Celebrate Earth Week at LIU Post

EARTH WEEK 2014

TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2014

Sustainability Dinner WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014

Authentic SustainabilityWEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014

Recycling Photo ContestThursday, April 24, 2014

TEDx

Friday, April 25, 2014

RelayForLife

Getting to The Red Carpet: My Journey With Blue Wrap

By: Joanna Del Giudice, Owner, Uniquely Dipherent by Joanna Stella,      LIU Post Alum (BFA, 2011, MA, 2013)

I am an artist, teacher, and entrepreneur. During my free time, I am determined to save the world with my art, one stitch at a time.

One day, as I was browsing the web for different art opportunities, I stumbled across “Project Blue Wrap,” a name that reminded me of the popular TV show Project Runway, which, incidentally, many people had encouraged me to be a part of. However, the time restraints set forth in each competition wouldn’t have worked for me as it takes me over 100 hours to complete one full ensemble with the crochet technique that I use.

Intrigued by the name, I decided to check it out and discovered that it was indeed a competition that I could enter. The competition entailed using hospital blue wrap to make a dress and the chosen finalists would have their dresses featured on the runway at DC Fashion Week in Washington, DC. According to Inova, the hospital system that sponsors Project Blue Wrap, “blue wrap is a recyclable plastic fabric that is used to maintain the sterility of its contents – most often, surgical instruments and kits. None of the blue wrap used for Project Blue Wrap has ever been in contact with any patients and would otherwise be recycled.”

Immediately after researching this new opportunity, I reached out to a friend who works at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to see if she could inquire about having them sponsor me, in addition to providing me with recycled blue wrap. Mather Hospital agreed and I acquired about 6 sheets. This proved to be easy; the hardest part was yet to come.

For me, the most difficult part for this competition was coming up with a design concept. In each of my works, I always like to have meaning, so ultimately, I decided to be inspired by the Forget-Me-Not flowers. I chose them because they were my college roommate’s favorite flower and her father had recently passed away, so I wanted to make a dress inspired by her.

I cut up the blue wrap into thin strips (that way it would act as yarn) and I began crocheting…

As the deadline approached, I literally utilized all of my free time. In fact, I began making parts of the dress in public, like a performance artist. For instance, I cut up one of the sheets of blue wrap while on the train to NYC for a concert. I also crocheted some flowers while I was sitting in line waiting for the concert to start.

In order to be considered as a finalist, there also were certain size requirements. This was to ensure that if a model were to wear it on the runway, it would fit regardless of what size she was. I began to search for females in my area who would fit those size requirements that way I could have the dress fitted properly. After all that work, I did not want to chance having my dress being disqualified over a size requirement. I had late night fittings and early morning fittings to work around everyone’s schedule. I was going to do whatever it took to make this dress “runway-ready.”

When it came time to finally mail it, I was both nervous and excited. I had never mailed one of my recycled crocheted dresses before and it had to go a fairly far distance. I had to mail it to Washington D.C. and the dress would have to be physically looked at and tried on. After mailing it, I emailed the woman in charge of Project Blue Wrap to let her know that my dress was on its way. She emailed me back to let me know that she had received it and that everyone in the office loved it. In fact, she said people were stopping by just to get a look at it. What a great feeling that this statement gave me!

However, there was another week to go before the finalists would be officially announced. My mother reassured me that I had to have been one of the winners after receiving such a lovely email. Turns out, the day before my 24th birthday, I received an email congratulating me that my dress would be featured in the kick-off event at DC Fashion Week in Washington, D.C.

The email also stated that I was the recipient of two tickets to the runway event for the kick-off of DC Fashion Week and that I would have two spots reserved for a guest and myself. I immediately called my friend from Mather Hospital and I made the trip to Washington D.C. with her because if it wasn’t for her help, then I would never gotten the blue wrap needed to make my dress.

Project Blue Wrap was such an amazing experience. I ended up sitting in the front row and I watched my dress be the first one to make its way down the runway at DC Fashion Week.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience was that I do have the potential to get somewhere with my art.

