Titans of Sustainability

December 19, 2014

Surviving the Holidays as a Vegetarian/Vegan by Trish Linner

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 7:16 pm

Ah the holidays are here, family gatherings, presents and food. Probably a LOT of food. And most likely there are some family members who don’t know you are a vegetarian/vegan. This can cause added stress at a time when you need it the least. But it doesn’t have to. Knowing how to handle your relatives and their endless questions will get you through the holidays until life returns to normal. Here are a few tips to help:

You’re a what?  Some people will not know what you are talking about and will need you to explain. Don’t make them feel stupid. Simply state what a vegetarian/vegan is, what you eat and do not eat and why. This is not the time to launch into a massive political statement. Your personal reasons for choosing this lifestyle can be explained on a basic level in just a few sentences.

Don’t be offended if they are offended. Aunt Betsy may feel she is being personally attacked if you choose not to eat her sausage stuffing or the turkey she has spent hours cooking. You need to remember that people are often uncomfortable with new ideas and changes. People eat meat and when you tell them you don’t, they often feel that you are judging them. Be the bigger person and refrain from getting mad because they don’t understand your choice.

They love you. Keep in mind that the concerned looks you get are not always disapproving. Your family may be concerned about your health. We have been taught that our bodies need meat and dairy products to survive. If they are not familiar with a vegetarian/vegan diet, they may be worried you are not getting proper nutrition. If asked, explain nicely the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet, but, do it without being judgmental.  Point out how much you have learned about nutrition since becoming a vegetarian/vegan.

Don’t make the situation more difficult. You don’t need to point out all the food you can’t eat. This will make everyone feel uncomfortable. Just eat what you can, and if you want to bring a meat alternative, go for it. Just don’t make it a big deal.

The holidays are a great time to connect with family. Enjoy your time together and don’t turn the holiday celebration into a food war. Keep it simple, forget any negativity and relax. Be confident in your decision for you, without worrying about what others think.


October 30, 2014

Be a Part of South Bend’s Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 4:16 pm

Special Blog Post from Maggie Kent, Intern with the City of South Bend, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability is a way of thinking that accounts for environmental, economic, and social impacts of activities both within city government and in the larger South Bend community. Becoming a more sustainable city means South Bend will have a stronger economy, bounce back better after disasters, and be a more enjoyable place to live and work. Working together towards sustainability promotes investments in our community, celebrates and helps preserve local assets, and cultivates our parks and open spaces.

The purpose of the South Bend Office of Sustainability is to make South Bend a more sustainable city.  To best serve the needs and dreams of the city we need to know what, as a community, is most important to you.

What are South Bend’s issues and assets?

What do you imagine for our city?

Your opinions will help identify projects and priorities for a strategic sustainability plan that will be promoted and implemented by the Office.

Help South Bend find creative ways to preserve natural resources, ensure social equity, and cut costs.  Sustainability opportunities such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation and biking, connections between health and sustainability, reducing waste, and public outreach can build upon South Bend’s City Plan, the South Bend Parks and Recreation Plan, and the Smart Streets Initiative. We will use these initiatives to prioritize efforts that help bridge city functions or community groups.

Take our survey to have a direct impact in the creation of the future-focused, Sustainable South Bend. Share your values and priorities for a sustainable city so the South Bend Office of Sustainability can go to work with you.

Be a part of South Bend’s future – share your opinions!

Take the survey at www.southbendin.gov/sustainability

SB sust


October 20, 2014

My Journey to Sustainability

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 5:58 pm

By Sam England

Former Sustainability Studies Intern, Sales and Development at Inovateus Solar

My love for sustainability started when I was younger.  My family had a garden where we would pick from and can food for the IMG_5032year. We would also recycle, and would pick up trash along the side of the roads.  My family had a love for the planet, and we would hike, camp, and bike outside often.  I also did these same things for my high school, and would help with their recycling committee as well. I often stayed after sporting events and helped pick up trash that people had left. I always had a motto of, “This is our One Earth, we have a duty to be kind to it.”

As I entered Indiana University of South Bend’s Communications program, I was informed by Professor Henry Scott that there was a minor in Sustainability Studies.  I knew I wanted to create a unique degree that allowed me to have the advantages of a communications degree, and pair it up with sustainability since I believed it was going to become more and more apart of our society. I had a real interest in renewable energy and businesses overall becoming more sustainable.
I then fell in love with the minor, and various classes we were able to take.  One class in particular, the Sustainability Practicum class with Professor Mike Keen, changed my life. During a class meeting, the President of Inovateus Solar, T.J. Kanczuzewski, came into the class to talk about the company.  After hearing his speech, and the values that Inovateus had as a company, I knew that it was something that I wanted to be apart of.  I personally introduced myself and told him that an internship was something I would be extremely interested in.

A few months had past and the end of the semester had approached.  T.J. asked Mike Keen for my contact information and I if I was still interested in a potential internship position.  I was thankful that he remembered my interest, and after that I had an interview with Tom Brown, VP of Sales, and Peter Rienks, Senior Accountant Executive. They offered me an internship position for the sales and development team later that day, and I greatly accepted.

From that day forward, my life has changed.  I have been apart of some amazing things that the company has done to make that step towards a more sustainable future.  I have the pleasure working with amazing, hard-working, and determined people on the Inovateus team.  I have had the privilege of going to InterSolar in San Fransico, singing in Solar Battle of the Bands, helping with some incredible sales proposals to fortune 500 companies, and now going to SPI in Vegas.  I work hard for Inovateus, because I believe in the company and I know they believe in me.  I’m honored to still have a position at the company and I can’t wait for what the future holds. IMG_0824

September 11, 2014

Sustainability with kids at home – by Sammantha England

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 2:35 pm


We define sustainability as, development used to meet the needs of the present with out compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  It is safe to say that people who practice sustainability want to focus on the people in the present as well as the generation of the future.  Planting that seed of why practicing sustainability is important to children is crucial for sustainability’s survival.  I’ve proposed a list of fun and educational projects that you can do with a child that teaches them about sustainability.


Composting is a great sustainable practice that kids would enjoy learning about and would want to help create for the home.  Teaching them that composting is good for the environment, recycles kitchen and yard waste, and reduces landfill waste are some of the things they will learn about the benefits of composting. They can use the rich soil to help plant native landscaping for the home.  Another fun idea is to let them create their own garden with the soil from the compost.  They can also decorate rain barrels to help conserve water use and save money. The vegetables and fruits that they can grow will enrich their diets and be right in the yard for pick up! It may be trial and error at first, but they will learn the fundamentals of gardening that will benefit them in their future with sustainability.


Starting recycling in the home is a great way to plant the seed of sustainability in children.   Teaching them that recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, help conserves natural resources, and saves energy are just some of the few facts they will learn.  Also, teaching them what they can and cannot recycle, as well as why they can’t recycle certain products, will strengthen their knowledge about the overall process of sustainability. Donating or selling their clothes that no longer fit is also a form of recycling. Rather than just letting them sit in a landfill with no use, they are contributing to others who are in need that can use the clothes for years to come.

Teaching a child everyday routines at home can contribute to living a more sustainable lifestyle. Some routines include, turning off lights after using them, use natural light as much as possible, dress appropriately to use less energy, don’t water while brushing your teeth, take short showers, read books instead of watching television or playing video games, don’t leave computers, televisions, or other electronics on if not using, are some great routines to teach a child that help be sustainable at home. Also, sharing fun facts to kids about the environment, overconsumption of materials from the earth, global climate change, and Earth Day will be educationally beneficial to their knowledge.

These are some of the few activities and routines that will help plant that seed of sustainability in a child’s life. This can help create a special bond within the family. It allows you to spend quality time with your children, as well as teaching them how important that respecting the earth and humanity is. All in all, help inspire our future generations to lead the way to sustainability success.

 Kids holding together a terrestrial globe.

Pictures retrieved from:




Fernwood Botanical Garden: Experience the Wonder by MacKenzie Lair

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 2:31 pm


Getting back to nature at Fernwood along the Ecology Trial

The first Spring thaw.  A long awaited event after months of winter’s isolation.  This time of year, we begin to creep cautiously from our dwellings, ready to stop battling the elements and start embracing them.  The peace, beauty and mystery of nature can be found at Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, Michigan.  This labor of love was started by Kay Boydston in 1941 and opened to the public in 1964.  It has since grown to include 105 acres of land, an educational nature center, hiking trails, conservatory, and arboretum; as well as a variety of classes for adults, children and family.  Furthermore, Fernwood Botanical Gardens is a slice of sustainability in action, Michiana style.


Tropical Fern Conservatory and model train


Spaces like Fernwood work against the systematic degradation of nature by insisting upon preserving green space along with the plants and critters who call it home.  The high degree of educational resources and activities on local flora and fauna offered by Fernwood exemplifies sustainable values by making our vast, interconnected environment more accessible and understandable to visitor of all ages.



Fernwood Nature Center exhibit


As described in Fernwood’s mission statement, to best make the connection between ourselves and the planet’s resources, it is important that we understand our environment in all of its diversity.  To give an example, one of the most anticipated spring events at Fernwood is the controlled prairie burn.  Contrary to popular belief, human intervention of burning the prairie is not damaging the land, but rather helping to maintain the delicate prairie ecosystem and prepare it for new growth.


Nature preserve information at a scenic look-out at Fernwood


This year, Fernwood is honored to have artist Patrick Dougherty working on the premises.  Dougherty utilizes saplings to create a masterpiece expressing humanity’s deep interconnection with nature.  How can we understand the natural world and humanity’s part therein when we spend so much of our time removed from it?  How do we engage others in sustainable change when our day to day goes by the name of “progress?”  It’s time we rethink “progress.”  If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest you start at Michiana’s own Fernwood Botanical Gardens.




A Green Wedding by Katie Carrico

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 2:05 pm

Before we get into what I am doing to make my wedding a little more green, let’s take a second to think about items that traditionally appear in weddings, shall we? Bride’s wedding dress, groom’s tuxedo, wedding party attire, rings, flowers, food (plates, napkins, silverware, cups), decorations…and that isn’t even close to everything. Now, think about where these items are coming from, how they are being produced, and the impact they might have on the environment; both directly and indirectly. Yeah, talk about overwhelming.

It wasn’t until I was knee deep in planning our big day, had sent out my “Made in China” wedding invitations via snail mail, and bought my beautiful brand new wedding dress that I realized the depth of the impact my wedding could have on the environment. I have always been a nature enthusiast and was quite ashamed that it had not come as second nature to plan a green wedding. Thankfully, it’s never too late to start thinking and acting sustainably.

SO, after my shame diminished a little I began thinking about my options; from start to finish. First, our venue is in a state park. So, that’s good. There is an entrance fee which will help to maintain and preserve the natural habitat. This also means that we can let nature do most of the decorating. What decorating we will do can be made from repurposed or found materials. Habitat for Humanity will undoubtedly be able to supply the doors, wood, and paint to create most of our decorations.

At the entrance of our ceremony there will be double doors opening up into the seating area.

katie 1

I have a friend who just got married and she offered to let me borrow vases that she used for centerpieces at her wedding. She also threw in the candles that had not burned all the way down. During the ferocious storms last year trees fell in my folk’s backyard. Since they need to be taken care of anyway, we will use stumps from the fallen trees to line the isle. The borrowed vases will sit on top, decorated with burning candles or possible locally grown flowers. After, we will use the wood for a campfire later in the season.

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The arch will be made and decorated with repurposed material. We might use branches from the fallen trees if the right sizes are “available”. We might place each foot of the arch in potted plants to stabilize it.

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As a thank you gift to our guests, we are going to give everyone plantable paper cut in the shape of flowers. We will use 100% recycled paper and wildflower seeds to make this gift. We will use biodegradable hemp twine and recycled paper to attach our advice about how “Love Grows.” Find directions to make plantable paper at http://www.hillcitybride.com/2010/11/diy-from-pulp-art-plantable-paper/

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Speaking of flowers, I am going to contact our community gardens and ask about locally grown flowers to use in my bouquet. Most flower shops must import flowers from different states or even different countries! I will bind the bouquets with hemp twine. And, speaking of seeds, our guests will have bird seed bundles to toss into the air as we make our grand exit from the ceremony.

Instead of printing a bunch of programs that will likely be thrown away and generate unnecessary waste, we will paint a sign on canvas that I already have which will display the lovely details about the wedding and wedding party.

katie 6

Our rings have been made out of silver bought from Nunemaker’s local coin shop, turquoise found by my parents in the mountains of North Carolina, and an onyx stone purchased at a locally owned “Metaphysical Mom and Pop Shop.” They were crafted locally by a very dear friend.

katie 7

There are many little things to think about. Food waste: compost at the community garden? Leftovers: could we donate them? Recycling: plates, cups, silverware?  And there are many things that are unsustainable that seem as though they can’t be avoided. Someday our thinking will shift and it these considerations will be automatic. My advice: don’t beat yourself up and do the best you can.

On to resources! Talk to friends and family for ideas. Many ideas came to me by way of loved ones! People love to help plan joyful events!! Also,  I found really great ideas on different web sites by formulating a search using key words like “Eco Wedding”, “Green Wedding”, “Sustainable Wedding” and adding reception, decorations, or using the exact phrasing I was looking for. Visit the links below to view the tip of the ice burg of information about DIY projects and Eco Weddings.




I love good conversation and am always willing to brainstorm ideas so please feel free to contact me at katcarri@umail.iu.edu.


September 4, 2014

Summer Intern – Sam England with Inovateus Solar

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 1:46 pm

We were so pleased to have had Sam England as a summer 2014 intern with the Center for a Sustainable Future. Sam worked with Inovateus Solar and she  is doing wonderful work with Inovateus – here are some of her thoughts about solar energy and sustainability during her internship.






My role with the Sales and Development department at Inovateus Solar is contributing to sustainability in a variety of different ways.  Our team looks for leads in the commercial, industrial, and residential areas that are interested in installing solar panels.  We also approach various commercial, industrial, and residential areas demonstrating how solar energy will benefit their return on investment, which essentially will help them make a profit.  Even with just this portion of what we do, we are contributing to the environment by helping the industrial bubble that we are in now, become a new green revolution by lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions being used, and overall helping our Earth now and in the future. Our team also is contributing to people by helping and educating people to understand the importance of solar energy and how it helps our environment and society not only on a global, but on a local level as well. On an economic level, we are helping commercial and industrial companies switch their usual uses of energy use to an environmentally friendly use through solar.  Our team really focuses on explaining how companies are going to be making a profit, and how they are helping towards sustainability.

Systems condition #2 from the Sustainability Primer says, “In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.” One concentration of substances that has been produced by society includes CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions cause many threats to our environment including global warming, which leads to deforestation, desertification, weather changes, human health problems, etc. My role in my internship is helping make those changes of continuous energy uses of CO2 emissions, and switching to renewable energy sources. All in all, every team member has an important role towards contributing towards a sustainable world.



7 practices

The first Seven Practices of a Sustainability Champion is to “get credible, stay credible”.  This means that in order for you to be a successful leader, people must put their trust in you.  Once they trust you, they will believe in the things that you believe in and will hopefully thrive towards a more sustainable society them selves.  “Dialogue” is the second practice of a sustainable champion.  You must be able to be persuasive in a healthy way, rather than in a forceful way where people would get turned off from what you are saying. To be a leader, it’s important to think before you say things, so they don’t get miscommunicated.  It is also important to really listen to what others have to say. Once you take the time to listen to others, you will then take on the third practice of a sustainable champion, “collaborate, educate, and network”. You cannot create a sustainable environment, society, and economy just by your self.  You have to spread the revolution with the help of others.  With other’s ideas and thoughts, you will be able to innovate some creative ideas that will help the necessary revolution to take place.  “Meet them where they are”, the fourth sustainability champion practice, means to help others find the path towards sustainability rather than just pointing your finger at them.  The fifth sustainability champion practice is “piggyback existing initiatives”, which means to uplift other’s imagination and creativity.  The sixth sustainability champion practice is to “influence the influencers”, which means to share your ideas with others who are listened by societies, such as politicians artists, writers, etc.  The last sustainability champion practice is to “practice ‘planful opportunism”. This means to act on every opportunity that you have towards making the change. Even when you don’t think there is opportunity, you should still take it as one.

Inovateus Solar does a terrific job by demonstrating all of these practices.  The team as individuals share these practices as well, which really makes the company, stands out as a whole.  I personally believe that I’m practicing all of these practices, but one in particular is “collaborate, educate, and network”.  I have been able to open up many doors to the solar industry, and work towards renewable energy. Overall, I feel like the company is only going to help me grow and use the “Seven Practices of a Sustainability Champion” effectively.


PEOPLE, Plant, Profit

According to the fourth requirement for the System Conditions of a Sustainable Society, “in a sustainable society, people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs”.  At Inovateus Solar, we are helping people meet their needs.  We are sponsors and also volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joe County, Rebuilding Together, and WVPE.  Inovateus has also donated solar panels for the Bee Hive Sponsorship for Unity Gardens and to Norte Dame University’s engineering program, where solar engineering will spark the interest to students.  Along with our donation and volunteer work, being a part of the renewable energy industry is systematically improving society meet their needs by providing green jobs, a healthy environment, and lowering CO2 emissions.

In the reading “Bridging the Green Divide”, Van Jones explains why people who live and experience poverty are the biggest victims of a non-sustainable society.  Jones also talked about connecting the economy, those who are in poverty, the middle class, and sustainability together.  People that live a rich or even middle class lifestyles, have to find the balance between needs and wants, and realize how indulging in a luxury lifestyle can be toxic to those in poverty and the environment.  There should not be this huge gap between the poor and the rich.  That is just not a sustainable society.  My personal opinion is if we create more green jobs, there will be a potential increase in jobs which will allow people in poverty to work and receive an income to meet their needs.  All in all, Inovateus Solar is creating those green jobs that are apart of Social and Environmental Justice with renewable energy and is allowing the present and future generations to meet their needs.

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We are so happy for Sam. She is employed by Inovateus Solar and doing really great work!

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