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

We Are Still In at UC San Diego

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)