by Joni Astrup
Melanie Waite-Altringer of Elk River is a biology faculty member at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids. She also is a participant in Elk River’s Project Conserve. About 300 households are participating in Project Conserve, which helps people learn how to save money by conserving electricity, water and heating fuels and by producing less garbage.
Waite-Altringer will be one of the speakers at the Elk River Energy Expo on March 5.
What will you be talking about at the Energy Expo?
I will be first talking about my experiences with Project Conserve and then about an assignment I had my Environmental Science class complete on household waste.
What have you learned from the Project Conserve program?
I have learned some great tips from Project Conserve and have already made some changes to my home to conserve energy.
To name a few, I have placed water-conserving adapters on all of my faucets, shower heads and toilets and installed a good programmable thermostat in my home. I think my biggest eye-opener, though, from all of this was having the blower door test done at my house — I had HUGE hidden problems with air leaks in my house and I had absolutely no clue.
How have you incorporated some of these concepts into the classes you teach at Anoka-Ramsey Community College?
All of the tips I have learned, I share with my students sporadically throughout my Environmental Science lecture and lab classes. I also added a household waste lab assignment that my students recently completed by separating their trash, for a full week, into three categories: typical recycling (paper, plastic, glass), organic recycling, and finally their remaining trash.
The overall point of it was to demonstrate how much we can actually reduce our “waste stream” by sorting our household garbage and not have everything go into a landfill as wasted energy.