Sustainability & ME: Spring into sustainability


By Chelsea Malacara, Sustainability Education & Outreach Coordinator

Upon the new year, most people decide that it is time to start fresh whether that means eating healthier, exercising more, or making a major change. Living in Maine, I find that the turn of the new year, which brings cold and snowy weather, does not inspire the motivation to start fresh. Instead, my new year starts when Spring decides to blossom from the thawing ground. With the arrival of slightly warmer weather last week, I feel my new year has finally begun!

At the beginning of the semester, myself and USM Eco-Reps pledged to live more sustainably by changing one of our behaviors this spring. My pledge was to use alternative forms of transportation to get to work on days I am in my Portland office. All of our Eco-Reps have done a phenomenal job at fulfilling their pledge to live a more sustainable life. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for myself and being the supervisor of the Eco-Rep program, I admittedly am a little embarrassed. The weather, time management, or having to take or pick-up my son from daycare were the excuses I had each week for why I had to use my car every time I took the 1.5-mile commute to the Portland campus.

Finally, this past week something clicked and one sunny, 45-degree afternoon was the motivation I needed to take that first step (literally) towards reducing my carbon footprint using alternative transportation. I drove home, parked the car, and walked to get my son from daycare which is about a 2-mile round-trip commute. Since that fateful Tuesday, I have either ridden my bike to work when I am in Portland or driven home from Gorham, parked the car, and biked to get my son. Not only do I feel good about finally acting on what I pledged to do but I feel physically stronger, sit in traffic less, and have more time than if I drove.

This Spring, I’d like to challenge you to make your own sustainability pledge-to commit to an action that not only helps our environment but may help you save money, increase your physical activity, or give you more time to do the things you love! To get you started, I have a few ideas on how you can “Spring into Sustainability.”

  1.       Ditch single-use beverage containers and try to remember to bring a reusable water bottle or coffee mug everywhere you go. All USM dining options give a reduced coffee price if you bring your own mug!
  2.       Hop on your bike, put on your walking shoes, or run to do your errands.
  3.       Reuse old food jars for beverages, shopping in the bulk section at the store, or for holding pens and pencils.

Do you want more sustainable lifestyle tips or just want to learn more about sustainability at USM? Visit


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