Monday, December 14, 2009

Waste Audit

Twice a year your trusty Green Living Reps conduct waste audits, and the results of the Fall 2009 audit are in. The good news is that recycling is generally improving! 

The not-so-good news is that roughly a quarter of things you threw in the trash could have been recycled.  Keep working on this! Our goal is to reduce this amount of recyclable materials in the garbage even further. This is what we learned from the audit:
·    26% trash by weight was items that could have been recycled or reused, about the same as Spring 2009 (24%).  
·   This is down since the first Green Living audit in Fall 2005, when 45% of the trash could have been recycled or reused.

Here’s how the audit worked: your custodians saved trash bags and labeled them with each dorm's name and date.  The Reps met up with your trash at a recycling warehouse in Allston, where we took everything out of bags and sorted it into recycling, food waste/compostables, reusable items that could have been donated, and residuals (actual trash).  Next, we weighed each of these components and put them in separate bins for processing.  It was an enlightening, if smelly, experience!

Why is recycling important?
·   Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial airline fleet every three months.
·   Making cans from recycled aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to produce cans from virgin material.
·   Every year enough paper is thrown away to make a 12’ wall from New York to California. 
·   Glass can be reused an infinite number of times; over 41 billion glass containers are made each year.

For more fun facts about recycling, check this link: 

For a reminder of what can be recycled and how to do it, go to:

We'll be doing another audit in the spring, and we'll let you know what we find out!  In the meantime, let us know if you have any suggestions for improving recycling signage/infrastructure anywhere on campus.

I'll leave you with some examples of items found in the trash:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Art of Green Gifting

Come join the HLS Green Living Representatives for cookies (yay!), tea, and a workshop on how to wrap and give sustainable gifts! Learn how to save money and impress your friends and family with recycled gift wrapping, reusable items, and homemade gifts. Get your fill of creativity and cookies this Thursday, 12/10, Pound 335, at 3:00 pm.

More than 1 million extra tons of trash end up being tossed each week between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Help make this excess garbage disappear with these magical green wrapping and giving tips:  

Learn how to make this amazing bow from magazine pages and old maps.  Use a perfume sample page for a scented bow!

For a simpler but just-as-cute option, try this alternative bow, made from pages of a used book.

Country Living also has a lot of great reusable wrapping ideas, such as wrapping with sheet music.  Their website also shows you how to make your own flower gift toppers, which can be created using old newspapers or sewing patterns. shows you how to weave wraps from grocery bags and scraps of paper, like this wrapping art:

"Furoshiki" is wrapping with cloth.  Here are some techniques you can use:

You can also make your own shipping package from store bags.  Also, alternatives to packing peanuts are always appreciated - try real peanuts!  

If you are looking for gifts to try these new wrapping techniques on, try homemade options from used material, like this t-shirt-turned bag.  (Instructions here.)

Also, check out items from earlier posts under Your Green Holiday Gift Guide, Installments 1,2, and 3.  

Finally, make your own mini-terrarium by using a clear incandescent light bulb!  You may have some laying around if you have recently replaced yours with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.  (Idea from apartment therapy)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Your Green Holiday Gift Guide

Installment 3:  Crafty Gifts

Even if you’re not too crafty, you can have some fun trying these projects.
Homemade candy: fudge, truffles, and more!

“Aunt Joyce’s Five-Minute Fudge” It really only takes five minutes to mix.

Homemade hand warmers: If you know how to make a beanbag, you know how to make a hand warmer. Use wool or cashmere or felt material, but instead of filling the bags with beans, fill them with ceramic pie weights. To use these toasty treasures, simply microwave them for a couple of minutes and then slip them in your pockets.

Themed gift baskets: Use a colander for a basket, add some garlic bulbs, gourmet noodles, and a wooden spoon — a little taste of Italy. Or consider a breakfast basket. Or a breakfast basket (syrup and pancake mix), a movie basket (popcorn, candy, and a movie rental coupon), or a gardening basket (a trowel, a gardening hat, and some packets of seeds).

Stuffed animals: Two examples are Martha Stewart's stuffed pig and Crafty Daisies' felt penguin 

Gingerbread house: Build a gingerbread house. Or ten. Give them to the little kids (and the big kids) in your life. Lifehacker diva Gina Trapani has a photoset demonstrating how she put together a gingerbread house from a kit. If you bake, you can certainly build a better house from scratch. Your nieces and nephews will thank you. (And so will your brother-in-law!)

Personalized calendars: You can buy a calendar or use a computer printout. MS Word has templates. Add pictures of things or people meaningful to the recipient, important dates (birthdays and anniversaries of family & friends), and maybe a special note or quote every once in a while. For parents/students you can add in the school schedule; for sports fans, their favorite teams’ game schedule, and so on.

Spice sampler: Bulk spices can make an affordable and appreciated gift for anyone who loves to cook, or who is moving into a new kitchen. Don’t know which ones to choose? Find some tempting recipes that call for exotic spices, then include the recipes with the spices. Or, get creative and make a custom spice blend for a meat rub, marinade mix, salad dressing kit, dip, or seasoning (search the web for ideas).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Green Holiday Gift Guide

Installment 2:  Buy Nothing Holidays

Buy Nothing Christmas ( is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites but open to everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action. (I’m curious: did the Canadian Mennonites start a website?!)

Create a secret hollow book: You might not want to sacrifice Sargentich on Torts just yet, but you can probably find an old hardcover lying around somewhere. Glue the pages together, use an X-Acto knife to hollow out the center of the book. Now the recipient can store his or her treasures!

Photoshop your friends and family: A graphic designer created a booklet that Photoshops her 6-year-old nephew onto cheap stock photos of world landmarks, such as the Great Wall, so it looks like he’s traveled the world. This home-made travel brochure is perfect for adventurous young minds. You could also make a Flat Stanley of your younger relatives, if you’ll be traveling.

Memory drawings: “Draw a very simple black-and-white picture of a memory that you have of you and the person (e.g. me and my dad playing NES back in the day). This could be a very simple, Shel Silverstein style drawing. Frame it and gift. The great thing about this (besides being cheap) is that you can give it multiple times to the same person. They will have a growing collection of ‘memory drawings’ from you.”

Create a cookbook: Make a collection of family recipes, and print and bind the recipes for everyone.  You could do this at a gathering, where everyone can provide a recipe.  You could also make a theme cookbook, for example cookies, and provide samples along with the cookbook.

Write a family history: Pick a topic, and ask each family member to write about it. One person plays ‘editor’, collecting the stories, and presents them all together for Christmas. Sample topics could include: your favorite holiday, the house you grew up in, how everyone met their spouses, the funniest family gathering. This is especially good for older relatives—you could even interview them and write their stories yourself to share with your family. You could print these and make booklets. 

You can make more than gifts!

Make your own greeting cards: Craft stores like Michael’s sell boxes of assorted brightly colored cards, or you could just use cardstock. Then, use leftover paper scraps and stickers to decorate them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beyond the Blog

Want more green?  

Blogs are great (we certainly think so), but if you’re hankering for the answers to specific questions such as “can I recycle bottle caps?” [yes], and “what exactly is Harvard’s greenhouse gas reduction goal?” [30% below 2006 levels by 2016], visit the Law School’s official Sustainability site: 

There you’ll find information about recycling, HLS energy conservation measures, staff involvement, and much, much more!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Your Green Holiday Gift Guide

Installment 1:  Gift Jars

Do you eat spaghetti sauce out of a jar? How about applesauce, pickles, olives, or peanut butter? You can use the empty jars (washed, of course!) as gift containers for all sorts of tasty homemade things: cookie mix, powdered drinks, granola, candy, Chex Mix or Puppy Chow (chocolate-covered Chex Mix). 

This site lists an overwhelming array of mixes you can put in a jar. 

This website gives not only recipes, but ideas for decorating the jar.  There are even PDFs of tags you can print. 

 And something less tasty, but still really sweet:
“I spent a few months contacting friends and family members and asked them to send me memories and old pictures of my grandfather. Then I wrote one memory (or printed one picture) on each of 365 business card sized pieces of cardstock. I folded each in half and secured it with a bit of tape, then placed them all in a big jar I decorated. Every morning for the next year, my grandfather would take out a paper, open it, and see what other people cherished in him. He loved it.”  [Source: Get Rich Slowly, ]

Finally, a gag gift, for people who say they want "nothing" for their gift. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Take the Sustainability Pledge!

It takes less than two minutes to become one of the thousands of Harvard community members who commit each year to reducing their environmental impacts in small yet meaningful ways:

Did you take the pledge last year? Great— it’s time to take it again this year!  Currently 41% of FAS has taken the pledge, compared to only 9% of HLS (although we’re still ahead of HBS with their  8%).  Take the pledge!

