Community Change– CofC Going Green (EXTRA CREDIT)

A common thread I have re read on here is personal change. I decided I wanted to freestyle write about community change, specifically changes that can be made on the College of Charleston campus. Granted some of these thoughts and ideas may be incredibly costly but I wanted lay them out in a place to discuss. Maybe some of you have had the same ideas? Let me know I’m curious.

  • As its finals week and we’ve all struggled to find tables with outlets I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have solar panel tables. Especially outside Starbucks where the weather has been so beautiful recently.
  • Why doesn’t the College of Charleston Campus have a community garden? Surely there are students struggling to pay for food. Beyond this its provides aesthetic experiences and opportunities to learn about what it takes to grow food. Come on Sustainability Office! I’m sure there is some space around the Sottile House to have a garden
  • CofC should build Greenhouses on campus that supply food and other plants that could be useful for studying in the natural science classes
  • As part of campus combatting heat that is produced from urban environments the Campus should go white. Paint roof tops or any surfaces that can help cool (God knows Charleston could be cooler especially during the summer)
  • College of Charleston should help organize Ride shares coming from Mt. Pleasant and James Island that way to reduce commuters footprint and also combat the issue of limited parking downtown
  • I loved the sustain fest on George St! Even though we have the farmers market in Marion Square having the Low Country Grocery Bus visit campus 1-2 times a week would be great for students to access local produce that they may not have time to get during a busy week at school
  • Because we are such a large presence in the downtown area we should switch our energy to Solar. I feel as if this was to happen we would have such a big impact on the city and hopefully inspire others to make the switch

These are just some thoughts I’ve had of changes we could make to our campus other than clear ideas about recycling and composting beyond what is normally mentioned. Let me know what you all thinkJ

Ecosia- The Next Search Engine. (extra credit)

Ecosia is a nonprofit conservationist search engine powered by Bing that turns 80% of its income into planting trees. It is a “Social Business” which measures its success it has on people and the environment. This means the well-being of people is put before maximizing profits. Ecosia believes in the core values of diversity, justice and equal opportunity to solving the most complex systems issues. When I first heard of this search engine I couldn’t begin to understand how this could even be possible. But it is. Through advertisements! Every time someone clicks on an advertisement that is sponsored this generates revenue. Certain search words come with higher price tags depending on the ads they can generate that they relate to. It functions very similarly to Google and populates the same top links. They also collect money through another extension called “Ecolinks” which allows users to donate with their online purchases. It frequently publishes reports so users can stay updated on how their searches are contributing. In the right hand corner it counts your personal searches and clicks and equates how many trees have been planted because of your actions. It is exciting to watch your number grow (I’ve been a user for two years).The search engine actually launched in 2009 to coincide with the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen. Ecosia’s donations went to a program in Germany the WWF that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon Basin. In order to make sure the protection was kept up, the program also drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities. They’ve continued to partner with several conservation efforts such as The Nature Conservancy and The Great Green Wall Project. Its current projects are mostly concentrated south of the equator in: Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Indonesia, Morocco, and Spain. Each country has a unique approach to helping restore forests. The reason Ecosia chose deforestation as a issue to tackle was all the benefits they recognized in trees. Trees provide a cooler climate, promote biodiversity, protect soil, create clean air, provide lots of useful resources for humans, and their regulation of water cycles and flood prevention. Ecosia to date has planted over 26 million trees with a goal of one billion trees by 2020.


Palm Oil– Nutella (extra credit)

A debate I was recently introduced to while living in the United Kingdom was the backlash against Nutella, specifically the Palm Oil ingredient. One item constantly discussed in sustainable development studies and environmental studies is palm oil production. Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, with 85% of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures. (saynotopalmoil). “Palm oil production is said to have been responsible for about 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008” (BBC). The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. These themes we can directly tie to our class studies. It is found in about 40-50% of household products such as baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste (saynotopalmoil). It’s impacts on the environment are severe. Deforestation to produce this product causes biodiversity loss which has led to almost a third of Indonesia animals to become critically endangered because of the practices involved in Nutella production. Animals are clearly impacted through habitat loss as well as increases accessibility of animals to poachers sell wildlife as pets, use them for medicinal purposes or kill them for their body parts. In the last two decades’ data has shown over 50,000 orangutans have died directly from palm oil production. (saynotopalmoil). Environmental justice issues also crop up. The government’s main interest in the country’s economy leads them to allow corporations to take the land owned by indigenous peoples for their own financial benefit. The palm oil industry has been linked to major human rights violations, including child labor in remote areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. Look for the RSPO label to ensure you purchase products made with certified sustainable palm oil. This label gives you the confidence that the palm oil was produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

I can’t help but think is a spoonful of Nutella worth it every time I reach for the jar, will you?




