University of California Sustainable Practices Policy

The Sustainable Practices Policy for the University of California campuses establishes goals in nine areas of sustainable practices: green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable foodservice, and sustainable water systems.[1] As noted in the policy document, the University’s locations should be “living laboratories for sustainability, contributing to the research and educational mission of the University, consistent with available funding and safe operational practices” (University of California). In light of climate change and water security crises extremely relevant to the west coast of the United States, this set of policy regulations for the Universities of California is their action towards the commitment of sustainable business practices and the responsible stewardship of resources.

As a relatively new set of sustainable regulations, deemed effective in September 2016, it is difficult to analyze the policies’ action and effectiveness. Although many of the practices mandated within the Sustainable Practices Policy include tried and true methods of enhancing and ensuring more sustainable practices; for example, requiring building and maintenance to comply with popular LEED standards, using automobiles at LEV program standards, and enhancing the use of renewable, energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.

California, as an important leader in environmental policy and regulation in the United States, has the capacity to hold the University of California accountable for its proposed standards of sustainable practices. With the federal EPA possibly succumbing to reductions in power and authority, California may have less national supervision and enforcement of said regulations and policies. Even though, the state of California has historically been an autonomous figure in regards to social and environmental progress over the years.

[1] University of California – Policy Sustainable Practices

Plastic Bag Ban in China

Due to China’s large population, plastic bags had been widely used among people in their everyday lives, an estimation of 3 billion bags daily. In 2008, China banned the commonly used thin plastic bags (under 0.025 millimeters thick) and required extra charge for the thicker bags. These plastic bags contributed to large amount of pollution on beaches, waterways, and other locations. Not only did this create pollution, energy and resources were also wasted in creating and using these plastic bags.

The plastic bag ban in China has definitely seen the positive outcomes. Following the ban, the NDRC reported a 66% decrease or two thirds in plastic bags. Thus allowing China to save 1.6 millions tons in petroleum. Before the ban, China used about 6 million tonnes of oil to create the bags. The ban has also allowed businesses to prosper in creating green plastic bags and more money with the extra charge for the bags. China hopes to replace plastic bags with customer’s own reusable bags and ultimately use biodegradable bags.

Despite the ban, many businesses continue to use plastic bags. Stores or markets found using plastic bags are subject to be fined, however smaller businesses continue to use plastic bags. The ban is clearly not enforced enough that would allow businesses to go plastic-free. Routinely or surprise check-ups on such businesses would force owners from using plastic bags at the risk of their business.

Although the plastic bag ban has definitely helped decrease the amount of plastic used and produced in China, some plastic bags are still being sold. There is still a long way to go when other countries continue the use of the plastic bag completely. Here in Chicago, a tax requires customers to pay extra for each plastic bag. Although this is helpful, it only slightly helps reducing the use of plastic bags when they are still being produced and sold. There is a clear difference between a tax and a ban. Following China’s (and other countries that have also banned the bags) would allow us to reduce the amount of plastic used and polluted worldwide.

EPA Protects Us

The Environmental Protection Agency’s purpose is to protect human  and environmental health.  They are responsible in creating environmental assessments and research to create laws that would show the health of people and the environment we live in. The EPA wants to protect and improve the health of humans by researching the effects of chemicals being released in the air and other things that would contribute to pollution. The EPA also determines the safety level of chemicals in food, and water.

The EPA was created because there was a huge concern about environmental pollution.  For example, dirt water was one of the reasons why the EPA was formed. People require to drink water but if the water was polluted, there are leftover chemicals inside the water.  This meant that if people consumed the dirty water, it can cause health issues. This led the EPA to create the Clean Water Act to address polluted water. This act was to maintain clean water being distributed. Another example would be the Clean Air Act. This was designed to protect the  ill caused by the pollution.

The EPA has been very productive because without the EPA, the environment would be in a very poor state. The EPA enforces regulations and if people don’t understand, they can help. The EPA continues to do research  to study the environmental issues and addresses them. They share information with other countries, sectors, organizations and etc. If people don’t understand the regulations, they encourage people to start reading about environmental issues. They provide a lot of public information for people to read on and learn about the purpose as well as how they can contribute to help. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment. Although sometimes the EPA cannot help, there might be another agency that may help better in some situations depending on what the issue is.


Safe Water Drinking Act

Image result for clean water act

The Safe Drinking Water Act  also known as SDWA was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.

This act provides a baseline and minimum standards of clean water.  They require all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary standards. There are currently about 155,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans at some time in their lives. The Act does not cover private wells. Water bottles do no apply to this regulation. They apply to the Food and Drug Administration.  This act was put in place to ensure drinking water is safe, and restores and maintains oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities, and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants and wildlife.

