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!



Corporate Sustainability

I have found the projects in our class on sustainable practices in different businesses to be extremely interesting. In a time where there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the future of the environmental movement, it is both exciting and hopeful to see both big and small companies making strides in the right direction.

In particular I have loved hearing about bigger companies, that may not have always embraced sustainable practices, changing their tone. I believe this is strongly to do with the consumer, and what the consumer wants. This goes to prove again what we have discussed in class, that the consumer holds a great deal of power. Companies pay a great deal of money to understand what we, as the consumer, want from their products.

For many right now the environmental movement is “in style”, and while this may not be the ideal in why one should believe in the environmental movement, at least it isn’t pushing against it. Due to this being in style companies are marketing to the point of view, the millennials that are looking to save the world. And with the new marketing platforms on social media, companies are able to sell even when you’re not looking for it. We as the consumer need to hold on to this control, and keep these large companies moving toward a more sustainable future.

Clean Regatta Volunteer Work

Something that I have been involved with this year is helping to prepare from Charleston Race Week with Clean Regattas. Clean Regattas is an organization that encourages regattas to practice sustainability to protect our oceans. You can register a regatta and form a green team on the Clean Regattas website. I sail for the college, and am a Sustainable Urbanism major with a Sustainability minor, so this event was interesting to me in many ways.

Charleston Race Week is the biggest keelboat regatta in America, hosted here in Charleston, and is sponsored by Sperry. Charleston Race Week is now in its 21st year (the regatta was established in 1996). In 2006, Charleston Race Week drew entries from as far away as England, Canada, Michigan, and California, with more than 70 percent of the competitors arriving from out of town. The story was much the same in 2007 and 2008, with increased numbers of participants each year. The event has grown by an average of 15 percent in recent years and evolved to become the largest keelboat regatta in the Western Hemisphere.

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Clean regattas is the world’s only sustainability certification for water-based events.
Over 1,000 regattas, gams, rallies and cruises have registered as Clean Regattas. One part education, two parts activation, the program unites and mobilizes sailors by offering support and resources to help conserve and protect the ocean.

Working with Clean Regattas, you are part of a green team that is dedicated to sustainability. You assess, begin, and follow through on clean regatta initiatives. You then document these initiatives. Some initiatives include:

  1. Paperless regattas- going paperless for your regatta registrations and Notice of Race, and prioritizing paper communications.
  2. Reduce plastic water bottles- provide or encourage the use of reusable water bottles (On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and many of them end up in the landfill, or worse, your local waterway.)
  3. Responsible dinnerware- most regattas will provide a mean for their participants, and clean regattas encourages regattas to utilize responsible dinnerware that can be composted or recycled.
  4. More responsible awards- Regatta trophies can be very energy-intensive to create and often end up sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere, so regattas are encouraged to find alternative trophy options.
  5. Good Waste Management- Well-labeled bins and volunteers to help point people in the right direction are paramount to an event having good waste management.
  6. Toxic-free Cleaning- You can request all participants limit their impact on local water quality by using “water only washdowns” (“WOW!”) at the end of racing. After most sailboat racing, competitors will wash salty water or other substances off of their boats (its bad for the boat if you leave it on there) and use harsh chemicals that usually run into the water. Hull scrubbing can lead to the build up of toxic chemicals in your local waters as well as the potential introduction of invasive species.
  7. Efficient Power Boats- You can request that regattas utilize lightweight, fuel-efficient rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). These boats use carbon fiber and weigh a third of the weight of a normal RIB, while using only 20 percent of the fuel.
  8. Trash cleanup- you also can go through the regatta site and clean up trash after the event.


Sailors for the Sea is the world’s leading conservation organization that engages, educates, inspires and activates the sailing and boating community toward healing the ocean. Their global affiliates help expand this mission across the globe. They work in places from Japan, to Portugal, to the US.

Climate Change in My Home State

Being from West Virginia, we typically expect a harsh winter filled with snow. However, this year my home state was experiencing high temperatures through the winter months. Could this be from climate change? Growing up, winter was a time that had a lot of snow and cold temperatures. This year, I believe it only snowed in my hometown two times. One of those times was a pretty decent snow storm that lasted for only a couple of hours. The other time was a very light snow. There were days this past winter in West Virginia where the temperature would reach the high 60’s and low 70’s. With that in mind, I would say that the effects of global warming and climate change are becoming more clear. It is irregular for my home state to have a warm winter. Unfortunately, most people are not looking at this as an issue. People are happy about not having to deal with the cold weather and snow for a change. We were faced with warm winter days and this summer I am sure we will be faced with unbearable heat. Looking at the bigger picture, this will be bad for West Virginia.

