New Bike-Sharing Program Helps Kent State University Go Green

Megan PetroskiToday’s guest post was written by Megan Petroski, a graduate assistant in Kent State University’s Office of Sustainability. She is also a member of the Kent State Sustainability Task Force.

Kent State University is pedaling ahead with sustainability—What is your campus doing?

The newest addition to the Kent State campus is the pilot bike-sharing program, Flashfleet. The program was designed to share the concepts of sustainable transportation with the community and to educate students, faculty and staff, as Flashfleet bike-sharing program.well as the Kent community, on the benefits it offers. Sustainable transportation looks to enhance mobility and support economic development while also promoting a healthier environment, community and behaviors.

Why is Kent State promoting a bike-sharing program?

Ohio has been experiencing rising rates of obesity and these sorts of health issues, which stem from a lack of sustainable transportation systems that promote exercise. The simple act of walking and/or biking can be made difficult when the appropriate facilities are not available. It is up to us as educators to step into the leadership role and create a sustainable future for the communities within which we reside.

Not only does sustainable transportation affect the health of people, but it also affects the health of the community. Less cars means less pollution and carbon emissions, which leads to cleaner, clearer skies, and the re-establishment of a sense of community with more people out and about, walking and biking to their destinations.

Kent State students enjoying Flashfleet.Bike sharing as a form of transportation has a great number of benefits for students. It offers a little to no cost transportation option that does not require a parking permit or maintenance costs. The university also benefits by not having to create additional parking lots. In turn, roadway traffic is also reduced. The community benefits from increased downtown activity as students take advantage of the esplanade that links the campus to the Kent community.

How does it all work?

Our pilot program is currently a second generation bike share where students, faculty, staff and guests can check out a bike at any one of our six locations around campus. The bikes have to be returned the same day they are checked out and must go back to the same location they were checked out at.

Research is being undertaken by Dr. David Kaplan in the Geography department; Melanie Knowles in the Office of Sustainability; and myself, to further expand the bike share program to a third generation system. This would allow for more stations to be located around campus and downtown that would allow anyone with a swipe card to check out a bike. A third generation program would improve flexibility of use for patrons of the program.

Acorn Alley in downtown Kent, Ohio.

Based on surveys and focus groups undertaken with students and community members, Kent State has huge potential to utilize the existing program and eventual expand it. There is a desire to increase the biking culture and continue to develop the link between the campus and the downtown community. Developments in the downtown area, Acorn Alley and the expansion of the esplanade have contributed significantly to the reaction of the community in supporting the program.

Flashfleet had a successful introductory season this fall with more than 3,000 bike checkouts from its six locations on campus between Aug. 30 and Nov. 10.

Overall, we are very proud of the success that the first semester the pilot program has experienced and we are looking forward to expanding to meet the demand on campus and in the community!


November 29, 2010 at 3:17 am 1 comment

5 Celebrities Maintaining Their Brands Through Sustainability Initiatives

Going green can be one of the best things you’ve ever done for your image and your wallet—if you’re a celebrity, that is.

Celebs are going green.

Celebrities are among some of the most lucrative brands in the world. Whether it’s Brad Pitt raking in $25 million a year or Al Gore making roughly $4,500 a minute for his green speeches, these stars sure know how to capitalize on their name brands—literally.

Here are five celebrities who are saving both the planet and their public images through sustainability initiatives:

1. Jack Johnson. While Johnson is busy singing about the “3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” he is doing so in his environmentally friendly studio in Los Angeles. The studio is equipped with natural light, recycled shingles, walls padded with old denim jeans and rooftop solar panels.

The Hawaii-native also founded the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating schools and communities in Hawaii about environmental issues. As if that weren’t enough, his upcoming “To the Sea” tour through Australia and New Zealand will feature eco-friendly concert merchandise, sustainable food choices and recycling and composting stations.

2. Rachel McAdams. McAdams co-found Green is Sexy with her two friends, Megan and Didi, when the three of Rachel, Megan and Didi.them “realized that exchanging quips & tips on ways to make an impact on the environment was becoming daily conversation.” The sustainability-minded women share daily green tips on their website about the green books, places, products and recipes they love, among many others.

