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Abigail Urbina's avatar

Abigail Urbina

Low Energy Enthusiasts

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 696 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    1
    donations
    made
  • up to
    280
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    130
    minutes
    spent learning
  • up to
    2
    locally sourced meals
    consumed
  • up to
    17
    meatless or vegan meals
    consumed
  • up to
    455
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    10
    minutes
    spent outdoors
  • up to
    17
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill

Abigail's 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

Transportation

Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle

Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars

I will spend at least 40 minutes researching and weighing my options to see if a hybrid or electric vehicle makes sense for my lifestyle.

Completed
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 1
DAILY ACTION

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

Reduce Single-Use Disposables

Bioplastics

I will avoid buying and using 4 single-use plastics and instead replace them with durable options.

COMPLETED 4
DAILY ACTIONS

Action Track: Building Resilience

Support Local Food Systems

Plant-Rich Diets

I will source 15 percent of my food from local producers each day. This could include signing up for a local CSA, buying from a farmer's market, visiting a food co-op, foraging with a local group, or growing my own ingredients.

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

Action Track: Healing & Renewal

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 10
DAILY ACTIONS

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 3
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Reduce Animal Products

Plant-Rich Diets

I will enjoy 1 meatless or vegan meal(s) each day of the challenge.

COMPLETED 12
DAILY ACTIONS

Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

Learn the Truth About Expiration Dates

Reduced Food Waste

I will spend at least 20 minutes learning how to differentiate between sell by, use by, and best by dates.

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 18
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed

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

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/24/2021 2:51 PM
    I was raised in a household that emphasizes the value and privilege of being able to put food on the table everyday. Before coming to college, when I still lived at my parents’ house, we would always hold hands and pray together before eating dinner. We acknowledge food as a grace and a blessing because we are aware that many families struggle to put healthy meals on the dinner table every night. My parents grew up in the Philippines, where many families are poverty-stricken and have trouble providing their children nutritious, sustainable meals everyday. Given their experiences in the Philippines, I have been taught by my parents growing up to avoid wasting food. Whether that meant finishing the food on my plate or storing it away in the refrigerator for later consumption, I always tried to avoid throwing my leftovers in the trash. I acknowledge, however, that refrigerators may not be widely available in underdeveloped countries. Whenever I go to restaurants, I usually try to share an entree with my sister when I know that the servings will be too large for me to finish in one sitting. Not only does this save us some money, but it also prevents us from having wasted leftovers. 

    Now that I live in my college apartment in Westwood, most of my meals are not served “family style” like they are when I am at my parents’ house. That is, I am usually the only one that eats the meals I cook. Because of this, it can be difficult to estimate how much I should cook everyday. I never know if I am preparing too little or too much food. If I have excess leftovers from a meal, I sometimes offer them to my roommates, but they are not always willing to eat them. For this reason, it is a lot easier for more of my individually-prepared food to go to waste. Generating food waste produces more detrimental effects to the environment than I had previously realized, as Project Drawdown emphasizes that “[p]roducing uneaten foods squanders a whole host of resources – seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital – and generates greenhouse gases at every stage.” Transportation and industrial manufacturing are not the only sectors that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as Project Drawdown also cites that the “food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions.” I can easily cancel out my sustainable transportation efforts by wasting food! 

    I typically eat my meals at my desk so that I can work on my computer at the same time as eating. It can be difficult dividing my attention equally between food and work. Sometimes, I get preoccupied and stressed out with my homework that I forget about the food that is sitting right in front of me. The stress I face with schoolwork often makes me lose my appetite, and I generally end up throwing my food away instead of saving it. Other times, the distraction of my computer will make me eat too much without realizing that I am already satisfied with the amount of food I ate. Whenever I am not doing homework while eating, I am typically scrolling through Instagram or Facebook on my phone instead. I am going to try to put both my phone and my laptop away as much as I can whenever I eat because according to feedyourpotential365, a study found that “a distracted eater ate more not only during the distracted meal, but also had a greater intake later in the day.” I have noticed that I tend to do a lot of “midnight snacking,” so I am hoping that eating more mindfully will help to curb my late-night hunger. I am also going to try to avoid eating meals at my desk because I find that just sitting at my desk alone makes me feel more anxious. I typically associate my desk with sentiments of stress, anxiety, and tiredness related to school, so I do not want these negative thoughts to prevent me from enjoying a delicious meal that I worked hard to prepare. 

    Furthermore, I am trying to be more conscious about my weight and my dietary choices because I have gained a few pounds staying in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the past year. According to Harvard University, “[m]ultitasking...and distracted or hurried eating can prompt you to eat more.” After reading this, it made me realize that perhaps this is why a lot of college students experience the “freshman fifteen” (i.e., gain about 15 pounds during their freshman year). Maybe the stresses of balancing school, work, food, and extracurriculars cause us college students to eat distractedly.I have noticed that whenever I practice mindfulness while eating, I feel less anxious and can take more time to reap the benefits of the efforts I put into cooking. Whenever I spend a decent amount of time (usually about an hour or more) preparing a particular meal, I feel much less inclined to throw away my leftovers. Why would I want to let all my labor and love go to waste? More importantly, why would I want all the carbon emissions released in order to produce my meal be released for nothing? Whenever I eat mindfully, I do less snacking and feel more satisfied throughout the day. On a more personal level, To help me avoid the issues of producing too little or too much food, I am going to try “meal prepping” on weekends so that I have several meals already prepared for me to eat throughout the week. I love to bake lots of cauliflower and asparagus to be included in several of my meals each week. Luckily, I have plenty of glass tupperware in my kitchen!

