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

Advertisements


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


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


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


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


Walk to School Month!


walkingSo apparently, October is walk to school month in Washington. While the program seems to have been started for elementary schools, there’s no reason us college folk can’t take the idea to heart. There already seem to be a lot of walkers who live off campus at SPU (including one brilliant sustainability blogger), which makes sense, given our highly walkable community. If you’re driving to school, the odds are you live a significant distance away, but if you’re thinking of giving walking a shot, or if you already do and are finding it trying, there may be a few practices we can take up to make it easier on ourselves. Continue reading


Pretty Cool Thing: Seattle Greenways


wallDid you know about Seattle Neighborhood Greenways? These are streets on which pedestrians and bicyclists are given the priority, using an array of small alterations that make a big difference. Pavement markings alert drivers to be extra watchful. Clearer crossings with curb ramps make crossing the street safer and easier, larger lanes for bicyclists make biking in the city a less stressful experience, and frequent speed bumps reduce the speed of passing cars. Greenways have further pavement markings as well as signage geared towards those going places without a car, telling them what’s around the immediate area. Continue reading