Archive for April, 2011

The Green Radar: What to Do Around Boston

Even though Boston University’s Earth Week is over, there are still plenty of opportunities in Boston for those that want to do their part for Mother Earth.

Charles River Watershed Association
The CRWA is the volunteer group charged with cleaning, monitoring and preserving the 35 miles of the Charles River. The group provides a number of volunteer opportunities ranging from cleanups, to water monitoring and helping out at CRWA events, such as the annual Run of the Charles Canoe and Kayak Race.

Boston University Environmental Student Organization
The largest environmental student group on campus, the ESO “strives to raise environmental awareness and create beneficial environmental change on campus as well as in the surrounding community of Boston.” Run entirely by students, the ESO holds dozens of awareness and volunteering events every year, most of which are free to BU community members. The ESO meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in CAS 442.

Blue Hills Trailwatch
The Blue Hills Reservation is a 7,000 acre national park located south of Boston. The park’s recreational trails are maintained by the parks service, but a volunteer group is tasked with the job of monitoring the trails and promoting responsible hiking among its users.

Zoo New England
The Franklin Park Zoo has a number of volunteer opportunities for people interested in helping the zoo advance its educational mission. None of the positions involve working with animals, and potential volunteers must be at least 18 years old and fill out an application.

Boston Natural Areas Network
The BNAN “works to preserve, expand and improve urban open space through community organizing, acquisition, ownership, programming, development and management of special kinds of urban land.” The group and its associates, including the Boston Gardeners Council, helps organize community gardens, and to preserve and protect urban wilds and greenways.

And of course, there are always the things you can do on your own, like buying from local grocers, remembering to recycle and conserving energy.

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BU’s Green Trail

The days when BU was awarded a dismal grade D in sustainability by an environmental organization are not too long ago. The memory from 2007 should be fresh in mind. But BU’s green initiatives, starting 2006, are a crash course in sustainability bearing a tremendous turnaround so that we never have to look back. For two years straight BU has secured a position on the top 5 Massachusetts colleges in various categories of RecycleMania nationwide college competition. Boston University has come a long way. Follow its green journey in this short span of time on the timeline by clicking here.

Green Dining at Warren Towers

Parents and students concerned about beating the Freshman 15 can rest assured. Boston University has made its eating options healthier, thanks to the green menu offered at the Warren Towers dining hall. A lot of the produce used for cooking is organic, locally grown and sustainable.

The Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator Sabrina Harper gave us a tour of the dining hall, the behind-the-scene kitchen action and the rarely seen waste storage at the Warren Towers. Check it out here in the slide show.

Chowda Champ

Chef Carlos Pareja

Make way for the Chowder King! The winner for the 2nd annual Chowda Fest on April 21 at the GSU Plaza has been announced today. Carlos Pareja of the Shelton Hall is the winner after battling it out with seven other chefs from BU’s various dining halls.

Using all organic, local produce and sustainable seafood, Pareja’s Classic New England Clam Chowder was a delicious blend of potatoes, seafood stock, onions and peppers with extra cream and thyme – all cooked to tasteful perfection.

Pareja won following a staggering total of 515 votes cast on a gusty afternoon, mainly by the BU community.

Some comments the Dining Services received were:
“Consumed too much Chowda on Comm Ave”
“Just had the best time at the Chowda Fest”
“Chowda in front of GSU sooooo good”
“thanks Dining for the Chowd”
“just had my 12th cup of Chowda, awesome”
“I love BU for this Chowda”

Shelton Hall, having the smallest dining hall in the campus, now has a huge reason to boast!

Save the Sea Life

A panel of experts discussed sustainable seafood at Boston University's George Sherman Union after a showing of the documentary film The End of the Line. The panel consisted of (from left to right) Michelle Cho, a wild fisheries expert from the New England Aquarium, Katy Hladki, an aquaculture specialist from the New England Aquarium, Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director of the Northwest Marine Alliance and Professor Les Kaufman a Boston Univeristy professor of Marine Biology. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

The Earth’s fish are disappearing, and unless human beings change their ways, some species may not have a chance at recovery.

