Archive for April, 2012

Earth Week Excerpts: From “The Slow, Complicated Ascent of Eco-Fashion,” by Andrew Carter

. . . In order to grasp the eco-fashion movement, it is necessary to fully understand the harmful practices that this movement is attempting to address. On their website, the “Global Action Through Fashion” movement has compiled a thorough guide to the issues surrounding fashion. According to them, the extensive process that goes into producing clothing, from the conversion of raw materials to sewing, is responsible for upwards of 8,000 toxic chemicals (Global). A large percentage of the 120 billion pounds of textiles produced is made from non-renewable sources, and the majority of the carcinogenic chemicals used in the dyeing and finishing processes find themselves dumped into the waterways (Global). Another large concern is the 25 million pounds of cotton produced annually (Global). While cotton itself is not a major environmental concern, chemical pesticides of varying degrees of harmfulness are commonly sprayed on the cotton. Furthermore, according to the website, it takes “1,800 gallons to grow the cotton needed for the average pair of jeans” (Global).

Environmental problems hardly stop at the production process. The majority of a piece of clothing’s carbon footprint is left by the consumer, due to the amount of water and chemicals required in repeated washing (Global). And with the exception of secondhand clothing stores, like Goodwill, mass recycling is virtually nonexistent for clothing, leading to large quantities of waste. From farmer to the consumer, there are a myriad of negative ways that the environment is affected, and the reality is enhanced when one considers the incredibly large amounts of clothing that are produced, transported, and bought on a daily basis.

. . . In the end, if people are determined to wear clothing that . . . reduces their carbon footprint, they have to be willing to make sacrifices. Glausiusz suggests that the “best option of all” is “just to shop at Goodwill.” Regardless of what new eco-trend is filling the pages of Vogue or making its way down the latest runway, recycling and reuse is the only way to balance fashion and sustainability. It may be a long time before advances are made on all sides of the struggle to make fully sustainable clothing, but the ideas are there and the technology is advancing every day. All it will take now is a little creativity and a lot of passion, and in time eco-fashion won’t just be a movement; it will be the only reality.

April 20th, 2012

Earth Week Excerpts: From “A Grassroots Development,” by Aaron Barksdale

This Earth Day should be devoted to the development of an eco-moral code. It is in the interest of all of all organisms that humans develop an ecological system of ethics that promotes sustainable treatment of the environment. . . .

. . . [W]hen buying food from sustainable farmers at venues like a farmers market, people can shop with a free conscience. Consumers can also purchase food through food co-ops or plant small gardens to grow their own produce. Also, when eating at restaurants or shopping at grocery stores, consumers should ask where the food is coming from and if it’s local. They can donate money to philanthropic organizations that promote sustainable agriculture such as Farm Aid or Heifer International. As Edward C. Wilson stated, the human race, like every other living organism, lives on a basic relationship of production and consumption. There is a responsibility for humans to produce food and crops in an environmentally sound manner. Likewise, consumers must make well-informed decisions about the products they choose to eat or buy and which industries they will support. By developing a concrete system of ecological values that function as a moral guide, each person who either produces or consumes can have a positive impact on the environment.

April 19th, 2012

Earth Week Excerpts: From “Trash Talk,” by Katherine Conides

. . . [O]ld desktop computers contain only trace amounts of gold, but in concentrations still higher than what are “found in naturally occurring mineral ore” (“Valuable”). Thus the tedious task of dismantling them is worthwhile for both the seller of the recovered material and the environment. After the piece has been dismantled and gutted, its remaining parts are to be left in landfills specifically designed to handle hazardous waste responsibly, or so one hopes. Although the described method is ideal and considered the safest and most environmentally sound way to dispose of e-waste, rarely is it implemented. A quick internet search reveals any number of companies operating under the guise of e-waste recycling. To the uninformed consumer these companies may seem like legitimate alternatives to simply dumping potentially hazardous waste in their local dumps. The problem, however, is that the majority of these companies make their profits not by actually recycling e-waste, but by collecting old electronics and then selling them to waste traders who end up shipping them developing nations such as China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Africa. The low labor costs and virtually non-existent environmental regulations of these countries entice industrialized nations to export about 50-80% of their recycled e-waste to be processed overseas (Puckett et al 2).

Those who support the export of hazardous e-waste to developing countries see it as beneficial to both parties. Initially, their reasoning seems logical. Developed countries are able to dispose of their hazardous waste efficiently and cheaply, and developing nations are given access to reusable technology, valuable parts and ultimately cash. A closer look into what is actually taking place in the communities that are left to rummage through the waste paints a different picture. The hazardous nature of e-waste makes recycling it extremely complex for even the most industrialized nations. In developing countries “the potential for harm is particularly acute…” because they often “lack sufficient controls and procedures to eliminate or mitigate the impacts of exposure” (Hull 35). The economic, social, and regulatory vulnerabilities of developing countries are being exploited, a practice which is inherently unjust.

