Category Archives: Stories of Sustainability

Pratt Now Home To Human-Powered Gym Equipment

By: Melissa Colleary, Sustainability Coordinator, LIU Post

The other day, while working out in the Pratt, I made one of my rare voyages into the cardio section to do a couple of sprints as it was too cold to do so outside. All of the normal treadmills were taken, so I was forced to use one of the curved Woodway treadmills that are usually not in use.

My first reaction to the treadmill was, “This is so cool! It doesn’t use any electricity!” As your movement powers the treadmill, it doesn’t need to be plugged in and it only goes as fast as you go. Very cool.

My second reaction was, “I understand why no one uses this! This is very dangerous!” Since your own movement powers the treadmill, it’s extremely difficult to get used to. However, after a few minutes of struggling and getting over my fear, I gained steady ground and actually enjoyed using the Woodway. I felt less pain in my knees while running and I got tired a lot more quickly from having to power the treadmill with my own movements.

I am by no means a seasoned runner and I can’t really say that I’m overly coordinated, but every time I walk into a gym and see rows and rows of people who have driven there to run on an electrically powered street, it truly upsets me. Although the Woodway is definitely more difficult to use, it’s worth taking the time to get used to. It burns more calories than a standard treadmill and it doesn’t leave your knees sore the next day. While at first I felt like I was going to fall, about three minutes in I felt that it was much more natural to run on.

That being said, there are so many workouts that you can do that require little to no electricity. Lifting weights, using cable stacks, stationary bikes, regular bikes, running outside, and body weight exercises all require no other energy besides your own.

Next time you’re about to step on the treadmill, keep your other options in mind and try to choose one that uses the least amount of resources! Head outside if possible, check for a Woodway or other cardio or weight equipment that doesn’t use electricity!

In the upcoming weeks, keep your eye out for sustainable workouts that will be posted here on the Commpost!

Treadmill

Sustainable Recipes – Butternut Squash Curry Soup

By: Melissa Colleary, Sustainability Coordinator, LIU Post

In a conversation with one of my vegan friends, we were talking about environmentally friendly food choices. As a former vegetarian, I had done a ton of research about what the meat industry does to the environment and knew the points that she was going to make:

Confined animals generate three times more raw waste than humans in the United States and methane and the use of fossil fuels for farming creates more of a global warming problem.

She had recently transitioned to a strict, raw vegan diet and was often eating absurd amounts of fruits and vegetables. Once, she ate five mangoes and called it dinner. When the topic of sustainability came up, she immediately perked up and started bragging about her new raw lifestyle and how ecofriendly it was. Our other friends began to praise her selflessness, but as I thought about it, I realized that she wasn’t doing as much good as she thought. After all, it was October and she had just eaten eleven kiwis.

With the recent obsession with organic and war on gluten, it’s easy to forget how far your food travels to get to you. If you buy an orange in December, chances are it travelled thousands of miles to get to you. While it may be organic, it’s still causing a ton of pollution on its way to your grocery store. A good solution to this problem is to try to eat locally as often as possible and to focus on what’s in season. Even if the food isn’t grown in your town or county, it still probably didn’t travel as far if it is in season for your region.

Since it’s Fall in the Northeast now, here’s one of my favorite, really cheap and easy, recipes that also happens to be in season.

Butternut Squash Curry Soup

  • One Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Container of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth (You can sub this for chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 1 Tbsp Curry Powder
  • 1 Tsp Cumin

Roast the Butternut squash for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.

Transfer into a pot and cover the squash with broth and boil until vegetables are soft.

Transfer in batches into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour back into the pot, add spices, and cook for another 10 minutes.

photo-18

Finished Product

 

How Wasteful is Your Morning Routine?

By: Melissa Colleary, Sustainability Coordinator, LIU Post

Everyone has a different morning routine. Mine, for example, is wake up, make a cup of coffee, sit on the couch and take some time to actually wake up before going to the gym. My routine is very similar to a lot of other people’s routines.

About a year ago, I splurged and bought a Keurig coffee machine. It ended a lot of arguments about what to brew a pot of and less coffee went to waste – they even sold fair trade organic K-cups! How eco-friendly of me, right?

K-cup

Every night when I would return home though, I would straighten up the kitchen, typically throwing away used K-cups. You can’t recycle the plastic, and unlike regular coffee grinds, it’s extremely difficult to compost. With a bunch of dirty plastic filling up my garbage can, I realized that no matter how organic these cups “claimed” to be, they were decaying in landfills and contributing to a pollution problem that we’ve all become rather familiar with.

