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Earth Week Event Descriptions

Earth Week is only days away! The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will be kicking off Earth Week 2013 on Earth Day, Monday April 22nd. The events will last through Friday, April 26th. The UW-Whitewater Earth Initiative invites all students, faculty, and community members to participate in this week long celebration to support sustainability and environmental protection. Make sure to check out the events running throughout the week and get involved!

Take a look below and see what is going on during Earth Week to spread sustainability awareness throughout our community:

Race to Recycle

Where: University Center

When: Monday (4/22) 8:00am-1:00pm Tuesday (4/23) 8:00am-1:00pm

So you think you know how to recycle? Think again! In today’s day and age, the use of plastic has become commonplace in packaging. Race to Recycle is an activity designed to create valuable crowd engagement. Common recyclables are given to participants, who then must attempt to sort the recyclables into their respective recycle bins. Participants are rewarded with a sustainable reusable water bottle. Race to Recycle is a fun interactive game that was a crowd favorite at the recently held WellFest 2013.

Do One Thing (DOT) Campaign/ Sustainability Wall

Where: University Center

When: Monday (4/22) 8:00am-1:00pm Tuesday (4/23) 8:00am-1:00pm

The success of the Free Speech wall on campus is being transferred to sustainability. The UW-Whitewater Earth Initiative wants students to pledge one thing they are going to do to be more sustainable throughout their career at UW-Whitewater. Students will have the option to write on our Sustainability Wall, post on the Facebook Wall, or tweet us. It’s a new way for students to engage in sustainability.

Plastic Bag Collection

Where: University Center

When: Monday (4/22) 10:00am-4:00pm Tuesday (4/23) 10:00am-4:00pm

Plastic bags are regularly just thrown out, so S.A.G.E. has decided to take them off of student’s hands. During this event, S.A.G.E. will have a table in the UC to collect plastic bags. A person can receive one reusable bag for every ten plastic bags that he or she turns in. During tabling at this event, students and faculty will also have the opportunity to take a pledge to not use plastics for a day or two or even an entire week.

Do It for the Kids

Where: Roseman Building

When: Wednesday (4/24) 8:00am-2:00pm

Like working with kids? S.A.G.E. will be working with kids from the Local Whitewater Elementary School on ecological activities. These activities will help kids learn ways to be more sustainable like what types of trash can be recycled. This activity is great for education majors who plan on working with kids in the future as well.

The Eco-Workshop

Where: University Center 264

When: Wednesday (4/24) 1:00pm-4:00pm

S.A.G.E. will be hosting a fair in which people can learn ways to be more sustainable. There will be multiple booths set up to teach various tips and tricks. Students will be able to do everything from mending clothing to learning how to decrease their ecological footprint.

Recyclable Fashion Show

Where: Hyland Hall 1000

When: Wednesday (4/24) 4:00pm-5:30pm

This is no ordinary fashion show! In order to show support for Earth Week, our fashion show is a friendly competition among orgs to see who can create the best outfit made from everyday recycled materials. This competition will be held on Wednesday, April 24th in Timmerman Auditorium (Hyland Hall 1000) at 4pm-5:30pm. Each group will have 30 minutes to design an outfit, made out of as many recyclable items. We ask that you please bring your own recyclables with you, in order to ensure you will have all the supplies you need to create your outfit masterpiece although we will have all supplies for putting them together and some recyclables provided. After 30 minutes, a member from each group will model the outfit in front of a panel of three “celebrity” judges. The judges will score the outfits based on creativity, use of recycled items, and overall appearance.  The selected winner will receive a prize! This fashion show is a great way to show your support for Earth Week, while having fun along the way!

Birds of Prey

Where: Outside University Center

When: Thursday (4/25) 10:00am-2:00pm

Wildlife conservation has become an increasingly important practice due to the negative effects of human activity on wildlife.  The Northern Illinois Raptor Center will be visiting the UW-Whitewater campus to not only talk with students about harmful effects on the environment, but also the BIRDS who are also affected.  They will be bringing birds to do demonstrations and provide a more sentimental view on sustainability and the environment.

Sculpture Contest

Where: Center of the Arts 2057

When: Thursday (4/25) 1:00pm-3:00pm

Students will be creating masterpieces out of what most of us would see as everyday trash. This will be interesting!

