A new look on food

One thing that has been addressed in many of my Public Health classes, as well as today in class, is something that I think is often overlooked. The way that our food is processed so that we can buy it in the store or order it in a restaurant is a process that not only harms our environment but can also harm our health.

Animal agriculture has many effects on our environment. It is a large source of income for most countries with approximately 45% of the world’s land being specifically used for raising livestock. This increasing need for land comes with consequences such as deforestation, and desertification. The large amount of animals being raised for consumption comes with the need to feed and water these creatures. Though deforestation is sometimes the result of logging, it can also occur from clearing the land for animal grazing or for growing crops. As we discussed in class, animal agriculture accounts for 80-90% of the water consumption in the United States! This was definitely a surprise to me!

Though I have heard about these things before, most of these things still came as a shock to me. Another thing that is surprising is how animal agriculture is responsible for over 30% of global greenhouse emissions! Also, I never thought about how animal agriculture would contribute to targeted killing.

The things I have mentioned above have to do with the environment directly, however, these things can also affect our health as humans.  Because of the demand for meat, the animals are placed in cramped conditions, which provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This means that the animals have to be treated with wide-range antibiotics to keep them from being sick. The antibiotics also make the animals grow bigger, faster. However, the excrement from these animals, containing these antibiotics have the possibility of infecting the ground water. If the ground water is infected, the effects could be harmful to our health.

I did not realize before how animal agriculture could affect the environment in so many ways. This is definitely something that we need to find solutions for.


Our Oceans

Yesterday’s lecture that incorporated discussions on overfishing in our oceans really struck a chord with me. Even as someone who cares about the environment, this topic has (I regret to admit) slipped from my mind recently. I actually wrote a paper for my writing class last year about overfishing in our oceans, but since then I have not stayed up to date on this idea. Moving to Charleston from upstate NY, the ocean is a lot closer to home now than it ever has been before. After class on Tuesday, it occurred to me that now more than ever before, in these especially uncertain times, how the future of our oceans (and the environment in general) is at risk. The fact of the matter is, our new president views climate change as a “hoax”. I actually found a great blog post from National Geographic that discusses the transfer of power, the environmental policy of our old and new presidents, and the future of the oceans.

It can be found here:


Per the assignment, I guess this subject matter falls under the category of a “current event”, but I think it is important to take the environmental crisis in our oceans especially, and look at both its past and future. Before we are able to make drastic changes to save our oceans, we have to directly regard both the mistakes we have made in the past as well as both the repercussions and possibilities for the future ahead.

If you have not heard of the algae blooms in nearby regions, I especially recommend that you read the article in the link that I posted. The areas having these environmental problems are not far away from Charleston at all. The best way that we can prevent further environmental issues is by educating ourselves and taking action. The more you know, the more good you can do!

Time For Action

The year of 2017 is already presenting itself with many challenges for us to face in the future. Fear for the livelihood for not just social justice issues but environmental as well. Last Saturday I participated in the women’s march. The pure fight and love that I felt from the crowd surrounding me not only made me realize how we can take action against the unfairness that is taking place, but also showed me that we are all connected by certain experiences. Using these connections to band together to fight these issues is important, but my first action in the fight is to make lifestyle changes personally.

I have talked a lot about making changes that make my eco footprint less and less. Just recently I have decided to rid meat from my diet. The meat packing industry and methane gases emitted by cows are some of the worst things for our environment. Methane gas in particular is a green house gas that, when released into the air, absorbs radiation and increases the temperature of the atmosphere. By personally choosing to stop consuming meat makes me hope that I can make changes to live a more sustainable life.

The next step for me in this coming week is to build a compost bin. With this project, I have high hopes that many of our neighbors will be on board and contribute to the compost. In this way, I am not only changing how my neighbors and housemates through away trash but also educating them on why doing these things are important in the first place. With the compost, I plan to start a garden. We bought soil and wood to raise the garden; now all we need is a community willing to contribute to feed our worms!!

Alternative Living

We are experiencing an unprecedented population growth, and by 2050 experts believe that we will exceed 10 billion residents on our one and only life-sustaining planet. It is time for Earth’s inhabitants to take action against the many man-made forces of environmental destruction. Of course, food and power production represents two areas most impactful to our collective ecological footprint. If we are to adequately monitor the progress of environmental change while also providing for an ever-increasing global population, alternative production methods are in great demand. Leading the charge of alternative and more sustainable methods of living, ReGen Villages offer a glimmer of hope for a more earth-friendly lifestyle.


