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WVPE & the IUSB Sustainability Studies Program Presents

The IUSB Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series

January – April, 2018

Marty Mecktenberg, Founder of Empower Designs, speaks Wednesday night, March 21, as part of the Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series at IU South Bend. His talk, “The Successes and Failures of Global Sustainability,” begins at 7 pm in Wiekamp Hall room 1001 on the IUSB campus.

Sam Centellas, Director of La Casa de Amistad, and Santi Garces, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of South Bend, IN, speak Wednesday night, March 28 as part of the Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series at IU South Bend. Their talk, “Recreating Cities for Sustainable Living,” is moderated by  Mike Keen, Founder of Thrive Michiana. The event begins at 7:00 pm in Wiekamp Hall room 1001 on the IUSB campus.

Kaitlin Harris, the Urban Adaptation Assessment Project Manager with Notre Dame’s  Global Adaptation Initiative, speaks Wednesday night, April 4, as part of the Sustainability and Innovation Lecture Series at IU South Bend. Her talk, “Igniting Conversation Today for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Tomorrow,” begins at 7:00 pm in Wiekamp Hall room 1001 on the IUSB campus.

Honeybees are amazing and adorable, and they suffer when people spray pesticides or mow down wildflowers. We've heard plenty in recent years about collapsing bee colonies.

So Jonas Geldmann, at the University of Cambridge, says he understands how the honeybee became a symbol of environmental conservation.

But he still doesn't like it.

"Lots of conservation organizations are promoting local honey, and even promoting sponsorships of honeybees and that kind of stuff, and that increasingly annoyed me," he says.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa. The fossil suggests that humans first migrated out of the continent much earlier than previously believed.

The Bialowieza Forest, which spans 350,000 acres between Poland and Belarus, is home to a vulnerable population of about 600 bison. But this winter, the forest also became home to a reddish brown cow who decided to escape domestic life for some time in the wild. Poland's TVN24 news portal reports an ornithologist first spotted her in November, wandering the outskirts of the forest with a herd of about 50 bison.

Supplies Of Valuable Ginseng Root Dwindling

Jan 25, 2018

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The root ginseng is used to treat all kinds of ailments in traditional Chinese medicine. And some of the most valuable ginseng grows wild in Appalachia. Supplies are dwindling. So as Julia DeWitt from our Planet Money podcast reports, a backup plan is taking shape.

Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year. And the trash stays there: Whether it's grocery bags or water bottles or kids' toys, plastic is practically indestructible.

Now marine scientists have discovered that it's killing coral reefs.

A new study based on four years of diving on 159 reefs in the Pacific shows that reefs in four countries — Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar — are heavily contaminated with plastic. It clings to the coral, especially branching coral. And where it clings, it sickens or kills.

Last summer, Zac Peterson was on the adventure of a lifetime.

The 25-year-old teacher was helping archaeologists excavate an 800-year-old log cabin, high above the Arctic Circle on the northern coast of Alaska.

They had pitched tents right on the beach. Over the course of a month, Peterson watched a gigantic pod of beluga whales swim along the beach, came face-to-face with a hungry polar bear invading their campsite and helped dig out the skull of a rare type of polar bear.

But the most memorable thing happened right at the end of the trip.

The new acting director of the National Park Service is a former parks official who was reprimanded 12 years ago for pressuring employees to allow the owner of Washington's NFL team to cut down trees for a better view of the Potomac River.

Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the promotion of Paul Daniel Smith on Wednesday.

From 2004 to 2015, Smith was superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park.

A short drive north of Fairbanks, Alaska, there's a red shed stuck right up against a hillside. The shed looks unremarkable, except for the door. It looks like a door to a walk-in freezer, with thick insulation and a heavy latch. Whatever is behind that door needs to stay very cold.

"Are you ready to go inside?" asks Dr. Thomas Douglas, a geochemist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Mount Mayon, the Philippines' most active volcano, erupted for eight minutes on Monday afternoon, spewing a 3-mile-tall column of debris and volcanic gas. It exploded at least five more times Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Cape Town officials are tightening water restrictions amid claims the city could run out of water by April 21. After three years of intensive drought, officials say residents are bracing for "Day Zero," the day water could stop flowing.

South Africa's second-largest city would be the first major city in the developed world to run out of water, if residents do not heed new stricter water measures. The region is experiencing its worst drought in a century, which experts say has been exacerbated by climate change and in Cape Town, rapid population growth.

Five oil field workers are missing after an explosion and fire Monday at a natural gas drilling site in southeastern Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz of StateImpact Oklahoma reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

"The explosion buckled the drilling rig operating near a small town 100 miles south of Tulsa and fueled a smoke plume that was visible for miles.

In a statement, the company operating the drilling rig said it wasn't sure what caused the explosion and fire.

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET

The sudden eruption of a volcano overlooking a ski resort in central Japan rained ash on the slopes and may have triggered an avalanche that left at least one person missing and 10 others injured.

Japan's Meteorological Agency reports that Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, located about 120 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted early Tuesday.

Living Well Now: What Does It Take?

Jan 21, 2018

Randall Curren is a professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester. His work spans sustainability studies, the philosophy and psychology of well-being, social and political philosophy, and ancient Greek philosophy. You can follow his work here.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit