The End of Recycling as We Know It

Where does recycling go once it leaves your hand?  Since 2001, China has been one of the largest purchasers of American recyclables.  Last year, China stopped buying through Operation National Sword.  How did this impact recycling as we know it?


Learn more about what this means for you and global recycling in National Sword, a new episode from 99% Invisible, a podcast about how design shapes our world.  https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/national-sword/

Free Food Notifications Now Available on the UCSD App!

UPDATE: Departments can now register to send notifications to students when they have leftover food from events here!

Recently, it has become an option to get a notification on your phone every time there is an excess of food from an event on campus! From a sustainability standpoint, this promotes reducing food waste and on top of that, this helps food insecure students across campus! John Weng, the Assistant Director of Associated Students here at UC San Diego and a major part of getting this program up and running was happy to answer some questions we had about the program.

How did you first identify food insecurity as a problem on campus and how did this idea come about as a solution?

“I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Basic Needs Committee as a part of my work with the Associated Students advising the managers of the Triton Food Pantry. Through this work, I learned of a text messaging service at UCSF, where students could subscribe to and receive free food notifications; it was wildly popular. Not only did the service help divert food waste from landfill, it also helped provide meals to students who may need it. 

The timing of campus projects was impeccable. At the time, ITS was also engaging AS on what features students were hoping to see. When I shared the ideas with the AS leadership in 2017 and the Pantry Managers, everyone was excited about the opportunity to integrate food notifications into the UC San Diego app.”

What is the current availability of this program? Is it offered across all colleges?

“The UC San Diego app is available as a download to everyone on the App Store and the Google Play store. Students can get the direct link at: https://mobile.ucsd.edu. Any registered undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies student can receive notifications.”

How long has this feature been available? Can you speak to its successes so far?

“The notification feature rolled out in Fall of 2018 with campus departments slowly gaining access to the application. So far a handful of notifications have been sent out, each time with a few dozen students showing up.”

How to get notifications:

The steps to turn on this notification are pictured below, simply log in, go to your settings, tap notifications, and turn the free food notification on! By logging in to the app, you can also get helpful notifications relating to parking and easy access to class schedules.

#UNLITTER

You may have seen these black and white #UNLITTER stickers popping up across campus and on social media recently – they just arrived from the East Coast! What began with 100 of these stickers being distributed across the University of Florida campus with the intention of promoting environmental consciousness and advocating for action, has become a social movement inspiring people to “unlitter” the planet and their lives. Be sure to check out the @unlitter instagram account, share how you #unlitter, and visit www.unlitter.org to get a sticker!

The objectives of this movement are pretty simple –

  • inspire people to be aware of their actions
  • influence businesses and events to reduce the amount of waste they produce
  • drive social media engagement with @unlitter

Join the movement today!

www.unlitter.org

join@unlitter.org

@unlitter

Profile In Sustainability – Karalani Cross

Karalani Cross | UCSD Staff Member | Founder of Sea & Mist

How did you become interested in sustainability?    

My interest in sustainability is rooted in my early life experiences growing up in San Diego and spending much of my free time outdoors hiking and enjoying the ocean. I grew up going to the La Jolla Cove tide pools with my dad many summers. Spending time in nature instilled a deep appreciation and curiosity about nature. After learning about human environmental impacts in later years, I felt inspired to make some significant life changes as a young adult, such as eating plant-based for the past 9 years. Even seemingly simpler changes, such as using cloth towels instead of paper towels at home and buying used clothes and other items are significant ways I try to reduce my environmental footprint. Although I am certainly not zero waste, I admire people who make these efforts and strive to cause the least amount of waste that I can. I strongly feel that every drop in the bucket to reduce waste counts. In addition, I am fascinated with learning about the natural world from a scientific perspective, and this has instilled more amazement and gratitude for our earth’s natural resources.

Why was it important to you for your business to be as sustainable as possible?    

