Holiday Traveling

12.01.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Every holiday season many Americans travel all over the country to visit relatives and friends . It is important to realize the impact we are putting on each of our carbon footprints and the carbon footprint of our country and world as a whole. When making a long distance trip this year we can evaluate the impact of our carbon footprint of different modes of transport including automobiles, planes, trains and even public transportation.

Automobiles have the most impact on our carbon footprint. Especially in urban areas, the CO2 emissions made from cars is extremely plentiful. When looking at the graph provided by Slightline we can see that cars will emit 1.6 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere per every mile driven. This is the highest among all modes of transportation.

Low Carbon Transportation

There are two main alternitives to cut down on the amount of CO2 emissions produced by cars for people traveling. The first way to cut back is to carpool, or even better vanpool. The higher amount of people that will travel together with will produce a much lesser amount of CO2 than if many individuals or  small groups took their own vehicles. This would be furthered by if you could take a van or larger vehicle to carry the most amount of people possible. SUV’s and larger vehicles do have a larger impact on the environment but if you can fit many more people into them it has less of an impact overall.

A second alternative to using an automobile is to use an electric automobile or a hybrid. These hybrid vehicles have much less of an environmental impact because the car itself is not burning as much of the fossil fuel. However there is a catch. Because of the fact that all of our electricity is not produced from a renewable resource the carbon footprint is not actually reduced when using a hybrid. Most of America’s electricity is created by the burning of coal, and to do this will impact the carbon footprint. Until all of our electricity is created by sources like wind, sun, and movement of water, hybrid cars and electric vehicles are not actually having much change on the carbon footprint.

One of the other main ways of traveling far distances is by airplane.  Using an airplane is at about 1 pound of CO2 per passenger mile. This is less than that of a car but it is still a very large impact on the carbon footprint because the long distances that planes actually travel.  If you plant a tree, the entire life of that tree will eventually cancel out the impacts of carbon footprint from one plane ride. So if every passenger were to plant a tree to combat the carbon footprint effects of the flight it would have an enormous impact on decreasing the carbon emissions in our atmosphere.

Be smart about your traveling decisions this holiday season, and if you are going on a long trip, plant a tree to combat the effects of the carbon footprint.


the Truth About Holiday Sustainability

12.01.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Kristina McAvoy

#1. Faux trees can last forever so they must be green. False

Truth: Plastic trees are made out of hard to recycle plastics such as PVC that are shipped from China. They do more harm than good to the enviornment and only last about 6-10 years. When they are thrown away they just sit in a land fill because they cost too much to be recylced. Instead you can get a real tree that is biodegradable and can be used as compost or mulch.

#2. Warming up your car is necessary in the colder days of winter. False

Truth: Warming up your vehicle is unsafe, ineffective, unnecessary, and wastes gas. Warming the engine doesn’t warm up your car faster than actually driving it and idling releases unnecessary pollutants into the air.

#3. You need the most Christmas lights on the block to be the best house. False 

Truth: You don’t need your house to be seen from outter space. You are wasting a large amount of energy and resources for no reason. If you are going to decorate with lights for the holidays, use LED lights that are more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer.

Above are just a few false claims I’m sure we’ve all heard during the Holiday season and I hope I was able to clear some of them up for you. In addition, to the facts I have posted I would also like to talk about making your Holiday season an eco-friendly one. Here are some things to consider this season:

1. Consider instead of breaking the bank and buying everyone on your holiday gift list a lavish new item, why not make them something that is unique and more meaningfull? One of my favorite sites for gift ideas is Pinterest. You can find all sorts of cool crafts to make and many are eco-friendly and used out of recycled materials!

2. Instead of buying wrapping paper make your own! You can use last years paper, old newspaper, or even magazines. (If you want you can even make bows and ribbon out of magazine pages.)

3. Finally, Remember this holiday season that it isn’t all about the gifts and money you are spending, it’s about family and spending time with those you love. Don’t go out and spend all the money you have for gifts that are going to go to waste in the next few months when the person you buy it for loses interest. If you can, make your gifts eco-friendly and personal. These are usually the best gifts and the person receiving them will be very happy.

Keep these tips in mind this season and have a happy and eco-friendly holidays!

Review — Dean Cycon: Can Business Truly Promote Social Justice?

