Thursday, August 3, 2017

California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) Narrative

Written by Malina Long (Zero Waste Team Associate)

In general, it was enlightening to see how much effort other college campuses were putting into developing more sustainable systems, programs, and infrastructure. After talking to several vendors, it seemed like many schools, especially UCSB, UCSD, Sacramento State, and several other schools were partnered with multiple companies that had a booth on the Campus Green. Talking to the vendors gave me more insight about how those products differed from commercial products and how they were being used on campuses. I enjoyed the passport challenge they gave us as it gave us a great incentive to talk to and interact with vendors that we may not have spoken with. I think this could be implemented in some way to UCSC, not just focused on sustainability groups or companies, but perhaps utilized during inter-org or during campus orientations! In addition to talking to the vendors,

I attended 7 sessions which were all very insightful.
I learned several captivating things from the UCSB Waste Tour: Getting to Zero Waste such as why their compost bins are yellow, the psychology behind their signage, and their infrastructure as well as how they transported and hauled their waste. Unlike the compost bins at UCSC, the compost bins at UCSB are yellow because UCSB wanted to differentiate between compost and green waste so that when residents return home or go into the city, they don’t make the mistake of putting compost into the green waste bins and contaminating the city’s streams. Furthermore, UCSB sorts their green waste into subgrade dumpsters which are placed below ground rather than green bins. One significant difference between UCSC and UCSB is that UCSB’s dumpsters and are locked to prevent illegal dumping and only designated custodian and staff have the ability to unlock them. Also, a portion of their recycling and compost is hauled via students on bikes and electric vehicles! They have upgraded most of their bins to BigBelly bins which light up to indicate when full and feature a front facing door that allows the students who are hauling the trash to swing it open and not have to dive into it. The sides of their bins also feature space for signage which UCSB utilized in order to showcase their #MyLastTrash graphics and statistics.

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UCSB also has an aesthetically pleasing but concise and simple signage system. This is something that I wanted to work on during my time on the Zero Waste Team, but was unable to get around to doing because of my schedule. UCSB students took the time to study their signage and actually had someone sit and watch people throw away their items. They conducted a survey before and after they changed their signs and found that the rate of contamination decreased when they upgraded their signs. UCSB’s signs include a combination of pictures and words which is what the students wanted. They figured out the fine balance of not having too much or too little of either words or images. In addition, when they included pictures, they didn’t just throw a bunch on there, but organized the images and used circles to draw the viewer's attention to the items. Furthermore, the items were relevant to each area. For example, bins near food and dining commons had pictures that were related to the compost, recycling, and trash items that would be sold and disposed of there, not staplers, balloons, or uncommon items. They would typically feature one of that item rather than a picture that shows multiple or several of that item (1 can of soda versus 3 soda cans in the picture). The most important thing was limiting the number of words and choosing high quality, relevant photos, and putting them into circles. In another bin system, they had a clear glass case which had the physical item itself stuffed in there which was very unique.

From the Strategic and Sustainable: Food Sourcing and Burger Production session, I learned that the burgers they served at CHESC on Monday were Blended burgers which are burgers that have 70% beef and 30% mushroom. They contain much more nutrition and fiber than traditional burgers but still have the taste of the traditional burger. This Blended burger saves 2.5 million gallons of water at one campus alone and is a more sustainable option for those who still want to eat meat. The presenters briefly mentioned the Beyond Meat patty but emphasized the fact that most people are not going to go vegan and quit meat entirely, so in the meantime, it is better to have less meat, but high quality meat and to be more creative and conscious when it comes to purchasing meat. The presenters also focused on purchasing meat that is not green washed but looking for the certification sticker to indicate that they were certified humane. They also mentioned that in order to offset the costs of how expensive free-range meats can be, people can be creative and switch the portion and cut of the meat one would typically buy in order to offset the costs. So, rather than buying chicken breasts for $3.99 (hypothetical number), opt for chicken thighs at $2.99 (cheaper but equally tasty cut). One of the presenters also brought forth the idea of the flipped plate which is something I have not seen at UCSC or anywhere in Santa Cruz. The flipped plate was inspired by the protein flip challenge designed to find a way to feed 9-10 billion people sustainably. How it works is that instead of having meat be the center of a meal, meat becomes a side and greens, grains, and everything else becomes the focus. The flipped plate is something that restaurants, dining halls, and eateries in Santa Cruz could definitely implement! All in all, this was one of the most spectacular and empowering experiences that I am extremely honored to have been able to be a part of. This conference provided me with new connections and novel ways of envisioning the community’s role in achieving sustainability. It emphasized the importance of strengthening and educating peers, especially those who have less power or knowledge, in order to achieve sustainability that is fair not only to the planet, animals and critters, but also to humans. CHESC brings together people with similar goals but provided a place to engage with and exchange different approaches to achieve these goals.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

