Freezer Challenge // The verdict is in.

BACK IN MAY labs all around UC San Diego participated in the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge, a competition to see which labs can be most energy efficient through cold storage management. Such practices include replacing inefficient freezers, bumping freezer temperatures up from -80 C to -70 C, and discarding unneeded units entirely, or simply cleaning out old samples and sharing freezer space with another lab. Out of 200 labs, and across 34 organizations, UC San Diego placed 1st as an organizational winner! My Green Lab and I2SL (International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories) estimated that our participating labs have saved a whopping 500,000 kWh/year. Many cheers♣

 

 

ZeroWaste Highlight: FM (Ellie’s ethereal gardens).

20706751_1644578962219383_1113328785_nIF you walk down the stairs of Cafe V’s patio, towards the green field, and turn right, you’ll see a pair of gray metal gates and a sign with a visible “E” peeping from behind. Walk through the gates and you find yourself in Ellie’s (Main) Garden, a rectangular plot of land lush with greenery. Keep going down the sidewalk and you’ll see more sets gates, which lead into Ellie’s Backyard, Ellie’s Farm, and (coming soon) Ellie’s Nursery.
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The secret behind Ellie’s green thumb? Compost. In the photo lies but one pile of “hot” compost, where raw material gets turned and watered so that, within a mere 6 weeks, it transforms into usable compost, which is then screened and added to the soil beds.

Into this compost go kitchen scraps, paper, straw, plant trimmings, and (most of all) coffee grounds from Price Center’s Sunshine Market and Starbucks. During the summer, Chris Johnson, a groundskeeper with Facilities Management, rides in his electric golf cart and carries 9 buckets of grounds to the garden each week. Through the school year? 20 buckets a week. Whatever can’t fit into the bins gets sent to green waste and turned into mulch.

“I estimate that I picked up 7 tons of grounds last year. FM is trying to establish a green waste site, but I gather there is not enough money or urgency to create the large site that they propose. I will be offering the idea of starting very small, like a quarter acre to test the program on a doable scale.” – Chris Johnson

Furthermore, the gardens are made from a lot of scrap material – railing, wood, benches that were left behind from other projects on campus. The only necessary purchases are gravel and potting soil, as many of the plants actually grow from seeds and roots taken from other plants on campus as well. In that way, Ellie’s gardens have diverted more than just green waste from landfills, and have helped make up for the loss of plants (on campus) which were torn down and destroyed by wind and rainstorms.

Best of all, Ellie’s gardens are open to everyone! You can volunteer to help work on the plants (check out their Facebook page here), or simply indulge in the fruits that grow from its composted soil♣

 

ZeroWaste Highlight: Recreation recycles wrappers.

WALK by the RIMAC and Main Gym weight rooms, Canyonview’s pool, Main Gym’s cycle room, or Rec Gym’s FitLife office, and sure enough you’ll find a box asking for your energy bar wrappers.

UC San Diego Recreation is currently partnered with Terracycle to recycle these wrappers, conveniently placing bins where people are most likely to have wrappers to discard. All of the money collected, at 2 cents per wrapper, is then donated; Recreation has already given $350 to Feeding America San Diego, and another $188.40 to other charities, totaling a whopping $538.40 for 26,920 successfully recycled wrappers.

More than just diverting waste from landfills, Recreation has essentially helped provide 1400 meals to families in need (Feeding America San Diego creates 4 meals per $1): an amazing, two-in-one impact. Look out for these boxes and recycle your wrappers♣

CoreBio’s move away from plastic bags

CoreBio, a vendor which provides biotech products for UCSD’s labs, plans to stop packaging orders in plastic bags and start providing reusable ones. The inspiration: Prop 67.

