Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's finals week?

I feel like I am pretty conscious about sustainability in my everyday life, since I came to college. I am much more aware when I am home about how wasteful people and places are- the area is also different, and has less local resources to offer. I am already vegetarian, my car gets 37 mpg, I unplug my appliances, recycle, compost...what else is there? SO MUCH. While home for break, I will continue to change my own habits as I can. As for my two major commitments:

1. PowerShift. GO TO IT! Not only am I going, but I'm helping organize the Finger Lakes Delegation (?) with IC, Cornell, and Wells College. Really, everyone should go- a group of us are working it out so that it will be a great trip, at little cost to students, and the experience will be unforgettable. If anyone has a house that could be available in the D.C. area, let me know. It's not Poznan, but it's a great way to stay involved and spread the message of sustainability, and also of the youth movements happening all over the world. Talk to me and register at !!

2. It's a lot easier to make changes in a house than in my dorm, so I am going to go ahead and say that when I move off campus in the summer, our house is going to compost, carpool, etc... We are also going to join a CSA- community supported agriculture. This way, we are getting local and organic foods all the time, which will support the local economy and supplement what we cannot grow ourselves. I'll try to get my mom to start composting at home again, too.

I miss Poland, but am excited to reunite at Power Shift!


Friday, December 12, 2008


So, there is a constant struggle between sustainability and laziness in my life. This is something I don't like to admit because I try really hard to be productive, occasionally. Anyway, my laziness is going to help me out with one of the things I'm going to do. I'm avoiding actually going shopping this year by offsetting my parents' vehicles for Christmas--maybe my sister's too but I already got her some loot from Polska. I am doing this in hope of spreading some awareness within the family unit. I think my parents are a little worried about me since I've given up driving, stopped eating meat, stopped cutting my hair, etc.--they're probably wondering if it's their fault that their quiet, polite son started hugging trees. Anyway, I know my parents (and cousins and aunts and uncles, etc.) have a lot to learn, so I'm committed to spreading some environmental awareness this holiday season. (Also, I bought my mom a Moosewood cookbook so that she can cook some great veg meals for me over break).

Also, I've been meaning to start composting at my house for a while. Some guys I hung out with a lot of the summer in Atlanta had a small compost in their back yard, and replicating it has been on my to do list for a while now. I bet one or two of my roommates don't even know what composting is...



There are so many things that I can say about what I learned, and what new feelings I now have because of my trip to Poland and the UN-FCCC. Like Astrid, many of these issues were not knew to me, but I too felt a new sense of urgency and energy about climate change and all of the environmental/social issues that go along with it.

Being in the US and having conversations about these issues almost makes them seem fake, or as if they're someone else's problem. Sounds weird to say, I know...

But, at the conference, with people from around the world, I learned an entirely new perspective on these issues. Climate change IS happening, it is occurring at a DRASTIC rate, it WILL affect the entire globe, and we ALL have an extreme duty to act NOW. I knew all of these things, but something in me changed.

So for my two promises...

I promise to remember what I learned and to spread the word. Next week in my ecology class, I am presenting some of the more important issues (in my opinion, very similar to that of an ecologist) to my fellow classmates. This was not the assignment, of course, for the final exam... I asked to do this instead. I am going to prepare a pamphlet to give out as well in hopes of really inspiring people to share what they learn with others. I have also spoken out in some of my other classes during discussion to really drive home that the opinion that many US citizens have about climate change is inappropriate. Expanding on this idea, I promise to continue to educate myself on this issue and share what I learn. I am graduating in a week and plan to get in touch with some of the people who's business cards I got at the conference.

On a more personal level, I'm going to "weatherize" my apartment. It's old and pretty rickety. Windows, cracks around doors, cracks in walls and molding, programmable thermostat, etc. All to be done ASAP. I've had the supplies for a while, and now I'm going to make the time. I'm also going to share this idea with my friends and family- many of whom just turn up the heat.

