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Andrew Cao's avatar

Andrew Cao

Bruins For a Just Transition

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 421 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    75
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    150
    minutes
    spent learning

Andrew's Actions

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

Eat Mindfully

I will eat all of my meals without distractions, e.g., phone, computer, TV, or newspaper.

COMPLETED 2
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Composting

Composting, Reduced Food Waste

I will start a compost bin where I live.

Completed
One-Time Action

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Building With Carbon Storing Waste Products

Engineered Sinks

I will spend at least 30 minute(s) researching how people can build with carbon-storing materials - including agricultural byproducts - and discuss it with my peers or post to social media.

Completed
One-Time Action

Land Sinks

Support a Community Garden

Multiple Solutions

I will support a community garden by volunteering, donating, or advocating for a new or existing one.

Completed
One-Time Action

Buildings

Replace Manual Thermostats

Smart Thermostats

I will replace manual thermostats with smart ones.

Completed
One-Time Action

Action Track: Building Resilience

Support Nutrient Management

Nutrient Management

I will research and support local farmers who have made the decision to not use synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.

Completed
One-Time Action

Transportation

Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle

Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars

I will spend at least 30 minutes researching and weighing my options to see if a hybrid or electric vehicle makes sense for my lifestyle.

Completed
One-Time Action

Industry

Invite a friend to calculate the carbon footprint of their household

Individual actions are important, but people and organizations working together can make a real impact. I will share a carbon calculator with a friend and invite them to calculate the carbon footprint of their household.

Completed
One-Time Action

Feed

  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Healing & Renewal Eat Mindfully
    Mindful eating is healthier for us than eating with distractions. How does your eating experience differ when practicing mindfulness?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 5/01/2022 2:25 PM
    Mindful eating is something that does not come naturally to me because of how consumed I am with my electronic devices. When trying to incorporate mindful eating into my own life, I have found it helpful to eat somewhere other than my desk so that I can remove myself from my workspace. It is also beneficial to turn off my electric devices while I eat because this allows me to focus only on my meal and not what I see on social media. Even something like chewing food slowly and fully can increase mindfulness while eating. Although I was initially doubtful with regards to how distraction and attentiveness influenced eating behaviors, after practicing mindful eating for a few days, I have realized that distracted eating increases food consumption. This is also supported by numerous studies that show distracted eaters eat more and have greater intake later in the day. Mindful eating helps to reduce my calorie intake and also forces me to pay attention to what I consume, allowing me to make healthier food choices. This is particularly beneficial to me because I live on campus and rely on the dining halls for food. Normally, I would not be too aware of what I eat and would and would take whatever is available in the dining halls. However, practicing mindful eating motivates me to pick items that I believe are healthier and I am able to enjoy the foods more fully than I would otherwise. Practicing mindfulness while eating is not just healthy but is also beneficial for the environment and mitigating climate change because it helps to reduce food waste. About one-third of the food produced in the world is not eaten and wasted and therefore, the greenhouse gases emitted from producing the food were unnecessary. Global efforts to reduce food waste include improving infrastructure, processing, and transportation through implementing new policies. However, this is often done at the governmental level and is not easily accessible to the individual. Something individuals can partake in to reduce food waste is mindful eating practices. If people are able to become more mindful about what they are eating, then they will be less likely to eat sooner because that information becomes stored in their memory. My eating experience is different when practicing mindfulness because I am more aware of what I am ingesting which benefits both my health and the environment.
  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use Composting
    Producing food that goes uneaten squanders many resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital. Which of these kinds of waste most motivates you to change your behavior regarding food waste? Why?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/24/2022 10:15 PM
    Composting is critical for mitigating climate change because it converts organic waste into soil carbon, reducing landfill methane emissions. This process is something that anyone can take part in because it ranges from backyard bins to industrial-scale operations. It is predicted that from 2020 to 2050, 2.14-3.13 gigatons of CO2 will be sequestered. The net cost to implement the solution is -60.6 to -83.75 billion dollars and the lifetime net operational savings are -127.43 to -173.16. Composting is a useful practice as it relates to climate change because about half of the solid waste produced in the world is organic or biodegradable and when these products end up in landfills, they decompose and produce methane. Conversely, when these items are composted, the organic material is converted into stable soil carbon, resulting in carbon sequestration. Apart from the net savings, compost can also be as fertilizer production for feeding gardens and fields and is mandatory in places like San Francisco, Copenhagen, and Denmark. Using compost bins is a major step in reducing the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane, which is 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The act of composting is simple but may not be accessible to many people, particularly in lower-income countries. Although composting is an action that anyone can do if they have access to a compost bin, many lower-income communities are unable to afford compost bins and this highlights the issue of equity. To reduce the effects of climate change and increase the rate of composted food waste, there must be greater equity and those in disadvantaged communities must have greater accessibility to things like compost bins. Personally, I do have access to a compost bin and there are many compost bins available to students across the UCLA campus. This is advantageous to college students but to make a more substantial impact, there should be a widespread effort to place compost bins across the nation. When food goes uneaten, there is great water waste that motivates me to change my behavior regarding food because water is a scarce resource in California. As a California native, I am familiar with the droughts that are a result of climate change. The water waste from producing uneaten foods motivates me to engage more actively in combating climate change because uneaten food also produces greenhouse gases. In the United States, reducing food waste can be accomplished by policies to encourage widespread changes at the retail and consumer levels. Managing food supply and reducing food waste is significant because it can sequester about 90.7 to 101.71 gigatons of CO2 while providing food to those who are in disadvantaged communities and reducing inequality.
  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Building With Carbon Storing Waste Products
    How feasible do you think it is for society to build with agricultural waste products?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/23/2022 10:36 PM
    Building a society with agricultural waste products is feasible given new innovations in building techniques and usage of materials. For example, hempcrete is a carbon-negative building material that is an abundant resource, is increasingly used in construction, and can be used for other commodities as well. Each individual component of the hemp plant such as the stock, leaves, fibers, flowers, and seeds can be used for multiple uses making the plant versatile in its uses. Hempcrete is also ideal to use in the building of a home because it provides insulation by storing and releasing air to maintain the temperature of the building. Since buildings consume 40-50% of the world's energy, the use of hemp can help to save energy and mitigate climate change. However, pioneering industrial hemp is difficult because the growth of this plant is illegal in some states due to the belief that the plant contains psychoactive chemicals that can get people high. With proper education and the right policies in place, hemp can be grown for sustainable uses and reduce the emissions and energy that are traditionally associated with buildings. Society can also be built with agricultural waste products by reclaiming wood or using wood from climate-friendly forests that were manufactured without fossil fuels. The carbon that is stored in woods is released into the atmosphere through decomposition and burning and using recycled wood products will prolong the carbon storage and keep the product out of landfills. Prolonging the use of wood products is something that is personal to me because I rely on a lot of wooden products such as my desk, chair, and bed frame, and prolonging the use of these items is essential for mitigating climate change. Preserving wooden products is significant because of how many products are wooden and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere from their decomposition or burning. Ensuring that these products are recycled and not releasing their carbon will help to mitigate the climate crisis. So, I do believe that it is feasible for society to build with agricultural waste products because of the ingenuity regarding using everyday materials like hemp plants to build homes that are carbon negative and recycling wooden products to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Reflection Question
