Bottled is not Better!

There are many misconceptions that come with the use of tap water versus the use of bottled water. The individuals who often chose to buy and drink bottled water over tap believe that is going to be much healthier and regulated than that of the municipal tap water that they could be drinking. In reality, these claims could not be more untrue. The website, Food and Water watch, is dedicated to combat these exact misnomers for the general public. The website highlights the major issues in a comprehensible bullet point manor with extensive information on each point available if the individual choses to investigate. They are able to highlight numerous statistics that will draw the readers eye and influence them in the future to no longer buy and drink bottled water over tap water. The overwhelming environmental issue with bottled over tap is that it adds to the plastic that is disposed and added to the world. However, with the material that they provide one can see that it does not make much of a difference to choose tap water over bottled water. For instance, “more than half of all bottled water comes from the tap.”(Food and Water watch) Immediately this fact sticks out to anyone viewing the page not to mention that it is followed up with the fact that, “in the United States, our drinking water is continuously monitored and treated according to federal standards.”(Food and Water Watch) Meaning that higher standards are actually held to the municipal water that comes from the tap than are held the private company water that fill the plastic water bottles that many drink. Past the information determining the difference between the qualities in tap versus bottles water, one can look into the plastic that is used for packaging and distribution of bottled water. The website, Band the bottle, serves as another interesting, fun and fact filled website that can account for information on the issues of tap versus bottled water. In this case however some of the major bullet points highlighted are those surrounding the plastic used. Of the many that one could pull from this site to highlight its negative environmental effects I think that, “The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400,”(Ban the Bottle) stands as a jaw dropper for most American’s. I could not believe this statistic when I read the website and truly believe that this would stop man from choosing bottled over tap. In the future, I will be sure to choose tap water over bottled knowing the large issues that it causes environmentally and the lack of health regulations that are misconceived by most Americans.

Mathematics, Sustainability, and Global Learning

I honestly think certain issues are best understood through specific, smaller-scale examples.

For instance, there’s the broad issue of global warming and climate change and human use of fossil fuels and all the corresponding problems that arise as a result. Yet instead of trying to tackle the issue broadly, I think it best to start small and work your way up. Which is why my paper focused on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, a relationship centered almost entirely around 2 fundamental, core values: cheap oil and defensive guarantees.

For too long, in fact since the end of World War II, the United States of America has guaranteed Saudi national security and defense in exchange for a reliable supply of cheap oil supplies. We have overlooked Saudi offenses and atrocities time and time again, to the detriment of our own values and the sacrifice of American lives.

The issue, of course, is U.S. reliance on Saudi oil supplies. On a daily basis, Saudi oil supplies represent roughly 5% of U.S. oil consumption (U.S.E.I.A.).  Obviously, this dependence results in an unwillingness to abandon Saudi Arabia’s record of abuse in favor of what we believe.

As a result, we sacrifice our own values as well as the present and future of our environment in order to maintain the status quo. Clearly, this trade-off is unsustainable to say the least. It requires necessary and immediate change, in both U.S. energy and foreign policy.

Global Goals

Goal #13, Climate Action, states that people need to make changes to their daily lives to protect our environment. This goal supports Global Awareness because it sets out to promote a healthy planet and ecosystem. More specifically, it aims to create new policies surrounding climate change, improve education on all things sustainability, and develop climate change-related planning in developing countries. In terms of daily sustainable living, people can contribute to this goal by using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one. It is recommended that people drink 8 eight ounce bottles of water each day, but if there are 7 billion people in the world and a typical plastic water bottle holds 16 ounces of water, then that wastes 28 billion 16 ounce plastic water bottles each day.

Goal #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, falls under the global perspective category because it aims to promote employment opportunities for everyone and economic success. According to the Global Goals, if we can create more jobs, promote sustainable tourism, put a stop to human trafficking, and achieve equal pay for men and women, we would be able to satisfy society’s goals without compromising the capacity of future generations to do the same.  



Green Fee Proposal

My idea is to apply for a grant in order to fund research about the cost/benefit of green renovations to the residence halls. This is important because while the administration and trustees may think renovations are not in the budget, it could save money in the long term. This research would focus on assessing how long it would take for certain renovations to pay back themselves and be more cost-effective than just maintaining the current system. The main renovation that I think is important is a new heating system because that seems to be an area that generates a lot of unnecessary energy. If we could show the board concrete data supporting that renovations such as these will save the school money, they may be more likely to dedicate funds to such a project. This would benefit this school, the environment, and the students’ quality of life.

Presidential Green Grant Proposal

To make Union more sustainable, I propose that Union College should expand dining options on campus.

I, for one, frequently visit local eateries for meals when instead I could choose to stay on campus. No, its not sustainable for me to do so, nor is it eco-friendly. But occasionally my stomach overrules the voice in my head. I get tired of the same, bland dining hall food, or of the same 12 options shared between Reamer and Rathskeller.

I think its also obvious that, compared to other schools, Union lacks a variety of dining options.

RPI, in addition to its dining hall, has a Moe’s and an on-campus pizzeria.

Cornell, according to a recent study, has nearly 30 different on-campus eateries, and ranks 5th-in the nation in terms of colleges with the best food.

Take a poll of Union students. I think the vast majority would agree that Union could stand to add some dining variety to on-campus life.

Having to seek a change of pace for a meal off-campus shouldn’t be necessary. And it sure isn’t sustainable.

