An APPLE a day keeps the CSR at bay

We all know about Apple: Apple computers, Steve Jobs, the iphone, “there’s an app for that”, etc. Apple products are found in nearly every household and in almost every teenage palm. But is Apple a sustainable company? Do they care about anything other than profit and expanding their already huge company?

According to the Apple website, they do. Apple claims to have five different pillars to their supplier responsibility plan: empowering workers, labor and human rights, health and safety, environment, and accountability.

 Apple claims to educate their workers in order for them to understand their rights and learn new skills. According to their website, “In 2013, more than 280,000 people at 18 supplier sites took courses in a range of subjects through our free education and development program. In addition, our suppliers trained more than 1.5 million workers on their rights, bringing the total number trained since 2007 to 3.8 million” (Apple). That’s a lot of education.

"Suppliers must treat workers fairly and ethically at all times" (Apple).  Apple claims to treat all employees fairly. They also claim not to overwork their employees. Apple has implemented a 60-hour maximum workweek, and in 2013 they had 95% compliance with this rule.

To address the shortage of EHS personnel (environment, health, safety), Apple has implemented the Apple Supplier EHS Academy. This is an 18-month program which aims to train and educate EHS employees. ”In 2013, over 240 factory personnel representing factories with more than 270,000 employees enrolled in this program, which will raise the standard for EHS management in our supply chain” (Apple).

According to its website, Apple expects its suppliers to be environmentally responsible. They have launched a Clean Water Program and have goals to reduce freshwater usage by recycling and reusing water in production. According to Apple’s 2014 report, they have completed over 520 site profiles to determine environmental risks, conducted 62 focuses environmental assessments, and launched their Clean Water Program with 13 supplier sites. Apple has also partnered with IPE: a nonprofit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. In 2013, 15 sites worked with IPE to remediate 26 violations and had their records closed through the IPE process.

Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct is considered one of the toughest in the electronics industry. Apple conducts hundreds of audits each year within every facet of their company to ensure compliance with this code of conduct.

Apple is making a genuine effort to improve their CSR and keep their customers informed about their efforts. Apple used appeals to logos throughout their website to show actual numerical statistics about their sustainability efforts to demonstrate what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what the results are.

Apple: Supplier Responsibility. Apple Inc. n.d. Web. 6 March 2014.

Katie Goodwin

Chipotle: Food with Integrity

Everyone needs to eat, that’s a simple fact of basic human life. The only issue is sometimes its hard to find enough hours in the day to make time for a prepared, civilized meal – 3 times a day. That’s the basis for the development of the fast-food industry that dominates American society today, getting food on the go so that a busy person can keep going with their daily obligations. Companies like McDonald’s and Taco Bell thrive off the need of getting a meal “to-go”. But fast food companies are notorious for they’re negligence of what exactly they’re putting in their food and what the health results of those ingredients are, instead focusing on foods that can be prepared quickly with minimal costs to them and their customers. Over the past few years many different media sources and news outlets have come out with really disgusting facts about what you’re putting in your body when you eat at restaurants like these, which has created a market in the food industry that uses more health conscious ingredients while maintaining the convenience and ease of the fast food restaurants.

            In 1993, Steve Ellis founded Chipotle Mexican Grill with the belief that their ingredients matter, and that supporting local farming industries was an important factor for their restaurants. As the company grew into a national corporation, they’ve advanced those central concepts into their corporate philosophy of “Food with Integrity” and developed a reputation for convenient and quick meals, without the sacrifice of quality food and customer service. The company has developed a huge advantage in the industry by promoting more sustainable foods, and it has been embraced by the public, resulting in over a thousand restaurants nationwide and $1.8 billion in sales by the end of 2010.


With some faults in their promises of integrity, and resulting protests of the company, Chipotle reestablished their commitment to their customers and sought ways to maintain their clients faith in their product. The company launched a few initiatives, all in support of a farm-to-table-to-consumer supply chain. They wanted to “change the way people think about what they eat” through usage of farm fresh ingredients free of hormones and chemical additives, while supporting smaller local farms (within 350 miles of the restaurants). Chipotle also founded the non-profit organization called Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation, which raises and donates money to support three major causes:

1. Supporting small, family owned farms.

2. Increasing animal welfare and pasteurizing.

3. Increasing nutrition and reducing obesity in children.

The company has donated over $1.5 million in support of these causes, with percentages of their own profits from in-store promotions being used as funding. Another important part of their new campaign effort was to revamp their advertising. In 2012, Chipotle hired CAA (Creative Artists Agency), a Hollywood marketing agency, to create a two and a half minute heart-string-tugging video about a small farmer that industrializes his farm, only to realize the mistake he’s made and later tears it down, opting for a more sustainable future. The video has won many awards, including Best Integrated Campaign and Best Film for Branded Content at Cannes Film Festival, and emphasizes Chipotle’s mission of supporting small farms and sustainable food sources. The company has invested in other video campaigns as well, including a satirical miniseries titled “Farmed and Dangerous” that criticizes the industrialized agricultural industry and the way they raise their livestock. The series was featured exclusively on Hulu during its premiere, but has been released onto other sources recently.

            Chipotle as a company has chosen to put its customers first, by using “naturally raised” meats and hormone free dairy products for their gourmet burritos. Putting an emphasis on supporting family owned farms and local agricultural businesses has set them apart in their industry, along with creating a new market for restaurants focused around the same principles. Choosing quality products over higher gross profits makes them pioneers in the fast food industry, and gives the company a higher level of corporate social responsibility than almost all of their competitors.  

-Brianna Harvey

Works Cited

 Baylis, Bettina. “How Chipotle’s ‘Food with Integrity’ Strategy Can Really Succeed”. Triple Pundit. N.p. 15 October. 2012. Web. 06 March. 2014.

 Sacks, Danielle. “34_Chipotle”. Fast Company. N.d. Web. 06 March. 2014.


LEED-ing the way to Sustainability: An anaylisis on the waste of the construction indusrty and possible solutions


Since the creation of tools, humans have been building and over time the structures have become more and more complex.  As the growth and development of our buildings have progressed, so have our societies and cultures.  Many cultures around the world even link construction with their religious beliefs and stories.  The Judeo-Christian faith has the the Tower of Babel story where humans try to gain access to the heavens by means of the construction of a gargantuan tower and not through their god.


Their god punishes them all for believing they could reach the heavens without him by confusing their language so that they cannot complete tower.  The ancient Egyptians also had construction tied to their religious beliefs.  The Egyptians built the great pyramids which they believed would help fallen pharaohs ascend into the afterlife. 


Both of the cultures believed that their massive buildings had a connection to the heavens and more meaning than just the materials they were made of and the structures themselves.  This is probably why building large building and construction seems as natural to America as a society today as it does.  It has been rooted deep in our human psychology and always will be. 

Construction and Sustainability

The cities where most of the world’s population lives only covers a miniscule 2% of the world’s land mass, but mankind is still responsible for 75% of the earths consumed resources.[1]  The amounts of both energy and materials waste in the construction industry is one of the largest areas for possible improvement in terms of sustainability practices in America.  Close to half of the non-renewable energy used per year by industry is used by construction, and 80% of the land loss per year is lost due to construction.[2]


These statistics show the absurd amount of waste that is due to construction and why it is so important that we address the construction industry and the cost it has on the environment.  There are groups in America today trying to address this issue through multiple different strategies.  Some of these are effective and others still need much more improvement.  Throughout the rest of this blog I will explain all the areas where there is waste in construction and the solutions that can be implemented in America to fix these issues.

The Cost Of Traditional Construction

The environment and sustainability are topics that have been getting a lot more attention over the past few years, and so, more and more research is done every day on how we as a species effect the environment. Humans make up a very small percent of the biomass on earth, however we consume astronomically more than our fair share.  60% of the natural recourses removed from the environment are for construction.  Most of these materials are removed from the lithosphere, the outermost rocky layer of the earth, and of that 60%, 40% of that is used for building.  If you do the math, that is 24% of what humans remove in a year is for building purposes alone.[3]  This means over half of the raw materials extracted from the lithosphere per year is used for construction of some form and almost a quarter is used for building specifically


This being said the effects and benefits of construction are short lived.  Buildings are demolished and new structures rebuilt on the same lots almost as often as new land being cleared for construction, but when this happens energy lost during the construction is not reclaimed and demolished resources are rarely reused.  Rather more energy and resources are used in the construction of the new building.


When these new buildings are built, just as with any construction project, there are many types of cost that go into making up the total cost. There is the upfront financial cost for the labor and materials, the environmental effect that extracting and producing those materials will have, and also the residual cost. I call the residual cost the “hidden cost” because it is not included in the upfront cost of the building.  These are costs like the energy efficiency of the house and the effects on the environment after the construction is complete.  These three cost come together to create the total cost of the building.

