You may be asking yourself, why is NATIONAL COFFEE DAY a Green Team post? Here’s why: coffee production has a huge impact on the environment. The four biggest areas of environmental concern are biodiversity and conservation of forest ecosystems, agricultural chemical use, water pollution from processing, and soil quality. Traditionally, coffee is grown in the shade of a forest canopy where it provides shelter for wildlife, prevents erosion, and does not require chemical fertilizers. Sadly, most of the coffee produced and consumed today is grown on plantations in the full sun where they require the addition of chemical fertilizers. In order to create these monoculture plantations, millions of acres of forest have to be cleared away. For more detailed information, please see articles posted at the end of this post.
The simplest action you can take to green your coffee is to choose green coffee! Although coffee beans are actually green prior to roasting, here we are referring to sustainably- and ethically-grown coffee. Next time you are grocery shopping, take a minute to read the labels and ask questions. If you are more of a coffee shop consumer, ask if they have (or have considered purchasing) alternatives to commercially-grown coffee. There are many brands available that are shade-grown, organic, and fair trade certified. These coffees do tend to be a little more expensive than your standard cup o’ joe, but looking at the big picture, it’s definitely worth it. By choosing sustainable coffee over commercial coffee, you are sending a powerful message as a consumer. And don’t forget to use your reusable mug!
Coffee, Conservation, and Commerce in the Western Hemisphere, Natural Resources Defense Council.
How Green Is Your Coffee, The Guardian.
Taste Test: Green Beans, Sierra Club.
Environmental Impact of Agriculture, Human Geography: People and the Environment
Many thanks to the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) for organizing this important hazardous waste collection!
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal for Pittsfield Residents Only!
Sat, September 13, 2014
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Pittsfield Highway Facility
232 Housatonic St – Pittsfield
Examples of acceptable materials:
From The Yard/Garden:
- Pesticides, Fungicides
- Insect Sprays
- Rodent Killers
- Muriatic Acid
- Flea Powder
- No-Pest Strips
- Chemical Fertilizers
- Lighter Fluid
- Moth Balls
From The Workbench:
- Rust Proofers
- Wood Preservatives
- Wood Strippers & Stains
- Paint Thinners
- Lead & Oil-Based Paint
- Full Aerosol Cans
- Spray Paint
From The House:
- Drain Cleaners
- Oven Cleaners
- Floor Cleaners
- Metal Polish
- Arts & Crafts Supplies
- Photo Chemicals
- Chemistry Kits
- Rechargeable Batteries
From The Garage:
- Brake & Transmission Fluids
- Car Wax, Polish
- Engine Degreaser
- Swimming Pool Chemicals
- Driveway Sealer
- Car-Lead Acid Batteries
- Other mercury
- Button Batteries
DO NOT BRING:
Latex Paint, Medical Wastes, Asbestos, Fireworks & Explosives, Ammunition, Construction Debris, Gas or Propane Cylinders, Smoke Detectors, Radioactive Material, Fire Extinguishers, PCB’s, Medications, motor oil
Fluorescent Lamps-Can be brought to Covanta on Hubbard ave. and the first 4, 4 foot lamps are free and it is $2 per lamp after that. Latex paint will not be accepted. Usable paint can be given away through freecycle.org or some non-profits. Empty or dried-up cans of latex can be recycled with scrap metal. Or empty latex/oil-based paints/stains can be disposed with the regular trash.
Contact Jamie at 445-4556, ext. 14 or for more information.
Greetings and salutations! The Green Team is back and excited to get this semester started! Interested in joining our team? We coordinate efforts at the college to reduce the college’s carbon footprint, maintain sustainable practices, seek funding to carry out initiatives, and coordinate the college’s efforts with other colleges and institutions. Our first meeting is Friday, September 5th at 1:30 in G10. Come on down! We’ve had a busy year and have much more planned in the months to come!
The BCC Green Team loves lots of things. Here are some highlights:
- BCC LOVES COMPOST! Kevin Kennedy and his amazing cafeteria crew have been at the forefront of the campus’ Zero Waste initiative by implementing a composting program! Click here for more information!
- BCC LOVES SHREDDING (and not just on guitars, although that’s fun, too!) Keep an eye out for a Fall shredding event! With Hawthorne and Melville renovations just around the corner, now is a perfect time to start cleaning out those files and offices!