By 2017, the first “test community” of ReGen houses and farm plots will be tested in a small suburb outside of Amsterdam. It will be composed of 25 houses, which easily allow residents to live sustainably. Organized around the idea of self-production, the village will, for instance, derive most of its power from various “alternative” sources such as geothermal, solar, and wind. Continuing the community’s focus on self-sustainability, the fertilizer used in the village’s various vertically organized farm plots will come from the various fishponds located within the village itself. This will not only eliminate the cost of procuring fertilizer, but will also lessen the environmental impact of large-scale industrial fertilizer production.


Of course, any community, no matter how sustainable, produces large amounts of waste. Within the ReGen village, there are plans for a widespread composting project, where waste from within the village will be combined with highly efficient farming methods such as aquaponics to yield up to 90% more productive harvests. However strong the village’s composting program is, however, it will not be able to fully utilize all of the community’s waste products. Still, this non-compostable waste is still useful as a means for power production. In combination with the village’s aforementioned alternative power sources, planners aim to use biomass fuel technologies to harness the power within this non-compostable waste matter. I’m excited to see how this idea works out throughout the year!





I should have paid more attention…

I remember moving into my now home back in September. This was the first time I had rented something out with garbage pick up, and to my surprise, recyclable pick up as well. Every Thursday we would push out those garbage bins to the front of the yard and off they go. Well, I should say bin, as in, just the garbage ONLY bin.

I remember my boyfriend telling me we needed to get a house bin to put all the recyclable things in to separate from the trash so we can start putting out both bins by the end of each week. I remember thinking to myself numerous things like, “why?”, “what is the point- what difference will it make?”, “that sounds like a whole lot to learn and I am too busy already”. Those were really my three general questions. Why, and what difference would it make, could not explain my indifference to the situation any better. What difference could just two people in a home make, I immediately thought- the whole dang world isn’t recycling, a few things from this home isn’t going to matter. And oh, am I busy. I have a 6 year first grader who has homework that lasts me longer to help her with than cleaning my own bathroom, a very needy Italian Mastiff that literally weighs as much as me (this is child number 2), two jobs, and school… And I am expected to learn what can be recycled and can’t? Um, no.

That is until I read this article. http://go.shr.lc/2ePok7V

German retailer Aldi has announced that as of January 1st they will be removing 8 pesticides from all products on its U.S. stores shelves.

The food chain is making a name for itself as a health-focused supermarket in recent times.

With low prices AND a focus on health, Aldi is gaining a reputation as the food conscious shoppers go-to store.

Little did I know I was already on my way to making huge strides to a person like me, who knows nothing and had little interest in sustainability. I had already promised myself this new year to start eating better, and by eating better I did not mean diet. Fortunate enough for me, I grew up with my mother who was a nutrionist. I feel confident in how my eating habits are. However, after moving into this new home in Ladson-Summerville area, I find an article of a small grocery store down my street by the name of Aldi. Also is a German small grocery chain store that is now providing fully organic, no pesticide groceries and beating all health good stores around the country. What is even better than the store being completely organic? How cheap it is!

This was on my priority list coming into the new year which has been beyond beneficial for me. It has brought in so much insight to so much more than I could have ever imagined. Now, back to the recycling part… I cannot think of ONE item I have bought at Aldi so far this year, that is not recyclable. BINGO! Now, I am recycling. Why not? Everything I have bought in groceries so far has been organic, better for my body and my nutrition, I have not wasted plastic bags (because Aldi does not use them =) ), I have been 100% contributing to my environment and my body when it comes to groceries so WHY STOP at simply throwing away all the recyclable packaging in the regular trash bin.

I actually find it hilarious because my boyfriend lasted a week talking about recycling after seeing my disinterest and now that I can really tell the difference I alone am making, we are making, in my household, it’s me constantly over his shoulder saying, “hey, that can go in the recycling bin”, “don’t forget to take both bins out and not just the trash!”, “I emptied out the ground coffee into a mason jar- stick that coffee container in the bin please”.

I sincerely, do not think I would have ever been able to learn as much about recycling and the importance of natural foods alone without having made this change and the change of recycling items slapping me the in face before I threw it in the regular trash bin. I am excited to have put myself in the position to learn more, not only through this beginning change at home but picking up en environmental class and diving deeper. I remember Prof. Saunders saying something that has haunted me since on Day 1 of class. We stopped at a picture on a life of planet Earth and she said, “Let’s just stop here and look at this for a sec., you guys, this is all we have. Once this is all used up, that is it, we have nothing else.” It hit me then, that not only should I be proud of the small differences I am making, they will spread. I have a little one at home who’s already looking for all the recycling label/stamps on all of our items so she can police and make sure they go where it belongs. And that’s where it should start.

