Espen’s Final Portfolio

May 10, 2017

Week 1: Nothing

Week 2: Introduction & Cronon The Trouble With Wilderness, and Sullivan The Meadowlands, first current event

Week 3: Abbey Desert Solitaire (I presented here so didn’t make a post, I can submit my notes if you like)

Week 4: Bruckner The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse

Week 5: Coates Nature (part 1)

Week 6: Coates Nature (part 2)

Week 7: Foer Eating Animals

Week 8: Robins Environment & Society (part 1)

Week 9: Spring break

Week 10: Columbus, no post needed

Week 11: Robins Environment & Society (part 2) (No blog post as I was too sick)

Week 12: Urbanik Placing Animals

Week 13: Stoknes What we Think About When we Think About Global Warning (no blog post)

Other: Project proposal, project report


Digital Portfolio

May 10, 2017


Week 1 (1/18/17): No postings due

Week 2 (1/25/17): Cronon “The Trouble With Wilderness” + Sullivan The Meadowlands

Week 3 (2/1/17): Abbey Desert Solitaire

Week 4 (2/8/17): Bruckner The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings

Week 5 (2/15/17): Coates Nature (preface + chapters 1-5)

Week 6 (2/22/17): Coates Nature (chapters 6-9)

Week 7 (3/1/17): Foer Eating Animals 

Week 8 (3/8/17): Robbins et al. Environment & Society (first half)

Week 9 (3/15/17): No meeting/Spring Break

Week 10 (3/22/17): No formal class/postings

Week 11 (3/29/17): Robbins et al. Environment & Society (second half)

Week 12 (4/5/17): Urbanik Placing Animals

Week 13 (4/12/17): Stoknes What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

Week 14 (4/19/17): Project Presentations (no post, sent power point via email)

My Presentation: Urbanik Placing Animals


Current Events:

Week 1 (1/18/17): No postings due

Week 2 (1/25/17): Threats to Primate Species

Week 3 (2/1/17): Amur Tigers to be Introduced to Western Kazakhstan

Week 4 (2/8/17): Preying on the Predator

Week 5 (2/15/17): Floating Islands to Combat Climate Change

Week 6 (2/22/17): Manatees May Be Reclassified from Endangered to Threatened

Week 7 (3/1/17): Nest Boxes Cannot Replace Natural Tree Cavities

Week 8 (3/8/17):  Gray Wolves to Be No Longer Protected Under the Endangered Species Act

Week 9 (3/15/17): No meeting/Spring Break

Week 10 (3/22/17): No formal class/postings

Week 11 (3/29/17): Seattle Sewage Spill

Week 12 (4/5/17): Graphene-oxide membranes

Week 13 (4/12/17): Ovakango River Basin Exploration

Project Postings:

Week 2 (1/25/17): Personal Introduction and Project Ideas

Week 6 (2/22/17): Project Proposal

Finals Week (5/10/17): Course Project Report

Course Project Report: Cooking Matters for Kids

May 10, 2017

Project Summary:

This project was an edition of Dr. Fink’s (HHK) Cooking Matters program, a hunger easement program that educates adults from at-risk populations about how to cook healthy, low-budget meals and how to avoid food waste. The goal of this project was to plan an event for the children in the city of Delaware that would help them become more excited about eating healthy, cooking and gardening with their family, and eating locally. To accomplish this goal, I organized an event for the children (“Littles”) and mentors (“Bigs”) in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program (a mentoring program for 25 children grades 5-8 at Willis Education Center). Some of the children in this program have a troubling home life, and a small thing I can do to support a healthy relationship between the children and their parents is to encourage the children to help their parents cook. During a two-hour program, the children learned about the food groups, completed a five-day meal plan, made salsa, made yogurt parfaits and either played outside or gardened. The children seemed to really enjoy the event and food, and cooking also served as a great bonding activity for the Littles to complete with their Bigs.

Methods and Results:

Dr. Fink (HHK) runs the hunger easement program called Cooking Matters, which educates adults from at-risk populations about how to cook healthy, low-budget meals and how to avoid food waste. I volunteer at Willis Education Center with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program (BBBS), which is a mentoring program for 25 children grades 5-8. I thought planning an event educating the kids about eating healthy and encouraging them to cook and garden with their parents would be a fun way to help support healthy relationships between the children and their families. I first contacted the Delaware County Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, Anna Wildermuth, who loved the idea, and we decided on a program day that I could host the event. I proposed my idea of incorporating an educational component to the Cooking Matters program for the children in the city of Delaware to Dr. Fink, and he put me in contact with Sierra Wright, the Cooking Matters Program Coordinator.

Sierra was excited to help, and we met to brainstorm ideas for the event. Some ideas included: yogurt sampling, hummus with carrots and celery, and homemade guacamole. While hummus and guacamole would have been fun snacks to make, I finally decided on making salsa and yogurt parfaits after consulting with Dr. Krygier because these snacks could be made from local ingredients, and could incorporate four of the five major food groups (fruits, dairy, vegetables and grains).

