Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Contest Winners

Lasell College recently hosted a greenhouse gas reduction contest. In this contest, students wrote proposals on how Lasell could reduce our carbon footprint. I was not a judge as I had helped students develop the proposals. Now that the contest is over, I have had an opportunity to read them over and I must say, the entries were all great. Students proposed carpooling plans, solar panel initiatives, recycling programs, and even lighting conversion programs. In the end, the committee had to select two winners. First-place and the prize of $750 went to Andrew Gundlach and Dan Iles. The runner-up was Felicia Tempesta.

Andrew and Dan's proposal had three main components. First, they proposed reducing the set-point of campus thermostats. They surveyed area colleges and discovered the set-point was much higher than on other campuses. They also surveyed students and found most complained about the temperature being too hot. Second, they proposed using electricity management technology on campus that would reduce consumption by over 25%. Finally, the proposal called for the creation of a course called Environmental Assessment and Change. Their proposal was well researched and organized in a clear and concise format.

Felicia proposed a solar power project on campus. In her proposal, Felicia did a great job of researching costs and identifying sources of financial assistance. It was clear from Felicia's entry that a solar panel project is something Lasell could do.

While there were only two winning proposals for this contest, the other entries certainly will not end up in the circle file. Students that submitted proposals did a tremendous amount of research and proposed ideas that could be implemented on campus to reduce our footprint. The Green Campus Task Force and the President will continue to consider all of the ideas.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to to everyone who submitted an entry. We appreciate your hard work and clever ideas.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

101 Ways to Reuse a Nalgene Bottle

Nalgene recently announced they will be phasing out their hard-plastic bottles that are made with bisphenol A. This moves comes in response to growing concerns over the health risks of the chemical. Today, I welcome a guest blog entry from my sister as she explores clever ways to reuse a Nalgene bottle. Feel free to share your ideas and add to her list.. MD

101 Ways to Reuse a Nalgene Bottle

During a casual conversation with my coworkers this morning, I asked if they had heard that Nalgene is no longer making their hard plastic bottles. One of my coworkers replied that she had seen a segment on The Today Show and proceeded to throw all of her hard plastic bottles away. I was struck by her words. She threw them all away.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Those are three words we often hear but it seems recycle gets most of the attention. Although many people may not be throwing away their water bottles, I think we quickly need to bring “reuse” to the attention of all those planning on doing just that.

Years ago, I converted my favorite pink Nalgene bottle into a watering can for my plants at school. This occurred after catching a person I barely knew taking a sip out of it. I was simply too distraught to ever use it again. While sitting at my desk this morning, looking at my pink watering bottle and thinking about what my coworker had said, I decided to take a few minutes with a few of my middle school students to brainstorm more uses for the Nalgene bottles. Hopefully, word will spread and these and many more creative uses will save the Nalgenes from the landfills.

Vase (remove the cap)
Water bottle for non-drinking purposes
Bug catcher (catch and release)
Pollywog catcher (catch and release)
Hold your fish while cleaning the tank
Hold pet food for travel
Make a 1st aid kit and keep it in your car
Pen, pencil, or magic marker holder
Protective case for glasses or sunglasses
Protective case for delicate items when traveling
A hat, for when you need to draw names out of a hat
Nail holder or even a nail polish holder
Create a travel game and keep the pieces in the bottle
Collection keeper for buttons, ticket stubs, bottle caps…
Spare change keeper (Donate to your favorite charity when you fill it up)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dumpster Diving

On Friday, I was forwarded information about a company that several graduates of Lasell College are associated with. The company is called IzzitGreen. I went to the company web page to see what they were about. They have an interesting idea of providing a place to discuss "Is it good?" and "Is it green?" They are coming to Boston soon.

While I was on the site, I took a glance at the poll they had set up. The poll asked how far you would be willing to go to be green. One of the choices was dumpster diving. Dumpster diving? I had never heard of this so I did what I always do when I need more information- I googled it (notice I just used Google as a verb). From Google I ended up on the Wikipedia entry for Dumpster Diving and discovered this is actually a fairly common practice. People sift through dumpsters to discover items that they may be able to use. Trash to treasure! It has all kinds of slang names as listed on Wikipedia including urban foraging, binning, alley surfing, Curbing, D-mart, Dumpstering, garbaging, garbage picking, garbage gleaning, skip-raiding, skip diving, skipping, skip-weaseling, tatting, skally-wagging or trashing. In the end, I decided I would not go this far to be green and checked the box. 47% of the survey respondants agreed with me. It is interesting that 5% of the voters would rather dumpster dive than take pubic transportation.

