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Neha Joshi's avatar

Neha Joshi

Low Energy Enthusiasts

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Neha's Actions

Industry

Share Bioplastic Disposal Tips

Bioplastics

I will spend at least 120 minutes researching how to properly dispose of bioplastics in my city and share this information with 10 friends, family and/or colleagues.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Transportation

Stay on the Ground

Telepresence, High-Speed Rail

Instead of traveling by plane, I will find an alternative way to accomplish the goals of an upcoming trip (i.e. telepresence, vacation locally).

Uncompleted
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.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

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.

Uncompleted
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.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Buildings

Replace Manual Thermostats

Smart Thermostats

I will replace manual thermostats with smart ones.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Health and Education

Host a Film Screening

Health and Education

I will host a virtual film screening and discussion about women's and gender equality issues.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

Tend A Garden

I will tend to a garden, or prepare for one, each day using sustainable gardening practices.

COMPLETED 0
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 0
DAILY ACTIONS

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  • 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.

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/24/2021 3:27 AM
    I didn’t know much about bioplastics prior to this ecochallenge and so I’m really glad I did it! Across the world, we produce nearly 310 million tons of plastic each year. Only 9% of this is recycled. 165 million tons of plastic pollute the oceans. By 2050, it is estimated that we could produce anywhere from 792 million to 1 billions tons of plastic! Most of it is petri-plastic which comes from fossil fuels. However, researchers believe that 90% of the current plastic being used could actually be made from plants. Bioplastics would therefore be biodegradable and could help reduce carbon emissions. This could reduce U.S greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. The bioplastic market is projected to grow from $17 billion to nearly $44 billion by 2022. 

    Traditional plastic is flexible because of its chainlike polymers. These polymers also make up cellulose, chitin, potatoes, sugarcane, tree bark, algae, and shrimp. Natural polymers from these sources can be used to produce plastic. When made from waste biomass, bioplastics can even sequester carbon! Bioplastic is also less toxic because it does not have bisphenol A (BPA), which is an endocrine disruptor traditionally found in plastic. The ecochallenge article notes that the greatest challenge when using bioplastics is proper processing and separation from other wastes. Currently, most bioplastic ends up in landfills where they can release methane if there isn’t enough oxygen in their surrounding environment. They can also contaminate recycled plastic and damage recycling infrastructure if incorrectly disposed of. Thus, separate recycling infrastructure is needed for bioplastics. The other concern that researchers have discussed is the cost of bioplastic production. It can be anywhere from 20-50% more expensive to produce bioplastic compared to traditional plastic. However, as researchers develop more efficient means of production, the price is projected to decrease. 

    Kartik Chandran, a professor in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department at Columbia University, believes that “bioplastics are a significant improvement” to traditional plastic. Chandran and his students are currently finding ways to produce biodegradable bioplastic from solid waste and waste water. He uses a bioreactor to achieve this. Moreover, a company called Full Cycle Bioplastics is trying to make bioplastic from organic waste like food waste, garden waste, unrecycled paper, and cardboard. 

    I shared this ecochallenge with my friends so they can learn about the benefits of bioplastic as well!

    Source: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2017/12/13/the-truth-about-bioplastics/