This raised the issue of what to do with my beloved Keurig machine. I didn’t want to get rid of the convenience of one-cup brewing; however, I also didn’t want to accumulate any more garbage than I needed to.

SOLOFILL_REFILLThe solution happened to be – a little, red plastic cup. It looks exactly like what goes inside of a regular coffee pot, but smaller to fit inside of the Keurig. You just spoon in one tablespoon of grinds every time you want a new cup, and the device is completely reusable. No more K-cup plastic clogging up my garbage can!

I could also compost the leftover grinds!

My issue with the Keurig led me to think about the rest of my morning routine. How green was it really?

I drove to the gym, often drove home to shower, got back in the car, and made my way to school.

This wastes a lot of gas and causes pollution along the way. Unwilling to abandon any part of that routine, I simply changed it up a little bit. I chose a new gym, one on my way to school where I could take my shower before continuing on my way to class. This small change cut back on a lot of travel time and saved me money in the long run.

Every morning we see people in the middle of their own morning routines, holding paper or even styrofoam coffee cups, driving short distances out of convenience, and littering out of their car windows.

All of these practices could be altered in ways that benefit the environment with little impact on one’s day.

Next time you wake up, take a look at your own routine and see where you can make a change because small steps add up; you just have to take them.

Coffee-Not-Trash

We’re Back!

After months of inactivity, I am pleased to announce the revival of the LIU Commpost, the campus sustainability blog that I created last year in 2013 for the LIU Post community.

Prior to launching this blog, like many other entities at LIU Post, whether it be a student organization or an academic department, I was having trouble with informing the campus community about all of the great things that we do in terms of sustainability. Therefore, I started thinking of ways that we could go about promoting sustainability without giving our audience information overload.

As a result, I developed the concept of the LIU Commpost, a repository if you will for everything green at LIU Post; hence, its tagline “giving you the dirt on everything green at LIU Post,” definitely one of my more clever moments. Originally, the Commpost was just going to serve as a source of information where readers could receive the most up-to-date details regarding our sustainability efforts. However, over time, it evolved into a forum where students could also publish their research as well as opinion pieces related to sustainability. Somewhere along the line though the Commpost fell dormant.

Definitely my fault, the Commpost became something that simply took the backseat in my life. It wasn’t that it was too much to handle or because I lost interest, but rather something that I just did not have the time for anymore. My last post came right before my graduation.

May 9, 2014…I walked alongside my fellow sustainability major, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, earning our Master’s degrees in Environmental Sustainability, the first two graduates to graduate from this program, a program that is one-of-a-kind on Long Island. Not only was this the end of one chapter in my life, but it was also the beginning (or a continuation as I would soon find out) of a new one.

Like many other college graduates, I now had to go find a job. Despite adding “M.S. in Environmental Sustainability” to my resume, I wasn’t receiving too many calls back. Application after application, the more worried I got. I became worried that this newly earned degree would not serve me well in still a fairly new field. I feared that I wasn’t moving anywhere in my life, and as my bank account quickly approached zero, I feared this even more.

I was at a crossroads. I was literally questioning every decision that I had ever made in my life. Should I have left my hometown of Tampa to come to LIU Post? Should I have gone into the workforce right after attaining my Bachelor’s degree in lieu of pursuing a Master’s? Should I have taken the CPA Exam instead of indefinitely putting it off? Should I have passed on that job opportunity 2 years ago?

My answer to all of these questions is “I don’t know.” What I do know though is that I’m here, I’m still passionate about sustainability, and I’m in a better place than I have ever been before. And the thing that underpins it all is LIU Post.

For those of you who don’t know already, I am now a full-time employee at Long Island University.

July 7, 2014 was my hire date. I officially accepted the position of Campus Life Coordinator within the LIU Post Office of Campus Life. What this entailed was not only sustainability, but also managing one of the 6 residence halls on campus. So, in addition to overseeing many of the campus sustainability initiatives, I would also be overseeing a building that has over 300 residents. I would be a liaison for 10 student organizations, an on-call administrator responsible for responding to emergency situations, a supervisor for 8 resident assistants, and a supervisor for 6 sustainability coordinators.

That’s a lot of responsibility! But like I always am, I’m up for the challenge!

