Sustainability Committee at Grays Harbor College Rotating Header Image

June, 2010:

Organic Forestry

Everybody knows about “organically” grown foods.  The idea is that we buy food that has been produced in a manner that is less damaging to the environment around us ( and generally healthier to eat).  Well, society places a great demand on our forests to provide a multitude of products/materials to support our quality of life.  There is a similar convention in forestry as “organic” is to the food industry.  It is called being “certified”.  Managing a forest to provide the products/materials that society demands can be done in a very environmentally damaging manner.  Certified forests are an attempt to adhere to some accepted standards of sustainability such that members of society can make a more informed choice on the products/materials they buy.  There are a multitude of forest “certification” systems in the world.  Are they working; what is their main emphasis; who sponsors them?  These are all questions that informed consumers should ask.  This link to an article in the Journal of the Environment from 2003 helps provide some answers to the forest certification questions.

This tip is brought to you by Todd Bates who is a Forestry Instructor here at Grays Harbor College.  Thanks Todd!

Let the wind dry your Clothes!

If the rain ever stops, line drying clothes saves lots of energy!

Great Colbert clip!

This week’s sustainability tip is brought to you by Jennifer Barber, English as a Second Language.  Thanks for the tip Jennifer!

Shake that toner Cartridge!

Printer and fax machine toner cartridges usually have many copies left when the machine shows the message “replace cartridge.”  Removing the cartridge and giving it a shake redistributes the toner and allows more pages to be printed.  Doing this two or three times per cartridge will still give good print quality. Once cartridges are empty, remember to bring them to the Administrative Services office to be recycled. 

This week’s Sustainability Tip is brought to you by Penny James in Administrative Services.  Thanks Penny!

Want to ease into a low-impact Lifestyle?

“Green” seems pretty fashionable these days. Significant lifestyle changes can sound uncomfortable, even daunting. But what should we do if we want to ease into a low-impact lifestyle?

 Well, try something. Anything, really. Pick something interesting, and try it out. You’re bound to start finding things that work for you.

If someone talks about how they take the bus to work, but that doesn’t work for whatever reason – find a coworker and carpool. Your actions still remove one car from the road. As a kicker, you get some conversation to start your morning.

For example:

·         Instead of taking on the 100-mile diet – where you only consume food produced within 100 miles of your house – start picking up fresh, local chicken eggs from the Public Market in Hoquiam. It’s a start.

·         Or, start a herb planter in your kitchen window. Oregano, mint, and chives are all easy to grow.

·         Stop using plastic bags at the grocery store – buy a few of those totes that the stores are selling now, and use/reuse those.

A few small steps toward conservation can help you figure out how to integrate some green into your life, while feeling good about working toward a cleaner future.

This week’s tip is brought to you by Ralph Hogaboom in the IT department. Thanks Ralph!

Small Actions CAN Make a Big Difference

By following some of the steps below, by helping to go “green”, you can actually save yourself about 25% a year on your PUD and water bills.

When you mow the lawn, try to leave your clippings (they sell mulching mowers).  This will keep your grass from drying out so fast, and helps fertilize, and also reduces “dumping” somewhere.

Make it a habit to check your outside faucets for leaks (mowing the lawn is a good time to do this).

Install a low-flow shower head.  You can usually get these free from the local PUD company.

Take showers instead of baths, and time them for 5 minutes.

Only run your dishwasher when it is full, and let them air dry instead of using the dry setting.

When you brush your teeth or shave, don’t let the water run. 

Put a quart plastic milk jug filled with water in the tank of your toilet.

Don’t use running water to thaw food.

Don’t flush anything except TP, even nose tissues are hard for local plants to process, and take more energy and resources to process.

Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.

Put ice from empty cups on your plants.

Have a rain barrel and use rain water to water your inside plants, hanging baskets and planter boxes.  (The plants will also like this better than treated city water).

Save your water from washing your veggies to water your house plants.

Run your clothes washer only when full.  Try using only cold water for washing.

Plug your TV’s and DVD’s into a power strip and turn off the strip when not in use.  They draw several watts even when turned off.  The power strip will stop this electricity drain. You can unplug your coffee pot as you are leaving the house if it has a clock or timer on it.

