Cultivate South Carolina

Perhaps you saw the post on Oaks or maybe it escaped your notice.

It was short. Only a few sentences long, and contained an attached flyer for a local happy hour + science + art class called Cultivate SC.


So, if you missed it, or read it but thought maybe next time, I’m here to tell you that you are missing out!


I had never heard of Cultivate SC before I saw the flyer on our class page. Immediately the words happy hour, science, and art stood out. Those subjects are all a good time individually and if you put them together…well I definitely needed to see what this was all about. After my last class on Tuesday, I rushed over to Bowties Speakeasy on Maybank Hwy. The timing was perfect as my last class got out at 5:30pm and Cultivate SC began that night at 6:00 pm. I was alone, didn’t know a single person there, though I kept scanning the crowd for one of your familiar faces. I was nervous, so I did what all sober people at an art/science/happy hour do and I got a drink. I took that drink and bellied up to a bar front of a projector and a basket of trash. That’s right, a basket of trash. While everyone chatted and got to know each other I made friends with the trash. I selected a few pieces that I thought were really special and set them aside to look at until the presentation began. Before too long everyone else was sorting through their trash and a brilliant woman named Marielena Martinez began speaking to us about the Hopi Indians and their Kachina dolls.  The story goes that young Indian boys would carve the little figures from the roots of the cottonwood tree and use the figures to teach younger children about the sprits. The Hopi people believed that these figures each represented a spirit god and that each god had a responsibility (of the harvest, the hunt, the weather, the sun, etc.) They believed that the dolls could communicate the wishes of the people to the sprits whom they resembled. Each doll was then painted and decorated with small trinkets and found objects. After we learned about the Hopi’s Kachina dolls we were each armed with a small wooden base, scissors, hot glue and our baskets of trash to create our own Kachina dolls! This is when things got serious and I went to work drink in hand. I was determined to make an amazing doll that would bring me good grades and peaceful naps. While scavenging for the perfect piece of trash (all the trash had been collected from beaches and neighborhoods by the women hosting the event) I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Carolee Williams. She was super nice, and we got to talking about school and interests. Turns out, she is a low country field director for Conservation Voters of South Carolina. Hello Networking! Carolee and I each finished our Kachina dolls just as our speaker for the night took to the stage. Her name was Kea Payton and as it turns out, she was one of Dr. Beckingham’s Graduate students! Small world. Kea talked to us for about 15 minutes on micro plastics and their dangerous roll in our environment. She reemphasized some of what we had learned in class but she also told us some things that I had not heard before. Did you know that fish like to feed in brackish waters where the salty ocean water meats the fresh river water? They choose these spots because there is an abundance of microscopic food in this mixture of water. It is also here that much of our plastics and micro plastics travel resulting in fish ingestion. Did you also know that the Charleston harbor is the perfect place for this tragic combination of fish and plastic? Charleston’s harbor is protected and filled with brackish water meaning that the issue of microplastics could have a big effect right here at home. Thankfully we now know the impacts plastics can have in our waterways and after this class we know some ways we can work to better protect the environment.

In 2 hours I had made a new friend, learned about the Hopi Indians, learned about micro plastics and had a sculpture to keep that I made from recycled materials.

It was a good night!

If you thought this story was interesting or if you have decided to check out Cultivate SC for yourself you can learn more by clicking on the link below. The next and final class will take place on May 8th at 6pm. Hope to see you there!

PS here is a picture of the Kachina doll I made!



Plastic Invasion of the Seas

Image result for turtle eating plastic

There is way too much plastic in the ocean, and that too much, is 150 million tons of plastic trash, a number that is set to triple in the next seven years. People use plastic every day, and it is something that has become almost essential to 21st-century living. There is plastic involved in our clothing, our eating, and in our hygiene. But people do not think about where a lot of their plastic is going. It is going to the ocean.

