sustainablespu

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


1 Comment

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


2 Comments

More Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Being in Nature


skymallAbout a month ago I happened upon an uber-cool nature fact regarding the ability of soil to improve our mood, acting in a similar way to antidepressants. As it turns out, digging into the matter can bring up scads more information on the subject of nature’s human benefits. Speaking personally, the research I found reveals what I’ve always felt when in nature, but never knew had scientific grounding. My guess is that a lot of people might be in a similar boat. Continue reading


1 Comment

Sustainability & Film: Pursuit of Happyness


still-of-will-smith-and-jaden-smith-in-the-pursuit-of-happyness-large-pictureTo celebrate the end of Sustainable Happiness Week, I thought I would take a look at one of the leading contemporary films about the issue, The Pursuit of Happyness.

This very-American drama is based on the true life of Chris Gardner and his experience of homelessness. Will Smith plays Gardner, a salesman who decides to risk everything by entering into stock brokerage, despite the fact that he had no home and sole custody of his young son. This harrowing role got Smith nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

In this film, Smith’s character asks the question everyone wonders at some point: “They all looked so damn happy to me. Why couldn’t I look like that?” Continue reading


1 Comment

Steps to Happiness: Environmental Quality


SeattleSkyline_300Media and research often talks about how people affect the environment, but few are concerned about how the environment affects people. Issues like greenhouse emissions, waste management, and air quality actually influence our levels of happiness and satisfaction in life.Though we have posted about environmental awareness before, this post primarily concerns how environment directly affects your happiness. Continue reading


Steps to Happiness: Lifestyle


HE_apple-on-scale_s4x3_leadIf you consider part of happiness to be a daily maintenance, or a homeostasis, of mood, then there are concrete steps you can take to regulate a steady level. These aspects contribute towards physical health, which is one of the ten domains of happiness.

This post will identify and analyze the key lifestyle aspects that affect mood and happiness.

Eating Well: It turns out that your “Happy Meal” is a misnomer. Continue reading


Steps to Happiness: Laughter


tumblr_ml351tJdit1r4x0u7o1_500Proverbs 17:22 claims that “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Today we can prove that as true. No one can deny that a life filled with laughter is likely a happy life, but now we have evidence to back it up.

Researchers have proven that laughter boosts happiness levels while reducing stress. Regular humor gives instant and long-lasting benefits. Scientists hypothesize this is because laughter causes a surge of hypocretin, the neurotransmitter that regulates things like sleep, appetite, and joy. Continue reading


2 Comments

Steps to Happiness: Social Connection


Hands-fo-Friendship-Version-2Sustainable Happiness Week is upon us! This will be our first post about the factors contributing to an overall sense of personal satisfaction. The topic today: a crash course in relationships’ impact upon happiness.

A 2012 survey by the National College Health Association found that 58.4% of college students felt “very lonely” at least once in the past 12 months. Unfortunately, this high statistic has been fairly stable over the past five years.

Despite the crowds of people around campus, college can be a lonely time. Students move away from their families and social supports into an unfamiliar environment. Many students feel isolated among their peers. And this is a difficult feeling to handle, much less express to others. For this post, we will give strategies to handle loneliness and promote social connections. Continue reading