I’ve been doing it for over 4 months now and I am finally at a point where I can add back Editor-in-Chief of the LIU Commpost. I’m very excited for what’s next not just with the Commpost, but with sustainability in general at LIU Post. We are definitely moving in the right direction and we are more sustainable now than ever before. In my 7 years here, I’ve been able to see the word sustainability transform into so much more than just a buzzword. I, along with the many other champions of sustainability here at LIU Post, have helped bring sustainability to the forefront of discussion and the word sustainability is so close to becoming a linchpin for this institution of higher learning.

It’s my hope that with the support of many others, some of whom have been doing this much longer than me, will come forth an institution that says, “Hey, we are going to become the leader in sustainability on Long Island.”

In my mind, it should be us. We have some of the most passionate people that I have ever seen. We have people here that don’t just want to educate us, but rather take that education and use it to change the world.

Without a doubt, I am going to be one of those people. And I’m lucky enough to start doing that here…at LIU Post!

I hope you enjoy what follows. We will be taking some time to catch up from the last 6 months by providing you with updates on what’s already happened. However, we’ll be giving you regular updates as well. We have a lot of cool stuff going on and much, much more in the pipeline. I sincerely hope you check it out and spread the dirt by telling others about The LIU Commpost.

With gratitude,

William Achnitz III

We're Back!

After months of inactivity, I am pleased to announce the revival of the LIU Commpost, the campus sustainability blog that I created last year in 2013 for the LIU Post community.

Prior to launching this blog, like many other entities at LIU Post, whether it be a student organization or an academic department, I was having trouble with informing the campus community about all of the great things that we do in terms of sustainability. Therefore, I started thinking of ways that we could go about promoting sustainability without giving our audience information overload.

As a result, I developed the concept of the LIU Commpost, a repository if you will for everything green at LIU Post; hence, its tagline “giving you the dirt on everything green at LIU Post,” definitely one of my more clever moments. Originally, the Commpost was just going to serve as a source of information where readers could receive the most up-to-date details regarding our sustainability efforts. However, over time, it evolved into a forum where students could also publish their research as well as opinion pieces related to sustainability. Somewhere along the line though the Commpost fell dormant.

Definitely my fault, the Commpost became something that simply took the backseat in my life. It wasn’t that it was too much to handle or because I lost interest, but rather something that I just did not have the time for anymore. My last post came right before my graduation.

May 9, 2014…I walked alongside my fellow sustainability major, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, earning our Master’s degrees in Environmental Sustainability, the first two graduates to graduate from this program, a program that is one-of-a-kind on Long Island. Not only was this the end of one chapter in my life, but it was also the beginning (or a continuation as I would soon find out) of a new one.

Like many other college graduates, I now had to go find a job. Despite adding “M.S. in Environmental Sustainability” to my resume, I wasn’t receiving too many calls back. Application after application, the more worried I got. I became worried that this newly earned degree would not serve me well in still a fairly new field. I feared that I wasn’t moving anywhere in my life, and as my bank account quickly approached zero, I feared this even more.

I was at a crossroads. I was literally questioning every decision that I had ever made in my life. Should I have left my hometown of Tampa to come to LIU Post? Should I have gone into the workforce right after attaining my Bachelor’s degree in lieu of pursuing a Master’s? Should I have taken the CPA Exam instead of indefinitely putting it off? Should I have passed on that job opportunity 2 years ago?

My answer to all of these questions is “I don’t know.” What I do know though is that I’m here, I’m still passionate about sustainability, and I’m in a better place than I have ever been before. And the thing that underpins it all is LIU Post.

For those of you who don’t know already, I am now a full-time employee at Long Island University.

July 7, 2014 was my hire date. I officially accepted the position of Campus Life Coordinator within the LIU Post Office of Campus Life. What this entailed was not only sustainability, but also managing one of the 6 residence halls on campus. So, in addition to overseeing many of the campus sustainability initiatives, I would also be overseeing a building that has over 300 residents. I would be a liaison for 10 student organizations, an on-call administrator responsible for responding to emergency situations, a supervisor for 8 resident assistants, and a supervisor for 6 sustainability coordinators.

That’s a lot of responsibility! But like I always am, I’m up for the challenge!

I’ve been doing it for over 4 months now and I am finally at a point where I can add back Editor-in-Chief of the LIU Commpost. I’m very excited for what’s next not just with the Commpost, but with sustainability in general at LIU Post. We are definitely moving in the right direction and we are more sustainable now than ever before. In my 7 years here, I’ve been able to see the word sustainability transform into so much more than just a buzzword. I, along with the many other champions of sustainability here at LIU Post, have helped bring sustainability to the forefront of discussion and the word sustainability is so close to becoming a linchpin for this institution of higher learning.