September 2017: Zero Waste Green Tip

  1. Circulate the air. Wherever possible, crack windows open every now and then. If you install new carpeting or cabinets at home or in the office, open windows and turn on fans until the smells dissipate. Make sure that copying machines and other equipment are located in rooms that are properly ventilated.
  2. What about other products? Organic meat, eggs, and dairy don’t have toxins or agents believed to cause mad cow disease that non-organics might have. Organic seafood can still contain mercury and other contaminants. Avoid fish high in mercury (like tuna and swordfish). Visit for guidance. Also, consider organic baby food -- children are far more sensitive to low concentrations of toxic chemicals because of their developing organs and high metabolism. And did you know that cosmetics, lotions and other personal care products labeled organic may only have a small fraction of organic ingredients? Learn more about what's in your cosmetics here.
  3. Most Important Produce to Buy Organic: If you are picking and choosing the organic foods you buy to keep in mind that not all organics are equal. Many fruits and veggies have been shown to have high levels of chemicals. Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes (imported), nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries can have high levels of pesticide residue. There are fewer health reasons for buying organic asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, and sweet peas. They all have consistently low levels of pesticide residue. Check out the Organic Center's handy Organic Essentials Pocket Guide that you can take with you when you shop.

September 2017: Internships, Employment and Volunteering

Climate Corps Fellows: Deadline Last Week of August
Climate Corps Fellows benefit from working alongside progressive non-profits, local governments, and businesses on climate resiliency programs and campaigns.  Fellows’ projects focus on resource efficiency, solar/renewable energy, waste diversion, alternative transportation, sustainability education and/or outreach. This is a full-time, 10-month fellowship program. To become a Fellow please submit an online application and resume through our website ( Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all placements are filled. Applicants are encouraged to submit the application as soon as possible in order to ensure the best chance of being placed within an organization that fits your needs and goals.  NOTE: We are adding new fellowship descriptions on a weekly basis!

California Native Garden Foundation Intern: No Deadline
Interns will assist in various tasks on the site, which includes: 1. Nursery and garden tasks: Building native plant inventory through plant propagation, planting, and seed collecting. We may ask for some interns to help out with maintenance at gardens that we have designed or at projects that we are working on (which will include planting and seed collecting). 2. Aquaponics: Maintaining the aquaponics system, planting crop plugs into the rafts, helping with growing produce for aquaponics, fish care. 3. Grant writing: We are constantly writing grants to fund our non-profit and are always looking for students who are interested in the budgeting and funding aspects of environmental agencies. Find more information here.

California Native Plant Society - Native Botany Internship: Deadline ASAP Spot for Fall
Under the direction of Jim Velzy, the intern will grow out seeds of uncommon Santa Cruz County native vascular plant species. The aims of this project are threefold: 1) to increase seed to be housed at conservation seed banks including the UCSC Arboretum, and 2) to document propagation methods used on seeds for future reference, and 3) to create vouchered specimens for the herbarium housed at the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History. Find more information here.

August 2017: Classes, Training, and Community

Santa Cruz Farmer's Markets
Downtown Santa Cruz Farmer's Market on Wednesdays, 1:30 to 6:30 pm in Spring & Summer (1:30 to 5:30 pm in Fall & Winter) at Cedar St. and Lincoln St.
Westside Farmer's Market on Saturdays, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm year-round at Mission St. Ext. and Western Dr.
Or drive to one of the other Farmer's Markets in the area including: FeltonLive OakScotts Valley.

Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Living
Check out the cool various programs within the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Living. There's lots of ways to get involved with them.

Sustainability Classes for Fall 2017
ANTH 110: Cultures of Sustainability and Social Justice (5 units)
With Professor David Shaw, ANTH 110 brings together diverse forms of cultural knowledge and complexities of everyday life to illuminate longstanding concerns of sustainability and justice. Investigates multiple theories of sustainable development as well as tools, techniques, and contexts for ecological integrity, economic security, empowerment, responsibility and social well-being characteristic of sustainable communities. Case studies are drawn from around the world highlighting the work of Right Livelihood Award Laureates in tandem with UC faculty.

