Month of Action: Mid-Point Check-In

The actions that I have taken so far are making my own toothpaste, studying the recycling and composting policies of various communities, and using cloth towels instead of paper towels. I think the toothpaste is disgusting. I made it with baking soda and coconut oil. Luckily, the hot water in the sinks of Morrill Tower is hot enough to melt coconut oil. The mixture smells weird and I wish I had added some sort of peppermint flavoring. It was interesting to study the recycling and composting policies of Sylvania (Ohio), Columbus (Ohio), and The Ohio State University. The composting policies are practically nonexistent. It is very hard to remember to avoid paper towels when I am using the restroom in other places around campus. I need to adjust my action plan by giving myself reminders to avoid the use of paper towels outside of Morrill. I did not realize how challenging it is to not rely on paper towels. I also find the consistency of the toothpaste to be an unexpected challenged. I prefer the feeling of Colgate toothpaste.

So far, I have learned that it is fun to make your own toothpaste. I may even consider making my own shampoos and soaps. I have learned the amount of times I use paper towels in one day- it is a large and disappointing. I have also learned how Ohio State’s recycling policy is weak compared to that of my hometown, Sylvania, and Columbus. They do not accept a lot of materials that Columbus and Sylvania do accept.

Works Cited

City of Sylvania Refuse, Recyclables and Green Yard Waste Collections

City of Sylvania 2018 Recycling Schedule


Relevant Code and Policy Explained for Community Gardens

What Can I Recycle?

Facilities Operations and Development

University Dining Services: Composting and Recycling

Month of Action: Plan

10 Actions an Individual Can Take to make an Impact with Reducing Waste

  • Trade out paper towels for air dry and cloth towel drying.
  • Purchasing/making a bin or area for compost for your living area.
  • Educate yourself on the recycling and composting policies of cities that you normally live in or visit.
  • Spend 5 days using your normal habits of waste disposal (keep all trash), then spend 5 days working hard to use no materials that will go to a landfill (keep all things that aren’t recycled or composted). Compare the differences in your trash- you will see a little bit of effort does make a difference.
  • Make your own tooth paste
  • Educate your neighborhood on what can be composted and what cannot (do the same with recycling)
  • Purchase food that you know you will eat- do not buy food you will end up throwing away.
  • Separate food waste from non-food waste and take it to an anaerobic digestion facility
  • Donate all of your clothes- and purchase them from second-hand stores
  • Bring your own cup when you go out- do not purchase drinks in non-recyclable/compostable materials

5 Actions I will Complete to Reduce Waste:

  • Trade out paper towels for air dry and cloth towel drying.
  • Purchasing/making a bin or area for compost for your living area.
  • Educate yourself on the recycling and composting policies of cities that you normally live in or visit.
  • Spend 5 days using your normal habits of waste disposal (keep all trash), then spend 5 days working hard to use no materials that will go to a landfill (keep all things that aren’t recycled or composted). Compare the differences in your trash- you will see a little bit of effort does make a difference.
  • Make your own tooth paste

I am going to be challenged in remembering to not use paper towels. I depend on them for drying my hands, drying my dishes, wiping up spills, and many other things. I never realized how many I used- they are thin so I would use a lot for only one purpose. I will need to put my cloth towels everywhere so I remember to use them. I do not think I will struggle with finding a compost bin- the problem will be finding a place to take the compost when it is full. It will be challenging for me to spend 5 days using as little waste as possible. I will need to make a meal plan before the week starts so that I will buy foods that come without wrapping or wrapping that is compostable/recyclable. I want to show how a little effort can go a long way- this means I need to make sure there is a significant difference between the waste collected in my wasteful week and the waste collected in my waste free week.

I hope to learn how wasteful I am. I hope to get a reality check from completing my Month of Action. I also hope to learn from Lauren Singer, zero-waste activist, to make small changes in my life to help the environment. I would love to rely on homemade toiletries- toothpaste and shampoos. I also want to learn enough about Columbus’s, The Ohio State University’s, and my hometown’s (Sylvania, Ohio) recycling and composting policies so that I can educate others on how to be less wasteful.

