August 10, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Perspectives

On the road with eco plastics

by Sarah McKee

Jeff Bridges as "The Dude"

My car (a ’99 Honda Accord with 175,000+ miles) has been paid off for several months now and with all the new entries in the market, I’m officially shopping for a new car.   (The Dude, Jeff Bridges, is quite convincing about the new Hyndai Sonata.)  Fellow WaterCooler blogger, Eric Bickel is also making me see fuel economy in a whole new way.  Now, the question is, do I go hybrid and put into practice a personal sustainability strategy? continue

April 13, 2011 • Sustainability

Go Big Red, er, Green!

by Sarah McKee

WKU Office of Sustainability

WKU is home, not only to my college years, but also to the Hilltoppers, the red towel and the big blob mascot known as Big Red.  Red is the most common color found on “the hill,” the term students and alumni lovingly use to refer to the steepest climb you’ll ever face at 7:30 in the morning.  Now, Western Kentucky University is adding another color to its palette: green! continue

March 2, 2011 • Current Events, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Sundance: More Movies, Less Megawatts

by Sarah McKee

I’m a huge movie fan and there are many reasons why this time of year is one of my favorites: the Oscars, the anticipation of the upcoming year’s movies and the reviews from the Sundance Film Festival.  This year I’ve been on such a movie high that I’ve already decided on next year’s vacation — a trip to Sundance to see its glory all for myself!

Although I have a whole year to plan my trip to Utah (the next festival is in January 2012), it was raining today and there’s no better time to plan a vacation than on a rainy afternoon. I’ve officially begun my research.  As I checked out the various venues and my lodging options, I learned that the 2011 Sundance Film Festival utilized renewable energy credits to offset the electricity use for the fifth consecutive year. continue

December 22, 2010 • Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

Are you contagious?

by Sarah McKee

Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

You are probably familiar with A Christmas Carol, the classic holiday tale of Ebenezer Scrooge who hates all things happy and then reforms with the help of three ghosts.  Scrooge is most known for his attitude in the beginning of the story: cold, greedy and mean.  The extent of Scrooge’s social network was one family member and one deceased friend — how empty his Facebook page would have been!  After reading an article in Wired magazine that explained how loneliness can be contagious,  I started to wonder if maybe Scrooge isn’t entirely to blame.  After all, Scrooge had a very “scroogey” friend, Jacob Marley.  Maybe Jacob is somewhat responsible for Scrooge’s bad behavior.  Jacob was probably just infecting Scrooge with his unhappiness as if it were the common cold. continue

November 8, 2010 • Energy Generation, Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

Two scoops of energy, please.

by Sarah McKee

To help it celebrate their 65th Birthday, Baskin Robbins is sending five flavors to the “deep freeze” to make room for some new flavors. While I can’t imagine a world without Baskin Robbins’ French Vanilla ice cream (I’m not the only one), I can’t wait to see what creative gems the BR chefs come up with that will top such amazing flavors as “whYte 2K Chocolate Overload”, “Campfire S’mores” and “Jack Lemon Ice”.

No matter which new Baskin Robbins flavor you will soon find in my waffle cone, I know it will definitely taste better than the ice cream I made as a kid in science class. While Baskin Robbins is known for its 31 flavors, our teacher didn’t give us more than one flavor choice: “icky”.

I distinctly remember the process of making our unique brand of “icky” ice cream. After carefully measuring and placing ice, salt, sugar, milk and vanilla in a plastic bag, our teacher told us the final ingredient: heat energy. She demonstrated the proper technique to create heat energy, which involved shaking the plastic bags until we noticed the solids and liquids converging into one. My friends and I, suddenly transforming into tiny heat energy professionals, shook those plastic bags as if it was going to save our lives. continue

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