It’s my hope that with the support of many others, some of whom have been doing this much longer than me, will come forth an institution that says, “Hey, we are going to become the leader in sustainability on Long Island.”

In my mind, it should be us. We have some of the most passionate people that I have ever seen. We have people here that don’t just want to educate us, but rather take that education and use it to change the world.

Without a doubt, I am going to be one of those people. And I’m lucky enough to start doing that here…at LIU Post!

I hope you enjoy what follows. We will be taking some time to catch up from the last 6 months by providing you with updates on what’s already happened. However, we’ll be giving you regular updates as well. We have a lot of cool stuff going on and much, much more in the pipeline. I sincerely hope you check it out and spread the dirt by telling others about The LIU Commpost.

With gratitude,

William Achnitz III

Shaking

By: Carolyn Cresci, Winner of the 2014 LIU Post Recycling Scholarship, Sociology Major, Class of 2014

She grew up anxious.
Crying,
gasping,
panicked,
sweating,

Shaking.

She was fourteen. Her parents tried to help her but she closed herself from their love.
So she shook.
The therapists tried to help her, but she wouldn’t speak.
They couldn’t find her triggers. Everything triggered her.
And so she shook.
The medicine stopped her shaking but it also stopped her will to try.
So she stopped the pills, and continued to shake.
She was twenty. She got on a plane and went far away, shaking the whole way.

She woke up one morning and forgot where she was. This tent in the African savannah was not her warm bed in which she shakes.
So she shook in her sleeping bag.
But she could not hide in a tent, the way she could hide in her home.
So she stood up, and grimaced as the sun hit her face.

What is this world? She wondered, seeing the trees and the mountains and people around her. How did I get here? She asked, but received no answer.
She trembled,
But suddenly she had to know more.

She was welcomed into the home of many, not one of them questioning her silence. They spoke to her in foreign tongue, and took her silence as an opportunity to teach. They grew silent together. They showed her to explore when she was scared. Njoo, they said. Come, learn. Do not hide. See the simpler things in life –
Drink water, child. Boil it for yourself.
Visit the neighbors. Bring them milk from our cow. And when they feed you in return, you thank them, my child. Use your voice. Friends are a blessing, so make them.
Cook, child. Filter the pebbles from the rice with your own two hands. Peel the potatoes with a dull knife. Light the fire to create a stove. And be sure to save the soap you used to wash the fruit, for we will use it for our dishes and our laundry tomorrow.
Take time for the little things, child. The smallest of tasks are the more important.
And when she began to tremble, they taught her to pumzika. Rest, my child.

She returned five month later.
Her parents greeted her at the gate, welcoming them into her arms,
and she entered them gladly.
They all stood frozen, waiting for the shaking.
But the shaking never came.
She looked up at them and smiled, her face glowing with the aftermath of the warm sun,

“Change,” she said, loudly and clearly,
“I am the change, and I have brought it home with me.”
A year has gone by, and she is still the change. She has taught it to her home.
When she does the dishes, so she does them by hand, conserving water.
Do it this way, mother. She teaches. It has not always flown so freely from these faucets.
Recycle your bottles, father, for others are impacted by your trash.
Take home your leftovers, brother. Eat them for lunch tomorrow, for each meal is a gift.
Carpool to school, my dear friends. The gasoline you pump into your car flows freely through the oceans far from here, destroying many important ecosystems.
Every person in this room is richer than half of the world, my fellow students. Do not cry over loans, because someone was eager to give them to you.

Invest in health, both yours and the health of those around you. Actively use your education, empower the women in your life. These things will decrease poverty throughout the world. Use the privileges you were born with, and the privileges you have gained for yourself, to bring life to another. You have been put on this Earth for a reason, and we must keep its nature as well as its people together.

Never forget that you are the change. We are all the change. And once you have embraced it, you must teach others. For the most important part of change is guiding the way, so that more change will happen after you.

Do not shake, my friends, for there is a whole world out there in need of your strength.

Getting to The Red Carpet: My Journey With Blue Wrap

By: Joanna Del Giudice, Owner, Uniquely Dipherent by Joanna Stella,      LIU Post Alum (BFA, 2011, MA, 2013)

I am an artist, teacher, and entrepreneur. During my free time, I am determined to save the world with my art, one stitch at a time.