Monetary Cost

Even in today’s economy Construction is still one of the largest industries in the U.S..  In the month May of 2012 there was $830.0 billion dollars spent on construction alone.[4]  Does any American that can afford it ever plan on living off the streets? No, so people will always need homes to live in and building to work in, and America’s population has been historically increasing and doesn’t show any signs of stopping; therefore there will always be some new construction going on.


With almost every American living in some form of home, the housing market is often a focus of economist.  The idea of the monetary cost of construction is fairly straight forward.  If simplify the cost of a construction project to an equation where the monetary cost is equal to the cost of the materials plus the cost of labor then we can more easily understand how some decisions effect the price and relate to sustainability.

Monetary Cost = Materials + Labor

It is fair to assume that the cost of labor is a constant value.  That is to say that the cost of labor to design and build a certain building will cost the same for each construction company.  For example, Plumbing.  Anyone who has ever paid a plumber to fix something in their home knows it isn’t cheap.  But it isn’t cheap for anyone!  It’s not like plumbers charge each house a different rate.  There is a charge for a service and that charge is consistent for everyone.  It works similarly on a large scale when constructing a home or large building.  And this is what is meant when I say that the cost of labor is consistent. The cost may fluctuate with the market and economy but it will fluctuate equally for each company.  If we assume the cost of labor is a fixed value then we can drop it from the equation and we are left with the monetary cost of the project is directly proportional to the cost of the materials.

Monetary Cost = Materials

More expensive materials or more of the same materials means the price goes up.  Since so many resources are used for construction, for example 90% of hardwoods harvested per year go to construction, finding more sustainable methods that reduced the amounts of materials used would not only greatly decrease environmental impact but also the fiscal cost.[5]

Environmental Cost

The environmental cost of construction is something that’s often over looked.  Often times on a job site a board will be sawed to a certain length, or a piece of metal cut into a certain shape and the “scraps” that are left over are thrown into a job site dumpster.


The scraps are thrown out to go sit and fill up a landfill somewhere when chances are most of the excess material could be used somewhere else on the job site at some point or another.  There is an expression in construction that says “measure twice, cut once” which puts the emphasis on doing things right the first time and precision.  However this mindset of precision and being careful to ensure you are doing things right on the work site does not extend to sustainability.


I can personally say from working on some construction projects that it is easier to simply grab more materials and start cutting from a new board than to look through the scraps to find one that works.  I have worked on projects where materials are limited and ones where they are abundant.  When the materials were scarce, like when constructing homes in Guatemala, we made the most of every material on the job site.


It took more time and focus but it saved money and materials.  On the opposite end of this was building stages and decks for a party.  There was no set budget for the project and so whenever more materials were needed they were purchased and the price just tacked onto the bill.  The nature of the project was also time based, and so with the rush and unlimited supplies sustainability was the last thing on everyone’s mind.  It was just simply what was the fastest and easiest way to get things built.


Building decks for the party is more similar to most job sites in America today then working in Guatemala was.  The construction companies do not have unlimited resources, but the workers and management do have sufficient funds and are more focused on time and date of completion than they are sustainability.  So whenever they need a new plank of a certain length they simply grab a standard one and cut it down to size.  This, just as in the project I was a part of, creates an incredible amount of waste.

 Another reason construction creates so much waste is demolition.  Often times in order for a new building to be built an old one is leveled.  This is a positive thing since it saves more natural wilderness from being destroyed.  However the way buildings are demolished is extremely wasteful.  Almost no materials are saved and most of the old buildings remains will end up in a landfill.  Again, I have seen this first hand by being part of clearing a construction site.  The potential for all that material to be reused is great, but instead it is ignored and scrapped.


As before if we chose to look at the cost as an equation, we can say that the environmental cost is equal to the type of material used times the amount of that material used.

Environmental Cost = Type of Material X Amount

This is not to say the cost monetary wise, but rather the environmental effect of a project.  The environmental cost is not measured in a dollar value but rather in the amount of damage done to the environment.  It’s like each material has its own environmental effect value that is dependent on the sustainability of that material.  And then that value is multiplied by the amount of the material used to give you the overall environmental impact.   This multiplication effect is why, when haste and disregard is taken in the construction process that it has an extremely powerful impact on the amount of environmental damage as a result of the project.  Just as with the material cost, implementing simple sustainable practices that used the same materials would cut down on the environmental cost tremendously.

Hidden Cost

One of the largest and probably the biggest cost of traditional construction are the all the hidden costs.  These are the cost of upkeep and running of the house or building.  That being said, very few Americans stop to consider the construction of their house when it comes to power usage.  Many of the techniques used in traditional construction are not effective in terms of saving power.  They set up the houses ventilation in such a way that it actually causes more energy to be used when heating and cooling a house. Likewise, the pipes are set up inefficiently so that the water heater must use more power to do the same job.


Often these ineffective set ups require less time and materials on the front end which is why construction companies use them.  Rather they choose to make more profit and pass on the expenses to the buyer.  In the average American home the largest usage of electricity is appliances coming in at 33%.   After that is the power used for the heating and cooling system with 31% of the total electricity used, and after that it is the water heater at 9%. [6] All the appliances in the American home like televisions, microwaves, light bulbs, etc. added together is just slightly more than the cooling system?  That’s insane! But yet what is more ridiculous is that there are plenty of green appliances advertised today designed to cut back on power usage and environmental impact of your appliances, but very little is known or advertised about what you can do to make your house more efficient in terms of actual airflow and water flow. 

This is mostly because once the house is built most of the potential to make these systems more effective is gone.  But the reason it’s not installed in the homes to begin with is the money and time it take the construction company. The average American home owner is not a major part of the design process of their home, if at all, and so not near as much information is advertised about green construction as there is about other green products such as appliances and cars.  Most Americans simply look on the market at what’s for sale and buy homes that are already built.  And because the American home owner is not educated about how these engineering changes can effect environmental and fiscal impact they do not weigh them into their decision making process when buying a house.  This as a result causes the builder not to take building more green into consideration when it comes to constructing the homes.  If the client is not concerned with it then the builders are not going to take the time to do it.   Air and water flow are both areas where more consideration and minor tweaks along with good engineering could lower power usage and overall all environmental impact significantly.


Total Cost

If we take the monetary cost, the environmental cost, and the hidden cost and examine them together we see how they all work together to form the incredible waste problem in construction today.  The wasteful use of material leads to more fiscal cost because of the price of the material.  But it has an even greater effect on the environment.  As more materials are used for building, more materials have to be produced, which damages the planet and consumes more non-renewable energy.  Combine these things with the fact that all of the materials and recourses are often built in a non-efficient way so that the hidden cost continue to rack up long after the project is complete and you are left with the awful disaster that America is in right now with the construction industry.

The Solution

There are plenty of other areas that need and can be improved, but the construction industry as a whole is the area with the greatest potential for improvement.  Different environmental and construction agencies have realized this and are trying to correct the problem.  If these groups can be effective in getting large construction companies willing to change to new techniques then it is possible to greatly reduce the environmental impact of the entire industry. 

The good news is that there are groups attempting to create change in the industry and that these groups are making some substantial ground in getting large construction companies to go green.  However there are some things that either needed to be done differently or changed about their plan of attack if the problem is going to ever be completely resolved. So far I have explained the problem and why it is important to fix it.  Through the rest of the blog I will now explain my proposed solution, using examples from programs that are already in place as well as what needs to be done in addition to those programs.

LEED Construction


One of the groups that is leading the transition in the construction industry is the United States Green Building Council (U.S.G.B.C.).  Many groups in America have come out with programs and systems to help promote greener construction, for example the EPA developed Energy Star.[7]  In 1998 the U.S.G.B.C. came out with a new voluntary construction certification program called LEED Construction, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  This program was a point rating system that gives credit to buildings and projects for being green through certifying them.  The biggest thing LEED is changing is it helps to give standards to what a “green” or environmentally friendly building really is.  Up until the creation of LEED and a few other ranking systems of its kind, the idea of a green building was simply in the eyes of the buyer and seller with no measurable way of defining how environmentally friendly the building actually was.  Over time the LEED program has been revised three times and has grown and adapted to the construction market of today.  Today U.S.G.B.C. defines LEED as “a voluntary, consensus-based, market­-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities”.[8] 

How LEED Works

The LEED construction certification program has many different parts and functions that make it extremely flexible so that it is possible to be applied to any type of construction or project.  Because you cannot fairly compare the energy usage of a larger office building to that of a private residence, LEED has different types of certifications for Schools, Office buildings, Homes, Neighborhoods, etc..  This makes it so that any type of construction company on any type of project can get involved with the program.  LEED even offers certification for projects that are simply building shells or doing renovations to previously existing building.  All of this works together to allow builders of any type of project with a measurable standard of what is a green building and guidelines as to how to receive a certification saying that their project or building was constructed in an environmentally friendly.