EE 80S: Sustainability Engineering and Practice (5 units)
EE 80S offers a topical introduction to principles and practices of sustainability engineering and ecological design with emphasis on implementation in society. It also provides an understanding of basic scientific, engineering, and social principles in the design, deployment, and operation of resource-based human systems, and how they can be maintained for this and future generations. No specialized background in engineering, science, or social sciences is assumed.

CRSN 56-1: Media Internships for Sustainability (5 units)
In the CRSN 56 internship with Professor Ronny Lipschutz, students develop and work on media projects related to the college theme of "Environment and Society" in film, on television, in print, and on the Internet. Students work in groups with specific instructors and project leaders. Enrollment by application and instructor consent. May be repeated for credit.

ENVS 80B-01: The Ecological Forecast of Global Warming (5 units)
If you aren't an Environmental Studies Major but are interested in our changing climate, you might be interested in ENVS 80B taught by Professor Loik Boycoff. It covers a broad overview of the impacts of human activities on the global climate system. Topics include how climate affects the distribution of ecosystems, the influence of global climate change on biodiversity, ecosystem function, and consequences for the human enterprise.

Monday, July 31, 2017

August 2017: Contests and Funding

Association of California Water Agencies Awards
The ACWA awards two scholarships each year to students in a water-resources related field of study. Awards are based on a combination of scholastic achievement and a commitment on the part of the applicants to their chosen fields, best demonstrated by pursuing a degree related to or identified with engineering, agriculture or urban water supply, environmental studies and public administration associated with resources management. Deadline: Feb 1, 2018
Find more information by clicking here.

Emily M. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship 
The Emily M. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship is for a upper division or graduate student who shows a commitment to communicate and interpret a love of nature and an understanding of the need to practice conservation. Students pursuing degrees in environmental protection, forestry, wildlife and fisheries, biology, parks and recreation, park management, environmental law and public policy, environmental art, and California history are encouraged to apply.
Deadline: April 15, 2018
Find more information by clicking here.

Folsom Garden Club Scholarship Program 
The Folsom Garden Club Scholarship Program is for both part-time and full-time students majoring in Horticulture, Floriculture, Landscape Design, Botany, Forestry, Agronomy, Conservation, Plant Pathology, Environmental Concerns and/or other related subjects.
Deadline: April 11, 2018
Find more information by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Kresge Common Ground Center

One of the amazing living labs at UC Santa Cruz is the Kresge Common Ground Center! Jeannie Santos, the #MyLastTrash campaign intern for the Zero Waste Team, interviewed David Shaw, a continuing lecturer at Kresge College Common Ground Center, and Program Coordinator at PICA, and asked him about the multiple things that make Kresge college a living lab.

Santos: "So what makes Kresge a living lab?"

Shaw: "Kresge college, for the last five years at least, has been placing the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability at the heart of the identity of Kresge college. Former provost Juan Poblete and I, along with Christine King and others really made that a goal, to put sustainability right at the heart of what Kresge college is all about. And the ways that we envisioned doing that was through the creation of Common Ground Center as an umbrella that can create a narrative and an organizing framework for the current initiatives that we had going but also new initiatives.

So, since the mid-70's we've had the Kresge Food Co-op. A natural foods co-op owned and operated by students, allowing people to buy food in bulk at a discount and to choose natural, healthy, organic foods. It's the only foods co-op in the county of Santa Cruz. So that's pretty big. And then also, starting around 1975 we have the Kresge garden which started, which to this day is one of the larger student-run gardens on campus. And another really key thing about both of those projects is the cooperative. They are organized at least in name as collaborative efforts where there is student empowerment and student decision making.

Now each co-op operates a little differently. And like, the music co-op, I'm not sure about the details about how it operates but it may or may not be consensus decision making with total egalitarian horizontal power structure. I actually can't comment on if it does or if it doesn't, it might just be more of like a rental space. And the photo co-op too, I'm not at all sure about how they operate.  But, the attempt and the pursuit of collaborative decision making and collaborative ownership is a dynamic of a living lab, of the social part of sustainability. Obviously in the case of the food co-op there is a very economic side to that as well, where they are running a small business, learning skills of social entrepreneurship and enterprise, accounting, filing taxes, things like that - very important skills to learn.

