sustainablespu

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

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


Mottainai: Waste Nothing, Respect All


Have you ever thought about how much waste you generate on a daily basis? If you’ve spent any time in Japan, you may be more aware of your waste habits. Last December, my sister visited the country and got first-hand experience of this. She was struck by Japan’s lack of public trashcans and surprisingly litter-free streets. Some municipalities have over 44 different garbage categories and people often carry around their trash all day to dispose of it properly at home.

Waste is a serious matter in Japan, guided for centuries by the cultural concept of Mottainai

having respect for the resources around you, to not waste these resources and to use them with a sense of gratitude.”

This way of life and disposal makes sense for an island country with limited landfill space. It’s encouraging that affluent, consumer-based countries have created such dynamic cultural waste norms, especially in light of America’s throw-away habits. For food waste alone, it’s estimated that the U.S. tosses 30-40% of its food produced annually, costing about $165 billion and producing almost 34 million tons of waste. Considering that every ton of food wasted creates 3.8 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the scope of this issue is staggering. What’s more, globally about $1 trillion or one-third of all food produced goes uneaten.

Due to these realities, we conduct an audit to track SPU’s waste contribution. This year with the implementation of a campus-wide compost program, it was a lengthier collection and recording process. Over the course of May, we analyzed about 820 cubic yards or 310,535 lbs. of waste: 26% garbage, 61% recyclables, and 13% compostables.  Continue reading


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The Commute


Almost half of SPU’s student body commutes to campus. Have you ever wondered how all of that time getting to and from campus contributes to overall student wellness and SPU’s environmental footprint? Over the last few months, we’ve collected a bit of data to find out.

In terms of happiness, studies connect commuting to lower rates of well-being, physical exercise, political activity, and life satisfaction as well as higher levels of emotional and relational stress. At the same time, some studies have found that the happiest commuters are those who walk, cycle, or take the train to work. In addition to increasing happiness, fewer greenhouse gas emissions are emitted into the environment by commuters who are able to take advantage of these options. If you’re a commuter unable to walk or cycle, consider carpooling or taking public transportation even a few times throughout the year to decrease your eco-footprint – every bit helps. Additionally, be sure to check out the resources offered by SPU’s wellness initiative! 

As far as environmental footprint goes, commuting mileage has a bigger institutional impact than one might think. In 2011, faculty and staff commuting made up 6% and student commuting accounted for 23% of our total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.  To continue our efforts in effectively measuring and lowering SPU’s GHG emissions, we conduct an annual Student Commute Survey. Continue reading


Seattle Bicycle Expo this Weekend


seattle-bike-laneIf you’re a four-wheeled commuter looking to dive into the world of biking, or you’re an experienced pedlar looking to surround yourself with a group of like-minded people, you could try checking out the Seattle Bike Expo this weekend, being held this year in the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal 91. The event will feature presentations tailored to those interested in biking more often as well as guest speakers, bicycle acrobats(!), and opportunities to turn bike parts into art. For a full list of what’s going down, you can find the event schedule here.


Seattle’s Growing Commitment to Cycling


counterSeattle’s cycling culture is getting more and more apparent, with the number of greenways, protected bike lanes, multi-use trails, signs directed at cyclists, and bike detectors at traffic signals rising. More bike counters are also being installed to monitor the city’s progress in this area. The growing network of greenways is hoped to help the city reach its goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, all while making it easier to travel in a more environmentally and personally healthy way. Continue reading


Bike Sharing and Seattle


bike shareIf the hectic streets of New York can make it work, I’m sure Seattle’s plan to launch a bike-sharing program in the Spring of 2014 will be a largely positive endeavor. Bike-sharing is the public transpo. of cycling, with bike stations set up across cities where riders can grab a bike or return one. When New York first put its program into motion, there was lots of skepticism regarding the safety of more bikers being put onto already congested streets, but after five months, bike-sharing in NYC has caused no serious harm. Continue reading


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The Walk Bike Ride Challenge


bikesThis cool thing is going on in Seattle through September 9th called the Walk Bike Ride Challenge. It’s a program organized by the City’s Department of Transportation that encourages people to seek alternative methods to getting where they need to be; basically, anything that isn’t driving somewhere by yourself. If you go from one place to another in a different way, you can sign up here, then start logging your trips and win one of the following prizes: Continue reading