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Apr 22

Earth Month!

Published in 2015

Happy Earth Day! Here are the rest of the events for this month:

April 22nd, 9am to 3pm

Earth Day: Celebration at Lakeside Food Court, Lower Hobson Union

Farmer’s Market, Ninja Wellness Obstacle Course, Music, Give-Aways, Free Bike Tune-Ups, and more!

April 23rd, 2 pm to 4 pm

Minnesota Food Charter Presentations, Lower Hobson Union

Students from an Environmental Sociology class will be sharing various bits of information about the MN Food Charter

April 23rd, 6 pm

Documentary Thursday: A Fierce Green Fire, Sattgast 208

This documentary shows the history of the environmental movement’s evolution from the 1960s to the present.

April 26th, 3 pm

Adopt-A-Highway Clean-Up

Help Students for the Environment clean up a section of Power Dam Road!

April 27th, 6 pm

Tar Sands Workshop, Ozawindib Room

Come learn about the Tar Sands and what you can do to help!

April 28th, 5:30 pm 

Sustainable Tuesday, Rail River Folk School

Learn what all the buzz was about bees!

April 30th, 6 pm

Documentary Thursday: We Got the Power

Shows viewers how the United States can replace fossil fuels with clean energy in a way that is economically beneficial to consumers and businesses alike, and ensures a safer environment for future generations.

Hope to see you at our events!

-The Sustainability Office

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Mar 25

Sustainable Campus Research Grant

Published in 2015

The Environmental Advisory Committee is please to announce that the Sustainable Campus Research Grant is now open for students to apply! Follow the link below to apply. Projects must be focused on conserving energy or promoting renewable energy. Students may be awarded up to $500 for their project and will be announced during Earth Week.

If any questions arise, please contact Alex at

Link to application:
Link to FAQs:

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Feb 17


Published in 2015

One week from today (February 24th), MPR will be doing a broadcast from BSU. Attendance is FREE of charge, and open to the public and students! The topic of the broadcast will be on climate change. MPR News journalist Dan Kraker, and editor Mike Edgerly will be discussing their recent special report on climate change in Minnesota. The broadcast will be at Hagg-Sauer 100 at 2 pm.

Here’s a link to the official MPR website about the event:

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Feb 10

Bottled Water Ban

Published in 2015

As you all may have heard, the BSU Student Senate unanimously voted on passing the bill that would ban the sale of bottled water on campus! This means that the sale of unflavored, plain bottled water will no longer be an option to buy on campus starting as of the Fall 2016 semester. Adding more Elkay water bottle filling stations to campus buildings is in the works. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by the sustainability office to voice them.

On February 24th at 2 pm, MPR will be on campus doing a radio broadcast. This will be held in Hagg-Sauer 100.

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Feb 3

UMACS - A Call For Proposals

Published in 2015

The Upper Midwest Association of Campus Sustainability (UMACS) is a collaboration between universities that work together to expand our duties of environmental stewardship. This year it will be held at Bemidji State University on June 18th and 19th. The event will showcase speakers and workshops that embody wellness and sustainability. If you would like to present, or know of someone that would be interested, the calls for proposals are due Friday, February 13th. Contact the Bemidji State Sustainability Office to receive a proposal.

Do It In The Dark has officially started! Be sure to sign up so you can be eligible for the prize giveaways at the end of the month. The sign up sheet can be found in your respective residential hall front desk, or in the Sustainability Office.

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Jan 27

First of the Year!

Published in 2015

As you all may know, the Do It In The Dark competition is about to start for this school year on February 1st! Just in case you’re not familiar with this, it’s a competition between residence halls on which one can lower it’s energy consumption the most. The hall that lowers their consumption the most will win a pizza party, along with other prizes! Be sure to swing by your hall lobby to sign up on Saturday, January 31st for the competition, so you’ll be eligible to win prizes.

Also, this Thursday (Jan. 29), the documentary “Earth Days” will be shown in Hagg Sauer 105 at 6pm.


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Nov 18

Hagg-Sauer Waste Audit Results

Published in 2014

The Sustainability Office dug through all the trash from Hagg-Sauer Hall the week of November 3rd (trust me…it’s fun!). Our primary focus is to assess how many recyclables are ending up in the garbage. Here are our results since 2011:

YEAR Total waste collected (lbs) % fiber that could have been recycled % containers that could have been recycled % non-recyclables (garbage)
2011 221.5 13.32% 8.13% 78.6%
2012 339.3 11.1% 6.5% 82.5%
2013 288.6 6.3% 5.8% 87.9%
2014 328.9 11.2% 9.0% 79.7%

We noticed that there were a lot more glass containers than usual this year which would add a significant amount of weight. We are thinking of separating the types of containers (aluminum, glass, plastic, etc.) in the future to better assess trends. There was also a lot of paper in the garbage that could have been recycled. The percentage of both fiber and containers was higher than we’d like to see. In the next few days, I’ll be sending out a reminder of what can be recycled to remind folks.

Thanks to Trevor Plendl, our office Zero Waste Coordinator, for managing this project!

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Oct 20

Half Way to Earth Day and Campus Sustainability Day Events

Published in 2014

Halfway to Earth Day is another chance to celebrate our planet! The halfway mark falls on Wednesday, October 22 and this year we have a number of activities planned. We’ll kick off the event at 11am with the local farmer’s market, which will be stationed at Lakeside until 2 pm. While you peruse, you’ll also be able to listen to some great music from Eric Armburst, Allison Pasiuk, and Luke Barnard. The festivities will resume later that evening with a showing of the documentary Bitter Seeds, a film that strives to explore the problems with Monsanto and farmers in third world countries. We’ll begin the showing at 7pm in room 115 of Bensen Hall. Finally, we’ll cap off our celebration on Thursday with a cooking workshop by Trevor Smith, an experienced cook from Concordia Language Villages, in the AIRC at 4 pm

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Sep 8

Where can I get my orange bike?

Published in 2014

Those orange bikes you are seeing all around campus are called Nice Ride bikes. There are 100 out in the community and 100 here on campus for students to use- check one out today! Here are the steps:

1. Visit and click Rent a Bike. Choose the location where you’d like to start your rental. Note the hours for each location- you might chose the Tourist Information Center if you wanted to get an early start or the BSU Boathouse if you want to go out after work. The coupon works for all locations. 
2. Choose one of the bikes (they’re all the same style but some might already by reserved for some dates) and then fill out the Pick up and Drop Off times.  

3. Provide your contact information- remember your password so you don’t have to enter this information next time. 

4. Read, check and sign the rental agreement. 

5. Add Credit Card- in order to make a reservation, even for a free rental, we need a valid credit card on file. 

6. Enter the code
 BJIRIDES (case sensitive) and click Apply Coupon. Your amount due should drop by $12, and if you reserved for 2 hours, you amount due will be $0!
7. Finish your reservation by clicking the Submit Payment or Secure Rental button. 

8. Go to your chosen location and tell them your name when you are ready to pick up your bike- and have a great time!

If you would also like to rent a bike for the semester, there will be a booth at the Beaver Organization Bash for those of you who would like to do so. The cost is $40.00- a steal!

See you on the trails!

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact Melinda at


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Aug 8

Welcome back!

Published in 2014

Boozoo (hello in Ojibwe)!

We are excited to have everyone back on campus! Our office has been busy preparing for the arrival of new students as well as returning ones. BSU takes pride in its environmental movements, with Environmental Stewardship as one of its three Signature Themes. Here is a list of sustainability projects YOU can take advantage of while you study at BSU:

1. Elkay Water filling stations. We are working towards our goal of having at least one of these filtered water-bottle filling stations in every building! Use them to fill your reusable water bottle.

2. Freshman and new transfer students make sure you get your free (yes I said free) water bottle of coffee mug from the Sustainability Office.


3. Bucky’s Nice Ride.  This program is a semester long bike rental program for students.

4. Volunteer Opportunities. Whether it is through our office or out in the community, we have opportunities for you to fill your service learning hours!

5. Events. We have events going on all the time- make sure to like us on Facebook for all the updates!

6. Recycling. We recycle containers (tins, glass, aluminum, and #1 and 2 plastic) and fibers (cardboard, office paper phone books, magazines) here on campus- make sure to sort your trash!

7. Students for the Environment. SFE is the student organization with a mission to educate campus on environmental issues. For more information, contact Jordan at

You pay $5 for the Green Fee every semester- take advantage of what we do for you!

If you have more questions or ideas for a project, contact Erika and, 218-755-2560, or stop in the Sustainability Office, located in the Lower Hobson Union across from the bookstore!

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Jul 23

Sustainable Places Tour- This Saturday!

Published in 2014


It is our pleasure to invite you to our 3rd Annual Sustainable Places Tour (formerly the Sustainable Homes Tour) THIS SATURDAY, July 26th with multiple tours offered between 9-5 throughout the day. This event has been coordinated by the Bemidji Sustainability Committee, with members from our university and surrounding community.

The Bemidji Sustainability Committee began in 2009 as a loose coalition of sustainability advocates, and its goal is to promote sustainable values in the community through education, policy and planning work, and programs and events like this tour! The committee meets on the first Wednesday of every month, and meetings are open to all interested individuals.
The Sustainability Committee had the idea for a Sustainable Places Tour two years ago.  We’re really glad that this has become an annual event and have been looking for ways to expand the tour’s reach and scope in the coming years.  We feel it is important to recognize the great work that local sites are doing in adopting green building techniques.  Since many homeowners are on-the-fence about adopting these technologies or have questions, we think this tour showcases some options that can help people know how to implement them at home!

