Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reasons to Recycle

Recycling is frequently promoted in newspapers, magazines and even in our campus. Many people are wondering what is recycling for? What is the benefit of recycling? Why is it important to recycle? Here I am going to share some of the benefits that might show you that recycling is good for you, the manufacturer, and the environment.

  1. When we recycle, we also save energy that is created using non-renewable resources such as coal and oil.
  2. Recycle helps conserve landfill space. Everything that goes to landfill, stays there. Thus, if we can keep all recyclables out of the landfills, we may conserve the space and keep air and water cleaner since the waste in landfill releases the greenhouse gas methane and emit pollution to air and water.
  3. Recycling just ONE aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.
  4. Recycling may also save renewable resources, such as water and trees. A researcher found that if half the amount of paper used in the United States is recycled, we can save up to 705 million trees.
  5. A recycling facility creates 5 times more job opportunities than garbage collection and landfill management agencies.
  6. Using recycled products also reduce pollution. Products made using recycled rather than raw materials use significantly less energy, which translates into less burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. When burned, these fuels release pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide.

Now you know what are the benefits of recycling, therefore let's start to recycle !




Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Green Team officially started on October 2011. We have six Green Team members in this year, and we all have different focus area such Energy Management Specialist, Marketing and Digital Media  Specialist, Waste Stream Coordinator, Community Garden Specialist, Consultant and our Advisor.

The previous Green Team did such an incredible work in the EDCC campus which is the Community Garden and the Solar Panel.  The community garden kicked off in March of 2012 thanks to the effort of horticulture professor Zsofia Pasztor. The biggest news is that if anyone who is interested to be the volunteer in the community garden where is next to MDL Hall, you can work in there Tuesdays from 12:30 PM-2:30 PM, and Thursdays from 10 AM-12 PM. Also, the hours that you work in the community garden can be counted to the Center for Service Learning, and even can take the home fresh, local produce in exchange for your time.

The solar panel was completed in December 2011 by A&R Solar where is located in the Snoqualmie Hall. It provide 2.34 kW array also serves as the centerpiece of the planned campus rose garden, for the enrichment of all students and faculty.

On the other hand, all of the Green Team member had joined the 2012 Los Angles Conference Expo that was held by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). It is best way to get an idea of the breath of exciting initiatives ongoing at our campus. During the AASHE, we had joined several different sustainability workshops which were focusing on the community engagement, public outreach and student activism. These workshops were held from the student who cames from different university; thus, we exchanged our idea on sustainability issue to each other.

This year, one of our biggest focus areas as the whole Green Team is the recycling project. We will participate to the Recycle Mania contest which starts on February 3rd until April 12nd in next year. Basically, the purpose of joining the Recycle Mania is to promote the waste reduction activities to our campus communities. There is over an 8-week period during the spring quarter.  In order to prepare the recycling contest, all of the Green Team is doing the trash talking in every Monday to Friday to educate student of sorting the trash in the Material Management center where is located in the Brier Hall.

If you have any further question, feel free to contact me!
My contact information:
Location: MLT 147
Email: timmy.cheung@email.edcc.edu
Phone: 4256401425

Please click “Like” our Green Team Facebook page.

Takeaways from Sustainability Conference

            Fall quarter the Green Team had the privilege of attending the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference in Los Angeles.  We had a packed five days in Los Angeles attending as many AASHE sessions as possible.  We individually chose the sessions based on our specialties and interests and later shared what we learned with the team.  Of course I went to several community garden and food related sessions. 
            More than the sessions themselves, I found the time interacting with other students the most valuable part of the conference.   I met students from all over the nation who are committed to making fresh, organic food accessible to their community be it through growing, teaching how to grow or purchasing food.   A student from Green Mountain College in Vermont spoke of how she brought together her community through a program about something as simple as soup; wholesome, student prepared soup made from local produce served to the campus community in ceramic bowls crafted by local high school students.  A former Berkley student talked of how he with other students founded a sustainable restaurant cooperative near campus.  Several other students communicated how they got farmers markets going on their campuses.   With each conversation new possibilities for campus sustainability presented themselves.  And I was excited to share the possibilities that we turned to reality on our campus, especially in the Community Garden.
            The people I spoke to at the conference were audibly impressed by what we have done with our Community Garden particularly the number of garden beds we have (over thirty), the year round growing ability (in part thanks to hoop houses) and our creative reuse of materials.   Additionally, people liked the accessibility that the Farmer Frog model represents by making fresh food cost nothing but time worked in the garden. 
            At the food growing sessions it seemed that most colleges did not have community gardens and were researching the feasibility of it at the conference, while other colleges did not have near the scope or size as ours.   I was proud to share all that we have done in only months and all that we plan to do, thanks to the Campus Green Fund.   And to think, we are just getting started!  Thanks to student supported funding our Community Garden will continue to flourish with a greenhouse being built in the New Year and other exciting projects happening that will beautify the site and enhance it as a community gathering space. 
            At this time of writing, volunteers from the campus have put in over 300 volunteer hours into the garden, and approximately two hundred members of the campus community have volunteered in, or formally visited the garden.  We are sustainability in action!  We are advancing sustainability in our institution of higher education.

