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CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar

CHARLOTTE CHAN

Low Energy Enthusiasts

""You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs. Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back." -- Dr. Seuss, The Lorax"

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 651 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    1
    advocacy actions
    completed
  • up to
    1
    donations
    made
  • up to
    90
    minutes
    spent learning
  • up to
    185
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    30
    minutes
    spent outdoors
  • up to
    1
    people
    helped
  • up to
    8
    more servings
    of fruits and vegetables

CHARLOTTE's Actions

Electricity

Choose LED Bulbs

LED Lighting

I will replace 1 incandescent lightbulb(s) with Energy Star-certified LED bulbs, saving up to $14 per fixture per year.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Industry

Advocate For More Packaging Options

Multiple Industry Solutions

I will advocate for alternatives to single-use packaging at local grocery stores, markets, at work, or on campus.

Completed
One-Time Action

Action Track: Building Resilience

Learn More about Regenerative Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture, Regenerative Annual Cropping

I will spend at least 20 minutes learning about the need for more regenerative agriculture.

Completed
One-Time Action

Buildings

Learn about 'Green Gentrification'

Multiple Solutions

I will spend at least 10 minutes learning about green gentrification and how it relates to city planning for climate action.

Completed
One-Time Action

Industry

Research Cement Alternatives

Alternative Cement

I will spend at least 30 minutes researching cement alternatives that reduce the carbon footprint of concrete.

Completed
One-Time Action

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Smart Seafood Choices

Ocean Farming

I will visit seafoodwatch.org or download the app and commit to making better seafood choices for a healthier ocean.

Completed
One-Time Action

Land Sinks

Explore My Area

Sometimes protecting nature requires feeling connected to nature. I will invest 20 minutes in exploring and appreciating a natural area in my region, whether a forest, wetland, coastal area, or somewhere else.

Completed
One-Time Action

Transportation

Use Muscle Power

Multiple Transportation Solutions

I will cut my car trip mileage by only taking necessary trips, and I will only use muscle-powered transportation for all other trips.

COMPLETED 9
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

More Fruits And Veggies

I will eat a heart healthy diet by adding 1 cups of fruits and vegetables each day to achieve at least 4 cups per day.

COMPLETED 6
DAILY ACTIONS

Health and Education

Help Students Overcome Health Barriers

Health and Education

I will donate 1 Femme Kit(s) to help people who menstruate overcome health and sanitation barriers to being able to attend school.

Completed
One-Time Action

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

Eat Mindfully

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

COMPLETED 8
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed

  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Choose LED Bulbs
    Changing lightbulbs is an excellent first step toward energy efficiency! What's next for you?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/21/2021 5:23 PM
    LED lights are honestly such an amazing, ingenious invention. It gives me a lot of hope for future human innovation which can make large strides against the climate crisis.

    LED lights work by converting electrons into photons. It uses far less energy than incandescent bulbs because it converts energy into light (rather than heat) far more efficiently. LED bulbs also last way longer.

    The problem with LED lights for many people, is the upfront price. It requires an initial investment but will save the consumer a lot of money during its lifetime in terms of energy costs and replacement costs. I think an important next step for governing powers is to incentivize selecting more sustainable options through subsidies, for example. This will encourage sustainable innovation, and it will help consumers make better choices.

    The EcoChallenge Drawdown site predicts that LED lamps will completely replace other lighting options by 2050. "10.2-10.8 GIGATONS of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided in residences and 5.9-6.7 GIGATONS in commercial buildings." This is a huge reduction. It's an amazing benefit for such a small change to make.

    Furthermore, LED lights are not made up of toxic chemicals. For example, the fluorescent alternative contains many toxic chemicals including PCB and mercury. Fluorescent lighting therefore requires special disposal. LED lights can avoid these problems and lead to better human health and climate health.

    In my research, I discovered another interesting benefit to LED lights. Incandescent lights give off a warm-tone light, which gives off a lot of heat as well. This kind of lighting tends to make people feel cozy and tired. However! LED lights give off a cooler-tone light without the heat. People have found that using LED light has increased their productivity. Here's another reason for students to use LED lamps!
     
    After doing the research, I decided to replace my light bulbs with LED ones, and it was actually amazingly affordable. It was only $2.99 for three light bulbs, and each of them apparently lasts 27 years. It's crazy to think that a package of three lightbulbs might last longer than my lifetime...
    It's also amazingly cost-saving!