    Sources:
  • 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?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/23/2021 7:24 PM
    I love seafood, but given the many allergies that I have, I am only able to eat certain types of seafood. For instance, I avoid eating codfish because I have had several allergic reactions to that type of fish in the past. I especially love shellfish, and my family and I love to purchase shrimp, crab, and mussels from The Boiling Crab. If I am going to be honest, I have never thought to question where my seafood comes from whenever I order it from restaurants or purchase it from the grocery store. After taking the time to explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, I learned a lot about the different types of seafood species from various regions that I should refrain from purchasing. The website categorizes their purchasing recommendations under four groups: “best choice,” “certified,” “good alternative,” and “avoid.” These ratings were formulated by evaluating how well the species is managed and whether their farming/harvesting methods cause harm to the marine habitats from which they are extracted. According to the website, it says that blue crab from Chesapeake Bay in Maryland is the “best choice,” and they recommend that we buy this first because “they’re well managed and caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife.” The next best crab option is blue crab from the Western Central Atlantic Ocean. To be honest, I felt somewhat relieved after reading this because whenever my parents purchase crab to cook at home, we always purchase blue crab. We don’t ever purchase rock crab, dungeness crab, or other types of crab from the grocery store. However, I’ve never taken the time to see where these crabs come from before we purchase them from the grocery store, so I don’t actually know if we’re buying the most sustainable kinds of crab. I was a bit alarmed to know that I should avoid purchasing Atlantic rock crab, as the website indicates that “they’re overfished, or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.” Ultimately, the website suggests that if we want to buy blue crab, it should come from “Alabama, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay waters.” I don’t eat shrimp, crab, or mussels as often as I eat poultry, so I would like to believe that I fall within their consumption guidelines. However, in order for me to ensure that I comply with their suggestions to support seafood sustainability, I am going to now take advantage of what the website describes as “end-to-end traceability.” Nonetheless, there are still many difficulties that consumers face when trying to determine where their seafood is sourced from. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium, in the processing stages after harvesting, “[o]nce mixed, the sustainably raised fish are indistinguishable from fish raised in environmentally poor ways.” It’s somewhat common for seafood from different regions to get mixed up, which makes it difficult for consumers to discern which seafood was ethically sourced and which was not. However, I feel very optimistic with the advances in technology that will enable us to “scan a product package with [our smartphones] and learn how and where [our] seafood was harvested.” At Whole Foods, I’ve noticed that if you buy some frozen seafood, the package will have a small label which indicates whether it was responsibly farmed (see the small blue circle on the right side of the package in the picture). According to the packaging of these Atlantic salmon fillets from Whole Foods, the store requires minimal environmental damage from harvesting, traceability (from the time of harvest to delivery to the store), and third-party audits in order to qualify as “responsibly farmed.” From here on out, whenever I purchase frozen seafood from Whole Foods or other grocery stores, I will try to look for some type of official indication of sustainability on the packaging. If I get fresh seafood from the deli, I will be sure to ask the butcher if they know where the products came from. 

    • Neha Joshi's avatar
      Neha Joshi 5/24/2021 12:25 AM
      Hi Abigail and Amanda!
      Abigail, I think it’s really cool that you are looking into where your seafood comes from. I like how you found the exact places your seafood should be coming from. I will also be doing that! I also really enjoy seafood and will definitely be paying attention to the farming practices used for the fish I buy. I’m going to exclusively try to buy fish that is sustainably and ethically sourced. I personally eat a lot of Atlantic salmon, which according to the Seafood Watch is actually very sustainable when farmed in indoor recirculating systems. These systems have low chemical use and have little disease transmission because outbreaks are rare. I wonder what farming practice was used to farm the salmon you bought at Whole Foods. I’m hoping that because they say it’s being sustainably farmed, it's an indoor recirculating system. I recently went to Sprouts and asked what farming practices they employ. They told me that they use indoor recirculating systems and I was very relieved! I believe the fish is also locally farmed. I recommend checking out Sprouts as well for fish!

      Amanda, I also really enjoy sushi! I eat predominantly plant based during the weekdays but do enjoy sushi over the weekend. As I mentioned earlier, I really like Atlantic salmon and try to choose that option over other types of fish at sushi restaurants. Also, I haven’t seen Seaspiracy but I’m very curious about the subject and will probably give it a watch this week! I know there was some criticism about it being too extreme, as you mentioned. I also really liked exploring the Seafood watch website because it offered information that was both realistic and very clear. For people who don’t want to give up fish completely, I think it’s important for them to educate themselves on sustainable fishing practices. The Seafood watch website makes it very easy to research many different types of fish and farming practices to ensure that you make the knowledge to make the most sustainable decisions! 


    • Amanda Adolfo's avatar
      Amanda Adolfo 5/23/2021 8:59 PM
      Hi Abigail! I think it's great that you've taken the steps to educate yourself on where your fish is sourced from. I think most people don't know or don't think about where their food comes from because it's not necessarily a common talking point and we don't learn about it in K-12 education, so it makes sense that we don't know a lot about where our fish comes from or which ones are more vulnerable than others.

      I have taken a journey to lessen my meat intake, though interestingly enough, I never necessarily considered fish as "meat" (even though I know it is because it is still an animal). I guess I never grouped it into the agricultural meat category or red meat category, when in reality, fish is caught/farmed on mass scales.

      Personally, I really enjoy sushi. Especially salmon because it tastes so good. From the seafood watch website, I was surprised to learn that there are still some salmon options that are okay for me to consume. For example, the best choice it offers is Atlantic Salmon (like the one you posted) which is farmed in indoor recirculating tanks. I noticed, however, that it told me to avoid Atlantic Salmon that has been farmed by the marine net pen. 

      From the website, I also learned that it's unsustainable to catch fish through the marine net pen. For one, overfishing can remove too much fish from their ocean habitat and make the entire ecosystem go out of balance! This is not good since a balanced ocean ecosystem is required for carbon sequestration. 

      Lastly, this website reminded me of a movie I watched on Netflix, "Seaspiracy." It's a very eye-opening movie about the creatures that live in the sea and how farming methods harm them and the environment. I would say this movie takes on a bit more extreme form against fish farming because they have zero tolerance for any kind of fish farming. It also brought to light the plastic straw debate. While it is important to keep plastic out of the environment, the movie mentioned that people are so concerned over plastic straws when being a consumer of the fishing industry is way more harmful to ocean life. That's why I like the Seafood Watch website because it gives more of a realistic solution for people who are trying to be more mindful of what they're eating or transitioning to cutting fish out of their diet completely. 
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Support Local Food Systems
    Dependable fresh food, supporting local farmers and building resilient communities are just a few benefits of local food systems. Which of these (or other) advantages inspire you the most?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/23/2021 5:13 PM
    For the past 3 quarters, my roommates and I have been participating in the CSA box program as well as the compost program of the Westwood Food Cooperative (WWFC). Students that are living in the Westwood area can sign up to receive an assortment of produce that is sourced from local Los Angeles farmers. A box of produce costs about $10, which I think is a great deal for the amount of items we typically get. In the past, our CSA boxes have included kale, chard, carrots, and other fresh vegetables. I signed up for another CSA produce box to be delivered to my Westwood apartment next week. As a result of my ongoing research, I knew that eating more plant-based foods was better for the environment, but I did not truly realize that where our produce is sourced from is also extremely important. In other words, eating plant-based is good, but eating locally-sourced produce is better. According to Molly Watson of The Spruce Eats, “[l]ocal foods usually have less environmental impact” because when food is shipped or transported long distances, a huge carbon footprint is left behind by the vehicles which transport them. Furthermore, Watson emphasizes that by “buying foods grown and raised close to where you live, you help maintain farmland and green space in your area.” More green space means more land sinks to absorb carbon dioxide! You are also supporting your local economy and infrastructure by spending your money on locally-sourced produce. Instead of supporting a large corporation in a completely different area from where you live, you can help financially maintain various local businesses. My roommates and I also purchased a “compost buddy” for $4 from the Westwood Food Cooperative that we place in our kitchen. We place our produce scraps there, but as per the advice of WWFC, we do not put any dairy or meat products in the bin. They urge us to fill these bins in a “vegan” manner! Overall, according to Project Drawdown, favoring a plant-based diet “reduce[s] land clearing, fertilizer use, burping cattle, and greenhouse gas emissions.” Our “compost buddy” is a reusable bin, so we go every week to the WWFC headquarters on Roebling Avenue in Westwood (either on Wednesdays or Saturdays) to empty our compost bins of the food waste for later reuse. If you visit their website, you will see that they say “our compost is processed [at their headquarters] and then returned to the local farmers who [they] source their CSA from.” Although I try my best to minimize the amount of food waste I generate, keeping this “compost buddy” in our kitchen is a great way of holding ourselves accountable. That way, if we ever do happen to have food waste, we know that the nutrients can be returned to the earth. I have also started to grow my own dill and cilantro on the balcony of my apartment. Now, I don’t have to purchase these ingredients from the market! I want to continue supporting local food systems because it reduces carbon emissions, the produce tastes fresher, I can build new relationships with the farmers/food cooperative volunteers, and I am financially supporting my local infrastructure.

    Sources:
  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle
    Reducing (or eliminating) exhaust emissions and improving public health are two benefits of green vehicles. What other motivators inspire you to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/23/2021 3:41 PM
    Throughout my four years living in Westwood, I have never had my car with me. My car would always stay at my parents’ house. I would often complain because I thought having a car would make my life so much more convenient – especially if I wanted to drive to a grocery store, a restaurant, or a mall. In retrospect, however, not bringing a car with me to Westwood was great because it prevented me from driving any unnecessary short-distance trips to the store. For the most part, my parents and I share all of our cars. The lease on my car is about to end next month, so my parents and I have to decide whether we want to keep this car or whether we would want to invest in a new car. I am more inclined to switch over to an electric car because according to Project Drawdown, “[c]ompared to gasoline-powered vehicles, emissions drop by 50 percent if an [electric vehicle’s] power comes off the conventional grid.” In fact, they can drop by an even greater extent of 95 percent “if powered by solar energy.” I know several electric vehicle owners, and one common complaint that I have heard from almost all of them is that you are not able to drive very far without needing to recharge your electric vehicle. Given that gasoline-powered engines still seem to dominate the automobile industry, electric vehicle charging stations are not as common throughout cities. As such, finding a charging station is substantially more difficult than finding a local gas station to fuel your car. Project Drawdown notes that on a single charge, electric vehicles can generally travel “a range of 80 to 90 miles, long enough for most daily travel.” Although the widespread prevalence of gas stations is convenient, I have noticed that I have to refill my gas tank very frequently. I probably need to go to the gas station once a week, which tells me that my car is not very fuel-efficient. On top of that, every full gas tank refill costs me around $50, which certainly adds up if I am going to the gas station weekly. The relative cheapness of electricity compared to gasoline makes electric vehicles seem like a much more attractive option to me. I believe that the money I would save from not purchasing gasoline every week very well compensates for the “downfall” of electric cars not having a large traveling mileage range. The financial advantages of an electric car are huge motivators for me to trade in my current car after its lease is over. To be quite honest, I don’t personally like to drive very long distances to begin with, as I have extensive lower back pain that becomes aggravated when I sit for very long periods of time. I have never found myself needing to drive long distances in the past, so I don’t anticipate that my habits would change if I were to purchase an electric vehicle in the near future. Even if I were to go on a road trip, I would try my best to plan around the limited availability of charging stations. Perhaps I would only lodge in cities with lots of charging stations. In the worst case scenario, I could rent a conventional car for this single trip just to avoid any hassles with recharging my electric car. Energy Sage outlined many of the advantages of electric cars, and I am a huge fan of the fact that electric vehicles are versatile in the sense that they can be fueled “from renewable sources, such as wind, hydropower, and solar [power].” This would mean that I would not have to be completely reliant on gasoline and oil companies to fuel my transportation methods. After doing further reading on Energy Sage, I think it would definitely be a worthwhile investment to purchase solar panels in my future home as an adult so that I “produce [my] own free electricity” to charge my electric vehicle. Not only would I eliminate trips to gasoline stations, but I would also save money by installing solar panels because my electricity bills would not skyrocket as much. My boyfriend has a hybrid vehicle right now, and while he is able to travel longer distances with the gasoline-powered component of his engine, I think I would rather commit to a more “complete” transition to fully electric cars (as opposed to an “in-between” transition to hybrids). If I could stop fueling my cars with gasoline entirely, why would I not want to be able to do so as soon as possible? According to fueleconomy.gov, the engines of electric vehicles are quieter and have stronger acceleration capabilities. I also don’t really mind waiting a few hours for an electric car to charge. It would probably be something to get used to, but I think that change is very minor and something I could learn to adapt to. I had cousins visiting from out-of-town, and we decided to go take a look at the Tesla showroom and dealership near my parents’ house. I plan to visit different Tesla and Audi dealerships to explore what my options are. I am going to be discussing these pros and cons with my parents so that we can make an informed decision before deciding what to do when my car’s lease ends. A Tesla Model 3 is around the same price, if not cheaper, than the car I own right now. As such, I don't think we will be spending much more money than we already are. I'm excited to hopefully get a new electric car soon!

    Sources:
    • https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/electric-cars
    • https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml
    • https://www.energysage.com/electric-vehicles/advantages-of-evs/
  • 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?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/23/2021 1:58 PM
    Throughout my education, I have realized that there is a broad disconnect between social rights, gender equity, and environmental issues. It is easy to forget that our global population is growing at a relatively fast rate. I have learned in previous ecology courses that scientists believe we are well beyond our planet’s carrying capacity (measured in terms of the natural resources that are available). If we are able to financially support programs for sexual education and family planning, more women across the globe will be able to make informed decisions and have control over whether they want children in the first place. Even more so, they can have control over how many children they want to have. According to Project Drawdown, “[w]omen with more years of education have fewer and healthier children.” Having a smaller human population would inevitably lead to a smaller anthropogenic contribution to carbon emissions. In a 2018 TedTalk, Katharine Wilkinson cites Project Drawdown and reiterates that “one billion fewer people could mean we avoid nearly 120 billion tons of [greenhouse gas] emissions.” This is primarily because a smaller population would “dramatically reduce demand for food, transportation, electricity, [and] buildings.” Beyond disseminating information about reproductive health, educational programs for women provide a foundation upon which women can take more informed, effective actions to preserve our natural resources. Katharine Wilkinson also argues that if we provide more resources to women, who happen to be the primary farmers of the world, we can be more efficient with our food production output. This could potentially mean that we can avoid more deforestation, a large contributor to carbon emissions, if women farmers are able to produce more food with a certain amount of land. At the end of the day, I am a firm believer that women are entitled to the right to decide what they do with their own bodies. As such, they should be able to exercise the right to carry a pregnancy if they WANT to. A lack of reproductive education and/or a lack of access to resources often leads to unintended pregnancies. Drastic increases in population sizes can put a massive strain on resource availability. As such, there are many beneficial environmental effects that are indirect byproducts of increasing family planning resources. Project Drawdown emphasizes that “225 million women in lower-income countries say they want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception.” We should not deny women the right to learn more about how they can take control over their bodies, how they can develop the resilience to cope with ongoing climate struggles, how they can efficiently optimize their resources. Although it may not be obvious to many, we cannot perceive gender inequity as an issue that is isolated from the climate crisis. As common as unintended pregnancies may be throughout the world, this does not undermine the notion that women should exercise the ability to choose if and when they want to have children. Pregnancies take a physical, emotional, and financial toll on women, so all women deserve to have the knowledge on how to navigate these issues. Ultimately, I feel very grateful and privileged to have received an education on these matters growing up, so I decided to donate some money to help support these programs for women who may not have had the same resources I had growing up. Gender inequity is a pervading issue that impacts almost every sector, including the medical sector, so I will continue to do more research on ways to support women empowerment educational programs. I have a friend who is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology at Harvard, and she has done extensive research as an undergraduate on family planning profiles in Armenia. I will reach out to her to see if she can educate me more on the relationship between family planning and the climate crisis. Because we are reaching a point where most of our environmental damage is irreversible, it is important that we try to adapt our forms of contraception to become more sustainable. For instance, I wonder if different companies can manufacture condoms that are less likely to pollute landfills and oceans. It is critical that every “innovation” or piece of technology we develop moving forward is sustainable for our environment. 

    Sources:
    • https://www.ted.com/talks/katharine_wilkinson_how_empowering_women_and_girls_can_help_stop_global_warming/up-next
    • https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/health-and-education

    Donation link: https://www.friendsofunfpa.org/how-to-help/ 
  • Reflection Question
    Industry Reduce Single-Use Disposables
    What single-use items (e.g. straws, coffee cups, vegetable bags, plastic bags) do you regularly use? What could be substituted instead?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/22/2021 2:32 PM
    In the past, especially during pre-COVID times, I would often not care to bring my own cups or bags to coffee shops and grocery stores. In fact, I previously thought getting plastic bags from the grocery stores was great because I could then reuse those plastic shopping bags as my trash bags in the bathroom or kitchen. However, I’ve come to realize that the convenience of having plastic trash bags comes at a high cost to the environment. Now, I always bring reusable grocery bags with me to the store. According to Project Drawdown, the “roughly 310 million tons of plastic each year…[are] made from fossil fuels.” If we were to transition from using petro-plastics to using bio-based plastics, this would greatly reduce the amount of carbon emissions we generate. Although I was aware that single-use plastics generate lots of waste, I never truly realized the magnitude of waste that is left un-reused. I was quite disheartened after learning from the Green Education Foundation that “of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the US in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling.” However, I was somewhat proud of myself after reading their list of tips to reduce plastic waste and realizing that my roommates and I had already been practicing some of these habits. For instance, in my Westwood college apartment, we have invested in purchasing many metal reusable straws. If we happen to order any to-go beverages from restaurants or shops, we never ask for plastic straws because we always bring metal straws with us. I am personally a huge coffee lover, so I always enjoy supporting local coffee shops and purchasing drinks from them. Instead of having my iced coffee packed in a disposable plastic container, I bring my reusable coffee tumbler that I purchased from Starbucks. Within the past year, there have been many sanitation concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic that forced restaurants to stop allowing people to bring their own cups, but I believe some places are gradually allowing customers to bring their own containers. Either way, I always like to bring it with me just incase they are willing to package my drink there instead! According to Kirsten Kaminski from The Tasty K, a plastic bottle from which we drink “will most likely still be on this planet when your grand grand grand child is born.” I knew that plastic lingers for a very long time, but this was a great example to quantify just how long it remains. The hundreds, if not thousands, of years it would take for the plastic to decompose is too slow to keep up with the rapid progression of climate change. My roommates and I all own reusable water bottles which we bring everywhere with us. We use a Brita to fill up our Hydro Flasks before we leave the apartment, so we ultimately minimize the money we spend on bottled water, and we refrain from drinking from plastic water bottles as much as possible. In our kitchen, we also have lots of glass tupperware that we use to store any of our food leftovers. We do own some plastic tupperware because they seem to be somewhat cheaper than the glass counterparts, but I personally prefer using the glass ones because I feel like my food is less likely to be contaminated from plastic-related chemicals. I attended a climate action event on plastic waste and learned that we consume, on average, a credit card’s worth of plastic each week. Ever since I learned that, I’ve refrained from packing any of my food leftovers in plastic containers and have instead used glass containers. However, I now wonder what I should do with all the plastic tupperware I own. Can the plastic from these containers be repurposed to manufacture more sustainable products? Although these products are not disposable, single-use items, I do not want to be contributing to more plastic waste! One thing I love about having reusable cups, straws, and containers is that it takes a lot more time to fill up the trash bins in our apartment. Instead of filling up our trash bins with these items, they go directly into our sink so that they can be washed and later reused. It makes life easier on us because we don’t have to take our trash out as often! Sometimes, it can be a hassle to take the trash out because we live in an apartment complex and have to walk relatively far to empty our bins into the designated city bins. Now, I hope to eliminate my use of Ziploc plastic bags, and my roommates and I would like to invest in purchasing more silicone Stasher bags for our foods.

    Sources
    • https://www.thetastyk.com/2018/04/18/8-simple-hacks-to-reduce-plastic-waste-at-home/
    • http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-less-plastic.html
    • https://zerowastehome.com/tips/
    • https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/bioplastics

    • Caitlin Tanji's avatar
      Caitlin Tanji 5/24/2021 1:02 AM
      Hi Abigail! I could totally relate to wanting an excessive amount of plastic bags from the grocery store to re-use for later. Growing up, it was tradition in my household to gather all our plastic bags and fold them into triangles and put them in a reusable tote in our pantry. My family never considered bringing those plastic bags back to the grocery store. Instead, we would use it to transport food for lunches or field trips and dispose them right after. Recently, my family has transitioned to always using reusable bags while grocery shopping. One tip I have for you is to leave them in your car or by your house door so you don’t forget them! Also, I leave a foldable bag in my purse. I often feel a sense of frustration when I leave without my reusable bags. I love how you emphasized in your post that you didn’t realize the magnitude of our single-use plastic waste. I also think it’s great that you can implement sustainable practices into your lifestyle. You mentioned that you are a huge coffee lover (me too!) and so you bring metal straws and support local coffee shops. You even stated how you bring a reusable tumbler instead of using their normal, non-biodegradable plastic containers. Personally, I think I would only go as far as bringing my own straw and feeling a sense of accomplishment so I admire you for being so considerate on so many levels! You also mentioned another great example of reusable water bottles. I also love using my hydroflask! Before COVID-19, I remember hearing so many hydroflasks falling down in class, which was both annoyingly loud and comforting knowing lots of students were using reusable water bottles. I’m glad you and your roommates have been using a Brita filter. This reminded me of a time where a friend came over to my apartment and my Brita was almost empty. She asked me for water so I handed her a plastic water bottle. I was shocked when she refused and insisted that she could wait for me to refill my Brita dispenser. At the time, I didn’t really care about the environmental impact of my actions. I felt inconvenienced that she would not accept my gesture of handing her a water bottle instead of being grateful for her consideration of the environment. I’m glad I read your post because I was able to reflect on this experience and see how my values have changed!

    • Gianna Apoderado's avatar
      Gianna Apoderado 5/23/2021 11:00 PM
      Hi Abigail! It’s great that you already reduce your use of single-use, petroleum-based plastics! We really cannot avoid it, as many of our essentials are packaged in it. However, whenever possible, we can make choices that significantly reduce using single-use plastics. Similar to yourself and your roommates, I also regularly use reusable straws, bottle, and food containers. Since the onset of the pandemic, concerns over sanitation also admittedly had increased my use of single-use plastics. Prior to the pandemic, I always used reusable grocery bags, because I always found them more convenient, and generated less waste to clutter my dorm/apartment. With curbside pickup and takeout being more prominent, I had no choice but to use the plastic bags they provide. Luckily, the concern over COVID being found on surfaces is dying down, and many places are allowing you to use reusables again. I also went to a climate event that discussed waste, and it’s very disturbing that we consume that much plastic each week on average, and it makes me glad that I use mostly glass and stainless steel tupperware and containers. 

      I did an action recently that involved learning about bioplastics and how we can dispose of them, and it’s such an amazing material! Single-use plastics and their utility will never go away, so they should at least be made from materials that will break down into nontoxic elements. Bioplastics are biodegradable, and some are even compostable! If we purchase more products that utilize this, and make it a point to companies and corporations that as consumers we prefer this over petroleum plastics, maybe they will be incentivized to use it as well!

      I see that you’re looking to reduce your use of Ziploc bags! I too used a lot of them, since I always used them for bringing lunch to work/campus. Instead of the silicone Stasher bags, I use beeswax wraps, which are another great alternative! They can even be used as cling wrap. Congrats on taking this action!

    • Audrey Goodman's avatar
      Audrey Goodman 5/22/2021 3:29 PM
      Hi Abigail! I definitely relate to previously thinking plastic bags from the store were super helpful as bathroom trash bags or throwing dirty clothes in when I was on a trip somewhere, but I’ve since realized the cost of those plastic bags on the environment. I always use my reusable grocery bags when I go to the store, and it’s also more convenient since they tend to be sturdier and easier to carry anyways! Prior to the pandemic, I had noticed that bringing your own reusable coffee cup or mug was allowed at many coffee shops, and oftentimes even encouraged. I know at a few spots, you would get a discount if you brought your own cup, but like you mentioned, COVID-19 sanitary precautions have reversed some of this. Even during the pandemic, when places such as Trader Joe’s would not let you bring in your own grocery bags, they would put your goods back into the cart and let you load them into your own grocery bags outside. I think the encouragement to reuse to reduce waste will definitely contribute to spreading the importance of reusing when possible. I like how you mentioned reducing and eliminating the use of Ziploc plastic bags, as that is something that I have worked on. In elementary and middle school, Ziploc bags were a staple to pack my lunch and snacks in. However, I realized how wasteful they are, as they are single-use, and how easy it is to pack food in reusable containers. I rarely use Ziploc bags, if at all, anymore, and I hope to continue to take steps to reduce my waste.
  • 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?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 5/16/2021 10:45 PM
    I invited my boyfriend to calculate the carbon footprint for his household using the Tradewater carbon footprint calculator linked from Project Drawdown. His household’s carbon footprint of 4.2 tons of carbon emissions per month slightly exceeds 4 monthly tons of carbon emissions, which Tradewater acknowledges as “[t]he average monthly footprint of a US household.” Since he graduated from college last year, he is currently living at home with his parents during his gap year before graduate school. Because he has a full-time job, he drives his own personal car almost every day. He also lives in the San Fernando Valley, so he has mentioned to me how there is usually traffic for him on the 101 and 405 freeways every weekday. In the past, I have commuted to UCLA for summer classes, so I have experienced firsthand just how congested the freeways can be in the mornings and afternoons. We’ve discussed that sitting in traffic alone is one large contributor to increased vehicular carbon emissions. However, if there is any consolation for how often he drives, he does own a Ford Fusion hybrid car and hence does not need to fill up his car’s gas tank as frequently as others usually do. He mentioned that he fills up his gas tank every few weeks – as opposed to some people I know who refill their gas tanks every week or every two weeks. Like my family and me, my boyfriend and his parents do not fly frequently. We both realized that the last time we had been on an airplane was during the summer of 2019, when we were both abroad in Europe. We took a minute to reflect on how harmful it can be to fly frequently – especially if these flights cover relatively short distances that can be traveled using other transportation means. Of course, taking a flight might be the only logical mode of transportation for long-distance trips (e.g., flights overseas), but he mentioned that he tries to refrain from flying not only because it can be expensive, but also because he realizes that flying short distances can leave a huge carbon footprint behind and is something that can be avoided. We also discussed how meat is a very prominent component of our respective cultures’ traditional food dishes. He is Peruvian, so many of his favorite dishes happen to contain some sort of beef or chicken. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my parents and I sometimes like to joke that he is a “carnivore” just because he loves eating his meat dishes so much. He is a big fan of Brazilian steakhouses and Peruvian dishes such as “lomo saltado.” Some of his favorite meat dishes are so tasty that it is somewhat difficult to blame him for loving them so much. However, I’ve mentioned to him that there are ways for him and his family to make their diets more sustainable for the environment. I always make sure that I do not criticize his dietary choices and that I am not hypocritical about the issue of meat consumption. I have always grown up eating lots of meat as well, as many of my family’s favorite Filipino dishes are meat-based. Whenever I go out to eat at restaurants with my boyfriend, we usually order dishes with some type of meat. However, I am challenging us to cut down on ordering meat dishes whenever we order food from restaurants. Since he does not have any allergies like I do, I’ve encouraged him to experiment with different plant-based alternatives to meat, such as “Impossible” meat. I have committed myself to having at least one meatless meal per day, and I also try to uphold having “Meatless Mondays.” I have encouraged my boyfriend to join me in this challenge of Meatless Mondays not only because reducing meat consumption will help reduce carbon emissions, but also because this will greatly benefit our cardiovascular health. In the past, I have lost loved ones due to cardiovascular disease, so maintaining good cardiovascular health in any way that I can has sentimental importance to me. I have suggested to him that we should try to find more activities for us to do that are walking distance from our respective homes. This way, we can get more exercise by walking to our destinations, and we can also help reduce carbon emissions by cutting down our driving. If there are farther destinations that we need to go to, I’ve suggested that we opt to take public transportation instead of driving there. Rather than taking Uber or Lyft, we will try to take the bus more. This will also save us money by not paying for parking! I have not ordered an Uber or Lyft in more than a year, and I will try to avoid doing so unless it is absolutely necessary. In addition to encouraging his parents to join him in eating less meat, especially red meat, my boyfriend mentioned to me that he plans on encouraging his older brother (who no longer lives with them) to participate in Meatless Mondays with us. His brother is an athletic trainer and has mentioned to us that there are many different foods where we can obtain sufficient protein. 


