Must Watch Film: Earth Days

posterLast night we hosted the first of our monthly Sustainability Film & Dialogue Series for the year and showed the film Earth Days an informative, fascinating look at the the start of the environmental movement in the US from the 1950s to today –  before going green was in the mainstream; when it was a bipartisan topic; when (pre-internet !) grassroots youth efforts organized the first Earth Day in 1970.

Personally I wish I could get everyone to watch this film. It’s an educational look at history of conservation movement, in a non-preachy, realistic way as eco-activists – including scientists, astronaut, politicians  – tell their stories, loaded with beautiful imagery and historical footage.  Hear about the technological innovations people in this country were doing years ago (did you know GM was making an electronic car 50 years ago?!); the political realization of the environmental movement in the 70s (Nixon creating the EPA;  Carter putting solar panels on the white house ); the sadness of loosing years of eco-efforts as political leaders changed (Regan removing the solar panels); how we still haven’t learned from the past (remember OPEC embargo of the early 70s when politicians said lets not rely on oil and look at other sources for renewable energy …. what happened?!)

So, as the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is only 10 months away, think about hosting this film at your library followed by a lively discussion… maybe people in your community will become inspired again or at least educated – and realize we are only harming ourselves, our kids, and future generations by not taking this concept seriously. Watch the trailer for more information.

Track your Trash @ the library

A lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is putting  wireless location markers on garbage that people bring to the Seattle Public Library which will track the trash pattens on-line, as they go through the waste stream. Starting this week MIT folks will be putting the markers on the trash which takes about 10 minutes; next month the exhibit will be on display in the library.  MIT’s goal is to educate people on overconsumption and trash if they actually see where their trash actually goes so the library was chosen since it’s a central, heavily used public areaRead or listen to the full article by KPLU.

Greening IT in Higher Ed FREE Webinar

What: Green IT: Saving Money, Saving the Environment Webinar

When: Sept 10, 2-3pm ET

Presenters: Tim Goral, Moderator; Speakers to be announced

Costs: FREE! (due to sponsorship by Alcatel-Lucent)


Technology drives higher education, but unfortunately it’s also a tremendous drain on the environment. It doesn’t have to be that way. Innovative programs from Alcatel Lucent and Bell Labs are at the forefront of eco-sustainability efforts, finding ways to save money while saving the environment. Learn about equipment buy-back and “e-cycling” programs that put technology in user hands and keep harmful toxins out of the landfill. Hear about a data center cooling system that recycles waste heat for electricity-and produced a return on investment in just three months. Join a panel of experts to hear about these and other success stories, and get eco-friendly ideas that can be applied to any institution.

Details: found on the  University Business Web Seminar series web page


See also their archives of past seminars.

Greenovation (for k12 schools)

Lutron Electronics, Green Schools Alliance, and Council for Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI) have joined together to form Greenovation program to help schools “energize education and inspire action.” They start with sustainable lighting upgrade (to improve  savings and offer better learning spaces), then offer curriculum resources, have an online social network ning (for classrooms to connect & collaborate), and support community outreach such as sustainable fundraisers to community challenges to science fairs. You can watch this case study video for a real world example or read some of their posted press releases.

Give-A-Tree cards

hero-ginkoThe Arbor Day Foundation offers Give-A-Tree Cards where you get an actual card to sign and give to someone along with getting a planting a tree in their name for $5.95/each (order more than 100 and they are $3/each). What a great idea to give to friends and family as well as colleagues at work, students workers, board members,or just to show your appreciation. (they also offer ecards if you dont want to send a paper one!)

Wired Science: Time-Lapse Videos of Massive Change on Earth

I thought it was worth sharing these interesting (hmmm??) videos from NASA’s Earth Observatory satellites capturing (over time) human destruction of the planet from deforestation, irrigation and urbanization. Here is one called Sucking Out the Aral Sea:

In the 1960s, central Asia’s Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world. As a result of irrigation and damming, it had shriveled to 10 percent of its original size (marked by the thin black line) by 2007. It is now three separate, highly salinic, lakes.

Watch more at Wired Science or check out NASA’s Earth Observatory site.

Which bulbs to buy?

Greenstrides – a great place to get info on green products & practices written by a  sustainable designer and member of the US Green Building Council –  has a recent article on the latest in LED lighting.  The 3 basic types of lights are your normal  (1) incandescent light bulbs which last about 1000 hours; (2) CFLS – compact florescent lights which last an  average of 10,000 hours; (3) and  LEDs – light emitting diodes – which will last for 30,000 to 50,000 hours and they don’t have the little bit of toxic mercury the CFLs contain. And though they cost more, they last longer putting out less heat and using much less electricity.  They are easier to find and use these days for interior or exterior lighting.  Check out this greenstrides article for more information.

Understanding Ecolabeling

Wonder if what you are buying that is labeled eco_, natural_ or earth-friendly_ is really what is claims to be? How “green” is “green”? What do the over 500,000 eco labels on the market today really mean?   This site is meant to help you determine what the these labels really mean by attempting to add all eco-labels to their database, provide standards of transparency and trustworthiness, and then help companies w/ selling their eco-friendly products (or you to buy these products). They look at when the company was established (aka the standards that existed then), a verification and audit of the company (to determine if it’s really being monitored and how often), and the standard criteria to obtain this label.   You can search the labels by type (retails, food, etc), general region or a country.

Sustainable Schools


The District Administration Magazine has a Sustainable Schools Special Section available online with some great articles:

College Sustainability Report Card

Are you a college/university library? Check out how your school ranks according to this green report card. The Sustainable Endowments Institute created this sustainability report card to rank hundreds of schools in the US, according to 43 indicators including energy, policies, staff, purchases,  food/dining,  building, students, transportation, etc. (Find out more about their methodology)

Search for your school, compare schools, search by category, or check out the list of the top schools (getting A- or better). The site also offers ideas on getting involved as as student, administrator, alum, through resources, donations or internships. If you are curious, find out more about who donates to and supports this report.