I searched online for information that I could give the children about the food groups and found the MyPlate website. On the website, I found a packet explaining the five food groups and the nutrients they contained (Figure 1). They also provided an activity called the Five-day meal plan where the children could plan out meals for five days that incorporated all five food groups. I decided to include this activity as an educational component to the event because it would help the children critically think about the meals they are eating.

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Also attached in the packet was a letter to the parents of the children (Figure 2), which would hopefully prompt the children talk with their parents about the event. These handouts were important so that the children could start conversation with their parents about healthy eating after the event, and hopefully their parents would continue this education at home.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 11.45.36 PMAfter the brainstorming session and online research, I attended a farm to table event hosted by Seminary Hill Farm and the students enrolled in Dr. Fink’s Cooking Matters class to gather ideas for how to structure my event. At the beginning of the event, everyone said their favorite food, which I decided would also be a good icebreaker to use at my event. Next we did an activity where we were given cups with different amounts of sugar and had to guess which drink contained what amount of sugar. Lemonade actually contained the most amount of sugar in the farm to table activity. Because the children drink lemonade each week during the BBBS program, I decided to make infused water as a healthier alternative for the children to try. I chose to prepare strawberry, lime and mint water; watermelon and mint water; and grapefruit, lemon and mint water. Finally, the students at the farm to table event taught us knife safety, gave us a recipe for soup, and helped us prepare the meal. Rather than teach the children knife safety, I decided to pre-cut all ingredients for the event for safety and efficiency. I found a recipe online to print out for each child so they could replicate the salsa at home if they wanted (Figure 3).

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To obtain the materials necessary for this event, I contacted Chartwells about purchasing yogurt parfait ingredients, and they offered to donate all yogurt ingredients, bowls and spoons. I then contacted Barbara Wiehe to see if the greenhouse had any extra materials I could use for the gardening portion of the project, and she donated all the small pots, soil and seeds necessary for the activity (Figure 4). I printed out 1/8 sized sheets with instructions on how to transfer each plant out of the pot once the children returned home (Figure 4).

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To obtain salsa ingredients, I contacted Tad Peterson from Seminary Hill Farm, but after offering to set up a meeting with me, he never returned my emails. Instead I went to Delaware County Community Market and saw I could obtain many salsa ingredients including locally made chips from the market. This turned out to be a great plan, because 20% of the profits from the purchase were donated to Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Ohio. I decided to buy the rest of the ingredients from Kroger because certain ingredients like tomatoes were not in season locally. I wrote a SIP Grant proposal for $81.98 (Table 1), which funded the flavored water ingredients, salsa ingredients and cost of printing informational packets about MyPlate.

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Once all packets were printed and all supplies were purchased, it was time for the event. At the start of the event, I asked the children to shout out their favorite type of food. Their responses were overwhelmingly “pizza!”. Next, I asked the children if anyone could tell me the five food groups. One girl listed four of them, then after some time of the children shouting out their thoughts, I read them off the list of the five major food groups and gave each Little the packet from MyPlate (Figure 1, Figure 2).

I asked everyone to consider how their favorite food incorporates the different food groups, then explained that each Little would be filling out a five-day meal plan (Figure 5) with their Bigs to plan how they could incorporate all five food groups into one meal each day. The first words that came out of one of the children’s mouths were: “There is no way I’m doing that!”, but the rest of the children did not mind filling out the meal plan, and some seemed to really enjoy it. The Bigs thought that this was a great lesson to incorporate into the program, and different groups called me over to help them brainstorm different foods that they could add into their meal plan.

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I think having the children work one-on-one with their Bigs rather than in a large group was an effective way to complete the activity because the Bigs helped their Littles stay focused and each received individual attention. This way, I could run the event by myself, which also made organizing the event easier since I did not have to work around multiple people’s schedules. Overall, the educational component of the event went smoothly, but the children became hungry quickly!

By table, the children were sent up to make salsa and yogurt parfaits. Setting up the ingredients in a line was an efficient way for the kids to fill their bowls with salsa ingredients, then people lined up at two prepared blender stations which my little, Marianna, and I ran. Everyone loved the salsa and was happy that each person could add the ingredients they wanted, rather than each person eating the same salsa with ingredients they might not like. The Bigs also made salsa which I did not plan for, but it turned out to be a great way for the Littles to bond with their Bigs, and, for the most part, there was enough ingredients for everyone to make salsa.

The yogurt was finished quickly and the children did not even miss the lemonade they normally drink because they liked the flavored water, then the children were ready for the next activity. Most chose to play outside like they normally do, but about ten of the children decided to stay inside to plant herbs and vegetables. Since not every person decided to garden, the children who stayed were able to plant multiple seeds, which they were very excited about. They also appreciated the instructions for replanting the seeds because many had not planted herb or vegetable seeds before. This activity was messy, but I think children had the most fun gardening out of all the activities. Overall, I believe this event was a great opportunity for Ohio Wesleyan to connect with Delaware residents through the school system and through support of local growers, and this event successfully promoted healthy eating, family bonding and community support.


The children were very hungry at the beginning of the event, so if this event is replicated, it might be a good idea to try to do the snack portion first. However, it might be hard for the children to re-focus after making snacks.