    • Abigail Urbina's avatar
      Abigail Urbina 5/24/2021 11:07 AM
      Hi Neha,

      I definitely relate to you in the sense that I was not very educated about bioplastics prior to reading more about it on Project Drawdown. This is because whenever I think about single-use plastic waste, I automatically think about the reusable alternatives – not necessarily bioplastics. Considering the statistics that you highlight, specifically that “165 million tons of plastic pollute the oceans,” I am quite eager at the prospect of biodegradable/compostable plastic replacing many of our current plastic alternatives. One of my biggest fears about recycling is the fact that some perfectly-recyclable items can get contaminated and wasted due to incorrect disposal methods. I think it’s great that you bring up this issue so that more people can be aware of their common disposal mistakes. I believe that this is where we as individuals are responsible for taking action. I have been doing more research and reading to learn more about how I should modify my disposal habits. I will admit that I used to be one of those individuals who thought that I could recycle almost anything made out of glass, plastic, or cardboard – even if they were soiled. However, after doing more research, I found out that these recyclables need to be in a certain condition in order for them to be accepted for recycling. For example, although a clean cardboard pizza box is perfectly recyclable, once grease or other oily ingredients from pizza have soiled the box, it must be rejected from recycling. According to Stanford University, this is because “[o]nce soiled, the paper cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process.” Had I not researched this, I probably would have continued placing my soiled food containers into the recycling bin – which is horrible because I would be contaminating other perfectly-recyclable items in that bin. When we were still attending classes on campus at UCLA, I noticed that many disposal bins had very useful signs posted on top of them with descriptions and images of which items to place in each specific section. I thought this was very useful because there have been many times when I did not know whether I should recycle an item, compost it, or place it in the landfill bin. For example, under the “compost” section, there would be images of a banana peel or an apple core. Although certain disposal designations are probably more obvious (e.g., placing a rotten banana in the compost bin), others may not be as clear (e.g., where to place a soiled pizza box or a plastic cup with coffee remnants still inside). I think in the meantime, to lessen the amount of single-use plastics we dispose of, we should continue to use reusable water bottles, reusable shopping bags, and reusable straws. From here on out, I will no longer be using the plastic produce bags from the grocery store. I am going to purchase reusable cloth produce bags so that I can bring them with me to the grocery store. Perhaps you can try these as well! Overall, keep up the great research, Neha!

      Source: https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-contamination#:~:text=A%3A%20Pizza%20boxes%20are%20made,oils%20during%20the%20pulping%20process. 

  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Stay on the Ground
    What was your process like for restructuring your trip? How can you avoid more air travel in the future?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/24/2021 1:13 AM
    My friends and I had always planned to go on a senior trip after graduating. We all made plans to go to Las Vegas after graduation. Initially, all 10 of us had planned to book flights. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided that it would be much safer to just drive because it is a very short drive. After reading the articles for this ecochallenge, I’m so glad we decided to drive!

    Through the articles, I learned that the total impact of air travel is 2 to 3 times more damaging than the impact of carbon dioxide emissions alone. I didn’t know that planes emit mono-nitrogen oxides into the upper troposphere, create contrails, and release aerosols from fuel combustion in cirrus clouds. These effects significantly worsen global warming. I was really inspired by Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech, who stopped flying altogether. I love travelling and will try my best to limit the number of flights I take each year. However, the majority of my family lives in India. I usually travel to India at least twice a year to see my grandparents and extended family. There’s simply no other way for me to get there besides flying. However, I will try to cut down on my domestic flights. 

    My friends and I realized that Vegas is only 285 miles away and is about a four and a half hour drive. Even though we initially wanted to fly, I’m really excited for the road trip! I’m going with my closest friends and we will trade off driving so it’s not just one person driving the entire way. The rest of the trip remains the same and so this was a very slight modification to our plans. However, I feel good knowing that we stopped ourselves from further worsening the climate crisis through air travel. I had my friends read some of the articles for this ecochallenge and they felt the same way. They were just as shocked to read some of the facts! Given how common air travel is, I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about the harmful effects that can result from it. We are just as excited for our trip and look forward to spending time together on the road! 

    • Alice Ma's avatar
      Alice Ma 6/02/2021 1:19 AM
      Hi Neha! Congrats on graduating soon and also love that you’re choosing to drive instead of fly to Vegas for your grad trip! Having done some similar research on the environmental effects of flying and driving, my friends and I also opted to switch to a road trip instead of flying for our upcoming summer trip! 

      I also really related to your comment about how flying is necessary to visit family overseas. The majority of my family is in China and prior to the pandemic, I would fly back with my parents to visit them almost every year. There really isn’t any other alternative to flying when it comes to international travel so it’s definitely a hard reality to face. Fortunately, I was looking into solutions to the environmental damage of international travel and found that since 2019, 81 countries have chosen to participate in a program that is working with governments and organizations to invest in more efficient aircrafts, use new technologies for more efficient flight paths, and invest in emissions offsets within or outside of the aviation sector. I’m definitely very glad to hear of the efforts towards alleviating this issue. 

