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

Somewhat living off the grid

Over this summer I worked at an all girls camp in North Carolina. At first I was a little hesitant about living in a log cabin with no technology, minimal electricity, and a bunch of kids. Needless to say, this experience was really eye opening for me. It made me realize how little we can live on and how much stuff I have that I don’t need. It also was a lot of fun because we didn’t rely on technology for entertainment. The camp itself was very sustainable. There was a huge garden that we would get most of our food from. Sometimes we would help with picking the food for the meals. And, as shocking as it may sound, to conserve water we were only allowed 5 minutes of shower time. I guess it helped that there was no water pressure and the water was usually pretty cold. Daily use of electricity was a minimum as we were more concentrated on bonfires and s’mores. We probably only used at most 30 minutes a day of electricity. Due to the fact hat we used minimal technology, there was more of a sense of involvement.

Overall this way of sustainable living ended up being a lot easier and actually more fun than I had originally expected. I was there for three months. It was hard leaving a place that was so off the grid for me and going back to a house with so many appliances and things I don’t really need. It was definitely a transition I wasn’t expecting. Although I am living in the city now and I recognize that I am not living as sustainable as I did this summer, I am still trying to do my part here in Charleston towards a more sustainable living.

Enviornmental Degradation

I had never heard of environmental degradation before this class but after talking a little bit about it I was interested. The main article that I obtained most of this information from can be found at It’s basically is the “disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets, for example, air, water and soil; the destruction of environments and the eradication of wildlife. It is characterised as any change or aggravation to nature’s turf seen to be pernicious or undesirable.” (Rinkesh) The causes include land disturbance, pollution, overpopulation, landfills, deforestation, and natural causes. The one that sticks out to me are landfills because we have an abundance of them where I am from. From what I’ve read landfills can pollute the environment and destroy the beauty of a city(trees, flowers ect). The other thing that I didn’t think of is how natural causes can affect the environment. An avalanche or earthquake or just a bad storm can destroy nearby animal and plant habitats to where they can’t survive any longer in that area. One excerpt I found enlightening was “Of course, humans aren’t totally to blame for this whole thing. Earth itself causes ecological issues, as well. While environmental degradation is most normally connected with the things that people do, the truth of the matter is that the environment is always changing. With or without the effect of human exercises, a few biological systems degrade to the point where they can’t help the life that is supposed to live there.” (Rinkesh) Some of the effects of environmental degradation I found interesting include the loss of tourism industry, which also has an economic impact. I never thought of those particular impacts so I found that pretty interesting. And of course there are the impacts that I normally would think of that include an impact on human health, loss of biodiversity and the ozone layer depletion. I’m no expert on this subject but everything I have read about it does spark an interest so I would love to learn more about environmental degradation and ways to prevent it or slow it down.

Cowspiracy – You Are What You Eat

In watching the documentary Cowspiracy it truly amazed me how something we come in contact with so frequently day to day, such as food in our diet, can have such a profound impact on the environment. In thinking about the agricultural industry people may think about how sad it is for the animals, if they think about it at all, and before this movie not many people thought about the environmental significance of your diet. This documentary proves your diet has a profound impact on the world around you. Cowspiracy discusses how the agricultural industry impacts the environment on many different levels. Not only impacting climate change but also runoff into the oceans, deforestation, and food scarcity.

It baffles me that more people don’t have access to this information, and what’s even worse is the people that do have access to it and refuse to acknowledge these facts because it would be too difficult to change the routine of their diet. Many Americans are afraid of change, change in perspective, change in their education, and even a change in their diet. Another aspect of this issue that continues to amaze me is that even with this knowledge, our government isn’t making the slightest effort to make any change. One would this that in finding this information there would be a great revelation, in which there would be a large decrease in meat and dairy production in order to save the planet. But meat and dairy production are a huge source of income for our country, and due to this there is no willingness to change it. I don’t understand how people could value money and economic gain over the well being of the place we all call home, earth.

I would recommend anyone and everyone watch this documentary, even if it doesn’t affect your diet longterm it could persuade someone to be more conscious and thoughtful when it comes to something as seemingly minuscule as their diet.


Do you feel that recycling in your area is strongly encouraged and properly executed? Our discussion in class about the serious lack of knowledge when it comes to recycling really sparked my thinking about the topic. Not only is the awareness of recycling and it’s pros highly understated, but the general availability of recycling is truly lacking(at least at my home in Summerville.) It wasn’t until roughly 1 year ago that the stingy recycling company blessed my neighborhood with a full-sized 65 gallon recycling can for us to place our recyclables in! All of the time prior to this we were limited to a small 18 gallon recycling bin. For a family of 3 or more, it’s quite difficult to fit all of our recyclables in the bin (thanks Amazon Prime.) Do they really expect us to save our remaining recyclables for 2 more weeks until they return again? No, unfortunately I must put these extra boxes in the garbage bin. My point here is that recycling is encouraged, but we don’t have the physical ability to do so. Although I’m extremely happy now that we were so kindly upgraded to full-size recycling bins, I can recycle each and every product that I’m able to!

