“Bicycle Dreams” shows at the Blue Note this Thursday

The PedNet Coalition is sponsoring this film about Race Across America, a 3000-mile bike race that challenges riders to pedal across the country in just ten days. Looks pretty rad. Inspiring, even. Shoot, I watched this and then biked to school this morning. Take a look. Oh, and word on this street is that the film sold out in St. Louis. Do it while it’s hot.

Bicycle Dreams documentary film
Thursday, February 2
The Blue Note
Doors open at 6pm Show at 7pm
Tickets: $11 in advanced/$15 at the door

What you get:

  • Covered “Rock Star” bicycle parking in front
  • *Shakespeare’s pizza for purchase
  • Cash bar
  • Q&A with 2013 RAAM rider Pam Creech
  • FREE after-show with band Mary & The Giant
  • PedNet Coalition Fundraiser
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What it’s like to live at the Sustainahouse

They applied because they wanted a supportive community and a place to learn about sustainability. Now they’re close friends, city experts in sustainable living on a budget, and some of the best-fed college students you’ll find. Their out-of-the-box lifestyle is a point of fascination for media, including a sweet infographics. As the deadline for applying to live at the Sustainahouse approaches (application is at the bottom of this link, due February 8th), we checked in with the residents to see what they’ve learned from the first semester. One nearly universal truth: it’s hard to be embarrassed. That, or they’re all close-lipped. Maybe what happens in Sustainahouse stays in Sustainahouse.

– – – – –

Claire Friedrichsen
Junior Soil Science with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture

Best meal: Kat’s brown rice pizza makes me do a little jig
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment? One time I was painting in my room and had decided to wear a lab coat, a 1950’s style “madmen” hat, heels and a really long skirt, kinda in the style of a 1950’s woman doctor. It was close to midnight so I thought no one would see me if I went downstairs without changing and there was Henry eating a midnight snack.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: My “responsibility” is waste management. I tried over a couple week period to encourage the others not to use the trashcan in the kitchen. Finally after completely removing the trashcan and replacing it with a closed top one gallon bucket, were we able to stop putting recyclables in the trash. What I mean to say is that even those dedicated to recycling need more than encouraging, they need a physical barrier too (Myself included).
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? I will continue to seek other community living situations, that promote working between individuals for the common good of the house.

Li Tang
senior, Strategic Communication

Best meal: Six of us sitting around the table…
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment? See my roommates’ responses: )
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: Have your own chickens (the egg you just gathered from the chicken coop is still warm…)
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? It has reinforced my interest in studying and working in public communication for sustainability. But live it out before speaking up.

Henry Hellmuth
Sophmore, Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture

Best meal: hard to place but I really enjoy that the potlucks worked out so well.
Most embarrassing moment in the Sustainahouse: I have never felt embarrassed in the Sustainahouse. Everybody farts.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: I have learned that reducing one’s energy is easy. And becomes even easier when you work together with other people.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
Sustainahouse has let me hammer out my plans on how to live sustainably as possible with out spending money.

Kat Seal
sophomore, sustainable agriculture

Best meal: We have eaten more fantastic meals than I can count. I like when we all contribute to the meal and are creative with the ingredients that we have.
Most embarrassing house moment:
When you live like this, you can’t be embarrassed.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact:
 I’ve learned you can have a bigger impact as a community than as an individual.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
 My next roommate better be okay with raising chickens.

Monica Everett
Junior, Sustainable Agriculture major

Best meal: Wow, picking one is difficult, especially since most of our meals are followed by Claire’s or Kat’s baked goods. I’m a big fan of brown rice pizza.
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment: It’s pretty impossible to be embarrassed in front of this crew of sustainapeeps.
Name the coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: I had no idea how much water the average person uses every day. We’ve made a serious effort to reduce our consumption by “letting if mellow” (if it’s yellow), reducing shower times, coordinating laundry loads, and efficiently using dish-washing water.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? It’s hard to imagine living alone at this point. I love the community aspect of the house, like buying, cooking, and sharing meals together. I plan to live in another community living situation and will continue the good habits that this house has engrained in my brain. I’ll definitely be more conscious of my waste from here on out, thanks to Claire’s reminder on our (tiny) trash can: “Think!”

Sally Waldman
Junior, B.S. in Math, B.A. in Music

Best Meal: Oh Geez. That’s tough. The potlucks are probably my favorite, but all are meals are pretty tasty.
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment:I’m not easily embarrassed so I can’t think of anything in particular. We have had some pretty awkward conversations however. Condoms are compostable.
Name the coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact:
I enjoy hanging my laundry outside…That’s pretty cool to me.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
Yes. The things we do and things I’ve learned from Sustainahouse will be ideas and practices that I will carry with me for the rest of my life where ever I live. Examples include buying in bulk, keeping the thermostat low in the winter, insulating windows, and flushing only after #2.

Environmental Summit this weekend!

As DNR director, Sara leads the department’s efforts to protect, preserve and enhance Missouri’s natural, cultural and energy resources. Photo from the DNR's website.

Want to see how Missouri is working to protect the environment? Come to the Missouri Votes Conservation (MVC) Environmental Summit January 28th right here at Mizzou!

Missouri Votes Conservation Education Fund is a non-partisan, common-ground organization that strives to unify the many diverse environmental and conservation interests in Missouri in order to strengthen the state’s environmental movement. Its mission is to educate voters and decision-makers about the importance of protecting the environment through sound public policy.

Join us as we discuss how to re-energize our movement and help our issues become top priorities throughout the state. Highlights include: Morning keynote address by Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Breakout sessions on key issue areas, including energy, sustainable agriculture, water quality and habitat protection, and a Special new Poster Session, providing  nonprofits with the opportunity to showcase literature and network with event attendees.

Registration costs $25 for students and $35 for others. Sign up for the conference or learn more on the MVC website [HERE].

Car-less Part II: Why Mizzou Students Don’t Need Cars to Go Between Home and School

As you can tell by the title this is part two of Footprint’s Car-less series. In the last post I talked about why you don’t need to own a car for running weekly errands or taking a short day-trip by using the WeCar program offered, here, on the Mizzou campus. This week I will be discussing why you (ideally) don’t need a car to go between college and home using the student rideBoard ride share program.

When I looked into rideBoard I couldn’t actually find anyone who had used the program. So I started by setting up an account for myself. It appears that the program has about 375 members at the University of Missouri and there were only 7 posts for the entirety of the past week. Furthermore, this was the week before the start of the spring semester, leading me to believe that the program isn’t used much. Which is unfortunate considering that ride sharing is a great opportunity.

A screenshot from a sample posting in Rideboard.

Now I’ll tell you how the program works. You register to be a user by using your University of Missouri email address. This is how they know you are really a student, because the program is meant to be a safe way for fellow students to find ways to carpool. Once you are registered you can search for a ride or for a passenger looking for a ride.

You can also post that you are looking for a ride or a passenger. To post a ride you give information including where you are going, where you are leaving from, when you would like to leave, and whether the trip is one way or round trip. You can also list if you prefer that the person you travel with is of a certain age or gender and leave any additional comments you would like (such as that you’re traveling with a cat in case someone else might be allergic). Ride board is a free program and there is no limit to the number of posts you can place.

RideBoard also gives links to the student directory to confirm someone you find is actually a student. And you should obviously be cautious with any program that helps you to meet strangers to go road tripping with. Though it could turn out to be an amazing opportunity to make new connections; singer Michael Blunt once sold his sister on ebay as “‘Damsel in distress seeks knight in shining armour! Desperate to get to a funeral in Southern Ireland, please help!'”. Long story short: three years later she ended up marrying the guy who flew her to the funeral in his helicopter.

So whether you need a ride, are wanting to help the environment, or are looking for love, try out RideBoard and do some carpooling! If RideBoard doesn’t seem right for you, you can literally google ‘ride sharing’ and find tons of other programs that are similar. Another way to find ways to carpool is by using the CoMo Rideshare group on Facebook (which seems to be used quite a lot).

Recycle your electronics Saturday at Rock Bridge Elementary

Rock Bridge 4-H Club Electronics Recycling Event

Aw, this little calculator is broken. Good thing the Rock Bridge 4-H can help give him a new direction in life!
Where: Rock Bridge Elementary Parking Lot
What: Electronics Recycling
Community Service Project
When: Saturday, January 21, 2012
1-3 p.m.