The way LEED does this is by using a 110 point system.  LEED recognizes that every construction site and project is different and so they allow for multiple different ways to receive certification.  The way the point system works is simple in a big picture kind of way.  A site or job earns points for different sustainable actions or qualities of their building.  These points are totaled and then score determines if the building is certified and on what level.  Within each type of construction project, a project can earn four levels of LEED certification: Certified is 40–49 points, Silver is 50–59 points, Gold is 60–79 points, and the highest level Platinum is 80 points.[9]  These different levels allow sites to get certified while still allowing certified projects to separate themselves and be further recognized for their efforts to be sustainable.


Although how the point system works is simple, looking at in on a large scale, the complexities and requirements for getting points and qualifying for different levels of certification can be harder to understand.  It is a lot like laws and courts in the United States.  Understanding how a code of law works in theory can be simple but when it comes to applying it and actually using it a case or in court a lawyer is normally required.  In the same way getting a building to be LEED certified can very difficult if you don’t have people working on the project that understand the complexities of LEED.


LEED has addressed this issue by setting up an educational program that allows someone like an employee of a construction company, an engineer, or architect to become LEED accredited.  This accreditation requires learning about how LEED operates and then proving this knowledge on a series of test, and because LEED is always changing and adapting, continuing education credits are required each year in order to maintain accreditation.  These accreditations do not give the employee the ability to certify the building.  That is still handled by the U.S.G.B.C.  They simply prove to the employer and the U.S.G.B.C.  that people educated on sustainable practices and LEED are working on the project.  The senior engineer I interviewed said that the LEED accreditation although requiring work to learn and obtain, is not out of reach for most employees and that the system they have created is effective and easy to use.   

This means that LEED has effectively taken a complex system and made it so that an employee can, while still preforming their day to day work responsibilities, master the intricacies of the LEED’s point system.  This educational system is a key to LEEDs success and is why they can afford to have an effective complex system, but due to the educational system they have set up, building companies can still use the system effectively.  Without this system the companies and workers would feel as if they are jumping through invisible hoops they didn’t understand in order to receive certification, and therefore less would choose to participate.


In summary, LEED is a point system set up by the U.S.G.B.C that sets up guidelines for what a sustainable construction project is and how to go about building one.  Their point system has many different categories and different ways to be applied so that all projects can participate.  They also offer an educational system that simplifies their system for builders and teaches them about sustainable practices.  This setup allows all companies to understand and participate in the program.

What is Working and What Need to be Fixed

            Because it is so applicable to different projects and its multiple layers of certification the system LEED has set up has been gaining momentum and participation in the industry since its creation.  This is important because LEED and other programs like it, although still not perfected, are a big part of the solution.  A senior engineer in the construction industrysaid that he could see LEED becoming extremely common across the board if they kept growing and adapted some changes.  He also talked about how LEED has made the construction company he works for more sustainable.  He talked about how they were recycling more, buying local materials, and building in a way that was more energy efficient.  He described how the reduced use of materials, by making sure they recycled and got the most from their materials, not only cut down of environmental impact but also financial cost as well.  LEED realizes the relationships of the equations discussed earlier and tries to help show companies how to save money while being sustainable.

Although programs like LEED help projects save money one of the negatives is that he some of the points in LEED are basically bought.  Many other programs, like LEED, have the same problem where to earn a certification the company basically just throws money at certain things to get points.  This is an issue that needs to be addressed.


It is flaws like this in the point system that leads to some projects choosing not to participate in getting certified.  Some companies are ok with spending more money to be sustainable, but not ok with spending lots of money on things with very little impact to the building or sustainability just for the sake of earning points.  The problem is that in order to get the minimum points needed companies often have to do at least a little of point buying.  He said that his company is leaning towards a policy where every building they build needs to at least meet minimum LEED certification, but it isn’t cost effective for each project.  If LEED were to remove some of these types of points and adjust the system so that certification could be earned by any project without buying any points and just building more sustainably then LEED would be even more successful.

The person I interviewed is currently LEED certified and spoke highly of the education system.  He said that the program, especially the continuing education part, did an excellent job of teaching about the LEED program, but more importantly, sustainability in construction in general.  He said that the program teaches workers about sustainability in general and that it extremely effective at raising awareness about issues.  This is important to do since the builders are the ones doing the actual construction and have direct control over how things are designed and built, but it is not far enough.


Programs such as LEED need to realize why not everyone is jumping on board with building sustainably.  The fact of the matter is that most of the construction companies choose to build sustainably because being green is viewed positively in today’s society.  They therefore work to seem green in hopes that this will give them a competitive edge.  In fact this is one of the major driving forces behind programs like LEED.  They provide recognition to companies that build sustainably.  The companies could just as easily build the project the exact same way and never apply to get certified, but instead they choose to spend money to get certified for the public recognition. Regardless of the motives for participating in LEED though it does get companies building in a more environmentally friendly.    Unfortunately the sad reality is though that they are a business and mostly concerned with profits and so the certification is a majority of the reason they choose to adjust their building methods.

LEED needs to take advantage of this fact and attack the problem at the source.  The construction industry is mostly concerned with money.  So what is the best way to get them focused on the environments, or at least building more environmentally friendly regardless of the motives?  Get their clients, the American public, more concerned with the environment and how it relates to construction!  There are all types of environmental groups raising awareness about environmental issues ranging from clean energy to the rain forest, but you rarely see commercials or literature about green construction. 

LEED already has a large and effective educational system for the people who get LEED certified.  They need to use this powerful tool and expand it to expand the American public.  They need to get a campaign started to educate the actual buyers of homes and buildings about the importance of buying green homes.  If they did this and were effective than soon, as it is with purchasing other types of green products, buying a green home would be something that was in high demand.


If this were the case then construction companies would all desire to build more sustainably and choose to participate in programs such as LEED.  If this transition could be facilitated in the American public’s view than a similar transition would occur through the entire construction industry.  If this were to happen and having some type of certification saying you had built sustainably became common practice than all of a sudden the groups running these programs like the U.S.G.B.C. would gain a large influence on how construction companies built their buildings.

If the market got to the point where they expected every building to be certified then over time the certification systems would be able to make their policies stricter without losing participation and builders would simply have to adjust to the newer more sustainable policies.  Right now they have to be careful not to be too strict because than there would be reduced participation.  However if done correctly and gradually, these adjustments to the systems could reach the point in the future where the idea of building a green building today would just be the industry standard.

Overview of LEED

LEED is a point system that helps provide standards for green building while also providing a certification for proof that a building was built in a sustainable manner.  According to people who have work first hand with LEED, it is growing and gaining momentum.  It has a positive effect on project already by actually reducing the amount of materials bought and therefore reducing the financial cost.  The program also demands more sustainable practices and building methods to get certified.  This reduces the environmental impact and the hidden cost directly by the use of recycled materials and the use of more energy efficient building methods.  Unfortunately LEED, and programs like it, still have some flaws they need to work out.  However if they can address their issues and use their already powerful educational system to educate the public than they could solve the construction crisis in America.



            The construction industry has many costs from financial to environmental.  Over time construction habits that lead to enormous amounts of waste have developed.  The key to solving these problems is to get the construction industry adhering to some form of standards.  This can be done best by participating in certification programs such as the LEED certification program.  These programs if perfected would cut down on all of the cost of construction as well as providing standards.  These programs also need to educate the American public and create a demand for green housing in the market place.  If this can be achieved than the companies trying to provide standards will have more influence and over time America’s construction industry can be completely shifted to a way of green construction.









Works Cited

Bribian, I., Capilla A., & Usón, A. (2011). Life cycle assessment of building materials:

Comparative analysis of energy and environmental impacts and evaluation of the eco-

efficiency improvement potential. Building and Environment, 46(5), 1133-1140.

Chetty, M., Tran, D., & Grinter, R. E. (2008, September). Getting to green: understanding

resource consumption in the home. In Proceedings of the 10th international conference

on Ubiquitous computing (pp. 242-251). ACM.

"Defra." Statistics Construction and Demolition Waste England Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 25

Mar. 2013. <>.

"LEED." U.S. Green Building Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <>.

"History of LEED - Business Recovery." History of LEED - Business Recovery. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.