Rather than making three separate flavors of waters, if the event was replicated I would suggest just making three pitchers of strawberry, lime and mint water because this was the water the children enjoyed the most.

We ran out of garlic, cilantro and chips toward the end of the event and we had extra jalapeños. For 25 Littles and their Bigs, the following quantites of ingredients would be an appropriate amount: 6 cans of tomatoes, 6 green peppers, 2 onions, 2 bundles of cilantro, 4 jalapeños, 1 chili powder can, and 6 bags of chips. For efficiency, three or four blender stations would be better. We also ran out of yogurt quickly because I assumed only the Littles would be making parfaits, so in the future I would ask Chartwells for enough yogurt and ingredients for 50 people.

We ran out of pots because the children who did plant wanted to plant three or four different seeds, so asking for 35 pots might be a better number.

I did not print out a sheet explaining where the ingredients for the snacks came from, so to encourage parents to buy from Delaware County Community Market, if this event was replicated it would be helpful to include in the packet the location of Delaware County Community Market, their website address, the type of food they carry and the organizations that they donate to.


Anna Wildermuth (

Anna is the Delaware County Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio who planned the event date with me.

Barbara Wiehe (

Barbara is the OWU greenhouse manager. She donated the pots, seeds and soil for the gardening activity.

Dr. Chris Fink (

Dr. Fink is the advisor of the Cooking Matters program. I contacted him by email and he put me in contact with Sierra Wright.

Sierra Wright (

Sierra is the Program Coordinator for Dr. Fink’s Cooking Matters program. She met with me to brainstorm ideas for the project.

Tad Petersen (

Tad is the food service and farm manager at Seminary Hill Farm. I reached out to him to determine if MTSO would like to donate any food for this event, but he never followed up after we agreed to meet.

Bob Sullivan-Neer (1-740-610-0091)

Bob works at Delaware County Community Market and helped me determine an appropriate amount of ingredients to buy.




“Cooking Matters @ OWU Health & Kinetics.” Sustainability & Environment @ OWU, 19 Nov. 2014, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This website describes what the Cooking matters program is and provides Dr. Fink’s contact information.

“Serving Up MyPlate A Yummy Curriculum.” Choose MyPlate, sites/default/files/sump_level3.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This packet describes what MyPlate is and explains the subcategories of vegetables and grains in detail. It also provides the five-day dinner menu plan.

“My Plate at Home.” Choose MyPlate, files/audiences/MyPlateAtHome-adults.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This is a handout for parents describing the importance of interacting with their children when planning healthy meals. It gives examples of a balanced dinner and explains the importance of exercise.

Shah, Vrushabh; Brill, Michelle F. Cooking Brings Kids and Families Together. Visions 24(4): 1.

Research shows that cooking with children helps children establish healthy eating routines, helps to alleviate behavior problems and encourages family “togetherness.”

“Salsa.” PBS, Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

This is a salsa recipe with instructions geared towards children.


Make Tree House Sustainable Again

May 10, 2017

Make Tree House Sustainable Again

Espen Stalder

Project-Kelowna Passive House 1

Ohio Wesleyan University

Environmental Geography

John Krygier

Spring 2017

Project Summary: 

This project involved looking at ways to make the new SLUs at OWU more sustainable. The Tree House is moving from it’s old house, where there have been modifications made to improve sustainability. Moving into the new house, they’re losing these improvements. OWU is not the best at implementing sustainability, so I looked into ways the house (and future houses) could be built with sustainability in mind. This included researching passive heating, better ventilation, renewable electricity, and other less permanent options such as backyard composting. I found that cost-wise, it’s quite feasible to build one of these passive houses at OWU, as long as the school could be convinced to pay a little extra.

Methods and Results:

Methods-wise, this project was mostly research-based. When I thought of the idea for the project, I thought about creating an official proposal to give to the school that would outline the costs and benefits of a passive house SLU. Unfortunately the designs for the houses had been settled on quite a while ago and construction began right as I started researching. The focus of the project switched to a  more research-based paper. In theory this project can set the groundwork for a future project that can draft an actual proposal, saving some time on research and cost analysis.


Truly Sustainable Housing:

A truly sustainable house would be completely “off the grid.” Everything the house needs or produces would be taken care of without outside interference or effect. Renewable generators like solar panels or wind turbines would supply electricity, water would be taken from rain (ideally) or groundwater (if necessary) at replaceable rates. Heating and cooling would be done naturally using sunlight and the cooling power of the earth, using as little electricity as possible. Ventilation would happen without using too much electricity with the aid of an MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) system. Waste would be taken care of through compost and recycling, with (ideally) nothing going to landfills. Due to city codes and other restrictions, this isn’t necessarily practical for an OWU on-campus house. However, bits and pieces can be taken from this to produce a house that is still much more sustainable than average, maybe even achieving LEED certification.


One of the main components of a passive house is heating. Houses have always been inefficient when it comes to heating, especially back in the days when fireplaces were the primary heat source. Houses from the early 1900s generally are full of drafts and have many places where heat leaks out, such as under porches and through windows. Energy bills to heat houses are often much more expensive than they need to be. Passive houses aim to combat this by designing the house so that it can be heated using natural sunlight rather than electricity or gas, saving homeowners a lot of money.