Written by:
 Audrey Meyer
 Green Team Student Sustainability Advocate, Community Garden Coordinator
  Edmonds Community College


Friday, January 4, 2013

Triple R + C

       The start of the New Year is an exciting time for all of us.  It lies before our feet as a pristine expanse of snow: fragile, untouched, perfect.  The New Year gives us a chance to restart our lives, to make goals and resolutions that we can achieve through the next year, to make ourselves better people.  My list of resolutions this year in many ways is similar to other years:  Lose weight, save money, become a happier person.  But one of my resolutions was different.  This year I made a resolution to decrease my waste.

    Now obviously, this isn’t the most esoteric goal I could have chosen.  I’m unlikely to walk into a bar and have someone mention how svelte I look because of my decrease in waste production, but it makes me feel like I am doing some good for the world.  Regardless of your political beliefs, or your thoughts on global warming, one thing seems to be fairly apparent to everyone:  There is a lot of trash in our world.  Whether you look into our oceans or over the beautiful countryside you can see mountains of trash.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is guessed to be from 270,000 square miles to over 5,800,000 square miles depending on the density of plastic being measured.  That means it could be anywhere from twice as large as the United States mainland to over 8.1% of the Pacific Ocean.  That’s a lot of trash.

    That’s where my New Year’s resolution is important.  Not to impress the ladies, or help me live a longer life.  My resolution helps the world and the people living on it.  My resolution to reduce waste has led me to explore alternatives in composting and recycling.  It has led me to increase my own knowledge about where my trash goes in our world and who ends up having to deal with it.  It has led me engage in many fun hobbies using recycled or reused goods.  I hope as this year goes on that this resolution will allow me to decrease and potentially eliminate waste from my life.  In a world where one person is so small and one resolution seems insignificant, this resolution has the power to produce great change.  So remember, when you are making your New Year’s resolutions consider: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle + Compost.

Written by:

Bill Bugert
Student Engagement Specialist, STEM Focus
Center for Service Learning, Edmonds Community College

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Microplastics in our Ocean, or Why You Shouldn’t be a Litter Bug

             At some point or another, we have all been told that littering is wrong. In elementary school, you avoided being labeled a Litter Bug. As an adult in Washington State, you can get a $1,204 ticket for throwing a cigarette butt out your window. And all around us are the social pressures to do the right thing, to “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” Why are Washingtonians so adamant about keeping their environment clean? To answer that question, we need to look no further than the shores of our lakes, our oceans and our streams. All of this Stuff that we throw on the ground and think of as gone because we no longer have to deal with it, one way or another it all makes its way into our water. Yes, our water, the number one thing needed to sustain our life and we’re throwing our garbage into it. It doesn’t stop there, either.

Turtles often mistake plastic grocery bags for jellyfish, a tasty treat (left),
Mollusks have made a home on plastic and glass bottles (right)

Animals often eat our litter, mistaking it for food. One study of plastics washed up on shore noted a significantly smaller number of red and yellow plastics, the most likely to be mistaken for food. There have been multiple studies of dead seabirds on shore, and almost all of them had plastics in their stomachs. One albatross had over 1,600 pieces of plastic in its stomach. Eating the garbage makes the animal feel satiated, but since the synthetic materials are unable to be broken down in the stomach the animal soon dies of starvation. More than one million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals and countless fish die in the North Pacific each year, either from mistakenly eating our garbage or from being ensnared in it.

Just two examples of dead seabirds found with plastics in their stomachs

The garbage that doesn’t get eaten floats out to sea, following the current of the ocean. Due to the patterns of currents in the ocean, most of the garbage gets carried to the same place where it collects in garbage patches. The closest one to us is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the North Pacific Gyre, off the shore of California. The gyre was discovered accidentally in 1997 by Captain Charles Moore who has been studying it ever since. The garbage patch extends from just off the coast of California all the way to China, making it bigger than the continental United States. Some samples of the gyre collected by Moore contained 6X more plastic than plankton. Despite illegal dumping into the seas, 80% of the Oceans’ litter originates onshore. That means we could have easily prevented 80% of the garbage patch just by disposing of our litter properly!

