sustainablespu

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


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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


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


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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


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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


The Coffee Obsession (Part One)-


It’s no surprise that Seattle is known for coffee. As home of the original Starbucks and a geographic location that can often have dreary weather it makes sense that most Seattleites carry around a hot caffeinated beverage, especially during the winter months. How much damage has this obsession or need done to the environment though?

I was pleasantly surprised to realize though that the paper cups our liquid energy comes in are recyclable, and so are their cozy little jackets that prevent burned hands and their lids. This is not a recent development for Seattle, yet it seems that people often don’t know that empty clean paper cups are recyclable. All it takes is a rinse to keep that cappuccino cup from the garbage. These cups are recyclable in Seattle unlike other places, and as a transplant like many other Seattleites, I didn’t realize it before.

Continue reading