    Resource: https://tradewater.us/offsetnow/#household 

    • Gianna Apoderado's avatar
      Gianna Apoderado 5/17/2021 10:52 PM
      Hi Abigail, thanks for sharing your and your boyfriend’s insights on this challenge! I also completed this action recently. I definitely feel you both on the traffic side of things, as living at home means for me access to a car. Combined with the lack of public transportation here and my home’s distance to essential places such as grocery stores, there’s really no getting around having to drive. It’s great that he doesn't use as much gas as the average person, that does really help! You also mention not flying frequently, which I resonate with because I haven’t been on a plane since vacationing to the Philippines in 2013. My family and I usually opt for closer places to spend our free time. As your boyfriend noted, short-distance flights should be substituted for other means of transportation because they do have a significant carbon footprint! 

      As I am Filipino too, I also have grown up consuming meat, and this is one of the hardest things to convince my parents to reduce. It’s something that I, and my household, continue to work on! One thing that has helped is finding more places and homemade recipes that are vegetarian. Our current go-to place for when we don’t cook at home is an Indian restaurant that has a fully vegan/vegetarian menu. The more we find dishes that can stand alone without any meat, the better it will be in our journey towards less meat consumption! I also resonate with what you said about cardiovascular health, because I am an aspiring cardiologist, and all of these things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint also happens to be good for your heart.

      Yes to public transport! It’s a great alternative to driving, for sure. For the 3-ish years that I lived at UCLA, I did not have a car, so I had to turn to walking and public transportation to get anywhere by myself. I rarely use ridesharing apps, either. You’re right in that it saves not only money, but cuts down your carbon footprint. To make public transport easier, I recommend downloading the Transit app, which maps out a route and the exact public transport you would need to take at what time to get there! I’ve even used it to go home from UCLA to San Bernardino County (which is over a 70-mile distance) a few times,  which limited the emissions that a car would have made had I asked my parents to pick me up by car instead. Great work, Abigail!
  • 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?

    Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 4/25/2021 9:34 PM
    According to Project Drawdown, diets which comprise of meat and dairy-based products stem from a food production sector that ultimately contributes “one-fifth of global [greenhouse gas] emissions.” I also learned that if I, along with many others, were to adopt a vegetarian diet, a 63% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions becomes much more feasible. Project Drawdown also acknowledges that “eating is profoundly personal and cultural,” so making somewhat “drastic” dietary changes can be more difficult due to the social implications of food. For me personally, eating is not only a necessity for survival, but it is also a social activity which facilitates bonding with others. I grew up in a Filipino household, where most Filipino dishes served contain some sort of meat or fish product. At the current moment, because I feel so heavily rooted in these cultural food traditions, I cannot imagine giving up some of those dishes – at least not immediately. My family loves eating Filipino food at the dinner table, and eating dinner together has definitely been pivotal to cultivating our strong social relationship. However, engaging in this research has pushed me to initiate a dialogue with my parents regarding the ways they can change their own diets not only to benefit our environment, but also to benefit their health! Now that I live in an apartment with several college roommates, one of whom is vegetarian, they have been able to teach me about a plethora of new meatless recipes that I would love to share with my parents. After all, they really only feel accustomed to cooking Filipino food. My roommates have taught me how to prepare their favorite roasted brussels sprout salad, and now I cook roasted brussel sprouts at least two times a week. I have also attached a picture of this “chicken-less” tortilla soup I made today. This soup is so immensely flavorful and spice-packed that I do not really notice or care that there is no chicken in it. I will definitely try to make this once a month, and it is so easy to make with an Instant Pot!

    Based on a few (unfortunate) experiences, I have realized that I am allergic to many popular processed, plant-based substitutes (e.g., non-dairy cheeses, vegan “meats,” and plant-based protein powders). However, during the times where I do choose to eat vegan meals, I typically do not purchase such meals from vegan restaurants that use the aforementioned products because I am never entirely aware of what ingredients are being used. Instead, I choose to cook vegan meals on my own – which is arguably healthier and cheaper anyways! Nonetheless, given my allergy-related restrictions on popular plant-based dairy and meat alternatives, I feel that adopting a vegetarian diet would be much more feasible for me in terms of taste preferences and health restrictions. I have also realized that I spend a lot less money at the grocery store whenever I do not purchase some of my go-to protein sources, such as chicken. According to Vox, shifting to a plant-based diet can mitigate risk of cardiovascular disease, so “everyone should eat half as much red meat and sugar, and twice as many nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.” However, Vox also notes that populations from less wealthy countries may suffer from malnourishment if they do not consume enough nutrients derived from animal products. This can have large implications on cognitive development and growth. To reiterate, Eliza Barclay from Vox emphasizes that “[s]tunting in kids...is sometimes associated with low consumption of animal products and other protein-rich foods.” Although I am not entirely well-versed in why this disparity exists between wealthier and poorer countries, I would assume that this has a lot to do with the high costs of producing animal products (e.g., cultivating large land spaces for grazing cattle, growing enough plants to feed the cattle). If wealthier countries such as the United States consume less meat, perhaps we can redistribute our resources to ensure that poorer countries have a more balanced share of animal product nutrients for their malnourished populations.

    Nonetheless, this does not mean that wealthier countries’ levels of meat consumption are harmless. Instead of preparing my typical breakfast and lunch sandwiches, which usually contain some animal protein like chicken or turkey, I have been swapping out some of my meal portions to include more salads and fruit smoothies. I am wondering if anybody else can relate to me in the sense that their allergies greatly restrict what foods they can and can’t eat. If anyone who can relate is vegan or vegetarian, I would love to learn more about the meatless and plant-based recipes they typically follow. Given what I now know about the meat industry’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, I would like to challenge myself to restrict my consumption of meat products to a maximum of one meal per day. I would like to continue following the “Meatless Mondays” trend. Simply changing certain aspects of our diet (e.g., cutting down on meat) can significantly slow the rate of global warming due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. I will continue to encourage my friends and family to do more research on meat consumption so that they can make educated decisions regarding how they can modify their diets. 

    Sources from the “Learn More” sections:


    • Caitlin Tanji's avatar
      Caitlin Tanji 5/24/2021 9:00 PM
      Hi Abigail! I loved how you touched upon the social implications of food. Coming from a Japanese-American family in Hawai’i, the majority of the food my family cooks has meat products. Although Japanese food consists of a lot of vegetable side dishes, it would be very untraditional to be vegetarian. I remember my older sister and I wanted to become Pescatarian and my granny, who cooked for us twice a week, found it burdensome instead of recognizing our efforts to reduce our meat intake. On the other hand, my mom, who loves watching plant-based cooking videos on YouTube, was excited to try new recipes for us. I wonder if it’s a generational issue, too. It was pretty hard to try to become Pescatarian because there were some dishes that I did not want to give up. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the environmental consequences of red meat. I was solely shifting my diet for health purposes, so I ended up not continuing with the diet once I got back to UCLA. I was too tempted by the delicious dining hall food and food off campus. Therefore, I also agree that eating is a social issue. I often find myself not being the one to decide where my friends and I eat because I am not super picky and don’t want to inconvenience anyone else. My friend is Pescatarian, so whenever we eat out, I try not to eat meat so we can share food. Like you, I have a dietary restriction that would prevent me from going completely Pescatarian. I am allergic to shrimp, which I believe a lot of Pescatarians cook with. Thinking about it makes me feel a bit restricted, both in terms of options at home and going out with friends. Even though I don’t think I can completely cut out meat from my diet, becoming more aware of the environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, convinced me to also partake in “Meatless Mondays.” Recently, I’ve been trying to eat 5 meatless meals a week. Given that I only eat two meals a day and grocery shop for myself, I think it has been going well so far! I wonder how challenging it would be if I was in the dining hall. I doubt being surrounded by Late Night’s chicken tenders or the Study’s DIY pizza bar would be good for anyone trying to become more plant-based! In any case, I think it would be a great idea to do this with friends or family members. Not only would it help keep you accountable, you could also share recipes (or discuss which meat alternatives you don’t like!). 

    • Katherine Jordak's avatar
      Katherine Jordak 4/27/2021 2:27 PM
      Hi Abigail! I really enjoyed reading your post. I can't relate as much to the type of food my family eats being tied to a culture, like Filipino food is for your family, but I do think that encouraging family members to also eat less meat and dairy can be challenging. I know that my parents and brother eat a lot of meat and dairy, whereas my sister and I do not. I think even offering to cook meals for them could encourage them to eat more vegetarian/vegan. 

      It must be so hard to be allergic to so many of the meat and dairy alternatives. However, I assume that the best foods for you and the environment are probably unprocessed dairy and meat alternatives anyway. For instance, maybe incorporating more legumes and nuts into your diet instead of the impossible meat, etc. I know that having those fun alternatives can make being more vegan easier, but I'm sure it's possible. I am interested to see if anyone else has any thoughts about this. 

  • Abigail Urbina's avatar
    Abigail Urbina 4/14/2021 3:35 PM
    WHY I’M HERE
    My enrollment in this course was very intentional and deliberate; I chose to take this class after I had learned from former EngComp 100W students that the focus of this class was centered around careers and combating climate change. I needed to take one more writing course before I graduated from college in order to fulfill my pre-health curriculum requirements for medical school, and I knew that I wanted one of my last undergraduate courses to be impactful on my life. I chose this course instead of other GE writing courses because I wanted to learn more about my career path and ways I could adapt my actions to create a better future for myself – especially since I will be graduating soon. 

    Last quarter, I took an ecology course which emphasized how little time we have to change the trajectory of climate change progression if we want to preserve the biodiversity on this planet. I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty naive on this issue in the sense that I never truly sat back to reflect on how just about every aspect of my life would be affected. Climate change doesn’t just affect the species whose populations go extinct, but it also affects our food sources, our mental/physical health, and even our cognitive functioning abilities. More importantly, I never truly realized how some of our smallest, most trivial daily habits all add up to leave a large carbon footprint behind. I want to actively take part in this EcoChallenge because I want to learn how to better hold myself and others around me accountable for the lifestyle decisions we make. 

    This isn’t to say that I haven’t taken smaller steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle. For starters, I bring my reusable Hydro Flask almost everywhere to drink water, and I do not purchase plastic bottled water (unless I have no other options). I also always bring reusable bags to the grocery store. However, these actions can’t just stop there. There are times where I admittedly use and dispose of plastic Ziploc bags without even giving it a second thought. Here, I’ve attached a picture of myself at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. This place has arguably one of the best sceneries I’ve witnessed in my life. The air was so clean and refreshing, the grass was incredibly green, the skies were clear, and the ocean reflected a beautiful blue hue. It was a complete 180 flip from Los Angeles. With the rate of ongoing climate progression, I can only hope that natural sceneries such as this will continue to look this way a few years/decades down the road. This past year in the pandemic has enabled me to reflect on how I want to live a healthier lifestyle, one that involves more outdoor exercise and nutritious foods. If we continue to neglect the issue of carbon emissions, global warming will raise the ambient global temperature  – leaving us more susceptible to skin damage from heat. How will I be able to get more fresh air and exercise? This increase in temperature will also destroy many ecosystems and food chains, eliminating many food sources for humans. Before we know it, there will be a mass scarcity of food products. I also have a sister with special needs, so I fear that the increased carbon in the atmosphere will only make her cognitive abilities worsen. I fear that others with learning and developmental disabilities will have more difficulty assimilating into social environments if increased carbon affects their cognition and communication skills. Besides that, I want my future children and grandchildren to be able to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature – just like what I was able to do throughout my two months living in Ireland. I want to be able to go for a walk with loved ones without worrying about the INCREASED risks of breathing polluted air or exposing myself to damaging heat.