11.27.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized



Dean Cycon, J.D. presented a lecture on how business can promote sustainability and social justice at the Martin Institute on November 18, 2014. The audience was about sixty to seventy people, mostly students from classes. The audience was very much interested in Dean Cycon’s lecture, as he was an effective speaker and got his point across very well. The lecture itself was very interesting and his work resembles something that I would like to do in my career. Dean Cycon discovered early on that coffee was an overpriced product that barely pays its growers so that they could live a good life. The growers are mostly marginalized indigenous people of Latin America and Asia. Cycon created a business where the suppliers would be paid premium prices for their coffee, ensuring sustainability and a sufficient salary , which is known as fair trade.

Before Cycon started talking about his work, he started off by telling the college students to set an intentionality and just do it, and never look back. He also said that the purpose of our education was to “add a light to the sum of lights”. He started off his own work by realizing that charity is not a substitute for social change. He saw how much was donated to the marginalized people, but it did not ensure that the people were going to have better lives afterwards. He strived to create a sustainable business that would ensure the economic stability of the coffee growers and sustainability of the land that the coffee was grown on.

In a recent article from Huffington Post:

              “Though he turns a clear profit, Cycon prefers to call himself a “social activist” rather than a businessman. He says a lot              of the fun of receiving the award has been seeing how excited it’s made his suppliers, whom he says he Skypes and emails with often. ‘[The] way we measure our success is in the self-respect of our farmers,’ Cycon told the Telegram & Gazette. ‘They now understand that they are not victims, and that they have a major say in their own destiny.'” (

A cup of coffee represents globalization, as Dean Cycon reiterated throughout his lecture. We are all connected through the economic plateau, and therefore, we need to have a connection with the people that grow the coffee. Our purchases and behaviors affect people around the world. Organizations like Dean’s Beans and Coffee Kids strive to promote social justice while making a profit, which is an ideal business. His businesses strive to create a beneficial ecological and economic impact, while improving the living conditions of the farmers. I would definitely recommend this lecture to a friend, as it was very informative and shed light on a unique perspective of business.

– Mohini Patel


Where did all the honey bees go?

11.27.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

In the past 20 years the amount of commercial honey bees in the united states has rapidly decreased by 40%. So honey farms are facing a decline of their “workers” by almost half. If a big company were to loose half of their workers it would not be able to function. It is not just in the United States, Europe, especially the UK, is taking a hit by the decline in populations of bees.

So where are the bees going?

Major farms use insecticides while producing their crops. The insecticides are used to prevent insects from eating the crops and usually kills them. These insecticides are usually aimed to kill bugs like flies and such. Bees are also effected, not necessarily killed directly, but effect them. These effects are philologically (where the bee does not mature into a adult bee), forgetting foraging patterns (navigation), and learning processes (recognizing their nest). These factors then bring the  bee to its death because it cannot forage food and survive.

But why should I care? Bees are annoying.

You might think that bees are only good for producing honey, which yes they are good for that but that’s not their main job. Farms do not realize they are killing off their most important resource which is the bee. The bee pollinates flowers which allows for plants to produce their fruit of vegetable. The world relies on farms for 40% of their food, which without there would be mass starvation. Globally the net worth of the bees work is worth over 331 billion dollars. Using the pesticides is being counterproductive for the farms. So it is important to urge farmers to stay away from these insecticides.

Below is a link where, if you are interested, you can sign a petition to ban these pesticides to save the bees, and get more information on the topic.

-Emily Donahue


What’s your carbon footprint?

11.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered how your lifestyle impacts the environment you live in? There is an easy way to find out and it will take you less than five minutes. Click on the link below to take the quiz- your results may surprise you.

Feel free to comment below to share your results. Myself personally, I thought that I was living an environmentally friendly lifestyle. It turns out that if everyone on this planet lived the way I do, we would need approximately 4.55 planet Earth’s to sustain us. However, there is only one.

The website gives tips on how to improve upon your footprint. Some of the things are quick fixes, while others are more long term. Either way, they are useful in showing us ways we can live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Enjoying your holiday meals… Sustainably

11.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Hi everyone!


I know the holiday season is upon us, and when I think holidays I think food! It’s a big aspect of this time of year- getting together with friends and family, sharing stories, and breaking bread. Literally.

I wanted to take a few minutes to remind you that there are many ways that you can lend a helping hand in the kitchen this holiday season when buying for and preparing those beloved home cooked meals!

Sustainable offers ten simple way to incorporate sustainable eating habits into not only this and every holiday season, but your everyday lifestyle.