Another way that Kresge is a living, learning lab is the Kresge Eco-Village, our themed residence hall around sustainability created three years ago. It's a place where anywhere from thirty to sixty students depending on what year it is, live and work with Common Ground Center, the Kresge garden co-op, natural foods co-op, the World Cafe, other initiatives at Kresge. So it's kind of like the freshman experience to Kresge college as a model of sustainable living at UCSC. It's sort of nested, UCSC, Kresge college, Common Ground Center."

Santos: "There's a lot of opportunities in Kresge to get involved."

Shaw: "Tons, and I didn't even name them all."

Santos: "How do students get involved? Is it pretty easy?"

Shaw: "Well, it is and it isn't. Getting involved really requires being active and getting involved. I've noticed over the years that we from these organizations, common ground, the garden co-op, the natural foods co-op, the World Cafe, even other things that I'm not as involved in like the programs and activities office or the provost office will offer stuff - 'Come by! Free food! Awesome speaker!' But people have to meet us half-way. You have to come and get out of the dorm, actually come. So some ways that we actually get people involved is the resource fair, the OPERS fall festival at the beginning of the year, we have a speaker series where we host a number of speakers every quarter for free, sometimes with food. Often at a time that is based around the students' schedule. It's students that are planning these events. Which brings me to the next thought, which is we have six paid student staff positions. Kaylen being one of them, Sarah and Kaley at PICA being two other student staff. So we've got six student staff through Common Ground Center that get paid 10-15$ an hour, six hours a week to do the activities of Common Ground. This is the office, so to speak, so you know, to keep the office going, to keep the lights on. And, you know, plan events and host events, and find out what are the topics that people want to have conversations about.

[Shaw then pointed at a poster behind me, that had a big tree on it, depicting the intergenerational collaboration of the Common Ground Center.] 

Really, I'd say this picture here, which I have a digital copy of if you ever need it, really articulates a core principle of Common Ground which is we are an intergenerational collaboration. There is a lot of faculty and staff driven centers. There's a lot of student driven clubs, and there are spaces where there is a strong intention for the students, and basically the 'youngers' and the 'olders' to leverage and synergize our unique resources for it's common goals. So you know, I might be able to pick up a phone and get something done really quickly. Let's say someone's like, 'I want to host a talk about aquaponics.' And I'm like, 'Oh my god, I know one of the aquaponics gurus and I just call him up and get through to this guy who is really hard to access.' But then once he's booked no one's going to come unless the students socialize it and spread the word and say, 'Come one, come all, it's going to be great. I'm putting on this event, come support me.' That's just a very small example. But a really common one, older adults tend to have established networks, maybe access to budgets and resources and things like that, but also can get stuck in our ways and in our mindsets, and 'youngers' tend to have some fresh thinking. They don't care if it's taboo, they're just going to say it anyways. And connections, new forms of connections, I'm not just talking about digital stuff. I think that's pasee
 and overplayed, you know. It's kind of an oppressive thing that olders say to youngers, 'You're on your phone all the time.' Like, so are you!"

Santos: "Could you explain the dynamics of the food co-op, like how it works?"

Shaw: "So the food co-op has core members and working members, I think you should ask them honestly to explain it, it has changed since I was a core member thirteen years ago. But basically, Kresge college leases that space to a non-profit called the Kresge Community Natural Foods Cooperative. They lease it for a dollar a year, and that allows the students to have cheap rent and not necessarily need pay the employees, or not make that much money on the food. So they buy food at whole sale and then sell it at retail. So if they were to want to, and if they were to have a successful business they would be making an income so they could then pay employees or donate to different causes and what not. But I think maybe that's not their goal. I think it's more of a club, like a social thing, like a business, social change thing."

Santos: "So it's more of a community."

Shaw: "Yeah, I think so. That's my own read and take on it. I wish it was more outward focused and a little bit more connected with the campus food systems, you know the food security work that we're doing around looking at students in need and what not. But I will say that that food co-op experience is a great place for people to learn and to feel a sense of community. It's kind of a 'learn from your mistakes' sort of a place, and figure it out as we go, which I don't think is the best model for student groups, because people are paying a lot of money to be here. And there are some best practices for showing people how to make things work. Sometimes students are able to transmit that to the next students before they graduate, but sometimes they don't. And when that cycle gets broken it takes a long time to get that back. So I see people at the food co-op and many, many other student clubs who don't have advisers where some memory gets lost, some process gets lost and someone comes back in and they're like, 'Oh my god, there's no process someone created.' We spent all this time creating something that's beautiful and works, but that used to exist pretty much in the same form or maybe different, but it just got forgotten. And when a new person comes in, they might not even refer to the process that person created. So how do student groups solve this issue of summer? Where you need to sort of have the club fall, winter, spring, bridge the gap into the next year, across graduation, across summer break. That's a key challenge."

