Archive for May, 2014

How to Make your Summer Road Trip Sustainable in 5 Easy Steps

shutterstock_99063752Summer vacation is almost here, and around the country people are dreaming of getting in the cars and hitting the road. From short day trips to see the local sights to longer vacations that cross multiple states and highways, trips on the open road just seem to have a way to inspire and excite us.

In order to make this summer’s road trip as eco-friendly as possible, consider the following tips and advice:

Decide ahead of time where you are going

Sure, it’s fun to get in the car and just meander for miles. But planning ahead of time where you are headed will help save on costly fuel, as well as unnecessary wear and tear on the car. To boost mileage even more, Made Just Right suggests using cruise control as often as possible and, if you can stand it, go easy on the A/C.

Make sure your vehicle is in good shape

As Smart Traveling Tips notes, cars that are in need of a tune up use more gasoline and tend to belch out more exhaust. In addition, low air pressure in your tires will have a negative impact on your fuel usage. Examine them before you leave, and use the information on the sidewalls (or better yet, on the sticker in the door panel) to learn the proper PSI for your tires. If you notice that one or more are losing tread or otherwise look ready to replace, consider purchasing new BF Goodrich Tires or another brand from a company like Tire Buyer.

Avoid Rush Hour Traffic

Stop-and-go traffic can be maddening, and it’s also hard on the environment. Try to plan your travel time so you are not going through main thoroughfares during the busiest times of the day. Unless you have to head into a town as part of your journey, stick to the main highways and byways as much as you can.

Pack as light as possible

Although it can be tempting to over pack, try to keep your suitcase as light as possible. Also, refrain from loading up your car with a lot of equipment and other gear that you probably won’t have time to use during your trip. A lighter car will get better gas mileage, and will also be more comfortable to travel in. After all, trying to relax while being poked in the back by the world’s largest suitcase is not a lot of fun.

Prepare a picnic lunch

Instead of stopping at McDonald’s or Taco Bell along the way for lunch, consider packing a nice picnic meal for the whole gang. Be on the lookout for a nice scenic rest stop and enjoy a relaxing meal in the shade. When you are done eating, be sure to pick up all of your trash and dispose of it in the rest area’s trash cans, or bring it with you in the car to toss later on. If you find yourself having a hankering for a hamburger but are not in the mood for a chain restaurant, download some of the apps. For example, the SHFT Food Tripping app helps hungry travelers find tasty alternatives to fast food wherever they are on the road.

May 16th, 2014

All about DormMania

Have you ever moved out of your dorm room thinking “how am I going to take all this stuff home? I wish I could do something better than just throwing it into a dumpster!” Now, thanks to a new project funded by the Committee on Sustainability (COS), you don’t have to wish anymore.

Even as you read this, five dedicated students are working tirelessly to implement a new program to reduce move-out waste at William and Mary: DormMania. Indoor and outdoor collection locations across campus will accept donations of usable items that would otherwise be thrown out by departing undergrads. Everything donated will be sorted, cleaned, and stored over the summer, and then sold cheaply at a large yard sale during fall move-in.

DormMania was born after Audrey Kriva ’17 attended a lecture put on by the non-profit Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) last year. Recent University of New Hampshire graduates formed PLAN in 2013 after creating a hugely successful waste reduction program on their campus. Now they help other schools launch similar programs.

PLAN’s idea that “waste is just a logistics problem” intrigued Kriva immediately. She realized that a university, due to sheer scale and organization, has the potential to operate with a unique efficiency, given a little bit of logistical help. So, late one Wednesday night, after gathering her thoughts, Kriva went to the Student Environmental Action Coalition’s (SEAC) Recycling Campaign meeting to ask other students involved in waste management about the feasibility of her idea. The members of the campaign contemplated several potential roadblocks, ultimately concluding that a project like the one marinating in Kriva’s head would be unlikely to succeed.

Nevertheless, the facilitator of the Recycling Campaign, Eric Dale ’14, offered to sit down with Kriva to discuss further. Drawing on years of accumulated institutional knowledge about sustainability as well as connections with much of the College’s administration, Dale directed Kriva to the key players she would need to have on board with her idea. Admitting that he didn’t have time to work on the project, Dale sent Kriva on her way, list of names and ideas in hand.

Thirty-four meetings with administrators, committees, students, and other groups later, Kriva knew what would be needed to make her dream a reality. She created a comprehensive plan for the implementation of the project, slowly getting permission from various decision-makers. She also began recruiting her team—starting with Dale. The gleam of determination in Kriva’s eyes and the impressive legwork she had done in a just a few months convinced Dale to sign on. He was followed by Rukmini Bhugra ’17, Jahan Cooper ’15, and Madeleine Boel ’17.

The team of five began holding energetic planning meetings every week. They named the project DormMania, and applied for a COS GreenFees grant to fund it. On April 3rd, DormMania was funded for $5000, and Kriva’s team shifted into high gear. Donning their light blue t-shirts, they talked to club after club, recruiting volunteers and donors alike. Incredibly helpful and generous individuals on campus, including Sandra Prior (Environmental Health and Safety), Bob Avalle (Facilities Management), Chris Durden (Residence Life), Drew Stelljes (Office of Community Engagement), Patrick Foley (College Sustainability Fellow), Lauren Garrett (Office of the First Year Experience), Bill Horatio (Parking and Transportation Services), John Byxbe (Auxiliary Services), Kristen Fagan (Risk Management), and many others lent their support, advice, and resources to transform the project into reality.

You may have already noticed an enormous cardboard box in the lobby or lounge of your dorm, and beginning May 1, you will probably see DormMania collection tents set up outside dorms across campus. Feel free to donate anything you might use in a dorm—everything from furniture and appliances to decorations and books—at any of these locations. They’ll even take non-perishable food items and half-used cleaning supplies! Keep an eye out for volunteers wearing light blue DormMania shirts, and if you have questions, email dormmania@gmail.com. Help the environment by helping this project succeed! Find better ways to dispose of your stuff, and remember to buy anything you need next year at the huge DormMania yard sale in the Fall. Pass it on!

Find DormMania on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/DormMania

May 1st, 2014


About:

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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