Radon Awareness Month

Radon-Why Do We Ignore It?

By Shelly Rosenblum

Psychology is fascinating, especially when you consider how we use it on ourselves – or against ourselves to be more precise. When do we use it against ourselves? When we put things off that are good for us, like cutting back on junk food, or skipping the gym, or when we hear someone tell us to test for radon and we don’t.

While it’s difficult to perceive how something we can’t see or smell can hurt us, is there something else stopping us from taking action? After all, the Surgeon General and public health organizations like the ALA and EPA tell us that radon is a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking. We usually take messages from these folks to heart, so why ignore radon?

Dr. Peter M. Sandman is an expert on risk communication. He helps people understand why we fear some things that carry little risk and overlook things which carry a huge risk – like radon. He describes this behavior with a formula: Risk = hazard + outrage. Outrage? What’s that? Suppose a company spills a toxic substance in your neighborhood, creating a health hazard. We’d be angry. Then suppose they’re not forthcoming about the quantity spilled and danger level. We’d be even more angry or OUTRAGED!

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What’s Going on Around Bloomington

Downtown Bloomington Recycling Center Now Open for Business
A new recycling center has opened downtown in the parking lot behind the Showers Building on 10th Street. The center is part of a collaboration of the City of Bloomington, Monroe County Solid Waste Management District and Pedal Power owner Chad Roeder to make recycling more sustainable and accessible to downtown residents.

The recycling center is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Materials accepted at the center include:

  • Steel and aluminum cans (no scrap metal)
  • Plastics #1-7
  • Clear and colored glass bottles and jars (no window glass, mirrors, light bulbs, etc)
  • Mixed paper/fibrous products (junk mail, newspaper, office paper, paperboard, etc)
  • Corrugated cardboard

All materials must be free from food contamination, and paper and cardboard products must be dry. The center does not currently accept hazardous materials such as paint, aerosols, poisons or batteries, but these items may be taken to the Monroe County Recycling Center at 3400 S. Walnut Street. Visit their facebook page or website for more information. For further questions about the recycling center downtown call Chad Roeder at 325-2777.

Sign a petition for local transit funding referenda

Bloomington Transportation Options for People (B-TOP) has passed a resolution supporting a petition from the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority calling for dedicated funding for transportation. To read and sign the petition, visit http://www.cirta.us/Also, if you are involved in an organization that may want to pass a resolution, the coalition is looking for more supporting organizations to sign on.

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New Years Pledge

We all make New Year’s resolutions for a variety of reasons, such as losing weight, paying off debt, or learning a new language. Why not add becoming more sustainable to the list? Although most people have already incorporated sustainable practices into their lives at home and work, there is always room for improvement. I encourage everyone to create a pledge stating the ways in which you plan to strengthen your commitment to sustainability in 2012.

Some suggestions for Green Team members:

  • Create a list of “green tips” for your co-workers that can be presented at office meetings
  • Volunteer with one of the many sustainability focused organizations on campus
  • Work to achieve one of the four levels of certification through the Green Teams Certification program
  • Use electronic documents whenever possible and only print when necessary
  • Set up printers to automatically duplex print (double-sided)
  • Activate sleep mode on your computer
  • Turn off and unplug computer screens, printers, and scanners before leaving for the day
  • Replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Choose alternative transportation- walk, bike, or take the bus
  • Buy Fair Trade coffee for your office
  • When hosting an event with food, ask for local caterers that emphasize sustainable practices

I welcome you to post your own pledge on the Green Teams blog

Buy Local

Buy Local This Holiday Season 

Bloomington Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Extended Break Checklist

As we all prepare for winter break, please don’t forget to shut down your office. Below is a general list of things you can do to prevent energy and water from being wasted. If there are any major leaks or other issues, contact the Physical Plant ASAP so that they have time to address the problem before break.

Turn Off and Unplug All Electronics and Appliances:

  • Monitors
  • Surge protectors
  • Calculators
  • Printers
  • Copiers
  • Desk lamps
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Water coolers
  • Space heaters
  • Baseboard heaters
  • Power strips

Office

  • Close doors, windows, curtains, and blinds
  • If you have thermostat control, turn it down in the winter and up in the summer (Please consult your building manger or the Physical Plant for your building’s specific temperature requirements)
  • Give plants a little water (If gone for a long period of time, centralize office plants in a location with light)
  • Turn off all lights

kitchen and Bathrooms

  • Make sure faucets are turned off completely
  • Make sure the toilets aren’t running
  • Turn off and unplug coffee pots and other kitchen appliances

*Remind co-workers to do the same

Global Climate Change

Keep Calm and Carry On

by Bill McKibben

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Missouri, you should not ask yourself: I wonder if this is somehow related to the huge tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that—together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advised to try and connect them in your mind with, say, the fires now burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if it’s somehow connected.

If you did wonder, you’d have to also wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest—resulting in record flooding across the Mississippi—could somehow be related. And if you did that, then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming. To the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold.

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Green Tips for the Holiday’s

The holiday party season is upon us; why not make it “green”?  Here are a few ways to make your holiday party a little more sustainable- courtesy of our friends at the EPA. 

  • Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates. 
  • Bake cookies or other goodies for your friends and love ones and package them in reusable and/or recyclable containers as gifts. Homemade goodies show how much you care and help you avoid packaging waste.
  • If you’re buying new greeting cards this holiday season, give recycled-content greeting cards. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available. Consider making new cards from scrap paper or by attaching new backs to the fronts of old cards. Another option is to tear off the fronts and use them as postcards. Also consider sending electronic cards, and remember to recycle any paper cards you receive.
  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.
  • If you host a party, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses, and silverware. Consider renting more formal tableware that you might not use very often. Also save and reuse party hats, decorations, and favors.