The first PDF is a copy of the flyer with site descriptions and tour times. The second PDF has a suggested bike tour map on one side and driving map on the other.
When Google mapping the Sustainable Shoreline site, use “Ol’” not “Old.” You will not easily find it if you type “old.”
Special notes~   Luekens: Meet at Deli, Cap at 30
Harmony: Cap at 15

Sustainable Shoreline: Look for the volunteer to show you where to park.
Thank you for your support and see you Saturday!


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Jul 16

Summer Projects 2014

Published in 2014

We are busy as bees this summer with a variety of projects! One project that has been on-going up to this point and keeping us dirty is rescuing all the plants from the areas around the buildings that will be under construction in the upcoming months. We moved plants from behind Memorial Hall and by the Low Mow area and moved them to the American Indian Resource Center. We also moved plants from the Laurel House into a rock garden we have named the “Rescue Garden.”


Another project that started this past semester is a sustainable fish house. The house would be equipped with solar electricity and solar hot air to power and heat the house. Our office is partnering with NTC to have students do the construction and the house would be available for students to rent through the Outdoor Program Center here at BSU. We are hoping to have this project complete by this fall so we can have it in the homecoming parade and ready for students to enjoy!


Gitigaan is always a fun project that we have done the past three summers. Gitigaan is Ojibwe for garden. Student, faculty, staff, as well as community members are able to rent a plot for the summer. There are 28 plots, all of which fill up fast each spring! Around the outer edge of the garden are plants that our office takes care of, but are free for anyone to take. This year we have potatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, and more available!


We are also in the beginning stages of planning for an outdoor classroom. The space would feature wooden benches from the white pines that were taken down next to the football field last summer. We are excited to get students outside to learn!


We will be keeping you updated about other events and projects going on here at BSU as well as the community! If you have any ideas or questions feel free to contact Erika at or 218-755-2560.

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Jul 9

Sustainable Places Tour

Published in 2014


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Jul 7

Bemidji Sustainable Places Tour

Published in 2014

Save the date for the Third Annual Bemidji Sustainable Places Tour! The Bemidji Sustainability Committee has put together a variety of hour-long tours from 9am to 5pm on Saturday July 26. See how local citizens and businesses reduce their energy costs, increase their independence, reduce their water usage, increase their food independence, use natural and renewable materials in constructions sites, reduce solid waste, and maintain natural shoreline. There will also be a suggested bike route for those of you wanting to travel by bike!

For more information, contact MN GreenCorps Member Sara Dennision at or 218-755-3765. Also a special thanks to the MN GreenCorps, the city of Bemidji, and Bemidji State University for helping with this successful event!

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May 20

Landscaping Event

Published in 2014

Thought we’d send you a heads up about this exciting event happening at the end of the month!

“Sustainable Landscaping:  Weeds or Wonderful?”

Saturday, May 31st, 9a.m. to Noon; American Indian Resource Center, Gathering Place, Bemidji State University; parking is free

Register at (Max of 30 participants, so sign up early!)

So, what is beautiful landscaping?  Is it a manicured lawn that takes so much time, money, and resources to maintain?  Or is it a space that is rich in biodiversity and promotes the health of people and the planet?   Sign up for this free workshop on Saturday, May 31st, to learn more about sustainable landscaping, including what you can and can’t do with your lot if you live within the city limits.  Local experts will discuss choosing locations and plants to benefit the soil and pollinators, including both native plants and vegetable gardening.  This workshop is geared towards city residents, but anyone can register.  This workshop is sponsored by the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee, Karvakko Engineering, and the Bemidji State University Sustainability Office.  Presenters will include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Beltrami County Master Gardeners, the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board, a landscape architect, and a local permaculture expert.

Please direct questions specifically about this event to:

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

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Apr 28

Finals Approaching

Published in 2014


Hey everybody!

With finals approaching quickly, a lot of people may be stressed and in need of a break at the worst possible time. Though it is important to study and prepare, it is also important to have balance.

5 Tips For Finals:

1. Go take a walk: If you need a break, get outdoors! A ten minute walk outside will allow thoughts to drift away and make it easier to focus when you come back.

2. Socialize: Be sure that as well as studying, you leave time to communicate with others. This is a great way to relax and a little bit of social time may put you in a better mood. This in turn could help focus on work!

3. Keep It Clean: Working in a clean space helps create order. Decluttering your work space will create a more focused environment. And in turn, create more effective study results

4. Refuel Properly:  Finals week is rough enough as it is. Eating healthy is an awesome way to ensure that your body is running at peak performance! Healthy Brain Foods listed here

5. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial to success. Going to a final exhausted will potentially lower scores on subjects you actually studied for! Your mind will thank you for getting a solid amount of sleep. (Your grades will too)

5. Schedule Everything: Around finals time be sure to bring your planner everywhere. Schedule in times to study for specific subjects, and for relaxation and social time. When everything is laid out in an organized way, it declutters the mind and allows for clear and focused thinking. You can also use an online calendar if you don’t want to carry a planner with you.



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Apr 24


Published in 2014

Tonight marks the last Documentary Thursday of Earth Month. At 7:30 in Bensen 115 there will be a showing of TappedThis film takes a closer look at the water bottle industry and asks the question “Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce?”

This is obviously a big issue in the world we currently live in. Though we do not necessarily struggle with a water shortage in Minnesota, it is an issue that raises concern. What is the real price of every bottle of water purchased? Is it simply a question of sticker price? Sadly, the real cost is much higher.


Apr 22

Earth Day

Published in 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Today we celebrated Earth Day with a bunch of cool activities. There was live music, a drum circle, a farmers market, drawings for prizes, and a sustainable meal!

The farmers market involved some pretty awesome arts and crafts, and a lot of locally produced goods to be purchased. Students won really cool prizes, and the live music was pretty awesome!

The day is not over yet! Tonight at the American Indian Resource center at 5:30 there is a presentation on Local Water Quality Issues. There will be lots of information on Lake Bemidji, as well as other water sources in the state and around the area. It should be lots of fun!

Also, there are a lot of cool events happening later this week.

Tomorrow will bring a Geocaching adventure!From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a GPS check out and bike rental available at Lakeside. There will also be a Grease Waste Presentation at the AIRC followed by North Country Trail Presentation.

Thursday at 5:30 p.m. there will be a Traditional Skills Workshop on Safe Water Treatment. Sign up for this in The Sustainability Office! There will also be a documentary once again at 7:30 p.m. in Bensen 115!

Friday is the Lake Shore Clean Up at 3. Sign up is also in The Sustainability Office and the group will meet in the Bangsberg parking lot. There will also be a Beach Party: HMU After Hours at 9 p.m. in Memorial 100.

Saturday there will be a 5K & 10K at 9 a.m. Participants will meet at the rec center lobby to Stride Into Spring!

Keep the Earth Month spirit going as we head towards the end of April and have fun with all our events!

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Apr 9

Earth Month Has Arrived

Published in 2014

Hey Friends!

Earth Month is upon us, and there is a lot going on!

We started this month-long celebration with a documentary last Thursday and The Undie Run yesterday. Both went very well, but this is just the beginning. Today many from the office are presenting at the Student Achievement Day! There is opportunity to learn about what the green fee goes to, and also what projects are currently taking place at BSU.

Also, at every Earth Month event you will have the opportunity to put your name in to win a bike. A brand new, amazing bike!

Basically, there is a lot of super awesome stuff happening. The Sustainability Office will be updating  a lot to keep you in the loop, so be a part of the awesome events and support the Earth!


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Feb 20

Do It In The Dark

Published in 2014

Hello All,

Do It In The Dark is an energy-saving competition on campus. Each of the dormitories on campus is currently in the running to see who will save the most energy. This project makes students aware of how much energy they are consuming in their everyday lives. The goal of this competition is to reduce energy use as much as possible. The winning dormitory will be rewarded with a party, prizes, and the Do It In The Dark traveling trophy.

Enjoy the following tips and learn how to reduce your energy consumption:

Turn Off Your Lights:

This may seem simple, but remembering to flip the lights off when they aren’t necessary or you leave the room can conserve a whole lot of electricity! This is a really good habit to develop. Just remember your mom’s voice telling you this, it’ll help.

Set Your Thermostat Correctly:

If you turn your thermostat down just 1 degree, you could save $10 a month! Also, if you’re leaving for an extended period of time you can change the thermostat to a lower temperature. This will save money and energy!

Unplug When Not Using:

Unplug chargers, power strips, and unnecessary appliances when you aren’t using them! They draw energy whenever they are plugged in. Only plug them in when you need them. Sometimes just turning things off is not enough!


The next time you shop for a computer, consider opting for a laptop instead of a desktop can save a lot of energy. Also, put your computer in sleep mode when you don’t need to use it. This will put the computer in power-saving mode

Use A Power Strip

Using a power strip makes it easier to shut things down all at once. Instead of unplugging several things, you only need to flip one switch. There are even smart power strips that automatically turn off when nothing is being used. 



Dec 2

Thoughtful Tuesday

Published in 2013 Marrow,
Making environmentally sound decisions when it comes to purchasing or trying out new products is not always the easiest thing to keep in mind. Making smarter purchases can be one of the most impactful practices we can adopt. We, often enough, don’t stop to ask ourselves which products can be purchased with minimal impact on the environment. One of the easiest ways to start doing this is to do a bit of research on the interwebs before going shopping or making purchases. This is easy enough to get in the habit of if you already make lists before going shopping.
More on Smart Consumerism can be found on Portland State Universities “EcoMerge” Blog:
Have a good Thanksgiving and remember Small Business Saturday follows black Friday,
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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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Oct 29

Booooo!! Happy Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

With Halloween coming up this week, it is time for a ghost story. It is the tale of the ghost watt…
One night before going out to celebrate the end of the harvest and our transition into the time of spirits, you notice something on your dorm/office counter. Normally this thing would remain beyond your consideration. It seems like an everyday thing. Like a life sucking octopus, there it sits. The surge protector that, despite having all the devices attached to it turned off, still stares at you with one glowing red eye. IT’S ALIVE!
Even when we turn off all of our “necessary” electronica, they still consume energy. When a device is off, but still consumes small amounts of energy (that really add up), we call that mysterious energy being consumed ghost watts or phantom loads. However, unlike real apparitions, ghost watts are easily banished. All you have to do to lay these ghost watts to rest is unplug necessary paraphernalia and turn the switches off on your surge protectors.
Here is a little more on ghost watts from UC Colorado Springs Research Journal (Notice the wonderful aliases of these little energy consumption examples…):
Ghost loads (also known as phantom loads, vampire loads, standby power or leaking electricity) needlessly consume electricity when electronic devices are not in use, costing institutions money and needlessly sending tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. An analysis of computer and other ghost loads at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) was conducted in the Spring of 2009 with the results showing that computers annually cost the school $37,505.96-$45,017.56. The environmental impact of idle computers was calculated as 521.73-626.07 tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. These estimates are likely low since data was neither gathered on weekends, nor during the summer. Other potential sources of ghost loads are identified and strategies that could lead to lower costs and carbon emissions are presented.
Happy Monday, and may the ghost watts rest in peace… Muah..ha…ha…ha…
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Oct 21

Happy Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

As our precipitation turns to fluffy stuff, thoughts of liquid water come to mind. Taken from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality Website (, this week’s tips are about water conservation and what we can do at home and in the dorms to promote it.
Here’s what you can do…
  • The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month!
  • Collect water that runs until the shower gets hot. Use it to water plants.
  • Take a 5 minute shower or take one every other day: You can save 3 times: the water, the sewer, and the gas or electricity it takes to heat the water.
  • Save water and energy every flush: Over the course of your lifetime, you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times. If you replace older, existing toilets with WaterSense labeled models, you can save 4,000 gallons per year with this simpler, greener choice.
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes. Most newer dishwashers don’t require pre-rinsing.
  • Make sure the dishwasher is full when you run it and/or use a small trickle to wash and rinse dishes. Average dishwashers use approximately 12 gallons of water every time you use them.
  • Reuse clean household water, such as water you run until it’s hot, or water used to boil eggs or steam vegetables.
  • Chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water. You can waste up to 4 gallons of water every time you let the water run until it is cold.
  • Make sure there are no leaks or drips: A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons a day or more, and leaking toilets can waste up to 500 gallons a day!
  • The average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load. High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.
  • When washing the car use a bucket: Only run water when you are rinsing the car off. Some commercial car washes recycle their water and are more efficient than doing it yourself.
  • Know how much you are using: A good way to help you reduce your use of water is to know how much you are consuming. Your water bill will tell you what you have used in cf’s (cubic feet) or ccf’s (100’s of cubic feet). To convert cf’s to gallons multiply the number of cf’s by 7.5. To convert ccf’s to gallons multiply by 748.
Information taken from:
Have a great week,
Trevor Plendl
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Oct 16

Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

Maintaining your bike promotes longer life of your bike and its parts. Although fuel economy may be less of a concern with a bike than a motor vehicle, elongating the life of your bike and its parts is a sustainable practice that can also save you money.


Want your bike to go faster? Ride easier? Shift smoother? Improvements in these areas are often relatively easy to accomplish with just a few simple steps. Try out these simple tune-up tasks below, which don’t require any special knowledge, and see immediate improvements in your riding.

1. Clean and lubricate your chain

The chain and sprockets on your bike play a key part in the transfer of power in your legs to your wheels, making them go round and round. When they collect dirt and grit and get gummy, not only does it slow you down, but they also wear out faster. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is one of the best ways to keep your bike working well.



2. Lubricate the moving parts of your brakes and derailleurs.

Your bike has quite a few moving metal parts that are vulnerable to dirt and moisture. To keep your bike happy and functioning well, these parts should be lubricated regularly.

Pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs are good examples of the types of places you should target because they are vulnerable to attracting dirt and grit due to their placement on your bike. Here’s a diagram of common lubrication points on a bike, but you can spot many of these places just by watching your bike in action and seeing where metal parts move against and around each other.

For instance, think about your brakes. On most road bikes, they are mounted on a bolt on the frame above your wheel. When you squeeze the lever, the brake pivots around this bolt as it contracts. It’s these places where you want to apply a couple drops of oil.




3. Inspect your brake pads.

A quick check of your brake pads will often reveal potential problems that are easy to fix. You want to check:

  • Are your brake pads properly aligned?

Brake pads are the little rubber things that clamp down on your rims to slow you when you squeeze the brake levers. Make sure they are hitting the rims evenly, and aren’t either rubbing the tire or missing your rim partially or completely.

  • Are the brake pads toed-in?

The bike brake pads should also be “toed-in,” which means the leading edge of the pads should touch the bike rim first when you lightly apply the brakes. The pads squish a little, and when you squeeze down hard, you should get full contact to the rim. This helps prevent squeaking

  • Check for junk embedded in the brake pads

Inspect the surface of the brake pads where they meet the rims, and using a pointy sharp instrument like a knife, pick out any bits of sand or metal that may have become embedded in the pad. Removing this grit prevents the pads from wearing and scratching your rims and helps them provide more even and consistent stopping power.



4. Check the pressure on your tires.

One of the simplest things you can do is the one that can have the greatest effect, and that surprisingly, people most often overlook.

Paying attention to keeping the proper level of air pressure in your tires accomplishes many things:

Checking for proper air pressure in your tires before every ride is quick and easy to do. Here’s how to check the air pressure in your tire.





From’s page on bike maintenance:


Photos taken from WikiHow’s pages on bike maintenance:



Pedal smarter, not harder. Bike safe and have an awesome week!


Trevor Plendl


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Sep 30

Mindful Monday

Published in 2013

Happy Mindful Monday! This week’s is good for the environment and good for your wallet…. A two-fer!
1. Keep your engine properly tuned
- Tuning your engine helps maintain efficient fuel-air ratio, which promotes complete burn (meaning less emissions, too!) and maximum fuel efficiency. A simple tune-up can save as much as 4% on fueleconomy for most vehicles.
2. Keep your tires properly inflated
-This is the simplest way to promote fuel savings. A pressure gauge can cost you as much as $4.00, but on average can save you 3.3% on fuel economy when used in conjunction with free compressed air at many gas stations. So, if you checked your tire pressure after every $100 spent on fuel, you would almost make your money back on a pressure gauge after the first couple fill-ups. Not to mention maximize the life of your tires!
3. Use recommended motor oil viscosity
-Using manufacturer recommended oil can improve your fuel economy by 1-2%when switching back from a non-recommended viscosity and weather rated oil.
4. Drive Sensibly
Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Fuel Economy Benefit: 5–33%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings:  $0.18–$1.19/gallon
5. Observe the Speed Limit
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.  You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.25 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer.
Fuel Economy Benefit: 7–14%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.25–$0.51/gallon
6. Avoid Excessive Idling
Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle. Turning your engine on and off excessively, however, may increase starter wear.
Fuel Cost Savings:        $0.01–$0.03/min. (AC off); $0.02–$0.04/min. (AC on)
Have a great week!
Trevor Plendl
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Sep 9

Mindful Mondays

Published in 2013

The Sustainability Office is going to undertake a new twist on an old project.  A few years ago we sent out “Go Green” tips to students, faculty, and staff every Friday.  They were tips that we thought would help make the campus more sustainable.  Some tips we received from colleagues, some we gleaned off of websites, and some were original.
Our plan this year is to provide tips to the campus community.  We are going to call this program Mindful Mondays, based on the following definition  of “mindfulness”:  the quality of attention and care that keeps Earth in mind, so that we can mind our own social and environmental behavior ( from The Nature of College:  How a New Understanding of Campus Life Can Change the World, Dr. James Farrell, the late professor of history, American studies, and environmental studies at St. Olaf College).
Tips will be coordinated by Trevor Plendl, a student employee in the Sustainability Office.  Please email him at if you have any ideas for tips that would conserve resources.  Here’s the first one: to ten percent of a person’s energy cost goes to doing laundry. Washing with cold water can save up to 90% of that energy. Stains are set in by heat, so washing cold and using a lower heat setting on your dryer not only saves energy, but can also save your clothes!
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Aug 8

American-Made Initiative

Published in 2013

We are very excited to finally get one of our projects rolling! John, one of the student workers in the Sustainability Office, has been contacting schools and businesses to get on board with the idea of buying and manufacturing a stainless steel water bottle in the U.S.A.! Lots of research later, John presented the idea to other schools, hoping for bids of support with our MNSCU sister schools. He also wrote letters to businesses for their support. After discovering that there is a need for this product, John contacted companies that produced other stainless steel products. This morning John came to work with a very energetic email in his inbox from a company looking to have a conversation on how we can develope this project into what our office has invisioned. If you are interested in becomeing a part of this American-Made Initiative, feel free to contact John at or Erika, our Sustainability Coordinator, at


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Jul 26

American-Made Stainless Steel Water Bottle Initiative

Published in 2013

We are currently trying to work with stainless steel manufacturers who would partner with BSU and other universities and distributors to help produce the first ever American-made stainless steel waterbottle! Currently all stainless steel waterbottles are made elsewhere besides the U.S.A. and we would like to change that! This supports local American manufacturing jobs and reduces the dependence on plastic water bottles. This is a really cool project started in the Sustainability Office and includes working with manufacturers in the U.S.A., distributors (Gander Mountain, REI, Klean Kanteen, etc.), and other universities across the nation.

