Making small changes in your daily life can make a big impact.  Check out this slideshow for quick tips on going green:

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Recycling BinsRecycling helps use our natural resources more efficiently and puts less of a strain on landfills.  If you’re living off-campus, recycling helps lower your garbage costs too!

Sometimes recycling can be confusing–every city seems to have its own set of rules.  Linfield and McMinnville have comingled recycling.  This means (most) recyclables can all go in one bin.  Western Oregon Waste provides a handy guide for what can and cannot go into the recycling bin.

For those on campus, visit Linfield’s recycling page to become familiar with the guidelines.  On campus, glass can be recycled curbside–those off campus should take glass to McMinnville’s Recovery Zone (2200 NE Orchard Ave) or to a recycling center at a nearby grocery store (Roth’s is closest to campus).

Plastic Bags

In addition to glass, plastic bags cannot be recycled curbside, but many grocery stores (e.g. Roth’s) have a bin located near the front entrance for customers to drop off plastic bags.

Check out what other items can be recycled at the Recovery Zone.

It’s important to rinse and clean the items you put into the recycling bin, as well as make sure no trash is mixed in with recyclables.  By helping clean and sort recycling from trash, you will be keeping recyclables from getting contaminated and the rest of the recycling process will be more cost effective.

This old school cartoon puts an entertaining spin on recycling.  Feel like a kid again while also getting an important message!

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyZbw8waVwk)

When shopping at the grocery store, eating out at a restaurant, or grabbing a snack from the Catty Shack, it is important to know where the food you’re about to eat is coming from.  Food often travels hundreds or thousands of miles to get to us, and we often overlook how many resources are used in the transportation process.

Want to “go green” with your eating habits?  Start reading the labels at the grocery store to find out where food was produced.  Figure out what you can buy from local farmers.  And the topic of today, find out what is in season in your area.

While you’re at Linfield, refer to this guide to see when locally grown products are available in Oregon.  Summer is quickly approaching, which means a variety of delicious foods will be in season!  It is almost mid-May now, and this means it is the perfect time to eat:

Garden

Photo from the Linfield Garden Club

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnips

Are you heading home or somewhere besides Oregon for the summer?  The Natural Resources Defense Council’s very easy-to-use Eat Local Guide tells you what’s in season for every state.  Add it to your bookmarks for easy reference throughout the year!

If you’re interested in learning more about local and seasonal foods, check out Linfield’s new community garden next to Renshaw Hall.  Refer to the Garden Club website to get involved.

I’ve always had a reusable water bottle, but it was only recently that I started making a conscious effort to never buy bottled water.  Bottled water may be convenient and seems like a healthy choice.  Plus, the bottles can be recycled, right?  So, what’s the big deal?  Why did I cut bottled water completely out of my life, and why might you consider doing so too?

Waste:Disposable

The Pacific Institute found that 17 million barrels of oil were required to produce the plastic bottles (just the bottles) for U.S. consumption in 2006.  It also takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.  So, every bottle we consume actually represents three bottles.

About 90 percent of water bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills.  Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, and Reusablebecomes toxic when it does.  Recycling may be better than throwing the bottle completely away, but this too uses up nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Health:

Did you know that in the U.S., tap water is tested more thoroughly and more frequently than bottled water?  This study actually found chemical contamination in all the bottled water brands they tested.  If you’re still unsure about tap water quality, invest in a water filter like PUR or Brita.

Economics:

Bottled water is expensive!  Bottled water may cost up to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water.  On top of this, some bottled water is actually just tap water in disguise.  A reusable water bottle is a one-time purchase, and refilling it instead of buying bottled will save a ton of money in the end.

Global Reality:

There are many places in the world where tap water is unsafe to drink.  During my semester abroad in Ecuador, I saw some of my friends get sick just from brushing their teeth with tap water.  Water contamination comes from pollution, and consuming bottled water causes a lot of pollution.  Here in McMinnville, we are extremely fortunate to be able to drink from the faucet.  Watch The Story of Bottled Water.  Think globally; act locally.  Go with the reusable water bottle.

More articles:
Bottled Water Wars | Tap water beats bottled in Oregon environmental study

If you’re interested in the issues discussed so far in this blog, there are many ways to get involved on the Linfield campus.  Here they are:

1. Take a class. The Environmental Studies Department offers a variety of classes each semester.  Several other departments occasionally offer classes on environmental issues as well: Biology, Economics, EnglishPhilosophy, Sociology and Anthropology, and others.

2. Join a club. Greenfield, an environmental issues group, is open to all students and meets every Monday at 8:00 pm in the Pioneer Reading Room.  The Garden Club, also open to all students, is responsible for maintaining Linfield’s new Community Garden, located next to Renshaw Hall.  The Garden Club meets every Tuesday at 7:00 pm in Riley 210.

3. Attend an event. Student organizations like Greenfield and the Linfield Bike Co-Op put on many different events throughout the year.  Get on the mailing list or join their facebook groups (Greenfield, Bike Co-Op) to stay in the know!

4. Volunteer. The aforementioned groups have tons of volunteer ops, but check out Linfield’s Community Service page to get involved.

5. Create a project. Linfield’s ACES (Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability) awards Sustainability Grants to students interested in completing a project that would further the campus in its progress toward a sustainable future.  Applications can be found here.  Learn more about projects that have already been awarded this grant here.

The opportunities don’t end on the Linfield campus!  Talk to professors and fellow students interested in these issues–you will learn about many other ways to get involved.

