Andrea Brennen

Andrea Brennen

Posts by This Writer

9 years 3 months ago

Environmentally Conscious Consumers, Animal Rights Enthusiasts, and Vegans: prepare yourself. Fur is – apparently – making a comeback. And no, not among the super-rich, but rather, among the eco-chic.

“How can fur possibly be considered environmentally-conscious?” You ask yourself.

Well, what if the fur comes off the back of an invasive species of rodent that destroys wetlands, and that the government is already paying people to trap and kill? In a reverse case of fur-economics, the fashion trend wouldn’t create a...


9 years 4 months ago

William Kamkwamba might deserve the award for best use of a recycled bicycle, but a group of high school students at NuVu, an innovation-based magnet school in Cambridge, MA, could give him a run for his money. The students participated in a studio workshop called "Energy Computing Design: Music, Toys, Art, & Life Processes with Integrated Systems" taught by Ryan Wartena, a chemical engineer and CEO of GELI (Growing Energy Labs, Inc). The...


9 years 4 months ago

William Kamkwamba, the industrious son of Malawian subsistence farmers, used little more than an old bicycle, scrap metal, and a basic science textbook to build a windmill that powered electric lights in his family’s village home.

Kamkwamba’s story is as heart-warming as it is inspirational. Forced to drop out of secondary school at the age of 14 because his family couldn’t afford the mandatory fees, he passed his days reading library books and foraging for useful materials at the scrap yard. Guided by a description of a windmill he found in an old science textbook and a self-taught understanding of...


9 years 4 months ago

The final installment of a three-part series on the sustainable development of sustainability education.

Jumping into the controversy surrounding the role of Sustainable Development in higher education, Anna Reid and Peter Petocz, two researchers at the Institute for Higher Education Research and Development at Macquarie University (Australia),...


9 years 4 months ago

In opposition to my previous post, which problematizes the role of sustainability in higher education, here’s a quick look at what the participants at the Johannesburg Earth Summit had to say about the issue. Building upon some fundamental principles set by the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development, held ten year prior in Rio de Janeiro, the Johannesburg Summit’s report emphasizes the necessity to foreground issues pertaining to Sustainable...


9 years 4 months ago

Frank Rhodes, former president of Cornell University, calls sustainability “the Ultimate Liberal Art,” arguing that this interdisciplinary idea could form the basis of a “common course” for today’s education system. Should educators heed his advice? Does achieving a lasting adoption of sustainable principles throughout society demand a united front in public education? Before you answer with a resounding yes, you might want to read the rest of this post.

Rhodes’ argument (as expressed in his essay “Sustainability: the Ultimate Liberal Art,” published originally in the ...


9 years 4 months ago

Like it or not, we are awash in greenwash.

A casual stroll down any American supermarket aisle should suffice to convince anyone who has, thus far, (somehow?) managed to remain blissfully ignorant of sustainability’s corporate takeover. There are “eco-friendly” versions of nearly every product imaginable, from organic pop-tarts to environmentally-friendly toilet cleaners to all-natural scented fabric softeners. Consumer overload, and a resulting green-induced-...


9 years 4 months ago

As popular discourse would have it, "greenwash" is the Cain to sustainability’s Abel – an evil corporate force defeating the virtuous ideals of well-meaning environmentalists through the use of slick ad campaigns and vacuous pr.

Different sources offer a range of working definitions of greenwash, each evoking varying degrees of implied morality. For terrachoice (publishers of the oft-cited “Six Sins of Greenwashing”), Greenwash is “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”...


9 years 4 months ago

Last month, Newsweek published their “2010 Green Rankings,” a comparative assessment of how the world’s largest companies measure up in terms of environmental impact and commitment to sustainability-related policies. Here’s a quick look at what, the development of these sorts of sustainability metrics can tell us.

First of all, just to clarify, though the headlines read “Green Rankings: U.S. Companies,” and in some cases “Top-10 Greenest Companies” the ratings do...


9 years 5 months ago

The MIT’s IDEAS Competition challenges members of the MIT community to come up with good ideas that make a positive change in the world. One of this years’ winning teams is doing just that. The Grease Project is a proposal to change the flow of waste in Brazil – putting waste vegetable oil to use, reducing pollution, and improving the standard of living of catadores in the process.

Catadores, or “wastepickers,” are an underclass that represents some of the poorest people in Brazil. It is primarily...


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