Furthermore, the molecular structure of plastic resists biodegradation. It can be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces by the elements, but even one single molecule of plastic is too tough to biodegrade.  Since their introduction 144 years ago, scientists are still unsure how long it will take for plastics to break down to their core elements. You might be thinking, at least the plastics are small enough that they won’t be harmful to animals anymore. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. The smaller pieces of plastic are being eaten by small fish and plankton that live in the garbage patch. Additionally, these microscopic pieces of plastic act as magnets for toxins and chemicals found in the water. Some pieces of plastic accumulate toxins at 100x the concentration of the surrounding water. When these super-toxic plastics are eaten by fish and other animals, the toxins are stored in their fatty tissue where they cannot break down. In turn, the toxins that have accumulated in that fish over its lifespan get passed on to the animal that eats him, and the animal that eats him and the cycle continues on and on until it reaches the top of the food chain: us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of my healthy fish dinner turning into a toxic wasteland.

A man paddles his way through a sea of garbage (left), Captain Charles Moore shows a sample of the gyre (right)

So, what can you do? Well first of all if you litter, stop doing that! If your friends litter, don’t just let it go, speak up. That goes for cigarette butts, too. Cigarette butts are the most common piece of litter found and they, too, are made of plastics. You can also attend one of the Trashy Tuesday Campus Clean Up days here on campus or Kayak Clean Up Day on Lake Union. See the Service Learning page for more info. Those are just two examples we have on campus, but there are many more available in your community if you do a quick internet search. Another thing you can do is recycle, recycle, recycle. Every piece of trash you recycle is one less piece that ends up in our oceans or in a landfill. It is important to be conscious of our waste. When you buy a product, think about how much packaging it has and how much waste you will create by using it. Is it worth it? Is there a more environmentally-friendly alternative? Most importantly, educate yourself. The more you know about these kinds of issues, and the more people that know, the more we can do to change and prevent it. Cleaning our oceans will be a project worked on by generations to come, so we better get started.

Here are some more tips to reduce plastic consumption and exposure to toxins during the upcoming Holiday season (and every day!)

·         Use reusable glass or stainless steel containers to store leftovers instead of plastic tupperware

·         Transport leftovers with easily recycleable tinfoil over plastic wrap

·         Use paper tape to wrap and ship packages

·         Look for consumer goods that aren’t packaged with excess plastic (bonus points if the packaging is recycled or recyclable!)

·         Use reusable shopping bags for all of your holiday shopping, not just for groceries

·         Try to avoid single-serve beverages in plastic containers, try to buy larger portions or in safer aluminum cans or glass bottles

·         Use alternative holiday decorations – make your own or check out local thrift stores

·         Do not use chlorine bleach for household cleaning or laundry. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe alternative; it breaks down to water and oxygen. Distilled white vinegar works well too, and the smell doesn’t linger

·         Eat organically grown food.

·         Always avoid heating food in plastic containers, the heat causes chemicals to leech out of the plastic and into your food

written by :
Kyli Rhynalds
Waste Streams Specialist
Green Team Students Sustainability Advocates


[4] http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/features/research/microplastic-macroproblem

[5] http://www.badlani.com/blog/2007/09/10/obesity-impotence-cancer-%E2%80%A6-still-want-to-use-plastic-bags/

[6] http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/features/research/microplastic-macroproblem

[7] http://www.ecologycenter.org/factsheets/plastichealtheffects.html

[8] http://www.doobybrain.com/2008/02/08/vortex-of-trash-in-the-pacific-ocean/

[9] http://www.badlani.com/blog/2007/09/10/obesity-impotence-cancer-%E2%80%A6-still-want-to-use-plastic-bags/

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let's start recycling !

Hi everyone, my name is Febrian and I came from Indonesia one year ago. I want to share some of my experience in how to keep our earth sustainable. I want to share about how do i start recycle in my life. As i said before I came from Indonesia where people don’t know pretty much about recycling or even some of them know nothing about it. At the first time i came here, I didn’t even care about where do my trash go or even sort my trash. It seems so complicated for me at that time because I never learn about such thing in my country.
(the Bantar Gebang Landfill, Indonesia)
People in Indonesia don't care about recycle. They throw everything away to the landfill.

Last August I applied my first job in the Green Team in Edmonds Community College. The purpose of this team is to engages and empowers students, faculty, and staff to adopt healthy, sustainable practices that benefit our diverse campus, the greater community, and our environment for future generations. This year, the Green Team Sustainability Advocates are focusing in increasing recycling around the campus and as an international student, it is a new thing for me because i have never recycling in my whole life before.

On my very first work day, my supervisor Amy Johnson taught all new Green Team members how to do recycle and sort our trash. She wanted us to collect trash around campus and dump it all. Personally it looks nasty for me since it’s my first time doing this kind of stuff, but in the end I understand that recycling is not that complicated as I thought before especially when we have the material management center in our cafeteria. With the help from the Material Management Center, I am personally get assisted in sorting my waste and it helps to make our college more sustainable too.