The ultimate goal I have for my art is to one day make it to the red carpet. I want my art to be front and center, as the red carpet signifies a much larger audience. Eventually, I want that larger audience to view my art and learn about the importance of recycling and protecting the environment. Having someone from the entertainment world wearing a dress of mine and having it photographed would definitely make a statement.

I want to make that statement with my art.

blue-wrap

 

Coming Fall 2014: Environmental Philosophy

PHI 28 Flyer FINAL-page-001For more information, contact Professor Glenn Magee at glenn.magee@liu.edu, or call the Philosophy Department at 516-299-2341.

Win a Scholarship for Your Sustainable Efforts

The LIU Post Recycling Program, in conjunction with Sustainable Post, opened this year’s Sustainable Creative Expressions Award competition today. The winner of the contest will receive an LIU scholarship for an amount of up to $1,000. (Award amount varies dependent on available amount of funds.) Since 2010, the LIU Post Recycling Program has funded this scholarship with proceeds from the five-cent deposits for recycled bottles and cans on campus.

All LIU Post Students (graduate, undergraduate, full-time, or part-time) are eligible to participate by submitting an original creative work based on the theme for this year’s contest “Be the Change. Make a Difference.” Using the theme, students are asked to create a piece of work that reflects how they have changed the world and how they are making a difference, whether their work relates to LIU Post or the world at large. Works may include written word (essay, poem, short story, etc.), visual art (painting, drawing, photograph, dance, mixed media, graphic design, collage, etc.), or audio visual (composition, video, animation, etc.), but are not limited to those options.

All submissions must be turned into the Office of Student Life and Leadership Development at Hillwood Commons, room 102, no later than April 18, at 4 p.m. For additional information, contact William Achnitz, sustainability coordinator at LIU Post at 516-299-2623 or william.achnitz@liu.edu.

Scholarship-Winner

Last year’s winner, Nancy Wong

Press release via LIU Post

Recalling Climate Change

By: Sarah Pomerenke,Environmental Educator, LIU Post

Journal Entry: 30 October 2040.

Yesterday, when we were all having dinner, Tim asked me: “Mom, I just learned in my earth science class that at the beginning of this century there was a major problem with climate change. Why don’t we have this problem anymore today?”

I started to tell him that when I was his age, in about 2012…2013…back when I went to college for my undergraduate degree in international relations…a big debate went on about whether or not global climate change was in fact real.

Some argued that large amounts of carbon dioxide were being added to the atmosphere and in turn this created an artificial greenhouse-effect. Therefore, average temperatures on Earth began to rise. They also believed that if humanity did not act rapidly in addressing climate change, then the changing atmosphere would disrupt all life on earth.

Sea levels would rise, floods and droughts would become more frequent, and devastating storms would become more powerful. All of these were issues that the majority of scientists at the time said would be a consequence of growing climate change. Many climate activists even argued that global warming was the biggest threat humans had ever faced in their relative short time on Earth.

However, there were also many opponents to this idea. They believed that rising temperatures were simply a normal phenomenon in the Earth’s natural cycle. These people advocated that climate change was the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on humans and that it was only meant to scare people. Therefore, they believed that humans did not need to take action in order to address it. Furthermore, climate change opponents believed that there was no reason for taking drastic actions to address climate change since it would only devastate the economy and put us at risk to endure yet another recession.

I recall very fondly saying to Tim, “You see, Tim, this was a very critical point in our history. At this time in my life, the United States in addition to the rest of the world endured a very deep recession and the U.S. population struggled for many years as the economy recovered.”

I also told him that many people were simply overwhelmed by the immense size of the problem itself that the fear of not being able to address it was enough to paralyze them.

I continued on with my story by telling Tim about the years of 2014 and 2015 when I did my masters in Geology. During this time, the debate about climate change shifted from a debate to whether or not it was real to a debate about what to do in order to address it. This shift was mainly caused by a series of devastating storms as well as the trend of the “Precautionary Principle.”

In 2011, the first storm hit. Hurricane Irene, which did so much damage to infrastructure, particularly infrastructure located right next to the water, was the first sign I remember that storms were getting more powerful and damaging our region. However, people were not too concerned about it. The next year though, in 2012, that would change.

Hurricane Sandy was the first truly devastating hurricane I can remember doing major damage to communities and infrastructure. While some people just lost power for a few days, many others lost their cars, their homes, and many of their other belongings. Some people lost everything. I remember it literally ook months to bring certain communities back to “normal”…whatever that was…

“This wasn’t the end though…” I told Tim.

Hurricane Sandy had only been the first hurricane in a series of hurricanes, each one stronger than the last.

Two more devastating hurricanes barreled into Long Island over the course of the next two years following Sandy.

They were Hurricanes Marie and Kim…Kim by far being the most devastating. I remember thinking during the aftermath, “When will we learn?”

After Kim though, major changes had happened to the communities adjacent to the water. Most people were convinced that drastic steps had to be taken in order to stop climate change. The destruction of these storms led to this trend called the “Precautionary Principle” – a principle that basically states it is “better to be safe than sorry!”

In other words, the principle describes that even if we are not 100% certain of the effects that climate change will have on humanity it is still better to do something about it rather than nothing.

At the time, this approach made sense to most people because after all it is human nature to try and prevent something regardless of whether or not  it may or may threaten our lives or the lives of our children. Therefore, most people started to believe that it would be more costly to do nothing than to try and prevent more harm. After all, waiting to bear the consequences of nature fighting back was proving to be very costly.

After I graduated with my Master’s degree, the United Nations offered me a job. I became a member of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At this point in my life, Americans as well as the rest of the world expected the worst and therefore were more than ready to combat climate change. It was almost as if countries were looking for a strong hand to guide them and tell them how to counter climate change. This kind of attitude made it very easy for me and all other members to establish a whole range of international treaties that completely changed the lifestyle we had grown accustomed to at that time.

The first treaty,which got countries talking about climate change, was the Kyoto Protocol.It had been written more than two decades earlier; however, the U.S. Congress refused to ratify the treaty for many years. Therefore, getting the U.S. to finally sign the Kyoto Protocol was considered a major success at that time. The Kyoto Protocol was eventually signed by every country in the world which essentially meant that every country agreed to reduce its carbon emissions by 15 to 20 percent.

Surprisingly, and quite unexpectedly, it only took a few years for almost every single country to reach this benchmark. Unfortunately though, this one treaty was not enough to stop climate change.

During this time, we also realized that the problem of climate change was much greater than we originally assumed and really the only way to address it was by creating a more sustainable way of life. In order to do this, we had to completely rethink many aspects of how we lived life – the way we consumed, the way we produced waste and the way we lived our lives.

The problem of consumption was our first priority because at the time the United States only made up 5% of the world’s population yet we were using 30% of the world’s resources, hence creating 30% of the world’s waste. It was estimated that if we had continued this way of life, then we would have needed between three to five more planets just to sustain life on Earth. Since we obviously only have one, our first priority was to change peoples’ values. Instead of a consumer culture, we formed a culture that focused on  human interactions. In other words, family and friends were prioritized over goods and services. These things were not influenced by policy, but instead by establishing new trends.

The next problem we worked on was the way we produced waste back then. Originally, we had to reduce the amount of waste that we produced as a country. Being that the U.S. created 30% of the world’s waste, this was absolutely imperative. This was extremely important because not only was the waste during this time toxic, but those toxins often times went into the atmosphere and changed our climate. Not to mention, our air, water, and soil were becoming contaminated as a result.

In the end, we developed a system that recycled basically all of our materials – 99% in fact. This feat took many new innovations and thanks to many smart people, we were able to construct things like toners that disappear completely from the paper after a certain amount of time and plastic that was entirely made from biological sources. In other words, we created a system that closed all of the loops. It was literally an endless cycle, something that the great mind, William McDonough had stated was possible in his pioneering books Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle.

Everything we now produce and consume can simply be reused or just go back into the soil with no harm being done to the environment or to human health thanks to these innovations.

The last and final piece to creating a sustainable future was to change the infrastructure that we had all become too familiar with. In order to do so, we had to start from scratch. People supported this idea because most of their homes had already been destroyed at least once by one of the previous storms. At this point in time, it was a very easy sell. They were looking for change. Therefore, during the planning phase of the many projects that I had worked on, old ideas from my college time came in handy.

I used ideas from Callenbach’s “Ecotopia” when others and I created a blue print for this new system. We established living areas in high-elevation zones and recreation areas in low-elevation zones. These recreation areas consisted of beaches and parks that were open for the public to use. The living areas I worked on included many homes and dense populations; however, people were still able to live comfortably. Furthermore, we prohibited private cars and replaced them with an electric train system that enabled every person to reach their destination within a reasonable amount of time. Most towns also were designed to allow people to walk everywhere that they would need to go, typically locating things like shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment within 1 mile of each household.

Lastly, we worked on building a cleaner energy system, which ended up consisting of mostly solar energy, wind energy and other energy sources utilizing the sun and the sea. We also put a policy in place that prohibited any object that produced carbon dioxide from functioning. Only when it was absolutely necessary could a person apply for a special permit to use that CO2-emitting device.

Tim stopped me at this point in the story, “Didn’t people do it anyway though? I’ve learned in some of my history classes that many American businesses polluted anyway despite not having a permit.”

I continued on by explaining that people who were caught adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without a permit, were actually charged with an environmental felony which held up to ten years in prison.

“That is how the infrastructure that you know today came about Tim,”I said.

“Quite frankly, you are lucky to live at this point in time where society is much happier because we learned to place value on things like human interactions rather than valuing only consumption.”

“The people before me created the consumer culture that I grew familiar with in the 20th century. However, I was part of creating a new, much more sustainable society in the 21st century that you are now lucky to live in,” I told Tim.

After I finally finished explaining the story about how the human race had overcome the problem of climate change during the 21st century, all of our dinners were cold and Tim managed to muster just one question:

“Mom, do you think humans could ever overcome the problem we have today regarding the lack of resources?”

*Disclaimer: This is not an actual historical account of climate change. It is written under the pretenses of what the world could look like in the year 2040 from the perspective of the writer.

Disappearing Seasons

By: Sarah Pomerenke, Environmental Educator, LIU Post

My birthday is August 3rd, and, growing up, I used to think that it was the best day of the year for a birthday because during the first week of August it was usually guaranteed to be hot, sunny and beautiful. I absolutely love the hot weather, and, growing up in Austria, we did not have very long summers. However, starting on my 16th birthday, August 3rd became a pretty cold and rainy day. I thought it was an exception. Yet, to my disappointment the next year was the same. After a few years, I realized that the weather had changed, and my predictable hot August 3rd had become rather unpredictable. However, that was not the only weather problem I observed growing up in Austria.

Austria-flag-image

During my childhood, summers would usually start around June and would last until September. The first snow always fell between October and November and would not melt until March or sometimes even April. When I became older though things started to change. Hot summer days started in May, and the first snow sometimes did not appear until January. Furthermore, the seasons began to “mix.” For example, we had periods of freezing cold temperatures around June or July. One year, I even remember that we had snow in June. To me, it was highly obvious that our climate was changing; yet, personally, I did not think about it in a way that concerned me.

Onedayhot-onedaycoldLater on in my life though, I moved to the United States. I realized that uneven weather patterns existed here as well. During my first two years in the United States, I experienced exactly what people had told me regarding the weather in New York: summer was from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and winter was the other half of the year. I remember the weather very clearly because I enjoyed the summer very much, and I disliked the fall and the spring. However, I did not feel that way for very long.

us-flagTo me, it felt as if the seasons started to disappear. For example, in 2010, the first hot days were in the beginning of March, just about to cool down again in May and June. Another extreme example was the winter of 2011 to 2012 – where we had snow for only about two days and for the rest of the winter the temperature did not drop below 50 degrees. This seemed kind of scary to me considering that I lived in New York and it felt more like San Diego.

itshotIn 2012, the weather again continued to be erratic. It started with an extreme heat wave on Memorial Day weekend and then cooled down for the whole month of June before warming up again in the beginning of July. We are supposed to live in an area that experiences four seasons, and we used to have those seasons. But at this point, I gradually started to see them disappear and what is left seems to be just a “mix” of warm and cold weather at any given time of the year. This “mix” of seasons makes it more than obvious – the climate is changing!

