Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Saving the extra mile

This past week we discussed transportation and its implications on sustainability. As a commuter, I already know that what I'm doing is completely unsustainable and this discussion session made me feel really bad about my current habits. But there are other ways to reduce my transportation footprint than just not driving my car. It would be really difficult for me to be able to get to school, work, and water polo without using my car since I don't live close to any of these places. So finding alternative methods to reduce my impacts was really helpful.

This week I decided to cut bananas from my diet because they travel a long ways to end up on my kitchen counter. Typically, I would eat one banana a day because they are the ultimate on-the-go snack and/or meal. So instead of grabbing a banana, I grabbed grapes in the morning before I left for work each morning. The grapes were grown in California, which means that they traveled far fewer miles to enter into my fridge than the bananas did to reach my counter. Grapes taste just as good as bananas, so the switch was definitely easy. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more grapes to fill me up than it would for one banana to. But I would like to think it is still better for me to eat the grapes than the bananas because of the less amounts of transport required and less packaging changes. However, grapes actually require packaging when you buy them from the store while bananas usually just have stickers. The grapes packaging is recyclable though, so maybe it is still okay and I would assume it undergoes fewer package changes. This switch was not too difficult for me to do and I feel like it made a difference.

On Friday, I arranged a carpool with my friend to school and to work. What made this carpool pretty supreme was that my friend's car is electric, making my impact even smaller! It's tough to give up your car for a day and be totally reliant on somebody else and be able to be flexible with their schedule. Fortunately for me, my friend and I have about the same schedule for work and school. This made it easier on both of us to actually go through with this. I chose to carpool with my friend because it made a lot of sense for me to initiate it since we both go to the same places and since I live on her route to and from school. To be honest, I think that this was more difficult for my friend than for me because she had to remember to pick me up. Usually she just drives to school without having to get off the freeway, but on Friday, she had to remember to get off at my street! This was a great way for me to reduce my driving impact because it took little effort on my part and allowed me to not emit much or any green house gases from my vehicle. It makes a lot of sense to carpool with someone who has an electric car because the benefits are just endless.

This week was not as challenging as I thought it would be. I'm glad I made some good life changes that I hope to continue to implement into my life as the days go on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

(R)Evolving Respect

In the Fall, I had written a post about my sustainability ethic. In that post I talked about how I equate sustainability with respect. Today, I still believe that the roots of sustainability are in the principles of respect. As I said before, sustainability is respecting resources, respecting current generations, and respecting future generations. My thoughts on this have not wavered very much and if they have, they have wavered to expand my ideas on how very important respect is to preserving the earth.

Each week of the sustainability capstone series has introduced me to new topics that have broadened my view and knowledge about sustainability. Sustainability is more than just making resources last and improving the environment. Sustainability is about how we can make the world a better place for all that inhabit it. This entails social justice as well as environmental justice, which all chalk down to respect. We have to respect the issues that other parts of the world endure while respecting the resources that we drain with our comparatively lavish lifestyles here in California. We have to respect that people need to survive before they can worry about preserving fish populations and that we need to respect the fact that they might not want to follow the rules that are created by developed countries that form guidelines on how developing countries should develop. It's crazy how interconnected throughout policy that sustainability is. Almost every topic in the political and environmental realm can be weaved into the quilt that is sustainability.

I still struggle every day to meet my sustainability ethic because it is difficult to always remember to live up to it when I am so busy and don't know what I had for lunch that day. But, I have definitely stepped up my game since fall quarter, making small changes in my life that I hope will have some impacts on the earth and the people that I interact with. Since fall quarter, I have reduced my consumption of fast food, thus reducing the amount of unnecessary packaging and other food wastes. I have also increased my composting efforts on a family wide basis in my home. Instead of getting plastic cups for my iced coffee, I have started bringing a reusable cup to Dunkin Donuts when I get my coffee in the morning. Also, I have reduced the amount of times a week that I go there, saving gas and money. I tried cutting meat from my diet, but I have had a rough couple of weeks emotionally and it was hard to make a transition as significant as this. As my life starts to settle down, I will do my best to get back on track. Although I have lots of flaws and struggles, I am more aware of what I am doing wrong or that is against my morals, which is a large part of being able to make more sustainable choices in my life. I'm still working on it, but I have definitely improved upon my ethic since the fall.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Leading the Shirtless

Being a leader is hard and is often a role that I fall into, despite being opposed to doing so. But sometimes, you have to stand up and be that leader that others need. Usually, I become a leader in familiar environments where I know the people or I know the situation. I think it would be increasingly difficult if I was trying to be a leader where I knew nothing and knew no one. *cough cough Mr. President*

Since I have some experience with being a leader, whether it had been as team captain for water polo or a group leader for a project, I should be able to apply my experience to some new topics that I have been learning about. Sustainability is starting to gain a good amount of ground these days because of brave leaders and first followers. I aspire to join the movements that others have started in the sustainability field, but first, I feel that it is important for me to understand what I am doing before I try to inspire others to do the same. Some of the qualities that I feel that I would need to gain before becoming a great leader in the sustainability world include being bold, unafraid of criticism, friendly, accepting of contrasting ideals, calm, and courageous. To be a leader, you most definitely have to be bold because you are trying to make a statement and bolding makes your statement stand out and makes it worth reading. You must also be unafraid of criticism because in order to lead a successful movement, you should be able to accept criticisms to create the most alluring and successful movements. Being friendly is just good for life and for making a safe space for others to feel welcome which will help to grow our movement. To me, the hardest thing about being a leader is to accept that not everyone will have the same ideals as you and you can't  change everyone. Sometimes you have to accept that they have those ideals and you can't fight them on it. Any strong leader is calm, cool, and collected and acts on rationality opposed to on sole emotions. In the political atmosphere today, it is hard to find a calm person who uses rationality along with their emotions to lead their follows. And in the words of Rachel Green, "You gotta have courage." An ideal leader will embrace all of these aspects.

Being a first follower is incredible. I think it takes more guts than it does to be a leader because you are getting on board with someone who has no following and you are putting yourself completely into the unknown. At least the leader knows what they are doing, or so we hope. A first follower is crucial to getting others to join a cause. Like that shirtless dancing guy's first follower, you have to just embrace the movement and show others that it is ok to accept these ideas. As a very cautious and self aware/self conscious person, I do not think that I have what it takes to be a first follower. Usually, I wait for the approval of my peers before I jump on into the movement. A first follower is a brave soul and I definitely respect them. I have a long ways to go before I gain the confidence in myself to be a first follower. If there's another person being the first follower, I am more likely to join in on the idea. Even the first flow of people to a movement make it easier for me to get on board. As I continue to learn more about the world around me,  I hope to improve my confidence and hopefully take steps closer to the first follower and leader. We will see what I get myself into...