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.
Before taking this class, I had heard of the concept ecofeminism before but had no idea what it actually meant, probably because I have never taken the time to actually look the word up and see what it was all about. After reading the assigned material and discussing it some in class, I finally understand what the concept of ecofeminism actually is. After our class on Tuesday, I wanted to look up ecofeminism and see more examples of how feminism and the environment are connected with each other.
One example that I found is the use of “pinkwashing.” The term pinkwashing is brand new to me, but after reading about what it actually means, it made me a little frustrated. Pinkwashing “is the application of the breast cancer symbol on products that contain toxins and chemicals that can cause cancer.” One article I read talked about one example of this with one of the larger oil companies. The oil company was promoting breast cancer by using pink drill bits, while also using these drill bits for fracking. By fracking, they are using carcinogens such as lead and sulfuric acid that can lead to cancer. These carcinogens also “are being used in and around aquifers to find natural gas.” Basically, companies are using techniques like this to make a bigger profit but they aren’t worrying about what dangers that, not only women, but everyone and the environment will face because of it.
This article really made me wonder what other ways ecofeminism is happening all around me that I am not even aware of. I understand making a profit, but does the profit justify what problems it will cause to our Earth and the people that are living on it?
I know this topic might be a bit premature since the talk of Germany’s green policies is not until Friday but I was inspired to go ahead and write about my experiences there for this blog post. My entire family is from Germany so we go and visit them as often as possible. I went to visit this Christmas and I was amazed by how environmentally conscious the country has gotten over the years. For starters, I know this is starting to begin in America too, but I ended up carrying all of my groceries back from the store for my grandparents cradled in my arms because I did not realize you had to pay extra to get bags. I know here in the states some grocery stores are starting to do the same. The only one I am aware of is Aldi, which is a store based out of Germany. There was also a moment where I was talking to my grandmother and she was saying how she had to rethink how to package and store a lot of things since plastic bags are all but gone in Germany. I was taken aback when she said this because I am so used to plastic bags just being everywhere and being a product that people just expect to have. That moment made me realize how behind America is with some of its environmental policies.Everywhere in Germany, one sees houses with solar panels on its roofs, especially with any new construction. The houses are made of stone to better insulate so that costs can be saved with heating and cooling. Everywhere there are LED lights and in places such as northern Germany, wind turbines are part of the landscape.
The way the German political system is set up, they have a multi-party system. If a party gets a certain percentage of votes, they get to have a say in the German political system. The Green party in Germany has gained a lot of power and is not shy of exercising its power. In some cases, I had to listen to my relatives complain of how it can be taken to the extreme sometimes. For example, an entire new subway tunnel system was disallowed due to a certain species of lizard that called those rocks its home. Or, a new soccer complex was not allowed to be built since the floodlights would confuse the bats that inhabited the area. While these measures may seem a bit extreme, is it worse than just not considering what might live in the forest before we flatten down? Alternatives are also always trying to be found and compromises are possible.
Most of Europe has taken the initiative and talk of becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly is the norm. In the mean time in America, environmental groups have to struggle for every step towards sustainability. How hard would it be to ban plastic bags? How hard would it be to encourage people to start to bring their own grocery bags. How difficult can it be to make sure that every new construction is run on some form of sustainable energy? Steps are being taken in many parts of the world to better the environment on a large level and I hope the time has come where America will do the same.
Last semester I joined a club called Garden Apprenticeship; which aims to explore ways to create a sustainable urban agriculture within the low country. There is an abundance of food insecurity that we as a community within Charleston are unaware about. To help combat food insecurity, we started a project last semester at Florence Crittenton. This program is for pregnant teens, from ages 10-21, and it provides medical help, parenting skills, counseling, a home, and education for these teenagers. Every Friday a group of us would go out to this run down garden and try to revive it. All it took was a few containers of soil and seeds, mulch, weed picking, a raised bed, and some compost. Towards the end of the semester we started to grow romaine lettuce, pak choi, lacinto kale, and chinese cabbage. The women were able to have food justice and a brightened landscape outside their house. The urban garden gives the women access to fresh, healthy food, which they might otherwise not be able to afford. Many cultures revolve around food, by growing, cooking, and eating it. I hope the garden helped the women feel a sense of community. The food that was grown also had no pesticides and more nutrients, such as antioxidants. This semester the club has many more goals; such as creating more urban gardens for other impoverished communities within the low-country and also learning how to become more sustainable ourselves.
This semester and into the summer I think it would be exceedingly rewarding to start my own garden by utilizing efficient use of the little space I have outside my house. I would need to build a raised bed, start small and slow, enrich the soil with compost, pull out weeds, protect the investment with mulch, and by then hopefully I will not have failed too many times before I achieve a good yield of vegetables.
Before taking this class I had no idea about the effects on agriculture, especially in Charleston. Chapter nine in the reading, A Delicate Balance : Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Low country, was very enlightening in my opinion. I did not know a lot of Charleston’s agriculture was affected daily. I found it quite surprising learning that “South Carolina has been losing about thirty five acres of farmland daily to residential and commercial development, and the low country has experienced the greatest of those losses”. That little piece of information was the most shocking to me because I know Charleston has a lot of construction and stuff going on, but I did not know that it was that drastic. Saving farmland is very important because farmland is not just for raising up animals to produce meat, it is much more than that. Having a sufficient amount of farmland is vitally important because you need land to produce the locally grown vegetables and fruits that we consume. Also in the chapter I found it reassuring to know that organizations like the Charleston County Greenbelt Bank Board is taking initiative to purchase rural land just to help protect it from companies trying to use it for development. If more organizations like this step up and participate to preserve the Low country’s farmlands more acres of land can be saved from development. Another aspect of this paper I was inspired by was Margaret Fabri, she stated that if “we don’t have many rural spaces left, and if we don’t protect them now, we will have none left”. This statement means so much because she is promoting taking action, which is what needs to be done to make changes so that more land can be saved. Just this statement alone signifies that action needs to be taking now before it is too late.
After reading excerpts from Halfacre’s A Delicate Balance: Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry, my eyes were opened to an entirely new environmental issue. Well, technically we won’t say “environmental”, we will say “conservational” issue. It is a well-known fact that the city of Charleston thrives on its little peninsula with constant praise from the media reflecting its beautiful beaches, historical richness, excellent cuisines and party-spots, and the dense culture packed tightly into this Holy City.
After reading Halfacre’s book, I was quite shocked by the numbers and statistics. For example, the proportional rate of Charleston’s population growth is twice the national population growth. I also had no knowledge on the story behind the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and its monumental impact on the Charleston community. Hearing that conservationists fought for the walk/bike lane along the bridge gave me hope for future efforts. The bridge expanded and turned Mount Pleasant into a densely-populated city, and some may argue the benefits and others the negatives.
The book also discussed the Lowcountry movement for “Buy local”. I had always seen bumper stickers with this slogan, but didn’t know the real meaning behind it. This movement is something that should be emphasized, considering only 4% of Charleston’s population get their food locally. By growing locally, there are benefits in all disciplines.
The whole idea Halfacre is conveying is the balance between preservation and development. They work in an inverse relationship, and luckily the Lowcountry has numerous conservation activists that work hard to preserve the rich culture South Carolina encompasses. By reading Halfacre’s excerpts, it has encouraged me to join a conservation group or organization and contribute to the cause. It makes me want to help out that farmer that can’t seem to find college students to help pick his vegetables. It makes me want to fight for all of those people that grew up along the coast and lived off the land, the people that appreciate its richness. Once those people are gone, new generations won’t understand why these locals appreciated the land so much, which is where my generation steps in to continue to the fight for conservation.