Zero Waste Is a Challenge Faced

I am a member of the Zero Waste Team here at the Environmental Center and I am very excited about the project I’m working on this year! Emma Kurfis, another Zero Waste Team member, and I are working on a Zero Waste Event Service Guide specific to Fort Lewis College. This guide will be available to everyone on campus and hopefully used by all of the event coordinators. We can also directly get involved with event coordinators to tailor the service to their specific event. To gain experience in the event planning process, we are working on several pilot events in which we partner with event coordinators to reduce the amount of waste produced at event. Skyfest is our next big pilot event, taking place on April 7th.

Skyfest music festival at Fort Lewis College

Skyfest is the highlight of the spring semester for many students, with bands from all over the country visiting FLC campus. Skyfest was outdoors in previous years. Photo courtesy of www.fortlewis.edu.

Skyfest is a big music festival put on by Student Union Productions at Fort Lewis each year, with headliner bands Gramatik and Radical Something making appearances at this year’s festival. Local bands will also play at the event. As part of the EC’s zero waste event service, Emma and I are working with the coordinators of Skyfest to reduce waste in as many aspects of the event as possible. This event is our first large pilot event to test out the service and in the organizing we have learned how challenging it can be to make an event less wasteful. There are so many areas to consider when planning a zero waste event, some of which are not in our control, as we are not the coordinators of the event. However, the coordinators are very open to our suggestions, which is awesome! Members of SUP have been supportive of our ideas and came up with a few ideas themselves. One of the main goals of our event servicing is to provide zero waste ideas and ingrain zero waste concepts in the minds of the coordinators, so that eventually event planners may attempt to make events less wasteful on their own.

There are several major aspects of Skyfest where we are working on to reduce the amount of waste produced. The first is trash. Ideally, we would like to have no trash produced at the event but this is highly unrealistic being that we can’t regulate what food or disposable items people bring into the event. However, we will be providing several recycling stations in the event to divert as as many recyclable items from landfills as possible. We are recruiting volunteers to help watch over the stations to ensure everything is recycled properly, as contamination is a huge problem with recycling here at Fort Lewis. This will also be a chance for us to spread some education on recycling to the campus community.

The second aspect of the event we are working with is water. When we first talked to the coordinators, they were going to provide bottled water for guests and the bands. We decided to set up water refilling stations instead. With the help of the Athletic Department, we secured several large water jugs for the event that we will refill throughout the event. Students are not allowed to bring full water bottles into the event but if they bring empty drink containers, they can fill them at the stations. There will also be a jug backstage for the bands. The coordinators of Skyfest are purchasing reusable plastic cups that they will hand out to anyone who does not have a water bottle. The cups can be taken home by guests and used or given back to the Skyfest coordinators to be washed and reused at different events.

At Skyfest, we will have an Environmental Center interactive table to teach people about zero waste, specifically recycling. There will be a game called the “Wheel of Recycling” that guests can take part in. After the event, we plan to measure our results by weighing how much trash and recycling were generated at the event. We can potentially take these statistics every year and compare results, aiming to reduce the amounts annually.

As you can imagine, the process of planning zero waste events can take a lot of time and can be very difficult. This process also involves lots of collaboration with other campus and sometimes community partners, and can also build great connections.

If you would like to volunteer to help with the waste reduction practices at Skyfest, please email one of us (below) or drop by the Environmental Center and sign up. The event is on Sunday, April 7th from noon to 9:30 p.m. in the Whalen Gymnasium. The event is free for students and $15 for community members, with tickets available in the SUP office in the Student Union. Come support Fort Lewis College and the environment!

For more information about the zero waste aspects of the event or the Zero Waste Event Servicing, you can email me (jmsmyke@fortlewis.edu) or Emma Kurfis (emkurfis@fortlewis.edu) or stop by the Environmental Center! For more information about Skyfest, you can visit the SUP office in the Student Union.

By Jessica Smyke

Water Day at Rotary Park

River

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

Tapped: The Movie

Tapped the movie is coming to Fort Lewis College for FREE.
April 12th at 7:00pm in Chemistry 130
BE THERE!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72MCumz5lq4[/youtube]

We are tapped. We are running out of water and yet we allow large corporations to fill up plastic, toxic bottles with once pure good water, usually from our own neighborhood. Tapped will display this demonstration in a clear and spine chilling fashion.  It breaks down the effects of bottled water on our health, climate change, pollution and dependence of oil. Is water a commodity that should be bought and sold? Or is the access to clean drinking water a basic human right? You make the call! Come watch Tapped and have some mind altering fun! This event will include various pockets of goodness including a Take Back the Tap Table, Environmental Center table, an ocean display about plastic, free reusable water bottles and free pizza!! Bring a smile and open mind! We all hope to see you there!!!

For more information about this documentary, please visit www.tappedthemovie.com.

Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink

water_drop1Water pollution is a big concern, and has been for a long time.  As the problem of population continues to grow, Americans are being exposed to more unhealthy water every year.  This is a problem that needs to be taken care of, and fast.  There have been many articles written on this topic recently, here are a few that I’ve found showing some of the problems we are having with our water around the southwest.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that, “Utah is one of 49 states that warn anglers about dangerously contaminated fish in their lakes and streams.”  This is from Robert F. Kennedy, the founder and chairman of a worldwide environmental group network named Waterkeeper Alliance.   It is not only the streams and rivers in Utah that have been affected; it is also the Great Salt Lake.  Utah is the only state in the union that advises people not to eat certain waterfowl due to high levels of mercury in the lake.  Utah is currently looking for a replacement Great Salt Lakekeeper because the last one was let go for not following the groups guide lines for clean water. 

Another article in The Salt Lake Tribune highlights the small community Yerington, NV, located about 75 miles southeast of Reno next to a long abandoned copper mine.  The ground water near this small farming community has concentrations of uranium well over the EPA standards for safe drinking water.  The oil company BP, who now owns the abandoned mine site, claims that the mine has nothing to do with the unsafe levels of uranium and arsenic.  The small population of the town is forming a group to investigate the situation and hopefully get some backing from the government to get the contamination cleaned up.

On a more positive note, the Vail Daily is reporting on a community initiative to keep prescription drugs for entering local streams and reservoirs.  Rather than flushing these unused drugs down the toilet, City Market will be accepting these to be properly disposed.  Different kinds of prescription drugs cannot be taken out of the water through regular water treatment processes, causing many problems for fish populations in the area.  Creating collection sites and a simple marketing strategy is an easy and productive way to take care of this problem. 

Many policies are in place to keep our rivers and lakes clean, we just need to obey them.  There are several companies and individuals that dispose of toxins in a way that is not friendly to the environment.  If these people and companies would look at what they are doing to the environment and stop focusing on their bottom line things would be much better and safer for all of us.  Although there are laws in place, they could be much stricter so we can force these polluters to see the light.  Then we’ll all be able to enjoy our waterways for generations to come.

Royce Johnson

Water, Water everyhere but not a drop to drink

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Water is always a big topic in the west. Water is required for life. Without it our crops die, our cities dry up, and eventually we would die. According to a Durango Herald editorial, Colorado’s Front Range is seeking new sources of water to fuel their population. Where do you think they’re looking? Across the continental divide, to the green and fertile western slope, at least that’s how they see us. One plan designed by Aaron Million, a Fort Collins developer, calls for a private pipeline that would carry as much as 250,000 acre feet of water from the Green River to the Front Range. The Green River, which begins in Wyoming and travels all the way into Utah where it merges with the Colorado River, is the primary water source for Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Southwestern Wyoming, and is one of the more popular river routes in the region. Luckily, Governor Bill Ritter does not support the idea of taking water from the Western Slope to support the Front Range. Gov. Ritter sees that while the Western Slope may have more water running through it, it is also a very arid region. Ritter also believes that the water from one watershed should not be used to support another, especially one that drains to the east instead of the west. If you want to learn more about this discussion check out the Durango Herald’s article here.

Is the Western Slope that wet? The Durango Herald reported that the Animas River, the river than runs through Durango, Colorado, is well below what it was in 2002. Why is this important? 2002, was one of the worst drought, and fire, years in Colorado history. The low water levels have been attributed to early runoff and a dry monsoon season. Hopefully, Colorado will have a snowy winter that will make up for the lack of a monsoon. But only time will tell. If we don’t get a good winter base it is likely that we could find ourselves in a drought with fires raging around us. If that happens we might need to steal some water from the Front Range.

– Ben Rogers