I then realized dumpster diving is quite popular on You Tube. You have to look at this story. These guys get all their food from dumpsters. They do this not because they don't money to buy food but rather as a way to demonstrate how to live simply in a country that is filled with over consumption and waste. I am not about to start promoting dumpster diving by Lasell College student as a way to go green. Probably the best thing students could do is prevent food from ending up in the dumpster (or garbage disposal) in the first place. Only take what you are going to eat and choose vegetables and fruit as much as possible.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time to Take Notice

If you have not seen it yet, you need to take a look at the cover of the current edition of Time Magazine. The cover shows the famous Rosenthal photograph of the marines at Iwo Jima with one modification. Instead of hoisting flag, the marines are hoisting a tree. The feature of the issue is How to Win the War on Global Warming and it is only the second time in the magazine's history that the edging is a color other than red.

This was a bold move by Time and they knew there would be a response. Many veterans are voicing how they are offended by the cover. One Iwo Jima veteran is quoted as saying "Whoever did this is going to hell." Check out some of the comments on the ecorazzi blog. This cover has people fired up and split down the middle.

When Lester Brown was at Lasell College earlier this winter. He stressed that we need a war-time effort immediately to combat global change. The effort is not just about slowing global warming. We need this effort to ensure we can feed all the people on the planet. It breaks my heart to hear about the increasing number of food shortages around the world. In this cover, Time was trying to capture this sentiment that a war-like effort is needed. As unsettled as the world was in the 1940's, imagine the global conflicts when nations don't have enough food.

Many older members of the audience that night shared stories of World War II and the sense of patriotism that made the war effort work. American patriotism is about love of country and a commitment to the welfare of the planet (see the Declaration of New Patriotism). Americans have an opportunity to do something even greater than what was accomplished in World War II. We have the opportunity, as Lester Brown would say, to "mobilize to save civilization." The Iwo Jima photograph is one of the great symbols of American patriotism. People are proud of what America did in World War II and this photograph captures that emotion. I think Time Magazine is not only saying in this cover that a war-time effort is needed, but also that we need a renewed sense of patriotism. Not just a patriotism for our country, but for our planet.

I'm sorry that the Time cover offends veterans. Please don't be offended. It is because of your efforts that Time Magazine has the freedom to print what they want. Time is using a photograph that is very iconic to impress upon Americans the critical situation we face. We have the potential to do something even greater than what we accomplished in World War II. Now we need to mobilize to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What About Water?

I've spent quite a bit of time on this blog discussing energy use on the Lasell College campus. I want to switch gears today to discuss something I know much more about- water. I spent five years studying the transpiration of water from trees. I can tell you the significance of water to sustaining life on Earth. Life depends on water. Globally, an increasing number of people are facing water quality and quantity issues.

We are all familiar with tools to calculate our carbon footprint. Now, a group of water resource researchers at the University of Twente are promoting awareness of water footprints.

Cruising their web site is enlightening. While it is easy to comprehend the quantity of water we consume bathing or cooking, the water used in the production of goods and services is not so transparent. The group has done some life cycle assessment of various goods and services and calculated the water footprint. Let me give you a few examples. To produce 1 kg of beef consumes 16,000 liters of water. Producing 1 apple uses 70 liters of water and to produce 1 glass of apple juice takes 190 liters of water.

I encourage you to take a look at their site. It is interesting and probably something you have not considered. They propose a concept of water neutrality. What does a water neutral college campus look like? That is something I will have to think about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Picture in Blue

I was a proud parent this morning. It wasn't because my son took his first steps or finally said Dad while looking at me. This morning I was proud because my son was decked out in his blue outfit to celebrate Earth Day and signal his opposition to new coal-fired power plants. That's right, at 10 months my son is already an activist. He is joining millions of others today in wearing blue as part of an ambitious program to move Congress to put a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants. The program goes beyond just wearing blue. While my son can't, you should dial Congress at 202.224.3121 and demand a moratorium on coal. Halting coal will slow global warming and improve our air quality.

I hope to see students all over the Lasell College campus today wearing blue. I've invited students, faculty, and staff to join me in the new Environmental Studies Classroom. We will gather to have some treats and celebrate Earth Day. Most importantly, we will collectively call Congress and ask for a moratorium on coal.