With my newfound ability to recycle all of my acceptable waste, I hope that the recycling companies are able to expand their services to other locations around Summerville that are lacking. As sad as it may be, if we don’t make recycling as accessible and easy as possible, most will not bother to do it. Therefore, going the extra mile and spending the money to provide everyone with recycling bins is totally worth it in the long run. While I’m on the topic, I also noticed that some of us have no clue what waste is actually recyclable, including myself until this point! Pizza boxes with grease on them isn’t allowed?! Why didn’t someone tell me sooner? Expansion of information about which products are recyclables and which are not is truly important! What’s the point of encouraging recycling if half of the products being recycled are not even allowed? That sounds very counterproductive if you ask me. Certainly more educating of the public must be implemented on something as simple as recycling. I sure hope I begin to see change in the near future.

Ecological Footprints

This semester has really opened my eyes on to how much we affect our planet. Using the Ecological footprint brought to realization on how much demand and supply of nature we use to fit our lifestyles. The results from the ecological footprint was quite shocking because I did not know that my lifestyle was so grand because I really never thought too much about it. My results stated that it takes a little over 4.1 planet earths and 18.4 global acres to satisfy my lifestyle. As you can see this is a great amount of space being took up just to fulfill my lifestyle, which is highly excessive in my opinion. I believe that I would have to make a lot of changes in my lifestyle to reduce the space my lifestyle takes up on the earth and global acres. For example, I could reduce my consumption of trash. Another way to reduce my excessive lifestyle could be to actually take the time to start recycling paper and plastic wastes. I rarely recycle which I know is bad, but actually taking the time to start doing so would help reduce a whole lot of space. Another way I could help make the planet better is less usage of an automobile. I personally do not have a car here in Charleston which actually is helpful to the environment, but I am frequently riding with people throughout the week. Using public transportation to get back and forth to my friends could help better reduce some of the CO2 that is being emitted in the atmosphere. Just incorporating some of these changes could greatly decrease some of the space that my lifestyle takes up based on the ecological footprint. I believe that more people should consider taking this quiz so they will know where they stand so they can make changes to better our planet.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

I watched this documentary before school started. I was intrigued because last semester I found myself frustrated and a little bit discouraged. My parents have decided to turn my bedroom at home into a guest bedroom so they asked me if I could declutter my room and throw everything out that I didn’t need anymore. This simple task made me realize how much stuff I had that I did not need. There were art projects from first grade that I didn’t need but it didn’t feel right to throw them away either. Over the years, I had collected so many random items such as an old-school Cola bottle that had never been opened. While I was throwing stuff away, I wondered how I could’ve let it get to that point. It is just so easy to put stuff in a drawer and never think about it again. I then began to walk around my house and look through drawers that hadn’t been opened in years and was just amazed at all the useless objects that I found.

After that experience at home, when I saw a documentary titled “Minimalism” I was very curious. The film consisted of hearing people’s stories of how they came to embrace a minimalistic lifestyle. There were entrepreneurs who realized that climbing the corporate ladder was not going to make them happier or a man who realized going to buy stuff for a new home would not cause his wife to come back to him. These people found peace in the opposite of what the big advertising agencies want us to believe. They found happiness by owning less objects, by only owning objects that added value in their lives.

After watching the documentary, I was inspired. I wanted nothing more than to tell everyone of it and I did. I told my mom all about it and she sent me a message the next day that said, “You inspired me. I am cleaning out my closet right now and giving away a bunch of my clothes to the shelter.” That made me happier than ever. I believe that once you declutter and get down to the basics of what you actually need, it is easier to focus on the things that are actually important. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends won’t be as important (although being a girl I know this will be hard) and it will be easier to focus on building relationships and making smart decisions for the environment. I feel like you take more notice when you are being wasteful and greedy. It makes you realize what you believe is actually important, not what ads or other people want you to believe should be important. It is a slow process to living a full on minimalistic lifestyle but taking steps to start is the most crucial step.

Lowcountry Foodbank

Over the past month, I have begun to volunteer at the Lowcountry Foodbank of North Charleston a couple times a week. Truthfully, I only chose to volunteer for this non-profit organization after contacting several other locations involved in animal rescue/ the environmental cleanup, which is what I am truly passionate about, and ended up with a lack of response from any of them. However, I felt I needed to give back to the community in some way, while simultaneously building my resume, so Lowcountry Foodbank it was.

The first day I showed up, I was less than optimistic. I figured I would just be doing mind numbing busy work, cleaning or organizing, while the employees did the important work. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Upon arrival, I was rushed right to the back of their huge warehouse and was immediately taught how to organize large bins of food into different categories, sorted into smaller bins. These smaller bins were then taken and boxed separately, before being sent out to Foodbanks around the area that individuals, who cannot afford to grocery shop for themselves or their families, can visit.

As if this was not enough of a good cause, I began to learn more about where all of the donated food came from the more time I spent in the warehouse. I found out that most of the food that comes into the Lowcountry Foodbank is actually donated from grocery stores once they hit the “Best Sold By “date. It turns out that most of these foods and beverages grocery stores would be forced to throw out are actually good 6 months to a whole year after this printed date, which absolutely blew my mind. Can you imagine all of the waste created by these products and their packaging in areas, which do not have organizations like the Foodbank?

Another thing I noticed during my time at the Foodbank was how conscious they are of waste produced in their own facility. Instead of using plastic bags, or continuing to purchase moving boxes in order to transport the donated food, they actually also ask grocery stores to also give them the boxes in which bananas are transported to their stores in. These boxes are used hundreds of time until they are literally falling apart at the Foodbank, cutting down an unfathomable amount of waste.

All in all, this may not have been the volunteer experience I had been vying for, but working there has really opened my eyes to how any company, business, charity, etc. can help the environment in the smallest of ways, such as recycling banana boxes, in order to reduce their environmental footprint on this Earth.


I recently watched the documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, and found it exceedingly intriguing and important. The idea that less is more  to some people within society is just a fad; however, it is much more than that. Becoming a minimalist helps one gain freedom, opportunity, and simplicity. After watching the documentary I came to the realization that by embracing minimalist living, one can gain opportunities to pursue areas of life that are more important; such as compassion and joy, not physical things that are perishable and fade away. Too much of peoples lives, even my own, are devoted towards “things,” and health, relationships, passions, and personal growth are often abandoned.

Living a minimalistic life also affects the environment. After tracking my carbon footprint the other day, I discovered that I need 4 planet Earths’ to sustain my lifestyle. If everyone in the world lived the way I did, we would need several planet Earths to create enough resources for everyone. The average person within the U.S. uses a great amount of resources. It varies among location, personal choices, and habits. Many daily activities depend on disposing of waste, driving a car, and using electricity. The documentary expresses why a minimalistic way of living is a seemingly good way to reduce the eco-footprint that society has on Earth. Many humans, especially those of a developed country, have a tendency to over-consume.

Documentaries, such as this one, are used to express awareness to its audience. The main points I got from the directors and producers was that we as humans only need to use what we need to use, we must live within our means, eat less meat, and purchase less clothes so that the textile industries produce less and do not pollute the environment and do not use way too many resources. Living in tinier spaces is environmentally friendly. Tiny homes, shipping containers, and smaller apartments has become a trend recently; and by doing so one greatly reduces their eco-footprint.

living a minimalistic lifestyle benefits not only the environment, but also the person doing so.

Lets Learn How to Garden

It wasn’t until this past semester that I began to question why schools don’t emphasize learning about agriculture and farming more. After taking college courses and becoming educated on topics of my interest, my eyes were opened to many of the issues we face. As a society, we have become accustomed to food being readily available on a shelf, in plastic packaging that has been processed and shipped from all directions. We’ve been lied to about our food long enough, and I believe it is our generation that will change these injustices.

Through the office of sustainability, I was able to join an Urban Garden Apprenticeship where other students and myself created our own urban garden here in downtown Charleston. I had always wanted to learn how to garden, but never knew where to start. The program was student-led so we all worked together twice a week to plant a bed of multiple types of crops. We also made a bike trellis to support pea plants, a compost bin full of worms, and plant terrariums. Not only did we get to grow fresh produce for the Charleston community, but we learned the importance of an urban garden and how it is a great step toward a more sustainable community. I learned that the city of Manhattan would run out of food in just three days if we were to cut off the daily food shipments. Often times we don’t think about where our food is coming from or how much effort is put into getting the product to the destination. In a small, yet jammed city like Charleston, it is hard to produce enough food to sustain oneself, let alone an entire community. However, I think it is possible by gaining awareness and educating about agriculture and living a sustainable lifestyle.

As kids we were always told “eat your fruits and veggies” and “don’t litter” and “recycle your plastic”… and of course we tried, but it isn’t until you see the real impact these choices make on our society and ourselves as individuals that you begin to change.