  1. Educate yourself about what your eating – check out and
  2. Shop sustainable- start off small and work your way into it
  3. Ask questions- were pesticides used? What were the animals fed?
  4. Reduce your meat consumption: meatless Mondays anyone? – this not only helps out the environment, but your body too
  5. Eat seasonal! Buy local fruits and vegetables
  6. Try growing your own
  7. Cook your own food- check out some great recipes at
  8. Take back the tap! Check out to calculate your water footprint, and take the pledge to reduce your waste consumption of bottle water at
  9. Spread the word- Tell your friends and family about all the things you have learned when you get together this holiday
  10. Enjoy! (Fresh and sustainable foods)

Remember that it is important to keep in mind these tips over the holidays. I know it can be overwhelming with so much going on, but take a step back and think about how the choices you make can impact the world we live.

Have a safe and delicious holiday




Green is the theme for Holiday Lighting!

11.24.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

As soon as the calendar switched to November 1st, I could hear the trace of faint carols in my ear. The holidays are more than ever in our faces, whether we are reminded by commercials on television, tunes on the radio, or parents already asking what we would like for gifts. Nonetheless, as we begin (or have already begun) prepping for this special season, I would like to remind you all of an awesome website that promotes sustainability in all aspects of living (literally, check it out!) and it provides an extremely relevant and helpful guide for going green this season!

Two weeks ago I was reminded of the holiday season arrival by noticing Stonehill stringing up lights around campus. I do not know anyone that does not get excited from seeing colorful lights hanging on the branches of trees and the arches of homes. However, I want to offer some sustainable advice from and some of my own before you start setting up your lights:


-Use LED bulbs, which “use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors” (

-“Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19”  ( also suggests comparing the amount of lights per string length to not only get your money’s worth amount of shine, but to use less lighting when you can!

-Remember to set your lights on a timer (or just remember) to turn them off before you go to bed at night…I’m sure your neighbors won’t mind either!

-Use less lighting in general! Contests for “Most Holiday Spirit” are common, so if you enter, make sure to use sustainable lighting. It also helps to think about the amount of time used and the number of grunts you’ll release when taking all of them down.



Have a restful and bountiful break, and enjoy the little pleasures of the upcoming holiday season!

Caroline Grady





Picture sourced from:

“Eartheasy.” How to Have a Green Christmas., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.

Green Revolution

11.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

This article was about the intense farming practices that are powerful enough to increasingly alter Earths atmosphere. They have boosted the seasonal amplitude in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to about 15 percent over the past five decades. Researchers from the University of Maryland have created a terrestrial carbon cycle model called VEGAS that has measured  the carbon dioxide and found that it is increasing at a rate of 0.3 percent every year. The Vegas model has been able to do something that no other models have been able to do and that is measure the effect of changes in the intensity of farming methods. Other models have measured changes in land use from vegetation to cropland but none like the VEGAS.

Ocean Science Professor Ning Zeng, the lead developer of of VEGAS says that, “Changes in the way we manage the land can literally alter the breathing of the biosphere.” Since the 1950’s scientists have known that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at an annual low during the late summer and early fall in the northern hemisphere. During the spring and summer carbon dioxide levels fall as the hemispheres plants reach their maximum growth breathing in as much carbon dioxide as possible and releasing oxygen. In the fall, when the plants are dying out and decomposing and releasing stored carbon, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rapidly increase.

Although reasons behind the drastic changes of the seasonal carbon dioxide cycle are hard to pin down, two factors are considered. 1. Because plants breathe in carbon dixoide, higher atmosphereic levels of the gas stimulate plant growth and therefore we have a sort of carbon dioxide fertilization effect. 2. Warming in the northern hemisphere makes plants grow better in cold regions.

Zeng says, “between 1961 and 2010, the amount of land planted with major crops grew by 20 percent, but crop production tripled. The combination of factors known as the Green Revolution–improved irrigation, increased use of manufactured fertilizer, and higher-yield strains of corn, wheat, rice and other crops–must have led not only to increased crop productivity, but also to increases in plants’ seasonal growth and decay and the amount of carbon dioxide they release to the atmosphere, he reasoned.”

Their goal was to simply represent the intensification of agriculture in a model of the carbon cycle, and thats what they did.


-Hannah Atoynatan



2014 Eco-Rep Symposium at Tufts University

11.18.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized


This past weekend I, along with four other Stonehill Students, got the chance to attend the 2014 Eco-Reps Symposium at Tufts University! It was an extremely engaging and enlightening experience, and seeing so many young adults who are passionate about the environment all in one place made me SO proud to be a part of Eco-Reps! I found that a major theme running through all the talks I attended was the importance of effective communication in trying to get your ideas across and persuade people to change their behaviors for the betterment of the environment and the world.

The program started off with a talk from the Key Note speaker Suzanne Shaw from the Union of Concerned Scientists all about effective methods of communication when it comes to addressing an audience who may not care about environmental issues.  According to Shaw, by following her methods, we could become “Communication Heroes!” Later on, she outlined her “4 Keys to Success” and stressed their importance very frequently:

  1. Be Frequent
  2. Be Relevant
  3. Bridge Understanding Gap
  4. Provide Hope

She then mentioned that the top three gaps in understanding climate change between someone who is environmentally conscious and someone who is not are:

  1. It’s happening now
  2. It’s us
  3. Scientists agree

After the Key Note speech, we were set free to choose which program we would like to attend. During the next hour, I attend the Skill Building: Tracking Campus Trash program and gained a lot of insight into how to perform a campus waste audit and ideas for how to lower waste production by massive amounts. One proposed idea by the speaker Rob Gogan, was to reduce the amount of empty trucks on the road by having companies change their policies so that when, for example, W.B. Mason brings a shipment to Stonehill, they have to take our used materials back with them so that both legs of their journey are productive ones. There’s no reason for an empty truck to be driving on the road!

One of the most insightful parts of the experience was getting to talk to students from various schools all over the North East and see how their schools are working towards sustainability. Did you know that Stonehill is actually very unusual for having Eco-Reps as a class? Within all of the other colleges, being an Eco-Rep is a paid position, and the program is run through the school. In fact, most of them are hired by their college’s office of sustainability! I think this is a great idea that we should consider here at Stonehill. I came up with many ideas I’d love to share with everyone just by listening to how other schools go about being more sustainable.

The second program I attended was called “Innovative Programs:Engaging the Student Body” wherein students from University of Vermont and Boston University  discussed their own sustainability programs. UVM had a very interesting Eco-Ware program wherein you could do a one-time purchase of a green to-go container, a green to-go soup container, and a spork. You’re given a cow tag a proof of purchase so when you go to the dining hall, you show the cashier the tag, and they hand  you the Eco-Ware on the spot! In their system, you don’t even have to remember to bring your green to-go container. According to UVM, Eco-Ware is a Sodexo Pre-Approved program, so it’s possible if we wanted, that we could implement a similar system here at Stonehill!

On Sunday, we were extremely lucky to be able to attend a Work Shop hosted by Environmental Psychologist Doug Mckenzie-Mohr. (According to the people of Tufts, attending one of his programs is very difficult and usually costs you upwards of $100 dollars.) Additionally, Mohr was kind enough to give each of us a copy of this book! (I have an extra if anyone wants one!)book cover wbgd


For the entire day, we got to listen to so much good information on what Mohr referred to as “Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM). ” In other words, effective methods for persuasion and ways to get people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable. Essentially, the 5 steps to CBSM are:

  1. Select Behaviors
  2. Uncover Barriers and Benefits
  3. Develop Strategy
  4. Pilot Strategy
  5. Implement Broadly and Evaluate

The major ideas that Mohr stressed were to spend time identifying which behaviors on campus are creating the greatest challenge against sustainability, and tackle those. He taught us numerous ways to make a change in behavior seem more enticing, and ways to hold more effective programs on campus to elicit permanent change.



All in all, I had a wonderful time at Tufts University and learned a great deal of information that I am more than willing to discuss and share with anyone who is interested (I took loads of notes!). I’d highly recommend attending this event in the future!

First Offshore Wind Farm To Be Built In 2015

11.17.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

The first offshore wind farm in the United States has been contracted to be built in 2015.  The site of the wind farm will be just southeast of Block Island, and island south of the coast of Rhode Island.  Deepwater Wind of Providence had their proposed project approved in September, and they now have contracted welders and other specialists from Specialty Diving Services of North Kingstown.  Nick Tanionos, the CEO of Specialty Diving Services has said, “we are excited to begin working on the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Rhode Island is leading the way in this new industry and it is great that Rhode Islanders will be building part of this project”.  The wind farm will have the power potential of 30 megawatts.

-Matthew Marshall

Source –

Photo –