Have questions or comments? Contact the Sustainability Office at 218-755-2560 or stop on in. More to come!


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Jul 11

Summer is in full swing

Published in 2013

Now that the June 21st summer solstice has past, Northern Hemispherians alike can join together and rejoice that winter is over and summer has finally arrived! From Bemidji tourism, summer school sessions, and local vacations, Bemidji has been all hussle and bussle. And although some say the summer is fading back to 8 hour days, we at the Sustainability Office prefer to think that summer has just started! Here are some of the things we have been up to…

We’ve been busy planting 25 different kinds of trees on campus so far. From crabapple, apples, plums, and cherries, we noticed Bemidji State’s tree diversity was lacking after last year’s 80 mile-an-hour wind storm knocked out older key tree species. Some of these trees were over 100 years old! To replace, rejuvinate, and beautify the BSU campus, the Sustainability Office decided to plant flowering and fruiting trees that attract birds, pollinators, and hungry college students. In a few (many) years, towering oaks, maples, and pines will dominate previously lawned space and Birchmont Drive will be full of pink and white cherry blossoms while Walnut Hall will have delicious fruit!

Another project the Sustainability Office has been working on is inventoring all of Bemidji State’s trees. Three of BSU’s finest (including myself) are going around campus categorizing trees and taking measurements.  This goes directly in hand with our tree planting and provides useful information on tree information, such as height (using a hypsometer), diameter, canopy size, species, health, and GPS coordinates. This way we can make properly informed decisions regarding tree diversity, species, age, and health in the future. The goal is to track changes in tree dynamics and plan for future plantings.

Always a fun project during summer is gardening! We have continued our work on the Gitigan Garden and this year twenty eight people have rented out all twenty eight plots (without any resident rabbits!). Everything in the garden is looking great and people are starting to harvest their leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and arigula as well as strawberries, rhubarb, and ever-ripening raspberries. We have been mowing this summer (with our very own mechanical mower!) and have plans to fully maintain the garden lot for future years to come. If you have any ideas about how to improve the experience of the Gitigan campus garden, please let us know!

 That’s all for now. Til next time.


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May 17

Gardens in Full Bloom

Published in 2013

Hello, hope you are enjoying this gorgeous spring weather! We have been very busy outside prepping all of our gardens around campus; make sure to check them out!


We have two gardens that have all native plants in them. One is located between the Lower Hobson Union and Sattgast, called the Butterfly Garden. The Butterfly Garden is designed to attract butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch migrates from Mexico to make its home in Minnesota over the summer months. The Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed (Asclepias) before becoming a beautiful Monarch butterfly. The Butterfly Garden is full of three different types of milkweed: Swamp milkweed, Butterfly weed, and Common milkweed.  The home of the other garden, the Early Bloom Garden, is off of Birchmont Drive between the A.C. Library and Sanford Hall. Most of the flowers in the bed were selected because of their ability to bloom early so students, faculty, and visitors to enjoy their beautiful colors for graduation. One of the earliest blooming plants in Minnesota is the Pasque flower. This beautiful purple flower will bloom before all the snow has melted! Native plants are great for the environment because they attract local wildlife and do not need fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, and once established, need no watering. You can learn more about native landscaping here. The third garden, the Shakespeare Garden, is located behind the A.C. Clark Library, next to the Bridgeman Hall bridge. Although this garden does not have native plants, it does have perennial plants that come back every year. The garden was planted to take up some awkward space that used to have grass that needed to be mowed.


The last garden that we have been working on is the Gitigaan Campus Garden. Gitigaan is a community vegetable garden with 28 plots for students, faculty, staff, and community members to come in and plant whatever they like. It costs $10 for students and $15 for non-students. This garden was a student-led initiative. In the spring of 2011, a People and the Environment class volunteered their time to dig up the sod and the Sustainability Office staff built a fence around the soon-to-be garden. The sod was donated to Village of Hope in Bemidji. The first summer, there were 18 people, and the past two years, all 28 plots have been filled with 28 different people, providing a vast array of gardening knowledge. This project is a great example of how a few students can make a huge difference, not only for BSU, but for the community. I can’t wait to start harvesting my crop!


Have a great weekend!



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May 1

Earth Week Success!

Published in 2013

Earth Week has now come to a close, and we are thrilled with a very successful and fun week! Several environmental documentaries were shown with much enthusiasm from the student body, such as Island President, Garbage Island, Thin Ice and Vegucated. The Stride into Spring 5K went very smoothly and had high attendance despite the cold weather; two students and two non-students won a free pair of shoes from Herington’s Shoes, a local shoe store in downtown Bemidji. Official Earth Day, April 22nd, held lots of fun for all students! We had live music from Pitches and Hoes, Radical Fun Time and Caige Jambor, and free bike tune ups. Several prizes were given away as well: a bike package, longboard package, fishing package as well as organic groceries from Luekens! We had a huge turnout for our Sustainable Tuesdays, hosted by our own GreenCorp member, Caitlyn Schuchhardt.

A GMO Food Labeling panel discussed the future of our food and got the word out to the public about the harmful effects of genetically modified food. At the vegetarian food panel, we had lots of yummy vegetarian foods to sample, such as wild rice hot dish, fresh veggies, hummus, pasta and vegan cookies; we discuss our experiences with vegetarianism, and showed the documentary Vegucated. The still-frozen ground on the shores of Lake Bemidji didn’t stop enthusiastic students from volunteering for the annual Lakeshore Cleanup! They worked hard to clean up the litter that piled up along with all the snow we got this year. The MN Food Charter got together at the beginning of the week to gain support for a public policy that would make good, healthy food available everywhere for everyone; this initiative has huge local support from our community.

And finally, Thursday May 2nd is the day of our E-Waste Collection at Paul and Babe. We are still in need of volunteers and you can sign up in the Sustainability Office. 5R Processing will be accepting computers, printers, laptops, cell phones, microwaves, stoves, appliances and much more!

Earth Week has been sponsored by Students for the Environment, the Sustainability Office, Horizontally Challenged, ARAMARK, the Outdoor Program Center, MN GreenCorp, Indigenous Environmental Network, Bobcat of Bemidji, Herington’s Shoes and the Green Fee.



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Apr 9

Island President Documentary

Published in 2013

We will be veiwing the documentary, Island President, which is about climate change. The link to the movie’s website is below:

6pm on Wednesday, April 17th

Hagg Sauer 100

See you there!

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Apr 3

Earth Week Events nearly finalized!

Published in 2013

We’ve been BUSY planning our Earth Week events! Keep checking back for more information! The first event is on Wednesday, April 17th, at 6:00 pm in HS100. We will be a part of a national screening of the Island President. Did you know that the 1200 island nation of the Maldives is buying up land in Australia to prepare for sea levels rising? See more information here about this engaging documentary:

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Feb 28

Results of Sustainability Floor Survey!

Published in 2013

The Sustainability Office asked almost 200 students at the beginning of this semester their opinions on creating a sustainability-focused floor in a residence hall at BSU. We had a nice distribution of student demographics and majors. We were pleasantly surprised with the results. Nearly 60% of the students surveyed would choose to live on a floor focused on sustainability, and most students surveyed agreed that the floor would be most beneficial for incoming freshman. A wide variety of interest was shown in what the students living on the floor would focus on. We also asked students who they thought the sustainability floor should partner with and most thought that the floor should work with the Sustainability Office, Students for the Environment club, and the Environmental Studies faculty.


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Feb 6

We are Back!

Published in 2013

Its me John Frazier, just letting everyone know how it is going here in the Sustainability Office.

Our first official week in the new office is over, and I am calling it a success. Our grand opening was great fun with food, live music, prizes, and people My favorite part was definitely the drum circle, and apparently we were pretty good since we received invitations to play at other events around campus. Score! The stream of students has been steady whether they have been coming in for information on the sustainability office and to check out the FreeStore, or get their free drink containers. During our meeting on Monday we laid out our expectations for the office and picked projects to focus on in the coming weeks and months. The vermiculture project is coming along as our wormy squirmy friends get used to their new home in Walnut Hall.

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Jan 28

Sustainability Office GRAND Re-OPENING!!!!!

Published in 2013

January 30th, from Noon to 3:00 pm!!!

Come check out our new space across from the Bookstore!
Be the one of the first to see all the items in the FreeStore!
Join the drum circle from Noon to 1:00pm!
Listen to a local musician from 2:00 to 3:00pm!
Wild Rice Soup and Hot Apple Cider will be available!
Students can sign up to win a Cross Country Ski Package! or a Bike! or one of many other GREAT prizes!
We will also start giving out stainless steel water bottles and mugs to any new student!

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Dec 20

Green your Holidays!

Published in 2012

From us here at the Sustainability Office, we hope you have a safe, happy and green Holiday Season! Check out these interesting tips from the Environmental Protection Agency on how to have a “green holiday”:

1. Create your own decorations! Reuse old greeting cards and make garland using popcorn and potpourri made from kitchen spices, like cinnamon and cloves. (Pinterest is a great hub for other people to share their crafty ideas!)

2. Turn off your holiday lights during the day, better yet, but a timer so you don’t forget!

3. Shop green. Buy recycled products or products with minimal packaging. Also, bring your own reusable bags when shopping.

4. Wrap gifts in reused wrapping paper or newspaper (I personally like to use gift bags).

5. Donate old toys and decorations instead of throwing them out.

6. After dinner, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. This will reduce energy and water!

For more ideas, check out their website at

Happy Holidays!


Nov 21

Sled Dogs to Saint Paul next Tuesday, November 27th @ 7:30 pm in HS 100!

Published in 2012

On Tuesday, November 27th at 7:30 pm in Hagg-Sauer 100, Frank Moe,  former Minnesota State Representative, will share an inspiring story for all who can make it!

Frank mushed his team of 10 sled dogs from Grand Marais to the Capitol in St. Paul this March, carrying nearly 13,000 petition signatures opposing sulfide mining.

Come join Frank and take a closer look at sulfide mining through the eyes of people who have a stake in the proposed expansion of mining in northeastern Minnesota:  business and property owners, legislators, wild ricers, tribal officials, community activists and many of the people who helped him along the way.  The night’s presentation which includes both video and discussion, will surely be a fast-paced examination of local economics, environmental activism, corporate might, Minnesota’s mining legacy and the role that clean water resource play in the future health and wealth of the state known as “the land of 10,000 lakes.”

For more information visit: or call Erika at 218-755-2560 and we look forward to seeing you there!

When: Tuesday, November 27th, 7:30 pm

Where: Hagg-Sauer 100 (BSU) Free and Open to the Public!

Sponsored by Outdoor Program Center, Students for the Environment & BSU Sustainability Office


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Nov 21

Campus Votes on Favorite Ways to Spend Green Fee!

Published in 2012

Over the past few weeks, the Sustainability Office has been gathering input from BSU students, faculty, and staff about their input on how they’d like to see the Green Fee spent.

In order to gather this input, a unique system was created where the office wrote out over 30 different ideas/ways that the Green Fee can continue to be used on large presentation-sized paper sheets (space was provided for indidvidual’s own ideas too). Next, at several key events including BSU’s celebration of National Campus Sustainability Day and a Student Senate meeting as well as several lunch hours in the Viking Room in the Lower Union, individuals were given five stickers to vote on how they would like to see the fee spent.


Overall, more than 130 people have voted and given what we’ve found, we’d love to share our results so far with you! The most noticeable finding was that a broad majority (in fact the top four) areas that people suggested we can continue to focus the use of the Green Free is in improving local access to foods on campus.

For a fun visual graphic of the top twelve Green Fee Votes, click on the link for a PDF.

And overall, we’ll provide the total vote tally below as well.

Thanks so much for all who voted and if you missed your chance, it’s not too late, we would love your input, stop by the Sustainability Office at any time or give Erika a call at 218-755-2560!


Bale own cardboard 1
Campus-wide Sustainability Review 1
E-waste management 1
Bio-diesel bus for sports 2
Linen service in bathroom 2
Vegetarian info panel 3
Paper free testing 3
Dual flush toilets 3
Require profs to use D2L 3
Car rental 4
Geothermal energy 4
Wintering windows 4
Improve transit schedule 5
Sustainability minor/emphasis 5
Rental property efficiency 5
Promote ride sharing 8
Hybrid fleet 8
Eliminate disposable cups 9
Green cleaning products 9
Ban bottled water 10
Sustainability Theme Res Life floor 10
Ronald McDonald House Pop-tab Collection 11
Recycled plastic bottle caps/gowns 12
Green Roofs 13
Biofuel 14
More air dryers in bathrooms 14
Bike options 17
Green building standards 25
Composting leftovers 26
Chicken coop 27
Garage sale 28
Harvest rainwater 30
Promote rental/ebooks 32
Solar panels 32
Old furniture available for students 32
Wind Turbine 32
Notification system for cancelled classes 37
Edible gardens 44
Farmers Market on campus 48
Organic/vegetarian options 64



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Oct 26

BSU Focuses On Reducing Car Pollution & Improving Fleet Vehicles Gas Mileage!

Published in 2012

We all know that automobiles produce a great deal of pollution and yet most of us still depend on them daily to help with transportation.  What can we do about it, you might ask?

Someone that is trying to do something about it is Dylan Sievers, BSU Student Senator and Sustainability Office employee. Sievers has been working with the campus’ Environmental Advisory Committee and Sustainability Coordinator Erika Bailey-Johnson to develop a Fleet Vehicle Policy for BSU.

Focusing on ways to improve the university vehicle’s gas mileage, acquistion of more efficient vehicles, and even considering tying this focus into an overall campus transportation policy, Sievers has begun to work with different interest groups across campus to help put the best (non-gas-pedal) foot forward.

In the process, he’s looked to what other universities are doing, like Purdue, whose Fleet Vehicle Policy is often thought of in its field as a Best Practice Model:

If you’re interested in finding out more about the impact of combustion engines to our surrounding world and how you can get involved with improving our campus’ Fleet Vehicle Policy, come down to the Sustainability Office or call Erika, 218-755-2560.

Feel free to check out the following image and information taken from Allison Morris at as well!

Electric Cars

There are over 250 million [cars] in the US alone, and they pump out greenhouse gases by the truckload each day. For those looking to reduce their carbon footprint, electric cars have, for quite a few years now, been the most popular alternative to gas-powered cars. While electric cars are certainly considered to be the more eco-friendly mode of transportation, there is some discussion as to just how much greener electric vehicles really are. If you’re thinking that your next car might be an electric one, consider the following infographic before you settle on which e-vehicle you want. The fact is that, unbeknownst to most consumers, the “greenness” of your electric car depends a lot on just where you’re plugging it in. For residents of some cities, electric cars there may be far less green than in others. For those living in cities powered primarily by coal, the energy being expended in charging your car might be just as detrimental to the environment as just driving a gasoline-powered car. Since electric cars are typically more expensive than gas-fueled vehicles, the savvy car consumer should pause before buying and ask, “will an electric car really be greener in my city?”


Green Cars Infographic

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Oct 17

Upcoming Sustainability Events! Politics! Environments! Student Life!

Published in 2012

Bemidji State University’s Sustainability Office is hosting several exciting events in the week ahead that the whole community will be invited to!  Between the chance to talk with your elected officials on important issues and free local food and reusable water bottles, there’s plenty of incentives to attend!  We look forward to seeing you there!

4:30 - 6:30

Bemidji State HS 107

Tuesday, Oct. 23: Politics and the Environment 
Have questions about environmental and natural resources policies in this upcoming election? State Senators John Carlson & Tom Saxhaug as well as State Representative John Persell and city councilmember Rita Albrecht will come together to discuss their positions and plans. Join us at BSU in Hagg Sauer 107 at 4:30 for a moderated discussion and Q&A. Parking available at the American Indian Resource Center.

From Minnesota GreenCorps, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rail River Folk School and Bemidji State University

10th Annual National Campus Sustainability Day
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at noon in HS 107
Free Wild Rice Hotdish & Water Bottles or Coffee Mugs for first 50 students!
See a panel of BSU students, faculty and staff who will discussion what sustainability means to them including:

·         Mark Morrissey, Director of Outdoor Program Center

·         Dr. Laurie Desiderato, Psychology Professor

·         Chinwuba Okafor, Assistant Director of Student Life

·         Zach Olson, Adjunct Instructor of English

·         Nick Nelson, Student Body Co-President

·         Ariadne Donovan, Student Birthday Girl

·         Dr. Randy Ludeman, Associate Director of Residential Life 

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Erika Bailey Johnson at 218-755-2560 and we look forward to seeing you there to help us celebrate the many ways that Bemidji State is leading in the sustainability movement across college campuses nation-wide!


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Sep 28

Traditional Skills Workshops

Published in 2012

This month’s Traditional Skills workshop is broken down into 3 parts:

Food Preservation: Here we will learn the basics of food preservation. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 2nd  in the AIRC from 7 to 8:30 pm.

