Water Day at Rotary Park


Photo by Hari Baumbach.

The Zero-Waste Team is extremely excited to host Water Day at Rotary Park on March 24th. The event is to inspire the community to work together to “spring clean” the Animas River and raise awareness about water conservation and quality. We will begin the day at 1:30 assigning participants portions of the river to clean, followed by live music and prizes for sorting out trash, and ending  the day with a couple of guest speakers and an awesome documentary about water. Everything will take place outside so make sure to bring proper dress apparel and your own blanket or lawn chair for the show. Also bring along your favorite mug to enjoy some hot chocolate for the nightly festivities. The Environmental Center is seeking to educate the community on our precious water resource while having fun on the Animas River! Hope to see you there!

~ Sarah Griffin

Sustainable Dorm (or Apartment) Room Living


Peace Lily

Peace Lily

Are you living in the dorms? Do you want to live more sustainably? Most people that are interested in sustainability and living in the dorms have a hard time being sustainable in their rooms. Living sustainably in your dorm is possible, and very feasible. The following are the top ten ways to live sustainably (or more sustainably) in your dorm room.

1. Reduce your energy consumption. Turn all electronics off and unplug items from the outlet! Anything still plugged in uses a small amount of electricity.

2. Keep your windows closed. As nice as a little breeze is, opening your windows just requires the schools heaters to work harder than they need to work.

Spider Plant

3. Reduce your paper consumption. Double side any printing that you do.

4. Recycle. Provide recycling bins to your suite mates or offer to take recycling from everyone’s rooms and put it in bins outside.

5. Use a water bottle. The Student Union Building no longer sells bottled water. A water bottle refilling station is available in the College Union Building.

6. Shave a minute off your shower time. You will reduce your water consumption by over 700 gallons a year (If you shower every day).

7. Buy a plant for you room. This will clean the air through your room and make the air quality better for all. Good plants to improve air quality include: Peace Lily, Bamboo Palm, English Ivy, Mums, and Spider Plant.

8. Don’t pay to use those dryers. It is dry in Durango hang those garments up and they will be dry in no time.

9. Use CFL’s. Change out those incandescent light bulbs for more efficient longer lasting CFL’s. Don’t forget those bulbs when you leave either they can last up to nine years.

10. Shop at second hand stores. Do you really need those new $100 pair of jeans. Save money and the environment and shop second hand.

There you have it the 10 best ways to be more sustainable in your dorm room. Have other great ideas to be more sustainable if your dorm room? Share them on the Environmental Center Facebook Page.

~ Andrew Stuntz

Environmental Issues the US National Parks are facing today

Experience Glacier National Park

Experience Glacier National Park, Montana

Have you ever been to a National Park in the United States? If not, you sure are missing out on the magnificent, breathtaking views. But, unfortunately, as a repercussion of our bad environmental habits, these National Parks are at severe risk of being destroyed in the future. These habits include: climate change, increases in water demand, air pollution, and adjacent development, just to name a few.


Climate change is being perceived through global warming. Glaciers may melt away as they are at Glacier National Park in Montana. Also, fire seasons may grow in length and severity, shifting landscapes.

Water is becoming an issue as increasing human demands shrink supplies on which aquatic species depend.

An example of the air pollution these National Parks are facing is at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Park didn’t get its name for its smog, but it is one of many parks seriously affected by the problem. At Great Smoky, power plant and industrial emissions are blown by winds to the Southern Appalachians and trapped there by the mountains.

Olympic National Park Washington

Adjacent development problems are showing through housing developments and industrial sights, etc.

If we don’t take action soon, not only with the intent to help National Parks, but also the universe, we won’t ever be able to experience the enchanting beauty of these sights again.

What are ways we can help?

  • Reduce your use of petroleum, whether that entails buying an electric car, switching from a gas to electric stove or just walking or riding your bike to your destinations.
  • Say no to bottled water, and start using a canteen or water bottle.
  • Save energy by washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot.