Zero-Waste Activist, Lauren Singer


Works Cited

10 Trash Reducing Tips From Zero-Waste Activist Lauren Singer

15 Easy Ways To Reduce Landfill Waste

Composting At Home

Issue Exploration: Waste Disposal- Recycling and Composting

My issue is waste disposal, so I am attempting to figure out the root cause of why people do not recycle or compost waste that is eligible to be recycled or composted. Depending on the communities or demographics of a community, there are different barriers that people need to overcome to be able to recycle. For recycling, the root causes are lack of accessibility to recycling utensils, lack of convenience to recycle, lack of time to clean recyclables and take them to a recycling center, forgetfulness, cost, people do not know what to recycle, people do not think recycling makes a difference, people do not think it is important, and people do not understand recycling’s environmental benefit. People do not see immediate consequences of failing to recycle, so they do not make an association between their wasteful habits and the harm they bring to the environment.

The root causes of people failing to compost are ignorance on how composting works, limited amounts of outdoor space, cost of composting equipment, animal pests in compost, “unpleasant smell” of the compost, and not enough time. The big issue is that composting has yet to catch people’s attention as recycling has already done. Most people are unaware of what it is or how to do it.

The root cause that people do not like the costs of recycling is challenging to address because people like to look at the immediate costs of recycling rather than the long-term cost on the environment if you do not recycle. It is hard to change people’s behavior of preferring immediate rather than long-term results. It is challenging to address the issue of not knowing what can be recycled because the policies change from community to community. People may not want to take the extra step to figure out the recycling policy in every community they travel to. They want to save themselves time and confusion. It is also challenging to address the issue of people not believing that recycling makes a difference. Once people hold a strong attitude about something, it tends to persist, resist change, alter their judgement, and guide their behavior. If someone does not find recycling important and they do not want to believe it is important, then what can be done to convince them otherwise?

The biggest root cause of people failing to compost is being ignorant of what it is and how to do it. It is challenging to address this issue because you need a lot of man power to help spread the word on composting. People must be willing to read what you provide and be willing to act on it. To effectively educate people on compost, you would need to teach people in person. That would be a slow and arduous process to maintain. One would need to dedicate their whole life to speaking about compost all around the United States.

The United States does not have policies that mandate recycling. It has policies about proper landfill waste disposal and it talks about how to recycle and what recycling does. America relies on state or local governments to take care of waste disposal and recycling.

Recycling impacts the Ohio State Community by helping them achieve their goal to have zero waste by 2025. This means that 90% of waste is kept from going to landfills. Ohio State finds it important to provide people with the knowledge and opportunities to recycle and prevent wasteful habits. Ohio State uses cardboard bailers and they recycle fryer oils in addition to providing the campus with recycling bins.

Composting impacts the Ohio State Community through the pulper systems in Kennedy and the Ohio Union and bio-digesters in Scott Dining Hall. Pulper systems create organic pulp from food waste. The organic pulp is sent to Quasar Energy group to use for biomass for waste-to-energy anaerobic digestion. This biomass becomes biogas for electricity and energy. Bio-digesters in Scott Dining Hall use the food waste for biomass that can become greywater effluent. Greywater effluent can be disposed of in municipal water systems. Even though the Ohio State University has excellent resources for composting food waste, it does not provide enough accessibility to composting bins. How can students utilize the compostable nature of Ohio State’s napkins, paper towels, or tissues- as well as other sources of food?

Ohio State’s student organization, Students for Recycling, is addressing the issue of waste disposal. They promote recycling and raise money to assist Ohio State’s Recycling Program. Students for Recycling also educate people on waste disposal and how it affects us.