As Democratic candidates rely on key votes from coal producing states such as Pennsylvania, Illinois, and West Virginia, it is clear these candidates cannot be counted on to halt coal. The rest of Washington has to get the message and millions of phone calls today may make a big impression. Please join this cause today and call your representatives.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Andrew Ference Takes the T

You don't know who Andrew Ference is? Hockey doesn't get the respect it deserves in Boston anymore. Ference is a defenseman for the Boston Bruins. In case you forgot, the Boston Bruins are a club in the National Hockey League. I should disclose up front I am a huge hockey fan and my team is the Montreal Canadiens. I grew up close to Montreal.

As I was waiting for the Red Line in Harvard Square this morning, I heard a public service announcement by Ference. In the message, Ference promotes using the T and states he uses it to get around in Boston. He even said he uses it to get to and from work.

I investigated further when I arrived at my office. Does Ference really take the T to and from home games in the TD Banknorth Garden? I was skeptical. I found this interview with Ference and it turns out the guy really is devoted to being green. Ference considers himself to be an active environmentalist which is pretty rare for a professional athlete. He usually walks to the Garden, he doesn't own a car, he uses ZipCar, and takes the T to get around Boston.

I was impressed after reading this interview. I typically think of professional athletes driving around in Hummers and other excessive vehicles. I like the Play It Green Blog I stumbled upon. Students in Lasell's Athletic Training and Sports Management Department should read it. It has some great examples of how athletes and teams are working to be more green.

Nice job Andrew! You have just secured yourself a spot on my fantasy hockey team next season.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Cost of Carbon Neutrality

Members of the Green Campus Task Force at Lasell are debating what to recommend to President Alexander regarding climate initiatives on campus. The largest debate revolves around whether Lasell College is capable of becoming carbon neutral. I've had a chance to calculate our footprint and I can share some numbers. In 2007, Lasell College and Lasell Village combined to use over 6.5 kWh of electricity. We also used about 60,000 MMBtu of natural gas and 45,000 gallons of oil. I have not figured out how much gasoline we use in vehicles or energy costs of flying faculty and staff to events and conferences. Bottom line, our carbon footprint is over 8 million pounds of CO2 per year.

To become carbon neutral, we would have to eliminate or offset 8 million pounds of CO2 emissions. How can this be done? To start, we have to reduce our carbon footprint. Changing behavior alone could have a huge impact particular on electricity usage. Maybe 20%-30%? How about reducing the length of showers? We can install new windows and heating systems to improve efficiency. We can zone heating and make other improvements. We can invest in our campus to reduce our footprint as much as possible. Not only will we have a smaller footprint but it will save us money in the long run on as energy costs keep rising.

I began to wonder if we could generate all our electricity needs on site. I backed out some numbers and found that we would need an enormous system of about 5000 kW. We could definitely do some solar but that is a huge system. The cost would be in the tens of millions.

While we certainly can set reduction goals for energy use on campus, if we want to be carbon neutral, we are still probably going to have to buy renewable energy credits. Bonneville Environmental Foundation sells green tags for wind, solar or combination projects. Wind project tags are the least expensive at $20 per tag which offsets 1500 lbs of CO2. We would need about 5,500 tags per year to offset our current carbon footprint. This would cost $110,000 per year.

We need to first reduce our footprint as much as we can. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to get our footprint to zero. Then we are going to have to make a difficult decision. If we want to be carbon neutral, are we willing to purchase offsets each year?

Students at other colleges have taken bold initiatives to address this question. For example, students at Southern Oregon University voted for a $15 per student fee to help offset their carbon footprint. How about it Lasell College students, would you vote in favor of a proposal to add a $15 carbon fee to your tuition?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unfair Burden

According to the 2000 US Census Data, there are 239,528 occupied housing units in the city of Boston. Of those, only 77,226 are owner-occupied. That means over 162,302 housing units are rented representing 67.8% of the units. Why did I look up this data? I had a thought today about energy use in rented homes which made me realize renters are going bear an unfair burden of rising energy costs.

Let me explain my thinking. Most renters are responsible for covering their heating and electricity costs. While the renter incurs the cost of heating and electricity, the unit owner bears the cost of upgrades and maintenance such as new windows, energy efficient refrigerators, and an improved heating system. Here is where I think an unfair burden is placed on renters. The owner of the unit does not have a financial motivation to improve the energy efficiency of the unit as the costs of energy is passed on to the renter.

I started to wonder how many refrigerators purchased in the 1980's are sitting in apartments around Boston. Electricity costs are going to continue to rise and the renter of these apartments are going to bear the cost because the unit owner is not willing to upgrade the appliance.

