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♣