Become active in the fight to prevent the destruction of the National Parks. Also, you can visit http://www.doyourpartparks.org/ to learn more.

~ Cheyenne Caraway

Fracking up the Environment

by Arimoore (http://www.flickr.com/photos/arimoore/)

Water is the most relied upon resource in the world. Without water, our planet would be a rocky wasteland empty of life. We depend upon this resource to provide life. Knowing this, why do we continuously waste and dump poisons into our quickly vanishing, life giving blood that flows through our planet? Many companies destroy underground water systems right in front of the public’s eyes, and we don’t even know it’s happening. We see the trucks every day that carry these chemicals to and from natural gas wells, where it is then pumped into the ground to break up rock deep in the ground using a process called hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing is the process in which natural gas drillers break up shale deep down in the earth in order to reach previously unattainable natural gas pockets that are sometimes over seven thousand feet below the earth’s crust. In order to achieve this, hundreds of trucks bring water and sand to natural gas wells all over the state. However, water and sand are not the only things being pumped into the wells. A barrage of chemicals is also being pumped into the earth. Some are known and others remain a mystery to everyone but the companies that supplied them. Many of these known chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde are known carcinogens or cancer causing substances. The reason many of these chemicals remain anonymous is because the oil and gas companies found a loophole in the clean water act, signed in 2005, that allowed companies to not to have to disclose information concerning fracking and what goes into it.

So where do all of these mystery chemicals end up? Many stay deep in the earth’s crust and are slowly filtered out through many layers of sediment until they are virtually undetectable in the water table. But what about the chemicals that find their way into underground water reservoirs that the species of earth depend upon so very much? The answer; is right into the very faucet you and I drink out of every day. Sure most of our water is filtered in a water treatment plant and deemed safe to drink, but what about the people that live in rural communities and get there water from wells that have been safe to consume for years until now? So the real question is not whether this will affect us in the future but whether or not were going to stop letting oil and gas companies continue to poison us right under our noses today?

For more information visit:






~ Jacob Lybrook

Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs: The Best Choice

One of the most common subjects of living a sustainable life is energy and how we can conserve it. This subject is often linked to the easiest and one of the most effective ways in which to save energy, being lights, which leads to knowing that the best light bulbs are CFL, or compact fluorescent.

A CFL bulb uses around 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of energy that an equivalent incandescent light bulb uses.

One important consideration in choosing whether to use CFL or incandescent light bulbs is the amount of energy they both use. A CFL bulb uses around 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of energy that an equivalent incandescent light bulb uses.

And as you can see in this chart, those numbers hold true across different voltages.

Now, there is a lot more to the decision of using CFL’s than just saving energy; CFL bulbs also have a lower net amount of mercury than a normal incandescent light bulb. Mercury is a harmful pollutant when produced in emissions’ or other forms, especially if it enters the water table.  Net Mercury refers to the total amount of mercury that will be involved in the whole lifespan of the light bulb. Even though CFL bulbs contain Mercury and incandescent do not, assuming the electricity used is coming from a coal-fired power plant, the amount of mercury will be greater using and incandescent bulb due to the lesser efficiency of the incandescent bulb. Therefore, if the CFL bulb is recycled properly the Mercury is much lower due to most of the mercury pollution being able to be contained in the recycling process, rather than being relatively unavoidable in the form of emissions.

In conclusion, when you take into account which type of light bulb to use, while CFLs may be more expensive up front, the long term saving are well worth that investment.

~ Tazeus Steyskal

Choose to Reuse: New Reusable To-Go Program in FLC



The Environmental Center, Sodexo, and Student Union facilities are piloting a re-usable to-go program in the campus dining hall.  You simply buy a to-go card and then exchange the card every time you go into the dining hall.  When you are done with your container, you can return it for a card at any campus dining locations and then get a CLEAN to-go container the next time you go to lunch.  If the container breaks, you can return it for a new one.  Containers are $5 each and go to support the Environmental Center operations.