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 5/22/2021 4:14 PM
      Hi Charlotte! I really enjoyed reading your response about changing light bulbs. LED lights are a great way to help the environment, as they use much less energy converting energy into light efficiently, as you discussed. I do think people tend to be hesitant at times purchasing LED lights, but I think with some research about the benefits of LED lights and the reduction in energy and replacement costs, many people have switched to LED lights. I thought your idea about incentivizing sustainable options through subsidies is a good suggestion in order to encourage people to make better, more sustainable choices. I was very interested to read about how LED lights give off a cooler-tone light than incandescent lights, which give off a warm-tone. Increased productivity is a really encouraging benefit to use these lights, as it always seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, so if LED lights can help me be productive instead of making me tired, count me in!
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Use Muscle Power
    How do your transportation choices affect your engagement in your community? Does your experience or enjoyment differ while walking, riding transit, biking or driving?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/19/2021 12:20 PM
    Please see the post I made earlier on transportation. I'm not sure why that post wasn't posted as an answer to this question. 
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Advocate For More Packaging Options
    What concerns you the most about how we are affecting the planet? Consider both local and global actions.

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/19/2021 11:31 AM
    Recently, I ordered a bunch of menstrual pads for my club (we distribute them to students) from Amazon. I received 6 gigantic boxes, each with 3 smaller cardboard boxes within it. In each of the boxes, there was a long string of those plastic cushion airbags. I just thought it was so ridiculous that a package of pads needs THAT much protection. After I unpackaged everything, I found that everything I ordered fits into one big box.
    I was telling my friend and she had a similar story. She ordered a tiny piece of glass protector for her new watch. It arrived in a giant padded manila envelope with more plastic wrapped around it. We just laughed at how ridiculous it was. 


    • Lucinda Young's avatar
      Lucinda Young 5/20/2021 9:27 AM
      I've had similar experiences. This is yet another reason to buy locally instead of purchasing on line.  It really helps to contact customer service & let them know excess packaging (especially plastic & styrofoam which is unrecyclable) is an important concern  to you as an environmentally conscious consumer and that you'll avoid purchasing from them in future.

    • Amanda Adolfo's avatar
      Amanda Adolfo 5/19/2021 9:42 PM
      Charlotte, I can totally relate to the unnecessary additional packaging that comes with Amazon purchases. My roommates and I purchased a replacement filter for our Brita stream (it is slightly smaller than an empty toilet paper roll) and they sent it in a huge package that we thought they sent us a new Brita pitcher by accident. There was also a bunch of plastic pouches (even though the item is not fragile) like in your picture. I wonder why Amazon often does this. My prediction is maybe they ran out of boxes at the warehouse or maybe they just grabbed the bigger box because it was more convenient at the time-- I'm not really sure. 

      Anyways, I think it's great that your club distributes free pads to students! I feel like menstrual products in general should be free, especially for students since many of us don't make a lot of money since we're in school. I think it would reduce stress on students. Also, it would be great if the products were eco-friendly as it would reduce waste. This seems like a cool project that you are involved in.

    • Nora Clarkowski's avatar
      Nora Clarkowski 5/19/2021 6:57 PM
      Hi Charlotte!

      I can relate to this experience so much. Although this topic has never been at the top of my mind when opening packages, looking back I think about how much extra packaging and plastic comes with most of the products I purchase. An example of this recently was a pair of shoes I ordered. Not only did the shoes come in their own shoe box, they came inside another box as well, which was surrounded by bubble wrap, and then surrounded by another outside packaging box as well. All this for a pair of shoes I am going to walk around in and get dirty anyway! I am guilty of often purchasing from amazon (which I am trying to stop doing as much), and oftentimes when I purchase something tiny like toothpaste or face soap, it comes in such a large package which I never quite understand. I am not sure if it is just out of convenience for the company packaging, but I often wonder what thought, or if any other, really goes into a lot of packaging in terms of the size of the package and the level of extra support it needs depending on how fragile the purchase is. Curious to find the answer to my question, I did some research on the topic and found a lot of information. For example, in a 2018 article from SimpleMost tired "Why does Amazon Pack Small Items In Huge Boxes? This Question Plagues Its Customers," I was able to find a simple answer to my question. The article notes, "Simply put, Amazon’s software is “playing automated Tetris with the packages.” Since a computer program determines which size boxes to use to keep things packed snugly in the delivery truck, it will always err on the side of caution and choose a box that is plenty big enough for the product. Amazon claims this is ultimately better for ensuring products arrive without damage" (Statz). Here, we can see a perfect example of the ways that technology does not have the same consideration for logic and sustainability that humans do. While more convenient for Amazon, this technology leads to increased waste on an everyday basis. I found your research into European supermarkets intriguing and promising for the future. Small steps like these in small businesses can hopefully start a trend of less waste in the future, although it will take large cooperations much longer to catch on, we need to start somewhere. 

    • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
      CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/19/2021 11:50 AM
      Whoops, accidentally posted before I finished writing.

      In the The Guardian article, Mark Dancy, the CEO of WasteZero, calls this practice the "Russian doll," which is hilarious because it's so true. He suggests that one way to reduce plastic packaging is to use compostable packaging, which I agree with. But I hope that there are more imaginative ways to solve this wasteful problem.

      I think these are just some examples of how product packaging is super unsustainable. It's a challenge to change things because business decisions are often based on what consumers prefer. For example, sometimes consumers prefer single-serving, individually packaged food items which contribute to drastically more waste. Thus, I think it's important for the consumer to have sustainability in their minds when they make purchasing decisions. This delivers a message to companies because "packaging is the first thing consumers see, and it can heavily influence their buying decisions."

      When consumers demand it, businesses will follow through. This has proven true for some supermarkets in Europe who have been able to set up plastic-free zones within stores. Their baby step shows that this transition to no-plastic is completely feasible, and supermarkets will be motivated to follow through if they feel "the same pressure coming from consumers." To me, these examples show that we have to dream bigger when it comes to sustainability because what we might believe to be impossible, is actually very possible!

      Here's the "Russian doll" I received in the mail:


      I signed a petition to generate less waste: 


  • Reflection Question
    Buildings Learn about 'Green Gentrification'
    Cities and towns need to plan for climate change. How can your city or town make its climate action plans equitable and socially just?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/14/2021 12:46 AM
    What is green gentrification?
    Green gentrification refers to the justification of inequalities with an environmental ethic. Specifically, as the urban rich become more aware of climate change and environmental health, the property values of green spaces goes up. This process forces already disenfranchised residents into the most unhealthy, lowest value areas. This is one aspect of environmental injustice.

    Isabelle Anguelovski in the WIRED article wraps it up pretty nicely:
    "In order to construct a green, resilient park or shoreline, we get rid of lower-income housing... and behind it or next to it, you have higher-income housing being built."

    The problem with green gentrification is that no one is sure what to do. There are problems on all sides. On one hand, building new infrastructure, amenities, and developments will push out all the middle-class and low-income workers who can no longer afford to live in those areas. On the other hand, new infrastructure is needed for these areas. People need storm drains and defenses against climate change. If we expect people to act on climate awareness, they'll need bike lanes and green spaces.
     
    Anguelovski proposes that the solution is city regulations. This means disenfranchised people need political representation, and here we have yet another reason why it's important to vote and make our voices heard to support the most disenfranchised members of our community.

    Green gentrification is happening in Brooklyn, New Orleans, and even in Chile.
     
    I decided to look into our very own city: Los Angeles.

    There are many examples of green gentrification, which I never realized or noticed before.

    1) Private yoga lessons for wealthy white women are encouraged in parks, but Latinx park vendors are ticketed
    2) Public seating areas are made intentionally to be very uncomfortable so that homeless people are unable to sleep there. I guess that's our bandaid solution to homelessness?
    3) Newly developed areas with wealthy residents often have renovated parks with limited access to the rest of the community

    In my experience, regardless of whether it is considered "green gentrification," in my years in LA,  I've just noticed a lot of inequality. I remember going to The Last Bookstore (not sure what the area is called). While there's these really nice looking luxury apartment buildings, there's just so much homelessness at the same time. And I remember passing this "public park" area. It wasn't much of a park. Just a couple patches of green. But it was completely fenced off.

    A more recent relevant concern is the Los Angeles River. A couple of years ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers committed to making the river greener, more natural, more welcoming, and just, more like a river. Many are now concerned about whether the surrounding areas will become gentrified as a consequence. There's fears that the LA River will become like Central Park, a little green haven for the wealthiest of New York.

    How can we advocate for a greener, more just tomorrow?

    Read more about LA River here:
     https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-20/reviving-the-l-a-river-without-green-gentrification

    • Katherine Jordak's avatar
      Katherine Jordak 5/14/2021 4:46 PM
      Hi Charlotte. Thank you for your very informative post about green gentrification. I never really knew anything about it. I too do not have an answer for how to solve this issue. However, I do find it very disheartening that we cannot make it more affordable to live in a greener area with newer infrastructure. I wonder if it would be possible to make these areas more sustainable and then mandate that people with more than a certain income each year cannot live in the area? I'm not an econ major, so I am sure there are all kinds of issues with this idea that I am not even aware of. It could also just be commonplace that all areas should have a certain amount of parks, and the parks should truly be open to everyone. 