"Home Construction’s Dirty Secret: 8,000 Lbs of Waste Per 2,000 Square Foot House." Green

Building Elements. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.


"Life Cycle Assessment of Building Materials: Comparative Analysis of Energy and

Environmental Impacts and Evaluation of the Eco-efficiency Improvement Potential.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. <>.

Oak, R. (n.d.). Construction Spending Increased 0.9% for May 2012 | The Economic Populist.

The Economic Populist | Speak Your Mind 2 Cents at a Time. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from

Omer, A. (2010, May). Low energy building materials: An overview. Proceedings of the

Environment 2010: Situation and perspectives for the European Union, 1-6.Works Cited

[1] (Omer, 2003, pp. 1-3)

[2] (“Briefing note ,” 2010)

[3] (Bribian, Capilla, Uson, 2011 p. 1133)

[4] (Oak, 2012)

[5] (“Briefing note ,” 2010)

[6] (Chetty, Tran, and Grinter, 2008, p. 242)

Chipotle, Food with Integrity



Are you craving something spicy and satisfying? Do you also care about protecting our environment? Then Chipotle Mexican Grill is the is the right restaurant for you. Not only is Chipotle delicious and convenient, but it is also one of the most environmentally friendly fast food restaurants out there. With a slogan like “Food with Integrity”, you know it must be good for you and good for the environment as well. 

Starting as a small grass-roots restaurant in Denver CO, Chipotle has grown into one of the top selling fast food restaurant chains in the country, especially after being bought by McDonalds in 2006. All of the restaurants are company owned instead of franchised so you always know you are getting a sense of family every time you bite into their tasty burritos.

Chipotle offers a choice of beef, chicken, and pork. All of the meat that they use is natural. For example, many pigs are raised on factory farms and have an awful life. They are penned in steel cages and pumped tons of antibiotics to fend off diseases. These farms cause massive amounts of waste products, and not to mention the terrible mistreatment of the pigs. So basically, these farms aren’t good for anyone in the situation. Fortunately, Chipotle uses pork meat that comes from  pigs that are raised outside, are fed a vegetarian diet, and are never given antibiotics. Pigs were raised this way before huge factory farms changed the industry 50 years ago. Chipotle believes that “pigs that are cared for in this way enjoy happier, healthier lives and produce the best pork ever tasted.”  

Chipotle not only treats the meat they use right, but they only chose the best possible produce. Chipotle also uses organic beans which has a lot of benefits. since 2005, the use of organic beans has reduced the amount chemical pesticides by 140,000 pounds. Family farms are slowly disappearing because of the rise of huge factory farms. Chipotle prefers to work with farms that are family owned and operated. They believe that the food that is family grown just tastes better. Family farmers care for their land because it the only land that they have. They can’t just abuse some land and then move on the the next field. The are careful not to use pesticides, rather they rotate their crops and farm in a sustainable way.

The to-go carriers are brown paper bag marked with a symbol which stated it was 35% post consumer waste. This means 35% of the bag was made from previously recycled goods.  The napkins were also partially made from post consumer waste as well. Chipotle uses plastic bins to serve your food in. When throwing away your food, there is a place to put the plastic bins back instead of serving the food in one-use cardboard containers. 

According to a company press release, Houston-based Standard Renewable Energy will be installing solar panels at 75 Chipotle restaurants during the next 12 months.  When this project is complete, it is estimated the initiative will reduce global CO2 emissions by about 41 million pounds

Chipotle is not only amazingly tasty, but it also is doing its best effort to conserve out planet and bring you a meal that will help just that.

"Chipotle: Food With Integrity." Chipotle: Food With Integrity. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.


"Chipotle Mexican Grill." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.


Bateston, Shelby. “Chipotle Mexican Grill Leading U.S. Restaurants in Going Green.” N.p., 26 Oct. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

By: Nicole Fulkerson 

U.S Greenhouse Gas Automaker


Scientists have always known that the climate on earth has had an influence on how the human species has developed over time. However, it was not until recently that scientist have discovered that we have the power to influence the climate.  Global Warming is a phenomenon that is a direct result of our actions. While it is common knowledge that global warming is not a good thing, we are lucky that the power to control factors that cause global warming are partially in our hands.


Having control over the factors that cause global warming is a beautiful thing, but more Americans need to be aware of it. Currently, Americans are still contributing to the global warming problem and it is just getting worse. According to the New York Times, 2012 was the “Hottest Year Ever in the U.S.” Across the country, 34,008 new daily high records were set in 2012, more than in any pervious year.


Scientists have reported that the major contributor to global warming is the burning of fossil fuels, something almost every American is guilty of doing. Steps can be taken to easily reduce one’s carbon footprint, and doing so is not the pressing concern. The most pressing issue is that of awareness. Many Americans don’t even realize that they contribute to global warming daily. Many citizens believe that major industry companies are responsible for producing harmful emissions. While this is true, industry companies are not the major contributors. Personal vehicle use is the largest contributor to global warming, accounting for 42% of nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are those that are released into the atmosphere, but have nowhere to go. Of these personal vehicles, the big three automakers- General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrystler accounted for nearly three-quarters of the carbon dioxide released by cars and pickup trucks on U.S roads in 2004. How can three car companies account for this amount of greenhouse gas emission? Many reasons are plausible, ranging from economic standards to the amount they are driven. Seventy-five percent of a countries greenhouse gases is a sufficient amount, especially one as large as the United States. Then you think of the fact that U.S cars emit more carbon dioxide than those of other countries.


While Americans own only 30 percent of the 700 million vehicles that are in use worldwide, the authors of Global Warming on the Road [PDF] found that cars in the U.S. account for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emission. Some reasons for this do actually include lower fuel economy standards, the distance they are driven, and because of the higher-level carbons being burnt as fuel compared to that of other countries. Imagine this fact: Gasoline in the United States contains 5.3 pounds of carbon per gallon. All of that carbon ends up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide in automobile exhaust when the fuel is burned. So the average car in the U.S. puts more than 1.5 tons of carbon into the air every year. Knowing that most facts in this article are pulled from 2004 goes to show what automakers have done and continue to do about the emission of greenhouse gases.


Crystler invested $35 million into emission cuts and conservation in 2011. As well as making sustainability-friendly promises to reduce energy use, waste generation, and water use per vehicle by 2014. My father bought a Ford F-150 for Christmas last year and it set a new standard for trucks in terms of luxury and miles per gallon. General Motors was the creator of the eco-friendly Chevrolet Volt and received an Energy Start Partner of the Year award for energy efficiency. These companies have come a long way since contributing three-quarters of the greenhouse gases emitted by United States cars in 2014. Technology improvement and the spread of awareness are the leading factors in changing global warming. Seeing how much U.S transportation has put forth to being more environmentally friendly gives me a good feeling for what is to come with other types of sustainability.


Work Cited:

"Global Warming & Climate Change." Global Warming & Climate Change. New York Times Editorial Staff, 08 Mar. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

 West, Larry. “U.S. Autos Account for Half of Global Warming Linked to Cars Worldwide.” Environmental Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

Mitchell Walley

Start With Your Face

When thinking of “going green” and sustainability no one really thinks about the make up used and how much waste is done.  Make up is probably one of the easiest things to fix when trying to go green.  Every female that uses make up probably uses powder, lipstick, nail polish, and products.  Burt’s Bees products are just one company that comes to mind when people think of going green with make up.


Burt’s Bees is part of a pledge called The Greater Good, meaning that they will do the right thing when it comes to the environment, their products, and the living creatures. By 2020 the company has set a goal that all of their product’s formulas will be 100% natural and all packaging will be PCR/Biodegradable. If more companies would use natural ingredients and decomposable materials, a lot of waste could be cut out.

The company does not always jump the gun on the new product in which could cause some fuss. Taking the risk of waiting until a natural way of processing a new product is invented. Allowing more time leaves room for safer makeups and no harsh chemicals like in other companies makeup. Instead of using chemicals they use natural ingredients such as oils, plants, herb extracts, and beeswax (one of their main ingredients). Most customers do not think or maybe just do not care what their makeup is made out of, but think about this next time you have to get something new. If all females changed their makeup to going green this would be a small step in helping the economy.

Not only does Burt’s Bees allow a safer way of making their products, but also let you know how much they are helping out in sustainability.  This company lists their percentage of how natural these products are right on the label. They may not be 100% just yet but the strive to reach this goal is underway. By 2020 this company has made it their mission to be all natural and all biodegradable to better our world.