3. Alicia Silverstone. Silverstone teamed up with Eco Tools to create her very own design for the environmentally friendly bath and beauty line. Her designs feature roses and lavender printed on natural hemp totes, bamboo and recycled aluminum makeup brushes and tags made with a revolutionary paper that requires no trees. She is also the author of “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet.”

Alicia Silverstone EcoTools design.

4. Brad Pitt. Thousands of people were suddenly left homeless after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans Brad Pitt and Make it Right building design plans in New 2005. When Pitt toured the Lower 9th Ward of the city two years later, he was inspired to co-find the Make it Right Foundation. His non-profit organization builds homes for working families that are safe, sustainable and affordable to replace the homes that were destroyed by the hurricane.

The U.S. Green Building Council has even declared that Make it Right is building the “largest, greenest neighborhood of single family homes in America.”

5. Soleil Moon Frye. You may remember Frye from her role as “Roxie King” in the television series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Now she is making a new name for herself as the co-founder of The Little Seed, an organic clothing boutique for children in Los Angeles.

“We wanted to create a physical space – and an accompanying website – where parents had the option to purchase stylish organic and eco products exclusively,” says Frye. Aside from its store in LA, The Little Seed clothing line can also be found at a Target store nearest you.

The business of going green—especially for celebrities—is not going out of style any time soon. GlobeScan and SustainAbility predict that sustainability will be one of the fastest growing components for businesses in the next decade.

November 17, 2010 at 7:02 am 1 comment

5 Reasons Why People Don’t Recycle

Let’s face it—we all recycle a little less than we ought to.

Whether it’s one excuse or another, every person seems to have a reason for why they don’t recycle. No matter the reason, we can all afford the extra couple seconds it takes to recycle rather than waste.

Be an American that recycles this Nov. 15!

In honor of “America Recycles Day” on Nov. 15, I’ve compiled five reasons for why I think people truly don’t recycle:

1. Laziness. Most people don’t recycle because of sheer laziness or inconvenience. Picture this: You’re at work and you just finished drinking a bottle of water. There are no recycling receptacles in the building, so you decide to throw the bottle away in the trash. Rather than just setting the bottle at your desk and waiting until you were off work to recycle it at home, it was much more convenient to improperly dispose of the bottle.

2. Misinformation. Some individuals believe they can’t contribute anything to the environRecycle your aluminum!ment by recycling small amounts. It’s almost as bad as thinking that one person’s vote can’t make an overall difference. (Just imagine what America would be like if everyone felt that way!)

Maybe these facts will change some misinformed minds:

  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.
  • Every American uses an average of 680 pounds of paper a year.
  • Americans use approximately 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • One glass bottle takes more than 4,000 years to decompose in a landfill.

3. Uncertainty. Many people are confused about which items can or can’t be recycled. Have you ever thought to recycle plastic pots after you have removed the plant from them? How about your empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes?

A plastic flowerpot can be recycled or used again rather than discarded or stored.

Items that can be recycled:

  • Newspapers, magazines, phone books and paper bags
  • Clean pizza boxes that aren’t soaked in grease
  • Plastic milk containers
  • Cereal boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Tin foil

Items that can’t be recycled:

  • Lids on milk jugs or other plastic containers
  • Tissue or waxed paper
  • Milk or juice cartons
  • Plastic silverware
  • Saran wrap
  • Batteries

Check out a complete list of recyclable and non-recyclable items here.

4. Don’t realize monetary benefits. Did you know that your business can get paid to recycle?

There are tons of free websites that offer your business money in exchange for recycled goods:

5. Selfishness. I’ve heard this similar phrase all too many times: “Why should I care about recycling? It’s not like our planet is out of resources yet.” This sort of philosophy is plain pig-headed. Why should you care about recycling?Maybe so your children and grandchildren can have better futures on a clean planet.

Recycle your plastic bottles!

