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Archive for March, 2011

Mar 31

Linden Hall is Winner of Do It In the Dark

Published in 2011

This year, Linden Hall won the energy saving competition called Do It In the Dark. For the month of February, they saved 8,572.48 kwh, which comes to $557.21!

There will be a party for them held in the Linden Hall front lobby on April 13th, from 7-8pm. Thanks to the Dining Services there will be cake and drinks provided and thanks to Residential Life, they will get $300 in congratulations.  Also, Students for the Environment will be giving away five individual prizes to students that signed up for the competition before February.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the competition. You’re efforts saved the campus 10,814.05 kwh, which comes to $702.91 for the month of February!

Hannah Hutchins

Read About it →

Mar 28

Plastic, not fantastic. Bottled water and you.

Published in 2011

Since last spring, the Sustainability Office has been working on a project to reduce the amount of plastic consumed on campus. There are several reasons why we are dedicating our time and energy to this. Plastic does not serve well as a disposable item because it takes up to 500-1,000 years for it to degrade in a landfill. We found the following list of items and their time to biodegrade on a lesson plan for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

Banana 3-4 weeks
Paper bag 1 month
Cotton rag 5 months
Wool sock 1 year
Cigarette butt 2-5 years
Leather boot (or shoe) 40-50 years
Rubber sole of leather boot (or shoe) 50-80 years
Tin can 80-100 years
Aluminum can 200-500 years
Plastic 6-pack rings 450 years
Plastic jug 1 million years
Styrofoam cup Unknown? Forever?
Glass bottle Unknown? Forever?
(info from

However, if left in sunshine with oxygen will break down faster, but that can be unhealthy because of that releases harmful chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Actually, plastic releases dangerous chemicals throughout its life-cycle. According to Eureka Recycling, benzene and vinyl chloride are released during production, which cause cancer; carcinogens within the plastic can contaminate food or liquids when the container is heated or damaged, and dioxin is released from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) when burned or produced. Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals that humans know of. These risks are dependent on the type of plastic. Some are better for food than others, but all plastics may be harmful if they wear out or heated. Plastic type “1″ and “2″ are regarded to be safer while those numbered “6″ and “7″ should be avoided. Check out this article for more information:

With this information, we decided to focus on bottled water because it has an obvious substitute: the tap! Although, all plastic containers should be held under the same scrutiny and avoided where possible. Some interesting things about bottled water is that it has the perception to be more pure and regulated than tap water, but this is false. Read this excerpt from the Reader’s Digest article “Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water” at

“Bottled water is regulated for safety, but it’s a tricky thing. The EPA regulates tap water, while the FDA oversees bottled. Yet FDA oversight doesn’t apply to water packaged and sold within the same state, leaving some 60 to 70 percent of bottled water, including the contents of watercooler jugs, free of FDA regulation, according to the NRDC’s report. In this case, testing depends on the states, but the NRDC found that they often don’t have adequate resources to oversee bottled water, in some cases lacking even one full-time person for an entire state.”

Plastic is also more difficult to recycle than other materials, like glass and aluminum. Because there are so so many types of plastic, sorting it at recycling stations can be time and labor intensive. In Bemidji, the only plastics that can be recycled are those marked with a “1″ or a “2″ with necks. (So any juice bottles, shampoo bottles, milk jugs, etc.) All else is incinerated. Because of these issues, we are encouraging people to avoid buying bottled water especially and plastic in general. To promote this goal, the Sustainability Office has teamed with Students for the Environment and the Psychology of Sustainability Class to raise awareness and educate students and faculty about the drawbacks of plastic. We are promoting: less purchasing of plastic products and plastic packaging, proper recycling of plastics that do need to get purchased (rinsing and recycling containers, and throwing away lids), and use of reusable beverage and food containers made out of glass or metal. The Psychology of Sustainability class will be doing a presentation on their findings on Student Achievement day. The title of their presentation is: “Avoiding the Bottle: How to Reduce Plastic Consumption on Campus.” Let us know if you have other questions or comments!

Crystal Rayamajhi

Mar 22

Gasland: Can you light your water on fire?

Published in 2011

Hey everybody!

This wednesday, March 23rd at 7:30pm at the Rail River Folk School (303 Railroad St. SW), GASLAND, a documentary, will be shown.

“The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of ‘fracking’ or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.”

This event is sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network

Sounds really interesting! Check this out!

Hannah Hutchins

Read About it →

Mar 15

How to not buy anything ever again

Published in 2011

Hey everyone!

I found this article from the Grist Magazine. Grist is a great resource for sustainable related news. They also offer great advice on how to live more sustainably. This article was one that caught my eye :-)


Hannah Hutchins



"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
~ Calvin Coolidge