February 2011 Archives

Recycling Directory Debut

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Most people know that materials like plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans are all recyclable. Did you know, though, that many more everyday items can be recycled?

Launched in January 2011, the University of Chicago’s new Recycling Directory compiles campus and other local recycling resources in order to assist the University of Chicago community to recycle as many every day items as possible. The items included range from cosmetics and eyeglasses to appliances and batteries. Each item in the directory contains a brief description about the importance of recycling the item, followed by options for recycling on campus (if available) as well as in the city of Chicago.

Please direct any suggestions for additional items or updates to the directory to Colleen.

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Majora Carter comes to UChicago

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Majora Carter, a MacArthur “genius” and president of her own environmental and economic development consulting group, founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, a non-profit that addresses the environmental, economic and social concerns through policy change, green job training, environmental education, and community greening programs.

On Tuesday, February 8th, Ms. Carter presented to an intimate gathering of 30 on her experience of growing up in the Bronx, leaving to go away to school, and then reluctantly returning to her childhood home, only to realize that upon her return, she viewed it in an entirely different light. Motivating and inspiring, Majora Carter discussed urban agriculture as a sustainable business option that would not only provide local communities with healthy, affordable food while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, but also create jobs for local individuals. Ms. Carter emphasized the importance of communicating across networks and the need to reframe challenges as opportunities for finding alternative, more sustainable solutions.

Thanks to SAGE Ambassador Vikram Dwarkadas for the great photos!

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SAGE Advice: Ditch your phonebook

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Last month, I came home to yet another set of phone books sitting at my front door. Yet, I haven't had or used a phone book at home since I lived with my parents. Who needs them, after all, when everything can be found online, often in a more updated form? Despite survey results showing that most American adults have already stopped using phone books, over 500,000,000 yellow pages directories are printed and distributed in the U.S. every year.

So what can you do?

Help cut down on paper and energy use by opting out of home and business phone book delivery and do your searching online instead: opt out is available at the industry site http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/, though you may also be able to contact your local phone book distributor.

If you're like me and already received unwanted phone books, check out these 17 ways to creatively re-purpose your directory. Once you've gotten all the use out of them you can, be sure to recycle them. Any recycler that accepts mixed paper should be able to recycle them.

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Big Bellies on Midway Crossings

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No, we’re not talking beer bellies, but rather BigBelly solar trash compactors.


Two BigBelly compactors have been installed at the recently completed Midway Crossings project.  These intelligent trash cans use renewable energy to compact up to 169 gallons of trash into a 32 gallon bin.

Not only do the BigBellies run on clean, renewable energy, they are also extremely efficient. In fact, one compactor can operate for an entire week on the equivalent energy it takes to brew a pot of coffee!

By significantly reducing the demand for collection by garbage trucks this new system at Midway Crossings can cut CO2 and other vehicle exhaust emissions by 80%.

Try Meatless Mondays

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Guest post from Esther Bowen, Sustainability Council Co-Chair and doctoral candidate in the Department of Geophysical Sciences.

Did you know that you save 320 gallons of water when you choose to eat oatmeal and an apple over sausage for breakfast? On January 26, I had the chance to share this, and other facts, with students at the Graduate Student Wellness Fair hosted by the Wellness Committee at the law school. After some spirited debate and discussion, the attendees came away with a more in-depth understanding of the environmental issues that surround meat production, as well as how the Sustainability Council Meatless Mondays campaign is helping to draw attention to these problems.

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The Meatless Monday campaign features information on concrete environmental savings from reduced meat consumption in terms of land, water and climate resources. Wellness for the environment in this case also means wellness for the individual, since reduced meat consumption is also generally associated with a variety of human health benefits. For this campaign, we will be sharing information on these environmental benefits at University dining halls on Monday evenings, as well as at events like the Wellness Fairs. In addition to this intriguing information, we will offer students the opportunity to pledge to try one meatless meal this week. If students agree to take a pledge, their names will be entered into a raffle for the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. The raffle drawing will take place 10th week of this quarter! For more information on this campaign or to volunteer, please contact Esther Bowen at eebowen@uchicago.edu.

Snowtorious B.I.G. foils recycling efforts

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Last week's blizzard of historic proportions brought the city to a standstill. Up in my neighborhood, it sure hasn't made recycling any easier either!

Snowtorious BIG - recycling bins.jpgThis alley was one of the better ones I saw last Thursday, but they are unlikely to improve any time soon as these important city arteries won't be plowed.

How are alleys and side streets looking in your neighborhood?