Gail of Green Living

The $5 Impact: The Burnt Orange goes GREEN

University of Texas at Austin

When I think of “green cities“, I think first of Seattle or Austin, Texas.  Their city governments have done a lot to green their communities.  But The University of Texas at Austin had not done so much.  And with over 50,000 students, its population is the size of a small town at least.  The University opened its Office of Sustainability in 2009, but the costs of carrying out the mission were expensive.  In 2011, the student body voted in a “green fee” of $5 per semester and $2.50 for a summer session, added to their fees.  This fee adds over half million dollars for projects.  Here are some examples of campus and campus life changes taking place:

  • Added gooseneck water fountains at high-traffic spots on campus to encourage students to fill their own water bottle.
  • Invasive plants removed from Waller Creek, so that student groups can enjoy the creek as well as monitor it through an Adopt-A-Stream program.
  • The Perry Castaneda Library has installed paper recycling bins inside and outside the library where more than 5,000 students use the facility each day.
  • A vacant lot in East Campus has been transformed into an organic micro-farm to grow fruits and vegetables to serve in campus dining rooms.
  • Students and faculty from the LBJ School of Public Affairs are now recycling and composting at their weekly luncheons.  More than 2,000 pounds of waste have been kept from landfills since this project began.
  • You’ve seen car charging stations; UT has installed a charging station outside the Perry Castaneda Library where students can charge their electronic devices, including electric scooters.
  • Additional bicycle parking has been installed across campus
  • The first large-scale tree nursery has been established for reforestation purposes.  It is located at the Pickle Research Campus.  The student-operated facility has the capacity for over 300,000 seedlings!

These are campus projects and do not reflect any efforts toward sustainability that classrooms, dorms and other campus groups and facilities are implementing on their own.  I can imagine there is a visual impact on the students and faculty that causes them to have a more responsible, sustainable lifestyle when they leave campus.

I think the students must feel they are getting a good return on their $5 investment in a greener campus.  HOOK ‘EM!

Information from the Alcalde, July/August 2012


Odd Couples in the Garden
July 6, 2012, 8:45 am
Filed under: Gardening, Green Living | Tags: , , , ,


I think I have a couple of odd couples in my garden.  This tomato plant has sprouted and grown to a decent size without my even noticing it!  I think it must be a cherry tomato variety, but that’s just a guess.  I know the Amaryllis is a giant red bloom, and the flowers are stunning and dramatic every Spring!


Now, this tomato plant has a more stout stem and is more compact, so I’m guessing it is a Better Bush.  These amaryllis pots are less than two feet apart.  What do you suppose happened to create these odd couples in my garden?  My guess is that the squirrels and birds took their snack from my tomato plants, perched on the side of this pot to eat, and the seeds fell in the pot.

There is not much soil in these pots, because the bulbs don’t require it.  I will try to carefully transfer these plants to other pots, to give myself a headstart on my Fall Garden!

Do you ever have an Odd Couple in your garden?

Summer Garden Teaches Flexibility!

Some of life’s big moments have taught me to be flexible.  Being a parent was a big one!  I had to change habits, ignore preconceived ideas about perfect children, and learn to manage my time better.  Being a real estate agent is another moment, which taught me that I must let my clients change their minds on what they want and need.  I need to manage my time even more, in order to be flexible when my Sellers want me to market their home or a Buyer is off from work and is ready to look for their dream home.  And this year, my garden has taught me to be flexible about my expectations regarding production, the weather, the time I have to focus on it, and on and on.  I continue to learn so much every season!

Basil Seedlings

Basil Seeds

The Basil has gone to seed, but the good news is that some of the seeds have already fallen and sprouted and have started a whole new crop of beautiful basil plants.  Does anyone need some organic basil seeds?

Purple Hull Peas Blooms

Both the Purple Hull Peas and the Yard-Long Beans produced  enough beans to pick, and then, haven’t bloomed again.  The purple hulls just started blooming again last week, and the yard-long beans are just parked in the “staying alive” mode.  Normally, beans and peas are constantly blooming and you can pick some every day, once they start, and this is always my expectation.  I am fertilizing with organic fertilizer every other week, just like I have for a long time.  This is just odd behavior!

Kentucky Wonder Bean Foliage

Look at all that foliage from the Kentucky Wonder Beans, and not a bloom or bean to be seen!  I’ve given it organic fertilizer, water, and still nothing! This is not at all what I expected here!

Better Bush Tomatoes

I had to cover tomatoes with netting this year, because the squirrels were having a feast on them!  That makes it hard for me to have access to them, too, and I finally took off the netting this week, because there wasn’t much for the squirrels to eat anymore.  I found three gi-normous horn worms on this plant.  I guess protecting the plant from squirrels allows horn worms to graze freely without my notice or birds’ access to them either!


Ending on a positive note…the blueberry bushes have put on a lot of new growth, and I am so pleased with the progress.  I look forward to enjoying more than the three berries I ate this summer.  The birds ate the rest!  Next year as soon as blooming begins, the net will go over these precious plants to protect the berries from those hungry Mockingbirds!

Has your garden ever taught you flexibility?