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Blake Salfer's avatar

Blake Salfer

Low Energy Enthusiasts

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 866 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    30
    minutes
    spent learning
  • up to
    1,065
    minutes
    being mindful

Blake's Actions

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Support Indigenous Peoples' Land Management

Indigenous Peoples' Forest Tenure

I will donate to Native American Rights Fund, which protects tribal natural resources and environmental rights and promotes Native American Human Rights.

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Land Sinks

Support a Community Garden

Multiple Solutions

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

Uncompleted
One-Time Action

Industry

Choose Recycled Paper

Recycled Paper

I will plan ahead to only use paper products made from post-consumer recycled paper for my home or office.

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 27
DAILY ACTIONS

Electricity

Support Companies Leading in Green Energy

Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, Distributed Solar Photovoltaics

I will use my spending power to reward companies leading in creating or purchasing green energy and incentivize others to invest more in green energy.

Completed
One-Time Action

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 31
DAILY ACTIONS

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

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

Eat Mindfully

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

COMPLETED 40
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed

  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Forest-Friendly Foods 2
    How difficult or easy was it to change your diet?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/30/2021 1:06 PM
    I think that this challenge has been the hardest one for me to consistently complete. When I first chose this challenge, I researched some of the foods that have palm oil in them. I was shocked to find out that palm oil can be labeled under 30 different names on a variety of foods, cosmetics, and personal care products. I had no clue that palm oil was in so many products until I started looking for it. Sure enough, a lot of the products I use and foods I snack on are made with palm oil. It was easy for me to cut out coffee and cocoa because I do not drink coffee and I rarely eat chocolate. But the palm oil was a different story and I had to be much more conscientious about it. I basically had to cut out all snack foods throughout the day and try and eat only fruits and vegetables for snacks. I am happy I did this though because now I am eating healthier and not wasting money on unhealthy and un-ecofriendly snacks. Cooking lunch and dinner has been a bit easier but I make sure to look at the labels of everything I use before cooking to see if it includes palm oil. If something does, I have been trying not to use it and looking up alternatives online. 

    While I was researching what foods were harming the world’s forests, I came across a really interesting article about planting trees in India. It wasn’t a normal restoration project but instead, they were flying seeds with drones to areas that were difficult to access and were planting trees this way. I thought this was really cool and is something that more countries across the globe should do. If we have the technology, we might as well use it for environmentally friendly actions like this. 

    I have also been trying to eat far less meat and dairy products because they were mentioned as a major contributor to deforestation. The crops necessary to feed all of these animals take up a lot of space and unfortunately, forests are being cut down to accommodate the increasing demand for animal products globally. Earlier I posted a buddha bowl that I made with chicken. I have since substituted tofu and tempeh and have posted a picture of my eco-friendly bowl with lots of veggies from last night. 


    • Gianna Apoderado's avatar
      Gianna Apoderado 5/15/2021 10:52 PM
      Hi Blake! Like you, I've taken on this challenge of cutting forest-unfriendly foods and products out of my daily life. I was also surprised to learn all the different names that palm oil can be listed under because it is such a sneaky way to include its use in so many products now that it has been revealed to be a major contributor to deforestation. As for me, the cocoa product removal from my diet wasn't difficult either, but the coffee one was the hardest, followed by the palm oil. I am an avid coffee drinker, and was drinking around 2 cups a day, which you've read requires about 12 coffee plants to sustain demand. Now I am down to 2 cups a WEEK! This is major for me because I have tried to reduce my coffee/caffeine intake many times before and have always failed, but knowing that there are tangible stakes to doing so really has helped. 

      As for the palm oil removal, I'm glad that you've turned to alternative, unpackaged snacks! Upping your fruit and vegetable consumption is a great way to definitively avoid palm oil products. Similarly, I've started making my own snacks from scratch, and turn to things such as oven-baked edamame. Kudos to you for doing such great work, keep it up!

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 5/10/2021 1:32 PM
      Hi Blake! I was also surprised about how many food products contain palm oil, because I don’t typically think of palm oil as it is not widely used in cooking. However, it is a very common vegetable oil that is used in many packaged products from the grocery store, as well as personal products. Your response has made me begin thinking about being more aware of food labels and the products included in them, such as palm oil, and how they affect the environment. I also thought the restoration project that used drones to deposit seeds that you discussed was very intriguing, and advancements in technology can definitely be put to good use in addressing climate concerns. As for my own personal diet, I have tried to cut out most red meat and in general look for opportunities to substitute plant-based meals in place of meat. There are so many fun ways to cook tofu, and it is delicious in my opinion! Although it would realistically be very difficult for me to be a vegan, I have thought about going back to being a vegetarian (I used to be one), as plant-based diets make such a difference and also often make me feel better, as I have more energy and know I am fueling my body with healthy foods.