In the Northern hemisphere, sunlight comes in through the south-facing wall of a house. In a passive house, this wall is as full of windows as it can reasonably be, in order to capture as much sunlight as possible. These windows are often triple-paned, meaning that the heat that comes in has a hard time leaking out as it gets caught between the layers of glass (kind of like a mini-greenhouse effect). When combined with the proper ventilation system, artificial heating becomes almost completely unnecessary. Places at higher latitudes can experience strong temperature differences between winter and summer, which would mean that in summer, these houses would become unbearably hot. To account for this, rooves are designed to keep sunlight out in the summer. The rooves are at such an angle that in the summer, when the sun is higher, sunlight bounces of the roof (where there would likely be solar panels). In the winter, when the sun is lower, sunlight goes below the roofline and into the windows.


The sunlight that does come in during the summer can be countered using standard blinds or other, fancier blinds. Some blinds can block the heat energy from getting in while still allowing light, while some blinds are made from tiny photovoltaic cells that can turn the sunlight into extra electricity. Even with fancy blinds, overheating can still be a concern in warmer climates, especially humid places like Ohio.


Ventilation in passive houses is a very scientific concept that I had a hard time understanding, but I’ll do my best to explain. The two main parts of the ventilation system are the MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) system and the circulation system between rooms of the house. The MVHR draws in air from the outside and brings it to the machine, which is usually located in the basement. The machine transfers the heat of the old air to the heat of the new air mechanically, and brings the new air into circulation. Room by room, a set of filters pumps fresh air into the room (at the bottom) while extracting old air (which rises to the top), keeping a constant fresh air supply going. When the air makes it’s way through every room, it returns to the MVHR where it’s heat is transferred to new air from the outside. The old air then gets pumped back out into the world.


With the MVHR transferring most heat energy from the old air to the new air, not much new heat energy is required. What little is needed can be captured by the south-facing windows, or can be created mechanically. Power for this ventilation system normally would come from solar panels or some other form of renewable energy to maximize sustainability.


Electricity for passive houses is simple: they almost always run off of solar power.  It’s easy enough to mount solar panels on rooves, and with the improving efficiency of solar panels it’s easy to run a whole house off of a roof’s worth of panels, even with the mechanical ventilation system. Oftentimes, energy companies are required by law to buy back any extra power that’s produced by homeowners renewably, and this is true in Ohio. The main electric companies have been fighting to reduce the payments for buying back, but they still do have to buy the extra electricity. It’s not always a lot of money, but it does help the solar panels pay for themselves even faster. Even in the cloudiest of climates, like the Great Lakes or the Pacific Northwest, solar panels can have a huge impact on electricity production, and can reduce electric bills significantly. The ventilation systems can sometimes require a fair bit of power, so having extra solar panels doesn’t hurt. New technologies like solar blinds are in development too, to maximize the amount of solar energy a single house can create.

Other Sustainable Projects:

There’s a few smaller things that can be done with the house that aren’t necessarily permanent features, or aren’t realistic to use at OWU. Backyard composting is easy to do and doesn’t take up much space. Many if not all of the SLUs already do it in some form. Food scraps at the SLUs go into a bucket under the sink, which is then taken to a proper compost pile. This would happen at the new Tree House whether they want it or not. What can be improved at the SLUs is the recycling. As it is, the recycling isn’t able to take many types of plastic. Only two specific types work with the SLU recycling. Ideally, most types of plastics as well as more kinds of materials besides plastics and paper would be able to be recycled at the new SLU. I’m not sure who would be in charge of this, I’m assuming it’s due to limitations with the school’s recycling partner.

Rooftop gardens are another sustainability project that’s catching on in big cities. While it wouldn’t be practical at OWU, especially not on a normal house with plenty of space around, rooftop gardens are quite beneficial to the buildings below them. They can grow food, act as natural cooling systems (kind of like old Viking sod rooves) and give people in urban high-rise environments like New York or Chicago some form of green space right on top of their work or home. The new SLU wouldn’t need a rooftop garden, but a backyard garden certainly wouldn’t hurt. It could serve both as a place to grow food and a place to compost, and add some scenery to a backyard that doesn’t really have anything besides a treeline. Rooftop gardens could in theory be put on top of the flat-roofed buildings on campus like the library or the science center, though it would likely be too expensive for the school to go for.

Rooftop gardens and another newish feature called vertical gardens also serve as important habitat for city wildlife. Vertical gardens stretch along the sides of buildings, usually as little terraces. Birds can nest in them, and squirrels can climb up to rooftops without having to rely on dangerous electrical lines. Urban wildlife tends to be pretty neglected and vertical and rooftop gardens are a way to counteract that.

How It Would Work at OWU:

Passive housing is a good idea anywhere, but would be especially good for OWU. There’s a strong environmental studies department here, and most of the students seem to be pretty environmentally conscious. Passive housing on campus could help attract new students, especially for the new environmental science major.

Ohio, and the campus itself, is decently well suited to passive housing. The new SLU has it’s south-facing side against the street, meaning there’s less obstacles like trees or other buildings blocking the sun. There can be some wild temperature swings monthly, weekly, and daily, meaning heating costs are constantly fluctuating. A passive house would not only greatly reduce the heating costs but also even the heating out (at least in older buildings, it’s either very hot or very cold at any given time). This would save the school a decent amount of money, with heating bills for the average passive house being around $300 a year (as opposed to the Ohio average of around $782 per year).

The Great Lakes region is one of the cloudiest areas of the country, but even with that, solar power is fully realistic. A standard solar array in Columbus is enough to power  about half of the yearly electricity usage. In private homes, this is mostly limited by cost. The school would in theory be able to put enough solar panels atop new SLUs to fully power them, but could just as easily get by with a standard array. The area can also get sticky hot in the summer, which a truly passive house isn’t necessarily able to handle. The MVHR can also serve as an air conditioner provided it’s given some cold air initially to work with. While it’s more expensive, it would be a nice thing to have (the new SLUs they’ve built already have air conditioning so in the same standard these passive SLUs would too).


On average, building a passive house is around 5-10% more expensive than building a standard house. The larger the building, the less expensive it is proportionally, so a passive duplex (SLUplex as they call them here) would be around 6-7% more expensive than a traditional duplex. This isn’t terribly expensive all things considered, especially when considering how much money it saves. With heating only costing around $300 a year, and with solar energy covering most if not all of electricity consumption, the average passive house can save owners up to $170,000 over 30 years. Since OWU’s living quarters seem to last quite a while (Stuy has been around for something like 80 years), this could be a big thing for the school. $170,000 per unit ($340,000 per duplex) with multiple duplexes would give the school quite a bit of extra money to work with.


Most of the benefits have already been outlined in this report. The SLUs wouldn’t rely on natural gas or coal-fired energy to heat and power themselves, instead using renewable sunlight as a heat source and as a source of electricity. Net energy costs would be at least cut in half, but ideally net energy would actually be a positive, with the SLUs producing enough power to sell back to electric companies, helping to pay off that 6-7% extra faster. Environmentally, the passive SLUs would have a much smaller footprint than a normal house, which besides the obvious benefit to the environment could potentially attract new students to the school. The SLU wouldn’t need to look much different architecturally as passive components can be built in to the house without being noticed. Overall, a passive SLU would be a great idea for the school, and a further project to actually submit a proposal would be a good step in making the school aware of passive houses and all the benefits that come with them.

Works cited:

Anderson, Elizabeth. Tree House resident

Badescu, V., & Sucre, B. “Renewable energy for passive house heating: II. Model.” Energy and Buildings, 2003.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. “Ohio Programs.”

Earthship Biotecture. “Radically Sustainable Buildings.”

Environmental Protection Agency. “Backyard Composting: It’s Only Natural.” NSCEP, 2010. (hyperlink cuz the link’s too long).

Figueiredo, A., Kämpf, J., Vicente, R. “Passive house optimization for Portugal: Overheating evaluation and energy performance.” Energy & Buildings, 2016.

Kuzman, M.K., Groselj, P., Ayrilmis, N., Zbasnik-Senegagnik, M. “Comparison of passive house construction types using analytic hierarchy process.” Energy & Buildings, 2013.

Mullins, Seamus. “Rosslare Case Study, Passive House Cost Analysis.” 2010.

Passive House Institute US. “What Is a Passive Building?”

Passive house Pty Ltd. “Ventilation & Heat/Energy Recovery.”—heat-energy-recovery

Rodriguez-Ubinas, E., Montero, C., & Porteros, S. “Passive design strategies and performance of Net Energy Plus houses.” Energy & Buildings, 2014.

Schneiders, J., Feist, W., & Rongen, L. “Passive houses for different climate zones.” Energy & Buildings, 2015.

Digital Portfolio

May 10, 2017

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Trouble with the Wilderness – I wrote a blog post but I can’t find it?

Week 3: Desert Solitaire

Week 4: The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse

Week 5: Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times Part 1

Week 6: Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times Part 2

Week 7: Eating Animals

Week 8: Environment and Society (Part 1)

Week 9 and Week 10: No posts

Week 11: Environment and Society Part 2

Week 12: Placing Animals

Week 13: What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

Motion Sensor Installation Project

Motion Sensor Installation

May 10, 2017

Motion Sensor Installation

The basic idea for my project is to see if it is feasible to install motion sensor lights into the Smith (East and West Wings), Bashford and Thompson dormitories. Currently only Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch Halls have installed motion sensor lights within the past ten years. With the installation, these lights have decreased the cost of electricity significantly than just using the LED lights that are always on. Smith Halls have five floors each with twenty-four hour lights on, making this dorm one of the least electrically efficient buildings on our campus. The first step is to analyze the buildings without the motion sensors. To do this, I would have to require floor plans from Buildings and Grounds to map out all of the lights within each building. The next step is to set up a meeting with the head of Electricity at Buildings and Grounds, Gregg Blume, to get an estimate on the cost of lights, removal of current LED lights, installation of motion sensor lights and duration of the whole process. With this meeting, I will be able to get an estimate on how efficient this process will be for the long-term costs instead of keeping the twenty-four-hour lights on constantly. The purpose of this project is to maximize efficiency with motion sensor lights and reduce our carbon footprint on the residential side of the Ohio Wesleyan University campus in the future. Unfortunately, due to the lack of records of the Buildings and Grounds department of before and after the installation of motion sensor lights, I was not able to move my project forward. Instead, I researched how feasible it would be to install the motion sensor lights in the future.