My Trout Stocking Experience

Being from West Virginia, I have grown up doing activities outside such as fishing, hiking and camping. I am a frequent fisherman and I also spend a lot of time on my kayak when the weather permits. I believe that the preservation of our wildlife and environment is extremely important. It is not uncommon for a field trip in West Virginia to take place in the great outdoors. For my junior year of high school, a group of kids from my class took a trip to the cheat river, which is located in the Northern part of the state. The cheat river is known for its strong current and beautiful scenery. When people go fishing here, it is not uncommon to catch a trout. In fact, our state’s fish is the Brook Trout. These are the types of trout that our group helped stock into the Cheat River. The Brook Trout is a pretty decent sized fish and can get up to 16 inches in certain areas (U.S. National Park Services). The trout that are being stocked come from fisheries in the area. The fisheries bring the fish in big trucks that have large coolers in the truck bed. Before we started the trout stocking, we could hear the fish moving around in the coolers. You could tell that they were eager to get into the river. When stocking any fish, you do not just dump them all in one place in the river. We started at one location and after stocking so many fish, we moved down the river. I believe that on our trout stocking trip we stopped at about six different locations along the cheat river. The West Virginia DNR also posts a trout stocking schedule on their website, along with the locations that the trout will be stocked. We got the fish from the coolers and put them into large buckets. Each bucket had two to three fish in them. Some fish were probably around five inches long, where some were at least six or seven inches long. The strategy was to walk to the edge of the river and toss the fish as far as you could, so that they could get into the deepest water possible. Some people had issues doing this because the fish were flopping around so much. After all of the fish were out of the truck and into the river, I felt very happy. It was a fun experience that I hope to participate in again someday. Although these trout would have gotten stocked with or without my help, it was very cool to be a part of the process. We take so much from the environment and it felt good to put something back into it.




United States. National Park Service. “Brook Trout.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017

My Big Lifestyle Change

Three, Two, One, Happy New Year! Time to make my new years resolution. My goal for this year is to go to the Gym Monday- Friday for forty-five minutes to an hour. Now everyone knows that new years resolutions sometimes do not last long. This new routine worked out pretty well until school started and also work. Being a full time student and going to work straight after school has not been one of my favorite past times. I started to realize really quiz how much my body hated me because I was not getting the proper rest that I needed.

Along with the gym resolution I made up one for my diet as well. I had decided that I was going to go fully Organic non GMO products along with little amounts of meat. Purchasing the products and sticking to organic non GMO products was the easiest part of this resolution. The meat on the other hand was not. Living and walking in downtown Charleston is an awful thing when your on a diet. You start to smell the aromas of the food which then becomes a distraction.

So far I have been sticking to my diet. After a month of eating right I can tell the difference in the energy that I have. One day I had a cheat day to where I stopped at a fast food restaurant and it did not go well. My stomach is so use to not having that type of food for a month that it will dislike anything but my diet. I am still trying to work out the whole gym schedule. The concept of the gym and diet is not to mainly loose weight but to fix the bad habits that I have developed.  I understand that not everyone is perfect with trying to stick with their resolution. It’s just that I do not want to give up so easily on the healthy lifestyle change that I need.

The Environment is ‘Trumped Up’

The first 100 days after a new president is inaugurated are arguably the most important for an administration. The actions, speeches, policies, and appointments which occur in this time set the tone for how issues will be handled during that president’s term, which in turn reflects how successful of a leader (s)he will be. Although barely a week into Trump’s first 100 days, the environment (and indigenous populations, women across the globe, and science in general) is already taking a massive hit.

It begins with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday (1/24/2017) which allows for “renegotiation” (see video, nytimes.com) on the massive project which not only threatens to augment the effects of climate change by releasing carbon into the atmosphere and introducing the ability for oil leaks across the thousands of miles, but also threatens many Native American sacred grounds. The full complaint filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe explicitly highlights many of the qualms associated with this destructive intrusion (link found on cnn.com).

Trump continued his assault on the environment by broadening a “global gag rule” which severely limits worldwide abortions. As stated by The Hill:

“In its expanded state, the global gag rule prohibits international organizations from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide, counsel, refer or advocate for abortion services — even if they are doing so with their own, non-U.S. funds, and even if abortion is legal in their own country.”

The implications of this action are significant to environmentalism and sustainability as the population continues to grow at an exponential rate with resources becoming scarcer daily. Without proper family planning services, families in developing countries could be faced with devastating consequences of unchecked population growth such as famine or water shortages. This was a key point in Hans Rosling’s documentary “Overpopulated.”