Buy them at the Environmental Center or outside of Animas Perks Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11- 1 p.m.

For more information, please contact Hanna Burleigh at Burleigh_h@fortlewis.edu.

FLC Sustainability Action Plan Audit

Did you know that Fort Lewis College has a Sustainability Action Plan?

It is a 5-year plan designed to make this campus more sustainable. A quick overview of the plan: it is divided into six sections: Stewardship, Consumption, Climate, Education and Engagement, Service to Region, and Coordination and Support. Under each section are goals and objectives, and within each objective are recommended actions that can be taken to help work towards the goals and objectives. Each of the actions has a responsible party or parties – departments on campus – listed beside them.

Auditing the Plan

I am on the Sustainability Team here at the Environmental Center.  Last semester my teammate, Drew Stuntz, and I completed an audit of the plan. For the audit, we went to the different departments listed as responsible parties in the plan and talked to them about the SAP, and how much progress they had made regarding it. We found that many of the departments had heard of the SAP, but did not know that they were listed as a responsible party for it. However, most of the departments were very supportive of the plan, and some had even taken the initiative to start sustainable practices in their offices, even ones who did not know much about the plan. It was encouraging to see the amount of support for the plan!

What did we find out?

We took the information gathered from our meetings with the responsible parties and assessed the progress of the plan, looking at which goals and objectives were being met and which needed to be worked on.

There are 225 actions identified in the plan, and only 32 percent have been completed. It is a five-year plan, and we are in the third year, so this percentage is not good news. The weakest sections in the plan are Climate and Stewardship, with only 4 percent of the actions having been completed in the latter!

Although seeing these disappointments, our team is still extremely optimistic about support shown for the plan once people actually knew that they were identified as a responsible party in it. This semester, our team is planning to work towards the goals in the plan within the EC. We want to help improve the sections of the plan that need improvement, as well as uphold the stronger sections.

Wait… What is sustainability?

A major flaw we found in the plan is that it does not even define sustainability! To help fix this problem, the Sustainability Team in the EC is collaborating with the EC Board of Directors to plan a Sustainability Summit where students, staff, and faculty can have input into defining what sustainability is for this school. We believe this will help raise awareness about the Sustainability Action Plan, as well as bring together with the same goals and interests together to create a working definition of sustainability for Fort Lewis College.

~ Jessica Smyke

4 Corners Regional Food Summit

The 4 Corners Regional Food Summit was based on the idea of open dialogue between people involved at all levels of the food system—from growers and eaters, to land owners and distributers, to even backyard gardeners. The basic idea for this unstructured, one-day summit was that the food system we have built in the past 10 years is not working and we need a new model. We must do this with our limited, usable land and infrastructure. The summit was partially organized by Farm to Table, an organization that operates out of Albuquerque and is dedicated to promoting locally based agriculture through education, community outreach, and networking. The conference began with an examination of the different realms of food that were being represented. There were mono-cropping petrochemical farmers who were interested in using compost rather than fossil fuels to get the nutrients they need. The owner of Durango Compost Company was there to share his ideas about how to expand composting systems into the public realm. The owners of a local Durango jam, jelly, and mustard business were able to connect with a distributer from New Mexico who was looking for new products. There were USDA representatives sharing their stories of the many roadblocks associated with institutional local food initiatives. After the introductions and networking the group of about 150 said what they thought would be good topics for break out sessions. There were 6 agreed upon topics. One group focused on expanding local food into the educational system. Another discussed the importance of recognizing the medicinal qualities of food. A few of the other groups discussed topics such as the important aspects of soil health and how to move past chemical fertilizers, water irrigation systems and other water issues, as well as saving seeds and the importance of seed banks. Another group discussed how to fill a niche between people who want to become growers and land owners who are interested in loaning out their land through a program is called Landlink. And last, there was a group there focused on the emergency response system set up to feed people in the case of disaster. These were just a few of the diverse topics that are involved in the entire local food cycle that made for an informative conference.

~  Lucian Davis