3 Simple Ways To Be Environmentally Friendly

 

By Mark A Morales

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There are several options that can be undertaken that will help control our environmental impact. I will present three helpful tips most people could easily do:

(1) Replace your current light bulbs with LED lighting,

(2) Make sure that your tires are inflated properly and,

(3) Take shorter showers.

According to a study done by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, LED bulbs are more environmentally friendly than both compact fluorescent bulbs and traditional bulbs. The main problem is that traditional bulbs consume far more electricity than LED bulbs.

“Switching to LED will reduce the environmental harm (from electricity use alone) by 3 to 10 times” (Learn).

LED bulbs will only improve over time, so energy use should reduce (Learn). Additionally, LED bulbs are safer than traditional or compact fluorescent bulbs. They emit no mercury emissions, can’t electrocute people, and don’t have any glass used in their construction, so there’s no chance of stepping on a glass shard (Gustina).

The only significant downside to LED lights are the high cost of LED bulbs relative to traditional bulbs, although the long life of LED lighting (around 100,000 hours) more than makes up for the high initial cost of replacing traditional bulbs with LED bulbs (“The Advantages of LED Lights”). Overall, while the initial investment is considerable, using LED bulbs will save people more money in the long run”

Secondly, making sure your tires are properly inflated is also one of the little things we can do to make sure they help the environment.

A study from the United States Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that:

“33% of trucks and 25% of cars have at least one under inflated tire while 3-8% had all 4 tires under inflated.”

This decreases fuel economy (by creating “drag” between the tire and the road), reduces the lifetime of your tires, and makes handling more difficult (“Eco-Facts and Tips on Inflating Tires”).

According to fueleconomy.gov, inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3.3% whereas leaving them under inflated could lower mileage by .4% for every PSI (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure. That doesn’t sound significant, but for the average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly, under-inflated tires can cost an extra 144 gallons of gas, which will cost roughly $300-$500 a year.

For each gallon of gas burnt, an extra 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is added to the environment (West).

Considering that the United States already contributes to global warming significantly through our use of vehicles, it would be a good idea to do our best to minimize any damage done to the environment.

Air pressure in tires drops once the weather gets colder, so this problem will persist here in the windy city of Chicago and throughout the world, but we can manage it to ensure gas isn’t wasted. Keeping your tires properly inflated also gives better handling, which helps ensure the safety of yourself and the people around you.

Thirdly, to help the environment, people should try to take shorter showers (and consider taking a cold shower every now and then); which will help conserve water, your money and reduce energy consumption.

If you use an older showerhead, an 8-minute shower will consume 48 to 64 gallons of water while a 15-minute shower consumes 90 to 120 gallons (Skipton). Newer shower heads have limits on how much they can use, but regardless of what kind of showerhead people have, taking shorter showers saves both water and energy.

Did you know that hot showers in particular are especially wasteful when you consider that, 5.21 gallons of water will typically be used while people are waiting for the water to warm up (Rastogi).

It can become even worse if you keep in mind that most water heaters tend not to have very high energy factors, meaning that they don’t convert energy to hot water very well (Rastogi).

Having looked through methods ordinary people can take to help the environment, I determined that taking by switching to LED lighting, checking your tire pressure and taking shorter showers were the easy options that most people could take. Additionally, the side benefits of saving money in the long run by, switching to LED lightbulbs and taking shorter showers, would incentivize you to take action to help the environment. Not to mention the easy one of checking your tire pressure; be responsible -by being safe- for yourself and the ones you love. It’s a good year to help the planet and be more money savvy!

Photo from Jniittymma0, Pixibay.com

 

Time to Cut Down on Wrapping Paper

By Alyssa Van Kuiken

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As Christmas time approaches and we begin to check off the items on our list of things that we need to buy for our family and friends, we also find on our shopping list things that we need to buy just to make the gifts presentable such as wrapping paper. Almost everyone finds themselves in need of this commodity for kids and adult gifts alike.

At Christmas we all expect to find wrapped presents under the tree, but why not simply place them in a gift bag or another more practical gift covering instead of wrapping paper?

There are several alternatives to using wrapping paper that can be reused when it comes to Christmas time, birthdays and other events where gifts are given. Some options include things like using cloth, repurposing newspaper, or using gift bags and all of these options could potentially cut back on the waste generated by wrapping paper. While some of the alternatives listed are slightly out of the norm, such as cloth wrappings, something as simple as using a gift bag can make a difference.

Yet, according to an infographic found on  Visual.ly ,

only nineteen percent of adults put items in gift bags instead of wrapping the items. 

Why is it that this number is so small despite the fact that using any of those items will help the environment by cutting down on the nearly 4 million tons of waste that are generated by gift wrapping and shopping bags per year (Garner).

Most people believe that they can recycle wrapping paper after they have torn it off of their gifts, but the information provided by several websites seems to say otherwise. WRAP, a UK based program, says that wrapping paper cannot often be recycled because of the way that it is made. Most papers contain dyes and lamination and tape is usually stuck to it, all of which make it difficult to recycle (WRAP). So despite the fact that many think that wrapping paper isn’t so bad because it can just be recycled and reused, it seems that it will eventually make its way to a landfill, not into new paper which will just add to our growing environmental problems.

It is generally true that you can wrap more presents with a roll of wrapping paper than you can if you took the same amount of money and bought gift bags in a single year. However, if you take into consideration how many times you can reuse bags in comparison to the one (or maybe two times) that you can use wrapping paper, it becomes easier to see that it is not that big of a financial difference.

American’s spend an estimated $2.6 billion on wrapping paper every year at an average of $4.99 per roll (Visual.ly).

If you take that number and look at how much wrapping paper you use in a year in comparison with how many years you can go without buying new bags simply by reusing them, you can see that it makes sense to make the switch for at least some of your gift giving.

Also, according to Statista.com, the average American is expected to spend roughly $906 on Christmas gifts in 2017, so even if there is a slightly elevated cost of packaging the gifts that you are giving by using bags, if you lump all of the Christmas costs together it will likely be a very minimal difference.

One argument that some have made is that wrapping paper is part of the fun of Christmas and that kids have been tearing through the paper to get to their toys on Christmas morning for years. This is a point that is hard to ignore. The thrill of tearing open that layer of paper and seeing that new doll or truck is one that many kids look forward to all year long, but why can’t they pull their toy out of a bag instead? Will the effect really be that big of a difference and will the kids even notice a difference if you did switch to bags?

If the tradition of a child opening a wrapped gift is really important to you, then perhaps you do continue to wrap their gifts, but you can still swap out the adult’s paper wrappings for bags. Any amount of change can have an impact. It is estimated that “45,000 football fields worth of paper would be saved if every American family wrapped three presents in re-used material” (Visual.ly). According to an infographic found on Creditdonkey.com, the average American wraps fifteen presents per year so three gifts would not be a big change for just one family, however, when that is added all together across the whole population, it is a massive difference.

Another statistic shows that,

Americans spend about 3 hours wrapping gifts each year, with 25% of people expecting to spend more than 4 hours (visual.ly).

Time around the holidays is meant to be spent with family, not with a roll of wrapping paper and some tape. Those three hours could be spent playing in the snow with your kids or just relaxing. If we were willing to put our gifts into gift bags instead, we would likely be able to cut down on the amount of time spent getting gifts ready.

In a scotch tape survey that can be found on Myria.com, you can find statistics that say that “nearly 70 % of Americans say they enjoy wrapping gifts” and that “28% say that it gets them in the holiday spirit”, but aren’t there other ways of getting into the spirit that are less wasteful and even more enjoyable than gift wrapping?

If you are stumped on what these other holiday spirit kick-starters might be, a quick google search can give you a lot of ideas. You can have a holiday movie marathon, and in the four hours that you would normally spend wrapping, you can probably get through two movies. You could spend four hours ice skating although you might be tired after that activity. You could spend four hours baking cookies for you and your friends and family to share and enjoy. While wrapping might be the thing that some people need to get in the spirit, most people can find another activity that is just as enjoyable, if not more so, to get them in the holiday spirit.

Wrapping paper has its obvious perks from kid’s enjoyment to boosting holiday spirit, but your time spent wrapping could be used in other ways, and the financial difference would be minor. A simple switch to another form of gift wrapping can mean a huge decrease in waste if it happens over a portion of the population. It is not a difficult switch, so as you wrap your Christmas gifts this year, consider helping to do your part and start using alternative forms of gift wrapping instead of using wrapping paper.

Photo by Iris Rodriguez

Local Politician and Activist Come to Morton College to Talk Politics and the Importance of Being Involved

20170405_112448By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On Wednesday, two local Latino politicians and activists spoke to college students at a Morton College Open Forum on the importance of becoming involved in politics and being aware of what’s occurring in the world.

Chicago City Council Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, (who is Alderman of the 35th District and one of the youngest Alderman at 26) said he was drawn to politics because of his love for Chicago and because he wanted to ensure that “the people in the neighborhoods were the ones represented in City Hall.”

Ramirez-Rosa was joined by Angelica Alfaro, a community organizer, and former Illinois State Senator candidate. Alfaro grew up in Humboldt Park and emphasized her decision to come back to Chicago after college to work for change, saying: “A lot of people say you made it when you leave, you made it when you stay.”

The two sat side-by-side as they spoke to the crowd of students, answering questions about politics and the political process curated by Professor Drury, a Sociology professor. Veronica Fernandez, a Morton College student, assisted in gathering questions from students to ask aloud.

Both Ramires-Rosa and Alfaro agreed that the political process is not being actively pursued by American citizens, and some may be turned off by American politics, especially, as Alfaro noted, “after what happened in November,” referring to the election of Donald Trump as U.S President.

However, both emphasized that American citizens, especially minorities, such as the Hispanic community, need to let their voice be heard by either getting elected to public office or pushing for change. Ramirez-Rosa said, “We need to get more people from our generation to have a seat at the table…” in order to ensure positive change for their communities.

As a result of having the forum, students reported feeling more knowledgeable and had positive approaches to getting involved in political affairs.

Christian Operza said that the event enlightened him to the fact that they [politicians] are not just white people running for office and made him “want to volunteer for some campaign or something.”

Angel Sanchez said that he was impressed with Ramirez-Rosa, who is openly gay, and said it was “Pretty cool” that someone in the LGBT community was in Chicago politics. However, he did add that although he found it interesting, “it didn’t really motivate (him) to become part of politics…”

The debate and continuing need to get young adults involved in the political process will continue into the foreseeable future. Alfaro had a simple answer when asked what piece of advice she would give to a student who is interested in doing politics: “Do it.”

Morton College “under monitoring” by the Higher Learning Commission

Morton College

By Marcela Ruiz

On Friday, March 10th, Morton College released a letter of announcement concerning the college’s accreditation status.  The letter entitled “Morton College Earns Reaffirmation of Regional Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)” stated the next reaffirmation of accreditation to be in the 2026-2027 academic year. This statement was created by the college’s administration from the official letter delivered to President Stanley Fields on March 2nd.

The official letter was released in the HLC website. The letter states that before the next reaffirmation takes place, the college has been placed under “Action with Interim Monitoring”.  While the HLC maintains the accreditation of Morton College, a focused visit is required to determine improvement in the following areas:

“extent of Board engagement with policy development; professional development plan for the president; participatory governance; and a comprehensive internal communication plan. Additional focus on financial accountability responsibilities”.

Morton College had previously been placed “on notice” by HLC in 2005 and again in 2012 but both sanctions were removed in 2006 and 2014 respectively. The College’s faculty were concerned that during the college’s last comprehensive evaluation visit in October 17, 2016,  the outcome would be similar. Although this was not the case, the final report did conclude that HLC has:

“serious concerns with the Board of Trustees at Morton College. Specifically, how the board perceives its role in governing the college. It appears to the team that these issues still exist and are having a negative effect on the overall operations of the college. The board and faculty must come to a mutually understanding of the meaning of shared governance. The board is aware of their responsibility to address these concerns and is taking measures to address the issues.”

The College will face a focus visit sometime before January 31st, 2018, most likely this fall. The Higher Learning Commission will at that visit determine if Morton College has met the stated requirements.

A previous version of this article contained the error that Morton College had been place On Notice. That error has been corrected in this updated version.

Morton College Tuition on the Rise

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By Marcela Ruiz

Beginning the fall semester, tuition will increase by $7 dollars per credit hour.

This change will result in an increase between $84-$112 for full-time students who attend 12-16 credit hours per semester. Similarly, part-time students taking 6-11 credit hours per semester, should expect an increasing between $42-$77.

On March 27, 2017 President Stan Fields issued a statement to inform students of this upcoming change. The e-mail stated: 

“This change is designed to ensure that Morton College is able to offer our college community access to the very best resources including skilled faculty and staff, enhanced campus facilities, and course programming that supports your success.”

The statement briefly mentioned the new Dual Enrollment Program, which is a partnership with J. Sterling Morton High School District 201. The new program will give high school students an opportunity to enroll in courses eligible for college credit at their school.

President Fields encourages students to contact the Business Office or the Provost to inquire about the program and ask questions regarding tuition increase. Morton College’s current Provost is Keith McLaughlin and can be contacted at Keith.McLaughlin@morton.edu or 708-656-800 ext. 2277. Mireya Perez is the director of business and can be reached at mireya.perez@morton.edu or 708-656-8000 ext. 2289.

Chicagoans Speak Out for Equal Job Rights for Women as They Celebrate International Women’s Day

20170308_184339By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On March 8th, prestigious speakers and nearly 400 men and women assembled outside the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. They spoke about the importance of women within the workplace and the economy while celebrating International Working Women’s Day.

Workplace inequality between male and females has long been an issue in the world and in the United States. In 2015, full-time American workers who were female only earned 80% of what American men earned, measuring up to be a wage gap of 20% between the two sexes.

Prestigious speakers, from organizers, editors, and activists of differing organizations supporting women’s rights, equality for all, and a global minimum wage, came out to speak in support of International Working Women’s Day.

Zerlina Smith, 29th Ward and Action Now activist, was the most prominent speaker at the event. She spoke about the importance of their battle for the future, as her young daughter and another girl, sat at her feet.

Because we need our legislators to actually write some real policies that will not just affect us now, but will affect these little ladies later on in life.”

Men and women, bracing the windy conditions, spoke out positively about women in the workplace and their importance to the United States economy.They also gave reasons on how equality in the workplace can be achieved. Some suggested that equality can be achieved through changing people’s attitudes, others noted that legislation that support women needs to be promoted and passed, and others suggested simply fighting for it.

Juan-Carlos Parker, a former Morton West graduate who was at the rally supported this final point of view. “When you’re asking for a seat at the table, the people already at the table aren’t usually happy about it.”

Morton College students support women’s equality, in and out of the workplace. Women and men all voiced their support for women, but all acknowledged the long fight ahead for them. A Morton College student, wishing to remain anonymous, said, “I will most likely not see the end of the fight for women’s equality in and out of the workplace.”

But Morton College students also stressed the importance of being one. Eunice Bonilla said she found it encouraging to see men and women, “Band together toward the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.”

The fight for women’s rights, in the workplace and out, will continue to be fought over in the next coming years. And their determination is not lost out to the people, as the 400 men and women ended their protest outside James R. Thompson Center by shouting, “Stand up and fight!” as passing bystanders looked on in curiosity, and some clapped in support.