This semester has taught me a lot about myself, and not as much as I had hoped about my saplings. I think that my saplings tried to figure things out on their own for the most part, and were reluctant to reach out for help because they wanted to feel independent. I hoped that I would feel more like I helped them avoid the struggles I encountered last year, but I do not know if that really happened. The best lesson I have learned over the course of this project is that it is really hard to watch people make mistakes that you could help them avoid. I think that I have learned the most from how I have been resilient after tough situations, such as getting grades I am not proud of, or finding out that I cannot learn well from a specific professor, and I hope that even if my saplings did not have the start they had hoped for they can pick themselves back up and figure out what they should change for next semester and the years to come.
Yes, it is obvious that I have missed the middle of the semester by several weeks, I have had a terrible, and stressful semester. I have enjoyed getting to know my saplings over the course of this semester through our discussions in class, and their post on their e-portfolios. I have found it difficult to connect with my saplings at times, because they have found the support they needed through other extra-curricular activities. I felt that I was supporting them through their transition to college when they interviewed me for the peer mentor interview. I got the chance to share with three of my saplings, Alyssa, Matt, and Sam, some the advice I wish that I had received when I was in their shoes. My overall advice was fairly simple, I told them to stop caring about what other people thought, not be afraid to ask for help when they need it, and be true to themselves and their passions. I think that if I would have heard this advice last year I would not have had such a difficult semester this fall, because I would have changed my major earlier, and thus I would not be taking the classes that I am struggling with, because they are not required for my new major, molecular genetics.
I will be using my role as a sapling mentor to complete my second year project. Over the course of this year I hope to grow as a leader, and mentor, and further my knowledge of how to live sustainably. As a mentor I want to inspire my saplings to care about the things they are learning about in the classroom, and I want to help them become engaged in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars program outside of their assignments and required activities.
I plan on achieving these goals by checking in with my saplings once a week with reminder emails, in these emails I will encourage them to reach out to me with any questions or concerns they may have, including those related to the eportfolio and their classes. Two of my saplings are Chemistry or Biochemistry majors and they have the same professor as I did for Chemistry 1610, so I plan on giving them suggestions on how to do well in the course and on the labs. I hope that through mentoring I can gain more interpersonal skills and become better at forming new relationships. I hope that by the end of this year my saplings feel that I have helped them become the best version of themselves that they could be.
Over the course of earth month, I have learned that I am not as eco-friendly as I thought I was at the beginning of this month. The small changes that I made each week showed me that, although I cannot take all of the steps to reduce my carbon footprint that I would like to, I can take many small steps together to reduce my impact. I learned that choosing food and water options that are better for the planet over those that are the most convenient does not take a lot of effort. For example, during my final week I chose to give up red meat, and I thought that I would end up eating the same foods in the dining halls all of the time. However, over the course of the week I did not end up eating the same foods everyday, instead I still ate a variety of things, while cutting out red meat. I will continue to eat less red meat, even though the challenge is over, because it is a simple step that I can take that improves my health, as well as the health of the earth. I also will continue to carry a reusable mug with me all of the time, and use as few disposable cups as possible. This was the easiest challenge that I gave myself, and I am surprised that I did not think of doing this before the challenge began. I will also continue to turn off the water when I brush my teeth and wash my face, because leaving the water on as I complete these tasks serves no purpose. I will work on taking shorter showers over the coming months, however, as the weather gets warmer I will be taking more showers, so I may not end up making much of an impact as I had hoped. If I were to try another challenge it would probably be the waste and toxicity challenge, because when I am at home I often drive, even when my destination is within walking or biking distance of my house. Over the summer, I am going to challenge myself to drive less, and walk more. This will be a challenge for me because I am often running late and in a hurry, but hopefully it will teach me how to do a better job of managing my time, and it will help me be more active.
My third week of the earth month challenge went fairly well, it was eyeopening because I did not realize h0w much water I had been wasting. This week I learned that I leave the faucet on when brushing my teeth and washing my face almost every time I do so. Over the course of this week I have completely stopped letting the water run when I complete these tasks. I also pledged to take shorter showers this week, and I think this went fairly well because by the end of the week I was taking far shorter showers. I decided that I was going to stack my challenges, and I have kept up with all three weeks challenges for the most part. I have pretty much eliminated paper cups from my daily life, however, I have not done a great job with cutting out prepackaged foods. I think that over the summer I will try again to cut out prepackaged foods, because I will have more time, and greater access to fresh foods. My fourth week challenge is to not eat red meat, I think this will be the most difficult challenge by far, because there are a very limited amount of protein options in the dining halls. I hope that over the course of this week I will learn how to eat healthier in the dining halls without eating the same foods all of the time. I think that if I keep an open mind I will find a variety of healthy options.
My second week of the challenge went better than my first. I only used one paper cup over the course of the entire week, and I ate fresh fruits and vegetables instead of grab and go snacks as often as possible. At the end of the week I had more energy than I usually do after a week in which I have a midterm exam. I think this was because of the healthier foods that I was eating, and because I had consumed fewer preservatives. I learned over the course of this week that providing my body with better foods does not take a lot of time. I am going to continue eating fresh foods instead of prepackaged snacks as often as possible, even after the challenge has ended. During this week I learned that I had not be eating as healthily as I had thought. This was a good challenge for me because it opened my eyes to facts that I had been attempting to avoid, I was not eating the foods that help me stay energized. I am changing my challenge for week three, I have not had time to make snacks for this week, because I have been studying for midterms. For week three I will instead be reducing the amount of water that I use, by taking shorter showers and making sure I turn off the water when I brush my teeth or wash my face. I think taking shorter showers will be challenging, due to the fact that I have long hair that loves to tie itself in knots.