Movie: ”YERT”

Where: University Center- Summer’s Auditorium

When: Thursday (4/25) 5:00pm-8:45pm

The ecological movie “YERT” (Your Environmental Road Trip) is a movie about three friends who hit the road with the goal of using the least amount of garbage possible. This critically claimed, award-winning film is a must-see for anyone looking for a good laugh while learning great waste reducing tips.

Photo and Video Contest

Where: Whitewater

When: Monday-Thursday

See something awesome outside? Submit photos of anything outside involving nature or sustainability and the best ones will be on display on the big screen in Hyland Hall! Send your photos to:

Green Team Clean-up

Where: Starin Park

When: Friday (4/26) 11:15am-3:00pm

Join S.A.G.E. members in cleaning up trash around and outside of campus. This activity is a great way for students to get actively involved in Earth Week while meeting a few new people along the way. It is also a great opportunity to pick up community service hours for graduation.

The History of Earth Day

Imagine companies dumping waste wherever they wanted.  Imagine factories allowing black clouds of toxicity to spread like wild fire into the air we breathe.  Now, after taking a moment to come back from those horrible thoughts, be relieved.  Relieved that there was a man sensible enough to generate the idea of regulations to protect our environment.  That man was Gaylord Nelson.

Nelson was born on June fourth in the year 1916, in Clear Lake, WI.  He attended the University of Wisconsin’s Law program where he received his degree in 1942.  Gaylord began his political career running on a progressive Republican platform for a position in the state legislature.  Nelson lost his first race, but it was not enough to discourage him from trying again.

The next time Nelson ran, he ran on the Democratic platform for a position in the Wisconsin State Senate.  Gaylord Nelson served 10 years in this position until he became the governor of Wisconsin in 1958.  Once Nelson became governor, he developed a program entitled the Outdoor Recreation Acquisition Program.  The plan was to increase state-protected areas through a small tax on a pack of cigarettes.  How small you ask?  The tax consisted of a single cent being added to the total cost of a pack of smokes.  Gaylord Nelson’s tactics to support and encourage environmentalism didn’t stop at a penny tax.

Nelson is credited with the development of Earth Day.  For those who don’t know, Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a day to further educate citizens on environmental issues.  Earth Day is a growing movement even known to extend so far as Earth Week.  However, when the original Earth Day was held, it was Nelson who made it work.  It was the 20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools that participated in the event.  According to Nelson, “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level.”

In a brief summary, Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson a Wisconsin State Senator and Governor.  The movement wouldn’t have worked if it hadn’t been for the participants.  This is a perfect example of how great ideas can spread like wild fires and ignite the minds of the people of the world.

On campus, for Earth Week, there will be a Recyclable Fashion Show held in the Timmerman Auditorium in Hyland Hall at 4pm on Wednesday, April 24.  Students will be designing outfits and accessories from recyclable materials and will then show them off on the runway.  Make sure to come out and show your support and even join the movement that is Earth Week.

Thank you for joining this week’s Conservation Conversation!

– Michael Jaworski

Big Business: Bottled Water

Bottled water is a big business.  It has been estimated that water bottle sales worldwide range between $60 and $100 billion.  These large sales are due to great marketing.  Bottled water is often thought of as the freshest, most healthy water one can drink.  It isn’t uncommon to see water bottle labels containing words such as, spring water or majestic alpine streams.  The copy seen on labels often reassures consumers that the water they consume is somehow much more pristine than the water that comes out of a faucet or drinking fountain.  However, bottled water isn’t so different from tap water as many think.  Most bottled water differs from tap because of the process used in bottling it.  Bottled water is run through large purification machines and then have minerals added to help with the “taste” of the water.  This minor point only goes to show that bottled water is hardly as majestic or pristine as marketers make it appear.

To shed some insight on the big business of bottled water, Elizabeth Royte will be coming to the UW-Whitewater campus on Monday, April 8, 2013 to lecture on “Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs and the Battle over America’s Drinking Water.”  Elizabeth Royte’s writings on science and the environment has appeared in many well known publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, Outside, and The New York Times Magazine.  Her first book, The Tapir’s Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest, was awarded Notable Book of the Year for 2001 by The New York Times.  This lecture will be fun and full of insight on bottled water from a well-known writer.

Let us know what you think of the lecture on our Facebook page or Twitter.


Twitter: @sustainable_uww

Thank you for joining this week’s Conservation Conversation.

– Michael Jaworski

WellFest 2013

On Sunday, March 10th, W3 – Working for Whitewater’s Wellness – held their second annual WellFest. Wellfest took place within the Whitewater high school. The event was a huge success; over 15 local businesses, 4 presenters, and 150 participants joined in on the fun. W3 worked extremely hard to implement yet another successful WellFest by providing a multitude of activities promoting Wellness and Sustainability.

Activities conducted included yoga, boot camp, Zumba, Tai Chi, and “Minute to Win It” games.  Presentations on healthy eating, financial planning and cooking were also available to benefit all of those attending. The “Minute to Win It” games were a favorite among the younger generation. Kids from the ages of 6 to 14 loved the various challenges put on by members of Creative Marketing Unlimited.  Even residents of the university residence halls tried to apply their skills to the various mini tasks.

The “Minute to Win It” challenge included 7 activities. The winners would be chosen based on their times; the lower your time, the more competitive your chances for a prize. The first challenge was “balloon juggling” best described as keeping 3 balloons airborne as long as possible. The “balloon challenge” worked conversely to the other activities because the time the balloons were off the ground was deducted from their final score.  The hardest game was the “quarter catch” or rolling a quarter on an uneven table and having it stop in the prongs of a fork. Every person who gave the competition a try found a game they were naturally skilled at as well as one that challenged them.

Along with helping conduct the “Minute to Win It games,” CMU members also manned a UWW Earth Initiative table. The table was a huge success and extended the sustainability initiative to members outside of the college campus.  The main goal of the table was to share what the university was implementing to promote and initiate a sustainable campus. Not only did the table provide information but also hosted a “race to recycle” activity to get the community engaged with recycling. 35 water bottles were also dispensed in exchange for participants using social media to promote the Facebook and Twitter aspects of the initiative.

Overall, WellFest in 2013 grew from last year. There was more involvement and activities compared to the previous year. Everyone in attendance voiced appreciation for the hard work involved with putting on a successful event.  Kids, college students, and the community all found something tailored to their interests during their time at WellFest and look forward to what next year will hold.

Fracking Infusion

In Carrizo Springs, Texas, ranchers are raising questions about the sustainability of hydraulic fracking in the region. Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas and oil from deep underground. The technique is used to extract oil and natural gas with greater efficiency. This efficiency comes with a cost – massive water usage, dangerous chemical compounds being pumped into the ground, and large risks to our water tables. According to the article, “As Fracking Increases, So Do Fears About Water Supply,” the fracking industry is extremely dangerous for the environment.

Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water down a well to extract oil and natural gas from porous rock.  A single well utilizes between 4 million to 6 million gallons of water.  This water comes from the aquifers of the region. In Carrizo Springs, the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer supplies the nearby fracking efforts of Dammit County. A study of the Aquifer shows fracking “reduces the amount of water by the equivalent of one-third the aquifer’s recharge.” Drainage of this magnitude is unsustainable and causes other stockholders that use the aquifer to be pushed aside. Take Hugh Fitzsimons for example. Hugh states that one well from his ranch fell by two-thirds due to fracking.

If the water used in fracking is never recovered. Unfortunately, the water used is contaminated with minerals and other unknown highly toxic chemicals. Contaminated water must be hauled off site to be drained into a disposal well. Disposal wells are highly unregulated and could possibly contaminate nearby wells and aquifers.

All in all the fracking is terrible for the environment. Regulations and laws must be passed in a rapid fashion to prevent irreversible damage.  As a nation we need to learn from our mistakes. We have had devastating oil spills within our nation due to weak regulation and unethical corporate decision-making. Take the Exxon Valdez disaster or the Gulf oil spill for instance. Fracking could have similar effects as far as overall damage in the form of aquifer depletion and well contamination. For Texas being a region that lacks water as a whole, a decision must be made to determine the best allocation for the available water supply. Hopefully the aggregate economy is favored rather that the corporate checkbook.

Check out this person’s kitchen sink water starting on fire from fracking:

Thank you for joining the conservation conversation.

Where the Water Flows North

A huge debate is raging in our capital today. Many people are fighting over the future of Wisconsin’s mining heritage. There are those who are solely concerned with the economic benefits a potential bill revision would create. Others worry about irreversible damages that could result from the passage of the Wisconsin Mining Bill being voted on at this very moment. One group that wants their voice heard is the Annishinaabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) tribe residing within the Bad River Indian Reservation.

On February 27th at 3:45 Matt Dannenburg spoke to the students of University of Wisconsin – Whitewater about the potential risks to the Annishinaabe subsistence way of life that may arise if the Wisconsin Mining Bill gets through the state legislature. Matt represented the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and made the argument that a passage of the current bill will affect their reservation in some way or another.  After hearing the presentation, it is clear that the passage of the bill would be a loss for all of those concerned about creating a sustainable Wisconsin.

The bill originated through the collaboration with the mining company, Gogebic Taconite, and the state legislature. The bill’s main purpose is to relax mining legislation and speed up the DNR’s approval process in hopes of bringing mining companies and economic development to Wisconsin. The main mine this bill would favor is located in the Penokee Hills. The Penokee hills reside in Ashland county of Northern Wisconsin. The size of this mine will be 22 miles long and will require streams and lakes to be filled in with the overburden, the rock remaining as a result of the mining operations. This use of natural waterways is where Matt and the Annishinaabe Tribe find their fight.

The mining will not take place within the reservation. The problem arises when the rivers containing the mining overburden carry the contaminants north towards Lake Superior and through their reservation.  Possible sulphur and other compounds within the soil could spell disaster for the sloughs, backwaters, of the reservation that the tribe harvests wild rice from. Elevated compounds being introduced into the rivers and streams could ruin entire ecosystems. With the ecosystem will go the entire rice farming way of life of the Annishinaabe tribe.

Matt and the Annishinaabe tribe are not against mining. The tribe is against the way this is being done and that their voices have been suppressed. Matt stated that there was never a hearing held in Ashland county, but only in the surrounding area. The bill would further suppress the voices of those in the mining areas by expediting the hearing process.  Just a little bit ago the mining bill passed the senate and will most likely pass the state assembly.

The Ojibwa saying, “water is life” holds true for everyone in the world. The mining bill will have an effect on the quality of water the in the Bad River watershed in the future.  No matter what the arguments are on either side of the political spectrum, one thing is for certain – the passage of the Wisconsin Mining Bill will change the Bad River Indian reservation for years to come.

Earth Week Workshop

On Monday, February 25th, we hosted an Earth Week Brainstorm workshop.  The goal of this event was to gather people from different organizations in order to learn what fresh minds could contribute to our cause.  We hosted not only members from the American Marketing  Association(AMA) and Creative Marketing Unlimited (CMU), but members from S.A.G.E., Water Council, EPO, Safety Org, PEACE, CEO, and ResLife.  The event was a spectacular success with 46 people coming to share their ideas!

The evening began with CMU board members greeting participants in the workshop.  Qdoba came, and kindly served free chips and queso to all who came.  Wes Enterline then delivered an  excellent presentation on the history of Earth Week efforts on campus, which also served to help give people an idea of the kind of events we were looking for.

Finally, the creative portion of the workshop began.  Groups were formed with members from each organization present being teamed with CMU board members familiar with the Earth Initiative.  The groups were given a prompt to spur creativity, and everybody did a fantastic job coming up with new and creative ideas. Tons of new event ideas were created that can engage students in Earth Week activities and show them how to become more sustainable.

In addition to creating ideas for events, the event also served to bring
together students from various campus orgs and get them motivated to
live more sustainable lives. It is certainly exciting to think about all of  the organizations that attended  and how many potential members of those organizations can be reached through  the cooperation and outreach  that began at Monday’s workshop!

Dylan Waldhuetter from water council said “Not only would I like to see the Water Council get more involved on campus but a large part of our campaign is focused on increased sustainability efforts on campus.”

After the event planning commenced, participants in the workshop volunteered to be filmed for short videos.  Many talked about things that they do to be sustainable, while others talked about all the things they have seen CMU accomplish with the UW-Whitewater Earth Initiative around campus.  Keep an eye out in the coming days for another great  Sustainability video from that the clips that were collected in this workshop!

A special thanks to all attendees, we truly accomplished something for the greater good of our campus by coming together!

Until next time, thank you for joining the Conservation Conversation!

Earth Initiative Outreach: Men’s Basketball

Welcome to the Conservation Conversation,

On Saturday, February 9, the UW–Whitewater men’s basketball team hosted UW–Superior and took home an 84 to 53 win. During the warm-up period, we worked hard to promote the UW-Whitewater Earth Initiative by performing some gorilla marketing tactics to increase awareness about sustainability efforts occurring across the campus.

The main draw was our water bottle give-away. Patrons attending the game could earn a reusable water bottle made of recycled materials by performing any of the following: liking the UW- Whitewater sustainability page on Facebook, Following UW – Whitewater sustainability on Twitter, or simply being part of a recycling video. Most participants opted for the “Likes” and “Follows,” but a few individuals aided in the creation of video clips.

Most of the video clips involved giving a short snippet giving the person’s name along with what they do to promote sustainability. One clip had people stating they recycle on a regular basis. Another turned off the lights every time they left their dorm room. We also had two guys state they recycled large amounts of aluminum cans.

The UW-Whitewater Cheerleaders even volunteered to be in our video! The cheerleaders remain sustainable by reusing water bottles at cheer practice. Seeing as there was a volleyball tournament occurring at the Williams Center concurrent with the basketball game, we decided to get volleyball teams involved with the video. Unfortunately, the initial team asked turned the video down.

Nonetheless, volleyball teams will be present again in the future allowing us future opportunities for additional videos. The UW-Whitewater dance team also expressed interest in filming a clip which may be done this coming Saturday, February 16th when the Warhawks battle UW–Oshkosh to extend their 5-game winning streak. We look forward to seeing everyone at the game, remember to stop at our booth for a water bottle.


Let’s Ask Around Campus

Last week our very own Zack Watton went around campus searching for answers to a few simple questions about sustainability here on the gorgeous UW-Whitewater campus. This week we would like to start by thanking Michael Flanagan, the Director of Crossman Gallery for his valuable time in answering a few of our interview questions.

This week we learned that Flanagan incorporates images from a tour of an ethanol production facility into course material. Flanagan really likes to get students thinking about how their choices can impact the environment post graduation by talking about different living arrangements and building materials among other topics. He hopes that getting students to critically think about applicable sustainability through coursework will be incorporated in decision making later in life.

When we interviewed Flanagan he expressed that he would like students to become more engaged in some of the activities hosted on campus such as Earth Day. Flanagan is huge advocate of campus beautification projects that incorporate sustainability such as native prairie seed plantings and hopes that more students get involved with projects like this on campus.

When we asked Flanagan where there is the most room for improvement around campus he expressed that we need more transit options around campus. There are far too many commuters that could easily benefit from mass transit in the area.
What do you think Whitewater? Would it make sense to have shuttle buses run in town for those distant neighborhoods? Would it make sense to have shuttle buses from park and rides in towns outside of Whitewater?

Let us know what you think and stay tuned for more interviews coming soon!

Let us know if you would like to have your voice be heard on anything to do with sustainability around Whitewater.

Valentine’s Day, the green way

Hello UW-Whitewater!

Well, Valentine’s Day is in a few days and I certainly do not claim any advanced romantic insights.  However, I find some inspiration in trying to craft the perfect evening that will not only show your significant other how much you care, but also will keep your celebrations lean and green.

Let’s think about the “typical” romantic evening… you make dinner reservations at the typical restaurant and deal with the traffic, crowds and potentially even a wait… even with a reservation.  The staff at the restaurant is probably working hard and might not be overly considerate or receptive to yet another loving couple… trust me, I worked in customer service for many years!  Perhaps following that, you go to a local movie theater where you run into more apathetic staff and large crowds of people.  After all of that money, time and stress of being out and about, you’ve managed to accomplish what is the stereotypical Valentine’s Day.  Tack on a gift, flowers and a card and it’s also looking to break your budget.