    • Suraj Doshi's avatar
      Suraj Doshi 5/02/2021 12:29 PM
      Hi Blake,

      Seeing you do this challenge is inspiring and was really eye opening for me. Your research on palm oils was super interesting and something I have taken for granted time and again. Looking into it myself, I also found things that were easy to cut out, much like yourself coffee and chocolate are not huge consumables for myself. After finding out which foods have palm oil, it has been a challenge to find substitutes or completely get rid of them from my life. Like you, I also tried to cut down on certain snack foods and started looking closely at food labels just to try to do my part. In doing so, I found that the substitutes for the food I was now getting were cheaper and at times, healthier. The more you know, right? Of course, I have not been able to completely cut it out of my life entirely, but I have definitely reduced it to a certain degree. 

      Also seeing the way technology affects how we can improve our environment was super interesting. The projects in Myanmar and Brazil show that if groups come together and acknowledge that we have a problem, we can solve the issue one effort at a time. Using the drones was a great idea, and a fantastic use of existing technology to solve our problems. It goes to show that we do not necessarily need billions of dollars of infrastructure for land maintenance, but more we need it for educational purposes to show communities the benefits of reforestation keeping existing forests safe. 

      Seeing that you are making the effort to give up large portions of your diet is an inspiring effort as not everybody has the tenacity to do it. It shows that you are willing to make changes to your lifestyle for the betterment of our environment and I hope that when others see this, they also are driven to make similar changes to make a meaningful impact. Your bowl looks really good, I may try it out!

       

  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Support Companies Leading in Green Energy
    Every dollar you put into solar or wind is a dollar not put into traditional financial institutions. You'll also be bolstering the fossil fuel divestment movement, too. Name some companies you know that invest in green energy. How can you support them?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/30/2021 12:00 PM
    For this challenge I took a somewhat different approach and decided to invest in some companies that are producing sustainable energy. Over the past year, I have been interested in investing and trading stocks in my spare time. I have stayed away from fossil fuel companies such as exxon and chevron because I don’t believe in our continued usage of fossil fuels. I believe that even if there is money to be made from trading their stocks, I shouldn’t support the company. By buying stocks, the share price increases and so does the value of the company. If their evaluation continues to increase, they have more money to spend on operations. This is why I invested in Plug Power, NextEra Energy, and Sunrun. I attached descriptions of these companies below. They are all focused on producing sustainable energy and I think they will expand their reach under the current presidential administration. Hopefully within the next few years more and more sustainable energy companies will grow and help the United States become closer to net zero carbon. 

    I also looked at some of the action resources to learn more about sustainable electricity. I had no idea that over 300 companies had committed to be 100% renewable within the coming years. I was also shocked to learn that Apple’s facilities in 43 countries have been running off of renewable energy since 2018. This makes me feel a little better considering I have an iphone, MacBook, and Airpods. Microsoft and Google have also been running on renewable energy for a few years now which was a shock to me because I never heard anything about this. I think it would be a good idea to make a big deal about this so hopefully other companies follow suit. Many have goals by 2030, 2040, or even 2050 but I think we need a little bit more urgency than 2040 or 2050. 

    In the future, I will make an effort to check whether or not the company I am purchasing from is committed to 100% renewable energy. If enough people do this, corporations will have no choice but to be sustainable. I also want to talk to my parents about getting solar panels for our home. They are expensive at first but, pay themselves off in a few years and are good for the planet. 

    • Ricky Ma's avatar
      Ricky Ma 5/06/2021 12:22 AM
      Hello Blake,

      Your post also caught my eye as I too invest in stocks. I never even thought about using my stocks in that way. Hopefully, these stocks work out for you! I too never even thought bout investing in Chevron and Exxon but after hearing your reasoning, there is even less incentive for me to invest in them. I think clean energy is definitely the future as this is a hallmark of the Biden administration. These stocks should definitely be long-term holds which will yield you lots of profit in the future.