My first week of the challenge went fairly well, over the course of the entire week I only drank a beverage out of a paper cup one time. It was the day the challenge started, and I did not think about what I was doing until I had placed my order. I have decided that I cannot completely eliminate plastic bottles from my day to day life on campus, because I often use meal exchanges and get milk as my beverage, and that comes in a plastic bottle. Instead, I am going to try to reduce the number of beverages I drink from plastic bottles. I learned that carrying a water bottle and a coffee mug with me all the time is not difficult. I think this next week will be slightly harder, because as a college student I often eat foods that are convenient, and fresh foods take slightly more prep time.
I chose to do the Food and Water Earth Month Challenge, because I want to learn how to eat in a sustainable way. I feel that I will challenged over the course of this month, because convenient food and drink options are usually not sustainable, or packaged sustainably. I am looking forward to making changes that I can incorporate into my everyday life, and I am looking forward to seeing which aspect of the challenge will remain a part of my life for the longest amount of time. For the first week I will use only reusable containers for my drinks. I am a frequent coffee drinker, so I will always have a coffee mug in my bag. I also drink a fair amount of drinks from paper cups, but during this week I will avoid the paper cup, and drink out of a reusable water bottle instead. For the second week I will buy fresh food, because it comes in less packaging. The third week I will make my own snacks, and carry them in reusable containers, because I often eat prepackaged snacks. For the final week I will not eat red meat. I will be doing these challenges cumulatively, to reduce my impact as much as possible.
I was drawn to the area of food and water, because I have noticed that I consume a lot of food and drinks that come in disposable packaging that cannot be recycled. I also take long showers, I plan on timing my showers during earth month, and working towards bathing more efficiently. To cut down on the amount of food wrappers that I throw away on a monthly basis, I will buy food in bulk, and put a small amount in reusable containers, instead of buying single serve snacks. Whole Foods will be a helpful resource, because they offer a wide variety of foods in bulk, as well as eco-friendly containers. I drink a lot of coffee, often from paper cups that cannot be recycled, during this month I will always have a reusable coffee cup in my backpack. The coffee shops on campus as well as Starbucks on High, will allow me to use a reusable coffee cup, and Starbucks will even give me a discount when I use my own cup. This will help me reduce my impact, because I will be sending less waste to the landfill. Every morning I eat a prepackaged granola bar, and then throw the wrapper in the trash, during earth month I will make my own granola bars, using recipes from allrecipes.com. This site is great because it offers a wide variety of recipes, and I will be able to look through all those that sound appealing, and then determine which ones could be made most efficiently. I use plastic silverware often, because it is convenient, but during earth month I will purchase metal silverware and use that instead. I will reduce my food waste during earth month through purchasing only the food I need for each week, instead of buying too much, and having to throw some of it away. I will always bring one of my reusable shopping bags with me when I go grocery shopping or go to Target, so I do not have an excess of plastic bags. I will purchase foods that are locally grown, so that I am eating foods that are in season, and were not transported from across the country or across the world. I will use www.cuesa.org to determine which fruits are in season in my area, this will help me support local agriculture, and I will be getting more nutrients, because the produce will be fresher. I will go to Lucky’s Market to get local produce, because they are dedicated to supporting local agriculture. I will reduce the amount of frozen meals I eat, by making my own meals instead, this will be reduce the amount of packaging that I send to the landfill. I will reduce my water usage by turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth, instead of letting the water run for the entire time I am brushing, I will al I will eat more fruits and vegetables, and less meat because more waste is created through producing meat, than produce. I will use healthland.time.com to find ways to eat in a more sustainable way. I will stop throwing away coffee filters everyday by switching to a reusable coffee filter. I will ask my mom to stop sending me food from home, because she often sends me foods that I could buy here, and thus I would be reducing emissions caused by transportation. I will use the website www.globalstewards.org throughout this month because this website is full of simple ways to be greener, that are inexpensive.
I chose to do my Columbus To-Do list project on Metro Parks, Trails, and Nature Preserves. The first location that I visited was the Franklin Park Conservatory, I visited on March 4th, with my mother, because there was an exhibit featuring orchids at the conservatory. My mother’s favorite plant is the orchid, and we had been planning on visiting the unique plant exhibit since winter break. The majority of the orchids were housed in the conservatory’s central green house, the palm court. In the palm court there were a wide array of colors and sizes of orchids, however all of the orchids had the same trademark flower shape. Franklin Park always arranges there exhibits beautifully, the orchids were in hanging baskets, framing a small gazebo, and used as accents in the permanent beds. The use of orchids in a variety of manners highlighted their beauty and poise. My mother and I also walked through the biomes that are housed at the conservatory, my favorite biome has always been the rainforest biome. Upon entering the rainforest, guests are greeted by a Koi pond surrounded by tropical plants. In the center of the room stands a tall blown glass structure, created by Dale Chihuly. The sculpture looks like a flame shooting up from the center of the room, and the reds, and oranges of the piece, enhance the tropical colors of the plants. The rainforest biome is currently the temporary home for a wide variety of butterflies from all over the world. The butterflies were emerging from their chrysalises while we were visiting the conservatory, and colors of both the butterflies and their chrysalises were breathtaking. The butterflies will make the biome even more gorgeous