Putting the financial burden on renters aside, we can also think about this in terms of CO2 emissions. In a city such as Boston that is dominated by rented housing units, we are emitting more CO2 than we should be because unit owners do not have a financial incentive to improve the energy efficiency of the units they own.

I have some advice to graduating Lasell College seniors. As you leave our campus and start looking for your first apartment, think about energy costs. Ask about the age of the windows. Ask about the age of the heating unit. Watch out for apartments heated by electricity. Look at the refrigerator and see if it is energy-star rated. Look for a unit that is energy efficient as it will help the environment and your bottom line. Rent is expensive enough!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Launch Party

I've been wrestling with what to organize on campus for Earth Day. There are so many great ideas out there, but we can't do them all. I've decided that Earth Day is the perfect opportunity for the official Environmental Studies Classroom launch party. The casework has been installed and the room is ready to roll. On Earth Day, exclusive guests (a.k.a. the Lasell community) will be invited to join me in the new Environmental Studies Classroom. I'll bring some yummy goodies from local suppliers and even bake some organic treats.

To be admitted to the launch party, participants are asked to wear blue. Why blue on Earth Day? Wearing blue on Earth Day is a way to signify that you support an immediate moratorium on the construction of new conventional coal-fired power plants. I am also asking all guests to bring their cell phones. I will be asking guests to call their congressional representatives and ask for a halt on coal. This is part of the Call for Climate event.

We will launch the Environmental Studies Classroom in style by informing public policy. The Launch Party will be on Earth Day (April 22nd) from 3:30 to 4:30 in WASS 3/5. Let me know if you are interested in attending and I'll add you to the VIE (Very Important Environmentalist) list.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Soaring Food Prices

The price of food is continuing to soar. I heard this story on NPR this morning confirming that the situation is getting worse. In the interview, representatives from international food aid organizations are reporting that they cannot obtain enough food. The prices are too high to purchase the quantity of food they need to provide aid to poor nations.

As I mentioned in a previous post, rising energy costs and the increase in biofuels are two of the biggest causes of the rise in food prices. It hurts those living in poor nations the most. A resident of a developing nation may spend 60-70% of their income on food. In America, we spend less than 10% of our disposable income on food. As unsettled as the world is, we are adding another source of conflict.

When he visited Lasell College a few months ago, Lester Brown made a comment that has stuck with me. He said bourbon is the only thing we should be refining grains into. World Hunger reports that enough food is produced to feed the world and states that the principle problem is that many people do not have sufficient land or income to obtain enough food. As more calories go into making our automobiles move, the number of people facing this problem is going to increase. Recently, John Ziegler from the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food called the use of crops for biofuel a "crime against humanity"

Friday, April 11, 2008

That's Ecotainment

By Michael Daley

I was in CVS the other day in Harvard Square and decided to check out the magazine stand. Whoa! Look at all the covers with stories about the environment and going green. Newsweek, Time, National Geographic, and Discover all had features on the environment. This is great! We want to see our message passed on to as large of an audience as possible. At the same time, the overwhelming prevalence of features on going green makes me a bit worried. Is the energy going to fade and are people going to get tired of reading about global warming, sustainability, and the loss of biodiversity? Is it just "ecotainment" as it has been recently phrased?

The answer to this question is probably. It is likely that stories about going green and the environment won't continue to sell as well in the future. However, the environmental field has a window of opportunity to take advantage of the spotlight. There is no telling how long the moment will last so we have to jump all over it. Maybe people will hear the message, change will happen, and we will cut carbon emissions and slow global warming. That would be just fine with me. We could define that as success.

The environmental field has gone through many stages in its history. It is now the largest social movement in the world. Some estimate there are over 1 million organizations with a mission related to the environment. There was the conservation movement, the toxic waste movement, the clean air and clean water movement, the global warming movement, and now we are experiencing the green movement. The field will continue to evolve to address current issues. One thing is certain, if eliminating the threat of continued global warming means there will be a reduction in magazine coverage of our field, we are okay with that!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Mary Barbara Alexander

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These are the recycling triad principles and should be the motto of every human concerned about the health of our beloved planet. One of the greatest challenges we face in working to better the state of our Earth is changing human behavior. A good starting place is increasing recycling. But without the other two parts of the triad, reducing and reusing, the positive effects of recycling alone are greatly diminished.

I try to lead by example when it comes to recycling, but I find that most people are simply not aware of how cavalier they are about throwing things away. We have become such a throw-away society that where once it was the norm to return bottles to the store for refund of your deposit, or to use handkerchiefs instead of tissues, linen napkins instead of paper, or to take our groceries home in big cardboard boxes, now people just use things once and throw them in the trash. So sometimes it takes more than example. Sometimes you just have to re-educate people and train them to think in a different mindset.

I recently hired new housecleaning help. I use all environmentally friendly cleaners, rags that get washed and reused until they fall apart, and have a big bucket for emptying all the wastebaskets and transferring to the big trashcan in the garage so that I don’t have to waste a bunch of plastic bags for trash. In spite of my instruction to the new cleaners not to use paper towels for cleaning, I walked in to find one of them wiping the refrigerator with--you guessed it--paper towels. They are so used to using up to a whole roll of paper towels every time they clean a house that it is difficult for them to adjust to using a perfectly clean, soft, absorbent rag that is even better than paper for polishing windows or stainless steel. I reminded her that I will not tolerate the waste of resources and that trees are cut down to make paper and then the paper has to be processed in the trash. It sometimes seems like a losing battle because old habits die hard. But I keep insisting and even show pictures of piled up trash, mountains of plastic bags and deforested areas or print out guidelines for going green to give them.

Education is the key to change. We must all keep informed about best environmental practices, incorporate those practices into our daily lives, and finally, find ways to make those practices habit for everyone. So first, lead by example; find ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. And then, be an advocate; take opportunities to help your friends and family be more conscious of how they use and dispose of materials. Check out

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rising Costs of the Undergraduate Experience

There is no hiding the fact that attending college is an expensive endeavor. Certainly, it is well worth the cost particularly at a great place like Lasell College. The US Census reveals that a college degree nearly doubles annual earnings. While financial aid, loans, and assistance from mom and dad may help to cover tuition costs, there are still those other expenses that directly hit students. Things like maintaining a car, textbooks, and the iced lattes all add up. For those students that are of the legal age and choose to consume alcohol in a socially responsible manner, I have some more bad news. Beer prices are rising!

What? How can this be? Rising oil prices and global warming are two of the major reasons. Farmers can choose what type of crop to grow on their land. As oil prices continue to rise, more farmers are choosing to grow crops that can be turned into ethanol. If farmers choose to grow a crop to be turned into ethanol, there will be less crop available for things like cereal and beer. Recently, there has been a significant decrease in the production of hops and barley resulting in rising costs. Add to this the impact of global warming. A study in New Zealand found that global warming is resulting in lower yields of malting barley because of less precipitation.

It is scary that our food economy is linked to our oil economy. Biofuels are not the answer to global warming. To grow the crops that are turned into fuels means there will be less crop produced for food. Food prices will rise. Dining Services at Harvard University recently had to adjust their menu because food prices had risen so quickly in the middle of a budgeted year. The cost of dining plans are likely to increase at most schools.

As the potential to make money from ethanol continues to increase, it is also a threat to natural resources across the globe. Particularly in the Amazon where deforestation is increasing to make way for soy production. Soy production is increasing in the Amazon as American farmers are dropping soy for corn that can be turned into ethanol. In terms of carbon sequestration, forests are much better than farms. Clearing forests to grow fuel is not a good idea.

Biofuels are a nice idea but not a sustainable solution to our liquid fuel demands. The rising price of food is going to hurt many people especially the poor. Then there are those college students looking for a cheap cold beer. Sorry guys.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Catalog Bombardment

I am excited to share with you the first guest blog on Many of my views on the environment have been shaped by my sister Amy. I have invited her to share some of her ideas. MD

Catalog Bombardment
By Amy Kobak

Ah, spring. It’s that beautiful time of year when mail order companies begin to bombard me with catalogs full of everything from bathing suits and beach towels to trolls and snake repellant for my garden. But not this year! On January 2, (I never make resolutions on the first) I decided that it was time to do something about the ridiculous number of catalogs that I was receiving. Even though I always recycle the catalogs that come to me and many of them are now made from partially recycled content, I considered the sheer volume of catalogs to be a waste for so many reasons. So, I came up with a plan of attack with the intension of sharing my findings with my siblings, including Professor Daley, so they could attempt to do the same.

