Recycling Week!

Image

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle; three words that I’ve heard used together more than any other tripartite phrase. And oh, how important they are….but you already knew that didn’t you?

During the week of October 22nd through October 26th, EnAct had its annual recycling week, incorporating multiple events into a recycling extravaganza! One of the integral parts of the week was the multi-stationed outdoor table manned every day in Parents Plaza from 11am-2pm. This exciting (and green!) area included some hands on activities as well as sign-ups for reusable sporks (spoon + fork combination utensil) and a petition for a ballot question regarding the privatization of Allentown’s water supply.

Image

One of the biggest ‘hits’ at the table was the Sporks program sign-up. This program was started last year and gathered a lot of the support from the Muhlenberg community but unfortunately it was not well communicated and people didn’t take full advantage of the offered opportunities (like a discount at GQ for using the reusable utensil). This year EnAct is hoping to gather enough signatures in order to get Muhlenberg to sponsor the program and make the sporks free for students once again. We filled up at least 3 sheets of paper, front and back, with signatures so here’s hoping it goes through!

Image

Another fun part of the recycling table was the “Recycle-it-ball” game that tested eager volunteers on their recycling knowledge. Participants picked 5 items out of the box that they thought were recyclable. If they chose correctly and tossed the items in the improvised (reused!) basketball hoop they won a cereal-box notebook (pictured below!).

Image

Perhaps the most eye-catching of the many “green” items presented at the table was the recycled statues/sculptures (see below!). Students were encouraged to use recycled materials (gathered by EnAct volunteers who went “dorm-storming”) and assemble their very own artistic creation.

Image

Image

Of course there were other events during this busy week of environmental education, including a visit to The Caring Place, an after-school program in Allentown. On October 24th a number of EnAct volunteers journeyed there to teach kindergarten, first, and second graders about the water cycle. Unfortunately I did not attend and thus don’t have pictures but I’m told it was very enjoyable and rewarding. However I worked at an educational environmental center this summer and know from personal experience that these kinds of lessons can be educational and fun!

One of the last activities of the week was learning how to make an old t-shirt into a reusable bag. Using only an old shirt, scissors, and string, it’s extremely easy and of course useful. At this meeting EnAct students also designed and made educational posters regarding the upcoming election to use during Rock the Vote (a free concert and political information session). Though I didn’t make it, from what I heard, it did indeed rock! 

Image

Remember everybody, reuse, reduce, and recycle and we’ll all be better off! Also, get to your voting center on November 6th and let your voice be heard! Have a great day! =)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunset Hike

In the lobby to the Museum of Natural History in New York City there is a quote on the wall by Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt that reads, “There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.” As soon as I read this quote I understood what it meant and what our former president was trying to convey. For some people this epiphany would come quicker than for others, but regardless it is true and salient among all people, after all humans came from the forest, not the factory. And it is for this reason that we, for both our individual health (both mental and physical) and our communal health, venture outdoors, if not as often as we should. On Friday September 14th, Muhlenbergs Environmental Action Team held a sunset hike on a part of the Appalachian Trail near Bake Oven Road in East Penn, PA. I’ve hiked plenty, but this hike was special, for the view at the top as the sun was setting was nothing short of spectacular.

Soak it in

But, like life, a hike is about the journey as well as the destination. There’s something to be said about outdoor exercise, listening to the sounds of nature far surpasses the dull sounds of the iron-cold weight room. And if you’re with a group of like-minded, intellectual, friendly Mules….well, you can’t ask for much more. We had a lot of fun and healthy fun at that. Some of us even (ok, mostly me) found that gathering recyclables/trash that other less nature-oriented guests of the trail had left behind was fun and tried to gather as much as we/I could.

Suffice to say, people left a lot of stuff up there, this is only a small example.

Just like at the free organic dinner (see previous blog post) there was plenty of chatting and discussion going on regarding all kinds of topics. Upon reaching the steepest part of the hike though, conversation became slower and less rambunctious as we scrambled our way strategically up the cliff face. I confess, I did drop my camera, but it still works!

Starting the climb

But at the end of the day we all came out [relatively] unscathed and most certainly a few k-cal’s short of when we started. Unless you ate trail mix, in which case it might have balanced out! Anyhow, when the group reached the top two “peaks”, some went to one and some to the other, and soon after a war irrupted between the two factions (just kidding!). Everyone was friendly as can be, taking pictures for one another, taking in the magnificent view. You don’t get this kind of view at the Life Sports Center.


The Muhlenberg Environmental Action Team (EnAct) has a Facebook Page and meets every week, contact bergenact@gmail.com for more info!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Natural Nosh

They say that there’s no such thing as “free” but I beg to differ. Here at Muhlenberg College there’s a sense of community and friendship that literally permeates the air. And as far as I know there is no charge! There is certainly some truth in the saying, “The best things in life aren’t things.” However some things are pretty cool, especially environmentally-friendly ones. Enter the Muhlenberg Community Garden House and Tree House. Thursday, September 13, 2012 these two houses hosted a free organic dinner and let me tell you, it was delectable! Just take a look!

Homemade biscuit with tomato sauce, pasta with sauce and cheese, green bean salad, diced potato, watermelon, yellow tomatoes, pumpkin pudding, and chocolate beet cake!

Using vegetables grown right in the backyard of the Community Garden House and the Tree House, this food was cleaned and prepped by the amazing tenants themselves. Guests needed only bring a plate and utensil, the rest was on the house (or in the back!). The food was laid out buffet-style and guests were allowed to show up any time after 6PM to grab some of this delicious grub. There was plenty to go around and seconds were most definitely had.

Dig in!