I watched a TEDx Talk that dealt with composting organic waste to prevent landfill build-up, create energy, and promote agriculture. The video was called “Compost king: Paul Sellew at TEDxBoston”. Biases present in the video include the fact that Sellew, the speaker, has been involved in agriculture his whole life. He wants people to support his livelihood, so he must show all supporting data on his opinion. Sellew also makes a living on building organic recycling businesses. He wants to make money, so he must show how amazing his plan is to save the environment.

I learned that food waste has cost us $180 billion by rotting in landfills and releasing greenhouse gases. Also, when incinerated, waste generates ash that goes to a landfill which, once again, releases greenhouse gases. I learned the importance of separating food waste from other waste so that it can be sent to Paul Sellew’s company’s facility. It can be broken down and turned into biogas and organic fertilizer. This process occurs through an anaerobic digestion system. The biogas produced can be used for electricity and cars. I learned that Germany recycles more than 75% of its organic waste through facilities that are like Mr. Sellew’s.

The video provided a lot of helpful information. It talked about the necessity of returning organic matter back into soil so that agriculture and our ways of living are sustainable. It talked about how the anaerobic digestion system creates clean energy and good fertilizer; this means that composting is very sustainable and good for agriculture and maintaining our energy habits. It was interesting when Paul Sellew talked about how farmland should be treated like a forest. Allowing the land to naturally compost leaves, branches, and pine needles can preserve soil.

“Compost king: Paul Sellew at TEDxBoston”

Works Cited

Composting and Recycling

Recycling | Facilities Operations and Development

The Psychology Behind Why People Don’t Recycle

‘I Want to Compost, but…’

Why No National Recycling Law in the U.S.?


Issue Selection

The issue that I have picked to explore is waste disposal (reducing waste). I selected this topic so that I could learn what exactly should be recycled, composted, or thrown in the trash. I also want to learn about policies in different communities for recycling and composting. Hayley Perkins has also recruited me to help Morrill Tower get a composting system which triggered my interest in which wastes can be recycled, composted, or sent to landfills.

I considered exploring heroin addiction, renewable energy, or smoking. Hayley Perkins impacted my final decision by getting me interested in a new composting program. This in turn caused me to realize how little I knew about waste disposal and how different areas have different policies for recycling and compost.

In order to study waste disposal, I think that I will need to explore how much garbage is sent to landfills every year, the negative impact of landfills on our environment, where I can find a landfill, OSU’s policies on recycling, Columbus’s policies on recycling, and find out if a compost system exists anywhere on OSU’s campus. I will need a compost bin, approval to help Hailey start a compost system in Morrill Tower, and lots of information on what can be recycled and composted in the Columbus area.

Barriers or challenges that I might encounter could include people’s disinterest with helping the environment and people’s laziness to go to a compost or recycle bin rather than a closer trash bin. Different policies exist in different areas of the world for recycling and compost so it will be difficult to have a standardized system of clean waste disposal. Without people knowing their local waste disposal policies it may be difficult trying to educate every person of their separate policies. Another challenge will be overseeing if people are composting or recycling the correct wastes- once a system for composting starts, I will have to supervise if people are disposing of waste correctly (or else the compost could turn into another landfill).

My family’s homemade compost bins.

Works Cited

EPA: Composting At Home

We Green-USA: Landfill Problems

CMAP: Impacts of Municipal Solid Waste

Recycolumbus: Recylcing FAQs

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Recycling at Ohio State


Columbus To Do List: Part 2

My favorite experience from the Columbus To-do List project was going to Jeni’s Ice Cream with Brietta, Laura, Kayla, and Catherine (my wonderful suitemates). After going to Jeni’s we walked to a park nearby and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We decided to walk all the way back to campus down the streets parallel to high street. The houses were adorable and I got a little more familiarized with off campus neighborhoods. The weather was gorgeous and it was relaxing to go on a walk for fun (rather than for class).