Marine animals every day, are having their homes invaded by plastic, and every year 8 tons of it are being dumped on their front door. 70% of the plastic found in the ocean is a plastic product, and because we are putting so much plastic in the water, a terrible thing is happening. Marine animals are confusing the plastic for food and are eating it.

Why are animals eating plastic?

              Animals are consuming microplastics that are floating around in the sea because it looks almost like algae, or algae grow on top of the floating plastic, or because plastic bags look like jellyfish. There are many different factors that go into who animals are eating the plastic. Some animals like blue plastics because their food is typically food, and so goes for other creatures and other colors of plastic. Also, animals do not always use the same senses that humans do when it comes to food, and their senses are different from ours. To a human, a plastic bag in the water looks exactly like a plastic bag, but to a sea turtle, the bag could look like a jellyfish with weird tentacles.

What is the harm in eating a little plastic?

              Because animals are eating a lot of plastic, they are filling their bellies with something that they cannot digest but will sit in their stomachs making them feel full. Because these marine animals are full from the plastic, they have no desire to eat and they become malnourished from starvation and/or lack of nutrients. If an animal decides to eat something that has a sharp edge, they could be at risk of piercing something.  Also, from a more anthroponotic viewpoint, if a fish is eating a ton of plastic, and you get that same fish on your dinner plate, are you not also eating plastic?

What can be done?

              There are a lot of alternatives to plastic out there, and they are definitely worth the extra cost. There are many people trying to enact change, and a great example is how the UK banned microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic, from their country. In the US, California placed a ten-cent fee on plastic bags, so for every plastic bag the consumer gets, they have to pay ten cents. Because of this law, many people began using reusable bags and the liter from plastic bags in the streets was greatly reduced. Another fun plastic free item is the bamboo toothbrush, which either uses bamboo or charcoal bristles. Buying a metal or glass reusable water bottle not only saves the consumer money in the long run but also is plastic free and means no one must lug around a heavy pack of water bottles.


Works Cited:

An Influence to a Healthier Lifestyle


Last Tuesday in class we had an influential guest speaker, Justin McGonigal who came in to talk to us about the importance of nutrition and whole food plant based diets ( not only based on health science but his life experience). If you attended that class you are aware that his story provided great proof of how we are ruining our bodies by all the animal products and fast food we eat. He gave us background on his poor eating habits and how they affected his health and mental health too. However, as college students we all know it is very hard to eat off of this whole food diet. One reason being that, some of us may live in dorms and have a crappy meal plan. Two, we are broke and eat what we can find. And three, we just are not to the point where our health worries us because we are young and enjoy a good Taco Bell burrito. However, being a Public Health major I want to eventually work my way into nursing. That being said, I would need to know about the best diets and in what ways they affect our bodies. So Justin telling us about how his heart was so unhealthy at such a young age really made me pay attention because the health of people is my focus. This was probably the only lecture with a guest speaker I’ve actually cared for in any of my classes. I always want an excuse not to care about the food I put in my body. But with the way he laid the facts out for us, it really got me thinking about how I and all the people in my life are unhealthy. We need to cut out the garbage and try to make adjustment to our diet, even if it’s just a little. I have a friend at work that eats lots of chicken every day and I always give him a side eye as he’s scarfing down a whole chicken breast for the third time that day. I already knew that wasn’t healthy, but after this lecture the next time I saw him I hit him with a few new facts I had learned from Justin’s story and the response I got was, “so what you’re saying is  I’m going to have a heart attack and I’m 24.” Obviously, that’s not necessarily the point I was trying to get across, but it just goes to show how this specific story got me thinking about the diets in my life. As well as mine, ever since my first blog about trying to be vegetarian I have definitely cut back on meat. It’s almost not in my meals these days, which is a huge step for me. So I think after learning a little more from this lecture I can apply this to my already changing diet and keep adjust it in order to be the healthiest version of myself, starting with the food I eat.

