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April 8th, 2010
11:12 AM ET

Video: The greenest university in America

Jim Spellman
CNN All-Platform Journalist

The University of Colorado-Boulder is one of the most planet-conscious schools in the U.S. CNN's Jim Spellman reports.


Filed under: Jim Spellman
April 7th, 2010
08:02 PM ET

Eco-enlightenment at college

UC Boulder's students make $15  a ton for their recycling efforts.

UC Boulder's students make $15  a ton for their recycling efforts.

Jim Spellman
CNN All-Platform Journalist

I felt like a schnook pulling into the campus parking lot at the University of Colorado, Boulder in my gas-guzzling SUV. I dodged an endless stream of bicycles on my way, almost got hit by a biodiesel bus and squeezed into a spot between two Priuses.

I normally wouldn’t notice these things but I came to check out the college that topped the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” rankings of the most “Eco-enlightened” universities.

Suddenly I was “that guy”, the only square on campus who hadn’t gone green.

It’s doesn’t take long to notice all of the green efforts underway. We’re all used to recycling by now but they take it to a whole new level. In the student union “compost goalies” man the garbage stations. There are bins for recycling, composting, reusables and finally trash.

Kat Stuart is on duty as I approach with a soda bottle.

“I stand here and I tell people what is and what isn’t compostable, what’s trash and even help with recycling if they need it," she says. "If it gets contaminated we have to pay to put it in the landfill.”

Once the recycling gets past Kat’s careful eye it heads over to the recycling center where students put it through another sorting process. The white paper goes with the white paper, the plastic with the plastic. That’s the secret to getting top dollar for it.

They do such a good job of separating their recycling that even after paying students to sort it all out they actually turn a modest profit: 15 bucks a ton.

A film student named Musa works a conveyor belt sifting through empty bottles and stacks of paper. This is where my soda bottle will end up. It’s pretty gross and a little smelly, but Musa doesn’t seem to mind.

“At the end of the day I feel like I’ve done something by recycling this paper, you know?” he says. "As I walk in the world every day I apply what I learn here to what is happening outside. It takes each individual to make that change.”

It’s that personal commitment to the environment that is so impressive about the efforts of the students here at CU Boulder. So many of us seem to think, or at least hope, that the government or maybe a non-profit organization will take care of protecting the environment. These students seem to realize that if they don’t take on the task then it’s possible no one will.

Scot Wooley is a senior from Aspen, Colorado. He’s studying environmental policy and plans on a career that helps the planet, but for him being green is a much more personal pursuit.

“For me it is a personal responsibility to be sustainable and act green,” he says. “I think it does boil down to individual personal choices made by everyone so that it’s cool to be green. It’s our future.”

As I pull out of campus I can't help but feel that with young people like Kat and Musa and Scot on the case the future looks a little bit brighter, or at least a little greener.

December 31st, 2009
09:13 PM ET

A New Year's resolution from the center of the world

Jim Spellman
CNN All-Platform Journalist

This is my first time spending New Years Eve in Time Square and it is really exciting. I've spent the last few watching Anderson and Kathy on CNN from the warmth and comfort of my living room. I guess I am just not a crowds guy.

But here in the thick of it all I'm having a great time. For a few hours round midnight every year this is the center of the world. Everyone is in a great mood, despite the crowds and the weather (and the lack of bathrooms).

There is a real sense that people are in this together. For one night a community of revelers ringing in the new year.

I don't know if it's this fun every year. It's certainly been a tough year winding up a tough decade. Terrorism, wars, economic woes.

A decade ago we were worrying about Y2K. Would our ATM's still work on New Years Day? It seems so minor compared to the concerns that occupy us these days.

So maybe we all need to spend some more time together instead of avoiding the crowds. Maybe I'll make that my New Year's resolution.


Filed under: Jim Spellman • New Year's Eve 2010
December 31st, 2009
09:07 PM ET

Braving the weather in Times Square


Poppy Harlow dodges the rain under an umbrella with Andre Jenkins.


Anderson Cooper braves the light rain as he gets ready for the big show.

Jim Spellman
CNN All-Platform Journalist

The weather has been a big issue here at Times Square all day. When I woke up this morning I peered out of my hotel window and saw a light coating of snow. Not so bad, kinda pretty.

Then I stepped out into it. Yuck. Bitter cold "wintery mix."

But then a great thing happened. The snow and rain stopped and it even warmed up a bit. We thought we might get off easy, but just after 8 p.m., as they ring in the new year out in the middle of Atlantic Ocean somewhere, the rain began.

Freezing rain. Ice cold freezing rain.

It's slowed to a quiet drizzle now. For the thousands of people waiting for the ball the drop let's hope it stops altogether.


Filed under: Jim Spellman • New Year's Eve 2010
December 31st, 2009
07:07 PM ET
December 31st, 2009
07:06 PM ET
December 31st, 2009
06:59 PM ET

The ball hath risen

Program Note: Don't miss our special coverage from Times Square tonight at 10 p.m. ET

Jim Spellman
CNN All-Platform Journalist

The show has begun in Times Square! The clock struck 6 p.m., trumpets blared, fireworks exploded and the famous New Year's Eve ball rose to its perch above Times Square.

At 12-feet in diameter it's twice as big as previous balls. It's covered in 2,668 Waterford crystals and weighs nearly 12,000 pounds. The 32,256 LED lights that cover it change color constantly.

This is my first time seeing it in person and I must say it is a bit underwhelming in scope. The ball sits above five giant video billboards for Budweiser, TDK and Toshiba.

The billboards dwarf the shiny bauble. It seems a bit like a prop from a different era, but it's it's pretty wild to think that in less than six hours millions of sets of eyes around the world will be focused on that sphere up in the sky above the New York night.


Filed under: Jim Spellman • New Year's Eve 2010
December 31st, 2009
06:11 PM ET

No backpacks in Times Square

Program Note: Don't miss our special coverage from Times Square tonight at 10 p.m. ET

Jim Spellman

CNN All-Platform Journalist

The crowds are really piling in here in Times Square. The revelers are ushered into individual viewing areas behind metal barriers. Each one of them holds about 2,500 people. It's a pretty good system. It's allows plenty of space between areas for the police, entertainers and media to move around.

As people arrive they are given a quick search and wanding with a hand-held metal detector. It is going pretty smoothly so far, though about one person in 20 seems to have broke one of the cardinal rules of New Years Eve in Time Square: NO BACKPACKS.

If you brought one you can't come in to the viewing areas. It's a little arbitrary, the police are letting in people with shopping bags and purses are OK but backpacks are a no-go.

But so far that seems to be the only hang up for partygoers here in Times Square.


Filed under: Jim Spellman • New Year's Eve 2010
December 31st, 2009
04:27 PM ET
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