Your Green Living Reps recently tabled in the Hark, and collected over 120 signatures.  Thanks to all who stopped by to sign the pledge or decorate an incandescent light bulb left over from our CFL swap!

Monday, November 30, 2009

And the Winner Is . . . Shaw!

Shaw Victorious in Energy Competition  

The residents of Shaw took first place in the "Reduce Your Juice" energy-use reduction competition this year.  To achieve this great honor, Shaw-onians performed simple but significant environmental feats such as turning off unused lights, unplugging power cords, and setting power saving modes on their computers.  For their efforts, residents will receive a celebratory dinner - in addition to eternal fame, of course.  

Holmes and Ames, which made significant reductions in the final week, tied for a close second place.  

All of the dorms reduced their energy use by 1-5% over the course of the 4-week-long competition.  This might seem like small potatoes, but if the savings from the one month electricity competition were to be extended throughout the entire year, this would amount to around 1 MTCDE (metric tons carbon dioxide equivalents), which is roughly 100 gallons of gasoline.    

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Above the Lawn

Harvard Business School Showcases Its New Green Roof

It's alive!  The roof, that is.  Over the summer the Harvard Business School installed a new Green roof on top of Shad Hall (also known as the building across from the football stadium).  The roof is part of a University-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016 from 2006 levels.  

Apex Green Roofs was hired to roll out the Roofscape, and the Business School is now the proud new owner of the University's first Green roof.  The groundcover is already two inches high, and with miles of fall-colored treetops and church steeples in the background makes for an impressive vista.  The Business School currently has no plans to open the roof up for visitors, but tours are available upon request.     

Green roofs are sprouting up across the country, bringing with them attractive scenery, environmental benefits, and no end of gardening puns.  With a pricetag of around $15 per sq ft (although costs are much less in countries where Green roofing companies have gotten off the ground), why the recent surge in Green roofs?

(1) Green roofs are excellent insulators.  This reduces CO2 emissions of buildings, as well as heating and cooling costs.   
(2) Green roofs soak up rainwater and filter pollutants.  The HBS Green roof is expected to decrease stormwater runoff by as much as 80%.
(3) Green roofs extend the lifetime of a roof by protecting it from harsh weather and extreme temperatures.  

Since Green roofs have been popular in Germany for over 50 years, maybe a better question is why have they taken so long to catch on in the US?  

Should the law school invest in its own Green roof?  Are the benefits worth the costs?  If so, should a Green roof on campus be open to students?   

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. Film Screening
Thursday November 5
Hauser 102

Food Inc. is an award winning 2009 documentary about the social and environmental impacts of our nation’s food industry.

This Thursday, over 25 screenings of Food Inc. will be taking place across the country.  The Law School’s 7:15pm screening in Hauser 102 will be followed by a 9pm EDT video teleconference discussion with Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farms CEO, featured in Food Inc., and Josh Trought, New Hampshire organic farmer and director of the educational farm D Acres.  

Snacks provided!

Sponsored by the HLS Green Living Program.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA . . . Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms' Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms' Joe Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising -- and often shocking truths -- about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Energy Competition Heats Up

Holmes takes the lead in dorm-wide conservation competition!  

The dorm that reduces its energy consumption the most in coming weeks will win a free dinner, environmental bragging rights, and of course, eternal glory.  So remember to Reduce Your Juice!  

This week's tip:
Shut down machines at night and enable automatic computer power management.  

Tip from last week:  switch off lights, and be sure to take the sustainability pledge! 

Get in on the (individual) action!

Come hear Prof. Vandenbergh speak about Climate Change tomorrow

Visiting Professor Mike Vandenbergh presents recent work on voluntary individual climate action.

"THE BEHAVIORAL WEDGE: The Potential for Household Actions to Rapidly Reduce U.S. Carbon Emissions." 

Tomorrow (Nov. 3), 12 PM, Pound 201

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reduce Your Juice!

The Annual HLS Electricity Competition

From October 26-November 22, the HLS student residences (Ames, Dane, Holmes, Shaw, Hastings, North, and the HLS apartments) will be competing to see who can reduce their electricity usage the most and express their commitment to sustainability. The prize will be a dinner for the entire dorm.