On the winter quarter 2013, EdCC will participate in a friendly competition "RecycleMania" to reduce our waste stream by increasing recycle and compost around campus. This competition will start on January 30th  through March 30th and we are going to compete with the other colleges and universities around the country including Harvard University. Therefore, I would like to encourage you all as EdCC student, staff, faculty and community to join us to reduce our campus’ waste stream by increasing recycle and compost. I believe we cannot win the competition without all of your participation. If you have any question, feel free to contact any Green Team member by email or you can reach us at our office at MLT 147. 
We would be happy to help you!

Don't forget to like our facebook page and visit our website !

Website : https://sites.google.com/a/email.edcc.edu/sustainability-council/
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/GreenTeamEdcc

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stew’s Blog

My trip to the 2012 AASHE Conference & Expo


As a newly appointed member of the Green Team here on campus, I have become mindful of some of the challenges our campus faces in becoming a sustainable one. I have likewise become aware of the some of the great work already taking place here at EdCC. The Campus Green Fund in particular is a great example of how our campus is taking a lead in bringing sustainability to our campus and our community.  The EdCC Campus Green Fund has already funded eight different projects last academic year.  I encourage everyone to learn more about this program and get involved in increasing sustainability here on our campus.  

Earlier this month the Green Team went to the AASHE Conference in Los Angeles, CA. This conference was financed due to a grant from our Campus Green Fund.  AASHE is the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The event brought colleges and universities together to talk about the concept of sustainability on campuses all over the country. It was a very impressive group of people from student leaders to staff and faculty, and even some college presidents.  I came back to our campus inspired by what I learned and by what other community colleges are doing and thought I would share some of my experiences.

I went to the conference hoping to find out how other colleges are incorporating sustainability onto their campuses, the challenges they face, and how they are overcoming barriers to make true and impactful change. I also wanted to get an idea of how EdCC is doing compared to other community colleges around the country.  

Billy Parish, Co-Founder and President of Solar Mosaic and author gives the Student Summit Keynote.
There were literately hundreds of workshops and presentations to choose from during the conference as well as keynote speakers every day. Deciding which ones to attend was very difficult. Although I attended countless workshops throughout the conference, I will highlight just a few of the activities I attended throughout the week.

The first day was student summit day. This was a full day of student held presentations.  This was a day bringing together students from all over the country to share their experiences and the barriers, opportunities, and solutions they have had in implementing sustainability on their campuses. It was great to hear from these students who deal with the same challenges our campus deals with such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, procurement practices, and student awareness. I learned that many schools have student teams just like the Green Team, that are challenged to engage students, staff, and faculty in making their schools sustainable. 

To kick things off I went to a workshop about creating and maintaining a sustainability student network. Somewhat similar to the Green Team, this workshop showed how Macalester College (Minnesota) formed a Sustainability Student Network. A group composed of student workers in a variety of departments across their campus working on projects and initiatives to make their school more sustainable. The students were able to work in a variety of departments including facilities, procurement, operations, catering, and residential life. They also discussed challenges and downfalls of the student network and how it constantly adapted to meet the campus needs.

Another workshop I attended was about green mapping of college campuses. As a Green Team member, I want to help increase engagement and outreach here at EdCC to the many things we are doing on campus to increase sustainability. I am currently working on a map to raise awareness of the many sustainable sites here on our campus. Here is a link to the current EdCC map (it is still in progress). This was a great opportunity to see how other students are attempting to do the same. Creating a map that highlights student projects, gardens and landscape areas, solar panels, and other infrastructure can increase our student awareness and provide a way for students to be engaged and informed regarding sustainable sites here at EdCC. I learned that maps can also highlight gaps and areas that need more attention, which is beneficial to furthering innovation efforts towards achieving a more sustainable campus.

The Green Team along with other volunteers planting trees at Los Angeles Valley College.
Throughout the week, I attended many other workshops too numerous to mention. Topics included preventing student burnout to climate action plans, recycling programs to marketing strategies, plug load reduction programs to on-campus composting.  All these sessions were very informative and will help me focus on the things I can accomplish during my Green Team assignment.

Another highlight of the trip was being able to participate in planting trees at a local community college. As volunteers, we had the opportunity to partake in a special ceremony recognizing Los Angeles Valley College as the first community college to receive Tree Campus USA status in California.  We had a short tour of their campus outdoor sustainability features and helped with the planting of 30 new trees to celebrate their new recognition. 

This conference was an unforgettable experience for me.  Not only did I learn what other colleges and students are doing to make our nations institutions of higher learning become sustainable, but this trip also allowed  the Green Team to come together to have a shared learning experience which we can hopefully bring back to our campus.

I came away from this trip feeling quite good about Edmonds Community College and what we are doing here on our campus to make it a sustainable one. There are still many issues and challenges ahead, but I feel confident that we can make a difference just like the many people and groups we met during the conference.


Stewart Sinning

Green Team Sustainability Advocate

Edmonds Community College