    Land Sinks Support a Community Garden
    What are the multiple benefits of community gardens, including carbon sequestration? Why do these benefits matter to you?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/23/2022 1:44 PM
    The construction of community gardens helps to improve carbon sequestration by creating more land sinks that are able to absorb a large percentage of carbon dioxide emissions that are pumped into the atmosphere. When brainstorming solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change, many proposals include big lifestyle changes that are individual such as switching to a plant-based diet or commuting via a bike instead of a car; however, community gardens are also viable solutions that are effective in combating climate change and also has a range of other benefits. Recently, I attended an event on Earth Day and I helped to plant more trees and plants in an effort to increase greenhouse gas absorption, and I had come to the realization of how big of an effect gardens have on human life and the climate crisis. Land sinks currently absorb about 29% of human-caused emissions that are in the atmosphere; this is critical to stopping climate change but, these gardens are also helpful in inspiring other solutions as well. For instance, having more plants and trees around makes walking more attractive for the everyday person because they add to the scenery and also provide shade. If walking were more appealing to people then they would be more inclined to walk around the city rather than drive around in their gasoline-powered car which emits gases and further exacerbates the climate crisis. Additionally, the carbon sequestration that comes from gardens and land sinks benefits human health because they provide cleaner air to breathe and can help in reducing airborne pollutants that contribute to respiratory illnesses. Carbon sequestration from land sinks is important because the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization predicts that the world has the soil capacity for only 57 more years of growing crops because of soil destruction from chemicals, deforestation, and global warming. Restoring soil and limiting land-use change is critical for future sustainability and constructing community gardens is a step towards a more prosperous future. The benefits of a community garden matter to me because I believe that this addresses the framework of equity since many disadvantaged communities and areas do not have access to gardens. By constructing more community gardens, particularly in disadvantaged communities, there can be mitigation of climate change and a simultaneous reduction in inequality.
  • Reflection Question
    Buildings Replace Manual Thermostats
    How do you anticipate replacing your thermostats for smart ones will positively impact your life?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/19/2022 9:54 PM
    In all honesty, replacing my current thermostat with a smart one is not something I would imagine doing to help mitigate the climate crisis. However, after doing more research, I have learned that investing in smart thermostats is an accessible and effective way of reducing energy usage because of the advanced technology that these tools possess. Smart thermostats allow for remote control from your phone and this improves energy efficiency because people are able to remotely change their thermostat settings. This would be beneficial to me because I live in the on-campus dorms and I am guilty of leaving my thermostat on after I have already left my dorm room. The convenience of being able to control the thermostat from my phone would allow me to turn off the thermostat when I forget to and would reduce the amount of energy that I waste. Smart thermostats also allow for the creation of app-based scheduling. Using this function of a smart thermostat allows homeowners to be more aware of the energy their thermostat is using but also allows for increased temperature management. The most appealing aspect of replacing thermostats with smart ones is that it saves money on energy bills. Through technology like motion sensors and weather tracking, a smart thermostat is able to sense when people are in the room and the outside temperature to properly adjust the temperature in the house. As a result, energy use is conserved and energy bills are reduced. However, the use of smart thermostats is not just beneficial for individual finances but is critical in the larger threat of climate change. Thermostats account for about 9% of energy consumption in the United States and it is estimated that the use of smart thermostats will reduce or sequester an equivalent of 6.99-7.4 gigatons of CO2. This will also result in a lifetime net operational savings of 1.83-2.08 trillion dollars in the US at a net cost of 155.2-171.84 billion dollars. Additionally, smart thermostats range from about 100-500 dollars which is more affordable than I expected them to be. Although these devices may raise issues of equity because not everyone will be able to afford them, smart thermostat prices are much more reasonable for the average person compared to a plant-rich diet or an electric vehicle. Therefore, I believe that this investment is something that a majority of people will be able to implement in their households because of how relatively accessible it is and the long-term benefits. This is something that I believe UCLA should invest in their dorms and apartments because smart thermostats are more energy-efficient, comfortable, and less costly to operate. In the dorm that I am currently in, there is a regular thermostat, and investing in smart thermostats for all dorms will contribute to the mitigation of the climate crisis.
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle
    Reducing (or eliminating) exhaust emissions and improving public health are two benefits of green vehicles. What other motivators inspire you to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/09/2022 11:45 AM
    Many people are drawn to electric or hybrid vehicles because of the amount of gas and money that is saved. Additionally, these green vehicles are much more environmentally friendly when compared to traditional vehicles that rely on gasoline. In Drawdown, Hawkens asserts that green vehicles are critical in reducing emissions because electric cars are "about 60% [more] efficient compared to gasoline-powered vehicles" (page 142). Hawkens uses the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric vehicle as an example to highlight that the level of efficiency of green cars translates to more money saved because electricity is cheaper than gasoline and also the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. He then goes on to explain how interest in electric vehicles has risen in recent years because many government programs are encouraging people to purchase these green vehicles by rewarding them with subsidies. Hawken's assertion is significant because it indicates how strong a tool electric vehicles are in mitigating the effects of climate change. Gasoline vehicles are responsible for more than 15% of annual emissions and switching to a green vehicle can greatly reduce this number. Further, electric vehicles are much more accessible and affordable now than they were in the past which motivates people to invest in these cars. 