The next time you think about pitching that water bottle or soda can in the garbage, think of the more than 10,000 landfills in the United States you’re helping to grow!

November 12, 2010 at 9:38 am 1 comment

National Geographic—“Practice What You Print!”

Neil Ward is outraged—and you should be, too.

Ward lives along the Androscoggin River in Maine, which inspired the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). The Environmental Protection Agency claims that the CWA has “implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry and set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.”  But Neil Ward and the Androscoggin River tell a different story:

“My family has lived along the Androscoggin River for four generations. As a boy, I was taught to stay away from the river because of its polluted state. It was covered with foam and dead fish floating on top of the foam. The river was never safe to be near.”

Androscoggin River pollution, 2005.

Despite the passing of the CWA, Ward says that the Androscoggin is still heavily polluted. It is for this reason that the Androscoggin River Alliance was founded in 2004.

Androscoggin River Alliance

The mission of the Androscoggin River Alliance is “to work together for a healthy river, good jobs, strong communities and to give the citizens of the Androscoggin River Valley a collective voice in the future of the river’s policy, planning and management.”

Neil Ward is the Alliance’s passionate program director. I had the pleasure of hearing his story at the Washington, D.C., Green Festival on Oct. 24.

Who is to blame for the Androscoggin pollution?

The Verso Paper Mill located in Jay, Maine, says that its sustainability philosophy is all about “making the products our customers want and need while leaving the smallest footprint possible.” In spite of its philosophy, Ward says Verso continues to dump 40 million gallons of polluted wastewater per day into the river.Stop polluting the Androscoggin River, Verso!

To offset the pollution, Verso is required to pump thousands of pounds of oxygen per day into the river.

However, Ward says that the oxygen injections still don’t bring the Androscoggin up to even the lowest standards of the CWA.

And the largest customer of Verso goes to…

…National Geographic! The very magazine that promotes a “Green Guide” section purchases about 10 percent of all the paper produced at Verso. It continues to be one of the few magazines that still refuses to print on 100 percent recycled paper. The only recycled content National Geographic contains is on the front cover.

The Androscoggin River Alliance isn’t the only environmental group fighting back

It has teamed up with Maine’s largest environmental organization, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Green America’s Better Paper Project to increase the power of its message to Verso. Ward says that Green America has tried for nearly a decade to get National Geographic to incorporate recycled content into its magazine production with no success.

National Geographic, Practice What You Print!

National Geographic—“Practice What You Print!”

How can a magazine that tells its readers how to reduce their Water Footprints do nothing to reduce its own?

Help stop the Androscoggin pollution and tell National Geographic to “Practice What It Prints:”

  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: @GoGreenNatGeo
  • Organize your campus: If you are a high school or college student, get your friends involved with the Practice What You Print campaign. Contact Sophie Glass for more information.
  • Join the Androscoggin River Alliance. Sign up here to join the mailing list and receive the latest news and updates.
  • Voice your opinion. Write a letter to the editor of National Geographic urging him to Practice What He Prints.

Every little bit of pressure we can put on National Geographic to use environmentally friendly printing practices helps!

November 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm 5 comments

Green Business Spotlight: ANU Eco-Salon

Leigh Heasley is doing her part to reduce her Carbon Footprint—Are you?

ANU Eco-SalonHeasley is the owner of ANU Eco-Salon, an environmentally friendly business located in Kent, Ohio. Her salon is one of many that are making the transition toward sustainability.

I had the opportunity to talk to her about the value of owning a green business. Check out what she had to say:

What’s the story behind the name ANU Eco-Salon?

Anu is the mother-Earth Goddess in Celtic tradition. She is the goddess of fertility, prosperity and comfort. Celtic symbols are a way to express interconnectedness with nature and with others.

What inspired you to open a green salon?

I wanted to offer people an alternative to a typical fast-paced, chemical smell salon.  The atmosphere at ANU has more of a spa feeling: soft music, relaxing decor, a trickling water fountain and organic soy candles burning.  There is plenty of reading material and dim lighting which makes the salon a cozy getaway.  You will never smell a perm or any other chemicals. I use only organic, sustainable products.

Why are green businesses so important?

In my mind there is no other alternative.  We need to preserve the Earth for future generations. Green businesses are necessary if we want to reduce pollution in the air, water and dwindling ecosystems and global warming. We each can Salonchange the future by making the informed, thoughtful choices.

What makes your salon green?

The furniture in ANU was all purchased second-hand.  I also used no-VOC paint and sealant.  All of the products I use have been thoroughly researched to be organic, sustainable and socially responsible.  When I leave the salon I shut off lights and I unplug everything from the outlets. Every light bulb in my salon is also fluorescent.

Why are you so passionate about sustainability?

It is beyond me how we have come to this point where we over consume without thinking of consequences.  Our modern lifestyle is one of convenience which is not forward thinking.  Where does all that packaging go?  Not all of it is recyclable, and even when it is, not everyone recycles.  All of our garbage ends up in landfills or in the ocean which causes lots of harm to many ecosystems. 

Be green!

What advice could you give to encourage other businesses to go green as well?

 If you truly care about your family’s future, then green is the only way to go.  Get informed and start making little changes.  See how the way you look at the world changes with each green decision you make.

If you are worried about your budget, make one small change at a time.  Start with light bulbs and unplugging appliances or using power strips.  Everything counts! I would love to be a resource for anyone making a change. 

Leigh HeasleyHeasley has been a hairstylist for nine years.  She opened ANU Eco-Salon in 2009 after training at an AVEDA salon in Cleveland.  Before doing hair, Heasley earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Youngstown State University in Business Administration. 

October 26, 2010 at 4:52 am 2 comments

Social Media Series: Why Twitter is Important for Business Sustainability, PR and Marketing

Twitter is the new green.

Social media are an eco-friendly means for businesses to engage and interact with consumers and potential clients. Not only do they help your business reduce paper and energy waste, but social media can also open a door to unforeseen customers and clients.Twitter

Did I mention that most social media platforms are—free?

Whether you’re trying to spark a conversation with customers, raise awareness about a new product, drive traffic to your company’s website or become a more sustainable business, Twitter is your guy. (Or, perhaps it is your bird.)

Until a week ago, I could’ve cared less about Twitter.

I signed up for my Twitter account more than a year ago, but I never bothered to take the time to learn how to use it. I had the usual excuses everyone else does:

There is no real value in Twitter.

140 characters?—What am I supposed to do with that?!

Twitter is just a fad.

No one is going to care about what I have to say.

Sound like a familiar story? Don’t let your organization fall victim to the five excuses not to use Twitter for your business!

I learned how to use Twitter in less than a week and so can you!

Before you venture out on your first Twitter journey, check out this easy-to-follow guide of Twitter basics:

Then, follow these 10 easy tips to building a successful presence on Twitter for your business:

1. Define your target audience. There is no point to having a Twitter account if you don’t know who you want your messages to reach. Lee Odden suggests conducting research to “develop a persona that represents your customers that spend time on Twitter.”

@ElenaVerlee: Know your market. Successful PR is all about reaching the right audience with a message that is appropriate and meaningful to them.

2. Find your purpose. Figure out what sorts of links, information and news you can share with your target audience that would be of value to them.

3. Be consistent. Tweet well and tweet often. Make sure that your Twitter brand acts as an extension of your company’s existing brand. Also, be sure to post your Twitter ID on all of your communication elements (website, marketing materials, blogs, etc.).

@SmartWoman: Twitter tip for business: Commit to one tweet a day every day. Consistency helps. (It’s how I got started & it works).

4. Don’t overdo it. Tweeting too much can be just as bad as tweeting too little. People are sometimes selective about who they follow on Twitter. If you’re overloading your followers’ feeds with useless links and product promotions every five minutes, then you’re spam. All it takes is one simple click to stop receiving those nagging messages.

5. Don’t broadcast. Most likely you’re not a news anchor, so don’t act like you are one. People that use Twitter want to interact with their favorite brands, celebrities, professionals and friends. It is important that your company uses Don't Broadcast!Twitter to engage in two-way communication with your customers that they feel they’re part of a conversation and not just a sale.