The warmer temperatures will cause many environmental problems. Deer breed when the weather is warm, so the warm weather will allow the deer to reproduce even more. This could turn into a huge problem since deer are already so over populated in the state. You cannot drive anywhere without seeing a deer or two. In my neighborhood, it is not uncommon to see around five deer on your drive home. Another species that would be greatly effected is the state fish, the brook trout. The brook trout lives in cooler waters and if the temperature keeps rising, the water levels in the streams will decline and increase in temperature. This would lead for the brook trout to no longer be supported by the stream anymore. Droughts will increase along with flooding.

I did not start to see the effects of global warming in my home state until these past couple of years. I believe that this issue is only getting worse and our past winter is a great example of that.



MUSC Urban Farm

I have never considered myself as the person who has a green thumb. At home I would always get nervous when I was in charge of watering the flowers because I felt like they would always die when I just looked at them. That is why when my friend asked me if I wanted to come with her and check out the MUSC Urban Farm, I king of dragged my feet. Gardening and I were never friends. However, I thought back to everything I learned in this class and remembered thinking how sad it was that people do not know where their food comes from, so how could I not go and check it out?

We drove over to the half-acre garden out on Bee St. and I was amazed. In the middle of a concrete lot, there were rows and rows of plants. We got to work on planting…do not ask what kind. All I remember was basil. All the other names have already left my head. I’ll work on that, I promise. We weeded around some plots, saw some beautiful butterflies, and my highlight was the furry caterpillar that I became friends with.

After going and helping out, I became curious as to what the farm does to help out the community. After some research, I found out that their mission statement is, “The mission of the MUSC Urban Farm is to build a healthier community by growing crops and social connections while educating and inspiring people with local, nutritious, and delicious food.” I found it really cool how they create a real hands on environment where people can become inspired to learn about what they are eating and how to incorporate more vegetables into their every day lives. They offer workshops, seminars, and host school field trips to spread their message as far as they can. I think this hands on approach to education is the key to getting people involved and interested. I know it at least got me interested in attempting to take care of at least one plant over the summer as a summer project. Baby steps.

Board of Zoning Appeals (City of Charleston)

I attended a Charleston City Board of Zoning Appeals meeting recently. It was held in the public meeting room at the Gaillard Center Municipal Building. There were four board members (Leonard Krawcheck, Michael Robinson, Margaret Smith, John Lester) and three staff members (Lee Batchelder, Pennye Ashby, and Vanessa Ellington) present. The audience consisted of roughly thirty people, a larger meeting than I anticipated it to be. . The agenda consisted on only one point of business concerning a property within the west side of Charleston on 721 King Street. Those applying for the appeal wanted to convert the ground floor of their office building into a restaurant with 1,750sf for inside patron use and 400sf of outside use, without providing required off-street parking spaces.

Discussion of this site took well over an hour. It began with an employee of the applicant business, Urbs LLC, giving a presentation of their plan for the restaurant addition underneath the existing office. In order to conduct this reconstruction, a special exception under Sec. 54-511 would have to be granted. Charleston is full of atypical structures that do not fit the normal standards, and this employee was trying to persuade the council that 721 King was just another case. He brought well thought out presentation boards and wore a nice suit, but his theoretical land use initiative was missing one factor- input from the locals.

This was a major contrast to what came next. After his presentation, community members were asked if they had any comments to add. At least seven people from the audience stood up and voiced their unsupportive opinion of the restaurant addition. The first man, a resident of 1 Race Street, complained that it would negatively impact his community because of the limited parking. A pregnant woman from 9A Race Street also said that this would put a strain on the area. She claimed that she already had to park blocks away from her house due to the congestion in automobile circulation. When carrying groceries and small children home after a long day of work, the last thing anyone wants to do is make a long trek home. The woman talked about her elderly neighbor who rarely leaves her house since she is afraid to have to park her car on a street that isn’t her own. She expressed love for her neighborhood, saying that her family is proud of the build up of businesses and restaurants she has seen over the past five years. There are just practical issues of residents that need to be factored into this now booming area.

The neighborhood association president spoke next, and passionately discussed his interest to preserve the block. He hoped that residents would not lose the sense of contentment and intimacy they feel towards their neighborhood because of Charleston’s obvious gentrification up King Street. It is detrimental to have residents and patrons of these businesses fighting over their claim of the space. Traffic not only blocks in residents, but also the bus stops nearby.