Canning Tomatoes: In this workshop we will learn how to can tomatoes. The workshop will be held on Saturday, October 6th in the AIRC from 10am to 1pm

Cooking with Canned Goods: In this workshop we will used our canned tomatoes to make chili and spaghetti sauce. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, November 14th in the AIRC from 6 to 8pm

There is limited space for each workshop, so sign up in the Sustainability Office today! We are currently located in the Upper Hobson Memorial Union across from the Information Desk.  The workshops are FREE for students, $7 for non-students. If you have any questions, please contact Erika Bailey-Johnson at 218-755-2560 or





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Sep 7

Traffic Skills 101

Published in 2012

Traffic Skills 101 is a class to help students improve their bicycle knowledge and give them the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on trails. With the help of a Green Fee Mini Grant, the class is available to students for FREE! The class will be held on September 15th in Ozawindib in the Lower Hobson Union from 8 am to noon and Sunday September 16th in the Bangsberg Parking lot from 1pm to 6pm. Register now at and- enter student promom code BEMIDJI. For more information, contact Erika Bailey Johnson at or 218-755-2560.

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Aug 27

Welcome Back!!!

Published in 2012

You’ll notice a few changes that took place over the summer for the Sustainability Office. For one, we are temporarily located in the H2O room in the Upper Hobson Union until the remodeling of the Lower Hobson Union is complete (we are hoping for mid-October). Unfortunately, this means the FreeStore is in storage for the time being. We are already planning for a GRAND OPENING, though, so stay tuned!

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Jul 26

Bemidji Sustainable Homes Tour Planned for Saturday, July 28th!

Published in 2012

The Bemidji Sustainability Committee is sponsoring the first annual Bemidji Sustainable Homes tour July 28th.

The tour will feature seven homes in our region that are leading the way in integrating sustainable practices into their home design.

The tour starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m. Each home will be open to the public for a one-hour period, with tours happening on the half hour.

Click here to be directed to an interactive Google Map of the tour

The addresses and open-house time frames for all homes are provided within brochures located at several city locations including City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Harmony Co-op, and Lueken’s Village Foods North.  Click here for your own copy of the: 2012 Bemidji Sustainable Homes Tour

Come see how local residents reduced their energy costs, increased their energy independence, reduced their water usage, increased their food independence, used natural and renewable materials in constructing their homes, and reduced solid waste.

At 1 pm and 1:30 pm, Windsong, Bemidji’s only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified building will be providing tours.  Sanford Health’s Windsong Senior Living was Minnesota’s first LEED certified building for elder-care. Find out how LEED has helped provide a framework for Windsong in identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, and maintenance solutions.

   Milt and Jamie Lee’s straw bale design home will be featured from 10 am to 11 am.  The Lee’s dream was “to build a house that worked gently with the land and not against it.”  Featuring lower-impact earth bag layers for foundation and a pole structure frame, their home is built with straw bale walls that have been covered with a natural plaster made of local sand, clay, straw, and other fiber.  The walls are 22 inches thick with a potential insulation value of R50. The thick walls give the house a special quality—soft, quiet, and comfortable.

The home of Al and Catie Belleveau will be featured from 12 pm to 1 pm. Inspired by Cate’s overseas teaching stint in Kyrgyzstan, the tour will include organic gardens and a traditional Kyrgz folk tale told inside the handmade yurt built by Al when he attended the North House Folk School yurt building class in Grand Marais. This yurt will be used to house the first artists to come on retreat in the soon to be open “Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space” for arts and environmental education in Puposky.

The Village of Hope is being featured as the final home on the tour, with tours at 3 pm and 3:30 pm. According to Executive Director, Sandy Hennum “the Village of Hope pairs social responsibility with environmental stewardship. Therefore we can serve more families.” The tour will highlight features including passive solar heat stored in the home’s cement floors, in-floor hydronic heating on its main floor, timers on faucets and lights, and external solar shade on the south side of the house. Equally exciting is that Village of Hope has begun working on Phase 2, which when completed will include a solar energy system for the home.

The tour is free and open to all members of the Bemidji area, though the coordinators ask that interested attendees pre-register. For registration and questions, contact Brett Cease with your name, contact information, the houses and times you plan on touring at            218.755.3765       or

Local resources on living sustainably from the Sustainability Committee, Beltrami Electric, Otter Tail Power, and other community organizations will be available at each site.

The Bemidji Sustainability Committee promotes sustainable values in the community through, education, policy and planning, and programs, events, building and fostering strategic partnerships and initiatives.  Their meetings are open to all interested public and are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm at the City Hall.

The tour will be held rain or shine. Set aside the date, wear comfortable clothing and footwear, and join us for the 2012 Sustainable Homes Tour!

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Jun 25

Garden Tour and Ladyslipper Festival Appearances for the Sustainability Office!

Published in 2012

This past weekend the Sustainability Office was busy providing information and educational resources to the larger northern Minnesota community.

On Saturday, the BSU native landscaping gardens were featured in the 2012 Bemidji Master Gardener tour.  Dylan Sievers was available on campus to give tours .  This was a great opportunity for community members to learn about the benefits of native landscaping and the environmental and economic advantages of low-maintenance gardening.  For more information about the kinds of plants and seeds that BSU uses in their gardens and the new Low Mow project, give the office a call at 755-2560.

Also on Saturday, John Frazier represented the University and its commitment to Sustainability at the Blackduck LadySlipper Festival.  With a beautiful new mural of northern Minnesota themes at the table, John interacted with many local residents regarding things going on campus to reduce our carbon footprint and what they can do to conserve energy and reduce their own footprint at home.

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Apr 23

Stride into Spring 5K winners

Published in 2012

This year’s Stride into Spring 5K/10K was on a cold, rainy day, but that didn’t deter our amazing runners! Up for prizes were Steger mukluks and Paul Bunyan Jacs. This year’s winners of the mukluks are Polly Aitken, and our very own Green Corp member Brett Cease! Paul Bunyan Jac winners are: Sonja Dam, Hannah Hutchins, Kelsey Shelander, Rich Moen, Stacy Truedson, Jeff Krona, and Rick Ricard. Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for participating!

Emmy Ahrens

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Apr 18

BSU is on the Princeton Review "Greenest Colleges" List

Published in 2012

Check out then article in Huffington Post:

Congrats BSU! Keep up the good work!

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Mar 28

League of American Bicyclists

Published in 2012

I found an article on Grist that was titled “One mile on a bike is a $.42 economic gain to society, one mile driving is a $.20 loss.”  It’s interesting because it discusses the socio-economic benefits of riding a bike.  Grist is referencing a blog that was posted by the League of American Bicyclists.

Read it for yourself here!

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Mar 22

Student Senate approves!

Published in 2012

On Wednesday March 14th 2012, Student Senate passed two bills that involved their support for environmental initiatives on BSU campus.

The first was about Green Buildings on campus.  Student Senate supports BSU making the next building project on campus to be LEED Silver certified; and all following capital building projects to follow LEED standards.

The other bill was regarding Renewable Energy.  Student Senate supports BSU installing Solar Transpired Air on campus, and conducting a Bio-Mass Feasibility Study.

Thank you Student Senate for creating these bills, and passing them.  This is a great step toward making BSU a more sustainable campus!


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Feb 27

Peanut Butter Project

Published in 2012

Hello all!

Just wanted to inform everyone about something wonderful happening within the community that YOU can contribute to,

In conjunction with February National Kindness Week and March National Nutrition Month a community volunteer intitiative has been developed called the Peanut Butter Project.

Please donate a jar of scrumptious peanut butter to the Peanut Butter Project, which will benefit children in our community who are in need of a nutritious food staple.

Drop jars of peanut butter off at the “Peanut Butter Drop-Off” box located in the Sustainability Office at BSU by March 31st 2012.

Proudly sponsored by:
Paul Bunyan Mall, Bemidji Community Food Shelf, Lueken’s Village Foods North & South, Marketplace Food, Harmony Natural Food Coop, Area Schools/Churches, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, Girl Scout Troop 041, and all P.B. Recruiters.

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Feb 22

Power to the People!

Published in 2012

Right now, there is a bill (Minnesota House File 389) moving through the Legislature that if it get passed, it will weaken local government control.  So for example, if a massive or controversial project (i.e. factory farm, large shopping center, or frac sand mines) is being proposed, the local citizens of that area won’t be able to have a voice regarding that proposed project.

By taking away the voices of the people, there’s a greater chance of environmental destruction and social injustices.

Here is more detail on the subject:

What do you stand for?

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Feb 8

Cold Tub

Published in 2012

Dear Readers,
I received an email from Sustainability Coordinator Erika Bailey Johnson regarding water waste in the athletic training program that was sent from the head athletic trainer Bill Crews. He was wondering if there was a technology that could reduce water consumption because the two old conventional steel tubs used about 200 gallons of water per day. In order to keep the water cool for ice therapy, an old ice machine was used. So I have been working on this project with my colleague for about 5 months and found out that water was not the only issue. The product that we found to reduce water use and energy costs is called Cold Tub. This product is a cold and hot therapy used for athletic treatment. This product is highly affective for swollen joints, and reducing lactic acid which can help speed recovery time for athletes.
We found out that the energy to make ice for the conventional steel tubs using an older ice machine runs on 16 kWh, so for one year the cost would be about $9,110.40 to run that old ice machine. Where as the Cold Tub is running at .8 kWh the cost for one year to run is about $160.16. So the total savings on energy of this product is about $8,950.24. Not only is there an energy savings, but a cost reduction for needing less water. The water and sewer savings for the Cold Tub is about $397.01. We are now at the stage of setting the equipment up at the training facility in the Rec Center. The sustainability aspect is that this product saves Bemidji State University about $9,347.25 dollars a year on energy and water. The student Green Fee contributed $5000 dollars of this $20,000 project.