One day, as I was browsing the web for different art opportunities, I stumbled across “Project Blue Wrap,” a name that reminded me of the popular TV show Project Runway, which, incidentally, many people had encouraged me to be a part of. However, the time restraints set forth in each competition wouldn’t have worked for me as it takes me over 100 hours to complete one full ensemble with the crochet technique that I use.

Intrigued by the name, I decided to check it out and discovered that it was indeed a competition that I could enter. The competition entailed using hospital blue wrap to make a dress and the chosen finalists would have their dresses featured on the runway at DC Fashion Week in Washington, DC. According to Inova, the hospital system that sponsors Project Blue Wrap, “blue wrap is a recyclable plastic fabric that is used to maintain the sterility of its contents – most often, surgical instruments and kits. None of the blue wrap used for Project Blue Wrap has ever been in contact with any patients and would otherwise be recycled.”

Immediately after researching this new opportunity, I reached out to a friend who works at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to see if she could inquire about having them sponsor me, in addition to providing me with recycled blue wrap. Mather Hospital agreed and I acquired about 6 sheets. This proved to be easy; the hardest part was yet to come.

For me, the most difficult part for this competition was coming up with a design concept. In each of my works, I always like to have meaning, so ultimately, I decided to be inspired by the Forget-Me-Not flowers. I chose them because they were my college roommate’s favorite flower and her father had recently passed away, so I wanted to make a dress inspired by her.

I cut up the blue wrap into thin strips (that way it would act as yarn) and I began crocheting…

As the deadline approached, I literally utilized all of my free time. In fact, I began making parts of the dress in public, like a performance artist. For instance, I cut up one of the sheets of blue wrap while on the train to NYC for a concert. I also crocheted some flowers while I was sitting in line waiting for the concert to start.

In order to be considered as a finalist, there also were certain size requirements. This was to ensure that if a model were to wear it on the runway, it would fit regardless of what size she was. I began to search for females in my area who would fit those size requirements that way I could have the dress fitted properly. After all that work, I did not want to chance having my dress being disqualified over a size requirement. I had late night fittings and early morning fittings to work around everyone’s schedule. I was going to do whatever it took to make this dress “runway-ready.”

When it came time to finally mail it, I was both nervous and excited. I had never mailed one of my recycled crocheted dresses before and it had to go a fairly far distance. I had to mail it to Washington D.C. and the dress would have to be physically looked at and tried on. After mailing it, I emailed the woman in charge of Project Blue Wrap to let her know that my dress was on its way. She emailed me back to let me know that she had received it and that everyone in the office loved it. In fact, she said people were stopping by just to get a look at it. What a great feeling that this statement gave me!

However, there was another week to go before the finalists would be officially announced. My mother reassured me that I had to have been one of the winners after receiving such a lovely email. Turns out, the day before my 24th birthday, I received an email congratulating me that my dress would be featured in the kick-off event at DC Fashion Week in Washington, D.C.

The email also stated that I was the recipient of two tickets to the runway event for the kick-off of DC Fashion Week and that I would have two spots reserved for a guest and myself. I immediately called my friend from Mather Hospital and I made the trip to Washington D.C. with her because if it wasn’t for her help, then I would never gotten the blue wrap needed to make my dress.

Project Blue Wrap was such an amazing experience. I ended up sitting in the front row and I watched my dress be the first one to make its way down the runway at DC Fashion Week.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience was that I do have the potential to get somewhere with my art.

The ultimate goal I have for my art is to one day make it to the red carpet. I want my art to be front and center, as the red carpet signifies a much larger audience. Eventually, I want that larger audience to view my art and learn about the importance of recycling and protecting the environment. Having someone from the entertainment world wearing a dress of mine and having it photographed would definitely make a statement.

I want to make that statement with my art.

blue-wrap

 

Recalling Climate Change

By: Sarah Pomerenke,Environmental Educator, LIU Post

Journal Entry: 30 October 2040.

Yesterday, when we were all having dinner, Tim asked me: “Mom, I just learned in my earth science class that at the beginning of this century there was a major problem with climate change. Why don’t we have this problem anymore today?”

I started to tell him that when I was his age, in about 2012…2013…back when I went to college for my undergraduate degree in international relations…a big debate went on about whether or not global climate change was in fact real.

Some argued that large amounts of carbon dioxide were being added to the atmosphere and in turn this created an artificial greenhouse-effect. Therefore, average temperatures on Earth began to rise. They also believed that if humanity did not act rapidly in addressing climate change, then the changing atmosphere would disrupt all life on earth.

Sea levels would rise, floods and droughts would become more frequent, and devastating storms would become more powerful. All of these were issues that the majority of scientists at the time said would be a consequence of growing climate change. Many climate activists even argued that global warming was the biggest threat humans had ever faced in their relative short time on Earth.

However, there were also many opponents to this idea. They believed that rising temperatures were simply a normal phenomenon in the Earth’s natural cycle. These people advocated that climate change was the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on humans and that it was only meant to scare people. Therefore, they believed that humans did not need to take action in order to address it. Furthermore, climate change opponents believed that there was no reason for taking drastic actions to address climate change since it would only devastate the economy and put us at risk to endure yet another recession.

I recall very fondly saying to Tim, “You see, Tim, this was a very critical point in our history. At this time in my life, the United States in addition to the rest of the world endured a very deep recession and the U.S. population struggled for many years as the economy recovered.”

I also told him that many people were simply overwhelmed by the immense size of the problem itself that the fear of not being able to address it was enough to paralyze them.

I continued on with my story by telling Tim about the years of 2014 and 2015 when I did my masters in Geology. During this time, the debate about climate change shifted from a debate to whether or not it was real to a debate about what to do in order to address it. This shift was mainly caused by a series of devastating storms as well as the trend of the “Precautionary Principle.”

In 2011, the first storm hit. Hurricane Irene, which did so much damage to infrastructure, particularly infrastructure located right next to the water, was the first sign I remember that storms were getting more powerful and damaging our region. However, people were not too concerned about it. The next year though, in 2012, that would change.

Hurricane Sandy was the first truly devastating hurricane I can remember doing major damage to communities and infrastructure. While some people just lost power for a few days, many others lost their cars, their homes, and many of their other belongings. Some people lost everything. I remember it literally ook months to bring certain communities back to “normal”…whatever that was…

“This wasn’t the end though…” I told Tim.

Hurricane Sandy had only been the first hurricane in a series of hurricanes, each one stronger than the last.

Two more devastating hurricanes barreled into Long Island over the course of the next two years following Sandy.

They were Hurricanes Marie and Kim…Kim by far being the most devastating. I remember thinking during the aftermath, “When will we learn?”

After Kim though, major changes had happened to the communities adjacent to the water. Most people were convinced that drastic steps had to be taken in order to stop climate change. The destruction of these storms led to this trend called the “Precautionary Principle” – a principle that basically states it is “better to be safe than sorry!”

In other words, the principle describes that even if we are not 100% certain of the effects that climate change will have on humanity it is still better to do something about it rather than nothing.

At the time, this approach made sense to most people because after all it is human nature to try and prevent something regardless of whether or not  it may or may threaten our lives or the lives of our children. Therefore, most people started to believe that it would be more costly to do nothing than to try and prevent more harm. After all, waiting to bear the consequences of nature fighting back was proving to be very costly.

After I graduated with my Master’s degree, the United Nations offered me a job. I became a member of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At this point in my life, Americans as well as the rest of the world expected the worst and therefore were more than ready to combat climate change. It was almost as if countries were looking for a strong hand to guide them and tell them how to counter climate change. This kind of attitude made it very easy for me and all other members to establish a whole range of international treaties that completely changed the lifestyle we had grown accustomed to at that time.

The first treaty,which got countries talking about climate change, was the Kyoto Protocol.It had been written more than two decades earlier; however, the U.S. Congress refused to ratify the treaty for many years. Therefore, getting the U.S. to finally sign the Kyoto Protocol was considered a major success at that time. The Kyoto Protocol was eventually signed by every country in the world which essentially meant that every country agreed to reduce its carbon emissions by 15 to 20 percent.

Surprisingly, and quite unexpectedly, it only took a few years for almost every single country to reach this benchmark. Unfortunately though, this one treaty was not enough to stop climate change.

During this time, we also realized that the problem of climate change was much greater than we originally assumed and really the only way to address it was by creating a more sustainable way of life. In order to do this, we had to completely rethink many aspects of how we lived life – the way we consumed, the way we produced waste and the way we lived our lives.

The problem of consumption was our first priority because at the time the United States only made up 5% of the world’s population yet we were using 30% of the world’s resources, hence creating 30% of the world’s waste. It was estimated that if we had continued this way of life, then we would have needed between three to five more planets just to sustain life on Earth. Since we obviously only have one, our first priority was to change peoples’ values. Instead of a consumer culture, we formed a culture that focused on  human interactions. In other words, family and friends were prioritized over goods and services. These things were not influenced by policy, but instead by establishing new trends.