Now let’s paint a picture of your Green Valentine’s Day:  Let Your romantic evening begins at home.  Not only will this give you the intimacy and privacy on this special night, it will also avoid fuel consumption and the potential negativity introduced through the stress of your dinner/movie night.  Otherwise, think of an off-beat date idea… walk to Fiskum Art Gallery or take your date up to Bald Bluff Scenic Overlook or out on the Ice Age Trail if the weather is looking somewhat appropriate for a winter hike.  The Greenhouse Coffee Company has a great selection of drinks beyond coffee and is very environmentally friendly and local for a nice chat over a delicious beverage.

Let’s say you decided to stay at home… now it’s time to set the mood.  Turn off the lights and light some soy-based or bees’ wax candles that are scented with essential oils and do not have artificial ingredients.  This avoids the synthetic, petroleum-based paraffin candles that release toxic chemicals that can cause cancer.  You can turn off the lights and save yourself some money and avoid some of those carbon emissions while looking like a smooth operator!

For the guys out there, nothing impresses your lady like a home-cooked meal.  As a vegetarian, I have to suggest planning a great vegetarian meal, which can be found anywhere online to suit your lover’s taste.  If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll quickly realize how important having quality produce is and how difficult it can be in the middle of February.  While Sentry here in town usually has good leafy greens and a nice selection of produce, if you want to make a trip to Basics Cooperative in Janesville you won’t be sorry with their excellent selection of organic produce.  All produce is 15% off on Mondays and yes, a trip to Basics can even be a fun date idea if you’re interested in exploring the interesting variety of very healthy foods they offer.  And yes, even Woodman’s has a respectable organic produce section, although we’ve found the prices to be comparable to Basics but without the added benefit of supporting such a great cooperative (we are members).  Otherwise, if meat is still on the diet plan, you can find Basics has a great selection of organic and humanely raised animal products that are sourced locally as much as possible.  Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch for information on sustainable seafood options, which is what Chartwells also uses in their sustainable seafood purchasing.

Of course, let’s not forget the goodies… my favorite chocolate bars are the Endangered Species Chocolate brand, but there are other great brands out there that are organic and sustainable.  Remember, the higher the cacao count, the darker and more bitter your chocolate will be but the more antioxidants it will contain.  I’ve actually grown to prefer the darkest chocolate I can get my hands on!  You can find organic wine or champagne in some liquor stores now as well… wine seems to be a little more prevalent from my experiences.   Getting organic wine is very important as grapes often have heavy pesticide use in their production.  The Greenhouse Coffee Company in Whitewater carries some organic wine choices as well.

Sustainable means something that will last, and traditional cut flowers hardly fit the bill.  Ordering online flowers is risky because they can come from a variety of distant sources and often require heavy pesticide and preservatives to stay in pristine condition.  Unfortunately, getting fresh cut local flowers in Wisconsin in the middle of February can be much more challenging (but not impossible), but there are some alternatives to consider.  Of course, a great idea is to get a wood rose that are sold on campus in the UC before Valentine’s Day.  Another option is to get a flowering potted plant that won’t wilt after a week and will be a constant reminder of your blossoming love!  Otherwise, consider a bulb perennial plant and set a date to plant a flower patch of tulips, daffodils, or lillies.  You can save the bulbs to replant somewhere in the fall.

Still need a gift?  Well, there’s no good specific recommendation I can offer…use your imagination or a Google search!  My girlfriend and I are trying to move to a completely natural, organic lifestyle so for Valentine’s Day we aren’t doing any gifts.  Instead, we are making some purchases on Lucky Vitamin to explore some of the great natural products they offer.   I am into raw foods right now, so I’m checking out a wide variety of raw food nutritional bars and supplements (along with a new exercise mat) and my girlfriend is checking out a variety of natural beauty and skin care products.  Going on this natural health and wellness journey together has been a good bonding experience for us to share, which strikes me as more romantic than buying her a piece of jewelry.  Explore a hobby together and buy each other presents for the hobby and you have the gift that keeps on giving!

Last but not least… the card.  Nothing says romantic and personal like making your own card.  So get to work… Monday is right around the corner and those weekends always fly by!  Have a good time!

Your friendly neighborhood Sustainability Coordinator