      I have known that lots of parks will put in benches with dividers to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them. It seems cruel, and it is definitely not the solution to reducing homelessness. 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Learn More about Regenerative Agriculture
    Clean air, clean water and healthy food are just three reasons to care about regenerative agriculture. What are some other reasons? How could/does regenerative agriculture positively impact you and your community?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/13/2021 10:07 PM
    What is regenerative cropping?
    Regenerative cropping is agriculture with the goal of making soil healthy again. The idea is that healthy soil is productive soil.

    Modern industrial agriculture has a lot of problems. It causes large tracks of land to become arid and inhospitable to agriculture. It causes loss of diversity and habitats for other plants and animals. It wrecks the earth, but it also wrecks human health. The herbicide glyphosate kills the gut microbiome and inhibits our immune function (I wonder if COVID is related in anyway?) Furthermore, I found it particularly interesting how Charles Massy, in his TedTalk, explained how unhealthy soil void of microorganisms and unhealthy plants with "drug addictions" to industrialized fertilizers have been correlated with poor human health.

    Many of us, including myself, have misconceptions that supporting the world population REQUIRES farmers to utilize harmful practices like chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. New evidence tends to go against this.

    When farmers use alternative methods like crop diversification, crop rotating, and in-farm nutrients (allowing cow poop to become fertilizer), they're able to create healthier soil that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and supports productive growth.

    Jacob Shea writes in Solutions U, that these practices are really effective in counteracting destructive practices and "regenerating" soil and land. But an important question for a lot of farmers is whether the methods can prove "scaleable and profitable."

    I think that's a really important point because we can't expect OTHER people to make changes in their work at the expense of their own livelihoods. It would be unfair to expect farmers to switch to regenerative agriculture if they lose their profits. I believe that agriculture should be regulated, to support farmers using healthy practices (eg. subsidies). Additionally, consumers can purchase from regenerative farms to reward farmers and incentivize regenerative agriculture (similar to how a seafood consumer should purchase fish that is sustainably farmed/caught).

    Here's an interesting regenerative farm I found near LA:
    Radical Family Farm: they specialize in Asian heritage veggies, which is really cool!
    Also for milk drinkers: Alexandre Family Farm produces regenerative organic dairy. I feel like out of all the farms I searched, this one was somewhat recognizable in mainstream supermarkets (eg. Whole Foods).
  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Smart Seafood Choices
    Many states and countries have advisories on eating fish. Find out what is advised for your region. Do you think your diet choices fall within these guidelines? What steps do you need to take to make sure that they do?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/09/2021 7:22 PM
    Steamed fish was a staple in my childhood diet. My dad would always tell me to eat more fish when I was young. He said it was because there would be no more fish left when I'm old. I didn't take him very seriously back then. I thought he was just trying to get me to finish my food.

    But, there are serious things to consider when it comes to seafood. There's no denying that seafood is an important part of our diet and our world economy-- it feeds 3 billion people and employs 60 million at the cost of 171 MILLION TONS of fish every year. These numbers continue to  increase as our population grows.

    But there are many problems as well. Overfishing threatens fish populations, fish farming can throw off the delicate balance of the ecosystem, and fishing practices exploit many of the workers employed in this industry. The changing climate has also exacerbated all of these problems causing infestations of bacteria and parasites that threaten fish. For example, the salmon industry was greatly impacted by sea lice infestation just last year.

    Seafood Watch recommends that we shop for seafood sustainably. This way we are rewarding farmers and fishermen who are using sustainable practices. For fisherman, this means that they avoid catching unwanted species (eg. trawling), and avoid destroying natural habitats. For farmers, this means that they try to conserve water and prevent infection from spreading. As consumers, we must be aware. When we, as consumers and businesses, "demand sustainable seafood, it is profitable for the fisherman and farmers that produce seafood in environmentally and socially responsible ways." 

    In my research, I decided to focus in on one of my favorite dishes: sushi. 
    We should select fish that is caught and farmed sustainably. Some of these fish include:
    - (California) Squid
    - Salmon roe
    - (New Zealand) Salmon
    - (Mexico and US) Yellowtail
    - (pole and line) Albacore tuna
    We should avoid fish that is overcaught or produced in harmful manners:
    - Atlantic salmon
    - Eel 
    - Sea urchin
    - (imported) shrimp, tuna, tilapia

    I was surprised to find eel on the "Avoid list," because it is a personal favorite. I found that eels are actually endangered in many parts of East Asia. Wild eel are caught and farmed, which leads to discharge of chemicals and disease back to the wild population, which further damage the natural habitat of eels. A good alternative to Asian eel is American eel which is farmed more responsibly. 

    The second thing I noticed is that eating seafood sustainably is NOT EASY. The country of origin matters. It also matters whether the fish is farmed or caught. There are a lot of things we need to consider as consumers. Therefore, I personally will choose to minimize seafood consumption as a general rule until seafood is more sustainably regulated and labeled in restaurants and supermarkets. 

    • Alice Ma's avatar
      Alice Ma 6/02/2021 12:15 AM
      Hi Charlotte! Loved reading your post and all the information you found about eating sustainably, especially when it comes to sushi since that is a personal favorite of mine. Also, I found your story with your dad so endearing because my dad used to tell me to eat more fish because he said it would make me live longer and be smarter. 

      Seafood is not a huge staple in my diet, it’s mostly just an add-on or an occasional purchase from the grocery store so it really blew my mind when I found out that over 3 billion people rely on seafood as their main source of protein and consume seafood as a primary staple in their diets. It’s not only a huge environmental issue to ensure that seafood is caught and farmed sustainably, but also a human rights issue to ensure that the people who depend on seafood can have constant access to high-quality seafood. As climate change progresses, I think one of the biggest vulnerabilities in our environment is the ocean and marine life because of how drastic small changes in climate and temperature can be when magnified across the ocean and across marine ecosystems. I think it’s also really encouraging to know that by supporting sustainable fishing practices and using our consumer buying power to purchase from these sustainable businesses we can actively contribute to the solution. Sometimes as consumers and as individuals, it can feel very overwhelming and daunting to know that our actions can have such drastic consequences for the environment and our present and futures but knowing that our actions can also have such amazingly positive impacts is definitely a very comforting thought that I find myself clinging to. 

      Your analysis of sushi was great to read and definitely something I will be sure to keep in mind the next time I have sushi. However, just as you said, it can be so hard to make sure that the seafood we are eating and buying is sourced sustainably. I’m lucky enough to be able to cut seafood from my diet but for people who rely heavily on it, it can definitely be very difficult to balance making the sustainable choice and making the easy, convenient choice. 

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 5/11/2021 5:29 PM
      Hi Charlotte! I thought your response was very interesting to read and learn about the impacts of eating fish and the advisories that many states and countries have on eating fish. As someone who does not eat seafood, I never have really thought about such advisories and recommendations in regards to seafood, but just because something does not personally affect my personal daily life, it does not mean I should not be educated on it and concerned about its impact. Although the demand for fish continues to increase to feed populations, overfishing actually negatively impacts the fish populations and is not only going to throw off the balance of the ecosystem, but inhibit fishing practices in the future. I think it is really important as a consumer to be aware of the food and products you are purchasing, and throughout the past few weeks, I have been trying to be more aware of the products I am buying. I really liked how you focused on the fish that are caught and farmed sustainably, emphasizing in comparison which fish are overcaught. It will also require sellers to offer a greater variety of sustainable options.

    • Lucinda Young's avatar
      Lucinda Young 5/10/2021 9:20 PM
      Yes it can be really hard to get the info needed to make sure you're only buying sustainable fish, & I think it's sensible to minimize the amount of seafood consumption for that reason.   I feel fortunate because there is a fish retailer near my home (Monterey fish market in Berkeley) which only sells sustainably raised fish & that is the only place I will buy fish. We need more vendors that commit to good sourcing of their food products.
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Research Cement Alternatives
    Concrete is a good example of a material that most of us encounter every day, but its carbon footprint may not be obvious. What other everyday materials might have a large carbon footprint? How can you find out more?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 4/26/2021 11:39 PM
    I chose this challenge because I was totally unaware of the carbon footprint of concrete.

    It's one of those strange things that are so ubiquitous in everyday life that nobody ever really thinks about it. I've grown so adapted that I cannot imagine a world without concrete smoothing out roads and sidewalks, making the windy highways of Los Angeles possible.

    Little did I know that this important asset of modern life is a major "source of emissions, generating 5 to 6 percent annually." The carbon emission comes from the energy that needs to be burned in the production process and from the limestone reaction itself.

    The concrete problem of emission is a little challenging. It is such an important part of infrastructure that we can't simply stop using concrete. It is a problem that demands creative solutions.

    One solution was to use fly ash alternative rather than limestone. Fly ash is produced as a byproduct of burning coal. When used in concrete, it can create equally strong concrete at low cost, and relatively lower carbon footprint. It is also a good use for fly ash which would otherwise end up in landfill. We should prioritize this kind of innovation to address the needs of society while considering sustainability.

    Another solution is photocatalytic cement. This is the cement that can catalyze a reaction with pollutants and turn them into harmless molecules which are subsequently washed away by rain. Although this is very innovative and promising, I have my doubts about this kind of technology. This kind of technology does not address the real problems. I think it is far more efficient to consider ways to reduce toxic emissions in the first place, rather than do "damage control" after the harm has been done. Thoughts? 


    Once you notice, you can't unnotice: concrete is everywhere! Researching concrete reminds me that my life has a lasting imprint on the world around me. This means that I need to be more cognizant of the different choices I must make to reduce negative contributions.

    • Kennedi Randolph's avatar
      Kennedi Randolph 5/12/2021 12:07 AM
      Charlotte, this challenge really caught my attention because it is one of those things that I had absolutely no idea was a contributor to climate change. It’s really crazy to think about how many aspects of our daily life contribute to climate change. As I was calculating my carbon footprint and helping my friend calculate hers, I started to realize the amount of things that I do on a daily basis that contribute to our climate crisis. Looking at the issue of cement in concrete, I think this is a really unique and interesting problem in regards to the factors that contribute to our climate crisis because it is an issue that most individuals are not directly contributing to. Unlike most other factors that contribute to climate change, such as driving, eating meat, or using loads of plastic, this is a problem that can’t be solved with a simple change in daily habits. An issue like this is one that starts at the root with those who control what types of materials go into making concrete in the first place. Knowing this, to try to solve things after there’s already so much concrete everywhere seems kind of backwards and, as you mentioned, it is more like damage control. I think it’s great that you were able to learn more about the various alternatives there are to cement, which goes to show that we do have solutions. However, in order for these solutions to be implemented, we should be urging those in power to make a switch to these more sustainable alternatives. Solutions like this can seem very out of reach, but, as with other issues there are ways for people to still make a direct influence on this issue. For example, calling or emailing elected officials such as council members who play a big role in what materials go into infrastructure in our communities could be a possible start. I also believe that even doing what you did, and researching things to gain more knowledge is a big part of the solution as well. When many people are on board with it, education can be a very powerful tool when it comes to solving issues pertaining to the climate crisis we are facing. 

    • Katherine Jordak's avatar
      Katherine Jordak 4/27/2021 9:41 AM
      Hi Charlotte. Add concrete to the list of things I depend on every single day that is contributing to carbon emissions!! I never knew that concrete was such a large source of emissions. While I am unaware of the types of concrete alternatives that we could be using, I feel like angle to promoting more green spaces and dirt paths in our neighborhoods. There are so many giant concrete plazas on UCLA's campus that could make for beautiful green fields to sit around or play spikeball on! I really appreciate the dirt path that goes around part of UCLA for walking and running because it is softer than the concrete sidewalks that usually line the roads. However, I also think it is important that if we did push for fewer concrete sidewalks, whatever material takes its place needs to be in a condition that is accessible to all people. I know that the paths around UCLA are super bumpy and have piles of leaves on them. I am sure that trying to go down that path in a wheelchair is difficult. 

      I'm curious to see what types of materials we are able to make that can be more sustainable. The photocatalytic cement sounds like a super interesting idea. I am curious to know if there is anything else we can do other than spread the word about the carbon emissions of cement. 
  • Reflection Question
    Land Sinks Explore My Area
    How can spending more time outdoors enhance your sense of place -- your deep knowledge of and appreciation for your surroundings?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 4/21/2021 4:57 PM
    I've lived in Alameda my whole life. It's a small suburban area with a beautiful shoreline right across the bay from San Francisco. Having lived there my whole life, I always kind of took the coastal shoreline for granted. I remember as a kid, I would complain about the terrible smell of rotting seaweed when driving past the beach.

    It wasn't until I accidentally ended up taking marine biology (in high school), that I began to appreciate the ecosystem for what it was. We would trudge out to the shoreline behind our school, binoculars around our necks, just admiring the diverse life in the sand and on the rocks. It was also that class that made me fall in love with biology, ultimately leading me to major in biology. I still remember looking at seawater under the microscope for the first time, and being so taken aback by the intricacies of the all the microbes.
     (Check out this really cool article I found about the animals that live there! :
    https://alamedapointenviro.com/2016/07/14/marine-ecosystem-thrives-at-alameda-point/)

    Now, it's come to my attention that these ecosystems are being severely threatened by climate change. This is important not only because we're losing something so beautiful, but also because these ecosystems "sequester huge amounts of carbon in plants aboveground and in roots and soils below." If we lose coastal life, we lose the first line of defense we have against major carbon emissions. We will also lose components of marine life that keep the delicate balance of our ecosystems. And before we know it, we'll find ourselves in a positive feedback loop leading straight to climate crisis.

    I think everyone should go out and check out the nature around them so we can all wake up and realize what we're losing as we lose to climate change.

    • Kennedi Randolph's avatar
      Kennedi Randolph 5/11/2021 11:23 PM
      Hi Charlotte! I also did this eco challenge of exploring my area and I decided to take a walk through the botanical gardens. I think it’s really cool and quite ironic that your high school biology class inspired you to major in biology. I had a similar experience with a lower division biology class I took my freshman year here, which was when I first walked through the botanical gardens. Similar to you, experiencing the beauty of that nature made me really appreciate the ecosystem and want to learn more about the environment in general. I truly think taking the time to explore nature makes you appreciate it so much more and it really drives you to want to take care of it, especially with things like climate change destroying ecosystems.

      Though I am not aware if climate change is directly affecting the botanical gardens here at UCLA. However, I definitely noticed a difference in the way that the garden looked as well as the amount of species that are present now compared to 2 years ago when I first walked through the garden. The waters were a lot less clear, certain sections of specific plants were no longer there, and there were less fish in the ponds. Seeing things like this, like you mentioned, is really an eye opener to the nature that we are losing and also how fast we are losing it. I also thought it was interesting that you mentioned that ecosystems sequester huge amounts of carbon because that just goes to show the critical role that nature plays in preventing CO2 levels from rising, yet we are still destroying it. One of the main reasons that most people fail to take action when it comes to preserving nature is that they are not connected to nature so they are unable to see the true value of nature or have any desire to take care of it. Although, when people do see the beauty of nature they tend to think that everything is fine because this one area looks pretty. Because of this I think that it’s important for everyone to explore the good and bad parts of nature so that there’s this double perspective of what we’re potentially losing and  how things might look if we do lose it. 


    • HARRISON CHU's avatar
      HARRISON CHU 4/21/2021 11:29 PM
      Hi Charlotte, I am also from Alameda and I totally understand what you mean about the coastal shoreline. Whenever I am home, I try to take my family on a few bike rides down the shoreline to exercise and enjoy the natural environment. It definitely helps me to remember how small I am in this huge environment and that my own actions directly affect it. Lately, I have made it a point to go on walks/runs almost everyday of the week to better my physical and mental health. I hope to continue this habit when I am at home so that I can also enjoy the natural habitat. In LA, I try to visit the beaches every so often to remind myself of the important of conserving and appreciating the environment around me. I definitely recommend taking a trip out the beach at least once a month, it is totally worth it!

  • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 4/11/2021 9:11 PM
    I will cut my car trip mileage by only taking necessary trips, and I will only use muscle-powered transportation for all other trips.

    If I don't drive to and from work, my daily commute will be a little short of 1 hour of walking.

    This means I will successfully hit the thirty minutes required to "reduce your risk of heart disease by 35 per cent." That sounds pretty good to me. My uncle had a lot of complications from heart disease and got a heart attack when he was only 39. He would always tell me to do destress and do more exercise so I don't end up like him.

    To honor him and to do some good for the environment, I decided to walk to work this past week. I don't think my calves will ever get used to how slope-y UCLA is! It was definitely quite the cardio workout to walk briskly for 25 minutes straight (and I definitely had to make sure to leave my apartment on time). But! I still found it quite enjoyable, actually. I put in my earphones and put on my favorite podcast. It was an opportunity for mindfulness. In the mornings, I was able to have a moment of quiet, and on my way home, I was able to reflect on my day and think of things I was thankful for.


    I also found Westwood to be quite walkable, managing to make some errands at Target and Trader Joe's on foot after work on some days. The Walkscore for this zip code is a 76, which is a score I will never be happy with on an exam, BUT it's still considered very walkable by Walkscore standards.  There are also some nice flowers to appreciate on the way to and from home, which is nice. If anyone has ever seen the anime The Promised Neverland , you'll understand why I thought this flower was particularly interesting! 

    • Melodie Oh's avatar
      Melodie Oh 4/11/2021 11:06 PM
      Hey Charlotte, 

      I'm super glad that you found it quite enjoyable walking to your work! I realized that there are always a lot more benefits to these Ecochallenges than simply the conservation factor. I used to live about 30 minutes-walk away from UCLA, and I would always take the Bruinbus to class. I realized how unhealthy I was getting without much cardio and started walking to class as well. At first it was really hard for me and when I arrived to my class I would always be panting and sweating so much. It just made me realize how unhealthy I was :/ As time passed, I actually started enjoying my walk too! It was a great opportunity for me to reflect on my day, or if I was walking with my friends it was a great opportunity to chat and keep up with their lives. 

      I'm back in Korea right now and the public transportation system is really well established here. It seems harder for me to walk around here because the system literally takes me everywhere, but I feel like I should start walking again and even further try to conserve energy! 
  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use More Fruits And Veggies
    How does eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat positively affect yourself, other people, and our planet?

    CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
    CHARLOTTE CHAN 4/08/2021 6:10 PM
    "Plant-based options must be available, visible, and enticing..."
     
    Today, I'm doing a meatless Monday (but on a Thursday). I think a big part of eating a diet with more fruits and veggies, is knowing how to make them taste great!
     
    I was honestly not very good at eating my daily vegetables, but discovering new recipes helped so much. Now, it's pretty much effortless. I used to only eat broccoli raw or boiled with salt-- not super enticing. But roasted broccoli totally elevates the whole experience, it almost tastes like it should be a guilty snack.
     
    Here's how to make it:
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
    2. Cut broccoli into small pieces and toss it in oil
    3. Add seasoning of your choice! I like adding Trader Joe's premixed seasonings (the citrusy garlic one is great), then toss it around
    4. Put the broccoli on a baking sheet
    5. Toss it in the oven for 7 minutes, take it out to flip the broccoli around, then back into the oven for 7 more minutes
    Voila!
    Good stuff.

    Eating lots of vegetables feels way better than eating a lot of heavy carbs and meat. It also makes me feel way more energized and "light" throughout the day, something that I did not expect because everyone keeps telling me that eating meat is necessary for a balanced diet. I don't know if I believe that so much now..
    Not to mention, it feels great that I'm not supporting the gassy cattle industry today!



    • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
      CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/08/2021 11:50 PM
      Wanted to add:
      Yesterday, I went shopping at Ralph's and realized they sell broccoli crowns. With no plastic bag! Not to mention, the produce seems fresher too.
      I had always shopped at Trader Joe's where all the broccoli is packaged up in a bunch of plastic. It's convenient, I guess? But we should avoid using plastic where we can. 
      From now on, I'm going to purchase from Ralph's instead.


    • Nora Clarkowski's avatar
      Nora Clarkowski 4/11/2021 1:46 PM
      Hi Charlotte! Thank you for the recipe, I am defiantly going to try it out! Although I personally love vegetables cooked or not, I know people who from a young age never enjoyed vegetables because they simply thought of them as bland. This recipe and picture is a perfect example of how vegetables don't need to taste just "fine," they can be delicious! In recent years I have become inspired to cook veggies more often. Although they are delicious in any form in my opinion, having them cooked makes them feel like more of a meal rather than a snack, making consuming them at dinner or lunch more enjoyable. One reason that I personally have felt more inspired to make my vegetables taste better is through food bloggers on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Although I don't see a whole lot of positive coming out of social media usage, the increasing number of health recipes I see on the daily has been inspiring. Not only do I have fun making vegetables taste great through trying out different seasonings and cooking forms, I also completely agree that eating higher quantities vegetables doesn't give the same "weighted down" feeling that I feel when consuming high fat and protein foods.

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 4/10/2021 1:50 PM
      Hi Charlotte! That broccoli looks delicious! I thought your response was super interesting because like you, I used to pretty much only eat broccoli raw or boiled with some pepper. However, in the past few years, I have become much better about making veggies a lot more fun to eat, and now I absolutely love cooking veggies. About four or five years ago, I decided to go vegetarian for a year, just because I wanted to see if I was capable of doing so. It was surprisingly easy, and although I am no longer a vegetarian, I do not eat meat very often. I am a big fan of tofu and veggies or a black bean burger, and the more research I do, the more I realize if I enjoy eating veggies more than meat, it helps myself and the planet. My apartment recently got an air fryer, and it is now one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I toss every type of veggie with some tofu into the air fryer (the magic number is 8 minutes at 375 degrees), and dinner is ready! I agree that I also feel more energized when I don’t eat such heavy foods, which is another reason to eat more veggies and less meat for me personally. I often consider going back to being a vegetarian, not only to not support the gassy cattle industry, but also because it is a change that would not be difficult for me to make that can reduce my carbon footprint while making me feel better in my everyday life.

    • Alejandro Morales's avatar
      Alejandro Morales 4/08/2021 6:55 PM
      Love your comment about not supporting the gassy cow industry! I'd like to say that the broccoli looks very good! Thank's for providing the recipe because I might actually try it for myself tonight! I need to get on the vegetables because I've been so used to eating refined carbs as a side, which are not good for you for obvious reasons. I have eaten meat all my life and have said that "It's not a meal without meat", but I feel like this attitude should change now. Instead of getting my protein from cows, I will try to get it now from legumes like beans and lentils, which offer much more nutrients and definitely do not clog up your arteries. 

      Bon appetit!