The next problem we worked on was the way we produced waste back then. Originally, we had to reduce the amount of waste that we produced as a country. Being that the U.S. created 30% of the world’s waste, this was absolutely imperative. This was extremely important because not only was the waste during this time toxic, but those toxins often times went into the atmosphere and changed our climate. Not to mention, our air, water, and soil were becoming contaminated as a result.

In the end, we developed a system that recycled basically all of our materials – 99% in fact. This feat took many new innovations and thanks to many smart people, we were able to construct things like toners that disappear completely from the paper after a certain amount of time and plastic that was entirely made from biological sources. In other words, we created a system that closed all of the loops. It was literally an endless cycle, something that the great mind, William McDonough had stated was possible in his pioneering books Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle.

Everything we now produce and consume can simply be reused or just go back into the soil with no harm being done to the environment or to human health thanks to these innovations.

The last and final piece to creating a sustainable future was to change the infrastructure that we had all become too familiar with. In order to do so, we had to start from scratch. People supported this idea because most of their homes had already been destroyed at least once by one of the previous storms. At this point in time, it was a very easy sell. They were looking for change. Therefore, during the planning phase of the many projects that I had worked on, old ideas from my college time came in handy.

I used ideas from Callenbach’s “Ecotopia” when others and I created a blue print for this new system. We established living areas in high-elevation zones and recreation areas in low-elevation zones. These recreation areas consisted of beaches and parks that were open for the public to use. The living areas I worked on included many homes and dense populations; however, people were still able to live comfortably. Furthermore, we prohibited private cars and replaced them with an electric train system that enabled every person to reach their destination within a reasonable amount of time. Most towns also were designed to allow people to walk everywhere that they would need to go, typically locating things like shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment within 1 mile of each household.

Lastly, we worked on building a cleaner energy system, which ended up consisting of mostly solar energy, wind energy and other energy sources utilizing the sun and the sea. We also put a policy in place that prohibited any object that produced carbon dioxide from functioning. Only when it was absolutely necessary could a person apply for a special permit to use that CO2-emitting device.

Tim stopped me at this point in the story, “Didn’t people do it anyway though? I’ve learned in some of my history classes that many American businesses polluted anyway despite not having a permit.”

I continued on by explaining that people who were caught adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without a permit, were actually charged with an environmental felony which held up to ten years in prison.

“That is how the infrastructure that you know today came about Tim,”I said.

“Quite frankly, you are lucky to live at this point in time where society is much happier because we learned to place value on things like human interactions rather than valuing only consumption.”

“The people before me created the consumer culture that I grew familiar with in the 20th century. However, I was part of creating a new, much more sustainable society in the 21st century that you are now lucky to live in,” I told Tim.

After I finally finished explaining the story about how the human race had overcome the problem of climate change during the 21st century, all of our dinners were cold and Tim managed to muster just one question:

“Mom, do you think humans could ever overcome the problem we have today regarding the lack of resources?”

*Disclaimer: This is not an actual historical account of climate change. It is written under the pretenses of what the world could look like in the year 2040 from the perspective of the writer.

Disappearing Seasons

By: Sarah Pomerenke, Environmental Educator, LIU Post

My birthday is August 3rd, and, growing up, I used to think that it was the best day of the year for a birthday because during the first week of August it was usually guaranteed to be hot, sunny and beautiful. I absolutely love the hot weather, and, growing up in Austria, we did not have very long summers. However, starting on my 16th birthday, August 3rd became a pretty cold and rainy day. I thought it was an exception. Yet, to my disappointment the next year was the same. After a few years, I realized that the weather had changed, and my predictable hot August 3rd had become rather unpredictable. However, that was not the only weather problem I observed growing up in Austria.

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During my childhood, summers would usually start around June and would last until September. The first snow always fell between October and November and would not melt until March or sometimes even April. When I became older though things started to change. Hot summer days started in May, and the first snow sometimes did not appear until January. Furthermore, the seasons began to “mix.” For example, we had periods of freezing cold temperatures around June or July. One year, I even remember that we had snow in June. To me, it was highly obvious that our climate was changing; yet, personally, I did not think about it in a way that concerned me.

