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Friday, March 14, 2014

Brain, Mind, Consciousness, and Sustainability

By Eli Willis

Every year, all the sustainability organizations on campus gather at the inter-org retreat to connect the work we are all doing and plant seeds for future collaboration. This year, I attended inter-org for the first time, with a group that stood out as a little different from the rest. The Brain Mind & Consciousness Society doesn’t seem to fit quite into the category of sustainability org, and yet sustainability is an integral theme in everything we do.

BMC Representatives at Inter-Org
The Brain, Mind & Consciousness Society (BMC) is an interdisciplinary student organization committed to the exploration of human cognition, behavior & experience and their applications toward a just and sustainable future. We hold weekly events involving student presentations and discussions, sponsor a student-directed seminar, and host an annual conference.

Students involved in BMC come from a diverse range of academic background but share common interests. Because we are not compartmentalized as a sustainability organization, students of all majors learn about and get involved with sustainability.

This quarter, I co-facilitated the BMC student directed seminar with Tanner Person and Kelly Detro. As the course covered a broad range of topics from neuroscience, psychology, and technology, the themes of sustainability and our relationship with nature kept coming up. We considered the tension between technology and nature, the effects of disconnection from nature on our culture and mental health, and how domination of nature is connected to other forms of oppression. Though most students were not ecology or environmental studies majors, everyone had something to say about the way we treat the Earth and how we can transform our society for real sustainability.

Sustainability has also been the key theme for our conferences. Last year, for the first BMC conference, the theme was “Achieving Human Sustainability,” which entailed not only environmental consciousness, but workshops and speakers on community resilience, human health, study of happiness, and science of mind. This year’s conference, entitled GRoW: Global Roots of Wellness, asks the question “how does our personal health relate to that of our community and society as a whole?” We hope to investigate how other living systems thrive in order to improve on our own, drawing on our ability to learn from nature to create sustainable living systems.

The thread running through all our studies of brain, mind, and consciousness is that everything is included in nature. Seeing ourselves as part of nature is imperative to remaking our society to live harmoniously with natural systems. Ultimately, BMC’s work is about seeing the interconnections between all things: between all different fields of study, between the body and mind, and between ourselves, nature, and the world we want to live in.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

UCSC Green Labs' Collaboration with the Kimberly-Clark Nitrile Glove Recycling Program (“RightCycle”)

In the Fall 2013 Waste Assessment of Laboratories, it was found that nitrile gloves make up a majority of laboratory waste destined for the landfill. To divert such a large waste stream, UCSC Green Labs has collaborated with the Kimberly-Clark Nitrile Glove Recycling Program (“RightCycle”) to promote laboratory sustainability and expand a national effort that has so far diverted 70,000 pounds of waste from landfills.

Kimberly-Clark’s RightCycle is the first large-scale effort for previously hard-to-recycle and commonly used items like laboratory nitrile gloves. The way the program works is that gloves previously thrown in the trash can now be placed in RightCycle collection bins, full bins are then shipped and processed at a recycling partner, and the resulting materials can be integrated into new eco-friendly products like park benches or Frisbees.

UCSC Green Labs officially began its Kimberly-Clark Nitrile Glove Recycling Program in late February. Collection bins are now located across eight laboratory facilities both on and off campus. Green Labs hopes laboratories will participate in recycling their current stock of Kimberly-Clark Nitrile gloves or begin purchasing the more sustainable Kimberly-Clark Nitrile brand as the program continues. Laboratories can be an important part in reaching our Zero Waste by 2020 goal.

If you would like to learn more about the UCSC RightCycle Program, visit our website.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Student Sustainability Advisors Hiring for 2014-15

Do you plan to live in University housing next year and want to become a leader in your community? Apply to become a Student Sustainability Adviser (SSA) by March 21 (applications accepted until position filled). The SSA’s primary role is to raise awareness and offer educational opportunities within their communities about the many ways campus residents can positively affect and contribute to UCSC’s sustainability goals. The position requires 15 hours per week and receives a quarterly stipend of $1,500. You will be required to move in early for training and assist with move out waste diversion at the end of Finals in June. Apply on the Employee Request system with the position # 7056.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Zipcars on campus

The campus Zipcar fleet is expanding to ten vehicles, and now includes two cars located in the Crown/Merrill Apartments parking lot nearest the Fire House (Lot 154). UCSC Zipcar members are also eligible to use Zipcars located in the City of Santa Cruz and at these other campus locations:

  • Colleges 9 and 10 (two cars)
  • Upper College 8 (two cars)
  • Heller/McLaughlin intersection (two cars)
  • OPERS (two cars)

UCSC students, staff, and faculty interested in becoming members can take advantage of Zipcar's latest promotion: join Zipcar at for only $25, and receive a $45 driving credit when you enter the promo code B2S2013.

For more information contact Teresa Buika at tabuika [at] ucsc [dot] edu at Transportation and Parking Services (831/502-7941).

Teresa Buika, Senior Transportation Planner, and Larry Pageler, Director of TAPS, with one of the campus's Zipcars. (Photo source)