When you need to replace light bulbs, use compact florescent ones, and always look for the “Energy Star” label.

Don’t drive aggressively.  Fast stopping, fast accelerations, taking corners too fast all add to extra fuel consumption. Plan your errands so you don’t have to back track.

Check all your doors and windows for air leaks. 

Keep your thermostat set at a reasonable temperature.  Up and down all the time will draw extra power.  Remember that when you are just sitting around watching TV, you won’t stay as warm as if you are up and moving around, don’t turn up the heat, keep a blanket handy for watching TV.

Purchase and use cloth grocery bags.

Check your packaging.  Many things can be purchased in “environmentally friendly” packages.  Check out manufacturers online.  Many are now processing their products in “green” factories.

Get a recycle can from your local waste company.  In some locations, it can actually reduce your garbage bill because you are recycling. 

Check your hot water tank and be sure the temperature is set to no more than 120 degrees.

Purchase “green bags” for your fresh veggies.  After cleaning them when you get home from the store, these bags will actually keep your produce fresher longer, and can be washed and reused.  (These work, I have tried them).

This week’s tip is  brought to you by Cindy Jasper in the Financial Aid department.  Thanks Cindy!

How Do You Bottle Your Water?

Three Facts about Bottled Water:

1)     Bottled water is more expensive than tap water. A 20-ounce bottle of water sold for $1.00 works out to cost $0.05/ounce while the most municipal water costs $0.01/ounce or less!

2)     Bottled water is regulated by the FDA, and tap water is regulated by the EPA. Therefore a company claiming that bottled water is “safer and healthier” to drink lacks any real evidence, since the regulations are not the same for bottled water versus tap water.

3)      Over 80% of plastic bottles are thrown away, producing up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year.

Three Tips for Reducing Plastic Bottle Waste:

1)     Drink from a reusable stainless steel, BPA-free plastic, or glass container.

2)     Talk to your local restaurants and vendors about not offering bottled water.

3)     If the taste of your tap water is not to your liking, purchase a water filtration system that can be connected to your sink faucet or a filtered in a separate water pitcher.

This week’s sustainability tip is brought to you by Janel Spaulding with Grays Harbor College and the Chehalis Basin Partnership.  Thanks Janel!

Don’t Let your Laundry Dirty the Earth

Doing laundry isn’t something people traditionally think of as an area where we can improve our environmental impact.  But making a few intentional choices & working to change a few habits can have a big impact. How?

Hang a clothes line

Summer’s coming. Put your glorious laundry out in the glorious sunshine. Your dryer is #2 on the list of household energy users, and each load you dry equates to a loss of over 16 feet of natural habitat loss **. There is further cost to you directly in the wear & tear on your clothes that a dryer causes. Clotheslines spare our clothes, helping them last longer. And if you’ve got a little space you can clear out, hang a clothesline indoors. There are many fold away or compact clotheslines available.

 Make each wash a cold wash

Set your washer to cold whenever possible. The heating of the hot water in your laundry accounts for as much as 80% of the environmental impact when you wash a load of laundry ***.

Make your own laundry soap

I’m probably going to lose lots of you on this last one. I also can’t find much data about the ecological benefits, other than some vague talk about phosphates, less co2 emissions, and lack of disposable packaging required. But home made laundry soap is perfume free, doesn’t contain any goofy chemicals, and cleans clothes great. To make, get a bar of Fels Naptha (Top Foods carries it), and grate it. Add 2 cups baking soda, and a cup of borax. Mix thoroughly, and use a tablespoon per load of wash. It’s cheaper, too. In our estimates, it costs about a third of a box of Tide.

Get a new washer
The average household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year *, consuming about 13,500 gallons of water. Energy Star qualified top loaders can save as much as 7,000 gallons, and with the estimated 11 year life span of each washer, that’s a lifetime of drinking water for six people.


Energy Star 

** Eco FX 

*** Science In The Box 

This week’s Sustainability Tip is brought to you by Ralph Hogaboom in the Information Technology department. Thanks Ralph!