I feel compelled to reflect on how my day to day actions and resource use impact the environment, so it naturally followed to have my startup business reflect this type of ethic as well. Personally, I wouldn’t be in good conscience having a lucrative business that took no care in its environmental impact. I actually held off on pursuing this business for over a year after I realized how much packaging materials I would need to ship my products. For instance, I wasn’t comfortable buying new plastics, such as bubble wrap, to ensure the products didn’t break. However, over the past few months I began to brainstorm ways to get around contributing to more waste. I started reaching out to various businesses in the community asking them if they could help me with my goal of making less packaging waste by giving me their used packaging materials. I contacted less than 10 businesses/organizations, and the UCSD Sustainability Resource Center and Textbooks department were the two organizations that said they would be able to donate their used packaging items to me. I was absolutely thrilled, and still feel very grateful that UCSD has centers and people with this type of ethic.    

Additionally, I wanted to create an artistic product that people would feel good supporting. When I buy a product, being aware of where it comes from and how it’s made is really important to me. I’m interested if it was produced using sustainable or recycled materials, and I am always thrilled to find reused products because this means less environmental resources are being used and less waste created. At Mist & Sea, many of my air plant designs use at least one upcycled design material. These are design items I’ve found at used art supply stores or thrift stores that are in beautiful condition. Any packaging materials are made of at least 95% recycled materials or were previously used. One of my future goals is to use all upcycled design materials!

Overall, the theme behind Mist & Sea is appreciating the beauty of our natural world through designs that incorporate nature, such as live air plants, rocks, wood, sand, and stone. Creating artistic designs that incorporate live plants and natural elements while having a minimal footprint is fundamental to how I am operating my business. I hope very soon to find an organization working towards conservation of the environment to donate a percentage of profit to.

Where did the idea for your business originate?    

My passion to create art, love for nature, and desire to bring peace to my life and others is what lead me to create Mist & Sea. Many of us live and work in places that are far away from nature, including myself. Although beaches or mountains may be close distance-wise, many of us don’t physically go there often because we are busy with work other other life responsibilities. If you are someone who is able to enjoy nature frequently, then that is wonderful, but I think many people aren’t able to do this. For the most part, my designs place items in their natural form together in a way that you may bring into your home or office. I have had an artistic passion since I was a child, so it’s very enjoyable for me to create these designs that revolve around outdoor materials. Nature is the real artist, I’m just an intermediary.    

My hope is that bringing these naturalistic elements into urban settings will be a joyful addition to others lives. There is certainly research that suggests that there are health benefits to having plants close by. Likely due to the influence of my background in psychology, I have been interested in ways to increase sense of well-being and pleasure in life, so I very much hope that these creations create a more peaceful and joyful atmosphere wherever they go.

Where can people support your eco-friendly business and buy your air plant designs? 

People can support my eco-friendly business by visiting my online shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MistandSea.
I am currently working on creating more designs for my shop since it is very new!  Feel free to message me through my shop page if there are any custom designs you might be interested in that you don’t see (e.g., including moss, creating a color themed design, or a design that a loved one would like!). I greatly appreciate your support and interest in Mist & Sea.

UC San Diego wins Smart Energy Decision Innovation Award

In recognition of its outstanding achievement in supporting the energy transformation currently taking place throughout the country, it was recently announced that UC San Diego was a 2019 recipient of a prestigious “Smart Energy Decisions Customer Project Innovation Award.”  This is just one more in a long list of accolades the campus has received for having one of the largest, most innovative university charging infrastructures in the country.  Read more here!

Bin Buddies

New year, new look! Facilities Management and the Sustainability Programs Office are transitioning all campus office and cubicle trash and recycling containers to Bin Buddies starting this month.

Custodians will replace all Scripps Institution of Oceanography bins first and then move to the main campus, working west to east by college, finishing mid-2019. The new system will ensure that everyone has small trash bins and large recycling bins without liners in order to make recycling easier while saving resources. Many campuses, including UC Berkeley, are using this system already with great success. You can learn what goes into your blue recycling bin versus your black trash bin by visiting recycle.ucsd.edu.