Peace, Love, and Joy

Derek Faith

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Feb 6

Published in 2012

Hello everyone!

Starting today The Campus Conservation Nationals, a national energy saving competition across college campuses, begins!  BSU is competing against over 170 different universities across the country and it lasts until February 24th.  We are one of few campuses in Minnesota competing, along with St. Ben’s and Macalester.  Along with this, there is an energy saving competition between all of the residential dorms on campus.  The winning dorm receives $300, a party, and in addition ten individuals will win a energy-saving prize as well.  The Sustainability Office and the student organization Students for the Environment are working to reduce BSU’s carbon footprint through competitions like these.


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Feb 2

'Gasland' director arrested for filming in Congress

Published in 2012

Found out that Josh Fox, the director of the impacting documentary Gasland, was arrested February 1st for trying to film a Congress committee meeting during their discussion on the fracking issue in Ohio.

Check it out


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Jan 23

NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record

Published in 2012

Watch this 30 second video on global average temperature change over the past 120 years.

Pretty powerful….and quite rapid!  Let’s all do our part to reduce emissions.  Now.  No excuses.

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Jan 23

Creative Sustainability

Published in 2012

Found something very unique and very cool on Grist today.  Thought I would share it :-)


Hannah Hutchins

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Jan 3

Bemidji Launches "Sustainable Tuesdays!"

Published in 2012


Ganawendakamigaa endaso-niizho-giizhigak


You’re invited!

The new year is bringing an exciting, community-centered initiative to Bemidji and we need you!

Our Mission:

We will draw upon the strengths of the diversity in our region to create a sustainable Bemidji community

When: On Tuesday evenings, from 6 to 8 pm, “Sustainable Tuesdays” will feature a variety of discussions and local voices, diverse perspectives, documentaries, and hands-on learning opportunities that connect our beautiful, vibrant community.

Where: The Rail River Folk School, 303 Railroad St. SW Bemidji, MN, just across the downtown bridge and to the left.

The first month’s theme will focus on Waste, a topic that we all deal with on a daily basis.

What is it? Where does it go?  How can we reduce it?

Tea, coffee, and snacks provided!

Here’s our January line-up:

Tuesday, January 10th:  Opening Launch! The first evening will introduce the program, establish our goals, and feature a local panel of speakers that will discuss their diverse perspectives on sustainability and answer questions from the audience.

The panel will include:

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director

Mayana Rice, Joint Planning Board’s Administrative Planner

Laurie Desiderato, BSU Professor of Psychology

Michael Schumacher, local farmer

Brent Sicard, Lueken’s Store Director

Tuesday, January 17th: Movie Night!

Come for popcorn and watch,Garbage!,” a riveting documentary that examines our American waste-stream.  After the movie, we’ll talk trash and share ideas and tips to reduce one’s garbage footprint at home.

Tuesday, January 24th: Café Night!

Mix with local resources and sit down to discuss new ideas relating to different waste issues including:

Steve Strasser, Habitat Restore Manager: Building Supplies

Eric Pouilot, BSU Student: Compost/Organics

Brandy Toft, Leech Lake Air Quality: Compost/Burn Barrel

Josh Burnham, Vermiculture Entrepeneur: Worm Composting

Tues, Jan. 31st: Waste Expert Panel! Come find out the dirt from local authorities and ask questions about what happens to our waste after we’re through with it in Bemidji and Beltrami County:

Mike Albrecht, Waste Management Office Manager

Todd Anderson, City of Bemidji Water & Sewer Superintendent

Bill Patnaude, Beltrami County Environmental Services Director

This program is in partnership with the MN GreenCorps, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rail River Folk School and BSU’s Sustainability Office

For more information contact:

Brett Cease, 755-3765,

Simone Senogles, 751-4967,


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Nov 28

Green Your Holiday!

Published in 2011

Make sure for the holidays this year, you shop as local as you can! Support your local economy!

Here are some places in Bemidji to check out:
Yellow Umbrella

Red Umbrella

Books N More

KD Floral & Gardens

Glazed & Amused

McKenzie Place

Ben Franklin

Chocolates Plus

Kat’s Book Nook

The Glass Shack

Morell’s Chippewa Trading Post

The Old Schoolhouse

Grandma’s Attic Antique Mall

Nov 14

US delays Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to look at new routes in Nebraska

Published in 2011

Good News!


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Nov 2

Sustainability Office hosts New Green Corps Member!

Published in 2011


Last spring, BSU’s Sustainability Office applied to be a host site for the Minnesota GreenCorps, a program of AmeriCorps. This October, BSU was selected as one of 26 sites across the state.

“Launched in 2009, Minnesota GreenCorps is a statewide initiative to help preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals. This program places AmeriCorps members with local governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations around Minnesota, where they will serve for 11 months on focused environmental projects. The program is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.”[i]

Bemidji’s GreenCorps member, Brett Cease, began his work on Monday, October 17th and has begun to focus on several areas outlined below:

“The goal of this project will be to integrate sustainable practices into local businesses, schools, and government entities.  The GreenCorps member will provide education regarding more sustainable practices and assist in implementing these practices.”

One objective of this project will be to assist the City of Bemidji, Bemidji State University, and Rail River Folk School with the marketing, maintenance, and utilization of community gardens.  All three institutions have implemented large garden projects within the past two
years and there exists ample opportunity to educate the community on the benefits of local foods.

A second objective will be to assist the City of Bemidji with the GreenStep Cities program.  The City is interested in the program, but would like more detail regarding the commitments and cost of the program.  Brett will work with the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee to investigate the opportunities and value this program would bring to the City.

One other objective of Brett’s position is to educate the campus and Bemidji community on ways to reduce waste and conserve water and energy. Bemidji businesses and organizations will be contacted and have the opportunity to request the assistance of the GreenCorps member to
identify ways to save electricity, use less water, and/or produce less waste.

Brett has already been working with the office and the larger community on a variety of fronts related to sustainability in the past year and the office is very excited about this opportunity to work together with Brett and broaden our outreach!

In the months ahead, everyone is invited to stop by the Sustainability Office to meet Brett and provide any ideas, comments, or suggestions you have on how to utilize his position to benefit the university and Bemidji in any efforts related to sustainability and green living.

Welcome Brett!

[i] (


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Oct 28

4th Annual Waste Audit!

Published in 2011

Curious to know how much people on the BSU campus  throw away? Wondering how much stuff in that garbage is actually recyclable or even compostable?

Well you can finally find out by helping the Sustainability Office with their waste audit happening October 31st through November 4th from 1-3pm in the Sustainability Office!

Stop in, we’ll provide the gloves (and possibly a face mask!), and let the digging begin!

Just in case you’re wondering, here are the results from previous years.


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Oct 10

"Pipeline? We don’t need no stinkin’ pipeline"

Published in 2011

Lester Brown (a United States environmental analyst, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. BBC Radio commentator Peter Day calls him “one of the great pioneer environmentalists.”) wrote an article on the Alberta Tar Sands.


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Oct 10


Published in 2011


Early this summer the Sustainability Office with help from the summer People in the Environment class created a campus community garden on the corner of Birch Lane and 16th street on the BSU campus. The project included removing the sod from the 99ft X 59ft space that was to become the garden, hauling in compost, tilling the compost into the soil, putting up the fence, sectioning off the plots, planting and finally watching it grow. The building of the garden took about 1.5 months to complete. The project was initially delayed because of a late snow fall and wet conditions. Plots were rented out at $5 a year to students and staff. There are 28 plots rented out by 19 people. The project had its share of obstacles, mainly digging bricks out of post holes, but all were overcome or worked out best as possible. Over all, the garden project is considered to be a huge success. The name Gitigaan means garden in Ojibwe.

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Sep 14

It's been a while...

Published in 2011

The office has been super busy, we haven’t been able to blog in a while. There are so many things going on!

Tonight (September 14th, 2011) in the AIRC (American Indian Resource Center) starting at 7pm, there will be a presentation on Solar Energy. Jason Edens, founder of RREAL (Rural Renewable Energy Alliance) and Pat Welle, BSU professor in Economics and Environmental Studies, will be talking about the benefits of solar energy and the harms of fossil fuels.  This will be a great discussion!

3 employees in the Sustainability Office just finished a beautiful shed for the campus garden! If you haven’t seen the garden yet, go check it out!

The FreeStore is always in high demand! So there’s always work to be done on that.

The Sustainability Office was recently apart of some great community events as well. We had a booth at the Community Appreciation day and at the Women’s Expo. Those we both great opportunities for us to get the message out about Sustainabilty!

Last, but not least, we have another Traditional Skills Workshop planned! On Sept. 29th at 7pm in the Sustainability Office, you will have the opportunity to learn how to preserve your food. Everything from canning to drying to freezing your food will be discussed! This event is free for students and $7 for everyone else. Hope you can make it!

That’s all for now. Stop on in, there’s always something going on!

