Archive for » September, 2008 «

Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Author:

I have finally gotten around to composting again, and all it took was a little fresh air to recall that we had two unused organizer boxes (the plastic kind with the interlocking fold over lids) in the garage – they are prefect for adding some dirt, worms, and all your kitchen and garden waste to make money saving, plant loving, eco-friendly soil.

Like I’ve mentioned before, composting properly takes some time, and I am still in the experimental stage, but I think this will work better than the system I set up for my boyfriend in Houston with two small-ish trash bins, for a couple reasons:

The lid: there are bugs, animals, and weather that would like to have a crack at the goodies decomposing, and I personally think there already are enough cockroaches in the world….

Size: it is actually really important to have enough moisture (not a problem in Houston), ‘brown’ material (~ ½ by volume; any sort of dried organic stuff will work – leaves, branches, grass clippings. Thicker pieces take longer to decompose), and ‘green’ stuff from the kitchen to get this stuff to do its deed. And the material adds up fast! It will eventually decrease to approx. 1/5 the size.

Movable/storable/hide-able: these boxes can go anywhere, and they are currently on the side of the house getting sun, chilling with the car in the driveway, out of sight, out of mind, very good for the conscience.

I’ll keep you posted, but so far we have been able to “educate” our new neighbor about worms and compost, and he’s a smart little kid (about five, I’m guessing).

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Friday, September 26th, 2008 | Author:

For those of you that missed it, Akira and I made a small presentation to ASCSM last night regarding how to ride a bus, how to use the CSM bus pass, and other information. If you have any questions, check out the PowerPoint attached and feel free to stop by the upcoming EarthWorks & SCS meetings next Thursday (October 2) at lunch in Berthoud Hall 106. Also, you can always comment on the blog.

I hope to see many of you on the bus!

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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | Author:

This coming Thursday there will be an ASCSM meeting at 7pm in the Student Center, and the first few minutes of it will be devoted to an informational presentation, hopefully including photos of yours truly getting on and off a bus. The idea is to try to make sure all those people who want to take the bus are properly equipped with the knowledge of how to get on (including transporting a bike), use the Blastercard bus pass, and get off (remembering that bike).

There will be more discussed at the meeting, and there is a small committee looking for all sorts of ways to improve sustainability on campus, so if you are interested, come on by. To boot, there is a door prize for this week’s meeting, courtesy of Kevin Duffy, our current ASCSM President.

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Monday, September 22nd, 2008 | Author:

Zero waste is kind of the newest ‘El Dorado’ – land fills are filling up fast, no one wants one (or anything else practical like an oil refinery, nuclear power plant, etc.) in their back yard, the ever growing island of plastics out in the Pacific Ocean is a significant concern, and almost all consumer products are getting more expensive.

I know some places in Golden charge to have recycling picked up – and this will probably change in the near future – but if that is what really has you against being “green” then there is not much I can do for you other than this: there are several places in Golden where you can drop off your recyclables for free:
-King Soopers on S. Golden Rd.
-White Ranch/Golden Gate Park entry road (just outside of town, heading North in 93)

So, for me recycling in easy, all you have to do is divert the waste. Make piles or arrange some boxes and you are set (most of Golden and Mines implement single stream, but in some cases aluminum cans are a source of revenue). But then there is all that other stuff that fills the trash bags and makes that awful smell…

Nature has a handy solution for that too. Out in a world without municipal waste collection, things decompose and often become nutrients for new food plants. Composting is really easy, depending on how fast you want soil out of the pile. I think the easiest (although I must admit that I haven’t yet made it a reality at my mom’s new place) is to get a trashcan and either cut out the bottom or throw some dirt in it. Then you are essentially set for composting – just add food scraps, and all of them will pretty much decompose, given enough time. A key, sort of an inside secret, is that you need to add as much “yellow/brown” stuff as you do “green” stuff. Green stuff is fresh food scraps, brown/yellow stuff is leaves, dry grass clippings, branches, etc. It may not be easy for everyone to make a system, but there is probably a neighbor that can help you on you way to becoming “zero-waste”

And as a side note, I personally reuse all sorts of things and often prefer to find new uses for old things, esp. random Christmas gifts…. Good luck!

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Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | Author:

Inspired by my own ignorance/confusion that was made evident after the Thursday’s Earthworks/Student Council on Sustainability meeting (they meet at noon in BH 102), here are the results of a little research on plastics, types, and recyclability.

By the numbers…

Recycling Plastics Breakdown
# Name Full Name Found in… Recyclable?
Polyethylene terphthalate -soda bottles
-vegetable oil bottles
-peanut butter jars
-ovenable food containers
→ single use things
Totally, into fleece, tote bags, carpet, paneling, etc.
2 HDPE High density polyethylene -milk jugs, household cleaner products
-yogurt tubs
-shampoo bottles
-cereal box liners
-some trash & shopping bags
Doesn’t leach as much as others, and can be made into many new things
3 PVC Polyvinyl Chloride -clear packaging
-wire jacketing
-medical equip.
-shampoo bottles
-oil & detergent bottles
Can be made into decks, paneling, mud flaps, flooring, cables, etc.
4 LCPE Low density polyethylene -squeezable bottles
-shopping bags
Not as easy to recycle, but can become compost bins, trash bags, shipping envelopes, tile, and more
5 PP Polypropylene -syrup bottles
-medicine bottles
Sometimes recyclable into signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, bike racks, etc.
6 PS Polystyrene -disposable plates and cups
-meat trays
-egg cartons
-CD cases
-aspirin bottles
Sometimes picked up, made into insulation, light switch plates, rulers, more PS, rulers, etc.
7 Other Miscellaneous -3 & 5 gal water bottles
-‘bullet proof’ material
-iPod/computer cases
-signs and displays
-some food containers
-New be being recycled, can be made into plastic lumber, etc.
-Polyactide (plastic made from plants) is also in this category and is compostable
-Polycarbonate leaches out hormone disrupters!

Note: CSM currently collects #1-7, so feel free to recycle those when you get the chance. Amazingly enough that is basically everything under the sun as far as plastics. I was originally looking to see if there was some plastic that CSM didn’t recycle, just for kicks  – turns out there’s not much to improve.

Courtesy of: The Daily Green:

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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 | Author:

Hello fellow career seeking, college attending individuals.

How did you all fair at the most recent Career Day? I wandered around in a mild panic, dressed to the T’s for impressing all those company reps, and ultimately came to the same conclusion that I reach every semester: I don’t really want a career with any of those companies. I want something that (*gasp*) involves sustainable technology, best practices, international languages, environmentally friendly developments, and a general feeling of greenness and humility with the earth. I have yet to find such a career, but am nonetheless seeking… and I found something that may lead me a little closer.

I recently received an email from a fellow seeker inviting me to RSVP for the Envirofest 2008 event. From the official invitation:

“Envirofest is an exciting opportunity for environmental professionals to network, learn, and share ideas, dialogue, dinner, and cocktails with environmental and engineering organizations, consulting firms government agencies, academic institutions, and job seekers! Bring your resumes and job opportunities for our job board! Cocktail hour will feature Colorado bluegrass performed by Slipstream.”

You do need to RSVP, and there is supposedly limited space. There is a ticket fee of $25 for full time students, but this includes dinner, a drink, and plenty of networking time.

If you are interested, Google the event and you’ll find a couple of useful PDFs with all the necessary information.

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Monday, September 15th, 2008 | Author:

This Blog’s Purpose: Stimulate discussion among the Mines community regarding environmental and sustainable practices.

An Introductory Topic – Paper Use

While many of us engineering (or, insert discipline) students try to convince ourselves that our futures will have nothing to do with written communication (and the noble profs here on campus repeatedly remind us otherwise), I have personally seen the truth: Almost 80 % of what I have done as work in engineering requires writing, editing, and proof-reading engineering reports.

With that, there is a lot of paper consumed-but we can change that. Technology will help, and is already helping, us to make an effort to reduce the piles of paper we all accumulate. Some examples include Microsoft Word’s ‘Track Changes,’ Google docs, and the myriad of e-mail clients available.

I have found these interfaces to be amazing, almost the equivalent of having your own personal database you can share with the important people. I still have issues, at times, with looking at a computer screen and working on the semantic details and subtleties that are so evident in a well-written paper, proposal, incident report, paper articles, or letters of intent… I do prefer something in my hand, but really miss being able to update a single version of a document and checking it back into the database for others to check out and comment on/edit. What about you?

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