My Sustainability Action (in 5 seconds!!!!)

The use of a $20 reusable water bottle can save the average American $6,180 after five years of use, which is the bare minimum life expectancy of a reusable water bottle. If one person switches to a reusable water bottle, 217 plastic water bottles will be saved from going to a landfill that year, not only do they save you a lot of money and help the environment, but they are also a healthier option as opposed to plastic water bottles. Reusable water bottles are lead and BPA free, which is beneficial to you and your families’ well-being. By switching to a reusable water bottle, Americans can save themselves thousands of dollars, help the environment by lowering the amount of plastic waste in the United States, and keep their families safer.

Ditching plasticware

Plastic is integrated thoroughly in Union College’s dining services. Plasticware, straws, and lids for paper coffee cups are offered in all dining halls and Wold Starbucks and it’s improbable to think that all of these different plastics are recycled. There is plasticware in my off-campus house which never gets recycled when used and the coffee cups from union dining services are countlessly tossed into the regular trash instead of recycling. Moreover, plastic is terribly unhealthy considering the chemicals necessary to produce such objects. I propose that all plasticware is banned on Union’s campus and I’m including the straws and the lids because while they are small in size, they are hugely detrimental to the environment given their frequent usage. Upper dining hall has a washing station for silverware, why not connect that station to a potential one in Dutch? I am rarely at skellar, so I’m not positive on the utensils that are offered, but plasticware should be outlawed there as well as West. Getting rid of plastic utensils and other miscellaneous plastic objects should be a Union priority if the school is serious about environmental sustainability.

Green Fee

My Idea for the $25,000 Grant to help Union Campus is to build a garden that is big enough to sustain all of the vegetables used for the union dining hall. I think that the perfect place to plant this garden is on the soccer field adjacent to the field house. There can be a portion of a sustainability class devoted to keeping the garden up and running. This garden will reduce the amount of vegetables we need in turn reducing the carbon emission of the transportation needed to bring the vegetables we use daily. I also think we should cut out the food corporation that provides us food and source the meat we need to cook locally from livestock in the capital region. This process would be very complicated but with the $25,000 I think It can be properly planned. There can be courses designed around management of the supply and demand of meat products and union can reduce the transportation needed to bring the meat to the school.


Solar energy

Solar Energy is an interesting way of taking the energy from the sun and using it. Solar energy can be broken down into two different categories, passive and active. The more commonly thought about way is active, which consists of solar panels that collect energy. This method is very helpful in generating clean energy. The passive method includes building with the intention of maximizing the sunlight the structure gets and also making advantageous designs to facilitate air flow. The architectural designs associated with passive solar energy is actually much cheaper than installing solar panels. However, solar panels are sometimes subsidized by utility companies. An informational article I found on a website that sells solar panels said, “the installed cost of solar panels was between $7-$9 per watt: A 5 kW system would cost around $25,000-$35,000. Many utility companies offer incentives, and some subsidize as much as 50% of system costs” So clearly the active method of collecting solar energy is more complicated than the passive method. I think that the cost should not be subsidized by private companies as it allows them to claim their return in a big way when the owner of the panels sells their house. The government should incentivize programs for residential clean energy.



As of right now, the United States is 4th in the running for the largest country to utilize photovaltaics, an alternative option from using fossil fuels for energy. Germany, Japan and Spain are ahead of us in terms of energy efficiency and its imperative that our nation strives to meet the same level of sustainability that these other countries have achieved.

Solar Photovaltaics are solar cells that directly convert sunlight into usable electricity. Photo means light and valt is associated with energy. There are crystalline silicon cells, thin film, PV, and concentrated PV which are all Photovaltaics but just have a These materials that the cells are made from are called semiconductors which then convert the energy into a circuit to produce power. When the sunlight hits these cells, the electrons break away from their atomic bond and release energy. The fabulous part about photovaltaics is that the energy produced can be used to power anything from a large house or commercial building to a small electronic device. Its versatility reassures its sustainability. The effect that the solar cells have was first observed by Alexandre Edmund Becquerel in 1839 and which was later confirmed by Bell Labs in the US during 1954. By 1958, solar cells started to be used by commercial businesses and have declined in price over the last 12 years. The most efficient cells unfortunately are the priciest. However, they are much more effective for converting sunlight into usable energy while thin filmed cells are less expensive but not as useful because they sometimes the light is too weak to be absorbed.




Giant Panda Population Increasing After Being Called Extinct

Through my research of trying to find an article regarding the topic of growth and decay, I decided to focus in on the the topic of the giant panda population, and how they have been deemed a “vulnerable”, rather than an “extinct”, species. I read about it in this article.

The giant panda population has been known as the “world’s most beloved conservation icon”. Acting as the symbol of WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, the giant panda’s population increase is a relief to so many, as it is showing that conservation efforts are paying off in the end.

In the article, it is stated that there was a 17% rise in the giant panda population leading up to 2014. This was when the census recorded 1,864 giant pandas in the wild in China.

What this increase in the panda population shows us is that when people come together for a common cause, they are able to make a major difference in the environment. People and communities have been battling this extinction for quite some time, and the efforts are proving successful.

Elephant Poaching Decreases African Species

Elephant poaching started at the end of the 20th century and has permanently damaged the overall population of African elephants across the continent’s 18 countries.  NPR’s article that was published in the late summer of 2016 recounts the shockingly high decline in elephant population between 2007 and 2014 which all account the illegal poaching for ivory. Many African’s get involved in the poaching industry because it is easy money and not terribly difficult to accomplish. Ivory is then sold to illegal traffickers which are then sold on the Chinese market. The entire industry is murderous and heartless because people ruthlessly kill elephants just for their ivory tusks.

The African elephant population declined 140,000 animals between 2007 and 2014 which took about $7 million dollars to conclude. The great Elephant Census, founded by Paul Allen, searched elephants for three years and which collaborated with Elephants without Borders and other government/non governmental organizations. They were able to record the elephant numbers by meticulously flying a small plane and writing down elephants they saw, making sure not to count those that had already been recorded. Only 352,271 elephants existed after the 7 year period, meaning that in 2007 (adding the 140,000) there were 496,271 elephants. When calculated, this is a 25% decrease in the elephant numbers and which continue to decrease today.


This graph from WWF shows a glimpse of the horrid poaching ramifications. If you’re more interested in this subject there is an awesome and captivating documentary on netflix directed by Leonardo Dicaprio called The Ivory Game on the entire ivory poaching market and the ways in which African organizations strive to capture those involved.