Hannah Hutchins

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Sep 14

Are Bikes taking over the world?

Published in 2011

I was given this article by a fellow bike-lover and I wanted to share it with everyone.

Enjoy and be inspired!

Hannah Hutchins

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Aug 23

Welcome Back!

Published in 2011

Hey everybody!
Hope your summer went well and you enjoyed the beautiful summer days!

The summer staff worked extremely hard preparing for this fall and the campus garden. Make sure to check it out before winter comes. It’s located across the street from the library and next to the Laurel House.

Everyone here is really excited for this year! We already have events planned and many things to do. So please stop by and say Hello!

Hope to see ya around,
Hannah Hutchins

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Jun 9

BSU named one of top Eco Schools in the country by the Princeton Review!

Published in 2011

Check out this site to learn more or to download the document:

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Jun 9

Eight "Rules of the Road" for bike safety

Published in 2011

* Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted - such as interstates.

* Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.

* Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.

* Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.

* Motorists and bicyclists must yield the right of way to each other.

* Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.

* Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it’s dark.

* Bicyclists should always wear helmets and bright reflective gear.

DPS reports each that year an average of eight bicyclists are killed and more than 950 are injured in crashes with vehicles. Most bicycle crashes occur during afternoon rush hours. People under age 25 represent more than half of all bicyclists injured annually.

For information about MnDOT’s “Share the Road” bicycle safety education program visit

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May 2

Green Expo

Published in 2011

Hey everyone,

Hope finals are going well! Wanted to let everyone know of the Green Expo that’s going on May 7th and 8th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds!

There’s going to be a lot of great booths, speakers, events going on there!

Have a wonderful summer,

Hannah Hutchins

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Apr 13

Earth Week Celebration!!

Published in 2011

Hey Everybody!

So starting this Friday (15th) with the Energy Panel,  Students for the Environment and the Sustainability Office will be celebrating Earth Day with week long events. Here is what will be happening:

MONDAY (April 18th)
11am - 1pm: (Scandinavian Room in Lower Union) Learn gardening tips from a Master Gardener
5pm: (Meet at Diamond Point Park) Bike around Bemidji Lake! Helmets required; bikes and helmets available if needed
7pm: (Bemidji City Hall) Come to the Bemidji City Council Meeting; Will the Sanford Center have solar panels? Show your support!

TUESDAY (April 19th)
9am: Garden Project, meet at Berg Property (South of Laurel House by parking meters)
6:30 - 8:30pm: Traditional Skills Workshop in Linden Hall. Learn how to make homemade soymilk, flatbread, and noodles. Sign up in the Sustainability Office

WEDNESDAY (April 20th) EARTH DAY CELEBRATION (Volunteer opportunities)
5 - 8pm: (In front of lower union)
Henna Tattoos
FREE buffalo burgers & food for all students (with show of I.D.), $3 for non-students
Games, Free Bike Tune-ups
Live music!
Farmers Market, IEN, GREN booths
THURSDAY (April 21st)
7pm: Movie in Ed Arts 115, “Green Fire”, Green Fire explores Leopold’s personal journey of obser-vation and understanding and reveals how his ideas resonate today with people across the entire American landscape

FRIDAY (April 22nd)
Honor the Earth Celebration

MONDAY (April 25th) (volunteer opportunity)
5-7pm: Lake-Shore Clean-up
Meet at Diamond Point Park or Paul and Babe (your choice) to make Bemidji a better place! (Trash bags and gloves provided)
Picture will be taken after the clean-up!

Hope to see you there, Hannah Hutchins

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Apr 11

Car parts made out of mushrooms will—wait, what?

Published in 2011

Hey everyone!

Found this article on a company called Ecovative who discovered a way to make car parts, Styrofoam and plastic out of mushrooms!! Check out the article (there’s other articles on the subject under “Straight to the Source”)

Hannah Hutchins

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Apr 4

TOMS one day without shoes

Published in 2011

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share this article that I found on MSN about the fourth annual global campaign that TOMS sponsors. The whole idea is that people go one day without shoes, that day being tomorrow April 5th, in order to start conversation amongst peoples and get them aware about the health risks for kids who cannot afford a pair of shoes. For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS and its nonprofit subsidiary companions will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. Please read the article and if you are able to take part by not wearing shoes tomorrow!


Emily Johnson

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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

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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

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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

Feb 28

The constant battle between EPA and "Big Coal"

Published in 2011

I just wanted to share this article that I found on about what is currently happening with coal.  Legislators Are Going to Unbelievable Lengths to Gouge Clean Water Laws and Cozy Up to Big Coal

Emily Johnson

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Feb 15

The Official Welcome of the Sustainability Website!

Published in 2011

Boozhoo and Welcome to the Sustainability Website!

Everyone here at the office hopes everybody is having a great semester and getting ready for the beautiful spring weather!

We just launched our website and want everybody to check it out!

We have a lot of great resources on here and many opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. The yellow box on the right of the front page shows our big events coming up, so pay attention to those. Under the yellow box, we have BSU’s electricity use, water usage and waste generation month by month. On the left of our front page, we have our facebook link and our youtube channel.

The various tabs on the left side of the page (ex: About, Get Involved, Photo Gallery, etc) can lead you to other areas of our office. We tell you everything that the campus and the community can offer in regards to sustainability.

So, there are the basics of our website. Please take the time to look around, and we’re always open for suggestions for improvement! Don’t be afraid to come into the office to ask questions or just to say Hi! We’re located in the Lower Student Union near the bookstore and the C3 store. If this helps, we’re in the same location as the old OPC office.

Miigwech and Hope to see you around!

Hannah Hutchins

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Dec 2

BSU's Laurel House

Published in 2010

BSU’s Laurel House was purchased by the BSU Foundation and was leased by BSU as a residence for Honors Program students. The house is in need of a complete renovation due to the numerous repairs that would be required for the house to be occupied again.  This project will be a show piece for the community, businesses, and schools highlighting affordable green practices that anyone could implement. The practices utilized will demonstrate how to reduce impact on the environment, reduce operating costs, and save money over the life of the home. A priority is making the house a leading example for others to follow in increasing resource efficiency and reducing negative impacts on neighbors and the future. Some features include:

  • Energy Efficient Windows (u-factor less than 0.24)
  • Durable Long Lasting Siding (steel siding with an energy star rated coating)
  • Energy Star Appliances (energy efficient refrigerator, stove, laundry equipment, and water heater)
  • Water Conserving Technologies (toilets, faucets,  shower heads that conserve water, and rain barrels that catch rainwater for irrigation)
  • Resource Efficient Landscaping (vegetation that requires little water or maintenance, water permeable hard surfaces, rain garden to reduce runoff)
  • Local Resources (use of materials that are local, to reduce transportation and help local economies)
  • Energy Efficient Lighting (compact fluorescent and LED lighting throughout)
  • Low or No VOCs (use of paint, flooring, and other finishes that emit no or minimal VOCs)

This project will be a gold level Minnesota GreenStar remodel project, which is their highest level. MN GreenStar is a Minnesota based green building organization that assists in creating a sustainable future in the construction industry. When the project is complete, the house will become the Honors Residence again and a live-in lab demonstrating reduced utility usage.

BSU is working with MJ Architecture, Zetah Construction, and Northwest Technical College on design plans and budget estimates.

Place contact the Sustainability Office either by phone (218-755-2560) or email ( if you would like to be involved with this exciting, innovative project!

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Nov 30

Sustainable Holidays!

Published in 2010

Hello! Boozhoo!

Hope everyone had a great fall semester. The Sustainability Office sure did!

Right now, we’re working on promoting a sustainable holiday. The holiday is such an important time of the year. It’s a time to make memories with your family and good friends, to celebrate either your religious ceremonies  or traditions. The Sustainability Office would love to have everyone make their holidays sustainable by making simple changes such as:

  • Swap items with friends for presents
  • When buying gifts, make sure the gifts have minimal packaging
  • When shopping, use reusable bags to avoid plastic
  • If buying something that requires batteries, make sure to use rechargeable batteries
  • Give gifts that are handmade and local
  • Wrap your gifts with used newspaper or magazines
  • Plan out your holiday meal and only buy what you need, so you can reduce your food waste
  • Consider gift certificates so people can choose what they want
  • Put your money to helping others with volunteering, instead of buying something

Hope everyone has a good holiday break! Live sustainably and take care of our Mother Earth.

Apr 29

Tips to Go Green! (and thank you)

Published in 2010

Thanks for all your help making this week’s Earth Week events a success! Thank you for setting up the furniture, helping with the technology, quickly copying the posters, reserving the rooms, giving away trees, sharing environmental resources, spreading the word, hanging up the posters, attending in person, verbalizing your support, washing the dishware, and cooking the wonderful, local food! What a great campus to be a part of! “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Aristotle

Tip shared from a colleague:
“The Beltrami Humane society takes shredded paper to use for the puppies they get in, and are always looking for more paper.”

Enjoy the weekend!

Apr 23

Hello world!

Published in 2010

Welcome to Blogs at Bemidji State University. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Apr 23

A new Chapter in Sustainability

Published in 2010

Just trying this for the sake of putting something down that will hopefully register so that I will know whether or not this works on the Sustainability sight.  That was also a very long sentence.



"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to see it with love & respect."
~ Aldo Leopold