@prblog: Auto DM after Twitter follow is like asking your 1st date what hotel they want to stay at after dinner. Slow down!

6. Use #hashtags. Hashtags will help you participate in conversation and acquire new followers. It is best to use clever hashtags that are relevant to your company.

7. Recognize “Twitter Time.” Picture yourself sitting at a red light that takes five minutes to change to green. If you were talking on the phone with a friend, you’d probably tell them that “the light took three hours to change!” The same goes for Twitter. Even two hours can seem like an eternity in Twitter Time. Make sure to respond to customer and client requests via Twitter as soon as possible.

@prodigaljohn: A company I tweeted about a bad experience with tweeted me back 5 days later. That’s 19 yrs in tweet time. Tweets age fast.

8. Don’t underestimate. Twitter publishes everything you tweet live in real time where anything can go viral in a matter of minutes. This could be good or bad for your company depending on how well you manage your Twitter presence.

9. Be transparent. Tell the truth about who is tweeting on behalf of your company. Don’t tell your followers that the CEO is tweeting when, in fact, he is not. Also remember to be honest with your tweets. Don’t provide your followers with tweets that have misleading links. Again, it only takes a single click to unfollow someone.The North Face is a brand that uses Twitter well.

10. Learn from example. Take a lesson from some of these businesses that are tweeting the right way:

Now it’s time to visit Twitter to set up your very own account.

Let me know if these tips were helpful to your business!

October 21, 2010 at 3:28 am Leave a comment

Water Wisdom: 5 Ways Your Business Can Save Water and Money

Most of us take the water we consume for granted.

Imagine waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and walking about four miles to get your first drink of water. Most of us couldn’t even imagine walking next door, let alone four miles, for a cup of water.

This is the harsh reality for many women and children living in Africa, Asia and the rest of the world, who spend about 16 hours each week collecting water.

Woman transporting water in Africa.

And every year, about 1.8 million of those children don’t make it past the age of five.

All the more reason to participate in Blog Action Day to help raise awareness about the 1.5 billion people that struggle to find clean water every day.

Why is it so important to participate?

Water comprises about 75 percent of the planet, but less than 0.5 percent is clean enough for drinking. It is estimated that by the year 2025, 2.8 billion people will face freshwater scarcity.

Think Before you Drink

On average, Americans use between 100 and 175 gallons of water each day. The average African consumes only 5 gallons per day.

In fact, it takes a whopping…

  • 39,090 gallons to manufacture a car
  • 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans
  • 53 gallons to make a latte
  • 13 gallons for one gallon of paint

Here are five easy ways your business can save money and conserve the Earth’s limited water supply:

1. Low-flow toilets. Toilets account for more than 33 percent of water used in most homes. One leaking toilet can waste up to 18,000 gallons of water in a year. Imagine what that could mean to your business! Replacing the average 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) toilet with a low-flow 1.6 gpf toilet could save your business about 54 percent in both water and money.

2. Automatic faucets. Sensor faucets save money and reduce bacteria in office restrooms and kitchens.

3. Brita water filters. Bottled water contributes more than 1.5 million tons of waste to landfills each year. Not to mention the bottled water industry requires about 47 million gallons of oil per year. Rather than bringing a bottle of water to work each day, consider installing a Brita water filter at your business to reduce water and plastic waste.

4. Energy-efficient dishwashers. An energy-efficient dishwasher can save your business time, money and water if you: Only run the dishwasher when it is full and don’t rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

5. Become an EPA WaterSense partner. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to protecting the U.S. water supply and promoting water-efficient programs, products and practices through its WaterSense partnership program. All partners are able to carry the WaterSense label which helps businesses “perform well, save money and encourage innovation in manufacturing.”

Nigerian woman gathering water from a polluted pond.

So the next time you choose to flush the toilet or drink a bottled water, consider the 1.5 billion people who don’t have the same opportunity!

October 15, 2010 at 10:00 am 4 comments

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