Santos: "Yeah that's hard for any organization."

Shaw: "It is, it is. I will say that there are a couple things I've found really really help, one of which is intergenerational collaboration and having staff really working closely. In a reciprocal co-mentoring relationship with the students. It's not the staff and faculty teaching the students and the students learning and then doing the work,  it's really about, okay, here's this collective goal that we have, how are we going to make this happen together? What accountabilities can we have to one another? I think that the Sustainability Office does a really good job at this too."

Santos: "Is there anything else about Kresge that you'd like to talk about?"

Shaw: "Last thing I'll say is the World Cafe is an initiative here that started eight years ago. We have the longest ongoing World Cafe program in the world. There are classes that are offered in it as well as a weekly potluck, which is both a potluck of ideas and a potluck of food. And it's a place for students to get together and have conversations that matter. So again students are defining what matters to them and saying let's gather and talk. And sustainability and activism are the two biggest topics that students want to talk about.

Students have been very integral to social movements in the last sixty years. Students have been, and youth and general, have been really critical to the Women's Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Environmental Movement, the Consciousness and New Age Spirituality Movement, the Psychedelic Movement - really critical to all of those. If you think about it, everything in our world is created twice. It's first created through conversation and then it's created in reality. It's always created - you can even say three times - you can say it's created as a thought in one person's mind or in the new sphere, in the collective consciousness, but then through conversation. I have an idea, it's a great idea, I think, I share it with you, you say, 'Oh it's a great idea, we gotta tweak that one thing to make it really better!' And I'm like, 'Oh my god, thank you! Perfect! Let's go!' And then we go enlist other people. Everything in our world has been created through conversation. If that wasn't true, we would be like fish swimming in water, but we are swimming in conversation but we don't even see it. Therefore, if conversation is how we created everything, what might you do to have more powerful conversations in your life? What are the critical conversations that you want to have in your life right now? Not this big, long term thing but right now. So those are the things that people connect with and then we build community around the conversations that matter and I hear students every time, every quarter, 'I'm learning more in this World Cafe than I am in my classes and this is why I came to college. You're a chemistry major, you're a philosophy major, you're an artist, and here's this place where we can connect on a level playing field and share and synergize the unique resources that we each have based on our unique disciplines, and I don't want to leave but I gotta go write this paper.' And I'm like, 'Oh wait but you're learning more here than you are elsewhere, but you're leaving to go do this work that should be where your learning is happening but what you're saying is actually stifling. Okay, interesting, we can work on this.'

I think there's some magic to the World Cafe. And in the frame of sustainability, it's a really critical social skill. Whether you're in engineering, or in arts and activism, or in energy, or in agriculture, there's going to be conversations, you're going to have to collaborate with people. And the world is changing so fast that educating students about yesterday will not help them for today and even educating students about how to act today is not as helpful as learning how to think and how to problem solve and how to be nimble and agile. So tools for collaboration are really critical like that. So I'd say that another thing about Kresge's Common Ground Center, is that we are trying to develop strong leadership skills so that people will be successful in creating the world that they want after they graduate, furthermore after they graduate, they still want to be involved. So that's the intergenerational piece, they're not just kicked out. We want them to stay involved."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Green Lab's Greenovation Award from RightCycle - Kimberly Clark Professional

The UCSC Green Labs team was awarded the Greenovation Award from RightCycle - Kimberly Clark Professional for their 2016 Kimberly-Clark Glove Recycling metrics. Here's a little background info: In an UCSC laboratory assessment, it was found that nitrile gloves made up a majority of the waste coming from labs, which in turn would have just been sent to landfills. In efforts to reduce our waste within the UCSC labs, the UCSC Green Labs Program and Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) have collaborated with the Right-Cycle Kimberly-Clark Nitrile Glove Recycling Program to promote sustainability within labs. By participating in the RightCycle Program we were able to reduce our impact on the environment by diverting 1,620 pounds of waste (which were the metrics from 2016).