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Suraj Doshi's avatar

Suraj Doshi

Low Energy Enthusiasts

"Still learning about how to reduce my carbon footprint and hoping to educate myself on climate change as a whole. "

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 391 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    1
    donations
    made
  • up to
    85
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    5
    conversations
    with people
  • up to
    60
    minutes
    spent learning
  • up to
    6
    meatless or vegan meals
    consumed

Suraj's Actions

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Learn about Biochar

Biochar Production

I will spend 60 minute(s) learning about biochar and how it can help sequester carbon.

Uncompleted
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 0
DAILY ACTIONS

Action Track: Building Resilience

Forest-Friendly Foods 2

Tropical Forest Restoration

I will replace or remove the palm oil, coffee, and cocoa products in my current diet that are known to contribute to deforestation.

COMPLETED 0
DAILY ACTIONS

Health and Education

Fund Family Planning

Health and Education

I will donate to supply a community with reproductive health supplies.

Completed
One-Time Action

Industry

Share Bioplastic Disposal Tips

Bioplastics

I will spend at least 60 minutes researching how to properly dispose of bioplastics in my city and share this information with 10 friends, family and/or colleagues.

Completed
One-Time Action

Transportation

Go for a Daily Walk

Walkable Cities

I will take a walk for 20 minutes each day and take note of the infrastructure that makes walking more or less enjoyable, accessible, and possible.

COMPLETED 2
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Reduce Animal Products

Plant-Rich Diets

I will enjoy 3 meatless or vegan meal(s) each day of the challenge.

COMPLETED 2
DAILY ACTIONS

Electricity

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
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Learn about Biochar
    Can biochar provide additional benefits besides sequestering carbon?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/31/2021 11:57 AM
    When reading about biochar, I was bewildered at how our ancestors figured this out long before digital technology was even a thing and reaped its benefits. The benefits of biochar are obvious and simply reading from the Drawdown solutions page, I thought there would be more implementation world-wide. I think everybody loves to get more than they asked for, especially in terms of energy production which is why seeing that the baking of biomass would create fuels and biochar is quite a bang for your buck. Beyond just seeing the tangible effects of using biochar, there are also the benefits that impact the world. “Theoretically, experts argue, biochar could sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year.” As we are in the midst of the environmental crisis, we need to reduce global carbon emissions drastically and burning biomass to create biochar is a very viable solution. 

    The ease in which it could be done is also a key component of why it would work for our society. If it could be done 2,000 years ago with little technology, it could certainly be done today. Biochar production, as stated by the Regeneration International article, “is a carbon negative process, which means that it actually reduces CO2 in the atmosphere”. As a society, we can use the old ways to solve modern day problems without any trouble. Further, I think if communities had biomass burning centers, individuals could take their materials to be burned and would reduce their waste at home while also contributing to carbon sequestration. The benefits would be plentiful as landfills would be less populated leading to less air and water pollution and instead, more rich soil would be put back into the environment. I also liked how the Regeneration International article mentioned that there would be a reduced need for chemical fertilizers as biochar is very nutrient rich. This would lead to less toxins being present in the Earth which would lead to less possible contaminants and diseases as a result. Furthermore, it would also allow for more plant growth which would consume more CO2 which would remove it from the air, reducing the overall carbon footprint. 
  • 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?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/31/2021 10:34 AM
    Before starting this challenge at the beginning of the quarter, my meals would mainly entail me either working at my desk and watching TV or doing some reading for class or scrolling on my phone. With this challenge I was able to disconnect and relax for a bit. I found that leaving my phone in my room and going out in my patio to eat was very nice and allowed me to forget my worries for the time being and helped me gather my thoughts. It was a serene practice to say the least. I was also having more meaningful conversations with my family members who saw that I had put down distractions while eating and would talk with me about the day or would just sit with me and take in the fresh air outside. 

    I also felt stress go down a bit as I was not always consciously thinking about the work I had to do. When I had my phone, or computer in front of me, I was always reminded of the things that needed to be done which would cause anxiety. With the distractions out of the way, I could think about other things and take my mind off work which made me happy. It also helped reduce my screen time which led to less headaches throughout the day. Now that we are online due to the pandemic, I am constantly staring at a screen and getting away from this at meal times was very helpful. There was also some shift in my productivity I see as after I would eat, I would go straight back to work as I knew what I had to get done. It was nice to see this schedule take form and allowed for me to really shift my lifestyle around when practicing mindfulness. I have also tried showing the rest of my family members the benefits of eating without distractions and they are slowly coming to the same conclusions that I am and seeing that it really is worth it to eat peacefully without any technology that could get in the way. 

    • Hector Acosta's avatar
      Hector Acosta 6/02/2021 10:19 PM
      Hi Suraj,
      Much like you I also spend most of my meals eating with some sort of distraction such as scrolling through twitter, watching youtube videos, replying to messages, replying to emails, or doing work for class. I know how stressful life can be and how fast things move so hearing from you that eating disconnected from technology helped you destress. I always thought doing work while eating and not losing any time would help me destress from my life, but you might be right that it is adding more stress to my life. I will definitely need to try eating being disconnected from the environment. Something that I really enjoyed from your post is the fact that you discuss that you have been able to have more meaningful conversations with your family because you're not as distracted on your technology. It definitely makes me upset when I am eating dinner and I am not able to have meaningful conversations with my family because we are all so distracted with our phones or computers. I miss when we all didn't have phones and we were just able to enjoy each other's company. My mom and dad always have their tablet on and they listen to daily preachings and my younger sister always has her airpods in so at times it feels impossible to speak to them. I will definitely need to tell my parents and sister that we will need to stop being on our phones so much, so we could better enjoy each others company. One thing I will also try to implement in my life is to try and enjoy meals outside. My family and I have a porch on our second floor and there is a great relaxing view back there and I think eating out there will give me a great sense of relaxation and relieve some of my daily stresses. Being able to go forward with this practice and to continue practicing mindfulness I feel will do wonders for myself when it comes to my stress, as things will only end up getting more stressful.
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Forest-Friendly Foods 2
    How difficult or easy was it to change your diet?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/28/2021 11:32 PM
    I am not a huge fan of coffee and do not have a huge amount of chocolate in my life, so my biggest area to improve upon was to reduce my palm oil consumption. After looking through the links Project Drawdown provided, I found myself looking at a five page document that outlined what palm oils could be named, what they are typically in, and what other foods I could substitute in my diet for these. I was bewildered by the fact that palm oils could be named around thirty different ways and could potentially be or contain it. After going through that list, I was amazed by the amount of other things that contain palm oils. I knew for sure some of the products I had at home whether it be toothpaste, Kraft products, or Heinz products contained these oils and I knew I had to start shopping for other brands and alternative products that didn’t contain palm oils. When I looked at some of the alternatives I saw that Johnson and Johnson were doing very well and shifted many of their products to not use Palm Oils. I have begun looking for bath accessories for them and do a sanity check by checking the back for ingredients. I think this is a decent first step for me to help reduce my Palm Oil consumption. 
    One of the products I have bought now include crackers by Dare, which do not contain any sort of palm oils and instead use canola and coconut oil. They taste great with soups and cheese and are healthy at the same time. I found in doing this, that it will take a bit of time for my diet to try to get rid of most of the sources of palm oil, but I could eventually do it. I think my biggest hurdle is going to be consciously looking at the ingredients of the products I buy and not just neglecting it and saying that it would be a ‘one-time-purchase’. I have also bought a lot of the products within the ‘sustainable’ palm oil section which is a slow shift in my diet and not too hard, however, things that are not in the list such as some desserts I like are things I just have to cut back on. 

    • Abigail Urbina's avatar
      Abigail Urbina 5/31/2021 3:17 PM
      Hi Suraj,

      Thank you for sharing this extremely informative post. Prior to reading this, I did not know much about palm oils, and I did not think that consuming palm oils would have much of an impact on our environment. Like Katherine responded, I also inferred from your post that palm oil consumption harmed the environment somehow, but I wanted to know a bit more on that topic. After doing a bit more research, I learned from Joe Fassler of Smithsonian Magazine that “[t]he $40 billion palm oil industry is notorious for wiping out rainforests, displacing indigenous peoples, [and] spewing carbon into the atmosphere.” This is obviously an issue that is very heavily overlooked, and because palm oil is a common ingredient found in many household items/groceries, supporting the palm oil industry will continue to create damage to our environment. 

      Quite frankly, I am not someone who generally checks the ingredient list of an item at the grocery store unless it is a product I suspect I might be allergic to. When you brought up that palm oils are found in many toothpastes as well, I was slightly shocked. My mother is a dentist, and she is very particular about the toothpastes we use at home because she claims that some toothpaste ingredients are more effective than others. As such, she will only purchase toothpastes if they have the particular ingredients she is looking for. I doubt that she ever checks to see whether there is palm oil in the toothpastes. I never have in the past! I will definitely raise this issue to her so that she can shop for more sustainable toothpastes. You mentioned that palm oils could be named in many different ways, and that worries me because it will be much more difficult to keep track of whether they are present in certain ingredient lists. I typically use either Sensodyne, Crest, or Colgate toothpastes, but I will look into some alternative toothpaste brands and ask my mother whether she thinks these are good alternatives that are just as healthy for our teeth and gums!

      Whenever I need oil to cook something, I typically use canola oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. I hope that these are more sustainable alternatives to palm oil, but I will definitely continue to do more research on this. I applaud you for doing your research and changing the way in which you shop for certain items at the grocery store. After reading your post, I now want to try to cut out palm oils in my diet as much as I can. By putting more effort into selecting sustinable ingredients, I think this will also help me to eat more mindfully and produce less food waste.

      Source:

    • Katherine Jordak's avatar
      Katherine Jordak 5/29/2021 1:40 PM
      Hi Suraj! Thank you for your post. I can infer from what you said that palm oil is bad for the environment, but I would love to hear about why it is so damaging. I have never actually heard about avoiding palm oil in products before. 

      What you said about palm oil having so many different names in the foods we eat and products we use is worrisome,  but it is honestly not that surprising. I think when it comes to food, I have a hard time trusting the companies that produce it. There are so many labels on packaged goods in the grocery store, and I have learned that a lot of them are not credible. There is nothing keeping a company from saying that their food is organic even if it is not. It should also be concerning to us if we looks on package labels and don't know half the ingredients listed. 
  • Reflection Question
    Health and Education Fund Family Planning
    When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting the expressed needs of women, it results in empowerment, equality, and well-being, and the benefits to the planet are side effects. Why is family planning an important civil rights consideration?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/26/2021 12:19 PM
    I think that family planning has a number of vital benefits to the environment and our global society. As the Project Drawdown solutions mentioned, “It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth.” Beyond the obvious benefit to the women of our society by providing the necessary means of contraception as well as the ability to choose how they want to live their lives, the effect this would have on the environment is staggering and something that should have been done and started quite a while ago. Having the access to contraception would stunt the growth of our population and thus curb carbon emissions. Further, as the Drawdown solutions said, having contraceptive methods would allow for mortality rates to fall as women would be able to more aptly predict if they are pregnant and/or could prevent pregnancies if necessary. It really all boils down to education. As many of the sources state, the more educated the women, the less children they will have and further, the better off the child will be with that mother. This is not to say that all mothers with unplanned pregnancies do not know how to raise children, it is to say that preplanned pregnancies come with additional help in the form of looking at maternal leave and finding the necessary equipment to help the infant thrive. 
     
    I liked seeing the change being implemented in places like Costa Rica where poverty is a norm. The organization Cepia was making great headway in distributing contraceptives so that unplanned pregnancies would occur less often. With this, the quality of life for everybody would improve and thus, more impactful change could be shifted towards the environment specifically. Further, educating the women about IUDs and showing them that it would not cause them problems is a good first step in educating women about their health. I liked Friend’s of UNFPA mission and hope that my contribution would make a difference, even if it is small. I think helping organizations like these and taking part of fundraising campaigns like this would really help family planning and women’s health.
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Go for a Daily Walk
    What have you noticed on your daily walks? What have you enjoyed? What infrastructure changes could make your walks more enjoyable or possible?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/25/2021 12:48 AM
    My community is sparse with sidewalks and walking paths. I enjoyed actually leaving the house for once and disconnecting from my responsibilities that never seem to end. For the twenty minutes that I do go on walks, I forget what all I have to do and just take in the scenery of the mountains and passing cars. Taking in what the community has to offer has been nice as I have kind of been oblivious to the walking paths in the neighborhood and the places that could be ‘discovered’. Some of the paths are paved and others are dirt but both give me that sense of disconnect. I found that I like the dirt more than the paved just cause its softer, but I like to kick pebbles on the ground of the paved path. Plusses and minuses to both roads, and neither are the ones less traveled. With COVID around, I kind of shy away from people and do a little nod to say hello, but I am hoping that sometimes I can start a conversation with a stranger and have some more human interaction that was so rudely taken away by this pandemic. I like the mention within the articles of “walk appeal” where people will start walking if they see a good reason too. Beyond the heath benefits, I think everybody could use a nice change of scenery once in a while and creating this environment could happen in a couple of ways. Murals, that are allowed, could liven a walking path up but we also need to be wary and not butcher the definition of warranted artwork. This could spark interest in new walkers as they want to go see this artwork. Seeing within the Steps to a Walkable Community, the Case Study in Seattle shows the visual change a corner could undergo and seem more inviting. Reducing roadside parking by enforcing HOA restrictions, keeping a pedicured lawn and overall up keep of the roadsides and sidewalks. Specifically in my community, I think if we could add some visuals just to create a more inviting environment when walking that would make the experience more enjoyable. Furthermore, if cars could park in the driveways instead of the streets, it would clear the streets and make them look ‘cleaner’ also making the area more inviting to walk.
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Share Bioplastic Disposal Tips
    What concerns you the most about how we are affecting the planet? Consider both local and global actions.

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/25/2021 12:48 AM
    The fact that we are not using bioplastics to reduce our carbon footprint is very upsetting. We have a solution that we can use, and put some work into, however, as a society we are failing to make the transition. There are things that require this plastic packaging whether it be food stuffs within the supermarkets or other items just for convenience, but in doing so we can reduce a gigantic proportion of carbon emissions. Through the article “What Will It Take to Get Plastics Out of the Ocean?”, I saw that there are a plethora of proposed and some implemented solutions but the problem is that they are a mere drop in the bucket. Further, some of these projects are faced with more criticism than acceptance which has also led to the slow progress in cleaning our waterways. I think that ideally, as a global community we need to shift our ideas into reducing plastic waste entirely and simultaneously, we need to propose and work on solutions and innovate existing solutions to start the massive undertaking that is to clean up our oceans. I really liked the solutions proposed and see that even with adversity people have tried their best to come up with plausible solutions. Of, these, Boyan Slat’s proposed idea of using the natural currents of the oceans to filter the trash for us looked promising and would reduce the numbers of boats out in sea. I understand the difficulties behind this, but I think that if researchers come together and propose alternative ideas for the same concept, a viable solution would come to fruition. 
    Beyond this, seeing that the global community have been contributing to so called plastic islands is horrible. However, the article mentions that, “The islands don’t really exist. In fact, plastic is distributed quite widely over the vast oceans”. I thought about this for a moment and thought about the effect or impact cleanup efforts could have if the plastic waste was in one centralized ocean. The fact that the trash is spread out over the vast space of the sea makes the job to remove the plastic even more difficult than imagined. With this being said, I think more conscious efforts to use other eco-friendly materials should be used and innovations should make a rise into our water-channels to clean up existing waste.
     
     

    • Suraj Doshi's avatar
      Suraj Doshi 5/25/2021 12:53 AM
      Trying to recycle as much as I can to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.
  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use Reduce Animal Products
    Why do people in richer countries eat more meat than people in other places? How does eating more meat affect our bodies, our planet, and other people?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 5/25/2021 12:47 AM
    As a vegetarian, this challenge was easy for me. But through the challenge I learned what benefits I was giving myself through this diet and further instilled in myself that a vegetarian diet is sustainable and will give me the proper nutrition I need. I have often thought about starting to eat some meats, such as chicken or fish just to give myself an ‘extra’ boost to gain a bit of weight as I have been on the thinner side. However, looking through the articles that drawdown provided, “plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease”. As a selfish human, I like seeing that consistently having a plant rich diet will lead to better long term health for myself as opposed to the other diets that are out there. Based off the readings, its accessible to people in richer countries and thus consumed a lot more. However, eating meat causes more chronic diseases and makes healthcare costs skyrocket. “$1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved”. That is an astounding amount of money that could be saved and put to other uses. 

    The incentives that some of the richer countries put on farmers to produce meat lead to the perpetuation of consumers purchasing meat in a sort of vicious cycle. In order to reduce first and eventually stop this way of life, incentives towards more plant based diets should be implemented. Furthermore, more widespread knowledge about the benefits of shifting to a plant-based diet should also start to take effect as I feel as though people simply are oblivious to the benefits of this type of diet. The article from Vox mentions that the shift in diet will not be able to come about individually but should be a sort of institutionalized practice with actual policies in place. With this in mind, it is important to note that everybody has the right to make their own choices and in creating these policies, we cannot take away individual agency. In order to preserve our planet and reduce the rise of greenhouse emissions, governments and institutions need to start implementing policies that help shift communities to a more plant-based diet for the betterment of human health and planetary well-being. 
  • Reflection Question
    Electricity 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?

    Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 4/25/2021 4:47 PM
    It was very neat doing this activity as my friend who also goes to UCLA. He lives in Tennessee and seeing the differences in our carbon footprints based on location was eye opening. 

    Starting with electricity in the home, my family is lucky enough to have a lease on solar panels whereas houses in Tennessee rarely come with this option, and thus, my friend does not have them. Seeing the change between the renewable energy option and the non-renewable energy option was drastic and we talked about ways that they could find other sources of energy for their home to reduce their carbon footprint. 

    Our family sizes were a bit different as he lives with 4 other people whereas I live with 5 others. Based on this, and location the differences were very peculiar. We also have similar spending habits but different eating habits. My entire family is vegetarian whereas his family has some carnivores. 

    My family has three cars and his family has two, which also made a difference in our carbon footprints. Our cars are hybrids, except for one, though we hardly use it. All his cars contain ‘standard engines’ and we discussed the possibility of selling them and possibly converting to hybrids or electric fully. As a Tennessee native, I understand the reason to have cars, as bus stops are not that common and often relatively far from the residential areas thus it is ‘necessary’ to own a car. However, I thought about the idea of having a bicycle and thought that this alternative method of transportation was a viable solution to the problem. 

    We also talked about traveling using planes. Over quarantine, our travels were limited, but otherwise, we typically take a few flights here and there. Typically my family takes one international trip and then drives everywhere else locally. My friend however, in transition to California and other places with lots of family takes at least one international trip and then two or more domestic flights throughout the year. We talked about the possibility of reducing our flight carbon footprint by driving places when possible. 

    In total, to offset my carbon footprint of 4.59 tons of CO2 every month, I would pay $70.66. On the other hand, he would be spending $105.24 to offset his 7.02 tons of CO2 every month. That’s a huge difference in the long term and was very interesting to see. 

    • Suraj Doshi's avatar
      Suraj Doshi 4/26/2021 1:23 PM
      I realize I forgot to put in a direct quote, but from the website to calculate the footprint, I see that 'The area you live in can affect your emissions' and I saw this first hand between my friend and I.

    • HARRISON CHU's avatar
      HARRISON CHU 4/25/2021 5:09 PM
      Hi Suraj, it was interesting to hear about how your family uses solar panels as a source of renewable energy. This is something I wanted to explore more because my family currently does not use them. I was wondering how much this action decreases your carbon footprint overall and how much it costs financially. I know solar panels can be a huge up-front investment but will pay themselves off over time. In my future home, I would like to have solar panels that provide more electricity than I use so that I do not have to pay any energy companies to use their non-renewable energy sources. I also agree with trying to drive rather than fly to travel destinations. Although some places are just impossible to drive to, there are many places within driving distance that are very worth exploring instead of taking international flights several times a year. 

  • Suraj Doshi's avatar
    Suraj Doshi 4/05/2021 2:56 PM
    I really enjoy being able to sit in my backyard and eat without the distraction of my phone and technology. There's a sense of peace associated with it and makes me forget the responsibilities I have for a blissful second.