Methods and Results:

What I did to get started on this project is research the environmental impacts of the motion sensing lights. Some dorms in our school already have motion sensing lights such as Stuyvesant, Hayes, and Welch. Although buildings such as Thomson Hall, Smith West and Smith East are eligible to have lights replaced with motion sensors, our school currently does not have enough funding. Once funding is available for these dorms (including the Bashford and Thomson dormitories), it is a very cost efficient approach to have motion sensor lights installed. In the long run, these lights will reduce our carbon footprint on the residential side of our campus. Switching to motion sensor lights costs about $0.22 a month which is the equivalent to the energy cost of leaving a single 60 watt light bulb on for 33 hours. I researched online to find that the average price per unit ranged from as low $30 to around $85. Because of the disparity in pricing, I am reluctant to provide a full cost-benefit analysis. To get information regarding the motion detection lighting systems that would be potentially in place, universities that already have motion sensors or local companies that produce and install motion sensing lights would have to be contacted. Unfortunately, the Buildings and Grounds department did not keep efficient records and therefore I was not able to see the difference in efficiency with and without the motion sensor lights in Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls. This is the reason why it would be necessary to get information from other universities or the companies.

There are both pros and cons to installing motion sensor lights. The cons to this are that the lights can sometimes be falsely triggered or not turn on when there is motion. These lights can also be hard to turn off in lockdowns and have specific light bulbs that would work with them. A big worry is that the lights may pose a fire hazard. Some pros about motion sensing lights is that it makes walking into rooms more convenient and if positioned carefully, the motion sensor can detect the slightest movement. Also, the lights are affordable and give the campus a modern feeling. The motion sensor lights can also be switched over to manual controls if needed. Most importantly, it conserves more electricity than buildings without the motion sensors, lowering the cost of electricity for the school and saving the school money in the long term.

Another important asset to installing motion sensor lights is the impact that it has on the students. A psychological study was done at Oberlin College to observe how dormitory residents reduce electricity consumption when exposed to real-time visual feedback and incentives, which then encourages students to conserve resources and to ‘think green’. What was found from the study was that when the students were given an incentive to conserve the resources and saw real-time feedback of their efforts they found themselves more inclined to conserve energy instead of wasting it. Post-survey, the students reported that they would continue their conservation practices that they developed during the study. If motion lights are installed by the university, it shows that the school cares about the environment and is actively trying to reduce its carbon footprint which in turn can be seen as an incentive and lead students to thinking greener and conserving energy as well. If the data for the impact the lights were making were shown in real-time and students had access to it, it can also be more of an incentive to conserve energy and reduce the campus’ carbon footprint.

Getting this project going was difficult on my end because OWU did not previously keep records about the electricity in Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls before and after the installment of motion sensor lights. In lieu of the data about Stuyvesant, Hayes and Welch halls, I researched the topic extensively to see the assets and liabilities that come with installing these lights. What I found is that overall installing the motion sensing lights is both more energy and cost efficient for the school.


Petersen, John E., Shunturov, Vladislav, Janda, Kathryn, Platt, Gavin,

Weinberger, Kate. Dormitory residents reduce electricity consumption when exposed to real‐time visual feedback and incentives. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 2007 8:1 , 16-33

This study was focused on the Oberlin College’s dorms to research the efficiency and energy consumption of its residents. Their results of this research provide evidence of real-time resource feedback systems when combined with education and an incentive, interest, motivate and empower college students to reduce resource use in dormitories.

Blume, Gregg. Electrical Shop Supervisor at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Gregg gave me access to the floor plans of all the residency halls on campus that do not have the motion sensor lights installed in their hallways. He also gave me more details about how to walk-through all the halls to record where the current LED lights are and how my project could help influence the directors to follow through with the installation of these efficient lights.

Niwa, Minoru. Pulse oximeter with physical motion sensor. Colin Electronics Co., Ltd, 1991. Grant Number: US 07/531,769 1-11

Multiple types of sensors of these lights allow for different levels of sensitivity to turn on these lights for efficiency.

Shulman-Ment, Maya. Motion sensor lighting in Lord/Saunders. The Freen EDGE Fund, 2016.

Student Maya Shulman-Ment analyzes the possibility of installing motion sensor lights in the Lord and Saunders dormitories at Oberlin College, Ohio. This is a project idea but she has a good train of thought about how she can accomplish this project to move forward.

Britton, Rachel. Motion sensor lights going up in residence halls. Tommie Media 2011

At St. Thomas campus dormitories, motion sensor lights were installed in 2011. The campus spent $2,658,635 for electricity the previous year and the motion sensor lights are expected to save 5% or approximately $130,000 on the total electrical cost.

Piekarz, Jeannie. Dormitory Motion Sensory Lighting. Clarkson University PDF 1-11

Eta Kappa Nu, or the Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering Honor Society wrote a project outline for installing motion sensor lights in the dormitories at Clarkson University. This society analyzed the materials needed, impacts, assessments, and feasibility of the installation of these lights.

Building and Grounds at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The Buildings and Grounds department will allow me to research cost of labor and installation costs that will allow for the motion sensor lights to be installed.

Sarkisian, Ellen. Benefits of Using Motion-Sensor Light Switches. The Eco Guide 2016.

Ellen Sarkisian uses multiple sources to analyze the effectiveness of motion sensor lights than the traditional LED lights. She uses national data to show an overall benefit to changing to motion sensor lights.

Energy.Gov Energy saver. When to Turn Off Your Lights.

The cost effectiveness of when to turn off lights depends of the types of lights and the price of electricity. This article analyzes the efficiency of LED lights as well as disadvantages to these lights.

College Programs to Reduce Energy Consumption in Dorms. Electric Choice.

This article shows how colleges all over the United States have raised awareness about college students’ consumption as well as kick-starting programs to encourage students to develop positive energy behaviors and reduce their energy consumption.

Alternatives to Disposable Menstrual Products

May 10, 2017

Flannery Stephens

Image result for tampons


For this project as well as my house project for Tree House, I decided to educate the people at OWU who have periods on how to reduce the waste that time of the month causes, and provide an alternative to disposable products. I did some research on the environmental hazards of pads and tampons and put the main points of my findings on a trifold to be presented at Hamwil during Green Week. I also bought 20 reusable cloth pads off of the internet to sell to anyone who was interested in taking action right there. The results were interesting: a lot of people actually seemed excited to talk about their periods and wanted to buy the pads. I ended up selling almost all of them, and then I donated the proceeds to Africa Bags to buy reusable pad kits for three girls.

Materials and Methods

The first step in this project was to do some research on just how exactly disposable pads and tampons are affecting the environment. Not a lot of information was needed: just enough to make people realize that it’s an issue, and to encourage them to take steps against it. A quick google search for “environmental impacts of periods” turned up with a few things, mostly online articles. Most of the information came from a article called “Greening the Crimson Tide- What is the Environmental Impact of my Period?”, which discusses the impacts of waste from period products in landfills. My main piece of information came from this article: people who have periods produce about 500 pounds of pad and tampon waste in their lifetimes, and that comes to about half a percent of their total lifetime trash outputs. This is a significant amount even if it seems small, because this is half the earth’s population producing 500 extra pounds of waste each. Using this point was important because it helps people realize that reducing period waste is a combined effort, and encourages them to not only take action but to encourage others to take action. Another article that was useful was a Guardian article that talked about how reducing period waste is difficult because of the taboo people have surrounding periods preventing information from getting to those who could make a change. This taboo would become an important part of the project, and affected nearly every aspect of it. I also found a few other bits and pieces of information, such as the fact that pads and tampons are usually made with non-biodegradable, non-recyclable materials and treated with toxic chemicals. Then, I researched alternatives for disposable pads and tampons, and found three main options: reusable pads, menstrual cups, and menstrual sponges. However, I already knew about these from my own experiences as a person who has periods and cares about the environment.

The next step was preparing and acquiring my materials. Since everyone in my house was preparing for their own Green Week events, it was easy to acquire a trifold and art supplies to decorate it. I put the most salient points about the environmental impacts of periods on the sides, and three alternatives to disposable products—including a fourth, free bleeding—on the bottom. I also decided to decorate it with pads and tampons, and added red paint for one thing: shock value. Considering the taboo about periods, I decided to make the board graphic and up front about what this issue is. My thought process was that by presenting this as something clearly and blatantly about periods, I could start a discussion about not only period waste, but about the societal implications of that time of the month. Note, also, the font used for the word period: another place I tried to use shock value, by making the very word period look like, well, period blood. Now, there were a few concerns I had about my presentation choices. I did wonder if this would draw people in or scare them off, because a lot of people just still aren’t ready to have real discussions about their periods. I was absolutely sure the board would scare off people who don’t have periods, mostly men, and that was actually desired: I didn’t want to have to deal with a bunch of people approaching me and immediately running off when I explained to them what the project was about. By making the trifold as graphic as possible, I figured I would be able to “filter out” anyone who would be repulsed by the idea of talking about periods and using reusable products. This includes both people who don’t have periods and some who do.


Figure 1: The trifold, essentially completed

Before making the display, I had to buy the merchandise. I chose reusable pads because they are relatively cheap and easy to use. At first, I looked at a few name-brand websites, only to find that their pads were quite expensive and could not be bought in bulk. On Amazon, I found reusable pads in packs of ten for thirty dollars, which is about three dollars per pad—a decent deal. I bought two ten packs using Tree House funds. Twenty pads was the amount I chose because I didn’t think they would sell very well, but I wanted to have enough in case they did, and also because we only had enough house funds for two ten packs.