Interested in environmental issues, going green, sustainability, or eco-friendly living?  Here are my 10 Great Green Blogs (in no particular order):

1. Simple Organic, the blog about “sustainable and healthy living for mainstream people.”

2. The Daily Green, the “consumer’s guide to the green revolution.”

3. TreeHugger, the “leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream.”

4. Recycle This, the blog with “creative ideas for reusing and recycling random stuff.”

5. SustainabilityBlog.org, the resource for “sustainability news and blogs.”

6. The Current, a “global conversation” about the “planet’s vast oceanic resources.”

7. Eco Life Blog, a resource for eco-friendly living.

8. Grist, the blog with “environmental news, commentary, [and] advice.”

9. It’s Getting Hot In Here, a “collection of voices from the student and youth leaders of the global movement to stop global warming.”

**BONUS: Type ‘linfield‘ into the search bar at this blog to see a collection of posts highlighting what Linfield students have been doing!

10. Green, a New York Times blog “about energy and the environment.”

This is the first year I’ve had a bike on campus.  It is also the first year I’ve had a car.  After three years of having only my own two feet to get me anywhere, I was ecstatic to have my options triple.  However, I soon realized how much I was taking advantage of the fact that I had a car—I was spending money and wasting gas on trips that I could have done via bike.

Biking

The pollution that comes from driving our cars is a topic that has been drilled into us since kindergarten.  We have all seen gas prices rise beyond belief, so the financial factor and depleting oil reserves are probably not new news either.  These are all reasons I made a deal with myself to not drive my car unless completely necessary, but they aren’t the only ones.  An important factor in “going green” is health.  Not just the health of the planet, but of ourselves.Bikes

Biking and walking are both great forms of exercise.  Even if it is just a quick stroll to class, or a brief ride to the grocery store, your body will appreciate it.  Now that it is May, the weather here in McMinnville is starting to remain sunny and warm.  There was a reason we were always told to go outside and play as kids—being outdoors is good for us!  Fresh air and sunshine easily brighten my mood.  As the end of the semester nears, I have found that being outside is a great stress reliever as well.

If you’re already an avid biker or walker—that’s awesome!  If not, try walking or biking somewhere you’d normally drive, and see how it feels.

The Linfield campus is becoming more and more bike-friendly—several new bike racks were just installed by Alternative Spring Break participants, and the Linfield Bike Co-Op is now open and running.

Unplug

Did you know that when most appliances are turned off, they still use electricity?  Save yourself some money on your electric bill, and lower your energy use by unplugging your electronics and appliances when not in use.  An easy way to do this is by using a powerstrip—this will allow you to cut off the power source to multiple plugs all at once.

Start with:

  • TV, DVD, Stereo
  • Cell phone charger
  • Computer
  • Toaster, Microwave

Powerstrip

Why is it important to save energy?

  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity is generated from burning fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource that produces CO2 when burned.  Excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere are bad for health, and are a contributor to climate change.
  • To reduce air pollution. Burning fossil fuels to create electricity contributes to pollution in the air.
  • To save money. Making small changes in our electricity usage habits can cut down electricity bills significantly.

Look for more ways to save energy here, or in upcoming posts!

In the mean time, enjoy this video: (Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYVPTXOl3Go)

Sure, there are some items that we need to buy new (food is an obvious example), but next time you find yourself needing to buy something, consider whether you can buy the item used.  As college students, we’re usually tight for cash.  Thus, a trip to the thrift store (like Goodwill on Hwy 99) can be a thrilling experience.

As we move out of the dorms and start cooking in our own kitchens, we have to start accumulating things like pots and pans and other kitchen utensils.  Goodwill has an abundant supply of dirt-cheap kitchenware.  Buy stocking up here, you’ll save a ton of money.  Garage sales are a great source for this as well.

So how is buying used also being green?  Buying used can be thought of as recycling.  Used products already exist, so no more energy or natural resources have to be used to produce something brand new.  In addition, you’re saving this used item from ending up in the landfill.  When you’re done with it, donate or sell it to somebody else.

Kitchenware is just one of many types of products you can buy used.  Consider these as well:

  • Furniture
  • Books
  • CDs, DVDs, and video games
  • Clothing
  • Bikes and cars

More ideas can be found here and here.

Where to look:

Reusable BagMaking a habit of bringing reusable bags to the grocery store was one of the easiest transitions I’ve made so far.  Reusable bags are easy to find (they’re sold right next to the checkout lane at Roth’s and Albertsons), and only cost around $1 each (give or take 50 cents).  After the initial purchase, the only other step is remembering to bring them.

What’s so bad about plastic and paper bags?  In a nutshell, the amount of natural resources and energy used to produce them, and the amount of waste they produce.

Both plastic and paper bags can be recycled, but this process takes a lot of energy as well.  Before I switched to reusable bags, I thought paper bags were the best choice—I was wrong.  Paper bags actually take more energy to produce and to recycle than plastic!

If plastic bags are your go-to choice, think about this: once they’re in the environment, a plastic bag takes hundreds of years to breakdown.  As it does, toxic particles seep into soils, lakes, rivers, and oceans.  Are you a paper-bag person as I once was?  It takes a ton of trees to make all those bags.  This article describes the process in detail.

Solution? Reusable bags.  They are cheap, easy to use, and environmentally-friendly.  The benefits don’t stop there.

Reusable bag handles are:

  • Stronger.  Paper and plastic bag handles tend to break easily.
  • More comfortable.  Carrying a plastic bag full of something heavy can be painful!
  • More versatile.  I’ve even worn these bags on my shoulder while biking or walking home—I couldn’t do this with paper or plastic bags.

Last but not least, many stores (like Roth’s) will give a 5 cent discount for every bag you bring.  The bag pays for itself in no time!

Reusable Bags

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