It started with a little notebook and a pencil that I kept on my kitchen counter. For the entire month of January I wrote down the name of every catalog that came to my mailbox. I also wrote the name of the person it was addressed to, the mailing address on the catalog, and any of the numbers that I could find, you know, the ones in the little blue and yellow boxes. I was surprised to find that in some cases, I was receiving multiple copies of the same catalog due to variations in the name or address. At the end of the four weeks I contacted each catalog company either through their website or by phone and asked to be removed from their mailing lists. This took a while, but I got through them all. I was generally told I would probably receive one or two more catalogs since the mailing labels are printed well in advance but that after that I shouldn’t receive anymore catalogs. I have been pleasantly surprised. It actually seems to have worked and I don’t miss the catalogs at all. Besides, there is always the internet if I feel the need to see what’s new in catalog land.

While not everyone may choose to follow the plan of attack that I chose, it would make a difference if each person could choose one or two catalogs and request removal from the mailing lists. is a free website dedicated to this cause. I only recently learned about this site but it seems as though it will do some of the work for you. I am planning on trying this method out as well.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome President Alexander

Today, Lasell College will be celebrating the inauguration of Michael Alexander as our ninth president. There is a lot of energy and excitement on campus as students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends gather to celebrate. An academic colloquium, an installation ceremony, and a gala are all planned. It is great to finally have the opportunity to formally welcome President Alexander to our community.

Events that bring together large numbers of people to a college campus are great. They encourage discussion, provide opportunities for networking, and invigorate the campus. However, typically there is also an environmental cost to such events. Food and drink are provided at receptions throughout the day and a large amount of waste may be generated. It is great to see that planners of the inauguration have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of the event. For example, during the luncheon they will be using washable cups, plates, and silverware. Certainly, disposable products would be much easier to manage given the large number of people. I'm sure there will still be plenty of waste generated today but I am glad to see that the planning committee has taken steps to reduce the environmental impact.

I hope by next time Lasell College has an inauguration, planning an event that is completely green will be simple. I think the tide is starting to turn as companies are beginning to respond to the demand. Soon costs of green products will fall and they will become mainstream. I also think it is important that event planners are educated on how to produce green events. Lasell College has a Hospitality and Event Management major. I would love to see students in this major taking environmental studies courses. I think a student with a major in Hospitality and Event Management and a minor in Environmental Studies would be in a great position as they enter the job market. The trend towards green is going to continue and students should position themselves to compete.

President Alexander has been very supportive of environmental initiatives on campus. He initiated the Green Campus Task Force and I look forward to seeing how he responds to the groups recommendations. I think a leader with interest and concern for the environment comes at the right time. Congratulations President Alexander!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ice Cream Season

The weather is starting to warm up and ice cream is once again starting emerge. I have to admit I am an ice cream addict and it never really goes away for me in the winter. During the summer months, we walk to Baskin-Robbins every Tuesday night in Harvard Square for their $1 scoop night. I've decided I am going to change my behavior a bit this summer. Sometimes I get a cone but other times a dish. I've decided I am now only going to get my ice cream in a cone. Why? Because a cone has less waste. The only waste with a cone is the small paper wrapping which I can recycle. However, if I get a dish of ice cream I then throw away the dish and the plastic spoon I used. It may seem like a little matter but if every customer on those warm Tuesday nights in Cambridge chose a cone instead of a cup, there would be a lot less waste.

Students in the dining hall at Lasell have the same choice. Ice cream cones are available as are dishes that can be carried out of the dining hall. This is one of those situations where students have the opportunity to make a choice. The environment probably does not cross their mind in the cone vs. bowl decision. My goal at Lasell is to get students thinking about the environmental consequences of their choices. They may still choose the less favorable option but I hope they are at least aware of the environmental impact. With awareness, better decisions will eventually be made. As the Environmental Studies Major starts, students in the major will surely help spread awareness across campus. By changing one behavior at a time, we will slowly become a more sustainable community.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lasell Day

Saturday was Lasell Day on campus. Prospective students and their families were invited to campus to meet with faculty and staff about the programs and student life at Lasell. It was a huge success this year as over 400 prospective students came to campus.

Lasell Day gave me the opportunity to meet with prospective environmental studies students. I walked away extremely excited about these students and I hope they choose our program. In speaking with two of the students, it emerged that they have interest and knowledge in raising turtles. In fact, one student has experience at her high school raising northern red bellied cooter hatchlings! She had some great ideas such as growing lettuce hydroponically in the lab to cut down on food costs. The other student has a turtle tank at home! I do not have much experience in raising turtles and I would love to have the help of students with knowledge of these organisms.

The lab looks great and we are continuing to add equipment. The turtle tank is now operational and we have grow lights for the plants. The classroom space is starting to have the environmental feel we were hoping for. I'm excited for the start of our major and looking forward to our first cohort of Environmental Studies Majors.