      The statistic that you shared about companies shifting to 100% renewable was MINDBLOWING? Are these large established companies or any generic small business. If not, that is an incredibly pleasing thing to hear. I wasn't sure if our capitalist ran country would be able to convert to renewable energy. I believed that these corporations were way too greedy and they didn't give a rats ass about our environment. All they care about is profit and they will do anything in their power to maximize their profit margins. However, this statistic gave me lots of hope in terms of the trajectory of climate change in the upcoming years. If it continues at this rate, we may be able to reverse the effects of humans on planet earth. The future is looking bright if everything you said in the second paragraph came true! Fingers crossed.

      Something that I did that was kind of similar was to get a smart thermostat that saves electricity and makes my household a little bit greener. I didn't think about companies the way you see and check if whether or not they are sustainable.  I wonder if the company that makes it, NEST, is 100% green. I can't believe that APPLE is. That was shocking to hear. It is also good to know as I too have APPLE products and it feels good knowing that these products might have been generated sustainably.  I completely agree that the solar panels are a good investment; not only are you going to be saving the earth but you will earn that money back in a couple of years! I too need to convince my parents to add solar panels to my house.
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Choose Recycled Paper
    Good job on choosing recycled paper! How can you take your action a step further?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/29/2021 9:50 PM
    For this challenge, I talked to my parents about switching to recycled paper for our printer at home. They were very understanding and almost immediately were on board. All it took was them learning that this action could help our environment. It was such a simple conversation that we had which made me wonder why we didn’t do it years ago. I guess just because they weren’t aware of it, they never made the change, which I think is the case for a lot of our actions that are contributing to the climate crisis.

     While we don’t print all that often, I think it is still important to switch to as it got my family members thinking about other ways that they can take small actions to decrease their impact on climate. After purchasing our new paper, we googled other recycled items to see how we could decrease our impact on climate in the future. We found lots of cool items made from recycled materials like phone cases, belts, umbrellas, compostable dog waste bags, and more. Going forward, when purchasing items, I plan to check if there is a recycled option or sustainable option. It only takes a minute to google it and there are so many companies nowadays that almost every item has a sustainable alternative (as it should). I am also going to talk to my roommates and order recycled paper for our printer as well. 

    During our search for recycled items, we also found toothbrushes that were made of recycled materials. I thought it would be a good idea to ask my dentist next time I am there if they have ever thought about giving out recycled toothbrushes instead. I think they probably have the money for it, but similar to my family and recycled printer paper, nobody had told them about it and the impact that the switch might have on the environment. 

    Below, I included a picture of the recycled paper we ordered for our house. While it is a bit more expensive than regular paper, it is no deal-breaker by any means. One less Starbucks drink a month and you can afford recycled printer paper and aren’t using as much plastic! 

    • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
      CHARLOTTE CHAN 5/21/2021 4:33 PM
      Good on you for making changes where you can to limit your impact on the climate! 
      A couple of days ago, I was looking through the aisles at Target and it confused me so much to see that recycled paper was almost twice as expensive as regular paper! Intuitively, that seems like such a bad move. It's definitely not going to encourage many people to purchase the more sustainable option. After some research, I learned it's because recycled paper requires additional steps in its production-- sorting and de-inking in addition to milling and distribution.
      But I really like the way you looked at it. The small sacrifice of one coffee a month can help you afford the better option. It's also a "kill two birds with one stone" kind of situation because coffee, I believe, is also not the best for the environment (sadly). 

    • Alexandria Weinberger's avatar
      Alexandria Weinberger 4/30/2021 6:06 PM
      Hey! It's so cool to hear that your family was so open to making that switch. It's always interesting when you realize how easy some of these changes to more sustainable choices can be. Also, thanks for the recommendation for that recycled paper, I'll definitely look into it!
  • 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?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/26/2021 3:59 PM
    Similar to my healing and renewal challenge, I started working on this challenge soon after creating my EcoChallenge account. I usually try to walk to work, which is on campus, and I also try to walk to Westwood for food and groceries as much as possible. Although in the past, I sometimes have driven or gotten rides when I didn’t need to. After beginning this challenge, I became much more aware of the impacts of taking unnecessary car trips, especially after reading the “Lyft on Campus” article in class. In the past four weeks or so, I have only used a car once, to get more groceries than I could carry. I plan to continue trying to use a car only when necessary, not when I’m lazy or it is convenient. 

    When I walk on campus or through Westwood I feel way more connected to my surrounding community. Walking by others enjoying campus or getting exercise makes me feel better about walking and encourages me to walk more. On the other hand, I don’t feel engaged in my community at all when I drive around Westwood. Everyone is always in a hurry or honking in the In n’ Out line. Driving at school is much more of a chore and pain than it is for me at home. However, I am grateful for this because it always me to reduce my carbon footprint. 