Personal Change– Plastics Consumption

Something I would love to change about the way I live is my plastic consumption. I always see the same video circulating around on Facebook about the woman who could fit all the trash she produced for 5 years in a mason jar. While its important to note that she likely has other footprints that may be greater than mine I can’t help but feel challenged to do the same. By reducing my plastic consumption I could literally be saving animals lives. They are less likely to ingest plastic if it isn’t available in the first place. I would also be impacting oil production by reducing plastic consumption. Even trying to set this goal of reducing plastic consumption, if I am to fail, will teach me about being more thoughtful and even then I would hopefully stick to a few reduction techniques. Since I have yet to try this out I’ve thought deeply about exactly where most of my plastic usage comes from and what I would need to consume in order to make this work. Firstly, i’m a college student and I work part time so I don’t always have time to prepare food myself. I constantly find myself throwing away money on overpriced to-go meals. Almost all of these meals come in plastic containers, with plastic cutlery, and in a plastic bag.  By food prepping and planning ahead I could eliminate what I think is likely my largest plastic usage concern. Next, plastic water bottles. I own probably 10 reusable water bottles all scattered throughout my life and I still end up with plastic. For this I have the means to save on buying plastic water bottles I just need to change my consciousness towards bringing reusable everywhere I go. Another item I use its tampons. The plastic applicator I throw out at a minimum 3 times a day is another source of waste i’ve pin pointed. Today reusable pads and even cups are now available and even more encouraged for menstrual health. This would undoubtedly I think be the toughest change to make from a hygiene stand point. The other large consumption hurdle I would have to overcome is food packaging. I’m hoping I can reach out to the blog community to help me with this one. Besides shopping fresh produce, how do I consume boxed or canned goods without using as much plastic? The research I’ve done into it shows that in New York City there is a store in which everything comes unwrapped to eliminate waste. I absolutely love this idea but lets be honest we barely have a fair selection of reasonably priced grocery stores in the area. If anyone has an thoughts or tips please share with me! I’m excited to try and be more conscious.



Event Blog- Service Opportunity MEDLIFE

As many of you may have seen via social media or heard from your friends, the College of Charleston MEDLIFE chapter sent 47 students to Lima, Peru to work on community development projects. MEDLIFE stands for Medicine, education, and development for low income families everywhere. The trip consisted of a reality tour (in which we toured the villages surrounding lima to understand their access to basic needs such as sanitation, plumbing, electricity, water, etc.). Four days of mobile clinics in which CofC students assisted on everything from general doctors’ visits, pap smears and mammograms, and filling cavities and extractions. And on one other day students built a staircase so people could access their homes safely and transport items up and down without the worry of falling. In addition to this building stair cases helps these people access land titles which in turn can help them break the cycle of poverty since a large majority of them are illegally squatting. These Immigrants come from areas of rural Peru and Venezuela where they are fleeing in hope to gain access to education, medicine, and an all-around better life in Lima. Poverty is a wicked problem which MEDLIFE actively works to solve through the holistic approach of working hand in hand with the community to provide education, medicine, and development. At the core, MEDLIFE believes working with the community side by side will prove to be a more sustainable relationship rather than relying on donations and aid alone. This is especially critical when local governments change all the time cutting funding and access. There is environmental resistance such as access to food, shelter, and disease which limit the amount of people able to live in these areas sustainably. Carrying Capacity varies from village to village which reflects the access to resources, standards of living, technology and electricity, and waste generation. These villages currently have no waste disposal system in place so they bury their garbage or leave it to disintegrate which negatively impacts their health. MEDLIFE’s mission has similar aspects to that of Hans Rosling’s teachings. That in order to improve child survival allowing developing countries or regions need to have access to resources, medicine, and education and the western worlds role to lead by example. One huge influence that MEDLIFE also draws their inspiration from is a man named Paul Farmer. He is most known from the term coined ‘Structural Violence’ which in an essence means the systems we have in place inadvertently create barriers to access fundamental needs such as education, medicine, and development. It is my hope that by reading this you all become more interested in issues in development and the importance of becoming a global citizen to combat these complex system problems we have. Paul Farmer has lots of wonderful work and I encourage you to research him more. Also linked is the MEDLIFE website. You do not have to be a member to attend a service learning trip and they happen every year. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me ( if you’re craving to have your eyes opened to the world. You can also follow MEDLIFE on social media: (Instagram)@medlifecofc . Our next meeting is April 4th 7-8pm in SSMB 203 in which students will be sharing their experiences. I highly recommend you attend if interested there will be food.