Poland was great and I'll never forget it. It couldn't have come at a better time for me- being a new grad and all- curious about where I may end up.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talking Trash

Sorry this is a bit late, I had it written down but I forgot to post it online.
It is the last day of the conference and today I went to a really interesting side session. It was based on an idea of zero waste but not all of the speakers specifically spoke about waste. The problems with CCS, nuclear power and hydropower were discussed but… I’m not going to talk about those because I don’t want to be writing pages and pages.
The presentation that I will discuss was by a man who worked for He talked about how waste was not considered by the IPCC to be a huge part of carbon emissions. This is because the IPCC only considers methane releases from landfills to be the emissions from waste. In actuality, waste could be the cause of 38% of emissions. These high emissions are caused by the linear system of production that exists in many countries around the world and especially in the US. Products are not made to be recycled, reused or composted; right now they are made to be used and discarded. Throughout this whole system of mass production of products that will just be thrown out and the energy and resources used to create them lost to landfills or trash burning (which also releases harmful emissions and pollution) huge amounts of emissions are created. Instead, the speaker said, we should focus on composting, recycling and reusing. Composting recycles organic resources, creating fertilizer that can replace environmentally harmful inorganic fertilizers. Recycling reduces the need for new natural resources and the degradation from mining, pumping and other methods of extraction that accompany their creation. The last method we should use to reduce both waste and unnecessary production of goods is reuse. This saves all GHG’s from transport, processing and creation costs of goods. Right now, some goods cannot be recycled so, our society needs to move toward more recycling friendly uses of resources and using only resources that can easily be recycled. I thought this part of the side event was fascinating; this fault of a linear system of production is not often discussed in sustainability talks. It makes me wonder about the sick place we live in that chooses to throw away valuable resources and mine new ones instead of just using what already exists, what we have already acquired. We haven’t created a more circular system of production because it would have high upfront costs and would require new capital to be built. As a result, it probably won’t happen unless we either have huge government policy changes or large-scale small changes of lifestyle, cultural changes that happen over long periods of time.
That was a great side event…
-Doug Indrick

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moving Forward

So now that the conference is over, we have been challenged to find two things that we can do NOW to help fight climate change.

1. I am going to bring this information to camp. I have worked at an overnight summer camp for the past couple years, and I am already thinking of ways to get these ideas across to the kids- maybe we can even start a compost pile at camp? I think this will actually work very well, becuase when I was a camper at this camp I took the things I learned over the summer and brought them home. So if we can teach the kids just to use a water bottle instead of buying bottled water, or helping them learn to recycle, it would be great.

2. I am going to make a conscious effort to dispose of my waste properly at the end of the semester. Usually I just stuff everything I dont want into a garbage can and leave it, but this year I will make the effort to recycle all the paper I don't need anymore and compost the leftover food I have.


Sustainable New Year's Resolutions

Its very hard to reflect on such a unique experience when you have papers to write, projects to finish and present, and finals to take. But it also makes looking back at Poland that much better. In light of our upcoming holiday break, these are my two sustainable new year's resolutions:

1. become a vegetarian. This is something I've been thinking about for a while. Its time to do it! Not only can meats be questionable, but they take a lot more resources to get on my plate. This will be a big step in reducing my carbon footprint.

2. keep making a difference in the Ithaca College community. At the conference, I was proud to be from such a sustainable school, but Ithaca has a ways to go. Right now my project for dining services is trayless dining. I would like the whole campus to be trayless by the end of the year.

At the opening ceremony, Yvo de Boer commenting on the progress this conference and Copenhagen must make saying: "We must go from saying that we will to saying that we have" I hope I can do the same.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

what I will do...

So the two things that I will do to reduce my carbon footprint are:

1) Cut down significantly on my consumption of meat. I was a vegetarian for several years, but started eating meat again when I came to college. Although I don't eat red meat, I know that I could be eating less chicken and turkey than I do. Ideally I would like to phase meat out of my diet completely.
2) I would like to influence my friends and family to be more conscious of their actions in regards to their emissions. There are things that I see my friends and family do that I know I should talk to them about, but in general I keep my mouth shut because I don't want to sounds "preachy." Well I think that now is the time that I need to let people know how I feel and how they can help too!

Hope I can stick to these!!