The Important Stuff

The Important Stuff

By: Sarah Hanauer, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale Coordinator

Growing up, I always felt a little deprived. All my friends bought their lunch from school every day, and my mom packed mine. Everyone had cable TV, complete with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, and I had broadcast, which for a short time had One Saturday Morning. Kids got brand new clothes and backpacks before school started each year, and I had to use old clothes, hand me downs, the same old backpack. Even when I got my first apartment, I was sent with my twin sized bed from home instead of being allowed to buy a full sized bed.

When I was young, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have as much new stuff as my peers. It was cool to have stuff. My mom always said “it’s not necessary.” She was always right. I had more than I needed already. What I’ve come to realize is that the coolest thing is this:

cropped-img_8231.jpg

The earth. The trees, water, sky, wind, and biodiversity around us that sustains us. It’s all we really have. It’s what gives us life, breath, and, yes, stuff. It is a necessity, if we humans are going to survive for many centuries to come, to take care of our environment. A big part of that is using less resources, aka stuff.

I came on to the Hoosier to Hoosier team in April. My mentors kept telling me how big the sale was, how much work it was, how much awesome stuff we collected that before the sale would have ended up in the landfill, a 55 mile trip from Bloomington. Even though I was prepared, I have still been blown away.

We have collected items from all the residence halls on IU’s campus, several campus apartments, and are just starting to get into the off campus pickups that will take up the rest of the summer until the sale. We have filled four and a half 40 foot semi trailers with the help of volunteers, who sort and pack all the items away as tight as they can.

We are on track to surpass last year’s record of 35 tons diverted from the landfill. This means we will likely raise a record amount of money for local nonprofits. However, that’s not the goal. The goal is to spread a culture of reuse and of wasting less. I’ve certainly realized through sorting donations that I don’t need as much as I thought, and with my own move-out date looming over me, becoming minimalist is becoming more and more attractive.

Next time you step out to purchase something, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it necessary? Do I really need it?
  2. Can I borrow it from a friend or neighbor?
  3. Will I take it with me if I move?
  4. Can I find it used from Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Craigslist?
  5. Do I have something else that can be repurposed in place of buying it new?

If you are moving into a new residence and need furniture or supplies, come to the Hoosier to Hoosier Sale on August 24 from 8am-3pm. This is a great time for incoming freshmen to get all their dorm supplies for a low price! You can also check out our Facebook, and Twitter for updates and check out our Pinterest for lots of reuse tips.

If you’re looking to donate items, email h2h@indiana.edu. We will be collecting until August 17th. However, not every day is an H2H day, and there are tons of other ways to get rid of your stuff so someone else can use it! We also need volunteers, especially for August!

Follow this link for a document with many options for donating reusable items.

Through this internship, I am learning to thrive while living sustainably. It makes me feel good, makes me healthier, and will leave the earth in better shape for those who come after me. You have the power to do the same.

Advertisements
Consider this: Water

Consider this: Water

It’s all around us. It flows from our faucets whenever we turn the knob. It pours down from the sky. Even in times of drought, we still have water in our houses. Why should we have to worry about it? It’s our right as citizens to have water, and it will always be there, right?

Wrong.

99.7% of the earth’s water cannot be used. We depend on a limited supply of freshwater for every day use and agriculture, among other things. 90% of countries share water supplies with other countries, which means that conflict could arise over water shortages.

Production accounts for a huge amount of water use. For example, one cotton t-shirt requires 713 gallons of water. One gallon of beer takes 689 gallons. One pound of beef requires 1799 gallons of water. 70% of all freshwater use is in agriculture.

Access to clean water is one of the biggest problems in the world today. One child dies every 20 seconds due to a water related disease, and only 54% of the world has access to clean, fresh water in their home.

As the population of the world increases, don’t be fooled and think that there will be water for everyone – more people means an increased need for agriculture and production of goods, which all requires a ton of water.

Climate change has a negative affect on the amount of fresh water available. Droughts are more severe and more frequent. My grandparents often have limits on how much water they can use because they live in Arizona. I can’t imagine having limits being put on my water usage, and I bet a lot of you can’t either.

There is so much more I could say about why water is important and why you need to think of it as a limited resource, but I’ll leave that to you if you’re interested. Instead, I have a challenge for you.

Yesterday, I took a fifteen minute shower. I plugged the drain to see how much water I used in that time – the tub almost overflowed. I remember reading somewhere that the average shower used less water than a bath, but not in my case. My shower head lets out SO much water – it feels fantastic for getting clean, but when I looked at how much water was around my legs, I felt terrible. I am going to go back to my six minute or less showers and try to save as much water as possible.

Tomorrow, in honor of world water day, I challenge you to test yourself – plug your tub while you shower, see how much water you use, and try to use less. The more water you use, the more water has to be treated at the wastewater treatment plant, which is expensive and wasteful and will eventually lead to water bills getting higher.

Your wallet will thank you – not only will you be saving on your water bill, but you will be saving on heating that water.

Everything is connected, you just have to consider it for a minute.

Green Girl Going Green

Green Girl Going Green

I have always been frugal, and I make an effort to not buy things that are unnecessary. I make a vague effort to buy things that are better for the environment – not nearly good enough, but it’s on my mind. This summer I am going to be interning with the Office of Sustainability here at IU, and so if I’m going to talk the talk, I need to start really walking the walk. I’ve always wanted to be better about my green living, and now is the perfect chance to learn everything I can and learn to how to be an influence on others.

Here are some things I do now to live sustainability:

  • I avoid frozen dinners and food with excessive packaging
  • I only buy things when I really need them – 90% of the time
  • Currently using up all my random soaps and shampoos instead of buying new ones, so I can replace them with eco-friendly products
  • Shop at the co-op and at farmers market when I can/when my wallet allows
  • We keep our thermostat below 68 degrees, and I insulated all my windows with plastic
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle–I probably recycle too much and some of the stuff the recycling truck takes probably ends up at the landfill anyway
  • Last summer I grew a small garden with tomatoes and basil – this year I can’t do that, but I’m going to have some potted herbs
  • Reuse grocery bags as trash bags – and my roommate and I only need to take out the trash one a month or less
  • I don’t use paper towels, plates, disposable silverware, or disposable cups whenever possible. At work most people use styrofoam cups for drinks but I always use a glass instead-it’s not that hard to wash it when I’m done!
  • I save restaurant to-go containers for an extra use. The aluminum ones make great baking pans!
  • Collect rainwater for watering when it’s warm
  • My lawn mower is battery powered and I don’t water the lawn
  • I never-ever purchase bottled water. I have a brita that I really only use to make myself feel better – I rarely change the filter, but the tap water is fine so I don’t worry about it.
  • Instead of buying ice for coolers, I freeze (reusable) waterbottles so that I’m not wasting water by dumping out all the melted ice – I can just drink the water when it melts!

There are other things, I’m sure, but there are a few of the easiest ways that everyone should be reducing their footprint.

Today, I took a quiz to estimate my carbon footprint on myfootprint.org. It told me that if everyone lived like me, we would need four more earths like ours to support everyone. I know this is just to sort of put things in perspective, and I’m sure I could have done much worse, but it was definitely a wake-up call that I need to be doing more.

So, my new project is to be more sustainable. I’m going to reduce waste in my own home, try to re-purpose some things, reduce my energy consumption, drive even less than I do now, and be super cognoscente of where my waste is going. I hope that along the way I can share some of the things I learn.