My Experience With A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet (WFPBD)

On Tuesday our guest speaker, Justin McGonigal, came in to discuss sustainable nutrition and his personal experiences. Throughout my 3 years of being a Public Health Major whose about to graduate this spring, I have learned the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. Last year one of my Professor’s, Professor Lavelle presented us with a project that I thought was not only ridiculous, but difficult being a college student.  She had us, for a whole week experience a whole foods plant based diet and consume 2 to 3 meals a day that were strictly plant based. When she said no meat, including fish I thought that this would be the hardest thing to experience. I decided in that moment that I was not going to participate in this project, I would fake it till the end, how would she know? Well, that’s where my story begins.

When I read over the syllabus for this project I realized that not only did we have a partner, but we had to take pictures of our meals, “accountability is important for this project”…I and my bank account were officially screwed. The first of this project she wanted us and our partner to go to the grocery store and find a meal under $10; which was our budget. Que selfie with partner on aisle 7! Once we figured out what meal we wanted to make; thank you Pinterest, we were able to find all the ingredients and to my surprise we only spent $2 over our budget which wasn’t too bad. After my experience with the grocery store I started thinking that this project might actually be interesting, so I decided to actually put effort into it and ignore my doubts. Over the course of the week I learned about a whole foods plant based diet. I not only lost weight, but I looked and felt incredible, my energy levels were through the roof and my mental state was completely different, but for the better. I no longer felt depressed and anxious, I’m usually the girl that tends to “overthink” everything that goes on in my life and that even seemed to fade as well. My personal experience with this diet was overwhelming and such an incredible journey in a matter of 1 week. That summer after Junior year, I was able to share my experience and actually help someone using this knowledge that I have learned. I just didn’t expect it to be someone that was extremely close to me…that someone was my father.

The summer of 2017 my father had a blocked artery in his heart and he caught it before a heart attack could. The doctors at MUSC were incredible and saved his life by placing a stent in his heart, he say’s that he feels like a new man! All my life he’s always had elevated cholesterol levels. My father has been placed on a diet plan, but he slips up like any normal human; more so than he should. He has become a very athletic 55 year old man. He runs almost everyday, participating in marathons such as the Kiawah and Myrtle Beach marathon alongside my 26 year old sister and boy can he keep up; chicken legs! He’s even joined the Park West, Men’s Tennis League. a bunch of old men playing tennis is definitely a funny sight to see, but I’ll give it to my dad he’s the best one out on that court! I have mentioned to him lately, especially after this lecture with Justin  McGonigal that he needs to be implementing a whole foods plant based diet. I practically retold the whole lecture to him. Like any adult now a days and parent, he laughs at me and say’s that his Paleo diet is “doing just fine”! I guess I can’t blame him, no parent wants advice from their kids and he most definitely doesn’t want to say that I’m right (maybe I should email him the lecture on YouTube!). I love him and he loves me, and I will always keep bringing it up till I’m blue in the face whether he wants to listen or not. I am his daughter after all and you know what they say, the apple does not fall from the tree!

If anyone would like any information on recipes or general information I have a public Pinterest board dedicated strictly for a whole foods plant based diet! I am lactose intolerant and there’s even a recipe for vegan mac and cheese and it’s INCREDIBLE! Here is my link  ENJOY 🙂

A Blue Vision: A Bright Future For Our Oceans Lecture

On February 12th, the South Carolina Aquarium hosted a lecture called “A Blue Vision: A Bright Future for Our Oceans”. The lecture was given by David Helvarg, an author of several books including “Blue Frontier: Dispatches from America’s Ocean Wilderness”, a journalist, and the executive director of a marine conservationist activist organization called Blue Frontier Campaign. Upon arriving, guests were guided to the Great Ocean Tank where the lecture took place. The room featured a variety of sea creatures including eels and fish. The setting of the lecture was moving, given that the lecture was about issues endangering the ecosystems in which the animals around us that are in the wild rely on. Guests were also provided with complementary food and refreshments upon their arrival. The food selection mainly included healthy and organic options. The food was served on biodegradable plates while the refreshments were served using recycled and plastic-free cups.

