What is Sustainability?

Notes from the Hub

By Laura Greene, Sustainability Ambassador

Hi All,

I recently started my internship as a Sustainability Ambassador in the Office of Sustainability. So far, it has been great, but before the quarter gets away from us, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my first day. During orientation our Director, Jillian Buckholz, did a quick brainstorming exercise. She asked the 13 of us to shout out what words came to mind when we thought of sustainability. It was a big list, everything from, “saving water,” to “composting” to “environmental racism.” Then she began moving the two-dozen ideas into three separate categories:




Our office’s definition of Sustainability is:



Another important movement with these intersecting concepts is permaculture:



Both seek to tackle the biggest issues. Things like:

 Food Justice

Climate Change Denial

Renewable Energy

Implementing a Global Green Economy




Permaculture is a sister to sustainability. It is primarily applied on a local scope – gardens, farms and landscape architecture. Sustainability can be used more broadly is the core of permaculture. The two concepts can nourish each other, just like companion plants.

Sustainability and Permaculture are not just focused on “saving the planet,” it’s about helping the people on it. By creating public institutions, economic systems and infrastructures that preserve and provide for us ALL, we can ensure a high quality of life for us and future generations.

Even with the vast network of organizations and institutions committed to sustainability, solving any one of these issues is a daunting task. It may even feel impossible that you can do anything to enact change. But I believe even the littlest choices can yield big changes. Since we live in a capitalist framework, we can vote with our feet. You can start making changes to promote sustainability today! Here is a simple list of practical choices to get you started:


  • Educate yourself on the Three-Stream Waste System now available on Campus
  • Use your own travel mug for your daily coffee

         (Bonus: Starbucks and Einstein Bros. offer a cup discount)

  • Ditch the that disposable water bottle for a reusable container
  • Don’t patronize businesses still using styrofoam

         (Actually not recyclable, even if it’s stamped)

  •  Request your Amazon purchase be packed in recyclable materials only
  •  Purchase electronics that are rechargeable and don’t require batteries
  •  Buy Local Produce and Goods


If you are really passionate about Sustainability, contact our office for more information on how you can get more involved. The Sustainability Club will start meeting soon and you can join us to make an even bigger impact on the CSUEB community and the world.


Images Courtesy of: David Holmgren’s Book, “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability.”  Permanent Publications; 2002




Save Some Money and the Environment

By Pablo Narez, Sustainability Ambassador

Like most college students, I like saving money but I also like saving the environment. As a fellow student, I know first-hand how difficult it can be living life on a budget. Luckily, I’ve found an easy way to do both! You’re probably asking yourself, “But Pablo, how can I save money and the environment at the same time?” I will tell you random reader – by drinking water! Well, more specially, filtered tap water.  In this post, I will break down the costs of drinking filtered tap water versus bottled water and how we can make our wallets a little bit fatter as well as reduce our plastic water bottle waste!

So how much money will drinking filtered tap water save me?

First, let’s break this down by how much water you should drink a day. According to authoritynutrition.com humans should drink roughly 2 liters or half a gallon of water a day.

Now let’s assume you get your entire water intake from bottled water. I’m not going to account for sugared beverages because that’s a whole other beast.

A 24-case of Nestle Pure Life half-liter bottles costs around $7.00. That should meet the recommended water intake for a person for one week. Now let’s multiply that by 52 weeks, which gives us an annual cost of $364.

Now let’s see the annual cost of drinking water from a tap filter.

A Brita filter water pitcher is around $21 and 1 filter cartridge, at around $20 a pop, will last about 4 months – that’s a switch at about every 100 gallons. Also, the cost of tap water is pretty insignificant.

So, ($21)+(3 times $20)= $81 for one person annually.

That’s a difference of $283 annually! So what will your life be like with $283 extra dollars? Well, you could invest it in the stock market, donate it to a charity, start your retirement account OR you could afford to eat around 113 tacos annually! That’s under the assumption that tacos cost $2.25 each (tacos are expensive in the Bay Area).  

Now let’s talk about how this can help the environment. So let’s continue under the assumption that you went for the Brita filter over the 52 packs of 24 water bottles. That would equal to saving 1,248 plastic water bottles from being produced annually. What’s that you say? You are telling me that Captain Planet was your favorite super hero growing up and he taught you to recycle all of your plastics bottles? Well, unfortunately only about 38.6% of all plastic bottles in the US are actually recycled.

There are also health benefits to choosing filtered tap water over bottled water. Most tap water is actually more heavily regulated than bottled water, therefore making it safer to drink than bottled water. It also requires about 3 times the amount of water to produce the bottle, and that doesn’t even count the water it takes to fill the actual bottle.

Now want me to tell you my little secret to saving more money? I actually drink straight from the tap, no Brita filter needed! But you should know that I live the the Bay Area, and we get our water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which is one of the cleanest sources of water in the state of California. So before you try and drink straight from the tap do some research to see where your water is coming from and if you do in fact need a filter.

Sources and prices here:



Welcome to SustainEastBay!

Welcome to the Cal State East Bay Office of Sustainability blog!

By Robyn Perry, Sustainability Ambassador

Welcome to the Cal State East Bay Office of Sustainability blog! We hope for this blog to become a place not only for the campus community to express itself but also for the Bay Area as a whole join in and bring more awareness to sustainability.

With this blog, we will bring sustainability and creative thought together in one place. Be it through a quick article, a photo montage, or a YouTube video, SustainEastBay will champion creative thinking in relation to the environment, society, culture, economics, diversity, and sustainability.

Examples of topics of interest include (but are definitely not limited to): food justice, water conservation, biodiversity, climate change and natural disasters, deforestation, environmental racism, environmental history, transportation, alternative energy sources, waste management, sustainable business operations, and academic curriculum.

We hope you enjoy the humble beginnings our blog, SustainEastBay, and we hope you also keep informed through our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.