In addition, Facilities Management and the Sustainability Programs Office will be rolling out new signage from Recycle Across America on recycling and trash bins in hallways and common areas or kitchenettes in all state-funded buildings. Already used by places like Disneyland, our national parks, and Whole Foods, the new Recycle Across America signs will remind all of us to recycle. Bin Buddies and the new signage are part of UC San Diego’s effort to become zero waste.

HDH Eco-Container Pilot Program

UC San Diego Housing•Dining•Hospitality (HDH) is currently piloting a reusable to-go container program available at two on-campus dining locations, Roots and Pines in Muir College. When visiting either of these locations, you can swipe your ID to check out a container and fill it up at a self-serve station or pass a closed container to an employee at any food station.  When finished with it, simply rinse the container out, and then return the container to any residential dining facility. The UCSD Sustainability Resource Center reached out to HDH to find out more about this initiative and how it’s going so far.  Dave DeCaro, the Director of Marketing & Communications at HDH, got back to us with some great answers, providing more insight about the future of this program:  

How was this project started? Where did the initial interest in starting a program like this come from?

“It has been the goal of Dining Services for some time to reduce single use packaging in our operations. With the UC Zero Waste initiative, now more than ever this is a focus for us. Our student advisory committee identified reusable to-go containers as a point of emphasis for us last academic year, and we set about building a program to bring this to campus. Our current program was inspired by the success of a similar program at UC Irvine, and through reaching out to our contacts in University and College Food Services around the country, we were able to come up with what we feel is the best plan for a program like this to be successful at UC San Diego. The use of reusable to-go containers is something that we have tried to integrate into our practices a few times in the past 5 years, but our previous pilots at Café Ventanas and Oceanview lacked interested from the community at that time. With the current climate surrounding sustainability, now more than ever we are seeing an interest from our community and core customers in reducing their use of single use plastic items, and we’re confident and excited that this program will make an impact.”

What are the current goals of HDH with this project? Do you hope to expand across all the dining halls on campus?

“Our initial goals with this project are to determine how to best implement this program in a manner that will make it as customer friendly as possible, and that will encourage our customers – student, staff and faculty – to become active partners in our efforts to reduce single use packaging in our environment. Over the course of Winter and Spring Quarter we will track our success based on customer participation, container re-use, and reduction of single use packaging used at Pines and Roots. Our long term goal is to make this a program that is successful with our guests and operationally sustainable so that it can be expanded to include Residential Dining Facilities in all six colleges.”

This program has now been launched for a few days. Can you speak to its initial success? Are these reusable containers something that students seem interested in?  

“We’ve been pleased with the success of this program after its first week – we’ve seen increased participation each day of the program, and we’re now up to 36 active participants in the program. Compared to our previous pilots, this is already the most successful program we’ve instituted. We’re still working to get the message out to our residents through tabling, advertising in residential spaces and social media. UC San Diego is a diverse community with a number of different prospective – It’s clear to us that while l interest may be varied across the student body as a whole, there is a large community of students here at UC San Diego that are interested in the program and are passionate about making environmentally conscious decisions in how they dine with us. We’ve been pleased with the initial interest in the program and are looking forward to helping it to grow.”

Sign up for the HDH Community Plan to receive a 20% discount at all HDH restaurants and markets.

Did you know Roots is the University’s first exclusively vegan eatery and lounge? Click here to learn more about sustainable dining in HDH.

Profile in Sustainability – Ian Clampett

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Ian Clampett | B.A. Political Science – International Relations | Class of 2010

Why is sustainability meaningful to you?

From a young age, I was ingrained with a deep sense of appreciation for our local environment. As a native San Diegan, I was fortunate enough to have a father who taught me how to love and respect the ocean through the sport of surfing. The countless hours spent in the water over the last 20 years have instilled in me a strong passion to protect this natural resource so that my son and daughter can enjoy it the same way I did.  

Could you talk about your work pertaining to environmental protection, land use, transportation, water, etc.?

