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Sustainability

Barn
Winter 2014

The roots of tilth

In 1974, a group of Washington farmers, gardeners, and concerned citizens formed one of the nation’s first organized efforts for sustainable agriculture.

It was in the midst of a burgeoning back-to-the-land movement, and not long after the founding of Earth Day. The time was ripe for Washington, its farmers, consumers, and researchers to change agriculture.

On his way home from a Spokane conference on “Agriculture for a Small Planet,” author and activist Wendell Berry started a letter that would catalyze the movement. He praised the thoughtful and knowledgeable group who had organized the event, and wondered if they might work together to shape “a coherent … » More …

Dynamic Duo
Fall 2013

Dynamic duo

As seniors at Lewis and Clark High School, Eric Brandon ’12 and Nick Linton ’13 often skipped lunch to create plans for a zero carbon emission housing development.

“Our friends would come and ask if we were ready to go to lunch, and we’d say just 10 more minutes, or 15 more minutes” Brandon says, replaying the conversations. Linton interjects with his own reenactment, “We have to finish this last little façade.”

In 2008 Brandon and Linton entered their proposed sustainable housing development, called Green Ridge, in Washington State University’s inaugural Imagine Tomorrow competition. The competition brings students together in interdisciplinary teams to address energy … » More …

Sheryl Hagen-Zakarison and Eric Zakarison
Summer 2013

Eric Zakarison ’81 and Sheryl Hagen-Zakarison ’83, ’91—Thinking small

Somewhere along the Norwegian-Swedish border in the 1920s, Eric Zakarison’s grandfather and his family decided it was time to leave.

“They literally put on their packs, with everything they owned on their backs, skied down to the fjord, got on a boat, and came to Minnesota,” says Zakarison. After farming there for three or four years, they picked up and moved again, to the Havre/Chinook Hi-Line area of Montana.

Tired of northern Montana, Eric’s aunt ran away. She married a wealthy railroad man and they bought land north of Pullman. She invited the rest of the family to come further west, which they did, settling … » More …

BIXI green bikes at WSU
Summer 2012

What moves you at WSU

One fuzzy old photograph of construction in downtown Pullman shows images of early days in the city: men laying a foundation by hand, a horse-drawn carriage on the street, a bicycle leaning on a post in the foreground. The photo has no date, but that bike, like a relic dropped by a time traveler, looks remarkably modern.

You won’t see a horse-drawn anything on Pullman’s streets now, except in parades, but you still see bikes among the buses, pedestrians, and a lot of cars.

Bridgette Brady, director of Washington State University’s Transportation and Parking Services, envisions bike use on campus increasing over the next decade … » More …

Carol Miles
Spring 2012

Mulch ado about garden plastics

In 2001, Carol Miles certified WSU’s first piece of organic land, a three-acre parcel at the WSU Vancouver Research and Extension Unit. It was a landmark moment, leading the way for organically managed land at all of WSU’s research facilities.

But one thing kept nagging her: the plastic.

In the absence of conventional herbicides, weed control was her number one issue, and laying down a layer of plastic took care of the problem handily. But it’s nonrenewable and not recycled.

If it’s going to be used in an organic production system, reasoned Miles, now a vegetable horticulturist at the WSU Mount Vernon … » More …

Video: Build a Bouquet of Local Flowers

Diane Szukovathy from Jello Mold Farm in Washington state’s Skagit Valley puts together a bouquet of locally-grown flowers and offers tips to gardeners on building their own bouquet of blooms. Diane and her husband Dennis Westphall grow cut flowers. They have teamed up with Washington State University researchers Bev Gerdeman and Lynell Tanigoshi to build a community of local, seasonal flower growers in the Pacific Northwest. The growers sell at markets, directly to farmers, florists, grocery stores, and local businesses. Read more in “Business is Blooming.”

Spring 2011

Digging the new EcoWell

Students and faculty develop a mighty thirst after working out at WSU’s Student Recreation Center, and now they have a new, healthy, and environmentally friendly option to quench it.

The EcoWell vending machine’s slick iPhone-like touchscreen lets users choose their water (purified, carbonated, or hot), add any percentage and mix of juices, and include energy supplements if desired. But thirsty patrons better have their own bottles. An EcoWell machine only dispenses drinks, not disposable containers.

EcoWell grew from the minds and efforts of Reid Schilperoort ’10, Brian Boler ’09, and Andy Whitaker ’09, now at MIT graduate school, when they were students in the … » More …

Fall 2010

Cultivating new energy

With just a whiff of irony, let’s sing a song of praise for gasoline.

A single gallon contains more than 30,000 calories. You wouldn’t want to drink it, but in straight-up energy terms, that’s enough to power a human for about two weeks.

Gasoline is convenient, portable, and for the most part, cheap. For the purposes of this story, I used it to log more than 1,000 miles around Washington State and make appointments, easily, and always on time. Tank low? More than 2,000 filling stations were out there for me to fill her up and pay with a piece of plastic.

“The liquid fuel … » More …

Winter 2009

Stormwater central

There’s nothing mundane about the new parking lot at the WSU research and extension center in Puyallup. It is a state-of-the-art polluted water collection system. The 70-some parking spots are specially designed to drain the water from each space into separate collection cells.

The project, which broke ground last summer, is an early step in the station’s efforts to become a leader in Low Impact Development techniques, providing guidance for the rapidly developing community along the Puyallup River Valley. In this case, the station will look at how to capture and clean stormwater runoff so that it doesn’t contaminate waterways, damaging … » More …