October 2010 Archives

57 abandoned bicycles donated to Blackstone Bicycle Works

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Last week, Chris and Aaron from Blackstone Bicycle Works came to pick up 49 bikes, three frames, and various wheels that had been abandoned on campus, as well as 8 bikes from Residential Services.

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Colleen, Chris, Aaron, and Kevin in front of the fully loaded pick up

Kevin Applewhite, recycles bike share intern and Blackstone employee, helped Chris and Aaron load the bikes into the back of two pick up trucks, piling them high and tying them together with old inner tubes for the ride back to the bike shop. All of the bikes will be refurbished and resold to help fund the non-profit bike shop's youth program.

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Guest post: UChicago students attend global day of climate action

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Today's post comes from Caitlin Grey, a first year in the College.

This past Sunday, October 10, (10-10-10) was a big day for environmentalism. 10-10-10 was an international day of climate action organized by 350.org, with over 7,000 events registered in 188 countries, and the University of Chicago was part of this global call to action against climate change.

Around twenty students of the University of Chicago, primarily members of the Green Campus Initiative (GCI) and Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), met at the Regenstein Library on Sunday to travel to Pilsen, a historically immigrant neighborhood of Chicago, to rally against the Fisk and Crawford Power Plants.

Students bussed and biked around the various blockades and detours in place for the Chicago Marathon that day to join around one hundred other environmentally-concerned Chicago residents in front of the Alivio Medical Center, a block from the coal-fired power plant that causes health problems and pollution in the area.

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At the rally we heard speakers from various organizations including Green Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Sierra Club, and the Huffington Post, made calls to our local aldermen asking them to close down the polluting power plant, signed petitions, and added to a live art installation. We also took a picture to be featured on 350.org along with photos of thousands of other actions across the globe.
 As a first year I was thoroughly impressed by this event as my first environmental action in Chicago and found it very valuable to learn about one of the environmental problems in this city. It was inspiring to see people of all ages, races, and genders with a common interest in the health and future of communities that suffer from environmental degradation.

GCI and SJSF will continue to focus on the problem of coal in Chicago this year. Along with a few other RSOs, we'll be hosting a panel on coal on Tuesday, October 26, at 7 pm, in Harper 131. Please join us!

University of Chicago Laboratory High students joined with groups worldwide last Friday who formed the number 350 in pledging to cut their carbon footprint as part of the 350.org Global Work Party. "350" refers to the safe upper limit for carbon in the atmosphere.

"Take the Pledge!" Ditch the Water Bottles took place in Kenwood Mall after school on Friday, October 8th. Students, faculty, administration, and members of the Lab community took a pledge to stop using disposable plastic water bottles. Environmental club members, Peer Leaders, and student government hosted the event, and over 325 signatures were collected.  SAGE mugs were given to all who participated. 

More to come next week on additional 350 activities!

Guest Post: Coal Day of Action 10.10.10

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Today we have a special guest post from undergraduate student Claire Brindley.

Chicago is home to a lot of great landmarks--the John Hancock building, Wrigley Field, the Bean (or Cloud Gate, if you prefer). But the Windy City also has a couple of skyscrapers that are a little less family-friendly, the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants. These edifices may not be a part of the famous skyline, but they are a serious threat to the health of Chicago's residents. Built in the 1920s, they face lenient emissions standards and are the reason that Chicago now has one of the nation's highest asthma rates. In addition to chronic illness, air pollutants from Fisk and Crawford are responsible for 500 emergency room visits and 40 premature deaths each year.

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Now is the time to clean up emissions from the old coal plants--not only for environmental reasons, but also for the health of Chicago residents. On Saturday, October 10, people from around the world will gather to support clean power in their communities and political action for sustainability as part of 350.org's Global Work Party. This will be the most widespread day of political action in history, with 6,227 events in 185 countries. Green Campus Initiative Students for a Just and Secure Future will be leading U of Cers downtown to join their fellow Chicagoans in demanding a cleaner, coal-free future. We'll be meeting in front of the Reg (1101 E 57th St) on Sunday, October 10 at 11:30am, to bike or take the CTA to the rally. If you need to borrow a bike, check out the UChicago bike share program.

If you have any questions, get in touch with Caroline Wooten at caroline.wooten89@gmail.com. Please come out to make the call for a clean city even louder!

--Claire Brindley

SAGE Advice: Save your screen

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Setting your power management to activate a screen saver after a period of being idle can be a huge waste of energy--especially if the screen saver runs all night. In most cases, screen savers use more energy than a computer consumes while it's being used. Instead, set your computer to go into sleep or stand-by mode.

If you work in an office on campus, this can save a lot of energy. For an office with 25 computers, you can save $400 per year by using sleep mode instead of a screen saver during the workday. This adds up to 5,000 kilowatt-hours and more than 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

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Did you know? Screen savers were originally invented to prevent something called phosphor burn, which "etched" long-standing images into the screen. Phosphor burn is no longer much of a concern with today's monitors, so you can turn the lights out on your virtual aquarium.

Source: Rogers, Elizabeth. Shift Your Habit: Save Money, Save the Planet. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010

Donate Your Books for Reuse

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Studying or working at a University, it's easy to acquire more books than your space can allow. When you're tripping over the books in your house because you've run out of bookshelves, and you can finally talk yourself into culling the collection, what do you do? According to the EPA, paper takes up a whopping 31% of our landfills in the U.S (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008rpt.pdf). If you love books, it's heartbreaking to imagine books in landfills, but there they are. You could cut the paper out of your books to recycle, the best solution is to find a way to re-use. Donating books is a win-win: you keep the books out of the landfill, and resources do not need to be used to make the book anew for the next reader.

One of our SAGE Ambassadors, Kelly Pollock, is helping to run a book drive to raise money for the Office of Letters and Light (www.lettersandlight.org/), a non-profit organization that runs creative literary programming for children and adults. The books will be sent to Better World Books (http://www.betterworldbooks.com/), an Indiana bookseller that "sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide." Better World Books has saved over 35 million books from landfills, and if you donate your books, they can save a few more!

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If you are interested in donating books, contact Kelly Pollock, at kpollock@uchicago.edu, or at 5-3238, or stop by Foster 101 to drop off books. Kelly can also come pick up books if you have a box or more, and she'll bring a box to your dorm or office if you want to run your own mini-drive.

Facilities Services Recycles Construction Signs

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Facilities Services has begun to reclaim aluminum signs posted at construction sites for reuse on future projects. The signage vendor easily picks up the reclaimed signs, removes any old sign text, touches up the paint as needed and delivers them back to FS. In addition to cutting costs on future sign orders, this initiative aligns with the University's sustainability goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint on campus. We hope this is the beginning of a standard for exterior signage for similar projects around campus.
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