- BCC LOVES ITS BLOG! Sign up for campus updates, tips & tools on reducing your environmental impact, events in the area, volunteer opportunities, celebration of environmental holidays like Earth Day and World Water Day, and other delightful mishigas.
- BCC LOVES ITS PEOPLE! We are an awesome group of friendly, funny, intelligent, and resourceful faculty, staff, administration, community partners, and student representatives. We just might be the best people ever.
If you have any questions or ideas and would like to get involved, please contact our team chair, Charlie Kaminski at email@example.com.
Whether you are a BCC student that has moved into your own place or you are a parent about to send off your teen to college, these 12 tips from TreeHugger can help you make environmentally-friendly choices. This list is aimed at students, but offers great advice to anyone moving into new digs.
Some great ideas to remember:
- Look for used furniture/accessories instead of buying new. Many thrift shops and consignment stores offer great deals on used household items. Also, don’t forget tag sales! Bring some cash and have fun perusing the goods!
- Hoping to score some free stuff? Check out Freecycle and Craigslist. Remember, personal safety is more important than free stuff, so use your brain and discretion when using these sites.
- Personalize your new finds! Painting, refinishing, and changing out the hardware is a great way to create unique pieces for your new living space. This list from Buzzfeed has some great and quirky ideas!
- Try to buy eco-friendly goods when possible. There are plenty of green options for school supplies, cleaning products, and even toilet paper. Take a few minutes to read those labels in the store!
Have fun! Be green!
UPDATE: DUE TO HIGH WATER IN RIVER, THIS WEEKEND’S CLEANUP HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL A LATER DATE.
Help Clean Up the Housatonic River THIS WEEKEND
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) are organizing another river cleanup!
- Where: Fred Garner Park (off Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield, MA)
- When: Saturday, June 28, from 9 am to 1pm
- What: Cleaning in the river and along the banks of the west branch of the Housatonic River
- Bring: Old clothes, rubber boots/waders/old sneakers (no sandals or open-toed shoes, please!), water, hat, sunscreen, bug spray
- Trash bags and gloves will be provided
Lunch will be provided for all volunteers at the end of the cleanup!
Please let BEAT or HVA know if you can join us (but come anyway, even if you decide at the last minute!) Contact Jane firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-230-7321 – or Alison email@example.com or 413-394-9796.
Sunday marks the 21st annual World Oceans Day — a very special day that honors, celebrates, and works to protect the world’s oceans. What does the ocean mean to you? Many of us have fond memories of summer vacations sprawled out on golden beaches with sparkling water lapping at the shore or sailing across the open water with the sea breeze blowing through your hair and the sun shining on your face. Others have not-so-fond memories of stepping on horseshoe crabs or getting caught in an undertow, not to mention that oh-so-uncomfortable feeling of sand…everywhere! Regardless of our memories (fond or otherwise), we cannot exist without our oceans.
Why are oceans so important? In addition to providing endless hours of fun in the sun, our oceans are multitasking powerhouses! They generate the oxygen we need to breathe, provide food, regulate the climate, and clean the water we drink, among other things. The oceans are also home to countless species, many of which are still unknown to us.
To honor and protect our oceans, here are some ideas for conservation and celebration:
- If you have the time and access, plan a trip to the nearest ocean and take a walk along the shores. According to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols in his book, “Blue Planet,” humans share a special and deep emotional connection with the sea. Just remember to respect the beaches by following all rules (especially about not walking on dunes and through protected habitats, please!)
- Reduce your plastic consumption! Did you know that most of the world’s garbage does not go into landfills but rather into the ocean? Yes, that’s what trash barges do. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex? As cool as a vortex sounds, it’s basically a gigantic swirling mess of sludge, debris, and (can you guess?) PLASTIC. For more information on this horrifying flotilla of trash, click here. Choose reusable and plastic-free options whenever possible!
- Choose your seafood wisely! Please click here for an easy-to-print pocket guide of safe and ethically harvested seafood in the Northeast.
- Climate change impacts everything, especially our oceans. Try out one of these footprint calculators and see what you can do.
- Join a cleanup near you! While Berkshire County might be a little far from the ocean, remember that all water ends up in the ocean eventually. Join up with one of BEAT‘s cleanups this summer or pick up trash at your favorite picnic spot. The more trash we can keep out of our waterways, the healthier our rivers and oceans will be.