      Something else I noticed when I was looking into the carbon emissions of flying is that there is an option for consumers to purchase an emission offset if they absolutely need to fly. The money used in buying that offset is put towards funding actions and practices that actively work in reducing the carbon emissions in the atmosphere and tries to offset the emissions produced by the flight taken. I think this is such a great way to balance out the negative aspects of flying, however, one huge barrier is cost. Offsets are generally quite expensive, added on to an already expensive plane ticket, it is not an option that is available to everyone. Still, the option being there means that for those who can afford it, it is a great way to reduce our carbon footprints. 

    • Neha Joshi's avatar
      Neha Joshi 5/24/2021 1:14 AM
  • 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?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/24/2021 12:08 AM
    I looked into seafoodwatch.org and learned about how my eating habits affect marine life. I predominantly eat plant-based during the week. However, over the weekends I usually have seafood for one or two of my meals. Usually, I end up cooking Atlantic Salmon, which is thankfully, on the best choice list for salmon. I learned that Atlantic salmon farmed worldwide in indoor recirculating tanks with wastewater treatment is a ‘best choice’. The Seafood Watch’s analysis found that indoor recirculating systems tend to have low chemical use. There’s also very low risk of disease transmission because outbreaks are not very common. My family buys salmon from a local farmer’s market that does utilize indoor recirculating tanks and I’m glad the Seafood Watch finds this to be the most sustainable salmon farming practice as well. My family also buys wild salmon as well, which is even more sustainable. Through my research,I learned that farming methods using marine net pens are very unsustainable. 

    I also learned a lot from the “5 Reasons Salmon Are an Environmental Justice Solution'' article. Wild salmon are a ‘keystone species’ that if removed, would greatly affect their surrounding ecosystem. When they return inland, they bring stored ocean nutrients hundreds of miles. This deposits nitrogen and phosphorus that are beneficial to forests! Moreover, they are an important part of the diets of many cultures. Plus, salmon is very healthy! It’s nutrient dense and a good source of protein, B-12, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and omega-3s. 

    I didn’t realize that nearly 1 billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein! Given this, it’s so incredibly important for people to educate themselves on sustainable farming practices. Overfishing is a huge problem and nearly 90% of the world’s fish stocks are overfished according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. I will definitely be asking my friends and family to look into the kinds of seafood they eat and where it comes from. 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Support Nutrient Management
    How does environmental quality influence your sense of community?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/22/2021 11:27 PM
    I was previously largely unaware of the damaging effects of the overuse of nitrogen fertilizers. Some of the nitrogen is used by plants and helps them grow. However, the remaining nitrogen is very damaging. It chemically destroys organic matter in the soil and can enter waterways, leading to algal blooms and oxygen-depleted oceanic dead zones. This kills many fish each year. I read an article stating that the US Geological Survey states that one in five water wells in agricultural areas have nitrogen levels exceeding federal health limits. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency calls it “one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems.” In 2014, the algal bloom in Lake Eerie was so toxic that 500,000 residents were asked not to drink or come into contact with tap water for three days. This directly shows how environmental quality affects communities. Eventually, the algal blooms ended up in the Gulf of Mexico, where they contribute to the aquatic dead zone. The aquatic dead zone is as large as the state of New Jersey! I was so surprised to read this! 

    Moreover, soil bacteria take up nitrogen to produce nitrous oxide, which is 298 times more damaging to global warming compared to carbon dioxide. The “Nutrient Management” article suggests that farmers utilize the four R’s. First, farmers should find the right source and use fertilizers that will help crops grow. They should choose the right time and place to use fertilizer. Lastly, they should consider the right rate, referring to the overuse of fertilizers.  This will require farmers to adopt new practices or improve their technology. The article also notes that education, incentives, and regulation will also help reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers. 

    I did research on farmers in the Los Angeles area that don’t use nitrogen fertilizers. I found that Uran Homestead, a family farm in Pasadena, does not use them and has very sustainable practices. They produce nearly 6,000 pounds of organic produce each year! They have energy efficient technology that has helped them cut down their energy usage in half. They also have solar panels! They also brew their own biodiesel to power tractors and cars. They also made their own cinder block composter. They have extensive water conservation measures and only pay $600 annually for water! They use ancient irrigation methods using unglazed clay pots. I hope to visit and get a produce box from them very soon! 