Plastic vs. Reusable Bags

My proposal for the Green Grant would be to give each first-year a reusable grocery bag. The overall goal of this change would be to reduce the number of disposable plastic bags that are used on campus. This reusable bag would be given to first-year students at orientation, much like the reusable water bottles that were given to my class. These bags’ purpose would be for food and bookstore items. Any students buying snacks, getting upper to go or grabbing a salad from O3, can use the reusable grocery bag. Also, I believe that incentivizing this usage by offering a 3% discount on all bookstore food purchases for students who bring the reusable bag would help encourage the success of the program. Students would save declining, and the planet in the process. If the average size of the new freshman class is about 510 students (rough estimate), then it would cost Union about $0.95 per bag, with a total cost of $484.50. Now, one order of the biodegradable plastic bags that Union currently uses in the bookstore (1000 bags per order), costs $90.29. If the bookstore saw just a 10% decrease in demand for plastic bags per term, that would mean a 30% decrease per academic year; which is significant. Then the college can order fewer plastic bags (ergo spend less money on plastic bags each term), and reduce our waste in a cost-efficient way. The Green Fee Grant is a perfect way to fund this effort and can totally be reasonably implemented next fall.

Green Grant

For My Green Grant proposal, I suggest that Union hold a competition to see which residential building can use the least energy and water per capita over a given month and reward the residents of winning building with an addition to their declining balance. A similar competition is run at the University of Connecticut called EcoMadness. Prizes are rewarded to the building with the lowest per capita water usage, the lowest per capita energy usage, and the greatest percentage reduction in both energy and water usage.

As a result of EcoMadness 2016, the winning residential building at the University of Connecticut for lowest per capita water usage decreased their water usage by 20% in one month. The winning residential building for the lowest per capita energy usage decreased their energy consumption by 32% in one month. If the Green Grant were to be used to hold a competition at Union and yield similar results, that would be an enormous decrease in energy and water usage in just one month.


Climate control

For my Green Fee proposal, I would use the 25,000 dollars allocated to the project to reform the Union College heating and cooling systems that are used in numerous building especially Bailey Hall on campus. The system currently analyzes too many classrooms grouped together to turn on heat or air conditioning based on what temperature conditions are currently at. This system often turns on heat or air conditioning in classrooms not being utilized because they are adjacent to ones being used which causes an overuse of energy to power the systems to heat or cool the given space. With the added money, one would be able to increase the number of sensors so that it could be as close to room to room analyzation as possible. That way if one class is in session next to an empty room and has the windows open altering the temperature of the building and rooms adjacent to it the system will not kick on to try to fix and average the temperature of all of them, instead just the singular one which is in use. As we know not all classrooms are used at the same times and different professors and classrooms call for different temperatures to teach and participate in. If this could be put into action it would allow more individuality to the campus classrooms for heating and cooling saving the cost and process that revolves around it. It is not an inexpensive process nor environmentally friendly process to use air conditioning and heating mechanisms. This could cut down the overall energy allocated through the power system of Union College reducing the energy that is taken which is necessary to power them.

Reusable Coffee Cups in Wold

Every morning, students rush to Starbucks in Wold to get some coffee before their first class. The line is always enormous, stretching all the way down the hall. Sometimes, students purchase multiple cups of coffee a day to get their daily dosage of caffeine. The amount of paper and plastic cups that Starbucks uses on our campus a day creates a tremendous amount of excess waste.

Therefore, to combat this impractical waste issue, I would use the Green Grant to create reusable cups for Starbucks. There will be cups for hot and cold beverages. With the purchase of a cup (approximately 5-10 dollars), the amount of plastic and paper waste per day would be drastically decreased. To incentivize this, students who use their reusable coffee cups should receive some type of discount on their coffee. I think this idea is a quick, and cheap way to limit waste on campus.

Will Fusion Change the World?

The form of energy that caught my eye originally was nuclear fusion, and more specifically this energy source on a global scale. I had previously not thought this was very feasible and it led me to want to investigate if there have been any new breakthroughs since the last time that I had heard about it. The idea of breaking apart an atom had always seemed like something not possible to be created synthetically by scientists, but after researching on the global scale i was very surprised by what I found.

According to the credible source, The Guardian and a US initiative, they now believe that it will be incorporated into the power grid within the next 15 years which over halves the original period of time that was believed possible. The project believes that they can transform the large and extremely expensive project into one of commercial possibility for national use. This would be a massive increase in energy production with a much smaller amount of resources. The major key to their upcoming proposed success falls on the use of superconductors that can produce more energy than the amount needed to create the reaction in the first place. That is the first major issue, the amount of energy needed to create a fusion reaction would be larger than the amount coming from the process, making it a non sustainable source and not commercially appealing. This would not draw the attention of those which we have looked at who address the financials with the processes used to create and use energy. If no one is appealed then there would not be noticable funding and further research since the process does not seem to make sense financially nor with resource use. Interestingly enough the leader of the private company heading this charge , Bob Memgaard of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is quoted saying, “The aspiration is to have a working power plant in time to combat climate change. We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.”(The Guardian)

The company has already been able to attract over 50 million dollars in funding from just one Italian company in hopes of its completion. If the promise is completed the world would be able to utilize a, “zero-carbon, combustion-free source of energy.“(The Guardian) This would be an incredible help to the world’s issue of pollution around sources of power.

Overall, the process is fascinating. The power and heat emitted is a tremendous amount by pulsing in 10 second intervals after forging two hydrogen atoms together creating enough energy to power a small city. It is honestly a mind boggling project that would alter the entire world’s ideas behind creating energy.