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Archive for November, 2013

Nov 19

Mindful Monday

Published in 2013

The rain falls and the warmth of the November sun freezes it to sidewalk and driveway. The cold that grips your body tightly as you walk out the back door into the blasting North wind, brings with it the snow. A bi-ped’s conundrum to tread on the products of winter, for it is we that walk up-right when the winter wants us not to. Keeping in mind that salt runs with water, and we living in-land and not by the sea, wish not to make lakes with excess salinity. With this in mind, O, what can be done, to help us keep walking, cause falling is snow fun when the ice seems so mocking.
Here are nine conscientious approaches to dealing with icy walk and drive-ways. Taken from, :
9 Eco-Friendly Ways to De-Ice Your Driveway
1.     Snow shovel Minimize snow and ice by shoveling, and the sooner after snow stops falling, the better. If shoveling is too challenging for you, pay a neighborhood kid a few dollars to help.
2.     Go electric (if you must) If you prefer to use a snow blower, get an electric model. Gas-powered blowers generate a lot more air and noise pollution
3.     Try a “snow melt mat” If you’re installing a new driveway or replacing an old one, lay down electric wires to heat the driveway from below and radiate heat upwards. Yes, you pay for electricity, so it’s not as “eco” as shoveling by hand. On the other hand, it may be better than using chemicals that pollute the water and endanger plants and pets. It would cost someone living in the Washington, DC area (where I live) about $14 in electricity each time the system was used – though that doesn’t include the cost of installing the system. Electricity costs will vary by region. (NOTE: I’m not recommending you tear up a perfectly good driveway to put in a snow melt system!)
4.     Get a grip Scatter sand or even birdseed for traction. The grains won’t melt snow or ice, but they will give you more grip on icy surfaces.
5.     Scrimp on the de-icer Remember, the job of a de-icer is to loosen ice from below to make it easier to shovel or plow. Don’t pile on the de-icer thinking you’ll remove the ice completely. You won’t. The recommended application rate for rock salt is around a handful per square yard you treat. Calcium chloride will treat about 3 square yards per handful.
6.     Pick your salt carefully If you do use salt, choose wisely. Sodium chloride (NaCL) may contain cyanide. Calcium chloride (CaCl) is slightly better since less goes farther, but it is still not ideal, since its run-off still increases algae growth, which clogs waterways. Potassium chloride is another salt to avoid. • Whatever you use, keep it away from landscape plants, especially those that are particularly salt-sensitive, like tulip poplars, maples, balsam firs, white pines, hemlock, Norway spruce, dogwood, redbud, rose bushes and spirea bushes.
7.     Skip the kitty litter or wood ashes Neither melts snow and ice, and they have a tendency to get messy when it warms up.
8.     Avoid products that contain nitrogen-based urea They’re more expensive and are not effective once the temperature drops below 20°F. Plus, the application rate for urea during a single deicing is ten times greater than that needed to fertilize the same area of your yard. Remember that the urea you apply to the ground will eventually run off into the street, down the drain, and into lakes and streams.
9.     Get the boot Wear boots that have a solid toe and bottom treads to help increase your grip on icy surfaces.
Take Care,
Trevor Plendl
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Nov 16

Traditional Skills Workshop: Traditional Approaches to Meat 11/15/2013

Published in 2013

Wondering what to do with that deer meat?

A chef from Concordia Language Villages will be teaching workshop participants how to corn, smoke, and roast meat at our next Traditional Skills Workshop!

This workshop is limited to the first 15 to register.  Interested participants can either come to the Sustainability Office (across from the Bookstore) ahead of time to SIGN UP or email me to register. The event is free for all BSU students and $7 for everyone else.  Either pay ahead of time or at the workshop.
Date:  Wednesday, Nov. 20th
Time:  5:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: AIRC kitchen

Erika Bailey-Johnson
Sustainability Coordinator
Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College
1500 Birchmont Dr. NE, #31
Bemidji, MN  56601

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Nov 4

Mindful Monday

Published in 2013

Another thing we ought to consider is our plug loads. As the number of shiny, High-Def, and convenient little devices available to us grows, we cannot take the energy they consume for granted. 
Read below for some interesting things to think about…
Plug loads (also called miscellaneous electric loads, or MELs) are growing faster than any other category at 2.2% per year. Why? Trends in computing, comfort expectations and energy illiteracy are all to blame. Facility managers at universities, for instance, have long been critical of college students bringing their own small refrigerator into dorm rooms because of the increased power usage over a communal refrigerator, to say nothing of the extra computers plugged in for gaming and file sharing. In office buildings, the energy savings from replacing cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors with LCDs has arguably been wiped out by the modern workplace’s expectation that each employee should have two to three LCDs instead of one, two PCs, and now an iPad or Android tablet.Efficiency gains are being eaten away by the sheer number of devices.
How one estimates potential plug load savings has a large influence on how one thinks about possible solutions. Plug loads can be replaced with efficient alternatives, turned off more frequently, or never purchased in the first place. One’s policy of choice (government-mandated standards, behavioral marketing, or wholesale societal changes, respectively) will vary depending upon one’s assumptions of the effectiveness of each. Government standards’ impact is perhaps the easiest to evaluate, because one can estimate savings from new standards over today’s, and then make assumptions about the timeframe for device replacement (two years for computers, twelve for refrigerators, etc.). But behavioral potential is much more subjective. Plug loads could be eliminated tomorrow if everyone made implausibly radical lifestyle changes (or if there were prolonged power outages). Since neither are likely, one must choose, somewhat arbitrarily, a place on the spectrum of Americans’ behavioral malleability, with no-chance-in-hell cynicism on one side and surely-we’ll-come-around humanism on the other. Skeptics might argue for 0-2% savings; optimists, including some behavioral economists, would argue for a much higher number, perhaps in the 10% to 20% range. In one compelling example, the city of Juneau, Alaska saw 30% savings after an avalanche knocked out a transmission line, and residents made significant electricity cut-backs in order to avoid rolling blackouts. One wonders if those results can be replicated without needing a natural disaster.
Happy Monday,
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"The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves."
~ Rachel Carson