By using all natural ingredients, the company wanted to make sure that was not the only way they helped out in going green. The way Burt’s Bees packages their products is very green as well. They package in biodegradable and recyclable materials to allow the waste to not pile up in a waste field. Like the ingredients, this company does not just put any product out there. They will wait years for technology and companies to help them produce the greenest packaging they can get. By 2020 they want to be minimal packaging and only use highly recyclable and recycled items. Burt’s Bees is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and seem to always be looking for innovations in the technology of packing their products.

When going green, people tend to think more money. Sustainability can be an expensive thing, just because of the limited variety of these products. An eye catcher of the Burt’s Bees products is the affordable prices for the natural ingredients involved.

Burt’s Bees mostly addresses to the women of this world, since they are know as a beauty product. Emotions naturally come with women. This company takes advantage of the emotion of women giving percentages of reducing landfill and waste in the world, and providing the solution of using their products. Also by the way they talk about their losses and how everyone is struggling makes it out like they have everyone’s best interest at heart when they are making their products. Through this hard time, it is good to know that a company is putting all of its hard work and time into bettering our world and making it a more beautiful and safer place to live in. “Opening doors to greater good” is a phrase used and makes females believe that everything will get better just because of their products. Although their products may not be 100% all natural and safe, they strive to be that way and are making a hard effort into becoming what they say.

By: Laura Gibbs

Works Cited:

 ”A Beauty Loft.” A Beauty Loft RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

 ”Green Products - Environment & Sustainability - Burt’s Bees.” Green Products - Environment & Sustainability - Burt’s Bees. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

"Social & Environmental Reporting." Social & Environmental Reporting. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

Qatar 2022: Sustainable for the World Cup?


The FIFA World Cup is one of the most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world. Nations battle it out on the soccer field to qualify for the esteemed tournament, and even attempted to convince the leaders at FIFA why their country should host it. With the most recent World Cup being held in the African continent for the first time ever (South Africa 2010) being successful, FIFA continued their attempts to find another unorthodox location, with the 2022 World Cup being hosted for the first time in the Middle East by Qatar. What makes Qatar unique from other Middle Eastern countries, however, is its size, the overwhelming amount of money, and the incredibly hot temperatures of the desert. And with that all on mind, Qatar is also trying to make this World Cup carbon neutral.

By being carbon neutral for Qatar means that it will need to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they put in it. Or basically, try to achieve a zero carbon footprint. There are many approaches and laid-out plans that have been made in order to achieve this goal. Firstly, the main concern about hosting the World Cup was the very hot climate. The average temperature during the summer in Qatar is roughly is 115 degrees Fahrenheit. That is not an ideal temperature for athletes to be running in, nor for fans to sit in while watching the game. An innovative approach that the Qatar 2022 client team has come up with is having a stadium that is powered with solar energy. The idea is to have a solar farm adjacent to the stadium, which in turn would collect the solar energy into cool air that can be pumped throughout, and generally use the energy to power the stadium. Recently, there was a FIFA visit to Qatar to test this approach and with an outside temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit; the temperature inside the stadium was a cool 74 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to converting the solar energy to keep cool, there has been a design of a canopy roof that will rotate in order to provide shade and insulate the sun. While theoretically this may cost a ton of money for the country to build, keep in mind that Qatar boasts the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world, and generally has a fantastic economy.

Another idea that has been thrown around is having the stadiums be portable. Typical stadiums are built once and used in the same location, and if it becomes inoperable, the stadium gets demolished. The proposition from the Qatar 2022 client team saves the trouble of demolishing a stadium. With light but durable construction technologies, this stadium will be able to be quickly taken apart and be able to be put back together in another location with no damage or without the use of more resources. Stadiums are hardly ever in use after the World Cup event because they are so large that no another event could fill up the stadium on a regular basis. With the idea of a portable stadium, Qatar can move these stadiums to either countries where soccer is more popular or the next host and leave virtually no carbon footprint since there will be nothing to demolish.

In short, there are plenty ideas and blueprints discussed not just in Qatar, but also around the world in order to make the 2022 World Cup a sustainable one. Qatar not only has to prove to the world that it can host the tournament, but also has to prove to FIFA that it can be sustainable, as that was the main pitch that the Qatari team had that convince FIFA to host it there. These ideas discussed may seem farfetched at first, but technology is ever expanding and new techniques and approaches are introduced on a daily basis. Who knows, the future of technology in sustainability could all have been heavily influenced due to the advances Qatar has taken into making the 2022 World Cup great. No one knows how sustainability will be in 9 years time, but one can be sure that Qatar had played an important part in it.

- Marcos Soares

Video to learn more about Qatar and its attempts at sustainability:

Works Cited:

Al-Shawaf, Mohammed. “Qatar, Inshallah.” SustainAbility. N.p., 09 Dec. 2010. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.

"Arup Associates Have Developed a Radical Piece of Environmental Architecture."World Architecture News. N.p., 10 July 2012. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.

Natural Gas as a Sustainable Alternative Fuel for Motor Vehicles-Filling up your tank won’t break the bank and more!

By Kristin Dobbs

From Los Angeles to New York City, cities are working to reduce cost, improve air conditions, and decrease reliance on foreign oil (  Using natural gas as an alternative fuel option for gas is good because it reduces costs, it is environmentally-friendly because it improves air quality unlike gasoline use, and it also decreases the reliance on foreign oil because we can produce natural gas domestically (  Not many people are aware of the benefits of natural gas besides using it for heating homes, but there is more to natural gas than keeping your house cozy in the winter months.

Filling up your tank can break the bank, but natural gas can cut fueling costs to about two dollars less than a gallon of gas (Fox Business).  Yes, cars that run off of natural gas are more expensive to buy, but the money it will save you in the long run is worth the additional cost.  Not only does natural gas help keep your wallet full, it also helps to make cities a healthier place to live.

Natural gas can be used to improve air quality and therefore create a healthier environment to live in because it helps fight smog by producing low levels of emissions (Help the Environment).  According to Alagasco, natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, which avoids adding to the greenhouse effect (Natural Gas Vehicles).  But natural gas doesn’t stop there.  It also will not contribute to the contamination of groundwater because it is lighter than air.  If a leak does occur, natural gas will disperse quickly into the atmosphere because of it is low in density (Natural Gas Vehicles). 

The use of natural gas can also decrease the reliance the United States has on foreign oil.  The U.S. can effectively produce natural gas domestically.  Several states in the U.S. are getting involved with the production and consumption with natural gas; Texas, California, Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Florida, New York, and Colorado to name a few (U.S EIA).  Using natural gas as an alternative fuel source in the United States has been slow growing, but the fact remains that it is indeed a growing concept within the U.S.  Nationwide, cities are seeking ways to maximize their budgets and cut fuel costs for city owned and maintained motor vehicles.  For example, garbage trucks and buses in Los Angeles are running off of natural gas and in New York City, many taxi cabs are also benefiting from using natural gas (Natural Gas Vehicles).

Natural gas is a safe alternative for motor vehicles, as well as a safe alternative for the environment. Natural gas saves you money and also contributes to a healthier, cleaner environment.  

Raising awareness of the cleanest fossil fuel can improve cities and eventually make the United States more environmentally-friendly and as a result, a healthier place to live.  The U.S relies heavily on cars to assist us in our daily lives.  A lot of organizations and environmentalists are arguing that switching to bicycles or other means of transportation is the only answer, but natural gas can still allow Americans to utilize their cars while significantly minimizing the harmful effects that gasoline causes.  After all, finding methods to help maintain our daily life and responsibly caring for the environment should be a top priority.

By using natural gas as an alternative fuel for motor vehicles instead of gasoline, you can save more money, have a positive effect on the environment, increase the demand for domestic production of natural gas and therefore decrease the United States’ reliance on foreign oil, and help raise awareness of the sustainability of natural gas. provides facts about natural gas and its benefits.



 “” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"Help the Environment." Help the Environment. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"Proven and Reliable TECHNOLOGY." Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs). N.p., n.d.             Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"The Pros and Cons of Natural-Gas Vehicles." Fox Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"The Natural-gas Alternative." Consumer Reports Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"U.S Energy Information Administration." (U.S. EIA) N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.

"Business In Vancouver Logo." Business In Vancouver. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

"Papua New Guinea Blogs." : TRAFFIC JAMS AND SMOG ARE HERE. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.

Mower Mayhem

          After an exhausting and busy week, I always looked forward to sleeping in on Saturday morning.  I anticipated waking up at a luxurious hour in the afternoon basked in sunshine with a chorus of angels rejoicing with me in my lavishly lazy reverie.  This glorious aim of mine, however, was always thwarted.  Every Saturday morning I was awakened not by jubilant cherubs, but by the rusty roar of an ancient lawn mower at five o’clock in the morning.  To make matters worse, I was expected to mow the lawn at least once a week.  This in and of itself was not a problem, however, my neighbors six dogs all deemed my yard the ideal toilet, so I was constantly plagued by foul mounds of dog poop each week. Needless to say, I began to harbor a severe vendetta against lawn mowers.  Each weekend approximately 54 million Americans engage in one of the most time consuming cultural practices: mowing (Cleaner Air: Gas Mower Pollution Facts).


