Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mission Green Dorm: Episode 1 - Packing Guide

The Container Store (i.e. OCD heaven)

Here are the top tips I've found - coming from a soon to be college student's perspective:

  1. Use what you already have
  2. Bring a recycling bin
  3. Bring lamps that work on CFL bulbs.
  4. Avoid extra appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, mini fridges, and air conditioning units. All I'm bringing is a small fan and an electric kettle for my tea addiction and instant coffee on those mornings that just go too quickly.
  5. Organic sheets
  6. Green cleaning supplies
  7. Smart strip pluggins
The most useful thing I've found in trying to pack green, has been reusing what we already have at home. It's insanely easy to get carried away at The Container Store (i.e. OCD heaven) or Bed Bath and Beyond, but it can be both cheaper and greener to dig up the items you already have at home. 
There really is no super special trick to green dorm room shopping - the key is less is more!

I was extremely excited to see a these green packing tips on UPenn's website!

Packing tip: GO GREEN!

When packing to move to Penn, consolidate where possible in order to eliminate extra cardboard boxes. When purchasing lightbulbs for your room, make sure they are the compact fluorescent type. Also, using a power strip with surge protector is not only energy efficient, but also helps protect your electronics against power surges. Here are some items to consider to make your room green:
  • Reusable plates, cups and utensils (Preferably not plastic)
  • Smart Strip or surge protector
  • Bring Energy Star appliances (TVs, Computer Monitors, Refrigerators, etc.) If you bring a TV, bring a flat, LCD screen. It can use 1/3 less energy than a standard, CRT television.
  • Reusable water bottle (SIGG, Nalgene, etc.)
  • Cloth Napkins
  • Power Strips (so electronics can be easily unplugged while not in use)
  • Reusable Shopping Bags (recommend three)
  • Recycled Paper
  • Organic Towels and Sheets
  • A Bedspread or Quilt from Home
  • Recycling Bins
  • Green Cleaning Supplies and Detergent
  • CFLs for Lamps or Other Fixtures
  • Green Cleaning Products
Some items that are donated to PennMOVES, our end of the year Move-Out Drive, include bed risers, ironing boards, plastic underbed and other storage. Consider using soft-sided storage made from recycled materials instead of hard plastics.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Summer Streets

    Summer streets - what an incredible opportunity! For 3 Saturdays during the summer, Park Avenue is closed off to cars and open to walkers, joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers. The event is incredibly well planned and organized, with activity stops almost every mile. It always leaves participants asking for it to be done more often.

    I took part on two different Saturdays. The first time going down from 72nd street to the Brooklyn Bridge and then returning in time to visit my local green market - 82nd  and 1st. 

    Midtown rest stop - lots of booths and food!

    With free bike valet!

    The second Saturday I ventured over the Brooklyn Bridge: a bit hectic and crowded but a beautiful view! I road around Brooklyn for a bit and then stopped by the water for a nice afternoon treat of frozen yogurt!

    My own rest stop - with a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

    Learning how not to get run over by trucks - very useful rest stop.

    Free NYC water - best in the world!
    Puppet show / story time for the little ones at another stop.

    Rest stop complete with sand boxes,

    and professional sand sculptures making part of the city skyline.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    What's Your Eco 411?

    Below is a list of questions based on those started by Lynn of Funtastically Green and we want YOU to play along with us!  Give us your Eco 411! 

    Here's the deal,  if you have a blog, post the questions below with YOUR Eco 411 answers and link to 5 (or more) friends and this post. I picked this up from the lovely Shane Shirley-Smith of Environmental Booty If you don't have a blog but are on Facebook, post your answers there and tag at least 5 friends and link back to this post.  Ask your friends to do the same, linking back to you, this post and a few of their friends!  And so on... Let’s see how far we can take this!

    1. Who are you? Give us the goods – we really want to  know all about those skeletons in the closet.
    Well, let's see, I'm an 18 year old environmentalist, gymnast, student, New Yorker, new to the environmental blogging world but already know that I love it! I'm leaving for college in 2 days and I'm excited, but also terrified of change. I started gymnastics when I was just 2 years old, and have been on a competitive team since I was 4. In the past few years I've had one injury after another and actually quit briefly in the winter - which is when i found the opportunity to start this blog! I just couldn't live without gymnastics and returned after a few months, and will now be competing for my college's division 1 team. I love the opportunities of NYC, but I'm not actually a city-girl, I have a quirky laugh, I can be very silly, but also stress way too much, and I get scared watching almost any movie (so I don't watch them very often). I believe that every circumstance is a learning opportunity if looked at from the right angle.