I learned that Columbus does have more nature than I expected. Even though I did the “Ice Cream and Desserts” To-do List I still got to visit a park. The one thing I dislike about Columbus is that it does not have enough trees, grass, and nature. After going to Jeni’s Ice Cream, I got to see that Columbus does have places for enjoying the outdoors. It has little nature sanctuaries to give you a break from the bustling city. I also learned how easy the bus routes are to navigate. I was very scared of the confusing bus routes in Columbus before completing the To-do List. Now I am more comfortable because I understand the layout of the city.

Completing the desserts To-do List makes me want to complete the “Nature and Outdoor Adventure” To-do List. I am extremely interested in spending time in the parks within Columbus.

I would recommend doing a combination of different stops from different lists, so you get a feel for the various aspects of Columbus. Experiencing only the dessert list was fun, but I do wish that I knew more about the parks and coffee shops in Columbus.


Columbus To-do List Stop #2: Graeter’s Ice Cream

My favorite thing at Graeter’s Ice Cream was the ice cream; I got Buckeye Chip in a Waffle Cone (I have had cookie dough before as well). I also love the sign with the images of ice cream scoops because it is super cute. Just like Johnson’s Real Ice Cream, it was hard to see what ice cream flavors looked like because the ice cream tubs were not displayed directly in front of me. Although the images of ice cream scoops were cute, they did not give me a good feel of what the ice cream would be like, so I was confused about what to order. I learned how to take the bus route to Graeter’s. I also learned that the COTA website exists and I started tracking routes on the maps so that I understood how to use them for future endeavors. I would recommend Graeter’s Ice Cream to a friend because the ice cream was fantastic and the shop is adorable. The only drawback is that the ice cream is a little expensive.


Columbus To-do List Stop #3: Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop

My favorite things in Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop were the masks above the beverage refrigerators. The masks were different animals and I wanted to buy every single one of them. One was a cat head mask that reminded me of the cat masks in Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” music video. I was very confused about why the candy shop did not have chocolate peanuts or any homemade chocolate creations for that matter. I really love chocolate candies and I was sad that this candy shop did not have them. I learned that a wizard hat for cats exists. I had no idea that it was a product that people wanted to buy or that cats needed to wear. I would recommend it to a friend, but it is not the best candy shop I have ever been to. I know candy shops that have better chocolate products. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop did not have fudge, chocolate peanuts, or any handmade chocolate covered foods.


Columbus To-do List Stop #4: Jeni’s Ice Cream

My favorite thing about Jeni’s Ice Cream was the ice cream! I got a scoop of milkiest chocolate ice cream in a bowl with the complimentary waffle cone triangle. It was the most delicious chocolate ice cream I have ever tasted. I was confused about how some of the flavors of ice cream were chosen. Some of them were extremely weird. There were flavors that had to do with sweet potato, lavender, eggnog, and pistachio. I learned that it is possible for there to be an ice cream flavor that tastes like goat cheese. Although I did not try the goat cheese flavored ice cream, I now know that it is possible for it to exist. I would recommend Jeni’s Ice Cream if you have plenty of money to spend. It is expensive for very small portions of ice cream. Although it tastes amazing, it would not be my first choice of ice cream place due to its price.


Columbus To-do List Stop #5: Kittie’s Cakes

            My favorite thing about Kittie’s Cakes was the cupcakes. I had a cookies and cream cupcake that had the most wonderful frosting. I was a little disappointed with the selection of pastries when I walked in the shop. I learned that you should order food ahead of time so that they can set aside what you want. I would not recommend Kittie’s Cakes to a friend because they do not have a wide variety of pastries and the shop is super small to it gets crowded very easily.

Career Exploration

I am currently undecided in my career exploration process. I am still in the exploratory program at The Ohio State University. I have spent the last semester researching majors and going to listen to speakers from the colleges within Ohio State. Before college I had no idea what I wanted to do, but now I have a few options that I am considering for majors. Currently at the top of my major choices are City and Regional Planning and Geographic Information Science. During my second semester, I am taking classes for City and Regional Planning to see if I should pursue it as a major. I want to be able to use my creativity and organizational skills in my career. I also want to be able to work outside because I love to immerse myself in nature.

As an undecided major, I have already gone through the Holland Code workshop. From both workshops, I got the same results. I learned that I am realistic, investigative, and conventional. I love to organize and plan projects, be hands-on, and be extremely detailed. Cartographer, Surveyor, Geographic Information Systems Technician, Food Scientist, Electrical Engineer, Geospatial Information Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Civil Drafter, Police Identification and Records Officer, and Fire Investigator are some careers that O*Net recommends.

One of my current paths comes up with my code. This path is the Geographic Information Science major which corresponds to the code career, Geographic Information Systems Technician. Even though that is the only career that perfectly matches my top two major choices, all the other careers that come up with my code require similar skills that my major choices require. Most of the jobs I saw interested me. I know my code is correct because the jobs that showed up are in line with the majors I have considered pursuing.

My current academic plans are to pursue a bachelor’s degree along with a minor that can help specify my major. Although I do not know what major I want to pursue, I have an idea that it will deal with mapping, surveying, planning, or something that includes organized creative projects. Almost every career that showed up on the Holland code careers matched these college major “requirements”. These apply to my current academic plans by providing me with more choices for careers that match what I want out of a job. The Holland code careers might help me decide the perfect career.

My next steps are to take classes next semester that deal with the majors that fit my “requirements” to see if I enjoy what the majors are about. After I confirm that I enjoy the major from the class, I will no longer be undecided. I know what I am interested in. Now all I need is experience to see if the major fits the description. After I declare a major, I will work toward a more specific career or find a minor that could correlate with my major.

Saplings Mentor Meeting

After meeting with my Sapling Mentors, Joyce Smith and Alyssa Bowles, I learned more about The Ohio State University. We first talked about academics. Alyssa explained to me how she decided on her major. She had started at Ohio State with a major in Psychology, however she switched to Environmental Engineering. Alyssa was motivated to change her major by her involvement in the Environmental and Natural Resources Scholars group. I learned that I should not be scared to declare a major because otherwise I will never figure out what I want my career to be. Making a wrong decision on a major will only help me in the long run. I plan on using Alyssa’s experience to declare a major after freshmen year and not be afraid of switching it (if necessary). Alyssa also told me about her most challenging major class which was Math 1172. She told me about her five-day study plan for midterms. I learned how to prepare for my next set of midterms so that I am less stressed and more prepared. I plan on using Alyssa’s five-day study plan.

Alyssa told me about her involvement in Defend Our Future and Generation Action. Alyssa picked these organizations because she is passionate about Planned Parenthood and stopping EPA budget cuts. Freshmen year, she chose not to be involved in any student organizations. She assured me that it was fine to take time off from being involved; you can always get involved later. I learned that it is okay to take time to adjust to living in college rather than getting involved right away. I plan to take my time in finding student organizations that I can be the most passionate about.

When talking about ENR Scholars, Alyssa told me how to make the most of the program. She told me to go to as many of the events that I can. She emphasized that it is free fun. Alyssa especially like the backpacking trip to Dolly Sods and dog-toy making. Although I cannot go to the backpacking trip this year, I plan on trying to attend next year. I learned that you can both have fun with the different activities in ENR and make new friends with the other scholars.

Alyssa discussed her career plans for after graduation. She plans on joining the Peace Corps, her dream job, and working with them for two years. Afterwards, Alyssa plans on working for the EPA. If she does not get into the Peace Corps, her back-up plan is to keep on applying every year. She will also build up her resume by volunteering more. If her plan still does not work out, she will work for her hometown’s Parks and Recreation department. I learned that you should always dream big and never give up. However, I also learned that you should have a realistic and enjoyable back-up plan if things do not go the way you expect. I plan to find both my dream job and a safe back-up job.

