8 Months Vegan

Veganism is one of the best ways to do your part in lessening your personal environmental impact. As I’m sure you already know, the meat/dairy industry has countless negative impacts on the environment through methane emissions, animal waste runoff, excessive water usage, and deforestation for grazing lands. By sticking to a plant based diet, not only do you decrease your “footprint”, but your physical health may improve and you can have a guilt-free conscience.

In order to successfully be a vegan, it is very important to know what foods you can eat in order to get the full amount of nutrition that your body needs, otherwise you may develop nutrient deficiencies. In terms of protein, any form of whole grain combined with a legume equals a complete protein. This includes black beans and brown rice, toast and peanut butter, bread with bean soup, lentils and barley… the possibilities are endless. Other high protein foods include nuts, dark leafy greens and broccoli. There are several processed foods that serve as high-protein meat alternatives and these include tempeh (fermented soy and rice product), tofu, seitan (high protein wheat gluten) and soy. If you are trying to avoid soy, seitan is the way to go- it’s delicious, and mimics the texture and flavor of meat when prepared correctly.

Calcium can be easily obtained through nut milks such as almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk! You should also take B vitamin supplements to ensure that you’re getting enough, as it can be difficult with a vegan diet. Iron is plentiful in spinach, tomato, and lentils in particular, as well as legumes, grains and dark green vegetables.

So, if this class makes you more interesting in pursuing a more environmentally-friendly life, veganism may be for you! If you decide to make the switch, don’t put your health at risk by being uninformed! If you know what nutrients you need and where to get them, you can live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Greenwashing Within Your Meat!

Lots of large corporations such as Tyson or Hormel, recently have started labeling their food to try to entice a different consumer to their product. The consumer they are trying to attract is one that is health-oriented. These corporations are attempting to sell their factory farm meat, which contains GMO’s and antibiotics as “organic” ,”all natural” or even “wholesome”. The problem with this type of greenwashing is that it actually doesn’t entice the health-oriented and health- knowledgeable consumer, but rather the consumer that is not health-oriented who thinks they are starting to better their health due to insufficient, and misleading labeling.

These labels can be very misleading because these companies are selling their product, as the total opposite of what they really are. This is such a scary thought to think that companies are allowed to promote and label their products such a way. The USDA has many standards and regulations to labeling products. But with all the standards still set in place, companies like these still figure a way to manipulate the wording and labeling in order to promote the meat as something it is not. This stands as a strong indicator to the fact that we never really know what we are eating if it is coming out of package, or sadly even in a chain-wide super market where many of us do our weekly shopping. One way to limit this is to stop buying from these locations and to start buying and promoting local meats.

Even large companies such as Burger King or McDonald’s have started to greenwash their meats being advertised within their meals as “healthy” or even “wholesome”. There needs to be more policies set in place by the USDA that limit this amount of corrupt, widespread greenwashing. Greenwashing through meats just keeps on taking money from their loyal consumers, and lying to these same people without even any concern for their actions, all while these same people think they are bettering their health by eating a product that is “organic” or “natural”. Shop local! Boycott large meat corporations that think it is okay to lie to the public eye!



Critique of the West Ashley Farmer’s Market

As we have learned in class, the food industry plays a major role in environmentalism. Since the turn of the century we have seen some progress concerning sustainably produced agriculture. One enclave of this movement is the widespread popularity of Farmer’s Markets. Specifically in Charleston, we have a major market that sets up in Marion Square on Saturdays during the season. The city’s Parks and Rec department recently noticed that expansion of the market might be beneficial, so this past November, West Ashley hosted its first trial Farmer’s Market. It was to be held in Ackerman Park (which is a block from my house) on Wednesday evenings from 3:30-7:30.

I attended the market every week for a month and a half, mainly to purchase my supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I also intended to ethnographically observe the West Ashley Farmer’s Market. I was curious about the who, what, and how of establishing a new market in a suburban community.

From week to week I saw an eerie consistency to the market. A majority -mainly all – in attendance were white, of middle-class, wearing nice business clothes, pushing strollers, carrying dog leashes, and meeting up with others of similar status. There were only two stands with fresh produce from local farms. The other stands offered products with added preservatives, such as jams, pies, and sauces. Most of the booths were corporate companies serving prepared foods, like Roti Roll, Charleston Crepe Company, and Smoke BBQ. You could leave the market with a quarter of the items that you could get for the same price at Food Lion.

We have certain ideals for what we expect out of a farmers market. Some common objectives include shopping for variety, promoting health and sustainability, supporting local farmers, utilizing an alternative food source, and advocating for the go green movement. However, there is a sense of identity that comes from shopping for commodities of a certain caliber – think heirloom, exotic, organic. The focus shifts from being less about the produce itself and more about who is and, moreover, who isn’t shopping here.

