Archive for October, 2010

Recycle your electronics

One of the more anticipated events on campus by faculty and staff is the annual electronics recycling collection event.  That day is almost upon us….. this Wednesday from 11 am to 3 pm, Elot recycling will be in the State Faculty parking lot to collect any old electronics you may have.   Personal property only, any state property needs to go through equipment management and recycled through the university.

The motto is “anything with a plug”.  Most items are free but there is a fee for TV’s ($35) and computer monitors ($7).  All hard drives will be wiped by the company but any personal information on cell phones or other devices should be removed prior to bringing the items to the event.  Also accepted are complementary electronic items such as computer disks, CD’s, VCR tapes, etc.

Any questions about the event should be directed to the office of environmental sustainability at 956-8120.

See you on Wednesday.

Mary Ellen


Generation Organic, Changing the Way We Eat.

I would say the top three things an individual can do to live sustainably are as follows:

  • Recycle, Reuse, and Compost
  • Conserve Energy
  • Eat Organic

The Generation Organic Bus Tour came to the UAlbany Campus on Monday and this young group of farmers are setting out on a mission to change the way Americans eat. They want us to eat organically.

Most people are scared when you hear the word organic. I know I was before I first learned more about it. Lots of people think hippies and crazy environmentalists are the only ones who eat organic. I used to. I used to think people were getting fooled into buying a tomato that was labeled organic, but was exactly the same as the regular tomato sitting right next to it. Little did I know that those days are long gone. There are strict guidelines as to what can be called or labeled organic. The USDA will only label something as organic if it is made of 95%-100% 0rganic ingredients.  Other companies will label products as organic, but the USDA has rules about that too. Someone who mislabels a product as organic can be fined up to $11,000 by the USDA. Continue reading

The Big Weekend is here

For three days,we will have a variety of sustainability happenings on campus.  This is the weekend to check them out. On Saturday, the Farmer’s Market will take place between 10 am and 3 pm.  On Sunday, students will take to the dorms to educate their peers about energy conservation.  This is part of the Global Work party.  You can learn more about this at:

And on Monday, Gen O will be riding into town on their Northeast tour.  Come hear their presentation on organic farming at 11:30 in the Terrace Lounge (campus center) and stay after for the grilled cheese social.  Check out their voyage at:!/GenerationOrganic.

Enjoy the events this weekend. Let us know how you like them.

Mary Ellen

More Rain and a Rain Garden

On Monday, myself and one of my fellow office assistants and Sustainability Council Chairs, Cassidy Drasser, joined with volunteers from UAlbany’s faculty and the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County to plant a demonstrative rain garden outside the UAlbany Alumni House. A rain garden is a natural and completely sustainable way to filter out pollution from run-off stormwater. Rain gardens are placed nearby impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, roads, or sidewalks to catch run-off so that it does not contaminate or flood nearby waterways, standing water, or public storm drains.  This is the first rain garden planted on campus and the sixth planted by the Stormwater Coalition in Albany County.  We hope to implement rain gardens throughout the campus when plausible, such as with the new housing complex being built near Indian Quad. Now we’re putting the rain garden to good use with the expected 1″ of rain today, but we still hope the sun comes back out soon!

– Jeremy Grunstra

Council members in action

I wanted to take a moment to recognize sustainability council member Chris Franklin’s participation in the American Planning Association conference. He and David Hogenkamp did a poster presentation about the transportation grant they worked on with myself and Professor Kate Lawson.  Check it out below.

Poster presentation

Principal Investigators – Catherine T. Lawson and Mary Ellen Mallia
Project Team Members – Chris Franklin, Benjamin Fischer, David Hogenkamp and Matt Ryan

A full copy of our report is available at

Mary Ellen

Global Work party

Yes, the rain has gone and our raingarden will be installed on Monday.  This upcoming week we will see the return of the Farmer’s Market on Thursday and a larger Farmer’s Market at the Fall festival on Saturday.

Sunday marks the Global Work party.  Last year, Bill Mckibben, a well known environmentalist, encouraged citizens all around the world to organize climate change rallies.  The centerpiece was a number: 350.  This is the desired goal of carbon parts per million in the atmosphere to avoid upsetting the Earth’s natural balance.  Currently we are at 390 parts per million.  The idea was to challenge our political leaders to take action in advance of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.

This year Bill is challenging us to take action in an worldwide Global Work party.  All across the planet, there are a variety of activities designed to reduce our carbon footprint.  With little to no action on the government level addressing carbon reductions, it is up to citizens to take the lead and show our ability to influence our earth’s climate. You can check out all the events, including UAlbany’s, at

At the University, our students will be going out to distribute energy efficient lights bulbs and educate their peers on the benefits of reducing electricity and the large amount of control they have on our energy use.  Electricity makes up over a third of our footprint and a room’s occupant has control of up to 90% of the electricity used there.  So turning off and unplugging can make a big difference, especially when we all do our part.

Our actions on Sunday are also part of our energy campaign.  To date, we’ve saved almost 1,000 tons of carbon through our energy reduction efforts over the last 4 weeks.  We are looking for as many students as possible to help out with the effort on Sunday.  Anyone interested in obtaining supplies can come to our office in University Hall212.  We will also have supplies on hand at each quad and apartment office.

We’d love to hear about your participation so let us know what you’re doing and send us pictures at

Mary Ellen