The zoning board members discussed the parking issue amongst themselves. One by one they agreed to disapprove the motion. What stood out to me the most about this meeting was community involvement that comes with projects like this. Businesses want to come in and strictly make money. I mean in our capitalist society, isn’t that all people live for? It is when individual’s lives are negatively altered and inconvenienced that issues arise. This area is not just a developmental gold mine for urban planners; it is where dads teach their kids to ride bikes and the aging live out their last peaceful years. Space has meaning attached to it, and urban planning should heavily involve the people it affects in order to maintain positive social sustainability.

Office of Sustainability Clothing Swap Event

I went to an event hosted by the office of Sustainability. The event was called Clothing Swap. The name of the event pretty much explains exactly what it was about, which is swapping clothes. People including myself brought to the Alumni center clothing that was either new or only worn a few times. The clothes people brought in were put on hangers and hung on racks just like you would find in a clothing store. All anyone had to do was choose which ever clothing piece they wanted. I think this was a great event, not only because I got a few new shirts out of it, but because we all were putting use to the clothes we don’t wear anymore. In a sense it was like we were recycling our clothes because someone else would be putting them to great use. A good number of people came out to the event which was good. At the end they had a lot of left over clothes that I believe they would donate to someplace like goodwill or something. If the Office of Sustaniblilty was to host something like this again I definitely would go again. First off, I love shopping for clothes in the first place so swapping clothes is the next best thing. The main thing I liked about the event was you didn’t have to pay anything because you already paid for the clothes you brought to swap. I also believe that you didn’t even have to bring clothes if you didn’t want to, you could just chose which ones you wanted from the clothes that were already there. Overall in my opinion I think the event was a success.

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. 



GrowFood Carolina Guest Speaker

I never realized how many initiatives local businesses in South Carolina are taking in order to care for current Charlestonian’s and preserve the future for many. One guest speaker presentation that really spoke to me was about the wonderful local business called GrowFood Carolina. They are a non-profit, all local, wholesale produce distributer. The mission of GrowFood Carolina is to strive for more locally sourced foods produced in South Carolina, such as vegetables. GrowFood helps farmers distribute their products to the community through grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Earth Fare, meaning that they will never sell directly to the consumer. I found it interesting to learn that the College of Charleston receives a good portion of their produce from GrowFood Carolina. One major issue that farmers face is getting their produce to the consumer after it’s grown. That’s where GrowFood Carolina comes into play, ultimately being the middleman that will get the produce from the farmer to the hungry consumer.

This method makes growing and producing food locally much easier and better accessible to many. This way, the end goal is to secure the future of a regional food supply and ensure an enduring productive and diverse landscape. When it comes down to it, many of us consider South Carolina to be an agricultureal state, but why is it that only 10% of what we eat sourced locally? The numbers don’t seem to add up when considering that oftentimes we import our fruits and vegetables from places such as Mexico rather than eating our own local, fresh produce.

When asked why GrowFood Carolina does what they do, their simple response is for the personal health of individuals, the health of the environment, and for the health of the rural economy. There are three guiding principles that GrowFood strictly follows, those being the farmers, consistency, and collaboration, listed in order of importance. These three guiding principles intertwine with one another to form a well balanced company. On top of their already awesome business, they also donate food to the needy and volunteer often in the community. I will absolutely be supporting their business in the future!


Event or Activity Outside of Class: Fresh for All

For my event or activity outside of class I volunteered at our local food bank, the Lowcountry Food Bank.  I know what you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with our class?  So basically, we went to the Zucker Middle School and volunteered at a fresh for all.  For those of you who do not know what a fresh for all is, no worries I didn’t either before volunteering.

Usually when I help out at the food bank we focus on helping lower income families learn to cook and buy groceries at a price that works for them but this time it was different.  Before arriving at the middle school all I knew was that this was also the day that the school was hosting parent-teacher conferences so that the parents could pick up report cards.  When I arrived at the middle school, I was escorted to an outside portion of the lunch room where there were various cardboard boxes set out in a line on about three or four big tables.  In each of the boxes was all kinds of fruits and vegetables!  I soon learned that the main goal of the fresh for all was for the parents to not only pick up report cards but also for the parents to get as many fruits and vegetables as they needed for their family.

Not only did this fresh for all promote healthy eating, but they also promoted local farmers and less processed foods.  I thought this was awesome when thinking about how much better eating and buying like this is versus eating and buying processed, chemically-saturated foods not only for our bodies but for our environment as well.  Programs like the food bank promoting eating locally grown, less processed foods are the small steps our environment needs to improve.