    2. If there was one thing on the planet that you could protect or change, what would it be?
    I think I'd love to get people to care of the environment and climate change. Plain and simple, attitudes toward the environment in the U.S. are overall just awful.

    3. What’s your WORST green habit?
    I'm not proud of it, but leaving the television on. Working hard on that one! Plus I won't even have a TV at school, so it shouldn't be an issue.
    EDIT: After thinking about this one a little longer (and a few shouts from my parents), I'd like to make an adjustment to this answer. My worst green habit is turning off the water, lights, or air conditioner while my parents are using them. In all other aspects I approach the green topic from a gentle approach - taking caution not to scare people from the idea by making them think that it has to be inconvenient or uncomfortable. But with my parents I have taken a blunt approach. The sound of running water has become a pet peeve. All I can think of how much is being wasted and my parents rinse dishes before sticking them in the dish washer or sleep with the air conditioner on in the winter. I've tried so hard to get them to care, and they're working on it...however slowly that may be. They know that it means a lot to me, but for them it's just not worth it yet. 

    4.Girls - which eco-gal is the hottest?  Angelina Jolie, Mariel Hemingway, Alicia Silverstone or Jessica Alba
       Guys - Which eco-guy is cuter? Leo Dicaprio, Woody Harrelson, Surf or Matt Damon

    To be honest, I don't follow celebrity news at all. Should probably get on that before I get to school...

    5. What’s your fav healthy food? Least fav? 
    My parents both like to eat very healthily, so I've grown up with a house full of healthy food. My favorite food in the world is zucchini! Least favorite healthy food? Probably, wow, that's actually a harder question than I thought...I'm not a very picky eating and I think I like every single vegetable and fruit out there. I'm not such a big fan of tofu, just like Shane, so I'll copy you on that one. 

    6. If you could adopt an animal from WWF, what would it be? Why?
    I'll go with giraffe...they're cute :)
    Picture links to page.

    7. If you could have any house, anywhere – where would you live? 
    Well not there I'll tell you. I'm not so much a city person, and I'm an anti-suburbs person. I picture myself living in the country with a farm and some animals. And places to hike for sure. My parents aren't so keen on the idea, but we'll see as I get older. I also love to travel, so traveling in Europe and staying in hostels is another fantasy of mine. Of course, blogging the whole time. 

    8. Is bigger better? (A house that is girls! Shame on you *snickering*) Would you rather have a small house or a big house? Why? 
    I'm moving from a Manhattan apartment to a dorm room, small is just the way it is. But definitely, small is the way to go. Enough of these McMansions. 

    I'll give a big shout out to my Experts from Experts' Opinions on Sustainability:
    Jeffrey Davis (Nashville, TN) - Eco Snobbery Sucks
    Brendan DeMelle (Seattle, WA) - DeSmogBlog
    Beth Fiteni (Long Island, NY) - Ecobeth and TheEcoBabe
    Jin Kong (Indianapolis, IN) - The Green Elephant
    Meris Michaels (Geneva, Switzerland) - Towards Better Health
    Jessica Reeder (Reno, NV) - Love and Trash
    Brendan Seale (Toronto, Canada) - The Interconnectedness of Things

    Will you help us spread this around?

    And let's try to do this with EOS as well! Follow the same directions, answering the following questions.

    1. What was your favorite book of 2010?
    2. What was your favorite documentary of 2010?
    3. What was the biggest political upset (sustainability-related) of 2010?
    4. What role does social media play in the environmental movement?
    5. What is the most pressing sustainability issue we need to address?
    6. What is the most promising sustainable energy source?
    7. If you could back one bill through Congress, which would it be?

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Summer Streets

    I'm very excited to cover tomorrow's Summer Streets celebration in Manhattan, NYC!
    I will be riding my bike around the over 6 miles of streets that will be free of cars and open to the public, stopping at rest stops, and claiming my foursquare specials!
    If you have any suggestions for stops or things to cover please let me know. I will also be taking some impromptu interviews and video.

    Look for a post on it soon!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    A College Student's Guide to Living Green

    I am about to embark on an exciting new chapter of my life - I'll be leaving for college in 3 weeks! I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of having this blog and using it as a tool for my own learning, so I have decided to continue, as best I can while also living the life of a college student, by refocusing it on living green while in college.

    Over the next few weeks I will be dorm shopping - basically back-to-school shopping on steroids, and I'm going to do my research to attempt to buy the greenest options.  The first series on my newly refocused blog will be Mission Green Dorm.

    I hope you'll follow me on this exciting journey! And as always, I love to hear your comments and suggestions.