Prop 67, or the Plastic Bag Ban, mandates that grocery stores charge $0.10 per plastic bag, encouraging consumers to bring their own. The purpose is to reduce the number of plastic bags which end up in landfills and, more often than not, wildlife. CoreBio, inspired by California’s effort to be greener, decided to up the ante by getting rid of plastic bags entirely, and is currently looking into which reusable bags to order and hand out to customers, so that there’s at least one per lab; in the meantime, they’re packaging orders with biodegradable bags, which are compostable and can at the very least break down faster than plastic ones.

How are our colleges on recycling? (feat. Econauts)

Every week, the Econauts pick a different college to do a “waste audit” for. They take a sample of 4-12 bags of trash from the res-hall and apartment dumpsters, and sort out the contents between trash and recycling. Afterwards, they talk to students walking by about what they found in the trash. The most commonly found items that should have gone into recycling are: plastic dining hall to-go plates, plastic water bottles, cardboard boxes, and paper homework (of course).

This year, the Econauts started working with RA’s to further reach out to college residents. RA’s in the Village, Marshall, and Sixth all defined goals  to increase their colleges’ waste diversion from landfills.

The Village set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash marked for landfills by 12% in Winter Quarter. To do so, they put on a diversion competition between the Village East and West, and threw a final food party for the winning side. They also got new signage out to residents, and applied for a green grant to get bigger recycling bins for the apartments. Meanwhile, Marshall College res-life set a goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash from 50% to 37% for Winter Quarter, and then to 27% by the end of Spring Quarter. They aspire to put together a competition between res-halls for decreasing water and trash waste, promote more programs focused on proper waste sorting, and share a video showing the life of a recyclable (made by the Econauts). Over on the other side of campus, Sixth College res-life set the goal to decrease the amount of recyclables found in trash from 33% to 25% by the end of the school year. They plan to increase programming geared towards correct trash disposal, and put up extra signage to increase student awareness on what’s recyclable.

Between Fall and Winter Quarter, every college (including Muir) was able to noticeably decrease the amount of recyclables found in their trash EXCEPT Revelle and ERC. During Fall Quarter, 50% of their trash turned out to be RECYCLABLE; this decreased slightly to 47% in Winter Quarter, and we hope to help them continue to bring that percentage down over time. Email us at ucsdeconauts@gmail.com or find us on Facebook if you have any questions on how you can improve your own recycling habits!♣

Credit: Samantha Forrest, Rep. for Econauts

A few weeks ago, US President Trump announced that that US would be backing out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“At what point does America get demeaned?,” President Trump asked during his public press conference announcing the withdrawal. “At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment. We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore.”
Ironically, withdrawing our national commitment to join the rest of the world in lowering our greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperature increases under a 2 C limit (after which it’s much harder to turn back) and transitioning to a clean energy economy is our being unfair to the rest of the world. And hurting our own economy and national security in the process.

I’d say instead of laughing, the rest of the world is crying with many of we Americans as our national leaders stick their heads in the sand.

We Are Still In climate pledge logo

But we are now turning those tears to action.

Over 1,000 mayors, governors, CEO’s, and higher education leaders — including our own UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla — stated loud and clear in response that we are still in to meeting our commitments under the Paris accords. Along with the Chancellors of our sister UC campuses and UC President Janet Napolitano, Chancellor Khosla joins climate leaders like California Governor Gerry Brown, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, Mayor of New York City Bill De Blasio, and the leadership of companies like Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft, Nike, Amazon, Gap, and Facebook, among others.

We are still in to lower our greenhouse emissions, lead the world in climate science and technological research and innovation, and collaborate with the rest of the world in slowing the warming that will hurt our health, our economy, and our environment — especially for the most vulnerable among us.

“Climate change is a fact of life that people in Los Angeles and cities around the world live with every day. It is a grave threat to our health, our environment, and our economy — an urgent challenge that requires unprecedented collaboration,” LA Mayor Garcetti explain of his signing the pledge. “The President may be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but L.A. will lead by committing to the goals of the accord — and working closely with over 200 other Climate Mayors as well as governors and CEOs across the U.S. to do the same.”