    Personally, I drive a traditional car that is gas dependent and it consumes a lot of gasoline compared to my mom's hybrid car. I think that this is definitely the strongest argument for switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle considering the high gas prices. However, it is difficult for a college student like me to switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle because although you save money in the long run by not relying on gasoline as much, you have to pay more for the vehicle. This can be a challenge for me and others because they may not have the money to pay more for a more expensive vehicle and may therefore opt for a cheaper vehicle that is not environmentally friendly. So, the US government offering a $7,500 subsidy for purchasing an electric car will definitely encourage many who may not have the financial means to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle to think more carefully about what car they would like to buy. 

    In order to be better informed about fuel-efficient vehicles, I drove my mom's hybrid for a day instead of my own car. Apart from being more fuel-efficient, the car was noticeably smoother when driving and much more quiet. This is also something important to me because fuel-efficient vehicles not only saved money but provided a better driving experience compared to traditional cars. Ultimately, I am inspired to switch to a more fuel-efficient vehicle in the future when I am able to make such a purchase. 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Support Nutrient Management
    How does environmental quality influence your sense of community?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/09/2022 11:41 AM
    The environmental quality influences my sense of community because purchasing goods from local businesses and farmers allows me to connect with people in my community. Additionally, buying food from local farmers in my area is also beneficial for my diet, health, and finances. In Project Drawdown, Hawkens asserts that "overconsumption of animal protein also comes at a steep cost to human health. In many places around the world, the protein eaten daily goes well beyond dietary requirements" (page 39). Hawkens then goes on to provide examples of how many grams of protein the average adult in the United States and Canada consumes per day. Although adults typically require 50 grams of protein per day, the average adult consumes more than 90 grams. Hawkens explains that by switching to a plant based diet, greenhouse gases emitted from raising livestock would decrease, human health would prosper, and health-care costs would decrease. This assertion is significant because it highlights the personal benefits of a plant based diet as well as the environmental implications. By opting in to a plant based diet, people are able to explore more of their community and interact with local businesses and farmers all while enjoying delicious foods.

    When completing this action, I went to a local farmers market near me and purchased fresh goods. Since this was my first time going to a local farmers market, something that I found interesting was how much fun I had. It was relaxing being outside as opposed to getting food in an indoor area. Additionally, I enjoyed being able to meet new people who are a part of the community and support their businesses. Something that I expected was to find the prices of the foods to be more expensive compared to the typical market. However, I found that many of the prices were reasonable and sometimes cheaper than I expected.

    Ultimately, environmental quality greatly influences my sense of community because I am more encouraged to go out and support local businesses and farmers in my community if I know that I can help the environment in doing so. By consuming more of a plant based diet, I am able to not only help mitigate the effects of climate change but also feel more a part and supportive of my community.



    • Max Weisberg's avatar
      Max Weisberg 4/10/2022 5:41 PM
      Farmer's Markets are the best. Something about them really makes you feel connected. We need more events like that because they really show how sustainability can be a benefit not only to our health, but our sense of being as humans.
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Invite a friend to calculate the carbon footprint of their household
    What kinds of discussions did you have, or are you hoping to have with friends about climate change?

    Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/08/2022 11:27 PM
    Being aware of your carbon footprint is something that many people do not keep track of but it is a critical component of understanding how much a household contributes to the climate crisis. In Drawdown, Paul Hawkens asserts that vehicles that rely on purely gas play a substantial role in exacerbating the climate crisis. He provides examples by emphasizing that household "vehicles are responsible for more than 15% of annual emissions" (page 148). Here, Hawkens explains how something that people are so dependent on can cause such a big problem for the environment. In LA and around the world, people rely on their vehicles to get around and for many including myself, it seems impossible to survive without a car. However, by being aware of your carbon footprint, you are able to make a more conscious effort to reduce emissions that you do not need. For example, my friend and I were both surprised when we calculated our carbon footprints because we emitted more emissions than we anticipated. Knowing this, we will both make efforts to reduce our emissions by walking more instead of driving. I believe that it is important for everyone to calculate their carbon footprint because by knowing how much they emit, you are able to take the proper steps to reduce your emissions and mitigate the climate crisis.

    Something that I've learned from Project Drawdown is how little actions add up to contribute to the climate crisis. When I first calculated my carbon footprint with my friend, I was surprised by how small actions like eating less meat per week reduce the emissions of a household. Without a doubt, climate change is a daunting and big challenge that has impacted the entire globe. Many times people think that in order to combat this big problem, there must be a big solution. Some big solutions include lifestyle changes like being vegan or vegetarian; however, something as small as eating less meat on a consistent basis also has long-lasting effects that can mitigate the effects of climate change.

    In the future, this is something that I will remain more mindful of. Both my friend and I have seen how small things that we do can add up and leave a big carbon footprint. It is important to be aware of your carbon footprint so that you can be more mindful of the everyday things that you do. Many steps that anyone can take to reduce their carbon footprint can involve small progressive actions like eating less meat or taking more environmentally-friendly flights. My takeaway from this action is that combating climate change does not mean an entire lifestyle change. Rather, it consists of being aware of your carbon footprint and taking any step possible to reduce it. 

  • Andrew Cao's avatar
    Andrew Cao 4/01/2022 8:58 PM
    Growing up in southern California, wildfires have always been a part of my life.  Recently, a wildfire was burning close to where I lived and many of my friends and families were directly affected by the fires. Personally, I vividly remember how the wildfires worsened the air quality because of the smoke associated with the fires. This made it particularly difficult for me to see and breathe properly and continued, long-term exposure can lead to even more serious issues. This event made me realize the damage that would occur if climate change continues to progress in this manner. Studies have found that climate change leads to an increase in wildfire season length, wildfire frequency, and burned area. I now worry about how wildfires can lead to a deterioration of air quality, and a loss of property, crops, resources, and people in the next couple of years. 

    Through this experience, I am more invested in contributing to the fight against the climate crisis so that the planet remains habitable for the rest of my life and for future generations. Although it is difficult to see how a single individual can influence such a global issue, there are many avenues someone can take to play their part in helping to resolve this crisis. I hope to be able to learn about more ways to be involved in mitigating climate change through this community.

    My "why" is that I want to see a world that is healthy and prosperous rather than suffering from the effects of climate change. Wildfires may be personal to me because I am from California, but there are also other large-scale issues such as sea level rises and flooding. These are all issues that are associated with climate change and if they are left unchecked can result in catastrophic effects across the entire world. 

    • Yvette Nouneh's avatar
      Yvette Nouneh 4/02/2022 12:42 PM
      I, too, grew up in Southern California and have been impacted by the wildfires that had started in my area. I also remember being directly impacted by them: I had gotten sick for over a month and was unable to attend school because of it. The fires had even gotten my family to put a couple of air purifiers around the house in order to ensure that we weren't constantly breathing in poisonous toxins that were flooding the air. 
      The affect on my health and the health of my family was what inspired me to join this challenge. Your post really resonated with me because often times I also see how it difficult to see how individual change contributes to overall change. I wanted to share that this mindset does not discourage me from contributing to the fight against climate change, but instead inspires me to do my part in enhancing our quality of air. By carpooling with others, using clean products, and altering our forms of energy use, we can help to create cleaner air.