This act has been effective as they bring clean water across the country.  Tap water regularly outperforms bottled water. Therefore, yes the SDWA has been effective with their base guidelines. Most people across the world are scared to drink tap water. Here in the United States, any citizen would drink tap water regardless of where they are in the country.






Anti-pollution technology is receiving a breath of fresh air in China- Smog Tower

smog free tower beijing


Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team erected a seven-meter-tall air purifier in Beijing.  It is called the Smog Free Tower purportedly treats 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour, collecting more than 75% of two kinds of pollutants, PM2.5 and PM10. (QZ) This was developed from a kick starter campaign, which roughly cost $125,000. China has a problem with smog as pollution is on the rise with manufacturing companies and traffic is increasing. This is will help decrease the smog and make the air breathable. This is a huge innovation by the Dutch artist. This hits on all five sectors of sustainable development. This is helping economic development as it brings the economy to new markets of innovation. Socially people will be healthier and be able to engage with the environment. China plans to put these machines at each block.

The smog machine collects black matter which has become a hit for jewelry. (QZ) As seen in the image below. Tourist will be able to by a ring as a souvenir which is a way of using the dust efficiently.

waterlicht_factsheet-4***** Jewelry created from the smog particals seen from the bag below.

smog particles from smog free tower


Mexico City Bans Free Plastic Bags

While Chicago has newly introduced a law that requires consumers to pay 7 cents per plastic bag, Mexico City has already banned shops and stores from giving away bags for free. In addition to that, bags must be biodegradable to lower waste pollution to promote better quality of life in the city.  The controversial method that the Mexican government has put the law in to place is by fining shop owners up to $90,000 for giving away free bags. If the store owner does not comply, they can also spend up to 36 hours in jail. Although this urban innovation may be beneficial for the physical environment, in can also place store owners in a much more difficult and dangerous position. Potentially, they could find themselves inundated in debt and losing their businesses. While this project may address the five factors for sustainable development, it is not purely to the benefit of Mexican residents. Furthermore, it may affect those of a lower socioeconomic class in the sense that there is less plastic waste polluting their communities and their workplaces. However, the plastic bag ban seems to not have the best intention in both the economic and the social equity sense for sustainable development. It is likely to benefit the federal government and ranking officials more than urban residents.


Natural Structures and Formations

Bio-mimicry is seen as innovations for more energy efficient, ideas and natural ways nature has functions to be utilized. With some of man-made buildings requiring more energy to maintain a consistent temperature, while a termite mound requires no energy at all (8. The East Gate Development). Because species such as insects, birds, and even sea sponges have special functions that is applicable to buildings, not just limited for functionality but as a long lasting home. A close example of utilizing natural formation is with buildings similar to that of a dense forest (A Skyscraper Made of bones… Poon 4). This is to compensate for the Lavasa, India for being a hill city, which usually comes with the problems with monsoons, drought, and threats to erosion. The design of the building also slows down the speed of rainfall, similar to that of a tree’s leaves.

Nature inspired structures/ formations is energy efficient when it comes to building and functionality, it plays a role for using natural resources (i.e. temperature during the day and night, structure and materials found in natural habitats, curved structures) more effectively versus artificial resources (i.e. burning fossil fuels for electricity, steel beams and concrete to have a rigid structure, flat and edged structures). Overall, reducing the energy consumption amount significantly since natural aspects for a building is used rather than artificial aspects (i.e. buildings using air conditioning versus natural air temperature). It is more economically efficient since there are less resources dedicated to energy consumption.

Nick Taylor Buck:

Linda Poon:

Additional Resources:

High STI infection rates- an urban issue

As of 2014, chlamydia trachomatis is the most common reportable communicable disease in both men and women in Chicago. However, reported cases of the most common sexually transmitted infections have generally decreased in the past five years; total number of reported chlamydia infections decreased by 7% between 2009-2013 and total number of reported gonorrhea cases decreased by 13% from 2012 to 2013. Nonetheless another STI has remained a prevalent public health threat. Primary and secondary syphilis infections diagnosed in Chicago remain constant, and it persists to disproportionately affect non-Hispanic blacks, men, and men seeking men (MSM). Diagnosed syphilis infections have also proven to significantly affect those between the ages of 20 and 29 years, experiencing an estimated annual increase in infections of 4% since 2009. Geographic distribution of new infections has also provided interesting trends in STI diagnoses; the two community areas with the highest average gonorrhea and chlamydia rates were West Garfield Park and Washington, while the highest average syphilis infection diagnosis rates were located in Edgewater and Avalon Park.

Relatively high rates of STI infection diagnoses have remained a prevalent public health issue in Chicago for a significant number of years and continue to affect thousands of city residents each year. Upon viewing infection diagnosis rates and their relationship to different demographics and community areas within Chicago, it is clear to see that different infections tend to affect similar concentrations of age groups and neighborhoods; those 13 to 24 years old accounted for 65% of gonorrhea cases and 70% of chlamydia cases, while 44% of primary and secondary syphilis cases were among those under age 30. These high infection rates among young people are alarming, especially considering their correlation to certain neighborhoods within the city. As long as infection diagnosis rates persist without signs of decreasing, annual STI infection diagnoses will remain an important public health sustainability issue for these community areas and the greater city of Chicago.

Given the vast majority of annual infections occur for those between the ages of 13 and 24, the negative effects of continuously disinvested public education systems have been made evident by way of consistently high rates of STI infection rates among young people in Chicago. A crucial course of action towards decreasing rates of STI infection, especially for young people within south and west side neighborhoods, would be to increase and enhance sexual and reproductive health education within schools. Cities can prioritize sexual education through a variety of means, regardless if within the classroom or walking down a street. Cities and schools specifically can partner to reduce STI infection rates by enhancing sexual education at all levels of academics. In order to reach out to other demographics, cities also have the power to spread awareness, knowledge, and normalcy through ad campaigns, education services, testing clinics, and other public services.


Stein, Efrat. “Chicago Department of Public Health Launches “Get Tested Chicago” a Syphilis Public      Awareness Campaign.” City of Chicago :: Chicago Department of Public Health Launches    “Get Tested Chicago” a Syphilis Public Awareness Campaign. N.p., 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Chicago Department of Public Health. HIV/STI Surveillance Report, 2014. Chicago, IL: City of Chicago; December 2014.

Food Waste in Schools

1 in 7 people face food insecurity in Illinois today. These numbers are the result of poverty, homelessness, low income, and more. Obviously hunger is a worldwide issue, however this also applies to the thousands of people in Chicago wondering when their next meal will be, and the thousands of people that throw away food without a second thought.


foodwasteWhat we don’t consider when throwing away food is the amount of water, land space, and energy used in creating and distributing this food, according to the article “The Under-Recognised Public Health Problem of Food Waste”. Vegetables and fruit for example require time, space, and water. Meat items on the other hand require much more resources in raising the animals before the meat is processed and packed. Of course our food must be cleaned and transported, requiring more fossil fuels. It takes too much time and resources to transport and distribute food for it to eventually end up in the garbage.

Apart from individuals wasting food, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) participates in a tremendous amount of food waste. Anybody that has stepped foot in a CPS lunchroom, has seen this shameless atrocity. Many schools require students to take a fruit or vegetable along with their meal to promote healthier lunches. But what happens when those students don’t like fruits or vegetables? Or the rest of the lunch for that matter? Many schools do not permit saving food that students have taken (and not eaten) or allowing them to take the food home, thus the hundreds of pounds of wasted food in the garbage everyday. It is estimated that 1 in 5 children in Chicago struggle with access to food. This leads us to think: how many of those kids could we have fed with the amount of food that we have wasted and continue to waste today?


Students helping separate food and recyclables. 

We must address this issue with consideration to younger generations who are not fully aware of their actions. This includes educating them at school. Learning the difference of what can be recycled, what can be donated, and what is ordinary trash is a good start. A city government must also recognize the severe issue of our food wastage in implementing a law that requires schools to save and/or donate edible food that are not eaten. This issue relates and concerns all of us. Therefore we should all do our part in preserving and appreciating the food we have that could potentially save another life.

Blog 1

Project Title:

Urban Bat Houses

Project Timeline:

Construction of the houses could take as little as a few days, but the houses must be regularly monitored during the warmer months. It could be a year long project.

Project Description:

As roof gardens, community gardens, and plant biodiversity is increasing in the city, so is the population of urban wildlife. One species that has a crucial role in our ecosystem is bats. Bats consume unwanted pests, many which harm plants, reducing the use of pesticides. Most notably, though, bats thin out the mosquito population. Also, some species of bats aid in plant pollination by spreading seeds. Although, many bats do not have feasible shelter in an urban environment. To support bat populations in the city, I propose a few bat houses to be constructed, with the guidance of experts, in discreet areas throughout the campus. Additionally, they would require monitoring. Overall, the project would educate the university on the role of bats in an urban ecosystem while also supporting the species.

Preliminary Project Budget:

The budget includes $1000 for bat detector monitoring and houses could total from $500-$1000. House