This weekend we are welcoming His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to campus as our 2017 Commencement keynote speaker, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect or more powerful. He promotes environmental protection and sustainability alongside and in harmony with the promotion of human values, social integrity, compassion, interreligious dialogue, and ethical leadership.

“A man of peace, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama promotes global responsibility and service to humanity,” Chancellor Khosla explained. “These are the ideals we aim to convey and instill in our students and graduates at UC San Diego.”

And the ideals we are still all in to model ourselves as a public university.

Now that is no laughing matter.

Sara McKinstry (@sarajmck)

 

We Are Still In at UC San Diego

UC San Diego Sports Facilities Earth Cube Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On April 27, 2016, Sports Facilities Department and the SFAB Sustainability Committee celebrated the arrival of their new composting “Earth Cubes” with a ribbon cutting ceremony.  In this inaugural composting program, the Sports Facilities Department aims to vastly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill from the RIMAC Annex building. They have been composting the green waste from Peet’s Coffee & Tea and the paper hand towels in the building’s restrooms. As the first department on campus to incorporate composting into their on campus operation, they hope to demonstrate that composting is easy, and encourage other departments to follow their lead.   Click here to watch a video of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Importance of Reporting Leaks at UC San Diego

It may sound dramatic, but you’re essentially flushing money down the toilet if you ignore a water leak.  The reason why leaky faucets keep you up at night shouldn’t be the drip drops down the drain, but rather the environmental impact they have.  To illustrate, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology, “a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons per day.  That would be like flushing your toilet more than 50 times for no reason.”  Therefore, reporting leaks is our civic responsibility.

Saving water is critical for today’s environmental welfare.  California is already in a drought.  Jay Familglietti, a water scientist at NASA, stated in March 2015 that there is only one year of surface water left and when that runs out, California will begin using underground water to supply its 37 million residents. However, ground water is hard to replace because it takes a very long time for this natural process to occur.

We also need to conserve water because there will be ecological consequences.  We will have difficulty feeding animals, which will devastate livestock and endangered species.  Even more, California produces the most vegetation in the United States, and this affects all of America economically and agriculturally.

conserve-water

Fixing leaky plumbing is one of the most effective ways to save water with the least amount of effort from the campus community!  Be sure to report your leak to the right place.  For those in housing and dining areas, contact HDH Maintenance and Custodial. Leaks in sports facilities areas, contact Office of Sports Facilities. Report leaks in University Centers, contact FixIt, and anywhere else on campus, contact Facilities Management via email at wsc@ucsd.edu. Make sure to state your location, the type of leak, and contact details when reporting a leak.

Check out the UC San Diego Sustainability website for tips and tricks for conserving water.

Credit: Connie Li, UC San Diego Student Sustainability Communications Volunteer

 

The Zone Completes Green Office Recertification

UC San Diego Sustainability would like to congratulate UCSD’s The Zone for being the most recent office to be certified through its Green Office Certification Program!

The office was initially certified in 2013 and was just recently recertified, receiving a grade of Silver. The Zone goes “cupless” every other month, and even when providing cups utilizes biodegradable ones. zone recertThey plan on going completely cupless next year to motivate the students who utilize the space to use their own reusable water bottles. The Zone has also partnered with Roger’s Garden to begin composting its tea leaves and filters to reduce its waste even more and give back to the community. Shoutout to The Zone and all of its employees for continuing to help the campus and students while also working to help the environment!

For more information on becoming certified, please visit us on our website http://sustain.ucsd.edu/initiatives/green-office.html or email us at ucsdgoc@gmail.com

Green Office Certification Volunteers Needed

UC San Diego Sustainability is seeking college students interested in volunteer intern positions with our Green Office Certification Program during the ’16-17 academic year.  The program helps campus offices promote resource conservation and receive recognition for their leadership in sustainability.

Applications are due Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 5 PM.  The volunteer position description and responsibilities are listed at the top of the form.

To learn more about the Green Office Certification Program, visit us at http://sustain.ucsd.edu/initiatives/green-office.html