    • Amanda Adolfo's avatar
      Amanda Adolfo 5/24/2021 1:54 PM
      Hi Neha, I learned some stuff about nitrogen fertilizers from the Climate Action challenge "Kiss the Ground" movie on Netflix. I learned that nitrogen fertilizers were actually used as chemical weapons during the World War by a German scientist. After the war, the U.S. used the fertilizer to kill pests (and virtually anything, including healthy microbes) on the crops we eat. They spray so much pesticides on the agriculture that we ingest it when we eat the food. It’s a little unsettling knowing that we’re consuming these harsh chemicals. At the grocery store, most of the fresh produce has likely been treated with pesticides since it’s a step in the mass production of agriculture. 

      The consumption of nitrogen fertilizer has harmful effects on the body. Even worse, the movie taught me that the chemicals in the fertilizer can be passed down to babies through breast milk. This is really sad because the effects include ADD, birth defects, and other pediatric diseases. It seems hard to escape produce that has been treated with fertilizer, especially since most people go to large corporation grocery stores. I guess people can try to buy organic produce, but that is also not an option for many people because the prices of organic produce are always higher. For me, I wasn’t even sure what food meant when it was “organic,” it just seems healthier. After Googling it, I learned that it is a USDA label that indicates that the produce has been grown on soil that has “no prohibited substances” on the soil for at least 3 years. I briefly tried to research what the USDA considers prohibited substances and luckily, it includes most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I hope that more people learn what organic produce really means and that it becomes cheaper in the grocery stores, since it lacks the harmful fertilizer that the cheaper, nonorganic foods have. 

      Finally, I have learned from upper division Biology classes that sometimes having insects is good for a balanced environment! Not all insects are pests. There have even been methods where farmers will release the natural predator of a pest into their crops to control the pests without having to add fertilizer. As mentioned before, fertilizers also wipe out the healthy microbes on the plants and in the soil. We don't want to get rid of those because there are trillions of microbes that help sequester carbon in the air and nourish the plant. I hope that people learn more about microbes, I personally didn't give much thought to microbes because I can't see them, but I know they are everywhere. Now I have a renewed appreciation for the microbes in our gut and in the soil. 
  • Reflection Question
    Buildings Replace Manual Thermostats
    How do you anticipate replacing your thermostats for smart ones will positively impact your life?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/11/2021 12:31 AM
    This class has really inspired me to find ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I recently installed a Nest in my house and am really excited for it! I was reading through the manual and was amazed by all of the different features. The Nest has learning functions built in. The smart thermostat has movement sensors that can detect when people are home and walking around. This allows it to develop a heating and cooling schedule based on when people are home. Otherwise, it turns off the air. I think this is incredibly helpful because sometimes I leave my house in a rush and forget if heat/air conditioning is still running. Nest also has an app that allows you to control the temperature in your home from your phone. It also shows week to week temperature management data which can help people determine how much energy they are consuming. I am very curious to see my family’s energy reports and see how our energy use changes over time. The app also alerts people if their power use will lead to a higher bill that month. 

    I also learned that a Nest will save my family 10-12% on heating costs and 15% on cooling costs compared to a normal thermostat. I think this could be a great selling point for people because regardless of whether everyone cares about the climate crises, people are always interested in saving money. Even though a smart thermostat may be more expensive than a normal thermostat, people save money in the long run. Since installing the Nest thermostat in my home, I’ve realized that it's actually very easy to use. It was pretty straightforward to install and the app is very convenient. The Nest also sends warnings if the air quality in your home drops abruptly, which is very convenient. It also sends reminders when the heating or cooling systems need repair. I would have never imagined that these systems could be this advanced! 