Onedayhot-onedaycoldLater on in my life though, I moved to the United States. I realized that uneven weather patterns existed here as well. During my first two years in the United States, I experienced exactly what people had told me regarding the weather in New York: summer was from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and winter was the other half of the year. I remember the weather very clearly because I enjoyed the summer very much, and I disliked the fall and the spring. However, I did not feel that way for very long.

us-flagTo me, it felt as if the seasons started to disappear. For example, in 2010, the first hot days were in the beginning of March, just about to cool down again in May and June. Another extreme example was the winter of 2011 to 2012 – where we had snow for only about two days and for the rest of the winter the temperature did not drop below 50 degrees. This seemed kind of scary to me considering that I lived in New York and it felt more like San Diego.

itshotIn 2012, the weather again continued to be erratic. It started with an extreme heat wave on Memorial Day weekend and then cooled down for the whole month of June before warming up again in the beginning of July. We are supposed to live in an area that experiences four seasons, and we used to have those seasons. But at this point, I gradually started to see them disappear and what is left seems to be just a “mix” of warm and cold weather at any given time of the year. This “mix” of seasons makes it more than obvious – the climate is changing!

Cartoon_GW_vs_Climate_ChangeIn the past, I never thought much about the connection between disappearing seasons and climate change. Only after I read Jill Carpenter’s story “Black Spring” in Thoreau’s Legacy did I realize that one thing effects the other. Carpenter’s story is somewhat similar to mine; yet, her story does not end at the fact that seasons are disappearing. She closely monitors the effects of disappearing seasons on nature and wildlife. The changes she found that were caused by these abnormal weather patterns was significant. This made me remember my own findings in the summer of 2012 following an extremely mild winter – my finding being a large amount of unpleasant bugs.

More bugs than I have ever experienced in my life…

Every day that I would spend time outside after sunset, I ran the risk of getting tons of bug bites all over my body. It literally got to the point that even bug spray did not help. One day, I even counted all the bug bites over my body and I came up with a number above forty.

thoreauAgain, after reading different essays in Thoreau’s Legacy, I was able to connect them to my own experiences and climate change. I realized that my personal experiences with climate change were much more convincing than the news that the media tends to bombard you with such as icecaps melting or polar bears dying.

In the present day, most of the population is aware of global climate change. However, most of the things that the general public knows about it is intangible. Whether distance wise, like Antarctica, or time wise, such as the future consequences of climate change, it seems beyond our reach. This is one reason for peoples’ passivity towards climate change. However, if the broader population would recognize the changes of global warming that are happening now in our own backyards, then people would be much more active in trying to reduce the impacts of climate change.

So, what I say is that we need to make people more aware of the problems that we face on a day-to-day basis related to global climate change. We need to make them realize that the many problems we do face are indeed related to global climate change. Only until we all work together to reduce the impact of global warming, will we have a chance of carrying on, to our children, the luxury of this planet that we now get to enjoy.

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Karen Miller: Survivor, Leader, Inspiration

By: William Achnitz III, Sustainability Coordinator, LIU Post

HBCACOn Monday, March 3rd, 2014, students in Professor Scott Carlin’s Sustainable Land Use and Transportation class were treated to a very inspirational guest speaker, Mrs. Karen Miller, President and Founder of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

A survivor of breast cancer herself, Karen formed the coalition about 27 years ago as a means not only to focus on prevention methods but also to actively help those who are faced with a positive diagnosis. Essentially, the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) strives to promote community-oriented programs focused on Breast Cancer Education, Precaution, and Prevention.

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One such initiative was a GIS study led by HBCAC and Professor Scott Carlin of LIU Post that mapped instances of breast cancer within the Town of Huntington. A result of over 600 volunteers collecting over 23,000 surveys over a span of 8 years led to one of the most comprehensive mapping studies of breast cancer in the country, something that was unprecedented for Long Island. Not only has this study opened residents’ eyes to the prevalence of breast cancer on Long Island, but it has also brought the topic of breast cancer to the forefront of discussion in our region.

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Huntington Breast Health Survey Results

“I’m proud of Long Island because the women here brought breast cancer to the forefront,” said Karen Miller during the introduction of her presentation. “These are the people that want to know why there is so much cancer. We have an obligation to get them answers.”

That same mission and mindset is exactly what still drives Karen to this day as well as the organization that she leads. She emphasizes the importance of partnerships and building relationships through grassroots activism.

“You need to connect with people in your community now!” she said. “As more and more of us band together, things can happen.”

And certainly things will happen. For me, Karen Miller is an inspiration and it was a privilege to hear her speak in one of my classes. She’s a role model and she is the epitome of what it means to work towards what you believe in.

To learn more about HBCAC, please check out their website here.