As the Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director for Councilman Chris Cate, it is my responsibility to manage the legislative affairs of the office by providing sound analysis, research, and advice to guide the Councilman’s policy decisions. In the four years I have worked for Councilman Cate, I have had the opportunity to advise him in his role as the previous Vice Chair of the Environment Committee and former member of the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee. In addition to serving on these committees, our office has published policy recommendations for municipal stormwater regulations, citywide sustainability goals, illegal dumping enforcement, reforms to water department operations, and drought policy standards.

You’ve worked at the City of San Diego for several years now. What are some changes you’ve seen/helped implement to improve sustainability efforts for the city?

The City of San Diego was ranked the “greenest city” in the United States by a recent WalletHub report. A significant contributor to this achievement was the City’s adoption of a Climate Action Plan, an ambitious strategy approved in 2015 by the City Council that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and provide all of the City’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2035. As Councilman Cate’s advisor for the Environment Committee, I am proud to have recommended the adoption of this plan and worked on its approval.

Furthermore, during Councilman Cate’s time on the Environment Committee, the City made significant strides in developing a new, locally-controlled source of water through the Pure Water project, the largest infrastructure endeavor in the City’s history. By 2035, this project will provide one-third of the City’s potable water needs. Pure Water will also help meet the City’s renewable energy goals by utilizing captured methane gas from the Miramar Landfill to power operations at the new North City Pure Water Facility. The first phase of this project will break ground in 2019.  

Finally, our office has been working directly with UC San Diego’s Sustainability team to create a partnership between the university and local breweries to convert spent grain, a byproduct of the brewing process, into renewable energy via anaerobic digestion. This partnership will not only help keep this substance away from local landfills, but it will assist the City and UC San Diego in meeting their respective Zero Waste goals, while creating a new, clean, and local source of energy.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while pursuing your degree at UC San Diego?

As a Political Science – International Relations major, learning how to formulate and defend an argument through rigorous research was vital to my growth and development as a student. This skill was taught consistently amongst my professors and at the highest level. I am proud to have been a part of UC San Diego’s acclaimed international relations program. Now working in the political world, the skills I learned at UC San Diego have proven to be critical to my responsibility to develop and defend policy solutions for San Diego’s most pressing issues.

(Posted 11/15/2018)

2018-19 Global Food Initiative Fellows

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(From left to right: Christiana Schlutius, Luke Lindgren, Erica Ferrer, and Belinda Ramirez)

The University of California President’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) Student Fellowship Program funds student-generated research, related projects, or internships that focus on food issues. All 10 UC campuses, plus the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, participate in this program. The UC San Diego Bioregional Center is proud to announce the 2018-19 GFI Student Fellows and Student Ambassador: Christiana Schlutius, Luke Lindgren, Erica Ferrer, and Belinda Ramirez. See below to read more about the Fellows’ projects, such as conducting cooking demos to encourage healthy eating, developing data-collecting prototypes to help grow food in greenhouses more sustainably, and using visual media to bring to light the importance of small-scale fisheries for global food security.

As a GFI Fellow, Christiana strives to improve food security among UC San Diego students. One way of doing this is to connect healthy, fresh produce from Roger’s Community Garden (the largest community garden on campus) to the Triton Food Pantry. To facilitate this process, Christiana will conduct weekly cooking demos at The Hub on Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm, featuring the same fresh produce served at the pantry. Check out the first cooking demo from this year, “Cooking on a Student Budget.” The goal of these demos is to help educate students on how to use the food they receive and to build meal preparation skills.

Luke’s GFI project centers around the creation of a smart, aquaponic greenhouse that utilizes off-the-shelf technologies. While this test greenhouse will be relatively small, it is hoped that any lessons learned from this experience can be used to help the University of California campuses grow food in a more sustainable manner. Unfortunately, green and smart technologies have a high cost of entry and knowledge, so Luke has joined forces with a group of coders and gardeners to start the group Computer Science for Agriculture with the goal of training others to set up production sensor and control nodes. These nodes, or “boxes,” can do anything from monitor the temperature and pH of soil and water to gather atmospheric data like gas concentrations. While still in the prototype phase, Luke and his team aim to get several of these “boxes” up and running so that they can install them in the greenhouses at Roger’s Community Garden on campus.