    I am really excited to see my family’s energy reports over the next few weeks. I really like how the Nest provides detailed reports of when people are using the most energy. This can help my family adjust their energy needs and find ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. 
  • Reflection Question
    Health and Education Host a Film Screening
    Thank you for raising awareness of women's and gender equality issues. What is the next step to actually address this disparity?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 5/10/2021 12:06 AM
    I hosted a film screening for the Academy award winning documentary Period. End of Sentence. The film was shown at several film festivals in 2018 and premiered on Netflix in February of 2019. The film is centered around women in a village in India called Hapur. The village is near the capital of New Delhi. The film shows how students from Oakwood high school raised over $55,000 to buy a sanitary pad machine for the women of Hapur. They worked with Action India, a women's empowerment focused grassroots organization and director Rayka Zehtabchi to document their experience. The film tells the story of the women and the years of stigma, shame, and abuse they have suffered due to their period. They are not allowed to go into the temple when menstruating, sleep in their homes, or even cook! Many young girls drop out of school when they get their period. The latter part of the film shows the women in the village producing and selling their own pads. They brand is called “Fly” because women should always “soar”. 

    After watching the film, my friends and I discussed our reactions. We were all incredibly moved by the film and felt very emotional. No one said anything for the first few minutes. Afterwards, we talked about how inspired we were by all the women in the film. We could not imagine what they must have gone through, yet they persevered through it all. In regard to how we can address this disparity, I think the first step is to educate ourselves about these disparities and make those around us aware of the issue. In order to break down the stigma surrounding periods, we need to be able to openly talk about it! This stigma is not unique to India and exists everywhere, even in our communities! Thus, I think the first thing to do is to talk to the people around us about the issue. 

    I started a free medical clinic in Kolkata, India 5 years ago with the help of local grassroots organizations. I grew up spending my summers in Kolkata with my grandparents and remember learning about the lack of healthcare access and equity in Kolkata. The first thing I did was talk to the people around me about the issue. Eventually, through these conversations, I connected with the Rotary Club of North Kolkata who helped me start the nonprofit. This experience made me realize that we can’t eliminate all the disparities that exist in a day. Thinking about everything that needs to be fixed is incredibly overwhelming. However, we can always educate ourselves and raise awareness about the issues we care about. It’s incredible what this can eventually lead to! 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Healing & Renewal Tend A Garden
    Have you ever had a significant experience in nature that altered your perspective or focus? If so, please describe it.

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 4/28/2021 1:36 PM
    During 8th grade, my class took a week-long field trip to Yosemite National Park. I wasn’t a huge fan of the outdoors before going on this trip and remember feeling tense before we left. We were also required to leave our phones and other devices at home. Once we got there, all of the nervousness subsided and I had the best time! The organization that we booked our trip through was dedicated to zero food waste. Thus, they encouraged everyone to only take as much food as they were sure they could eat, and if they wanted more, they could always go back for seconds. All of the food was vegetarian and sustainably produced. We learned a lot about food waste and how it contributes to climate change during our trip. I remember feeling inspired to make more sustainable food choices after the trip.

    I really enjoyed all of the hikes we went on and was blown away by the scenery. We hiked Yosemite Falls trail, Half Dome, Mist Trail, Mirror Lake, and Panorama Trail to name a few. The views were incredible and I remember feeling so grateful to be on the trip. I was really glad that we weren’t allowed to have any form of technology with us. It helped me appreciate my surroundings and company more! By the end of the trip, I felt closer to my friends and classmates than ever before. Our shared experience has bonded us in a wonderful way. 

    After my trip, I began to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors more than ever before. I began going on more hikes in my hometown and planning more camping trips with my friends and family. I really enjoy going on runs and after the Yosemite trip, I began running outdoors instead of on treadmills in the gym. My trip also made me think about how devastating the effects of climate change will be on the environment. Given the unfolding climate crisis, it's very possible that my kids and grandkids will not be able to experience the outdoors in the same way I do. This realization motivated me to educate myself on sustainable practices that I could implement in my own life. 

    For this challenge, I planted tomato plants in my backyard. I really enjoyed gardening during high school but have not done as much of it after leaving for college. Due to the pandemic, I’ve been home for longer periods and have gotten back into gardening. I am really excited to expand my garden and grow even more fruits and vegetables! I am also trying to incorporate the 5 pillars of Ecosystem Gardening in my practices! 

    Additionally, I really connected to Daphne Miller’s article where she discusses how gardening “seems to help [her] stave off feelings of sadness or dread and calm the chatter in [her] mind.” Gardening is a very therapeutic and calming activity for me as well. It relaxes me and helps me ground myself. I also really enjoyed reading about the recent research on the relationship between the microbiome, ecological diversity, and immune and nervous system health. I will definitely be looking into this more!

