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.

Wave Energy

Wave energy forms from wind. The amount of energy is dependent on the speed of the wind. According to the EIA, the annual energy potential of waves off the coasts of the U.S. is estimated to be 2.64 Kilowatt-hours, which could produce 66% of energy generation. There are several ways to channel wind power: Wave energy can be harnessed into a narrow channel to increase their size and power which can spin turbines that generate electricity. It also can be channeled into a catch basin or reservoir where the water flows into a turbine. This is similar to the way a hydropower dam operates.

According to the New York Times, in Western, Australia they have buoys that generate waves into electricity for a nearby military base. The buoys started supplying 240 kilowatts each to the electricity grid for this base, roughly about 5% of its electricity. This is proving to be a successful experiment and source of renewable energy because it does not use any fossil fuels.

The biggest challenge facing wave energy is the cost. If you want to test an idea, it costs millions. Additionally, once generated it is at a cost of 40 cents per kilowatt-hour. While it is expensive, improvements are being made in order to improve the equipment and ensure it is not destroyed by storms. In order to make this a more consistent form of energy used, the government will need to assist in the funding of these projects.

Blog Post #1

Union has exposed me to sustainability in a way I had never been previously. Union’s commitment to sustainability has stimulated my interest in environmentalism and has encouraged me to reduce my own carbon footprint. Since coming to Union I am more cognizant of my own environmental practices and habits and I continue to recycle, compost, use a reusable water bottle, and support Octopus’s Garden and Ozone Café. While my relationship with sustainable living is a relatively new one, I am excited to learn more about how math relates to global issues such as agriculture and climate change. As a Psychology and Spanish double major, I have had little exposure to environmental studies in an academic setting, but I look forward to exploring sustainability through a quantitative lens and learning about how I can help to better the future of our planet.