Sunday, June 30, 2013

"YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip" DVD is now available in the Daylight Lounge!

Ok, the title of this post isn't exactly true if you want to be picky about what I mean by "now" available. Technically, this movie isn't available this very second since: (1) the library is closed today, and (2) this DVD is currently checked out to me. BUT, it should be available tomorrow (assuming I remember to bring it to work!)

For those of you who are not yet familiar with this film, it is a documentary made by a group of friends who spent a year traveling around the country to learn about the creative ways people are dealing with climate change and the unsustainable fossil-fuel dependent  lifestyle that is the norm in the United States.

While they didn't shy away from issues like the effects of climate change or the horrors of mountain top removal, they also explored really innovative ideas that I had never heard of, (like the one for  "Solar Roadways," which would involve using solar panels to harnessing solar energy from the roads we drive on).

This movie will give you a taste of what so many people are doing to improve the world and to create more sustainable communities. If you are looking for an inspiring film to watch this summer, come by the library and check out YERT.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New course at WWU on Library Resources for Sustainability

The title above says it all.  I will be teaching a new course this fall: LIBR 320 Library Resources for Sustainability.

Three credits, Monday/Wednesday 10-11:20 AM.  Students will learn  how to find primary sources, books, articles, etc. using library tools, all related to sustainability.

Bonus: we will investigate the sustainability of libraries themselves.

Come join the fun.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wellness and Sustainability: WWU's Wellness Program

The WWU Faculty & Staff Wellness Program Presents: 3 Minutes of Breathing featuring Nancy Metcalf from Fairhaven College, WWU on Vimeo.

This past April, one of the Office of Sustainability's "Lunch and Learn" sessions featured Kaylee Nightingale, a Wellness Program Instructor from WWU's Human Resources Department. She spoke about health, wellness, and sustainability, and said some really insightful things that made a lasting impression on me. For example,  she talked about how wellness makes everything better because it makes us less dependent on medicine, on "things," and on "stuff." She spoke about consumption and wellness, and pointed out how we don't need to buy and consume in order to become more fit. It doesn't matter if we don't have expensive exercise equipment because it is possible to use what we have around us. One of the things I really liked is when she said "We don't need much to do what our bodies want to do, and that is to move!"

Kaylee also talked about how there are ways to incorporate fitness into our everyday routines, such as taking a 20 minute walk as part of running an errand, using the stairs, or just walking more. So often we think driving somewhere will actually get us there faster, or that we don't have time to walk, when if we try it we might be surprised. And, exercise is always a great stress reliever!

The faculty and staff here at Western are really lucky to have access to such a great Wellness Program right here where we work every day. For example, there are a number of classes we can take, or we can also call to schedule a personalized wellness consultation.  In addition to the classes, there are also some great yoga videos online, like the one I posted above featuring Wellness Instructor Nancy Metcalf.

Wellness and sustainability are intrinsically connected, and the better we feel, the better everything is in our lives, including our work and our relationships. Summer time is now officially upon us which means it is easier than ever to explore our options for finding more ways to bring wellness and physical activity into our daily lives. (My personal favorite is walking up Sehome Hill during my lunch break!) If you are looking for ways to integrate well-being into your life, drop Kaylee an email at and she will help you get started.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

On vacation? Find a Farmers Market....

All of us 'Hamsters know where the local farmers markets are, but what if you go on vacation this summer?  Never fear.  The USDA has provided a
national list.  Just type in your destination and let Uncle Sam help you find those fresh strawberries and (yum!) turnips.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Green Book Festival

Did you know there was a Green Book Festival?  News to me.  Here are a few of the books honored this year that we own:

Garbology: Our dirty love affair with trash.

The last atoll: exploring Hawai'i's endangered ecosystems (available as e-book)

The big burn : Teddy Roosevelt and the fire that saved America

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sustainability and Finals Week: Never Fear, Pet Partners are Here a Little Longer!

Yes, finals week is upon us, and with that sometimes comes stress and looming deadlines, but fear not dear students, you will get through it! And if you are in need of a break, a way to de-stress and relax a bit, our lovely "Pet Partners" will be in the library again this week through June 13th! Nothing makes you smile like getting to be around one of these cuddly animals. What can be better for promoting sustainability and health during finals week than this?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Charging up at the library

Well, this is cool.  The Central Park Library in Santa Clara, California has a charging station for electronic cars.  Will more libraries get on board the e-mobile? 

"World Environment Day" is Today!

 I tend to like the practice of designating specific days for the purpose of being particularly mindful of certain significant things. I am a fan of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, as well as days like Earth Day. And while I agree that generally it is wise to appreciate whatever it is these days are celebrating every day, (and not just once a year), I really enjoy days that are centered on deliberate and intentionally-focused celebration.

That being said, today is one of those days that makes me happy because beginning in 1972,  the United Nations started an annual "World Environment Day" celebration, and today happens to be this year's day, which also has the theme of "Think. Eat. Save."

"This year’s campaign rallies you to take action from your home and then witness the power of collective decisions you and others have made to reduce food waste, save money, minimize the environmental impact of food production and force food production processes to become more efficient." (from the website).

One thing worth checking out while you are thinking, eating, and saving, is what is happening here at Western. For more information, go to the Office of Sustainability's webpage that talks about food and operations, and you can learn quite a bit  about how Western is trying to accomplish our sustainability goal to "provide healthy and sustainable food and food services to campus." From the "Real Food Challenge," to "Viking Supported Agriculture," there are plenty of things happening for us to be excited about, today and every day!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Elemental this weekend

There will be a special showing of a new film about sustainability, June 8-9, at the Pickford here in Bellingham.  Here is the Facebook event page.

"ELEMENTAL is a visually striking and inspirational documentary which inter-weaves three remarkable eco warriors' stories from across the globe. Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this film each have their own unique path, personal challenges and deserved breakthroughs. When you have a chance, please review more info below and watch the trailer here."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hans wants to talk to you about composting

I know the stereotype about monkeys is that they eat a lot of bananas, but Hans is actually more partial to citrus fruits himself. Sometimes he does need a little help peeling them, but one thing he always does, be it banana or tangerine, is compost his peels. You see, Hans knows that biodegradable food waste that ends up in a landfill does not decompose in the way we might think it does.

"This is not to say that no biodegradation occurs within a landfill...It does mean that easily compostable things, like paper or food scraps, are going to waste inside a landfill where they are entombed rather than broken down into valuable nutrients that could reenter the earth's life cycle." (--Amy Korst, from The Zero-Waste Lifestyle).

In case you are ever in the library looking for some way to make a difference when it comes to stopping your own food waste from going into a landfill, Hans wants you to know that there IS a compost bin inside Zoe's, so feel free to drop your compostable materials in there whenever you can. And know that if you do this, you will be making Hans one very happy sock monkey!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Green Energy Fee Grant Program Awards Expo

The Green Energy Fee Grant Program Awards Expo was held on May 30, 2013 in the Academic West skybridge. It was a really wonderful event, and we enjoyed getting to hear about the range of amazing and creative projects that have happened as a result of the Green Energy Fee. This picture features participants related to various GEF sponsored projects, and the photo itself was taken by the Office of Sustainability's talented Zero-Waste Coordinator Jacob DeGuzman. (I "borrowed" it from the GEF Facebook page and posted it here so that I could encourage you to check out their page to see more awesome photos, and to learn more about the program.)