The process of identity formation can intersect with class and race, producing exclusion of those who don’t fit a particular mold. Shoppers must be willing to pay a high price for products they didn’t grow or make themselves. Creating social barriers sets us back from sustainable living as these public places are transformed into private space due to informal social boundary construction. It seemed clear but strange to me that neighborhood parks (which supposedly promote community involvement) and farmers markets (promote a sense of health and supporting local) could be counterproductive to environmentalism as a whole.

I absolutely agree that buying local is an important step to reducing our ecological footprint; however, if food security is presented as socially exclusive, as it was at the West Ashley Farmer’s Market, is this actually holistic and sustainable? There is a need for an overarching systematic change that allows fresh produce to be readily available to all races and SES. I just want to point out that it is necessary to examine how we present sustainable food, how we idealize the green consumer, and why we have fetishized trendy movements such as Farmer’s Markets.


Fish are friends, not food

When I think of a fish, I think of a shiny and slimy creature freely gliding through a never-ending ocean. A misconception surfaced in the food industry a long time ago that drove a new diet: pescetarians. Scientists came out with the idea that fish did not have the ability to feel pain, which made it more ethical to eat fish more so then a pig, a cow, a lamb, etc. People who felt immoral eating other animals turned to fish as an alternative source of protein. Recent studies show that fish do feel pain, and sense fear and respond to stress the same way humans do. The increase in demand of fish led to commercial fishing, which directly effects the environment. The way I see fish now is much different than the way I saw them before I knew about commercial fishing:

Not only is this morally wrong to do to another species, but it effects our great oceans negatively as well. Commercial fishers practice a tactic called “bottom trawling” where fishers reach to the deepest depths of the ocean and collect fish that reside on or near the ocean floor, destroying everything in their way. Scientists have described this phenomenon to be a parallel to deforestation, impacting our ocean and biosphere greatly.

Another important point is for consumers eating these highly-stressed fish. Fish flesh isn’t healthy for you, whether it be wild caught or farm fed. Our oceans are in a constant state of pollution with PCB and Mercury. This pollution seeps through the fish flesh and into their bodies and we ingest these harmful toxins.

Giving up meat isn’t easy to do; we have been raised to believe it is where we get our protein and the bulk of our meals. But what has helped me through it is not only its impact on my personal health, but its impact on our Earth.

Lets change the misconception about marine animals and our oceans and try to reverse the damage we have already caused!

Reasons to Stop Plastic Use and Pollution

Plastic makes life for humans easier and more convenient. There are a variety of items that we use every day that contains some percentage of plastic; such as computers, cell phones, or a water bottle. Some plastic takes over 1,000 years to decompose and are leaving harmful imprints on not only the environment; however, human health. Many plastic items are only used once and then go to the dump where they will sit for an enormous about of time. As a society, we  only manage to recycle about 27% of plastic bottles. After coming across this fact online the other day I decided to look more into how plastic actually affects the environment and what environmental policies there are in place currently to lessen the impact.

There are many  impacts of plastic material on human health because of chemicals, such as BPA, that are being absorbed in our bodies. The Centers for Disease and Control estimated that a large amount of people have BPA in their urine samples that can be detected. Many other chemicals from plastic contaminates water used by plants, animals and humans.

Much of the plastic pollution is broken down into tiny particles, which when ingested by fish, poisons them, and then eventually travels up the food chain to humans. Birds and fish inadvertently feed on plastic that floats in the water, misinterpreting it for food.  Around 32 million tons of plastic waste accumulated in 2012 – this plastic waste produces tons of chemicals that heavily affect marine animals.

To reduce the impact that plastic has on the Earth and everything that utilizes its resources there needs to be a change in not only the amount of plastic used, but also the way it is discarded. Folly Beach and Isle of Palms are the only two places in South Carolina to have some sort of ban on plastic bags, preventing them from being used by many retailers. There are some businesses, such as Trader Joe’s, offering incentives to their costumers for bringing in a reusable grocery bag. Every time a customer leaves and has brought reusable bags, they add their name to a raffle box to enter the monthly competition of winning a Trader Joe’s gift card. There are many ideas to urge people to recycle more, but we as a society just need to come together and begin the process.

Humans can reduce and recycle more, buy reusable grocery bags, pick up litter, and instead of using plastic, use alternative materials such as steel, glass, and reclaimed wood. There are many ways to switch from using plastic to alternative methods that make a huge difference.

Below is a picture with reasons why one should try and quit using plastic:

Animal Transportation and Slaughter

Ever think about where the meat comes from that you pick up at the supermarket or through the drive through at your favorite fast food restaurant? After discussing this in class, I found a very interesting article on PETA discussing the issue.  Since this meat was once a living animal, the animals must be transported from wherever they were raised to the location of where they will then be slaughtered, packaged etc. These animals are first packed into a large truck and driven hours upon hours to get to their destination. However, it is not just as easy as loading livestock into a truck, animals must be beaten and forced into trucks. According to PETA, pigs, for example, are beat on their noses, rectums, and backs with electric rods. They are also packed so tight that their guts supposedly “pop out of their butts”.

On top of all of this, the insane temperatures are also a huge issue at hand. These hot temperatures, mixed with the waste produced that this livestock create an unhealthy amount of ammonia, which is then inhaled by the animals for the numerous hours they are trapped in these vehicles. Therefore, animals show up to their slaughterhouses already sick, only to experience more abuse before being killed completely inhumanely, and these are the animals that even make it to the slaughterhouses. According to PETA, 1 million pigs die each year just during the transportation process, a staggering statistic.

All in all, the transportations process is one of the most inhumane parts of the slaughtering process. Due to this, actions need to be taken to cut down on the mistreatment of animals as they reach their final destination. Just because they have a short life, does not mean that their quality of life should be completely taken from them.


Here in Charleston we are so lucky and fortunate to have such accessible recycling units. I have to admit, I took for granted our recycling and didn’t realize that a lot of people are not given the amazing accommodations that we are given in Charleston. This past weekend, I visited some friends at Clemson University and to my amazement, ALL of their housing complexes do not offer any type of recycling units. This blew my mind. There are 23,000 students that attend Clemson and none of their college housing units have recycling. I can’t imagine how much reusable material is going into landfills because of this. So I asked what the deal was and apparently, the students can drop off their recycling at a recycling center on campus. Considering the housing complexes do not have recycling, at least they have this alternative. Still, how many college students are willing to go that extra mile? As devastating as it is for me to admit, my friends doesn’t go that extra mile and neither do their roommates. (Yes I was questioning our friendship). They did say however, that Clemson took a survey at the beginning of this year that asked students if they would use recycling units if they had them in their housing complexes. No action has been carried out since that survey. So when I got back to the recycling city of Charleston, I told my roommate about this and she said she didn’t have available recycling units in her home town either! She promptly told me that up north, recycling isn’t nearly as available as it is here in Charleston. This really put into perspective how fortunate we are in Charleston to have such readily available recycling units. It also makes me wonder how we could even start to implement recycling units in areas that don’t have them.

I Read a Guide to Wasteless Living

Recently, I came across a guide to wasteless living while was browsing through social media, and I just wanted to share a few of the tips it talked about as well as how it is affecting me. I will also include a link to the guide. For starters, it shared a few basic practices for wasteless and sustainable living. These include using usable cups, composting, buying local etc. Next, it went into some strange topics I had never really thought about. It gave a recipe for making bars of shampoo which was pretty neat. Then, it explained the dangers of trying to compost tea bags because they can contain micro plastics. Apparently, it is much better to just buy loose leaf tea and save the environment a bit of stress. Another interesting topic that was covered was how you should invest in metal clothespins (if you hang your clothes to dry) because wooden pins can break easily, and the metal is somewhat hard to recycle. The guide also advised donating old towels to places like animal shelters since they are always in need. I was introduced to wax wraps which work similarly to cellophane wrap but uses the warmth of your hands to mold itself to whatever you use it on. The guide did offer a few extremes that I do not think that I am ready for. It advised using designated clothes instead of toilet paper. I am not sure about the rest of you, but I am not quite comfortable enough to take this kind of step towards wasteless living. Lastly, the guide ends with a few challenges for its readers. I am already trying to take on one of these challenges by cutting plastic straws out of my life by buying a set of metal straws. I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to do something so simple.

Wasteless living – a guide (including mini challenges) OC


I finally watched Minimalism.
Man it was good. I am proud to say this was a goal I was starting to approach before I watched the documentary.
The documentary was about taking an approach that was not only more sustainable for the environment, but one that was more sustainable for your wallet also. We live in a world where we spend carelessly just to keep up with the Joneses. We spend money on fast fashion, constantly needing to keep up with the trends only for the same items to be hidden in the back of the closet within weeks to months- and never seen or worn again. We live in a world where we have to keep up our decor with the season/upcoming holiday. Our car has to be nice and often we get bored with driving the same car so then we buy a second. These are all things constantly manufactured, bought, and eventually thrown away or put on the side of the curb for pick up, and these are all things that our environment cannot break down. The scariest thought is that we keep buying these things just to fill up our home. We have so much space we have to fill, that we don’t even use.

The documentary gave another aspect to this which was really interesting to look deeper into. The happiness of the people that had it all, was nowhere to be found. Instead, the more they purchased, the less they felt like their true self, and the less real happiness they felt. You always hear money doesn’t buy happiness. However, how many CEO’s, Directors, business owners do you speak to that actually harp on it and say, “I worked so hard and it was worth nothing to me because I was not happy”.

Not that you should not work hard. What I picked up from the documentary is that you should work hard, but work smarter, AND work at what you actually enjoy doing. What do I mean by work smarter? It is about the smallest of details… all the way down to your closet. I once read some of the most successful people where a similar uniform every day. For example, Steve Jobs was known to wear a black turtle neck and jeans almost daily. Tom, Facebook’s creator, is known to regularly wear a short sleeve tee-shirt daily with jeans. The reason behind this philosophy? They kept their mornings simple, not stressing the first thing they undergo in the mornings, choosing an outfit for the day, means they have a better ability to prioritize what they will give more thought to to more important issues later in the day. Other perks? Their morning are more stress free, leading to more happiness. Their closets contain basic yet functional items, that they like, so they do not have to continuously spend on “something new” for every occasion. This means less money spent and also, more happiness.

I have slowly started taking this approach in a few areas of my life. It really started when I went to Europe 3 years ago. I have vacationed in Italy every summer the past 3 years exploring more and more of its land. What first impacted me on every trip was the fashion. It was the same everywhere I toured, and it never changed all through the years I visited. It was something you would NEVER find in the U.S. Everyone wore basic, very functional clothing. Sneakers were a must, usually converse or a plain white tennis shoe and it was worn with everything from dresses down to a ankle length black dress pant. Shirts are usually of basic color, no crazy or extreme designs, and a light coat, sometimes even a peacoat for chillier weather. Accessories I have noticed are limited to a scarf or a bracelet but I have yet to see a native with bracelets, a ring on every finger, and a choker to match. Hey, if accessories are your thing go for it, but I was just mesmerized at how basic yet cute everyone looked, and still looking like they were going to work and not to play ball on a field. I quickly wanted to adapt this form of style and ease and started focusing on it immediately- huge perk- it became much easier to pack for these trips!
Another way I started incorporating a minimalistic style was by reducing the clutter in my home. Originally an interior design major, I love all things decor. I am very known within my group of friends to always have my home decked out in colors of the season, with fake and real flowers to match, and changing my vases or decor items to match. Sometimes these changes can take place in just a matter of two weeks and other times every two months. Then I realized it is costly and stressful. Much more stressful than just picking a basic palette of colors that can go with everything and any season, and maybe just making the difference with switching the fake floral arrangement on the dining room table.

Minimalism is the way to go. I do feel more free and like I can actually worry about issues that really matter with just the few changes I have made. I am happy with my 3 tennis shoes, two boots, and two pairs of heels… I do need to incorporate a pair of flats though… maybe. I am still working on minimizing my closet but I have gone through strides on not continuing careless purchases because I am bored on a Saturday and decided to window shop. And as far as my home, I have noticed significant less seasonal trash and a more comfortable, sustainable, yet lovely on the eye, environment. I hope to continue my journey and dedicate more to the really important matters, including my actual nonmaterial happiness.

Local and National Superfund Sites

Any student who has taken any introductory geology (especially at the College of Charleston) have heard of and have studied the environmental impacts of our society over the last several thousand years.  However, in reference to American legislation and the regulation of locations which are deemed by the federal government to be  places of extreme pollution and environmental risk, we have also studied these “Superfund Sites” as location which were so polluted that the federal government had to intervene.  Perhaps the most popular and tragic of these instances is the Love Canal story, which a lower income neighborhood was developed directly over a recent toxic waste dump.  One interesting aspect about these locations which I have realized is that they do not exist only in some far-off neighborhood 30 years ago, or in movies like Erin Brockovich; there are two Superfund sites within 2 miles of our downtown.



The link above provides an interactive national map of all the current Superfund sites in the United States.  Each dot the map represents  a location with various information including a history, threat index number (1-100 sale) and a list of toxins which are/were present there.  Both locations (The area better know as the bridge to nowhere, and the Macalloy Superfund site rank at  a cautionary 50 and are located both around and between residential neighborhoods in the area between Charleston and North Charleston.  I found this information to be both alarming and eye opening, and led me to find more site like this in areas I have lived in in the past.