Greening Your Dorm/Apartment

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!

Volunteer Opportunity: Housatonic River Cleanup, 6/28


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 or 413-230-7321 – or Alison or 413-394-9796.




June 8th Is World Oceans Day: Together We Can Protect Our Oceans

ocean day

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

Saving Paper: Some Simple and Fun Ideas

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



Housatonic Riverbank Cleanup in Pittsfield on May 3rd


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 or 413-230-7321 or Alison at HVA  or 413-394-9796.



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! 

Upcoming events:

  • 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 or 413-230-7321 or Alison at HVA  or 413-394-9796.

Calculate Your Impact

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.”

Margaret Mead

MassRIDES: Finding a Newer, Cheaper, Greener Way to Commute

Even though BCC is only 4 miles from downtown, transportation to and from campus is a major issue for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  For those without access to personal vehicles, the limited public transportation system is one of the only ways to get to campus.  For others, the only option is to drive, often with only one person in the car/truck.  This presents a huge problem.  If you’ve ever tried to find a parking space in the middle of the day, you can understand the need for alternatives to the transportation problem.

This transportation issue is not restricted to Berkshire County.  Many communities across the state are trying to come up with creative solutions to reduce the number of cars on the road.  One such initiative is the the MassRIDES program, a state-funded travel program designed to help commuters find the right commuting option.  From biking to public transportation to connecting individuals for carpooling, this site can help Massachusetts residents make smarter, cheaper, and greener choices.

The MassRIDES site has a lot of helpful information and it definitely worth a browse (or two).  Some of the highlights include a Commute Calculator which will tell you how much you are spending on commuting each year, the free NuRide rewards program for taking greener trips, and links to MapMyRide and other amazing sites.

To address a common carpooling concern, the site has established an Emergency Ride Home program which will pay for a taxi ride home in case of an emergency.  Whether a family member has taken ill or the carpool driver o’ the day has an emergency, never fear!  You will be reimbursed for your taxi ride up to 4 times per year.  It’s definitely worth checking out!

Many thank to Beth Wallace for reaching out to the Green Team and sharing this important (and GREEN!) program with us.  For additional information, check out the MassRIDES website or contact Beth at ext. 1662 or

Green the Campus: The Successful Story of Academic Advising

In an effort to save time, money, space, and paper, the BCC Advising Office has eliminated advising folders by using the campus’ online system, WebAdvisor.  This initiative has been a few years in the making, with June 2013 marking the first intake of new students without folders.  Anne Fortune, Advisor Extraordinaire, informed us that before shifting to online advising, the office had to create two folders for every student, taking up valuable space and time.  By using WebAdvisor, the office estimates that their paper consumption has dropped by 80%!  This not only frees up filing space, but reduces the number of man hours required for the regular maintenance of the advising folders.

With online registration now in full swing, the campus can maintain student records in real time, therefore providing advisors with the most accurate and up-to-date information. This green and efficient approach has been well-received.  Although Advising rarely prints out paper copies anymore, they are happy to make accommodations for those who still want folders.

What’s next for the greening of Advising?  They hope the campus will implement system-wide scanning, thereby making the addition of transcripts and other information easier and greener.

Has your department made any green changes?  If you would like to share your story, please email Roz at

Deans Beans Founder to Speak at MCLA

Dean Cycon, founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company, will be the featured speaker at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) “Green Living” series seminar on Thursday, March 6, at 5:30 p.m. in Murdock Hall room 218.  Cycon’s lecture, “Sustainable Business as a Vehicle for Social Change,” part of this spring’s “Cultivating a Sustainable Food System” series, is free and open to the public.

Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company is a certified 100% organic, fair trade, and kosher coffee roasting operation in Orange, MA. Cycon created Dean’s Beans to prove that conscientious business can promote economic, social, and environmental change at local and global levels and still be profitable.  For additional information, click here for his company’s website.

Recommended reading on Cycon’s business model and philosophy: 7 Reasons Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better for Your Startup. Paula Andruss,, 1/31/2014.


The series will continue on Thursdays through April 24. For more information, go to or contact Dr. Elena Traister, (413) 662-5303.

The 2014 Green Living Seminar series is a presentation of MCLA’s Berkshire Environmental Resource Center and the MCLA Environmental Studies Department.