Great, now I’m hungry again

After piling up their plates, guests made their way outside to a little grassy area to dine with other fellow students. The atmosphere was tranquil and serene, old friends chatting, new friends acquainting, and all the while eating delicious, locally grown, sustainable food! It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Tree House and the Community Garden have been around for a few years but the problem is they aren’t very well known. I, personally, didn’t even know we had them until last year! Wandering around the garden and the houses I gathered a sense of accomplishment and pride in my fellow Mules for sustaining such a…..well, sustainable(!), place for students to come and enjoy. For such a small college with students of extremely varied interests it’s fantastic that a place like this exists and it should be taken advantage of more often! We only get one planet and you’d be surprised how much you can learn about it by simply eating a free dinner.


For more information on the Tree House, contact Amanda Meier (armeier91@gmail.com) and for more information on the Community Garden House join the Facebook group > “Muhlenberg Community Garden”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So..what actually helps to reduce your energy use?

At our meeting on Tuesday, Marla Mazzocco, H.T. Lyon’s Business Development Manager, and Scott Sine, H.T. Lyon’s Director of Engineering and Energy Services,  came to tell us what actually does and does not help in reducing energy use.  H.T. Lyons is a local engineering firm that literally created many of the buildings here on campus (Scott actually worked on much of the design for the Life Sports Center!) They had some very interesting points that we’d like to share with you.

1. Electricity and heating/air conditions use far more energy than your electronics plugged in could ever use up.  By leaving a window open in the winter when the heat is on, or not closing the door quickly will cause you to lose far more energy than you would have saved by keeping your wireless router unplugged every night.  So, when it is cold outside, be sure to keep your windows firmly closed and quickly shut the door behind you! Also, be sure to turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, as well as keep them off during the day if you can use natural light.  40-50% of the electricity used in a room is made up off the energy from lights being on, so it does actually make a difference to turn them off.

2.  Elevators use a TON of energy.  Basically, anything running on electricity that makes a lot of noise when running uses very much energy.  Interestingly, the concept that is promoted that one elevator ride up three flights of stairs uses as much energy as charging your cell phone is not entirely true…it uses far more energy than even that! So whenever possible, do take the stairs. This also actually makes a huge difference.

3. Blind management was an interesting concept that once again results in much energy savings.  Radiant energy, the energy from the sun, can come through the glass, so the reason your room becomes warmer when you open your blinds during the day is that the radiant energy is coming in.  At night, when it is warmer in your room than outside, by leaving your blinds open the radiant energy will actually leave your room and go back outside to where there is less heat, causing your room to become even cooler.  So in the winter, keep your blinds closed at night and open during the day.  On the other hand, in the summer the opposite is true and keeping your blinds open at night will cause your room to cool and closing them when it is very sunny will keep your room cooler as well.  This is a very simple way to truly reduce your energy use.

4. Unplugging your laptop cords, wireless routers, etc., while a good idea, actually only saves a small percentage of energy in comparison to the amount of energy doing the three tips above would.  This does not mean that you shouldn’t do this, but make your priority the first three to truly have less of an impact on the environment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Soup and Organic Bread Bowl Night!

On Wednesday, March 21st, EnAcT hosted a soup and organic whole wheat bread bowl dinner at the Wood Dining Commons. Wednesday morning, EnAcT members worked with Sodexo chefs (a special thanks to Chef Brack!) to prepare the bread dough and to bake the bread bowls. We then took half-hour shifts to serve at Chef’s Table. Although we made 300 bread bowls, we were out within an hour and a half! If you would like another chance to try our bread bowls, write a napkin in support of EnAcT dinners! Be on the lookout for future EnAcT dinners, including bringing back Organic Pizza Night, next semester. Thanks to everyone who came out and supported healthy and organic food!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunset Hike at Bake Oven Knob

On March 23, 2012, a group of around 20 EnAcTers hiked a portion of the Appalachian trail known as “Bake Oven Knob.”  The trail was just challenging enough to moisten our brows, yet allowed for genial conversation among the friendly group.  At the top, we basked in the springy feeling of the day’s warmth.  Even the rocks seemed to wake from winter’s slumber with the touch of the sun, and the newly-green fields of grass in the valley accented the vastness of the land.  I can only imagine the saturation of natural color that will soon envelop the Pennsylvania countryside.  Today’s sunset hike reinvigorated our minds and bodies, and reminded us how connected we are to the wonders of nature, and our responsibility to preserve it.  ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Soap Lady

On Tuesday 3/20 Hedge, affectionately known as “The Soap Lady,” came to Seegers as she does every month to sell her all natural products. After browsing the endless selection of soaps, lip balms, lotions, and bath fizzys, I sat down with Hedge to have a chat. She told me all about the origin of her business and its evolution.

Hedge started making soap to solve her own skin problems. She said that nothing that she bought fixed her skin, and so she experimented with making her own soap. The homemade soap solved her problems, and soon her friends started asking her to make them soap. Overtime, her soap-making spiraled into a full scale business. She travels to farmers markets and craft fairs selling her natural, preservative and dye free soap, lotions, bath fizzys, you name it. 

Two years ago Hedge’s Dad retired and joined her business. Her dad helps manage the business, and he helps make the soap while she is out vending. Hedge really has a family business: she even makes soap out of her house! She recently renovated so that there would be a place in her house specifically for making soap. What started out as a hobby evolved into a full scale family business!

While Hedge was here I purchased her favorite soap, which is titled “Blue Lagoon.” It smells like the beach and it reminds her of her recent trip to Puerto Rico. In just one use I immediately felt a difference in my skin, and I smelled beachy clean!

Hedge first came to Muhlenberg at Earth day last year, and there was such a great turn out that she comes to campus once a month. She will be joining us again at our Earth Day Celebration, so be sure to come and check her out!

If you want to know more about Hedge, check out her website at http://www.a-natural-alternative.com.

~Cimarron

Image

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment