Inspiration In The Natural World

Nature is honestly a constant inspiration to me. Since moving to South Carolina I have actually felt quite disassociated with nature from living right in the city and not owning a car to travel to nature. When living in Maine I had nature right outside my back door and could walk to numerous walking and hiking trails. Maine really shaped my love and passion for the natural world and taught me that I find so much peace within and beneath the trees or laying in a grassy field with the sun shining. I would be happy living in the forest next to a babbling brook, foraging for food and not having to face politics and our polluted society that is today. Although this is not an option for me even the thought brings me a bit of happiness. In the meantime I try my best to find nature wherever I go and find peace within that space. I go to the Battery often and do yoga or listen to music or even do my homework. Just the presence of the trees and fresh air brightens my experiences.

Humans use nature as a resource so often but the simple act of living and being in nature is rarely taken advantage of anymore. I feel humans are meant to have a relationship with the natural world and that anxiety and depression could come from this society that we created with little nature involved. I was very delighted when seeing this option for a blog post because it is important to be in touch with nature and many don’t put as much weight or importance on this action. Although it may seem pretty simple or easy it is sometimes the hardest to get out of your own head and be in the now and appreciate everything around you. I love meditation and yoga so that is what I did during my trip into nature for this blog post. It is more challenging still being within the city because of the noise pollution created but this just adds a little more challenge to your inner concentration. I have not been able to reach complete peace in South Carolina yet but everything takes practice and adjustments!

When I first find myself in nature I make sure I find the perfect spot to spend my time. I always bring a blanket and usually a snack. Most of the time I find the sunniest spot with the softest earth, whether it be sand, grass, clay, dirt, or even a flat large rock. Under a tree is always wonderful on especially hot days, those just didn’t come often in Maine. This time I found the best spot on the grass far enough away from disturbance. Then I just flow and do me. I stretch and listen to music while practicing yoga usually finishing with meditation. While I practice yoga I like to be aware of my surroundings and let all my senses thrive and enjoy the breeze that brings cool air and wonderful smells of different plants and flowers, listen to the ocean and the birds singing, children giggling. Then while meditation I focus on my core and my own body to gain concentration and less thoughts on stress or unimportant jumbled thoughts. Overall I always leave nature happier than entering and this simple fact is all that is needed to know the natural world is important for human’s psyche.

Chocolate Yummm

For this blog post I wanted to write about my experience at Meatless Monday! I had never been to to Marty’s place and didn’t know what to expect. They had set up a presentation in the corner of the corner of the eating area with Bethany Nunn, chocolatier as the main speaker. Before she spoke a couple guest speakers spoke of upcoming events and sustainability opportunities. I chose this presentation to go to because I have honestly loved chocolate and candy all my life and always have had interest in the process of making good, real ingredient sweets. When Bethany stood to speak I became even more excited, she was a tall, beautiful young women who also loved sweets and creativity just like me. Originally I imagined a women in her 60’s coming to talk about chocolate in possibly a boring way but in reality it was a women very relatable to me. She first started out talking about what drove her towards chocolatier and how it evolved into actually making the chocolate herself in house. Bethany went on to tell the story of how chocolate is made step by step from receiving the cocoa bean from sustainable farms and then roasting them, de shelling them, and then grinding down the cacao down to then be able to add ingredients to make it a decadent chocolate. Being a chocolatier means just adding the ingredients to the cacao to make unique chocolate. She took it a step further by processing the raw ingredients herself. She spoke of how someday she hope to be able to grow the cocoa locally to become totally self sustaining. The weather conditions just aren’t right to be successful at the moment. Green houses may be her solution to that problem.

Something else that Bethany does different than other chocolate makers is she creates a no waste zone with her work. When making chocolate you don’t use the whole bean but just a small amount, so to be innovative she used the sort of shell or husk to produce and sell her own tea. I thought this was a wonderful idea, not only is she using eco friendly methods but she is also making pure profit off of this new invention using the “unwanted” part of the cocoa bean.

Throughout the presentation She passed out things to try including the roasted cacao beans (which were pretty disgusting) as well as pure, no sugar added chocolate (also pretty gross) and then a couple of flavors of her chocolate. She explained how sensitive chocolates are to their surroundings and how a piece of lavender chocolate that I just ate was only flavored by sitting in a room next to the lavender flower for a certain amount of time. That was so interesting to me because it was so full of flavor. I was really glad I went to this talk for it ended up being much more exciting and interesting than I had thought. She showed that with not much extra effort one can really make a business sustainable and friendly to our planet, we need more business owners like Bethany.

Freshwater Phosphorous Overload

For my news report project I found an article from Science News on extreme levels of phosphorous finding its way into freshwater bodies throughout the entire planet. Phosphorous is a natural occurring element on the earth but with humans high impact we are spreading more than healthy amounts into multiple ecosystems. Humans use this element in factories, fertilizer, and other agricultural reasons. After we use the resource it does not just disappear or become eliminated. After use it typically becomes runoff and flows into grasslands or bodies of water. This element increases growth rates of many plants and specifically algae and acts like a fertilizer. With increased rates of algae growth it disturbs the equilibrium of the ecosystem and in turn greatly affects the well being of the other species in the ecosystem. Ecosystems are complex systems that have deeply interconnected components. If these components are disturbed or manipulated then a shift in the entire system can occur.

This article actually just touches upon the deep seeded affects that algal blooms have and just spoke of the depletion of drinking water for humans and any other organism trying to consume this fresh water. The fact that these blooms have made the water toxic to drink is the main downside that actually has a negative affect on humans and has caused a major environmental problem. I feel this article could have gone much more in depth with this great problem, for they barely scrapped the surface of the whole problem. This problem is directly caused by humans yet most of society does not feel responsible or know it has even been occurring.

Phosphorous levels have become toxic to certain ecosystems and are even creating “dead zones”, not only affecting the safety of drinking water but other lives also. A dead zone is when there are so many algal blooms occurring the algae consumes all of the resources in the environment, for example: depletion of all oxygen in the water, blocking of sunlight from hitting the waterbed, creates a new toxic element that makes an area inhabitable, raises total suspended solids in the water. This event can happen quite quickly also. Algae is a quick growing organism, filling the bodies of water and destroying large areas that thousands of organisms would have inhabited and killing those organisms that were living there.

I was drawn to this article because I actually have a background knowledge of this specific topic. Last year I took a Biology lab class that based all of its research off of one river that was polluted and had algal blooms occurring. We had to do multiple experiment on different aspects of the river like TSS and Turbidity, Phosphorous levels, Oxygen levels, fish population levels, and testing different sites with different pollution sources at these sites (factory, overpass, farm). We were to solve the problem of why so many fish were dying in this river. We concluded that the oxygen levels were just too low to inhabit fish and this was caused by the blooms. The fish could live with the levels of phosphorous but because there was too much algae in the water there just wasn’t enough oxygen to go around. This experiment made me realize the true complexity of a system and how small things can make a huge impact on the system as a whole. It is fact that humans are causing this problem and it is fact that we need to solve and fix this problem as soon as possible. More care towards runoff with a drive to treat the environment with respect would be a wonderful start.


The Astonishing Planet Earth

For my first blog post I wanted to do a documentary review. Environmental science and nature in general has always been a true passion of mine throughout my whole life. The natural world never ceases to amaze me every day. BBC network has created a beautiful art piece called Planet Earth that I’m sure many of you have also seen. It takes them years to make these films due to the unpredictable actors in their films, which consist of animals and plants around the world. Their first documentary series was released in 2006 and took four years to create, traveling to over 64 different countries.

The most current series though, is the main topic for my blog entry. Planet Earth 2 was released in 2017 and took 2,089 days of shooting, about 5.7 years to make. They traveled to over 40 countries to capture the most epic and meaningful clips of the natural world that all eyes should see. Throughout the most recent series David Attenborough, the creator shined a light on how much the earth has been changing in the current years. This was different to the first series. It became apparent to the filmmakers that things have truly changed in the environments although they had seen them no longer than ten years ago. The documentary is split up into episodes due to its length. They categorize the episodes based on the ecosystems. For instance there are different episodes for forest, oceans, desserts, etc.  This is the same between both Planet Earth 1 and 2, but an additional ecosystem was added to this most current ecosystems. This was Cities. They show how certain animals have adapted to our man made ecosystems and how their environment was destroyed but monkeys for example, have been able to learn how to survive in a concrete jungle.

I love that Attenborough added these small changes in his filmmaking to make a huge impact and open the eyes to people who might not be able to see the actual effects of the human impact and climate change due to the anthropocene. I feel our society separates themselves from the natural world and every other creature that shares the planet with us. This makes it easy for humans to not care if their ecosystems are deteriorating because it won’t affect them directly. This is a very close-minded way of living life and this documentary has the ability to educate people of what isn’t right outside their front doors. Many people live in very urban communities with little nature or recourses to be able to immerse themselves in nature. This documentary is available on Netflix, which in this day and age, the mass of people have, this means they now have an opportunity to learn about all of the environments and ecosystems and all of the species within them. It may not be as rewarding as being in these areas, but the quality of this film is unbelievable and actually demonstrates certain thing that one would not be able to experience even if they were right in the forest. For example, one technique these filmmakers use is time-lapse film. This is where they leave a camera recording a plant or mushroom or what have you for a long period of time, months even, and then speed up the film. By doing this one can view the whole lifecycle of an organism in as little as thirty seconds. The creators of this film have an obvious and true passion for what they are doing and are sharing a true gift by letting the public experience this art piece of a documentary.

This documentary like previously mentioned is available on or for more information you can visit