        Though my inconsiderate neighbor’s constant mowing was a nuisance, it seemed like a harmless activity.  Not so.  About 800 million gallons of gas per year are produced. High levels of air pollutants with dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides are spewed into the atmosphere (Cleaner Air : Gas Mower Pollution Facts).  So, in addition to destroying my hopes for a sound sleep, gas lawn mowers’ emissions ultimately affect the ozone level, can and have many negative health effects, which means it’s time for a change that will both save the environment and give me the sleep filled, poop-free life I need.

       The massive release of gas discharges huge quantities of nitrogen oxide gases and reactive organic compounds which, when heated by the sun, can create a chemical reaction.  This reaction turns the gases into ground-level ozone, a toxic gas that distresses the respiratory system and can be dangerous for young children and seniors as well as people with asthmatics and other respiratory deficiencies (Cleaner Air: Gas Mower Pollution Facts).  Inhaling the toxic concoction of ground-level ozone can be seriously hazardous for those who are at risk, as it reduces their lung function, making it often difficult for those at risk to carry out their daily routines; in consequence, tragic fatalities can sometimes result.  The pollutants are also thought to contribute to global warming, an increase in the Earth’s surface temperature as a result of the atmospheric pollution the gases cause.  Negative effects from global warming include a greater frequency of extreme weather patterns, the extinction of endangered species, problems growing crops, and the loss of habitats.  Though gas lawn mowers alone do not create these problems, their widespread use makes their impact on the environment significant.  It is estimated that one gas mower emits 122 pounds of pollutants into the air making its contribution to these environmental problems significant (Cleaner Air: Gas Mower Pollution Facts). 


       With millions of Americans’ gas lawn mowers releasing dangerous gases into the atmosphere each week the situation seems dire.  All, however, is not lost.  The Environmental Protection Agency set stricter antipollution rules for lawn mowers with 25 horsepower or less that took effect in 2011 requiring catalytic converters, making the machines run cleaner (Muñoz).  Once fully applied, the rules are estimated to reduce the emission of dangerous gases by tons (Muñoz).  Though these measures will reduce the damages gas lawn mowers create, lawn enthusiasts should act responsibly and take steps to diminish the negative effects of gas mowers.  Exchanging a gas mower for a non-motorized mower significantly reduces the amount of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other irritating particles.  Those willing to make a more radical change for the environment might consider grass alternatives.  Ornamental grasses such as Saint Augustine, buffalo grass, or Asian jasmine are far easier to maintain as they generally require less water and do not need to be mowed, thus reducing the amount of fossil fuels being used. My favorite alternative to lawns, however, is rock gardens.  By replacing grass with rocks, you can create a beautiful Japanese Zen garden which, if nothing else, might relieve the stress of dealing with even the craziest of neighbors!  You can learn how to create your own Zen garden here.


         Gas lawn mowers create serious environmental problems that can be avoided with a little bit of forethought, and a few changes of habits. Though progress is being made to alleviate these issues, everyone should try to pitch in. Even if we don’t wake up to a chorus of chipper cherubim, we can wake up to a safer and healthier environment.

  Works Cited

"Cleaner Air : Gas Mower Pollution Facts." Cleaner Air: Mowing Emissions and Clean Air Alternatives. A Fact Sheet. People Powered Machines, 2008. Web. 1 Mar. 2013.

Muñoz, Sara Schaefer. “EPA Plans Tougher Smog Rules for Mowers.” Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition 30 Mar. 2006: D1+. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Mar. 2013.

-Caitlin Shostak



Imagine You’re a Guest

            A lot have people everywhere have given into the terrible trap of littering. I, myself, even admit to have doing it before but after researching the topic I know I’ll think before I litter. When you think about it, there is no positive to littering. One thing that is more aggravating than anything is the fact that after you litter, someone else will have to come along and pick it up. Whether it’s their job or that person just feels like cleaning up an area. If someone doesn’t come along to pick up the trash though, it will either disintegrate into the earth or it may, like a plastic bottle, stay there forever. This could sound cheesy but we, as humans, are guests on the planet; we’re only around for so many years and we might as well be tidy. Think of it this way: when you go over to a friend’s house, you usually don’t trash the place- especially since you are a guest being welcomed into someone else’s home. That’s how we should treat our time on the planet- as if we are at a friend’s house.


            Some may say that dropping one piece of trash won’t hurt the environment but you would be surprised. An aluminum can may affect an animal in the forest or even disrupt an entire ecosystem. Not only that but, those who say one piece of trash won’t affect our surroundings usually end up littering more than once and the amount of trash will accumulate. This buildup of trash affects thousands of animals every year; this includes both marine life and woodland animals.

            Littering doesn’t only affect our wildlife but it affects YOU too! Fact: Did you know that, according to Keep America Beautiful, litter clean up costs the U.S. more than an estimated $11.5 billion annually? Cities and counties alone spend around a billion dollars on litter clean up AND this cost is usually a hidden one in employee expenses. So, do your part and make things easier and cheaper on yourself by throwing trash in a TRASH can. I’d like to say my next point is self-explanatory but if it were then we wouldn’t have a problem with littering. The majority of people like to go to the beach or a park or a playground and for any of the following places to be visually beautiful. BUT that isn’t always the case due to littering. Having trash all over the ground doesn’t make the great outdoors beautiful or appealing but we can do our part and take a step towards a beautiful environment by cutting back on littering and even picking up trash.            Lastly, littering can be very DANGEROUS. Not only to our environment but also to the human race. When people decide to become careless and litter, the trash can end up in inconvenient places like the highway and can even cause wrecks. In fact, statistics say that litter causes 25,000 car accidents, in the U.S., every year. That’s a huge number and it will only increase if we don’t change our ways and fast. In conclusion, I have found that littering isn’t just a small topic- it’s a big one. Littering affects our environment, disrupts ecosystems, is extremely expensive to take care of, can be extremely dangerous, and is just downright ugly. Let’s work together to make our home a safer, cheaper, and more beautiful place to live. 

By: Sarah Hall

Works Cited

Keep America Beautiful. “Key Findings: The Costs of Americans Littering.” Litter in America. Keep America Beautiful, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2012. <>.

Newport News Recycling. “Litter…It Just Isn’t Natural .” nngov. Newport News Recycling, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. <>.

Hoop for the Win and the Environment





Nike Sustains

         As the pressure for companies to keep the environment in mind while still making effective and profitable products continue to immerse, some companies are finding it easier and sensible than others. Nike has changed the sportswear game and the environment in all the same motion with their new Nike Hyper Elite Platinum basketball jerseys. Nine of the most respectable college basketball teams in the nation including The University of Arizona, Baylor University, Duke University, University of Florida, University of Kentucky, Syracuse University, The University of Connecticut and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have begun wearing these recycled light weight uniforms. These new wave jerseys are constructed of “96% recycled polyester” and the shorts are made of “100 percent recycled polyester”. Also, since the uniforms are the lightest of its kind less material and less electric machine work was needed in its creation adding another environmental benefit.  Nike has always let the sportswear industry in performance and style throughout the years, but now has completely one up their competitors by providing performance at no environmental cost. Phil Knight the founder and his team vowed that they would make concerned effort in sustaining society and now have backed their claim by “doubling its use of recycled polyester, using approximately 440 million PET plastic bottles, enough to cover over 12,000 basketball courts” which bids well for its ethos as it validates its promise by actually recycling and works well for its pathos as it evokes emotion in those who long for a green sustained world.


Performance and National Spotlight

            The great thing that Nike has done does not all contribute to its effect on sustainability at the face level, but on a performance and media press level. The new platinum jerseys are super lightweight and soft which provides aerodynamics as play and comfort. The players see an enhancement in their game and society sees improvement in the conditions of our society involving nature. Also, with Nike being the big company it is gets exposure at the highest level of college basketball which will make the fans happy and produce new unsold consumers to view and purchase Nike’s product.


What Does This Mean For Everyone?

