bhy Kracke park in Upper Queen Anne. I caution the klutzy though, because Bhy Kracke is on a steep hill and you could easily lose your disc down the hill. Both parks close at 11:30 pm (sunshine and shoes are optional). Continue reading


5 Tips on keeping your grocery bill green without spending too much green


1) Buy non-perishables in bulk (and bring your own container if possible). Buying canned foods, and buying dry goods such as pasta, flour, sugar, spices in bulk can save a good deal of money and help eliminate waste from smaller packaged items. Another way to apply this principle is buying fresh foods and then freezing them or dehydrating them (if you’re really fancy). Some things that I know freeze well are bread, meats, hearty vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli, and berries (although their texture will be compromised when they thaw). Freezing food is a great way to help with keeping foods longer and preventing those nightly or weekly trips to the grocery store. It can also save you money if you buy produce when it is in season or on sale.

2) Meal planning is an important part of saving money, just like budgeting. Planning what to eat during which weeks will help you decide what non-perishables to buy and stock up on, and which foods you can wait to buy until they are a bit cheaper. This meal planning should revolve around your favorite fresh produce, and when it goes on sale. Pairing non-perishable staples with fresh produce will not only help save your wallet, but is also a great way to have balanced nutrition and avoid expensive processed and packaged food. This takes a bit of time but is worth it when you are satisfied with your food budget and delicious meals. Continue reading


1 Comment

Composting Compulsion – Seattle’s Ordinance to go greener


Two years and six months ago Seattle’s plastic bag ban went into effect, creating a push for paper and reusable bags. At the beginning of this month an ordinance passed to prevent food waste from entering the landfill and encouraging citizens to compost. For me, this is a no brainer, but that is because I grew up in a small town, and became accustomed to recycling and composting (we even had our own pile in our backyard). This however has not been the case for my roommates. There are six of us in our house and not all are native composters, especially since we come from different states with different laws and access for composting. At first, getting our house to compost was challenging, as I believe it is probably the same for people who are adjusting to the ordinance. In the end though, I have celebrated the little victories and appreciated the cooler weather that keeps the bugs away from our food waste bin.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Cutting Back on Textbook Cost


meme_textbookWhen you’re picking classes, how much do you base your decisions off of what textbooks for certain courses will cost you? It’s a shame that any of us have to take this into account at all, but the unfortunate truth is that textbook cost is very often, well, ridiculous. Perhaps you’ve even tried to get through a class sans-textbook, relying on notes and friendly classmates who are willing to lend you theirs from time to time (I sound a little too familiar with this practice don’t I?). According to one study, college textbook prices have risen at four times the rate of inflation over the past twenty years. Continue reading