Lastly, the Trump administration imposed many restrictions on the EPA, National Park Service, and other institutions’ abilities to release information to the public. The EPA will have all its scientific evidence supporting climate change reviewed by Trump’s team,  which will then determine whether it remains available to the public or not. The Trump administration also required the Department of the Interior (and subsequently the NPS) to stop tweeting until told otherwise. This was in response to the National Park Service retweeting pictures showing the vast crowd difference between Obama’s inauguration and Trump’s. These two actions exacted upon the EPA and Department of the Interior are the scariest to me as it appears Trump will attempt to silence those who show resistance towards his presidency and policies. Furthermore, Trump controlling which scientific evidence can be presented to the American population on climate change limits education and awareness of the damage being inflicted upon our planet. This effectively halts any progress which could be made to reverse the dire situation we are heading into. Scientists across the nation are planning a march on Washington in response to this week’s actions made by Trump (http://www.scientistsmarchonwashington.com/).

Minimize For Maximum Effect

After watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things I realized that there are only a few things in life that are truly important and a very, very small number of those things are physical, material items. The majority of the important things in life are not actually tangible things, they’re relationships, places, experiences. As much as I hate to admit this about myself, I am quite the collector of stuff. When I say “stuff” I mean knick knacks, unnecessarily large amounts of clothing, and other random items that take up space simply because they hold a memory of some sort. I’ve known for a while that I have accumulated a huge amount of stuff during my 19.5 years on this earth, but I’ve never found a reason that I thought was good enough for me to actually declutter my life. I’ve finally found a reason that has encouraged me to change my ways, even if that simply means going through the items that I know I never use or to stop buying items that I know I do not need.

According to Josh and Ryan the minimalistic lifestyle gave them what every person wants out of life: happiness. Freeing their life of unnecessary stuff freed them from the overwhelming feeling of emptiness. You may be asking how getting rid of the unnecessary items in one’s life gives one a feeling of freedom, but after hearing their story it makes sense. Our lives revolve around making money in order to have items that are the best of the best, but it’s hard to enjoy these items when you are busy with work and other obligations. By letting go of the unnecessary stuff, nothing is holding you down or holding you back from seeing the world in a perspective you wish to see it in, not the perspective society forces on you.

Along with being freed from the weight (physical and mental) of stuff, it decreases the size of your ecological footprint. I recently learned that if everyone on Earth lived the same lifestyle as me it would take approximately 5 planet Earths to support everyone. That number alone was scary enough for me to have a wake up call and realize that I need to change something in my life to decrease that number. With that information already in the back of my mind, this documentary really pushed me to examine my life to see what is a true necessity and what is simply an item taking up space.

This documentary was eye opening to say the least. Before watching, I thought that minimalism was only about reducing the amount of stuff you have. After watching the documentary I now understand that minimalism is not just about reducing the material items in your life; it’s about decreasing stress, increasing happiness, and helping restore Earth back to it’s former glory of green plants, clean air, and the freeness it offers to be anything that you wish to be.

Jet Travel in “The Great Acceleration”

When you look up into the sky and you see a jet flying overhead, what do you think?  I guess it depends on your state of mind, your imagination, or even your view on the environment.  Our conceptions of the little glimmering tube floating silently across the sky at 33,000 feet may vary, but anyone studying environmental sustainability cannot help but to notice the soft white streak trailing behind it, and the implications that that streak has on our environment.  Although it is a clear fact that air travel has an immense carbon footprint, and that most of the developed world has some degree of access to it, most aircraft flying today have modern engines that are significantly cleaner than their older counterparts.  As I would assume nearly everyone in our class is under the age of 40, I wonder how this jet travel looked like 50 years ago during the great acceleration….  Spoiler alert: It was bad…

If you fast forward past the shirtless ground crew and the long preparation process to about 5:50 in the video below, you will see what was once a common sight in the skies of America in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, enter the Convair CV-880.  A flintstone era jetliner made for the likes of the American military complex, Delta, TWA, and Elvis Pressley (He had his own Convair).  The 4 high-output engines of its era poured out an immense exhaust trail which would seriously concern any modern passenger, whether environmentalist or not.  As someone who enjoys mechanics and old technology, I cannot say that I enjoy watching the Convair  taking flight in any regard, but the following scene puts into context the amount of apathy American industry had to it environmental impacts during this era.  The video below takes place in the early 1990’s as the aircraft was cleared to fly east to a scrapyard thousands of miles away.  You can hear spectators commenting on the ground that they had to get a special permit in order to make this single flight to the scrapyard.  It is both amazing and sad that although these aircraft are now long gone, their effects and even the effects of their cleaner counterparts still remain