After discussing academics and involvement, my mentors gave me general advice for the year. Joyce and Alyssa gave me the advice that they wished someone would have given them freshmen year. Alyssa wished someone would have told her to go get tutoring help on campus. She told me to take advantage of Ohio State’s resources. Joyce wished someone would have told her that professors are real people that you can talk to. She wished she would have known to go to office hours and befriend them. I learned that office hours are for getting to know your professors as well as getting help with academics. I plan on not being afraid of getting help from Ohio State’s tutoring resources and not being afraid of befriending my professors.

Joyce and Alyssa gave a lot of good advice and stories about their college experiences thus far. They have really helped with the process of adjusting to college. I could not ask for more understanding and wonderful Sapling Mentors.

Columbus To-do List: Part 1

For my Columbus To-do List, I have chosen to do “Ice Cream and Desserts”. I chose this list because I am one of the biggest ice cream fanatics I know. I am most looking forward to trying all the wonderful ice cream flavors and styles of Columbus and finding the perfect go-to ice cream shop. From this assignment, I hope to be able to navigate COTA better and find the best place to get my favorite type of dessert: ice cream. I need to know which ice cream shop I can pay a weekly (sometimes daily) visit.

Columbus To-do List Stop #1: Johnson’s Real Ice Cream

My first stop on the to-do list was Johnson’s Real Ice Cream. Johnson’s is a cute shop that sells fudge logs, cookies, smoothies, sandwiches, ice cream, and much more. It is located directly next to Capital University’s campus; Johnson’s is in a beautiful neighborhood. I got two scoops of ice cream- one of moose tracks and one of mint chocolate chip. Both flavors were wonderfully creamy and delicious. I learned that their flavor, the “Columbus Crunch”, had heath bar, sprinkles, Oreo, and chocolate chips all mixed into vanilla ice cream. I had trouble when ordering because they do not keep the ice cream flavors sitting right up front for you to look. I could not decide whether I should risk trying a new flavor that I had never seen or heard of or if I should just stick with flavors that I have had before. I would recommend Johnson’s Real Ice Cream to a friend because its ice cream flavors were wonderful. However, it is not the most ideal place to travel because it is hard to find transportation headed directly to Johnson’s Real Ice Cream if you do not have access to a car. I will definitely go back when I can get my sister or a friend to drive me.

VIA Strengths Inventory

My first strength is humor which is the strength of liking to laugh and making other people smile. Humorous people see the optimistic side of any situation. In second, is kindness. Kindness is the strength of doing good deeds and helping others. Kind people feel that others are all important human beings. They have moral reasoning as to why they show sympathy and empathy towards people. My next strength is zest. Zest is a strength about living life to the fullest with excitement and energy. Zest deals with personal wellness that in turn leads to life satisfaction. My fourth strength is leadership. Leadership is the ability to organize a group to accomplish something and at the same time build relationships within the group. Leadership is made through personal quality and practice. My last strength is appreciation of beauty and excellence which is the ability to notice skill or beauty in certain aspects of life. This relates specifically to physical beauty, talents, and moral beauty.

I would have put honesty and perspective closer to the top of the list of strengths. I do not like cheating or lying. I always feel obligated to tell the truth. Also, I do value other people’s opinions and I do not judge until I understand why someone has done something. Otherwise I found my top five and last four results to be in an accurate order.

I have used a combination of zest and leadership to be an effective leader of my high school’s marching band. As a drum major, it was both important to create relationships with everyone in the band and show how exciting and fun band could be. Leadership allowed me to create these relationships while zest allowed me to show how fun band was. I learned the names of everyone in our (quite large) band. I did this to make everyone feel that their contribution was important to the band. I helped make our performances wonderful and exciting at the same time.

I wish that forgiveness and humility were higher on the list. Once I see what bad things people are capable of, I do not see how they can change from being the person they were before. Also, I tend to let others know what I am capable of, leading me to not be humble. I am proud to be the person I am and sometimes I let it go to my head.

My favorite strength is humor. I think it really captures my personality. I truly do love to laugh- I have even told my friends that my favorite thing to do is laugh. Making people smile is one of the highlights of my day. I also have found two photos (below) that represent my top strength of humor.