75% percent of the competition is based on electricity reduction. The other 25% is based on the taking the university-wide sustainability pledge, found here:  There are lots of great tips there for sustainable living. The goal this year is to get 10,000 members of the Harvard community to take the pledge.

Even if you don’t live in the residences, this is a great time to think about what you can be doing to cut down on electricity.  As the weather turns colder, heating will ramp up electricity usage, so it’s an important time to really try and bring it back down in other ways.

The residences will get weekly updates on their progress, along with new tips each week, which we’ll be reposting here. If you don’t live in the residences, make an effort to reduce your electricity usage and then use that as an excuse to treat yourself to dinner at the end of the month.

This week’s tips are all about lighting. Turn off your lights! Leaving florescent lights on doesn’t save energy. Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs), which use 75% less energy and last six times longer (fewer bulbs to buy!).  Brighten your rooms by opening the blinds during the day and keeping your bulbs clean and dust-free. Use “task lighting,” like a desk lamp, instead of lighting up your whole room.

Good luck reducing your juice, and keep checking back here for updates and more green living tips!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hallogreen Costumes

Cambridge Thrift/Resale Shops: Just in time for Halloween costumes!

This is a basic listing of a few stores. More info about each will be coming soon!

1. Goodwill (Locations in Cambridge and Somerville)
The trusty standby! Goodwill has lots of men's and women's clothes, as well as household items and books. 

2. Frida Bee
This store is a little pricier than Goodwill, but their merchandise is consistently good quality.  

3.  Raspberry Beret
This store was featured on MTV's "Made" this spring.

4. Oona's 
This store is overflowing with clothing, and is right on Mass Ave. near the undergrad campus. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Great Menu, Great Venue

Fall Harvest: Farmers Markets around Harvard Law

“Locavorism” was chosen by the Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year in 2007, and the movement toward eating locally-grown food has continued to expand. An easy way to eat locally and sustainably is to stop by the Harvard Farmers Market on Tuesdays right in front of Memorial Hall. 

Last week, some summer crops were still available, including corn, grapes, and berries. There’s a great selection of root vegetables, including sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets, along with basic veggies and the crisp apples and festive pumpkins that are New England fall specialties.  Aside from the farmer’s stands, you can find candied nuts, ice cream, potted plants, baked goods, maple syrup, and jars of jam made from local fruit.  This market ends on the last Tuesday in October, but you can still find produce, bread, and other local goodies in front of the Charles Hotel on Fridays and Sundays until the end of November.  Hurry and partake in some local, sustainable food before the long winter arrives!

Harvard University Farmers Market
Tuesday: 12:30-6:00
--Through October 27

Charles Square Farmers Market
Sunday: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Friday: 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM

--Through November 22

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bill McKibben On Campus

Bill McKibben is speaking at Harvard’s Memorial Church this Sunday, October 18th from 2:00pm-3:30pm. 
Bill McKibben is an environmental activist, writer, and the founder of, an international campaign devoted to raising awareness and action against climate change.  McKibben and others are organizing grassroots support for aggressive reductions in CO2 emissions both locally and globally. 

The organization is sponsoring a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009, which will include over 1000 rallies taking place in iconic places worldwide.  (The Boston area rally is from 2:00pm to 3:30pm at the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA 01742.  Details:

More details from the Harvard University Center for the Environment events calendar:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The $7 Hybrid Car - Interested?

Ever wish you had a car, but don't want to deal with payments, parking, and maintenance? Zipcar is the perfect solution for you! 

Here's how it works. First, you pay a $25 yearly membership fee. $75 is the normal rate, but Harvard students get a discount. A few days after registering and paying that fee, you get a Zipcar member card in the mail. Using your membership number, you can reserve a car online or by phone.  Hourly rates range from $7 for a small hybrid, to $11.25 for an SUV or large vehicle that could work for moving, to $13.25 for the Mini Cooper Convertible if you're trying to impress somebody.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tone Your Backside!

Langdell Introduces Double-Sided Printing

As of the beginning of the academic year, we're happy to report that through a collaborative effort with the good folks at ITS, a new scheme is in place to encourage double-sided printing at Langdell library without increasing the overall printing volume. Double-sided printing is now available at all of the printers throughout Langdell. The price per page of single-sided printing is also now double what it was last year while the price of double-sided printing has not changed. However, the default printing option is still set to single-sided so make sure that you choose the double-sided option before printing if you want to pay less and help the environment in the process. Additional details can be found on the related post on the ITS blog: