Homemade Soaps (Extra Credit #4)

I have always had horrible allergies my whole life. My skin is very responsive to harsh, synthetic chemicals.  The skin is easiest way to let in harmful chemicals and toxins inside the body. Many common harmful chemicals inside soaps include Triclosan (which is a toxic pesticide that has antibacterial fighting properties), Parabens, and preservatives. I have shopped at stores such as lush and Earthfare to by products with less chemicals. Instead this time I attempted to make my own soap. A few weeks ago I went over to my friend’s house and we made soap.

I love lavender so I wanted to incorporate that into my soap.We used a cold process to make our soap. We followed a recipe online that consists of :

  • ⅔ cup coconut oil
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ⅔ cup other liquid oil – (we used almond oil)
  • ¼ cup lye
  • ¾ cup cool water- (we used tap water)
  • 50 drops of lavender essential oil (any essential oil can be used)

When making the soap, I thought I would be able to take the soap home the next day, however I found out that making soap takes a lot more time. Once we cut our big loaf of soap into small bars it then took four more weeks for the soap to cure while being exposed to air.

Honestly, it was not cheap making this soap because essential oils can become expensive, however we both were able to provide many of our family members and friends with soap because of the pan we used. The pan was so large that we were able to cut ten bars from it. When using my bar of soap, I felt healthy knowing that I was using all safe, natural products. I will never go back to buying brands of soap with toxic chemicals. My skin feels more refreshed and healthier already.

Deforestation (Extra Credit #3)

An estimated 18 million acres of forests are lost each year due to deforestation. Deforestation is the removal of a substantial amount of trees in which case the land is used for something other than non-forest usage. Deforestation is a common effect of humans trying to attempt to make space for the growing population. I have lived in Summerville and the surrounding areas my whole life. The Lowcountry is not able to handle the effects of a growing population. When I was younger, much of Summerville was considered “country”. Now, Summerville has grown so large that many forests and tress have been removed to build neighborhoods or even tacky strip malls.

The environment faces many different effects of deforestation such as a reduction of biodiversity. This happens because many animals loose their homes and in this way are not able to thrive, survive or even reproduce. Biodiversity is limited because of the loss of various species. If there is not biodiversity, different species may die out and become in risk of becoming extinct. In general trees provide us with many different benefits. Some benefits of trees include oxygen production, conservation of energy, helps to save water, provide wood, provide food, increase property values, help to aid in prevention of water pollution, trap dust and aid in the prevention of ultra-violent rays because of their shading properties.

Some solutions to deforestation include taking many different political stands. If large corporations and manufactures should have the power to destroy large forests, they should also have the power to preserve them. More policies need to be inforced and set into place for preserving valuable land before the Lowcountry is no longer viewed as what it really is. Another solution to deforestation includes improving already developed lands. Even something as small as planting little trees around these already developed lands aids in combating total deforestation.



Air Pollution (Extra Credit #2)

According to a WHO report, air pollution has killed about 7 million people in 2012. Because the population is increasing, these numbers will only continue to increase. Some major sources of air pollution are caused by burnings of fossil fuels, fuels from automobiles, smoke, and high portions of undesirable gases that are being admitted into the atmosphere. Air pollution has major negative effects on the environment and human health.

Some symptoms that are shown to be effects of air pollution are increased risks of cancers, respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular illnesses, fatigue, skin irritations,  dizziness, birth defects, and nervous system damage. Because of the growing population, we will only have a stronger effect on the world and ourselves. Because of human’s unwise choices we have left our mark on ourselves, which has implications on our DNA for futures to come.

As for the environment some effects air pollution has caused is global warming also known as climate change, ozone depletion, haze, acid rain, and major effects on wildlife. Animals tend to have many of the same symptoms and effects of air pollution that humans have such as respiratory functioning if exposed to sufficient amount of pollution over  an extended period of time.

Some ways as humans we can reduce high amounts of air pollution include carpooling/ taking public transportation/ walking/ biking, recycling, use less energy/ example- opening windows to allow light and air inside, use ozone-friendly products, choose an energy efficient car to drive, and planting more trees.

Humans do not understand the effect that we have put on the earth, we may never be able to totally reverse the effects. However, we are able to limit these effects by starting now! If we never start, there is little hope for a thriving future for the human race and the planet, Earth. Save our earth, save our people!

Gardening Tips (Extra Credit #1)

Throughout the whole semester we have talking in great detail about organic foods. Since I was younger my family has always had a garden where we grow fruit, vegetables and herbs without using any synthetic products to aid in production. Gardening requires a lot of patients and effort. When first starting your garden it is always beneficial to so some background research on what you are planning on planting. It is important to look into which seasons these plants should be grown, as well as how much water the plants should be getting, levels of sunlight exposure, and levels of humidity. You will also want to make sure the soil is healthy wherever you are planning on starting your garden. One sign that you have healthy soil is to see if worms are living within the soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants that are better able to fight off various pests and diseases.

When you first start your garden, you may get excited and feel that you may need to water the plants much more than they actually should be watered. Make sure to note that over-watering plants in many cases is worse than under watering them. It can be very challenging to revive over watered, drowned roots. Make sure to leave a lot of space between various types of herbs/ fruit/ vegetables. One type of using effective space is by planing in blocks. Planting in blocks allows for eliminating any unnecessary plant pathways.

Gardening provides one with stress relief, exercise, increased immunity because of direct exposure to dirt and plants, and an overall improved, healthier diet. With gardening, there is no middle man which helps in eliminating the carbon footprint. Gardening also allows for you to know what you are eating because you are producing your own food, not getting food from unknown sources. I think everyone should have a garden at some point in their life! Get creative and try different herbs!



Environment Activity: Charleston County’s Earth Day Festival

Earth day was first established in 1970 as a nationally recognized day where humans recognize all that Earth has given us, and because of this we give back to the Earth we live in. This weekend I attended the Charleston County Earth Day Festival. This festival educated people of all ages on various environmental and sustainable topics. There were different stations and vendors around the Riverfront Park such as a wellness booth, a sustainable market where sustainable products were sold such as purses to various types of organic produce, and an energy booth. I really enjoyed that these various booths encouraged interactions instead of just lecturing to people about these various topics. For example, one station had mini pots and little herbs that people could plant as a form of education on planting and gardening.

With the amount of people that came out for this event, the people who planned this event made it happen in a waste- free way. Food vendors were required to provide all compostable silverware, plates, straws, and cups. Any form of styrofoam or plastic was not allowed by any of the vendors once they entered the park. With this, there were various disposal recycling stations around the festival which had different labeling to help educate the separation of these products when recycling.

I also really enjoyed that this event was free and open to the public, allowing for anyone to join in the celebration of Earth Day. I enjoyed the Breaking Down Plastic Event but that catered to a different group of people (A low range of people who would be able to afford a high priced ticket). I liked the fact that the Earth Day event was free because it tended to attract families out which educated the young children in a fun and interactive way. I feel that more events like this should be free to attract the type of people that WANT and SHOULD be educated on environmental and sustainable topics; but are limited to this education because of the cost for these events. Because in my own situation with paying for college, it is hard to attend events that cost so much money. And most of the time I will skip out on events if I am limited because of this. I wish more people would take action and educate themselves on various environmental topics. But for a start, Earth Day is always here to educate. 



Extra Credit: Media Overload… When is it time to put it away?

Current society uses all different types of media and technology as various means of daily living. Examples of this include Facebook for leisure usage, google for a work email, and even Instagram for business promotion of a company. With various different aspects of one’s life linked to media it is necessary in today’s society to flourish and thrive. Through media people are able to interact with one another faster, spread ideas quicker, as well as learn a different ideas and ways of thinking. Society has made media very time consuming in that the average person spends around 13.6 hours taking in social media from various different sources. Since media has become so addictive, people have become more vulnerable, and easily manipulated making it easier for companies to promote different products in particular ways; thus gaining a profit. Since the average person spends so much time on social media, advertising through a means of social media proves to be much cheaper, quicker, and hits a variety of consumers. Current day media such as Facebook has tracked down our likes and dislikes to promote advertisements based off of pages we have liked on Facebook, links we have shared, as well as other websites we have looked at. This allows the consumer to be in direct contact with products that relate exactly to him or her.

Since media proves to be so addictive, people are easily manipulated in believing that everything they read online is true. Most posts and articles shared within media have been shown to be very bias and unsupported by scientific data, and in some cases promote false data. We, as social media users need to understand what we are taking in from social media, and how it affects our lives. With the knowledge of how to view and understand information on social media helps us to be able to know which information is accurate and which is bogus. One tool I use in doing so is reading multiple sources online to create a picture of the story from many different opinions and viewpoints. Even when buying a product online, read the reviews and listen to what multiple sources are saying online. As for scientific evidence, do your research OUTSIDE of informal means of media such as Facebook or Instagram.

Media has shed light on lots of good areas of life, but in many ways it has shown to increase rates of depression and anxiety. Since media consumes our daily lives, we have to be able to know when to put it down/away. When you start to find yourself at a point in life when you feel bored if you aren’t on your phone, it’s time to put it down. If you find yourself using media without learning or gaining knowledge or opinions on a topic, it’s time to put it down. When you start to find yourself “not all there” when you aren’t staring at your phone, it’s time to use social media less. When you start to have better interactions with people over media rather than face to face, it’s time to limit your social media. We have to be able to draw the line from when we benefit from social media, and when social media benefits from us.



Over the past ten years growing rates of bee mortality has been on the rise. Researchers have done various studies attempting to draw correlations to bee mortality. One variable found was the increasing usage of pesticides for crop production. Since there has been such a dramatic population growth,  crop production increased as well. In order to waste no time in producing these crops, farmers spray pesticides to sustain crop health and keep pests off of them such as wasps, or flies. While doing so, one of the most important factors that helps contribute to pollination, the bee is negatively effected.

The bee can be exposed to pesticides in two ways , either directly or indirectly. One example of direct exposure being direct spray onto the crop; and indirect exposure being pesticide residue found in bee nectar. In both exposures, the bee has been shown to be equally harmed. The effects of these pesticides have shown to suppress bee immunity, increase the spread of bee diseases, weaken bee reproduction abilities, and in many cases, death.

Organic farming has proved to be very beneficial in sustaining bee communities. Within organic farming, farmers refrain from using synthetic, harmful products that in return help the bee community. In this community, bees are able to thrive from a natural environment. From large scale organic farming to even smaller scale organic farming done within someone’s backyard, anything proves to be beneficial in helping the bees. Also, bee conservation programs have recently become established to sustain bee habitats and communities while people are in constant close watch over the bees ensuring safety and protection from synthetic, harmful chemicals.

Still there is much more that is needed to be done. More education on this topic needs to be spread to the public, more funding from government needs to be established, as well as more bee conservation groups need to be formed. If nothing is done to stop the declining numbers of bees, soon enough bees will face total extinction for the generations to come.  The bee is the number one pollinator around the world, for various plants and crops, without the bee communities we will not be able to live and thrive in our world.


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!



Pescatarian Lifestyle

After watching the Cowspiracy documentary, I decided to try out not eating any meat and see how long I can continue this way of lifestyle. Today, I am on my 12th day without meat in my life. However, in order to keep my protein intake at a good level I have decided to still eat fish. In ways benefiting my health, I have started to feel much more healthy, and I have loss the craving of meat itself all together. I feel like I have much more energy than I did before, and I have had a much lower amount of acne on my face than I did before. As for the environment, I feel that my lifestyle choice has benefited the community around me. Since going meatless, I have saved large amounts of water because of me not buying meat products; the amount of water given to the cows has now been limited. Also, I have limited the amounts of greenhouse gases and methane produced in the environment. Another reason why I wanted to only eat fish is because the large amounts of antibiotics that is given to meat to limit the amount of diseases being spread. I just want to limit the overall amount of synthetic material, chemicals, or drugs that I am ingesting. As for where I have been shopping, I have been going to Earthfare for the fish, and local farmers’ markets on weekends for things like fruits, vegetables, snacks and bread. I feel that shopping local has supported  my community and low country by keeping the middle man out, and allowing to sustain the local food growth scene. Also, locally grown food tends to be more healthy in that you know where it is coming from, allows for less processed material, and more organic foods. I have always been an organic food advocate, but now I have started a new change in my life for not eating meat. I will see other benefits I am sure, but for now this is how I feel that I have given back to myself and the local community.


Honestly, watching this documentary I was not 100% sure what it was going to be about. I thought this documentary was going to just scare people out of eating meat and that it would show a behind the scenes look at processing meat farms. I was shocked to see that this video took me in a whole different direction. This documentary talked about many different categories related to sustainability. I was dumbfounded to see the crazy amounts of water needed to keep the cows hydrated because the grains that are fed to the cows causes the cows to be very thirsty, thus greatly lowering our overall water supply. Second, it was interesting to see how much waste the cows produced compared to us as humans. Next, another big issue was the amount of precious land that is cleared out to harvest these animals. In the documentary they looked at Brazil as an example and stated that 80% of their rain forests were cleared out for land for cows. A lady whom was being interviewed in the documentary admitted that she believes that cows don’t leave a carbon footprint. That is crazy to think people can’t admit the effects this has on our lives, and future generations to come. If we don’t start now, we will never be able to have the resources we need to survive in the future.

Another major issue that was discussed in this video is the increase in overpopulation. This was a topic that was discussed in class as well. But when we look at actual numbers, people are starving in different places world wide, but most of our grains, water and resources are given to cows to be produced. If we limit the amount of milk and meat production, we would be able to sustain other natural resources such as fruits and vegetables. A plant based diet is the most sustainable and we would be able to thrive as a world off of this type of diet.

The United States is not suited to meet the demands of meat; and shouldn’t be attempted or tried. We also need to be concerned with preservation of all animals, everywhere. Animals are being killed for no reason, everywhere. Also, the treatment, health and overall well being of these animals in the farms are horrible, and very devastating to see. I am not a big red meat eater to began with but, after watching this video I want to eliminate red meat from my diet as a whole. As a country, and across the world we just keep producing cows as a major mean of food supply, but no one is able to look or admit to see the huge effects it has on limiting our sustainability across our world. More laws and policies need to be set into place to limit the amount of meat production that should be allowed. This would allow for an increase in water supply, limiting waste, helping animals, and thus sustaining land and resources.