    • Caitlin Tanji's avatar
      Caitlin Tanji 5/24/2021 3:07 AM
      Hi Neha! Your Yosemite trip sounded amazing!!! I love how your trip to the Yosemite National Park left a significant impact on your perception of zero waste, vegetarianism, and sustainability. It also seemed like an extremely fun trip so I hope I can go one day to experience the scenery like you did. Not having technology as a distraction really allows you to absorb the beauty nature has to offer. Especially during week 9, it’s important to go outside to feel the stress go away! I have been enjoying walking on campus during golden hour, which is super relaxing. Instead of staying inside and wasting my screentime on TikTok and Zoom, my favorite activity is going to Janss steps and bullet journaling or painting with friends. It probably won’t be as nice as Yosemite, but I still highly recommend it! 

      I just completed my ecochallenge of learning more about regenerative agriculture. I felt a bit discouraged because the solutions provided were mainly for farmers, which left me wondering what I could do as an individual who is not part of that industry. I was fascinated to learn more about sustainable gardening, so I really enjoyed reading your post about tending a garden! It’s really cool how you planted tomatoes in your yard. After learning about toxic fertilizers, I’m curious to know how planting the tomatoes went and what steps you took. Also, of all foods, what inspired you to plant tomatoes and will you be adding any other vegetables? Last summer, I created a garden with my family in our front yard and it was a fun activity to do together as a family. I knew nothing about gardening but we planted lettuce, green onions, and flowers. We would share and exchange food with my grandparents and neighbors so it felt like a community effort. I think food tastes better when you make it yourself, so I hope you post a recipe using the tomatoes on Drawdown in the future!

      PS: In the 8th grade, I wish I could say I was as conscious as you were about my food choices! I was definitely eating fruit by the foot snacks that were individually packaged by plastics and spam musubis on field trips instead. 

    • Kennedi Randolph's avatar
      Kennedi Randolph 5/20/2021 12:17 AM
      Hey Neha! First, I think it is so cool that you have a garden in your backyard that you can use to grow your own food. Not only is that sustainable and healthy but it is also saving you a lot of money so I think that’s definitely a great thing you have going back at home. I completed a similar action as you did with this ecochallenge, by taking some time to appreciate nature and have an in tune experience with it. I took a walk to the botanical gardens at UCLA to explore nature there. It was a very calming and peaceful experience for me that definitely helped me get more in tune with nature because of all of the green around me. Submerging myself in the middle of nature really altered my perspective of how much nature can have an impact on my mental well-being. After that experience, I found the botanical gardens to be one of the places I can go to be at peace and free from distraction. I wasn’t always very fond of nature in this way though. Your week-long field trip to Yosemite National Park reminds me of a trip I took in high school to Big Bear with my class where we also were not allowed to bring our phones or any technology with us so I was also dreading my trip at first. I’m sure Big Bear isn’t as beautiful as Yosemite but it definitely helped me to appreciate my surroundings and feel a deeper connection to nature. There is definitely power in exploring nature and establishing a connection to it because it gives you the motivation to do things to protect it. Similar to you, after my experiences with exploring nature, I began to spend more time with nature by going on hikes around L.A. to places like runyon canyon which has a really nice view of the city. Using this motivation from being around nature, actions like yours of gardening or even taking care of community gardens in local neighborhoods can be taken to make sure there will be nature left for us and future generations to experience in the future.

    • Ricky Ma's avatar
      Ricky Ma 5/08/2021 9:38 PM
      Hello Neha,

      Wow! That trip to Yosemite seems like it was incredibly fun and an eye-opening experience for you. I would love to go to one of the great wonders of our world. I have never been there! I really like how dedicated they were to zero-waste. I really think that more organizations should take after them. Many organizations should at least have a vegetarian option. They also seem suggestive rather than forcing it upon you all which I think is the correct way to do it. Being in Hawaii, I go on a fair share of hikes myself. I do agree that having no technology and being able to be fully immersed into nature is AMAZING. Truly a feeling like no other. I commend you for taking the initiative to educate yourself on a sustainable lifestyle. I also had the same thoughts of my kids or, in general, the future generations may not be able to experience the same beautiful earth that we do. That is why it is imperative that we try our best to reverse the negative effects that humans have on the earth. For my ecochallenge, I donated to community gardens in which I see a parallel with what you did in highschool. I think it is really cool that you got back into gardening! Not only do you get the freshest produce possible but you are also fighting climate change at the same time! Gardening is amazing because with each plant that is planted, the more carbon we are able to sequester from the environment and into the soil. Gardens are incredibly important because they are a simple way for us to take CO2, a greenhouse gas, out of the air and put it into the soil where it cannot heat up the Earth.  Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert CO2 into compounds that no longer trap heat on the surface of our Earth. Keep on growing fruits and vegetables! I also recommend you to spread the word to your friends and family. The more people gardening, the more carbon-sequestering mechanisms there would be on our earth. I think that gardening should be more widespread as does it not only provides us the freshest produce but also occupies the land which would otherwise be used for harmful capitalistic endeavors. By spreading the word and advocating for how it is beneficial, we can use more of the soil on the earth and sequester more and more carbon. Its time to take action.
  • 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?

    Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 4/28/2021 12:26 PM
    I was disheartened to learn that “72 to 78 percent of total agricultural emissions” are generated by the meat industry. According to the Nature paper referenced in the Vox Article, people in wealthier countries like the US consume the most meat. I was shocked to learn that each person in the US (on average) consumed 222 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018. This seems unreal. I think this comes down to the fact that many associate American culture and traditions with meat. Meat and poultry dishes are often the staple dishes of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Additionally, in many societies, meat is still considered a delicacy reserved for the wealthy. Some types of meat are very expensive and are used to display wealth or high social class. I’ve also heard men talk about how meat consumption is somehow associated with their masculinity. All of these factors are only worsening the climate crisis. We must find ways to disassociate meat from culture, class, and even gender. We can’t begin to address the biological and environmental impacts of meat without considering the societal implications associated with it. 

    The most eye-opening part of the Nature paper for me were the researchers’ projections for the future. Changes in food production practices will only decrease agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 10%, whereas shifting to plant based diets can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%! This statistic came to me as a surprise. Simply by altering our eating habits, we have the ability to make a massive impact. Given the unfolding climate crisis, we must develop more sustainable eating practices.This made me think about my current cooking and eating practices.

    Currently, I eat a plant based diet during the weekdays and consume 1-2 meals with meat over the weekend. However, I don’t eat any red meat and stick to fish or chicken during these meals. After watching Professor Christensen’s video on her zero-waste lifestyle, I’ve invested more time into meal prepping during the week. Every Sunday, I make 4-5 different vegetable dishes and keep them in my fridge. I’ve realized that by meal prepping, I consume more vegetables and am less reliant on meat products. I’ve begun to really enjoy my weekly Sunday meal prep! This past Sunday, I tossed some zucchini and sweet potatoes with olive, oil, salt, garlic, and black pepper and baked it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. They came out really nice and will last me the next few days. I also steamed broccoli and cut up cauliflower to make cauliflower rice. Lastly, I sauteed some kale and made some lentils. I stored each of these in tupperware and have lunch and dinners ready for the whole week! The more I meal prep, the more I realize I don’t miss meat all that much. I feel much healthier and nourished when I eat vegan meals. 

    I was also very inspired by the video on Chef Bryant Terry. Through food, he is able to connect to his culture while also making healthy, sustainable choices. This made me think about my own culture. I am of Indian origin and really enjoy Indian food. I want to focus on finding ways to make some Indian dishes vegan. Instead of using chicken, I can substitute with tofu and other vegetables. Moreover, I can substitute butter or heavy cream with cashew cream. I look forward to trying new dishes! 

    • Caitlin Tanji's avatar
      Caitlin Tanji 5/24/2021 9:32 PM
      • Hi Neha! I recently read how the demand for food puts pressure on agricultural practices and excessive land use, which made me feel guilty for my meat consumption. I really enjoyed reading your post about reducing your animal product usage despite it not being a norm in your culture! Also, I had not made the connection that many holidays celebrated in the United States rely on the meat industry, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. For those holidays, markets make turkey and roast beef cheap to attract customers. However, this is at the cost of farmers and the valuable land we use. I also agree that meat is seen as a luxury. I often see marbled Wagyu beef videos on TikTok. It’s crazy to me how expensive meat can be! I thought it was super interesting that you connected meat consumption with masculinity. I remember reading a Human Biology & Society senior capstone project that linked toxic masculinity and the meat industry. If you have a chance, I highly recommend reading it. In addition to cultural and societal norms, I think recent trends have been contributing to the excessive demand for meat. For example, all you can eat Korean BBQ or hotpot restaurants are popular amongst college students for the low price and high yield of meat. I used to be guilty of indulging in meat-heavy foods without consideration for the environment. Like you, I have been reflecting on my eating habits to be more sustainable. I used to hate tofu because it never compared to the taste and quality of meat for me. But, recently I have been asking friends who are plant-based or vegetarian for recipe recommendations. The zucchini and sweet potatoes you made look delicious by the way! I applaud you for meal prepping for the week. I agree that meal prepping increased vegetable intake. Whenever I cook meals individually, I get too tired or lazy to think about vegetables and prioritize my carbs and meat first. I wonder if I should start meal prepping vegetables or cook the vegetables first to decrease my portion of meat. Hopefully I can also get to a place where I don’t miss meat as much in the future for the sake of the environment!

    • madeline smith's avatar
      madeline smith 5/01/2021 4:56 PM
      Hi Neha, 
      I found your post to be so interesting, I decided to do more research on the meat industry and learn about it myself! Thank you so much for sharing. It is so great that you primarily eat plant-based and a little meat or fish on the weekends. I am actively trying to shift to plant-based and eat meat occasionally. I agree with you that my body feels much better eating this way, and meal prepping is such a great way to put together healthy, sustainable, and more affordable meals (not to mention quicker!). Recently, I bought a cookbook called "Plant Over Processed" by Andrea Hannemann. All of the recipes are vegan, simple and really delicious. This has inspired me to eat less meat and gives me so many creative ideas when cooking. I highly recommend you check it out!

    • Neha Joshi's avatar
      Neha Joshi 4/28/2021 12:27 PM

  • Neha Joshi's avatar
    Neha Joshi 4/11/2021 10:53 PM
    Why I’m here:
    Hi everyone! It’s been really great to read through everyone’s posts.
    I decided to take this class because I want to expand on my current understanding of the climate crisis and find ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I took Global Health 160 last year and did research on the many effects climate change will have on human health. I was shocked to learn about how devastating the effects of climate change will be if we continue on as we have been. We will be seeing everything from increased rates of infectious diseases to greater risk for various cancers. Climate change will inevitably affect every facet of our lives and I think it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves. It’s the very least we can do. 

    As Kennedi and Charlotte have mentioned, I also have family members affected by cancer. A lot of my family lives in Delhi, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world. I’ve directly seen how poor air quality can affect people’s health. Delhi has very high rates of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and heart attacks. It’s scary to think about how the air quality will only worsen if we don’t actively work towards creating change. 

    Lastly, I really enjoy spending time outdoors and am terrified by the idea that my kids and grandkids may not be able to experience the world in the same way I did. I think I owe it to them to find ways to make my own lifestyle more waste free and sustainable. I took the picture below during a hike in Malibu last weekend and it reminds me to never take our surroundings for granted. It can sometimes feel like one person’s actions may not make much of a difference, but they can! In the past two weeks, I’ve felt more inspired than ever before to make small changes in my daily life to create change in my own small way. I was really inspired by Greta’s video from last week. As she said, “more than hope, we need action.” We know what we have to do and it’s time for people to step up. 

    I am really excited to learn more and work with you all this quarter! 

    • Jenn Han's avatar
      Jenn Han 4/12/2021 10:29 AM
      Hey Neha! I love this photo - you’re absolutely right that taking photos like these remind us to appreciate our surroundings. I’ve attached a photo I took recently of the Grand Canyon while on a hike, a reminder of how beautiful our world truly is, untouched, and natural. I find that looking at landscapes like these and visiting national parks where  nature is preserved is a reminder of just how industrial we’ve become, and how little we favor trees, mountains, and the inherent beauty of nature over glittering skyscrapers. Thanks for sharing!