Category Archives: sustainability


It’s coming! The end of the year. And as students, we accumulate a lot of STUFF in our dorms during the rest of the year – much of which we don’t want to bring home at the end of the … Continue reading

Barnard EcoReps on Streetsblog!

Thanks to all of you for coming out on Park(ing) Day!  We had a great time!

Love the beach? Take care of our oceans.

The day before I flew back to Barnard at the end of the summer, I spent one last day with my family in the Florida sunshine. We laid down our towels and set up the umbrella on a beach in a state park near Jacksonville.  The weather was perfect and the beach was gorgeous, with sugar white sand spanning as far as the eye could see.  After some bodysurfing in the waves, we went on a long walk along the water’s edge, watching pelicans diving at the sea and sandpipers skittering in and out of the tides.  Something translucent glimmered a few yards away from me.  Was it a jellyfish washed ashore?  No.  I fished the long, shredded plastic bag out of the sand.  Standing back, I gazed at the beach with new eyes.  Scattered along the high tide mark were milk cartons, beer cans, rubber gloves, old fishing nets and tackle, cigarette butts and water bottles.  I borrowed a bag from a fisherman and began collecting all the strewn bits of litter, wondering  “Why was it all here?  Where did it all come from?  What will happen to it all?”

Unfortunately, most of this trash will end up in the sea, swirling in gyres twice the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific and Atlantic, creating expansive areas of ocean depleted of oxygen and incompatible with life.  Plastics, particularly plastic bottles, are the primary substance in these gyres, and the most common type of litter I found on the beach. Incapable of fully decomposing, these broken down pieces of plastic are continuing to expand the “ocean garbage patch”.

In a conversation with a friend, I was once asked, “So what?  This litter is far away from us, in the middle of the ocean.  What does that have to do with me?”  Even if we think we are leaving trash behind, far out at sea, it follows us within the food we eat.  I have worked with biologists that have performed necropsies on fish, whales and sea turtles that have died and washed ashore.  Within the stomachs of these animals are plastic bags, thought to be jellyfish by the consumer, and tiny toxic particles of plastic, mistaken for plankton, the primary food source for most marine wildlife.  This garbage blocks intestines, killing the animals, and even if the animals survive, the toxicity continues to be carried within the fish all the way up the food chain- even (and especially) to us.

The videos below address three of the most common items I found on my walk on the beach- plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and old fishing nets:


Cigarette Butts:’re-not-small-and-harmless/

“Ghost Fishing” Nets:

Want to help? – Make sure whenever you or your friends and family go to the beach, take everything you bring to the beach back home with you.  Remember that any trash you throw in the streets will eventually make it to a waterway and then out to sea.  If you are interested in doing more, you can join a marine conservation organization.  An awesome list of these organizations can be found at:

EcoLove, Sophie

Act Sustainably for Charity!

Double Impact is a new social giving and sustainability platform that lets you take simple, sustainable actions to earn money for the charity of your choice. Check out more on their website for more info if you’re interested – the video’s especially helpful. Whole new meaning to Give + Go Green!

Jim Gordon, Developer of Cape Wind

SUMA Speaker Series presents Jim Gordon, Developer of Cape Wind
When: Friday March 25th, 3:30 PM
Where: Columbia University, Morningside Campus, NW Building Auditorium (120th & Broadway)

Jim Gordon, developer of Cape Wind, will discuss successes and setbacks in developing America’s first offshore wind park. RSVP here.

About Jim Gordon:
In 1975, at the age of twenty-two, Jim Gordon started Energy Management, Inc. (EMI). Over the ensuing years Jim built EMI into one of the most successful independent power companies in New England. From its initial focus of engineering and constructing turnkey heat recovery and pollution control systems, Jim transitioned EMI into developing, operating and maintaining natural gas-fired combined cycle electric generating facilities. EMI is now developing renewable energy projects including Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind park. Jim leads a team of dedicated and highly motivated professionals that are able to complete the myriad and complex tasks of creating state of the art power projects.

Jim’s understanding of New England’s electric market, sense of timing and grasp of political and regulatory directions allowed EMI to build some of the region’s first cogeneration and independent power projects as well as the first generation of merchant electric plants in the United States. Jim’s philosophy of pushing technology and productivity to the limits produced low cost, environmentally superior facilities with ultra high availabilities.

Jim was a founder of the Competitive Power Coalition of New England comprised of leading power plant developers and owners. Jim was elected chairman for four consecutive years and helped initiate and lead the drive for Electric Deregulation and a competitive power market in New England. Under Jim’s leadership, the State of Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to approve and implement Electric Deregulation.

Prior to forming EMI, Jim worked for Warner Communications Corporation developing cable television systems in the urban area surrounding Boston. Jim is a graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications. Jim is a member of the Board of the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston, Massachusetts and founder of the Michael Gordon Foundation which helps greater Boston youth achieve their full potential.

Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion

“By becoming a cook, you can leave processed foods behind, creating more healthful, less expensive and better-tasting food that requires less energy, water and land per calorie and reduces our carbon footprint. Not a bad result for us- or the planet.”

If everyone lived like you do, how many Earth’s would we need?

Find out!