        When Nike moves others follow, this has been the understanding throughout the brands existence. Now that Nike has set the tone for sustainable products on the stage of college basketball other brands such as Under Armor, Adidas, and Reebok have no choice but to follow. On a business scale this is a plus for them as it gives them the foundation and inspiration for their products, but the world benefits from the further innovations that which will help society survive. The more competitive each brand is with each other the more technology that will be created to further the elevation for this one thing we all strive for, sustainability. In the near future we could see jerseys made from flower stems, shorts that need no washing which will benefit the conservation of water and electricity, maybe at a higher level basketball arenas lighted by solar panels. These thoughts are as far or as close as you imagine, but the one thing that we know is that competition breed’s innovation and thanks to Nike it has begun.

Cited Sources

Keeley, Sean. PHOTOS: Syracuse Basketball Nike Hyper Elite Platinum Uniform. 2012. SB NationWeb. 7 Mar 2013. <>.

Richard, Brandon. “Nike Unveils Hyper Elite Platinum Basketball Uniforms.” SoleCollector. Press Release, 25 Jan 2012. Web. 7 Mar 2013. <


Video Link:

- Bryan Jordan




(Above:Amur Leopard caught on camera trap)

The idea of Sustainability is an idea of balance.  It is like a three legged stool that has society, the environment, and profit as the three legs.  The idea is the three must be in balance or else that stool cannot stand.  If any one of three gets too out of kilter for too long than the other two will suffer damage, sometimes permanently

One of the places where things are getting out of balance is the Amur-Heilong region.  The region is 5,000 square km area of land that is politically controlled by China in one section, and Russia in the other.  In fact, the territory is home to the Amur River which is the natural border between these two political superpowers.

On top of the river, the region also contains one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world.  The forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife species and flora including the Amur tiger, Mongolian Gazelle, and the red-crowned and white-napped crane.

One of the species that also calls this region home is the Panthera pardus orientalis.  But it is more commonly called the Amur leopard, the Far East leopard, the Korean leopard , or the Manchurian leopard depending upon which people group you are speaking to.  Leopards are normally found in areas like the grassy plains of Africa where leopards thrive and population levels are fairly stable.  But the Amur leopard is a special species that has adapted to the higher elevation and harsh Russian winters.

The leopard has a thicker coat and longer legs, than other leopard species, for living in the snow.  The leopard has actually adapted so that it grows two coats.  One coat is a dark 2.5 cm long coat for the warmer months and a 7 cm long light coat for the colder snowy months.  The big cat species grows to be anywhere from 32 to 48 kilograms at maturity and lives 10 to 15 years in the wild and up to 20 in captivity.  They are not social creatures by nature but prefer to hunt and live alone.  They mainly feed on raccoons, hares, and deer.

Unfortunately the wild Amur leopard population has become dangerously low.    The estimates say that between 1970 and 1983 close to 80% of the population was lost.  The leopards are classified as “Critically Endangered”.  The only levels of classification worse then Critical are extinct in the wild and extinct.   Currently there are only about 35 known Amur leopards left in the wild.

The declining population is due to many different threats, all of which stem from the profit and society legs of the “sustainability stool” becoming too large.  People hunt these leopards for profit. Their skins are extremely valuable on the black market since this leopard species is known to have the most divergent pattern of all leopards.  Both governments have made laws in attempts to protect the wildlife in certain areas of the forest but unfortunately this does not stop locals from walking into the forest in search of fur pelts.

Although they are hunted, the biggest threat to the leopards is habitat loss.  The leopards territory has been greatly reduced by society and because of it there is no longer a large enough food supply available to support a healthy population of large cats.  This is problem number one.  Problem number two is that a large part of the land being developed is being developed for deer farms, a main source of prey for the leopards.  So it is a common occurrence for a leopard to wander onto a farm in search of food.  This leads to it being shot by the farmer, one to protect his deer, and two because the pelt is so valuable.  It is actually more common for one of these leopards to be shot because it wanders on to a deer farm in search of food than it is to be shot by poachers.

The last threat facing these beautiful animals is an outcome of the other threats.  Because the population is so small, the leopards are being forced to inbreed.  If this continues for too long this could cause serious genetic repercussions down the road for the species.

Action needs to be taken by both the government and the locals to help this species survive.  Humans hold the survival of this species in their hands and some conservation efforts have made to help protect the wild populations, but it has yet to be effective.  This is clear by the fact that population continues to dwindle. If the wild population is to survive than the people in the Amur-Heilong Region must begin to respect this animal and begin doing what they can to get everything back to balance.  Is hard to undevelop land, but simply not shooting the leopards would help. And if the deer farmers, who are contributing to a large portion of this problem, would simply each release some deer each year into the habitat of the leopard, this would go a long way to helping the population stabilize in the wild.  But if nothing changes than sadly this rare species of leopard is doomed.

Works Cited
"Amur Leopard." - WWF UK. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <>.
"Amur Leopard." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 May 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <>.
"Amur Leopard." WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <>.
"Amur-Heilong." WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <>.
"NC State Sustainability." Sustainability. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <>.

Cruise Lines Going Green


What if I were to tell you that cruise ship lines that carry about 3,000 passengers each trip and generate hundred of thousands of gallons of both sewage and waste, is coming up with a way to become more sustainable. Owners of cruise ship lines have started to see a trend in sustainability and protecting our ocean and thought that there should be a solution to help reduce the amount of wastes that are put into the oceans just from these massive ships.

The Problem:

When we turn on the television and see cruise line advertisements that have a catchy theme song to go along with them, the only thing we can think about is how badly we want to be in paradise. Going on a cruise is looked at as a leisurely activity where you can relax and have fun! As more people decide that traveling across the seven seas is there new aspiration they have yet to realize that while they are on vacation relaxing, the ocean right below them is being destroyed. Cruises emit almost three times as much carbon dioxide as airplanes do and the amount of pollution that cruise ships give off every day is concerning. People usually do not think of cruise ships as polluting into the ocean because you cannot directly see it happening, but at the end of the day cruise ships are ruining all of sea life’s home our oceans.

The amount of wastes dumped into the ocean daily: (On average)

-25,000 gallons of sewage from toilets

-143,000 gallons of sewage from sinks, galleys and showers

-7 tons of garbage and solid waste

-15 gallons of toxic chemicals

-7,000 gallons of oily bilge water

 Having this amount of waste being put into our ocean daily is very harmful to sea life. Most of these wastes are dumped directly into the ocean without being treated.  The Environmental Protection Agency found that the waste that cruise ships were putting into the ocean contained large amounts of bacteria, metals, and other pollutants that were not only harmful to the marine environment but also to human health. Dumping untreated wastes into the ocean can easily cause diseases to spread from country to country, which can initially affect our health as an entire planet. By not treating these wastes properly and being more efficient will eventually take a toll on our world.

The Solution:

There are many different cruise lines that travel all around the seven seas. Cruise lines such as, Holland America Cruises and the Celebrity Cruises- known as Solstice, have both come up with their own unique ways in order to start to become more sustainable. 

Holland America Cruises has done one of the best jobs about making improvements for both energy efficiency and waste reduction. This particular cruise line has made many improvements such as, adding a black water treatment system, reducing 8 tons of waste generated each day, and by not throwing any waste overboard. Not only does the Holland America Cruise have new and improved ways to make sure that the waste is dealt with differently but they also have a staff that is eco-educated and environmental officers on board at all times. Holland America Cruises also takes power reduction very seriously in order to save both fuel and money. One simple way that they have been able to reduce the use of power was by adding a dark film to all of the windows in order to keep the hot sun out and reduce the work that the air conditioning units do.

 The Celebrity Cruises- Solstice got its name from the 216 solar panels that are onboard that are used to power the elevators and 7,000 LED lights. By having these 216 solar panels it automatically saves 50% of the energy! Not only does this particular cruise ship have solar panels but it also have installed heat transfer windows to cut down on cooling. This cruise ship is known for being one of the most energy efficient and has taken a step into the right direction to become more sustainable.

Even though both the Holland America Cruise Line and Solstice are not 100% environmental friendly and sustainable, they have both made a great improvement on reducing the amount of wastes and energy used on each voyage across the ocean. If cruise lines continue to work hard to reduce both of these problems then cruise lines will not be going anywhere any time soon.

Holland America Cruise Line Advertisement: 

Worked Cited:

"7 Ocean-Friendly Eco Cruises Hitting the High Seas :  TreeHugger."TreeHugger. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. ]        <>.

"Sustainability in the Cruise Industry | Ethical Traveler." Ethical Traveler | Empowering Travelers to Change the World.. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar.2013. < cruise-industry/>.

-Jessie Place


Tips for making your everyday hair-care routine more environmentally-friendly.

The other day my friends and I were having a discussion on the compliments we get the most from people, which really made me think… the compliment I get the most, especially here recently, is that I have good hair.  Now I will admit, I was born with naturally thick hair, which girls are always envious of, however I’m not exactly high maintenance when it comes to my hair care routine. I’ve never been one for fancy hair care products and in fact I get my hair done at Supercuts (shhh don’t tell!).  The most I’ve ever paid for a haircut is around $16 and up until here recently my shampoo of choice was Herbal Essence.  So when people come up to me saying “wow you have beautiful hair, what salon do you go to?” or “how do you get your hair to be so shiny?” you can imagine it’s kind of awkward…


When I finally sat down to think about how I get my hair to be so desirable, I realized that as far as beauty is concerned, less really is more.  So for all you people out there who never got a straight answer out of me, I’m to finally provide you with some answers and show you how minimizing your hair care routine can also be good for the environment as well.


First things first- stop right now and go check your shampoo label. If you see the ingredient “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,” “Sodium Laureth sulfate,” or “Ammonium Laureth Sulfate” anywhere on the bottle throw recycle it away right now.  If you are reading any of those ingredients that means that the product you have been using contains Sulfate in it.  Now if you’re not a chemist (which I’m assuming most of you aren’t), you’re probably sitting here thinking what’s sulfate and what does it mean to be sulfate-free?


Sulfates are chemical detergents that have been used in cleaning products for years.  They are what cause shampoo and soaps to foam/bubble.  It wasn’t until recently that use of these ingredients has gained national attention, however these compounds can do significant damage to your health and the environment.

  •  They are non-biodegradable. “According to an independent study conducted by the Stepan company for the EPA, 10 percent of sodium laureth sulfate decomposes between 30 and 40 days at temperatures of 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and as temperatures decline, decomposition greatly slows. Therefore, under normal use and typical environmental conditions, sodium laureth sulfate is resistant to decomposition. “

 Read more: Effects of Sodium Laureth Sulfate on the Environment |


  • They are bad for your skin and scalp.  According to Dr. Aurthur Perry M.D., “It fries skin proteins and destroys your good oils.  It causes inflammation, free radicals, and you get a burning sensation and red, tight, and dry skin.   If your skin feels dry when you come out of the shower, it may well be an SLS effect. “

 Read more:

  •  They contain potential carcinogens in the form of the side product 1,4-dioxane.The website Healthy Child, Healthy World suggests that you may be exposed to 1,4-dioxane when using personal care products containing ethoxylated detergents, such as sodium laureth sulfate. The agency also warns that 1,4-dioxane…is cited as a cancer risk by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”


Read more:



Now if you’re anything like me you’ve heard “sulfate-free” before, but just tuned it out thinking companies are using it as a marketing gimmick to try and sell you a new product, and that there are no real benefits in making the switch. I at first, even admit that I didn’t get all the hype, as I’m not one to pay more for an “organic” or “green” product.  However, after using the product in my mom’s shower, I can now say that I am an avid sulfate-free fanatic and will never go back to my old stuff.  After just one use, I could really tell a difference in how my hair looked and felt.  It was shinier, softer, and just overall healthier (and the compliments steadily increased too!).  For those of you who dye your hair, it is also touted to prolong your color, as sulfates are the chemicals, which can cause hair dye to fade.


The only downside to switching is that you may pay more for sulfate-free shampoo, as it is an organic product.  If you are worried about money or on a budget, I suggest L’Oreal’s EverPure line.  It is sulfate-free and can be purchased for under $6 at drug stores.  You can’t beat that!



My next tip- lose the blow dryers, hair straighteners, and curling irons.  I know this seems hard, as many of us are so dependent on these products that it feels as if we would literally die if we had to go a day without them…but news flash, you won’t.  I want you to think back to a time before you ever owned a flat iron.  The words “split ends” and “frizz” were probably not a part of your vocabulary.  In my own personal experience, I have found that frying your hair every day actually makes it less naturally straight.  There was a time in middle school when I used a straightener every day and back then you wouldn’t dare catch me letting my hair naturally air dry.  This is because when I would let it go natural, it looked frizzy and damaged.  At some point however, in my high school years, I ditched the straightener and found that after some time of going without, my hair started to naturally look straighter.  If you peek in my cabinets now, there is not a flat iron in sight.  So here are some tips for hairstyles that look great without the hassle of those energy-sucking electronics….


Try actually not brushing your hair right when you get out of the shower and letting it air dry.  Once it is dry, then brush it out with your favorite comb or brush what have you.  It will create that natural, wavy, just came off of the beach look that is so popular these days.



If you want, you can also let you hair dry and try a simple low bun…


Or side braid…



All of these looks don’t require the use of blow dryers, straigteners, or curling irons and are so easy to do.  Your hair (and your power bill) will thank you later.


And if you’re feeling extra brave, trying skipping the shower a few days out of the week. It saves water and studies have shown that shampooing every day can strip your hair of its natural oils, making it more dry and frizzy.  If it starts to look greasy, trying using baby powder instead.  It works wonders (and I’m told it even works for brunettes too!)

- Jordan Gaddis


Perry, Arthur. “The Evils of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.” SkinCare. 23 October 2009. Web. 6 March 2013. <>.

Henritz, Erika. “What Are the Dangers of Sodium Laureth Sulfate?” Livestrong. 14 June 2011. Web. 6 March 2013.<>

Marko, Katherine. “Effects of Sodium Laureth Sulfate on the Environment.” eHow. 15 April 2010. Web. 6 March 2013. <>

Chipotle Taking the Sustainable Route

Bringing in $2.2 billion annually, Chipotle, the mexican restaurant is climbing to the top of the fast food chain. The first Chipotle opened in 1993, yet they currently have 1,200 locations today. I’d say that counts as a successful chain restaurant. Although, the question is, how has this fairly new mexican restaurant become such a sensation?


This new “mexican sensation” isn’t your ordinary fast food chain: microwaved meats, endless preservatives, and greasy foods. Chipotle’s main point is to serve the most natural products they can, while preserving our environment. Is it all talk, or is it fact? Lets look at what they are saying.

1.  “Food with integrity”

Chipotle strives to serve their customers only the best meats on the market. They prefer local farmers. One reason they choose local farms over industrial farms is common sense. One reason is because industrial farm cows produce around 2 billion pounds of manure a year. The problem with this is that the manure is stored in lagoons that in turn pollute the environment. Who wants to promote that kind of behavior? Secondly, family or local farmers tend to be more “kind” to their land. In other words they are better “stewards” to their land. One may ask, what is considered a local farm for Chipotle? Well, Chipotle only purchases grown goods no further than 350 miles of the actual restaurant. (The USDA reports that anything grown within 400 miles of the restaurant is considered locally grown.)

2.  Non harmful ingredients

Usually fast food chains buy from industrialized farms that pump their animals with all sorts of unnatural chemicals that no one wants to eat. They will often feed their livestock feed with antibiotics, growth hormones, animal by-products, and many more synthesized chemicals. Now ask yourself this: would I want to eat any sort of meat with non natural chemicals? Most would agree no, which is why Chipotle has become successful. Chipotle believes in a natural diet and a natural diet alone.

3.   Recycled Napkins

Chipotle used 100% recycled materials in their production of napkins. Its not often that you find 100% recycled products now a days. By doing so, they have said to have saved over 22 million gallons of water per year. I bet McDonald’s cant say the same.

4.   “Green buildings”

One factor that makes Chipotle stick out the most is the fact that they are moving towards building green buildings pertaining to their business. There are 2 main green buildings that have received much credit so far.

The first building is in Gurnee, Illinois. They have a wind turbine that produces 5% of the restaurant’s electricity. Along with a wind turbine they have a rainwater collection site on the roof of the building that serves as the irrigation for the landscape. Last but not least, they have used high-recycled concrete for building materials.


(building in Gurnee, Illinois)

The second building is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. They have similar features plus a few more. The green housekeeping of the building reduces the toxic chemicals and improves the work environment. Can’t complain about that! A really cool feature that the building can perform is that when it is extremely bright outside, the “building” will automatically cut off the lights to preserve energy. Not only are they taking precautions to preserve energy, they are also taking precautions to preserve the usage of water throughout the building. The plumbing system in the building reduces the standard water usage by 30%.

It’s nice to know that there are companies out there that aren’t taking sustainability seriously just to impress their customers. It is evident that Chipotle wants to improve their customer flow, but their main focus is providing a safe environment for their employees and customers. Also, Chipotle covers all spectrums of going “green.” Not only do they take energy precautions, but they also recycle, reduce water usage, and make sure to provide only the most natural meats. I believe Chipotle should be a prime role model for other fast food restaurants. Hopefully it is a start towards more sustainable businesses; not just in the food business but for businesses across the board. Plus…who doesn’t love Chipotle (especially after knowing all their efforts taken to be natural)?

-Megan Adams