    I haven’t had the chance to bike or take the bus yet, but I am going to look into taking the bus to the beach and other places in the future. I normally uber because I don’t have a car on campus, but it would be better for the environment and most likely for my wallet to find public transportation, even if it does take a little bit longer to get there. I am looking into getting a bike so I can work further from campus and not have to drive. I have always thought it would be great to bike to and from work but where I live in Minnesota, this hasn’t been feasible in the past. Hopefully, I can find a used bike so I can cut down on carbon emissions and get a good workout on my way to work and other nearby places. 

    I included an image from my walk home from work the other day. When it is nice out, I find it extremely relaxing to take a walk and listen to music or a podcast. I hope to encourage some of my friends with cars to walk more often and not to take unnecessary trips in the car. 

    • Hannah Yates's avatar
      Hannah Yates 5/21/2021 11:38 AM
      Hey! I loved hearing about the new incorporation of walking to your daily life! Since this class has begun, I have also been more mindful of using walking as my main method of transportation! Before, I was also definitely guilty of using uber or asking for rides, but since this class have begun, I started to analyze every decision to use a car. Before I do drive, I decide weather or not I actually need to use gas to get where I need to go. Typically, I decide that walking is better for my own mental and physical health and so much better for the environmental health. And so, I rarely use my car.
      Something else I did since the start of this class was having discussions with my friends about how our transportation usage is affecting the environment. This is just to spread awareness of how directly our actions are affecting the environment. 

    • CHARLOTTE CHAN's avatar
      CHARLOTTE CHAN 4/26/2021 10:58 PM
      I definitely agree that walking makes me feel like I'm part of a community, so much more so than driving. You definitely miss out on a lot when driving from point A to point B while ignoring everything in between departure and destination.
      Also, I totally second that driving in LA is always so much of a pain. I hate to complain but I feel like everyone is always in a rush, people get irritated so easily, it puts me in a bad mood and it definitely raises my blood pressure. It is really hard to get used to driving in LA when I come from a quiet suburban area. But walking in Westwood is a completely different experience altogether. The scenery is always enjoyable and it provides a much-needed break from the 24/7 Zoom sessions! Ever since I started walking to work, I look forward to it every day and I don't really want to revert to driving even though it is more time-saving. 
      I also want to try public transport. It would be a good alternative to driving for greater distances. I've heard the bus system is quite convenient and even the metro system is not bad. But I always feel a bit unsafe taking public transport, especially in the evenings. Although, I'm not sure if this is a valid concern or if I'm just worried for no good reason.
  • 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?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/22/2021 11:27 PM
    When I made my EcoChallenge account the first challenge I started was this healing and renewal mindful eating challenge. Every day I have been making it a priority to eat my meals without watching TV or going on my phone. Instead, I have been eating outside or with my roommates when we are free to do so. So far, I have found that I end up eating much slower and I enjoy my food more than when I just shove it in my mouth while I scroll through Twitter or Instagram. When I have been eating without distractions I try to sit down and have my meal last at least 15 minutes. It is a nice break from class and homework and also helps prevent me from eating too much food. 

    Growing up, I always ate dinner with my family at the dinner table with no TV or phones in sight. As my sister and I got older, we started eating at different times because of school, sports, and other activities and stopped eating dinner at the dinner table with family every night. This challenge somewhat reminds me of those times when we were younger and would talk at the table and enjoy our meals. Now it seems like we need to be constantly checking our phones or doing something important that takes away from the enjoyment of eating a meal with friends or in peace. While sometimes it is nice to have a show on in the background while we eat, I found that it is pretty unnecessary. Conversing with friends and family or just thinking about the rest of the day seems to be way more beneficial to my mental health. I am going to continue this practice and I hope to get some more of my friends and family to practice mindfulness while eating. 

    In the picture that I attached is a buddha bowl that I made for lunch the other day. They are relatively easy to make but taste delicious. This lunch was much tastier than the previous bowls I have made because I ate it outside without distractions. In the future, I want to substitute something for the chicken so I can make it a vegetarian meal. I just haven’t found the right ingredient yet. 
  • 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?

    Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/18/2021 3:23 PM
    For this challenge, I added the SeafoodWatch app to my phone and spent around half an hour learning about ways that I can make smarter seafood choices. From my previous introduction to marine science class, I have some knowledge about farming, harmful fishing practices, and the state of our oceans. However, we did not talk about what exact species we should avoid or buy as consumers. On the SeafoodWatch app, I looked up what species to avoid that are in the Eastern Central Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California. I found that bluefin tuna, pacific rock shrimp, sea bass, and mako sharks were the species that would be the best to avoid. For the most part, my diet rarely includes these species but occasionally I will have some pasta with shrimp or sushi with tuna. I have never really considered the exact species when buying sushi or seafood but now I realize that I should think about the impact my purchase could be making. I do not know of any fresh fish markets, but I want to see if I can find one in the future. Being able to ask how what methods were used to catch the fish would help me decide if my purchase was sustainable or not. 

    I also looked at what alternatives were best and found that some alternatives are albacore tuna, Pacific herring, and blacktail snapper. In the future, I will try to find these types of fish when I am making dinner or use my SeafoodWatch app to determine the impact of my purchase of some other species. Additionally, I learned that the best way to support sustainable seafood is by asking the restaurant or store if they serve sustainable seafood. They won’t always know, but this will increase sustainable product demand and will hopefully get the store/restaurant to increase their sustainable seafood knowledge. I need to incorporate this practice more often for other types of food as well, not just seafood. If consumers ask for and demand sustainable products and foods, businesses and restaurants will be forced to make the transition. 

    Lastly, I am hoping to share the information that I learned with my parents soon. We usually have salmon every couple of weeks but I have never paid attention to if it was wild-caught, farmed, or where it came from. Hopefully, by talking to my parents they will purchase more sustainable seafood options as well. 



    • Alejandro Morales's avatar
      Alejandro Morales 4/18/2021 10:10 PM
      Hey Blake, I think thats awesome! I will definitely check out this app. Even though I personally do not eat seafood, the rest of my family absolutely loves it. I'll definitely recommend it to my father the next time he buys the ingredients to make his favorite ceviche. You touched on a really great point that I did not think about, and that is asking the people serving the food if they have any sustainable meals, or if the dishes are made of sustainable practices. Obviously most of them might not know how to answer, but if all of us collectively decide to have that as one of our criteria when dining out, then eventually it will catch on, gain momentum, and they might change things to make their food more sustainable. Overall great work man!

    • Katherine Jordak's avatar
      Katherine Jordak 4/18/2021 9:26 PM
      Hi Blake! Thank you for your post. I think this ecochallenge is really interesting and will probably do it as well! I love fish and eat a lot of it, whether it be canned tuna, baked salmon, or fish in my sushi. However, I too have never considered the impact of my fish consumption on the environment. I always thought that fish was always a better option than other red meat or poultry. 

      I am curious to learn more about how fish are farmed or caught can impact the environment. I have definitely heard bits of information about how farming fish can be bad, and catching fish with certain methods can harm the natural ecology of that location. I also feel like when buying sushi, it can be difficult to know exactly what fish they use and how it is caught. Perhaps it would be useful in the future to implement including this information in food labels, so the consumer can make more educated choices about the type of fish they are buying. 

  • Blake Salfer's avatar
    Blake Salfer 4/12/2021 11:11 AM
    Like many of my peers, I didn't know the topic of focus of this course when I decided to take this class. I mainly enrolled in 100W because I needed another English course to fulfill the year of English requirement for medical school applications. So far, I have really enjoyed this course and have found the in-class conversations to be extremely interesting. With the incorporation of Drawdown Ecochallenge and climate action events, this course will teach me more about how I can help fight the climate crisis in my everyday life. I was excited when I found out the main topic of the course was climate change and the impact it will have on our future careers. I have learned a lot about climate change in previous UCLA courses, but have never considered the impact on my future career. I am looking forward to beginning research on my specific career path!

    As an out-of-state student from northern Minnesota, I have always had a fondness for the outdoors and nature. I love to fish, camp, hike, or do anything outdoors. For most of college, I have mainly considered how climate change will affect our environment and the biodiversity on Earth. My intended career does not exactly correlate with the outdoors, but I want to be able to enjoy nature and possibly take my family to National Parks and other fascinating places when I have my career figured out. I want to try and change my lifestyle as much as possible and encourage others to do the same so we can all enjoy the world in the future and be healthy. 

    I chose to include an image from my spring break trip that I took with a few of my roommates to northern California. We were able to visit multiple redwood State Parks and Patrick’s Point State Park, which is shown in the picture. These were some of the coolest places I have been and I want others to be able to enjoy them for years to come. We all must try and teach others what we learn in this class so our future generations can enjoy this planet.