No Impact Week
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No Impact Week is here agin!
Our Trip to Waste Zero
Last weekend we visited the WasteZero plant in Hemingway, South Carolina. We took a tour of their facility to see how they used recycled plastic to create trash bags for their various pay-as-you-throw projects around the country. Each city or county they work with can design their own bags' logo and color, and the factory will produce the bags and prepare them for shipping. In addition to the production aspect, we heard from a sales representative about how the pay-as-you-throw programs work. Each location can choose the specifics on how it wants to run its own program, but the basic idea is that consumers will purchase the city's specific color-coded bag from grocery stores, and only be allowed to use those bags for trash pick-up. The price of the trash bag will cover the costs of the waste management program, so instead of paying the equal amounts of taxes as every other member of the community, each person will pay for however much trash they create. This system has proven to be incredibly effective in reducing the amount of waste for a community, because it gives each individual incentive to reduce their individual waste and put more effort into recycling. The results have consistently been positive, and the company has a 99% retention rate, meaning that once a community switches, it is highly unlikely that they ever return to a conventional waste management system. This program has also been proven to reduce costs to a community by reducing landfill and pick-up costs. Pay-as-you-throw programs are a great way to increase recycling efforts and reduce pressure on landfills, and the WasteZero company is working to help implement and spread this innovative program.
What A Great Weekend!
Thanks to all the students who came out and made the weekend of workshops and discussions so rewarding and stimulating! And thanks to all of the advisors and administrations who helped get those students to USC! We covered recycling, social justice, food, energy, event planning, and all the things we EcoReps need to make our campuses greener places! It was a full weekend, but I know it renewed my passion and energy! There is nothing like spending time with a group of your peers who all share the same passions to keep you going in the fight for sustainability.
See ya'll next year!
80 degrees in January
Today was the first day of classes here in Columbia, and everywhere you looked students were heading into a new semester, pencils in hand, greeting friends they hadn't seen in a month. But instead of sweaters and hats, they were all in shorts and flip flops. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed a picnic lunch on the Historic Horseshoe, but it certainly is out of place.
It was so beautiful, but it reminds us of the fact that our climate is changing, has already changed. "2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year." (Source) The numbers make our mission to increase awareness and chang behaviors even more important. You'll be hearing more from us soon!
This past Saturday, December the First we recieved the Midlands Green Award for Green Neighborhood and Community Group from Keep the Midlands Beautiful! It was given in recognition of our Green Dorm Room Program. We're so honored to be recognized as a leader in sustainability.
You can check out the article on the University's hompeage here
No Impact Week Wrap-up
Congratulation to everyone who came together and participated in No Impact Week. We hope everyone had a great time and learned something about themselves. It really is fascinating to see what behaviors are simple to change and what behaviors are challenges. This year 555 people participated in No Impact Week! That's almost double last year's participation! We swapped 358 bulbs in residence halls. That would save $1,180 from the University's energy bill and over time create less pollution from power plants. Freshman Council handed out 220 shower timers. If every shower timer is used just ONCE, 2,640 gallons of water wouldn't go down the drain. If they use it for a week, that's 18,480 gallons! When a large number of people all make the same little changes the impact is huge.
Be on the lookout for us next semester. We have quite a few more events planned, so be on the lookout for your friendly neighborhood EcoRep!
No Impact Week
No Impact week is fast approaching, and now is the time to sign up for this fun and enlightening experiment in Carbon Free LIving. Just
email us with your name and where you live, and you'll get email updates everymorning reminding you of that day's challenge. If you follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, we'll be posting the challenge for the day there as well. You should also join the Facebook Event, and invite your friends to participate with you!
If you're interested in the origins of No Impact Week, check out Colin Beavan's Website. He made a doccumentary and wrote a book about his attempt to live carbon-free for a year while living in Manhattan with his Wife and young daughter.
Though you might not know it listening to the current political dialogue, climate change is still a serious issue. The actual scientific consensus is that mankind is causing our climate to change more rapidly than in any previous period. This is not up for debate. The only question we ought to be asking is what do we do? The issue seems so large, so insurmountable that apathy is the easiest response, but we can't fall into that trap. We can take steps to reduce our impact on the planet, and more importantly help others make these changes to. That is the mission of the Eco-Reps and every environmentalist's goal.
Climate change is not just an issue for movie stars or the upper-middle class in first world countries. It affects every man woman and child, especially those with the least among us. Climate change will make hunger worse everywhere, displace many coastal people, the poorest of whom will not be able to relocate as easily, and make social advancement more difficult.
You can help these people by reducing you carbon footprint, but more importantly making your voice heard in the public sphere. The reason we no longer hear about climate change is that our leaders think they can just push us to the side. Call your leaders. Make your voices heard. Give your time or money to environmental groups who lobby for green legislation. And tell all of your family and friends to do the same. If they need motivation, you can tell them to check out this video:
We all know that emissions from our modes of transportation have a big impact on the environment, but it is often still a struggle to drive less. If you want to make a difference, try these simple changes! Walk or ride your bike to school or work once a week just to see what it is like. You might discover you can do it everyday, but if you don't you'll still get some great exercise! Also, carpool with your friends whenever you need to go somewhere! If your car gets 25 mpg, and you have 3 people riding with you, then your car gets the equivalent of 100 mpg. If you're car gets 35 mpg, then you've shot up to 140mpg! Don't have anyone to ride with? Sign up for RIdePost and find people who are going where you need to go or post where you're going so other people can ride with you.
This week, the EcoReps focused on the problems associated with consumption in our society. Check out this video about our consumer culture. It's a bitlong, but totally worth it.
Check out the Freecycling area in your dorm to reduce your consumption of new goods, and drop off that shirt, bottle, or washcloth you don't need anymore.
We made a trip to Riverbanks Zoo to get to know each other and to get to know a little bit more about elephant poo! They process thousands of pounds of waste from their elephants, zebras and giraffes, turning what they used to throw away into a valuable resource.