No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It.

The news report I presented in class called “No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It” by Maggie Astor summarized different thoughts on people having children in the age of the Anthropocene. It included thoughts from Mormons (who are at odds to reproduce with their religious traditions), a woman from Ohio (who after an unplanned pregnancy decided to have a second child so her first child would not be alone while climate change takes place), and a couple who plan to adopt instead of have children. One bias to point out is that the New York Times only used one study and did not offer any others to compare to.  The articles audience was anyone and everyone who is concerned with having children in the 21st century. What it did was detail that reproduction rates have slowed due to awareness about the effect overpopulation has on climate change. The article was presented and pertaining to our current time that affects all people from all around the globe since climate change is a systemic issue. It important everyone reads and becomes increasingly aware the footprint humans leave and how it creates global planetary changes. Slowed reproduction is happening because people are becoming increasingly self-aware of their decisions, especially those who have seen climate change happen in their lifetime. The impact of this finding shows that people are concerned with how population growth is contributing to degradation of the climate, land, sea, and resources. It is relevant to society because will require planning of labor force and this will raise questions about how we should be dealing with climate change (especially among younger generations). This article shares a close relation with environmental and sustainable studies, especially since the study in the article was conducted by Conceivable Future (a nonprofit founded on the Notion that “the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis) who also was the study cited in the NPR article we read for class. This topic is undoubtedly interwoven into the idea that religion, philosophy and science play an integral part in our world view. This article is also closely related with our discussions on our ecological footprint since it details our awareness of our impact as well as the discussions of the Anthropocene. In class, Professor Beckingham used an image that I’ve linked below which shows the lessened impact of carbon emissions if one less child Is born. Overall this article was further informative about overpopulation and is a great resource if students want to educate themselves further on this topic and the opinions that are held by those who are of child-rearing age. Some questions I wanted to propose for discussion was How much of slowed reproduction is due to awareness of overpopulation? And, Is it possible to keep having children at a sustained rate and instead alleviate other issues that contribute to global planetary change? Once we better understand humans and their worldview, we can further understand how these worldview influence decisions and in turn, the impacts.



Astor, M. (2018, February 5) No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It. New York Times. Retrieved from

Consumer Product Analysis: Batiste Dry Shampoo

Batiste Dry Shampoo

As a woman pressured by looks and as a student rushed for time, dry Shampoo is the answer to most of my hair days. Most women get the same question as they sit in a salon “How often do you wash your hair?” It’s as if I’ve lived twenty years and haven’t been asked this question before, and they are going to deliver new wisdom. Presumably, they are asking to sell you their products. With the invention of dry shampoo, I like to go 2-3 days without washing my hair, which is salon recommended by almost everyone I’ve been too. Dry Shampoo allows me to cut back my water use and save time during the day. I use it so others don’t perceive me as greasy and unclean. A can of Batiste dry shampoo Is mostly aluminum, metal and plastic. It is manufactured by Crown packaging who’s recently started publishing sustainability reports for the last six years to commit to environmental stewardship. The CEO has spoken out to say “We continue to operate with a relentless focus on safety, innovation and efficiency – both in our manufacturing processes and our use of resources. That discipline has enabled us to reduce our overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, even as demand for metal packaging has continued to increase and we have grown our global footprint” (Donahue, 2017).  The latest of which details a 18% decrease in VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions, a 10% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, and 49% decrease in waste to landfill. The products can be found in several major retailers including but not limited to CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, and Amazon. On average I use an entire bottle every two to three weeks. A rough estimate is I probably consume around 24 bottles a year. After I completely empty the bottle I recycle all its parts. Its parts are not directly recycled back to the company but are repurposed materials which are used in other products. As far as waste management from the product, its recyclable when completely emptied and considered hazardous waste when still full. The Batiste website focuses primarily on this and not the material being sprayed into the air. While they’ve made efforts to reduce the VOC’s, ingredients remain in the products which pollute the air. Not only can this be harmful to human health but environmental health. The only way to reduce the impact to the air and potential communities would be to have products produced without these VOC’s. Some alternatives already exist such as, Lulu Organics Hair Power, BB Prêt-à-Powder, and verb which are powder alternatives to the aerosol. I am uncertain of how much dry shampoo effects air quality but can draw conclusions based on its negative human health effects. Aerosol’s are notoriously labeled as bad for the environment and the introduction of these VOC’s can be harmful to the environment, especially if they are replenished to often or are sprayed in not well ventilated areas.

Is Dry Shampoo Bad For Your Hair?