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

Electric Cars and Bikes, Oh My!

As a native Coloradan, it is typical to drive long distances to get to places like school, the grocery store, and the mall. Before moving to Seattle, I only rode the bus a handful of times and biked no more than a leisurely ride down the street. Yet, living in this city with school, entertainment, grocery stores, and other amenities all conveniently within a few miles of each other, it is easy to choose more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. From carpool lanes, the link system, biking, to even kayaking, people in Seattle find convenient, active, and unique ways to get where they need to go without the stress and expense of driving.

An exciting new resource for Seattelites are dockless bikes, an idea that previously originated in China. SPIN, Limebike, and Ofo currently are the three major companies represented in Seattle. They’re cheap and carbon-free without the hassle of docking the bike at specific locations, like Seattle’s previous bike share program Pronto. We also soon might have the luxury of dockless electric-assist bicycles for those of us who need a little help up those steep Seattle hills (3rd Ave. hill, anyone?).

SPU supports and mirrors Seattle’s innovative sustainable vibe through various departments’ efforts. One of the ways it tries to offset its carbon emissions is by encouraging students, staff, and faculty to utilize alternative modes of transportation to get to school. Last year (2016-2017), 39% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students used modes of transportation like walking, biking, bus, train, and ferry. Certain incentives provided by SPU help make transportation easier through cheaper parking passes for carpool, bus passes at a reduced rate, and a 20% parking discount for those who drive a qualified fuel-efficient vehicle. In 2016-2017, 14 drivers of these fuel-efficient cars avoided 1,176 kg of greenhouse gas emissions by charging their vehicles – the equivalent of planting 44 trees!

Though SPU and the greater Seattle have a long way to go to further decrease its carbon emissions, they are at least working towards offering alternative options. Though I strive to live a more sustainable life, I am still often fearful of giving up the comfort and convenience of my routine. So my challenge to you and myself is this: start small and try everything at least once. Use one of the dockless bikes to bike to a coffee shop. Bus to work one day. Walk to the grocery store on your day off. You don’t have to completely forgo carbon-producing methods to have an impact. You might even see a boost in your mood!

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Compost Champs

If you read our last waste-related post from the summer, you may be hungry for updates on how SPU is doing this school year. As we will be conducting our next waste audit come May 2017, we thought we’d give a mid-year update, specifically regarding compost.

In its second year, SPU’s compost program is already diverting more food and yard waste as compared to last school year. Here’s a graph detailing our campus compost by tons for the last year and a half:

compost-comparison-fy Continue reading

Aotearoa New Zealand: Sweet As!

Eighteen students, thirty-thousand sheep, two Kiwis, twelve days, and one incredible experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

These numbers only begin to describe the study abroad I recently participated in. This trip was organized for more than two years by two Kiwis: Dr. Ross Stewart, SBGE Dean and Professor of Accounting, and Dr. Daniel Schofield, Professor of Chemistry.


Daniel and Ross at the Waimangu Inferno Crater Lake. Photo courtesy of Daniel Schofield.

After Fall Quarter finals, eighteen students studied abroad in Aotearoa New Zealand. We focused on aspects of environmental and cultural sustainability from both accounting and chemistry perspectives.

“Aotearoa is the [indigenous] Māori name for the country of New Zealand. The literal translation of Aotearoa is ‘land of the long white cloud’” (Māori Tourism Lmtd.).

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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.”

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Graduating to a Green Lifestyle (in 5 easy steps)

While there are difficulties to being sustainable in college as a student, there will still be challenges when I graduate in a few days! There have been posts about how to be green while a student, but the choices graduates make are just as important. Here are a few things I plan to change once I graduate.seattle-farmers-market-john-ong-flickr

Food Choices: For me, food choices are the majority of my budget besides rent, so making sustainable choices around food is a huge part of my life. Particularly the packaging of the food I buy is what I notice in my trash can. Zero waste tip number one from Lauren Singer is evaluate what your garbage is, and for me it’s filmy plastic that usually was wrapped around some sort of food. In taking her advice I would like to switch to buying less packaged food. The reason I haven’t done this already had been due to my limited time for cooking, so premade food has been my go to. Hopefully with no homework I’ll have some time to cook whole foods that don’t come in packages. Another sustainable option in choosing foods is looking to support organic growing practices and local produce to reduce pesticides in water systems and emissions from transporting produce long distances. Hopefully I’ll save some money making these choices too! Continue reading

Sustainability & Film: Just Eat It

Food waste is at it again, and this movie shines the spotlight on how America has its work cut out. Just Eat It is a film about food lovers, food waste, and how far some are willing to go to help reduce edible food ending up in the landfills. Food waste is not only contributing to food insecurity, but also to wasted water and land use in growing the food as well.JustEatITimage

If you haven’t seen the other few posts related to food waste, check them out for more information! You can also check out this film if you’re in the Seattle area. There are many showings of it across Seattle and viewing is free so you can learn more about how food waste is happening right under our noses.

If you’d like some positive information though about an organization that saves food, you can learn from and volunteer with Seattle Food Rescue! They recover small amounts of food from local businesses that would usually go to waste and deliver them to low income residents of Seattle. The best part? They do it via bike to prevent further carbon emissions.

Food rescue or recovery is one way to ensure food feeds people and not compost bins!


spu2Moving forward and healing, of course, aren’t always the same thing. Moving forward is often what we’re forced to do in hard times, when we feel frozen and stagnant on the inside, but it doesn’t imply anything more than what the physical body is doing. I suspect that much of the SPU community is still in the moving forward phase, with the emotional toll of last week still acting as a heavy weight inside. Continue reading

2014-2015 Sustainable Course Offerings

UCSB-Green-College-400x2801Those of you looking to enter the field of sustainability will want to take note of the environmentally-related classes taking place at SPU the next academic year. To start in the subject of biology, there are a host of wildlife-centered courses available, including animal bio, marine bio, intro to sustainability and science, oceanography, and ecology. Continue reading

6 Reasons to Love the Rain

umbrellasIf you follow this blog (thanks, by the way), you may be aware that I possess an alarming distaste for sunny weather. Luckily for me, the past few days have provided a temporary respite from the glowing orange beast, replaced by soothing greys and raindrops. But for many, this reversal has been an unfortunate departure from their fun in the sun. While I sympathize (well, not really) with their situation, I thought I would use my blogging platform to try and heighten awareness of how awesome rain is, and maybe make those who loathe it loathe it a little bit less. Continue reading