  • All collected materials will be taken to Mid-
  • Mo Recycling
  • Remove all personal information prior to
  • drop off
  • Equipment does not need to be in working
  • condition

Acceptable Items

  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Lap tops
  • Wires
  • CPUs
  • Cell phones
  • Printers
  • Fax machines
  • Stereos
  • TVs ($10/ea. to donate*)
  • Microwaves ($5/ea. to donate*)
  • Copiers ($5/ea. to donate*)
  • Computer monitors ($5/ea. to donate*)

*charges cover proper disposal of contents; nonprofit organizations only have to pay for TVs!

Rock Bridge 4-H Club Electronics Recycling Event ]

Review: the Belkin “Conserve Insight”

Photo from Belkin's Conserve Insight webpage.

By Wilson McNeary

Christmas morning, I opened my gifts, only to find that my family had given me a small device used to monitor energy consumption of electronic appliances: the Belkin “Conserve Insight”.  To most my age, I assume this would be a rather strange gift to pull out of the box; one of those things that the slightly off-kilter great aunt would get you as an alternative to her yearly tube sock bestowal.  However, I was quite excited about this gift.  I had been eager to evaluate how much energy is consumed by the devices I use on a daily basis, and this little guy was going to let me do just that.

The Conserve Insight consists of a small screen connected to a plug/outlet unit.  In order to use it, you simply plug the Insight into a wall outlet, and then plug the device you want to measure into the outlet side of the Insight.  The screen will automatically turn on, giving you a reading on how many Watts of power your device is consuming in its current state.  Underneath the screen there are 3 buttons that let you toggle between measurements the Insight takes: power usage, operating cost over time, and carbon dioxide emissions over time.  The operating cost is calculated using your utility company’s cost per Kilowatt-hour and the wattage your device is consuming at the time of the measurement.  The CO2 released over time is calculated in a similar manner, only a “preset CO2 conversion factor based on averages for your geographic region” (sounds a little vague, eh?) is used by the Insight.  Both the operating cost and CO2 estimations can be given on the basis of a month (30 days) or a year (365 days).

If only had his gift before Christmas, we could have measured the energy use of Columbia's Magic Tree.

I decided that the best device to evaluate the Conserve Insight on first would be my laptop, since it is probably the electronic that I use most.  Upon connecting everything, I let the device go to work.  The Insight will give an initial reading for each of its categories; however, I decided to hold off on recording the measurements for a bit.  After 45 minutes, the Insight goes into “Average Mode,” which gives a more accurate reading for its time-dependent measurements, since it accounts for the device being powered off or in sleep mode.  I waited a few hours (using the computer intermittently and keeping it in sleep mode the rest of the time), and then checked to see what the Insight could tell me.

  • Wattage: 20.1 W
  • Monthly/Yearly operating cost: $1.18/$14.44
  • Monthly/Yearly CO2 emissions: 12.3 lb/150 lb

I attempted to find accepted power consumption values for my specific laptop on the Internet so I could have something to compare the Insight’s numbers to; unfortunately, such information doesn’t seem to be readily available.  Regardless, the Conserve Insight is probably as accurate a power monitoring device one could expect for the price ($22.98 on Amazon).  Even though its CO2 estimation technique seems a bit sketchy, I assume that this Belkin product can measure wattage with some reliability since it doesn’t take particularly advanced technology to make such a measurement.  The operating cost estimation merely involves it doing the math for you based on the wattage, so the accuracy of the power measurement should follow through.  All in all, I feel that this will be a convenient tool to have around so that I can get a general idea of how much power my electronic devices consume, and I would recommend it to anyone else who has a similar interest.

Incorporating Sustainability and Environmental Education in Residential Life

Student Staff meeting in South Hall circa 2010. Photo by Jacob Carah.

Today I get the opportunity to present sustainability ideas to the MU Department of Residential Life student staffers. For two years I worked as a community advisor and treasurer in South Hall, and I lived in Mark Twain Hall as a freshman, so I know what residents enjoy in a dorm experience, what mentality many of them have, and also the funds, challenges and opportunities available to staff when planning events, decorating bulletin boards, etc. I’ve identified roughly three levels of commitment that student staff members can aim for in their dorm or residence hall. They’re all reasonable and simple, but some require more time than others. Others save you time! And sometimes money! And since our biggest goal at the university is to educate our students and prepare them for the real world, any extra sustainability effort is contributing to that. So let’s jump in:

Level 1: The Basics

  • “Bring your own cups/bowls/plates/whatever.” Don’t waste money buying plastic or styrofoam kitchenwares that go to the trash after one event. Residents live down the hall. They can grab their own. They might whine at first, but they’ll get used to it because hunger usually conquers laziness. Even better, start this habit early. Freshmen don’t know what to expect from college, so if you start your first day event by telling them to bring their own stuff, they’ll just think that’s what big kids do. Incorporate this into your community plans. Meanwhile, you can use the money you saved on buying more delicious food.
  • Push drying racks. RHA is getting at least one for every residence hall, so if you don’t have one now, you will soon. Read this article to learn about their benefits.
  • Borrow supplies. Just because each hall has enough money to get their own karaoke machine/hot water kettle (South had two)/grill/name any big item you’ll use a couple times a year, doesn’t mean that’s a wise purchase. Lots of resources go into producing that item, and that money could be used for something else. Ask around to see if RAP or another hall has the item you need.
  • Reuse your bulletin board material. This was my favorite trick as a staff member. I kept an Earlybird textbook box under my bed, full of used paper, cut-out letters and some other material. I rarely changed the back butcher board paper. Some months I never had to go to RAP to update my bulletin boards, and it was all in the name of conservation! The result is a punk rock (or, erm, maybe “hobo”) feel to your bulletin boards, which catches more attention than the uniform cutouts anyway.
  • To towel or not to towel.Change from folded napkins to rolled towels. Use unbleached paper, because chlorine can pollute.
  • Promote Mizzou Dashboard. Even if your hall doesn’t have this energy monitoring system, encourage reduced electricity usage around your hall.
  • Be a good example. As a staff member, you’re a role model. You can’t expect residents to change their behavior if you aren’t doing it yourself.

Level 2: Vote with your dollar

Have you heard of the Local Multiplier Effect?  YES! Magazine gives a pretty good overview here. Basically, every time you buy for an event, you have options: Domino’s or Shakespeare’s or Red and Moe or Broadway Brewery. Buffalo Wild Wings or Addison’s. Jimmy John’s or Main Squeeze. Some options give you cheap food. Others give you delicious, locally grown, distinctively “Columbia” meals. I’m no economist, but the chart above seems suited to something like Shakespeare’s. I bet if you bought pizza from the 100% locally sourced Red and Moe, that dollar could get circulated to a farmer who buys from a local hardware store, to pay employees better prices, etc. Clue your residents into Nachos Bianca from Addison’s or the lavendar lemonade from Main Squeeze, and they can wow their friends with their local culinary expertise.

For non-food supplies, try Peace Nook. They have way more than you’d imagine, including paper towels and snack food. The more you spend locally, the bigger impact you have:

I can’t speak for every hall, but the end of each semester, South would have hundreds of dollars left over. Sometimes we blew it on study buck raffle items from WalMart. Ridic. That could have contributed to the local economy!

Level 3: Educational Interactions with the environment in mind

My most memorable EI in Mark Twain was the field trip we took to the MU Power Plant across the street. I learned so much about how they power the campus and what they’re doing to be leaders in energy technology. Hey, do that! Who said an EI always means inviting a professor to come speak in the hall? If you’re fortunate enough to have an adventurous hall, why not tour the power plant, Bradford Farm and its new composting site, MU Campus Dining Services with a talk from chef Eric Cartwright on local produce and nutrition, or even Hudson Hall, which has a ton of LEED-savvy features like repurposed countertops and energy efficient lighting?

You could even take short hikes to local trails!  In less than half a mile, or approximately 7 minutes, Rollins and Bingham area residence can be in Clyde Wilson Memorial Park. Dobbs area residents could be on the MKT trail. Invite a professor or local expert to go on the hike with you to talk about invasive species, stormwater runoff issues or biodiversity. Mike Heimos, the city stormwater educator would love to help your residents with a stream cleanup!  You can contact him at mjheimos[at]gocolumbiamo.com. Spring would be a great time to schedule one of these events.

For the less mobile crowd, invite Mizzou’s Sustainability Peer Outreach (SPROUT) to give a presentation. Former programs have covered energy conservation, local and sustainable food, environmental justice, water rights, and general sustainability tips. To request a program, contact mizzousprout[at]gmail.com.

Review: Yes to carrots — moisturizing and eco-friendly

When it comes to eco-friendly products, the selection runs the gamut, both in price and in quality. Over the past weeks, I have experimented with various cosmetics in an attempt to weigh the pros and cons of going green at home.

One of the brands I tried is called Yes to [visit website], a line of cosmetics made from 95% organic ingredients and sold at various retail locations such as Walmart, Walgreens and CVS stores.

Of the sundry products produced by Yes to, I tried the Yes to Carrots daily moisture body lotion and the lip tint in Sunset Pink. Though I did spend $4.47 for the lip tint and $8.97 for the body lotion (without tax), I was pleased with both products.

The body lotion, with key ingredients like sweet potato root extract and carrot seed oil, left my skin soft without feeling greasy like so many other products. The company’s website says that it’s body lotion is paraben, SLS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) and petroleum free, making the products quite unique when pitted against other cosmetics on the market. The scent is not overpowering, but reminds me of the Coppertone suntan lotion my mom used at the neighborhood pool when I was a kid. Whether that is a good memory for others is a matter of personal preference, but I love it.

The Yes to lip tint was nice, too; though it did not last as long as some other lip balm brands like Chapstick or Carmex, but the color was just what I was looking for. Included in the company’s lip care products are other natural ingredients like coconut, jajoba and sunflower oil, shea butter and vitamin E, and notably missing paraben and carmine.

All in all, I was very pleased with my purchases, and loved the ingredient listings for what was included just as much as for what was left out. Sadly, I do not think this brand will make regular appearances in my grocery cart, purely because of the cost. Instead, this college girl will probably sayYes to carrots on the occasional guilt-free splurge.

Free Mizzou Event: See “The Work of 1000” and meet Marion Stoddart, the film’s inspiration

By Steve Johnson, director of the Missouri River Communities Network

The Work of 1000 is a 30-minute documentary film that tells the inspiring story of Marion Stoddart, a citizen leader committed to a lifetime of grassroots organizing and coalition building around her local Massachusetts river.

The movie will be shown Tuesday, January 17 at 7:00PM in the Wrench Auditorium of Memorial Union South.  Marion Stoddart will be at the screening and will lead a discussion about her experiences. Filmmaker Susan Edwards (a Mizzou graduate) will also be on hand to discuss the film.  The showing is free with a suggested donation.

In the early 1960s, Marion Stoddart was a housewife and mother of three who decided to take on the impossible–cleaning up the Nashua River, which ran through her town and was then one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the country. During her years of advocacy, Marion organized a massive citizen effort to rescue the river. She lobbied successfully for legislation, including the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act which was the first State clean water legislation in the country and a precursor to the national Clean Water Act and the development of the Environmental Protection Agency. Continuing that record of success, she petitioned the Federal government for millions of dollars of promised funds to fight the pollution–and won. Her dramatic success in mobilizing the community showed people that change was possible, even though they’d lost hope. Today, thanks to the efforts of Marion and the Nashua River Watershed Association (the non-profit she founded), the river is clean and restored, with wildlife thriving and children swimming.

The film is being sponsored by the Missouri River Communities Network and several other local non-profit organizations that work on clean water issues including: Sustain Mizzou, Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition, Missouri River Relief, Friends of the Big Muddy, Osage Chapter of the Sierra Club, Columbia Audubon Society, and the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  There will be a reception after the film so people can talk to representatives of various organizations and learn more about they can get involved and volunteer to work on clean water stewardship activities in watersheds in their area.

Visit the project web site: www.workof1000.org

Download the flier

If you’re in town and want to promote this event, contact Tina.Casagrand@gmail.com