April 19th, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Congratulations to Sydney Gennari, winner of the Earth Week 2012 T-Shirt Design Contest!

April 18th, 2012

Earth Week Update

This Saturday, April 14th, Earth Week 2012 kicked off with a work day in the campus gardens and open hours at the Campus FREEmarket. This was the first of two garden work days in the Earth Week schedule – stay tuned for more updates on our progress! Throughout the rest of Earth Week, The FREEmarket will be open during its regular hours, which you can find here.

On Monday, a group of students, faculty and staff met for a book discussion in Swem Library. The featured book was Donovan Hohn’s Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,000 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them.”

In Moby Duck, Hohn documents his voyage in pursuit of thousands of rubber ducks that spilled from a cargo ship into the ocean in 1992 and have floated on the high seas ever since. The book discussion drew connections between Hohn’s fascinating journey and wider issues of sustainability, addressing themes of the incongruity between the natural and unnatural, the dangers of our throwaway consumer culture, and the effects of accumulating large amounts of plastic – ducks and otherwise – in a world where nothing can truly be thrown “away.”

One attendee carried a purse made out of the tome that inspired Hohn’s title – a great example of repurposing what might have been thrown away.

On Monday evening, representatives from the Physics Department and the Society for Physics Students led a tour of the solar panel structure on the roof of Small Hall. The “SCORS: Solar Cells on the Roof of Small Hall” initiative began in 2009, with the goal of evaluating the feasibility of using solar power to provide energy to the W&M Campus. Using several smaller panels and one large panel installed on the roof, the SCORS committee has been able to study what solar technology and panel placement work best for generating energy.


Capturing the afternoon rays

The panel on the roof currently provides enough energy to charge a battery that powers a laptop and a weather station. As more studies are done, the project will be able to determine the viability of solar power for the William & Mary campus, and hopefully make an argument for putting in more panels.


Main solar panel on Small’s roof


Battery and Laptop powered by the solar panel

Look out for more updates on Earth Week 2012, and check the schedule at The Earth Week 2012 Website.

-Sharon Hartzell

April 17th, 2012

Earth Week 2012 has arrived!

This week, the William & Mary campus is hosting a series of fantastic events related to sustainability. The week will culminate in a campus and community-wide celebration on Saturday, April 21st.

The theme for this year’s event is the Campus Sustainability Roadmap. This document, created in 2008, is a guide to implementing policies and proposals listed in the College’s sustainability plan. The Roadmap categorizes sustainability initiatives, and each event in the Earth Week schedule corresponds to one of the six categories.

Earth Week Schedule

Green: Waste/Recycling

Orange: Education/Wild-Card

Blue: Landscape

Red: Energy

Yellow: Food

Purple: Transportation

Earth Week Pursuit:

Pick up a special Earth Week button during lunch at Sadler on April 11,12, 13 OR at an event!
Each event is color-coded to a unique facet of sustainability
Attend different-themed events, collecting stickers on your pin for each one, according to their color. A wild card event can be applied to any colored wedge.
Bring your completed pin to the extravaganza on Saturday and receive a limited edition Earth Week t-shirt signed by President Reveley!
All of the completed buttons will be entered into a drawing to win Amazon gift cards!

1 comment April 14th, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Illustration by Pawel Kuczynski
Source

April 4th, 2012

Developing World Gallery: Wednesday, April 4th

This Wednesday, IRC Cares, the service committee of the International Relations Club, is hosting the Developing World Gallery in the Commonwealth Auditorium of the Sadler Center. Wednesday night will mark the opening of a week-long auction of photographs that William & Mary students have taken in developing countries. Proceeds from the auction will go towards charity: water, a non-profit organization that delivers safe and clean drinking water in developing countries.

IRC Cares has also worked with NewForest W&M to bring a speaker to the event. Steve Sapienza, an award-winning news and documentary producer who has covered a wide range of humanity security stories, will be speaking at the event at 7 pm. His talk is expected to cover some sustainability and environmental topics, as well. To read more about Steve, visit http://www.stevesapienza.com/#!__bio.

Though the opening reception for the auction will be that evening, RC Cares will be tabling during the following week to continue auctioning off photos.

To learn more about the event, visit the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/events/241842622559732/

April 2nd, 2012

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Welcome to Hark Upon the Green! This blog is a shared space for members of the sustainability community at William & Mary to write about sustainability topics on and beyond. If you would like to contribute to the blog, contact Madeleine Boel, Committee on Sustainability Web Assistant, at mgboel@email.wm.edu.
Make sure to visit Sustainability at W&M for all of W&M's progress on sustainability efforts. Catch up with William & Mary Sustainability on Twitter at WM_GreenisGold
To learn what William & Mary's Environmental Law Society is up to, visit their blog at http://envirols.blogs.wm.edu/.

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