Cartoon_GW_vs_Climate_ChangeIn the past, I never thought much about the connection between disappearing seasons and climate change. Only after I read Jill Carpenter’s story “Black Spring” in Thoreau’s Legacy did I realize that one thing effects the other. Carpenter’s story is somewhat similar to mine; yet, her story does not end at the fact that seasons are disappearing. She closely monitors the effects of disappearing seasons on nature and wildlife. The changes she found that were caused by these abnormal weather patterns was significant. This made me remember my own findings in the summer of 2012 following an extremely mild winter – my finding being a large amount of unpleasant bugs.

More bugs than I have ever experienced in my life…

Every day that I would spend time outside after sunset, I ran the risk of getting tons of bug bites all over my body. It literally got to the point that even bug spray did not help. One day, I even counted all the bug bites over my body and I came up with a number above forty.

thoreauAgain, after reading different essays in Thoreau’s Legacy, I was able to connect them to my own experiences and climate change. I realized that my personal experiences with climate change were much more convincing than the news that the media tends to bombard you with such as icecaps melting or polar bears dying.

In the present day, most of the population is aware of global climate change. However, most of the things that the general public knows about it is intangible. Whether distance wise, like Antarctica, or time wise, such as the future consequences of climate change, it seems beyond our reach. This is one reason for peoples’ passivity towards climate change. However, if the broader population would recognize the changes of global warming that are happening now in our own backyards, then people would be much more active in trying to reduce the impacts of climate change.

So, what I say is that we need to make people more aware of the problems that we face on a day-to-day basis related to global climate change. We need to make them realize that the many problems we do face are indeed related to global climate change. Only until we all work together to reduce the impact of global warming, will we have a chance of carrying on, to our children, the luxury of this planet that we now get to enjoy.

Quotation-Barack-Obama-world-work-children-today-Meetville-Quotes-53800together

Karen Miller: Survivor, Leader, Inspiration

By: William Achnitz III, Sustainability Coordinator, LIU Post

HBCACOn Monday, March 3rd, 2014, students in Professor Scott Carlin’s Sustainable Land Use and Transportation class were treated to a very inspirational guest speaker, Mrs. Karen Miller, President and Founder of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

A survivor of breast cancer herself, Karen formed the coalition about 27 years ago as a means not only to focus on prevention methods but also to actively help those who are faced with a positive diagnosis. Essentially, the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) strives to promote community-oriented programs focused on Breast Cancer Education, Precaution, and Prevention.

Karen-Miller

One such initiative was a GIS study led by HBCAC and Professor Scott Carlin of LIU Post that mapped instances of breast cancer within the Town of Huntington. A result of over 600 volunteers collecting over 23,000 surveys over a span of 8 years led to one of the most comprehensive mapping studies of breast cancer in the country, something that was unprecedented for Long Island. Not only has this study opened residents’ eyes to the prevalence of breast cancer on Long Island, but it has also brought the topic of breast cancer to the forefront of discussion in our region.

breast_cancermap

Huntington Breast Health Survey Results

“I’m proud of Long Island because the women here brought breast cancer to the forefront,” said Karen Miller during the introduction of her presentation. “These are the people that want to know why there is so much cancer. We have an obligation to get them answers.”

That same mission and mindset is exactly what still drives Karen to this day as well as the organization that she leads. She emphasizes the importance of partnerships and building relationships through grassroots activism.

“You need to connect with people in your community now!” she said. “As more and more of us band together, things can happen.”

And certainly things will happen. For me, Karen Miller is an inspiration and it was a privilege to hear her speak in one of my classes. She’s a role model and she is the epitome of what it means to work towards what you believe in.

To learn more about HBCAC, please check out their website here.