Erica is a second-year Ph.D. student at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Dr. Octavio Aburto’s lab. As part of the Aburto lab, she is interested in questions related to sustainability across marine systems, focusing her graduate research on small-scale fisheries ecology in Latin America. Did you know that anywhere from 30-50% of the world’s seafood is supplied by small-scale fisheries? The catch from small-scale fisheries and industrial fisheries alike comprise an important component of global food security, while contributing to the economic vitality of communities across every continent. But how sustainable are these food systems with respect to their environment? With collaboration and guidance from Zack Osborn, Student and Community Engagement Specialist for the Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning, and Design, Erica is working to produce a video that outlines fisheries research being conducted at the University of California and beyond. She hopes that this video will demonstrate successful ways to sustainably fish from the ocean without resorting to destructive and unhealthy practices.

Belinda’s efforts as this year’s UC San Diego GFI Student Ambassador will focus on strengthening the connections between UC GFI Student Ambassadors across the UC system by collaborating and maintaining consistent communication. As a former GFI Fellow, she believes that this will have the effect of helping the UC San Diego GFI Fellows understand their role in the larger UC Global Food Initiative. Using her experience with event programming and social organizing, Belinda hopes to connect UC San Diego students with sustainability and food organizations, initiatives, and events on campus, including the many gardens on campus. This can help to create a stronger push toward bringing sustainability, food, and agricultural issues to the foreground at UC San Diego. Belinda is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology. Her dissertation research—which explores the intersections of race, politics, place, and values within the urban agriculture movement in San Diego and Tijuana—builds off of her work as a GFI Fellow and Student Ambassador.

Profile in Sustainability – Jared Senese

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Jared Senese | Bachelor’s Degree, Electrical and Electronics Engineering| Class of 2017 

Why is sustainability meaningful to you, and how did you first become interested in renewable energy?

Sustainability is a way to beat the system. No one wants to go green unless there’s a profit. That’s what sustainability does. I’ve always had an interest in renewable energy, I had this naive image of it being the future, similar to flying cars. The more I learned about it, the more I was able to realistically picture renewable methods being used in today’s world. I will continue to consciously use, and actually re-use reusable bags, along with support companies that want to make a cleaner planet.

Could you talk about your experience working at the bike shop on campus and why alternative transportation methods are important to reducing emissions? 
I’ve grown up mountain biking. I’ve also grown up with the mindset of saving money and spend modestly, which is why I drive a 2000 PT Cruiser that costs $2000 and barely passes smog. Biking, along with public transportation is by far the way to go in order to not only reduce emissions, but also traffic and basically just make life less stressful. Unfortunately, San Diego is awful when it comes to planning public transit and they simply don’t care. Their solution is to simply make more houses so there’s even more traffic, so people’s lives are even more stressful. So how does a San Diegan fight this? With bikes! I ride wherever I can. I’ve done grocery trips on my bike and encourage many others to do the same as well. It’s my way of giving those politicians a middle finger.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while pursuing your degree at UC San Diego?
I learned that UCSD is filled with competitive students and you can get caught up competing against them and hating life. You can reach deep, dark places of misery and never see a light at the end of the tunnel. I envisioned working as an engineer would be the same as pursuing my Engineering degree in college, except with an angry boss that would always get upset with you. Fortunately, I am so thankful that this isn’t true. Engineering is booming right now. My current team with Keysight Technologies is always encouraging and supporting me. I couldn’t ask for a better company dynamic. All the hard work and grinding I did in college has paid off, and I encourage all engineers at UCSD that it is worth it. I had a college GPA of 2.7 and had to retake two classes, so it’s alright if you’re not the stellar student with the highest GPA (though I will say it is nice to have a high GPA).