Happy World Oceans Day!
Mother Nature Network, World Oceans Day
World Oceans Day Organization
Center for Biological Diversity Oceans Program
Did you know:
- We use 69 million tons of paper and paperboard in the United States?
- 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper?
- More than 5000 products can be made from recycled paper, including bandages, egg cartons, and coffee filters?
Here are some simple and fun ideas for reducing and reusing:
- Share information electronically instead of printing it out
- If you have to print something out, print it double-sided
- Instead of making and keeping multiple paper copies of documents, scan them and save them electronically
- Use scrap paper instead of a fresh notebook (or make your own!) Click here for an easy step-by-step using staples or here using glue.
- Reduce amount of unsolicited junk mail: Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information
- Use an empty tissue box to hold plastic shopping bags or trim off the top and store your scrap paper/rubber bands/etc.
- Did your printer have a “moment” and print out dozens of single-sided pages accidentally? Use your 3-hole punch and one of the many binders floating around campus to create a notebook for meetings and other note-taking.
- Recycling on campus is easy! See those blue bins next to your desk or in the hallway? Those are for paper! Here’s a list of what can and can’t be recycled on campus: BCC Recycling Guidelines
For additional information:
EPA Paper FAQs
Forest Ethic’s Paper Facts
Saturday, May 3 - Housatonic Riverbank Cleanup
9 am to 1 pm
105 Wahconah St, Pittsfield
The idea of this spring cleanup is to get some of the trash from over the winter off the banks before the vegetation comes out and BEFORE it gets into the river. We will all meet at the parking lot at Wahconah Park Pittsfield for snacks at the start and come back here for lunch at the end. We will fan out from here to tackle the places on the river most in need of a cleanup. Pouring rain or thunder cancels.
A picnic lunch, snacks, work gloves, and trash bags are provided.
What YOU should bring: A refillable water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent – wear old clothes and sturdy footwear, you will get wet and dirty! Old sneakers, rubber boots – although the plan is NOT to go in the water. Long pants and long sleeves will avoid insect bites and scratches from walking through brush.
Please contact the organizers if you plan on attending.
This cleanup is organized by the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). Cosponsored by the City of Pittsfield and American Rivers.
For more information or to register, please contact Jane at BEAT firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-230-7321 or Alison at HVA email@example.com or 413-394-9796.
HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has been inspiring citizens to become stewards for the planet and its inhabitants. Today is the day that we become activists who protect natural resources, wildlife, and wild spaces. Today is the day to look at our lives and work together to create a healthier, cleaner, and greener future. Today is the day that we can recognize the impact of our actions and find a way to change our habits for the better. Today is a very special day.
For ideas on how to green your life, please check out last year’s Earth Day post here or talk to a member of the BCC Green Team!
- BCC Green Up Day, April 25th: a voluntary day of service to beautify the campus. All are welcome. FORUM CREDIT IS AVAILABLE. Please contact Charlie Kaminski if interested.
- MCLA’s Green Living Seminar series, April 24th @ 5:30 pm, Murdock Hall: Farmer’s Roundtable Discussion (this is the last presentation of MCLA’s 11-part series on sustainable food systems)
- 350 MA Berkshire Node meeting, April 23rd at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Wendell Ave, Pittsfield, 6-8 pm. For more information, contact Mary Parkman.
- Housatonic Riverbank Cleanup, May 3rd, 9 am to 1 pm, Wahconah Park. For more information or to register, please contact Jane at BEAT firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-230-7321 or Alison at HVA email@example.com or 413-394-9796.
With Earth Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to start thinking about our habits and what we can do to reduce our impact on our planet and its resources. Take a minute to try out these carbon and water footprint calculators.
Here are three great footprint calculators:
1. The EPA (or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has created a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission calculator that can help you to estimate your household emissions, explore options to reduce your footprint, and see how much money you could save by taking action.
2. The next calculator comes to us from our friends at the Earth Day Network. This ecological footprint quiz is a fun, fast, and interactive calculator where you can create your own avatar and visualize your impact. At the end of the quiz, you will learn how many planets would be needed to maintain your current lifestyle.
3. For those of you who are interested in learning more about your water usage and how much water is going down the drain (pun intended), try out the GRACE Communications Foundation Water Footprint Calculator.
And remember, Earth Day is April 22, 2014! What are your sustainability goals or plans for the next year?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”