During the time when guests were arriving to the aquarium and many of us were enjoying our refreshments, I had a chance to talk with a few of the attendees who regularly attend the environmental lectures hosted at the aquarium. It was interesting to talk with some of them, as I got to understand some of their backgrounds and why environmental activism was so significant to them. The audience contained approximately 30 people varying in age. Though age is not important in this context, it was encouraging to see how environmental activism can appeal to people of all different ages.

Roughly half-an-hour after providing guests with food and refreshments, Helvarg was introduced to the podium to give his lecture. Helvarg, an environmentalist who specializes in marine conservation, gave an hour-long presentation discussing critical issues that are impacting the sustainability of the oceans. His presentation was effective at conveying his passion, as he shared stories about how the oceans have impacted him and others. He also shared how human impacts have disrupted many of the functions of the oceans. As discussed in class, for example, the bleaching of coral reefs has had damaging effects on many parts of the world in recent years, and without change this may as well continue to happen. Other issues discussed included offshore drilling (as that is a hot-topic here in South Carolina) and rising sea water levels. The large take-away from his lecture was that the ocean impacts people and other species all throughout the world, and without its functions, future life on Earth could be jeopardized.

Promotional Picture for the March for the Ocean Walk

As the abundance and significance of impacts impacting the world’s oceans mount, Helvarg and other organizations have been driven to sponsor and arrange a walk in Washington, DC called March for the Ocean. The purpose of the walk is to influence Congress to enact policies that would guard our oceans, as the sustainability of the Earth’s oceans is fundamental. The walk is set to occur on Saturday, June 9th 2018. June 9th is a significant date for marine conversationalists as it marks the start to World Ocean Weekend. If you are interested in becoming involved, you can visit the campaign’s website by clicking this link: If you also want to participate but cannot travel to Washington DC, there are other ways you can contribute to their cause listed on their website.

Event- CSA Presentation

A few weeks ago in class we were introduced to Brian from Lowcountry Local First. He shared the idea of “CSAs” to us. I also recently had the opportunity to create a presentation with my internship with MUSC Sustainability on CSAs available in the Lowcountry! I will link the presentation below if you want to watch me in action!

Community Supported Agriculture – MUSC Conversation Cafe Series

In case you missed it! Our conversation cafe on Community Supported Agriculture Shares (AKA subscription vegetables). Eat healthy and support your local farmer with a CSA.

Posted by MUSC GoGreen on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

So, what is a CSA? CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, where members of the community purchase a “share” of a farm in order to support a local farmer. In return, the farmer gives the community member fresh produce that was grown directly from the farm.
CSA’s are a great way to support local agriculture while getting extremely fresh produce, sometimes even straight to your door. With a CSA, you are subscribing to a produce box which you can customize to your needs. Many farms have various sizes and time ranges for their boxes. While most CSAs are fruit and vegetable focused, there are even a few in the Lowcountry that provide meat and fish like Abundant Seafood!
CSA’s are sustainable for many reasons. First, you are supporting local farmers! This keeps local economy thriving and makes you feel good about where your money is going. Second, you know what’s going into your food. You are able to visit the place that your food is being grown and see the care going towards it. Third, your food will be traveling much less than produce grown in a grocery store, which is a big contender of pollution. Lastly, you are getting food at the peak of its freshness. Sure, you may not be getting your favorite berries in the middle of summer, but you will be getting the most incredible tomatoes at peak freshness!
Two of my favorite CSAs that I researched were Compost in my Shoe and Hudson Family Farm Bounty Box. Compost in my Shoe has an extensive list of drop-off areas, along with many add-on items to their already large boxes! These add-on items include honey and eggs straight from their farms as well. The Hudson Family Farm Bounty Box also has a ton of options for how big of a box you may want!
If you would like more information on CSAs or would like a recommendation on what share would suit you and your budget best, please do not hesitate to reach out!

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.