A panel of local sea-life experts spoke about the issue of the depleted oceans as part of the capstone event of Boston University’s Earth Week. Presented by the Office of Sustainability, the event also featured a showing of the documentary “The End of the Line” about the world’s problem with overfishing.

The film presented the issue of overfishing in a dire light, going so far as to say that most seafood could be gone by the year 2048. Fisheries around the world were near the point of collapse because of the ignorance of politicians, the actions of irresponsible fishermen and the ravenous appetites of consumers.

“American fishermen are under very, very strict regulations because America committed itself to rebuilding our fisheries,” panel moderator Les Kaufman, a CAS professor of biology. “And because we got we got ourselves into quite a whole by overfishing it’s a very painful process and it requires a loss of many our fishing jobs.”

Kaufman was joined by Katie Hiadki, an aquaculture (fish farming) specialist from the New England Aquarium, wildlife fisheries expert Michelle Cho and Niaz Dorry, an environmental activist and director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.

According to the film, some fish species, such as the bluefin tuna, wild salmon and cod, are being fished at rates far beyond what is required to replenish their numbers. Still, despite their threatened status, restaurants and fish markets around world continue to sell these fish, because, according the film, people keep buying them.

“The good news is we’re at ebb tide and with strong force of will, this is one of the problems that can be addressed and solved,” said Kaufman. He said that before the early years of the new millennium, sea-life experts did not even realize the world fish population was decreasing. SInce then, efforts by the United States and other nations have resulted in a slowing the losses

Thursday’s panelists advocated mostly for consumer activism to combat the problem of overfishing. Insisting on buying locally-caught or farmed fish is better for sustainability efforts, as is staying away from “red listed” fish that are known to be overfished or farmed in environmentally unfriendly ways.

“The best thing we can do is know what we’re eating,” said Kaufman. “Seek out sustainable seafood and favor those vendors who are buying from fishermen who are playing by the rule and who are part of the solution.”

The Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list, one of the most widely used of its type, lists over 25 types of seafood to avoid and another two dozen or so that should be consumed with caution.

“The issue can be complicated, not all wild choices are good and not all farm are good. You really specifically at the fish or where it where caught and how it was caught,” said Hiadki. Hiadki said that while fish farming is sometime pointed to as a part of the overfishing problem, the practices prevalence in the seafood industry will mean it must also be part of the solution.

“It’s complicated but it’s definitely worth getting the information and asking the questions because as the consumers, you definitely hold the power.”

According to Sabrina Harper, BU Dining’s sustainability coordinator, all of the fish that is served in BU dining areas is sustainable. If the food providers cannot prove that the fish they sell is caught in a sustainable manner, the school will not buy from them.

A Taste for Waste

The unlikely pets that Sadie Richards keeps in her kitchen could disgust anyone who knows nothing about vermiculture. Or better, it could evoke your curiosity.

Sadie conducted a vermiculture workshop in Brookline, MA, on March 27 to demonstrate how to do it. She showed how these wriggly creatures in dirt can be your tools in the kitchen by eating away organic waste and excreting it out as wholesome food for the plants. Find out more how you can reduce and recycle your kitchen waste, and make a difference.

Green Dining in Boston

There are currently 18 green-certified restaurants in the Boston area, as determined by the Green Restaurant Association, a national non-profit organization that provides green dining advice for both restaurateurs and diners. The GRA certifies restaurants based on how environment-friendly their operations are.

The GRA judges restaurants based on 11 criteria:
– Energy efficiency and conservation
– Water use efficiency and conservation
– Recycling and composting
– Sustainable food
– Pollution prevention
– Organic products
– Chlorine-free paper products
– Non-toxic cleaning products
– Green power
– Green building and construction
– Employee education

Learn more about the green dining options in the Boston area by clicking on the map.