Figure 2: The Merchandise.

Once Green Week came along, I was all set and ready to sell some pads. I originally planned to only sell them on Monday, because each day was themed as a level of doing something for the environment, starting with individual action on Monday and leading up to global action on Friday. Monday seemed like the best choice because what someone does with their periods is a very personal and individual choice. When people approached, my method was simple: I asked them if they wanted to know about the environmental impact of their period. Then, I explained my main points, gesturing to my trifold the whole time so they could read along. I then showed them the alternatives section of the board and asked if they were interested in reducing the waste produced by their periods. Then, I would let them choose a pad and pay however much they wanted for it.

As for where to donate the proceeds, Africa Bags was a suggestion from my roommate. I am not sure how she knew about the organization, but they looked perfect to donate the pad proceeds to. Among other charity programs, they donate reusable pads to girls in Malawi. In that country, people who have periods often miss school because they don’t have any products for it, and they fall behind. This specific program gives people pad kits that have a light, medium, and heavy flow pad as well as a pair of underwear. The organization also builds solar panels in Malawi, but I felt that donating the money for reusable pads would be more relevant.


               I assumed the graphic board worked, because on Monday, a large number of people approached my station. All of the people who approached were female-presenting, but I try to avoid assuming genders (note that I also try to avoid gendering people who have periods, as having that anatomy does not necessarily mean being a woman). The people who approached were all very excited to talk about how they could reduce their period waste, and a lot of them seemed surprised by my main fact about how much waste people who have periods produce. There was only one person, out of all three days, who seemed grossed out by the project. She was also the only non-student who approached. A middle aged woman approached on Monday and started looking at the pads, and asked me what they were. “They’re reusable pads,’ I said, “for your period.” The second I said period she recoiled, raised an eyebrow, and said that that was all she needed to hear. She moved on to the other Green Week trifolds and ignored me until she left. Other than her, no one seemed grossed out by the display, which makes me think there is an age aspect to the period taboo. Are older people less willing to talk about menstruation?

On Monday, a lot of people told me they would love to buy a pad, but didn’t have any cash on them. This is why, while I originally only planned to table on Monday, I ended up tabling on Wednesday and Thursday, too. This would prove to be a great success: I sold fifteen of the pads over the entire three days, and made a little over sixty dollars (so a slight profit). In addition, one girl came back to the table on Thursday and told me some exciting news—the pads work great! A lot of customers and I agreed—periods suck, but we couldn’t wait to try out the pads. Another girl who came on Wednesday and didn’t buy a pad brought up an interesting point to me, which was that if blood in landfills can seep into groundwater, what happens to blood that is rinsed out of a reusable pad and gets washed down the drain?

All in all, over the three days I tabled, I had a lot of very positive experiences. There is a solidarity that exists between people who have periods, because it is a universally unpleasant experience, and given the opportunity, people are willing to talk about it. The girl who had her period and got to try out the pads went in depth about how absorbent they were. A few people said they didn’t have periods any more due to birth control, but said they would tell their friends about reusable pads and other alternatives to disposable period products. This is amazing news, and I hope more people at OWU are learning about how to make their periods more environmentally friendly even without me tabling.


In taking this project further, there are a few things that could be done. First of all, reusable pads aren’t the best alternative to disposable products. There is a question of how sanitary they are because they are supposed to just be rinsed off between uses; they can be put in the washing machine but it is impractical to do this with every use. A few people I talked to used menstrual cups, and all had very positive reviews of them. Since they cost upwards of thirty dollars, it doesn’t make sense to try and sell these during the lunch hour. One possibility that would have a major effect would be to get the Thomson store to sell reusable pads and/or menstrual cups, which would involve working with the store to find suppliers and determine prices and markups. Another way to take this project further would be to do more research on the impact of period blood being washed down the drain as well as finding more specific information about the impact of disposable products specifically concerning blood seepage into landfills and potential impacts of the chemicals used to make the products. Finally, this could also be taken in a sociological direction by studying (interviewing or surveying people?) the taboo of talking about menstruaton.


Africabags: gives food, reusable pads, and solar panels to people in Malawi through proceeds made by selling handmade bags and other products, also provides jobs to the people. or contact

Appendix (this was also in my proposal)

Hospital eTool: Healthcare Wide Hazards – (Lack of) Universal Precautions. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2017, from

This describes bodily fluids that can spread disease, and says any bodily fluid containing blood may spread HIV and HBV.

Spinks, R. (2015, April 27). Disposable tampons aren’t sustainable, but do women want to talk about it? Retrieved March 01, 2017, from

This talks about how disposable tampons, which people who have periods use 11,000 of in their lifetime, are unsustainable and often contain dangerous chemicals that the manufacturers don’t have to disclose. It also talks about why we aren’t having a conversation about reusable options.

Rastogi, N. (2010, March 16). What’s the environmental impact of my period? Retrieved March 01, 2017, from

This is where I started getting information, it didn’t provide much but it has some useful statistics.