Year In Review

From a younger age, I was inspired by a mentor who spoke about the choices we would make in our lifetime and how each of those will alter some facet of our life. He also instilled in me the belief that every choice is in my own hands; that I am accountable for my decisions and the successes or failures that follow. I’ve reflected upon these lessons throughout the school year, especially in times where I face a difficult decision. Each choice would lead to a change in my life, anywhere from a miniscule detail to a completely different outlook on my future. This year has brought plenty of obstacles, but I believe I have grown from overcoming them and made a few everlasting memories along the way.

Living differently over the course of the past year has come in two forms: physically and mentally. The obvious changes being moving onto campus, having roommates, adjusting sleep schedules, and never having a home cooked meal. These all have combined to give me the “college experience” people dream of. I was blessed with wonderful roommates that became a close friend group for me. Before this year, I avoided friendships with girls as best I could because it is rare to find one that has a similar personality. Second semester, by total chance, I received an additional roommate that could not have come at a better time. My best friend that had been attending Ohio State transferred after first semester and I was down about being the lonely freshman once again. Rachel entered my life and has become one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. She truly changed my outlook on friendship and as well as religion. She still hasn’t accomplished her spiritual goal for me, but I have become much more open to the topic of religion and her and I worked together to have thoughtful conversation on the matter. I have chosen to live differently through making unexpected friendships and having conversations even where opinions differ.

The largest choice I’ve made about my lifestyle is in the way I view myself. Leaving high school, I felt like everything had come together for me and my life was at its peak. I came into college a bit unprepared for the environment change. I was previously coddled and praised by teachers and then thrown into college where it seemed the only supporter I had was myself. Especially after my best friend transferred mid-semester, I felt lonely and undervalued. Reflecting on my values, I knew that I could not let myself settle for these unpleasant thoughts. I became heavily involved with the band program and joined an honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. This group completed service for the bands, something that has always had a spot in my heart. I made connections through KKPsi, and it opened a door for me to be hired on the staff of the Ohio State University Marching Band. Through this fraternity, I met numerous people, including my best friend to this day. Every person you allow into your life will impact it in their own way. Zack pushed me to be vulnerable, a skill I do not possess. I was reluctant at first, but I realized that having someone that cared was what I had been desiring.

Through the experience of the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars, I have chosen to live differently in ways that significantly impact the environment. I learned about proper recycling and tried to eliminate as much waste as possible. I have completed service that helped beautify our Earth and remove pollutants. The Earth Month Challenge set up four weeks of limiting waste and reducing toxins in my life. These choices have made me more aware of how I’m living and how my actions can directly impact the health of myself and my habitat.

While the previous choices have been positive, I faced plenty of challenges through the school year. I did not receive a high enough grade to remain in my neuroscience major after first semester, I did not get placed as a resident advisor for next school year, and I’ve had relationship troubles. Another belief I hold is that with every missed opportunity, comes an even greater one. You can let the defeat define you, or you can see what is now possible and strive for the highest. Leaving my major made me realize a passion I had that I never considered as a career because I was so determined on neuroscience. Without the time commitment of resident advisor, I was able to interview and get hired on the staff of the marching band. The end of a relationship allowed me to focus on me for once and reevaluate my values in a partner. The greatest choice to impact my life has been this sense of resilience and positivity. This year has tested my mental strength and I’ve proven I can handle anything life has in store.

 

Columbus To-Do List

IMG_233120160402_144413 IMG_0828 IMG_1386

Scioto Mile:

The Scioto Mile is an up and coming attraction for downtown Columbus. Much construction has occurred the past few years to attract guests to the biking and walking trails, the water park, and the newly added “boardwalk” around the river. I attended the Christmas lights at the Scioto Mile and was stunned at the progress. I recommend to all to follow the continuing development of this space.

Olentangy Trail:

The Olentangy Trail became one of my first friends at Ohio State. Running south into downtown and north through Whetstone and Clintonville. It is a pathway to many adventures. I have enjoyed riding my bike along it or using it as an easy access route to the Schott for band performances. The trail is a critical resource to travel in Columbus.

Columbus Commons:

The Columbus Commons is an outdoor green space on top of a parking garage. It hosts concerts, parties, food truck events, and other large gatherings. I attended a Pelotonia hosted event at the Commons which was filled with vendors, live music, a carousel, and countless amounts of people. The Commons create a fun, lively environment for community gatherings.

Audubon Center:

The Audubon Center is a nature space nestled in the city. The walking paths allow for scenic views of a waterway and of a nature area. The building that is the Audubon Center is a sustainable, lead-certified facility. The Audubon Center was an unknown place to me and provided an escape from the busy streets of Columbus.

 

 

My favorite experience was the Whetstone Park of Roses because it combined a great bike ride with beautiful scenery and is close enough to campus to revisit. This list has taught me that even in a city as large as Columbus, there are getaway spots to be with nature and those should be sought after. This makes me want to discover other hidden treasures around the city and share them with others.

Earth Month Challenge Wrap-Up

For the Earth Month Challenge, I aimed to reduce waste and toxicity. I set four weeks of goals: sleep more to reduce toxins in the mind, exercise every day to release toxins, reduce paper plate and napkin waste in the dorm and dining hall, and use less toxic products and makeup on my skin. Overall, I believe I made improvements on each of the goals, but did not reach the full potential each one had. I was not constantly reminding myself through the week to keep up with the challenges, which prevented me from fully accomplishing the goals. If I had taken a more proactive approach I feel I could have been more satisfied with the results. Reflecting on myself through the month, the weeks that were focused specifically on my behaviors, sleep and exercise, were the weeks that I felt most satisfied. Even with those challenges falling on a midterm date, putting some thought into my own wellbeing benefitted me greatly. The other two weeks, paper plate and napkin waste and using less toxic skin products, were difficult because they were trying to alter long-lived habits. It is hard for me to break my own habits and it took a physical reminder to ease out of them. Looking ahead, I definitely plan to continue sleeping and exercising more. They helped me feel energized and rejuvenated. I would like to continue using less plates and napkins, but I see it as a difficult challenge when my laziness of not wanting to wash dishes kicks in. I would like to say I will continue trying to wear less makeup because of the toxicity, but that is by far the most challenging of the goals I set. That requires overcoming one of my greatest insecurities and I’m not sure that is something I am prepared for yet. Now entering summer, I know a challenge I will face is transportation. I want to aim to ride my bike instead of driving a car for as many trips I can. Also to carpool when possible. Coming away from this school year, I would also like to implement knowledge from class into my home life. My family has never recycled more than aluminum and we do a poor job at conserving energy. I want to make it my challenge to change their habits and make the skills I have learned this year worthwhile.

Earth Challenge- Week Three

For week three of the Earth Month Challenge, I made it my goal to reduce waste of paper plates and napkins, both in my dorm as well as in dining halls. This was easily accomplished in my dorm room, where I used reusable dishware. In the dining halls, there was no way to avoid the use of napkins without wiping crumbs onto my sleeve. I instead focused on limiting my use of them. I could have better accomplished my challenge by carrying a reusable napkin. For my final week of the Earth Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to limit my use of toxic makeup. I first must research the products I use and learn of the toxicity. Then the challenge comes to reduce the use for the week and overcome my stigma of not wearing makeup.

Earth Challenge- Week Two

For the second week of Earth Month Challenge, I challenged myself to increase my exercise every day. This was a goal for me because not only does exercise increase overall energy, but also helps to reduce toxins through sweating. At first, I was intimidated by this challenge because I did not feel I had the time to go to the gym every day. I realized through the week that there were other opportunities to increase physical activity outside the gym. I had marching rehearsal twice that week, I walked to classes and events I would typically take a bus to, and I took stairs instead of an elevator. (Except for in Morrill Tower; eleven floors is a bit too much to take on in a week.) I could have further accomplished my goal by designating time specifically for exercise or performing more strenuous activities. For week three, my challenge is to eliminate waste from paper plates and napkins. I feel that this will be an easy task aside from dining halls.

Earth Challenge-Week One

For the first challenge week, I aimed to sleep more in order to reduce toxins in my body. The challenge became difficult during the weekdays when homework would pile up. I should have set a goal time to shut off electronics and get to sleep. This has shown me that a lot of the time school and my grades take precedence over my health. Next week, I am aiming to exercise every day. I expect that, similar to this week, I will put that after my studying commitments. I will try to continue the first challenge of sleeping more along with exercise, so time management will be needed in the coming days.

 

Earth Month Challenge

For Earth Month Challenge, I will be completing challenges to reduce waste and toxicity. Each week of the month of April, I will take on a new challenge. The challenges will become increasingly harder as the month progresses. I hope to reflect at the end of the month how much each challenge impacted my waste and toxicity levels. I will then be able to decide which challenges should be incorporated into my daily life.

Week One: I will challenge myself to sleep more. As a person sleeps, the brain is able to cleanse itself and remove toxins that accumulate throughout the day. As nice as sleeping sounds, I know I will encounter difficulties when I procrastinate homework or want to stay up late texting a friend. The best plan of action is to set a time for electronics to be shut off and get some deep sleep.

Week Two: I will challenge myself to exercise every day. Toxins are released through the skin as you sweat and an increase in cardiac activity will reduce toxicity. The true challenge of this is finding motivation, which can only be overcome with willpower.

Week Three: I will challenge myself to eliminate all use of paper plates and napkins. This will be a difficult challenge, especially while dining on campus. To reduce paper waste, I can carry a hanky, as retro as that sounds, and use reusable dishware.

Week Four: I will challenge myself to not wear any toxic makeup. Before researching my current products, I am assuming I will not be left with much to use. This will be difficult because of the pride I take in my outward appearance. I can overcome this by accepting how I look naturally and maintaining confidence.

 

Earth Month Challenge Research

For the March Earth Month Challenge I am choosing to focus on the area of Waste and Toxicity. I am intrigued by this topic because of how little I focus on this area in my current lifestyle. I am looking forward to researching the products I use on my skin and the toxicity effects they hold. I also hope to improve my waste habits with more recycling and better purchasing habits.

Someone could do the following tasks to decrease their impact on the environment through waste and toxicity:

  1. Use reusable bags at grocery stores
  2. Pack lunches with reusable containers
  3. Drink from a refillable water bottle
  4. Buy bulk items to decrease packaging
  5. Compost food and yard waste
  6. Purchase used items
  7. Purchase items made from recycled materials
  8. Avoid eating canned food and drinking from plastic water bottles (BPA)
  9. Use makeup with natural ingredients
  10. Use natural cleaning supplies
  11. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
  12. Reduce stress
  13. Lose body fat
  14. Exercise
  15. Sleep more

Resources that could aid these goals can be found right on the Ohio State campus. The RPAC is home to not only hundreds of workout equipment, but also to the wellness center. They can help students in whatever area of life they are wanting to improve. Whether that be handling stress, quitting an addiction, or financial coaching. A resource for waste and sustainability is Ohio State’s “Zero Waste” initiative. They have installed numerous recycling stations, each with guides on what is able to be recycled and composted.

Some websites for more helpful information are only a few clicks away. Ecocycle.org offers guides to recycling, living with zero waste, and other ways to live a waste-less lifestyle. Safecosmetics.org provides extensive data on makeup and skin products. It defines which chemicals are harmful and toxic to your skin and provides better alternatives. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America put together a thorough explanation of how exercise is shown to reduce stress levels. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety outlines the scientific data and provides a possible workout routine to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

Columbus To-Do List

For my Columbus to do list assignment, I chose to option one, completing a theme based list. I will be completing the Nature and Outdoor Recreation list. Growing up right near the capital of Ohio, I have not been exposed to the many parks it has to offer. I am looking forward to completing this list to gain experiences with the natural state of Columbus I frequently overlook. Being a local at Ohio State, I am commonly asked for references to places to eat, shop, or play. My experience with my surroundings is underdeveloped in the realm of parks and nature. I am anticipating this to change after the completion of the to do list. I will expand upon my knowledge of local treasures and encourage others to explore the beauty not commonly ventured in Columbus. I am also looking forward to this opportunity as a way to find new locations for bike riding. Biking is my favorite pastime and I always enjoy exploring new paths and trails. Through my exploration of Columbus, I will map some new treks and grow as a rider. One experience I have already completed is the Whetstone Park of Roses. I rode my bike along the Olentangy Trail and happened upon a sign for the park. Having heard of the beauty before, I followed the path and explored. Roses and greenery stretched far and I climbed the observation tower to look out across the garden. I was amazed at the hidden treasure lying in Whetstone.

 

Sustainable Design

Two Ted Talks were viewed, Majora Carter’s “Greening the Ghetto” and Bill Davenhall’s “Your Health Depends on Where You Live”. I selected these presentations because of my interest in sociology and also the field of science. My previous knowledge on the subject included the idea that the environment someone is living can impact their actions and quality of life. Also that environmental toxins can negatively impact one’s health, leading to asthma, lung disease, and heart conditions. Viewing these topics, I anticipated the speakers to reiterate the same effects of an environment that is not thriving. I was pleasantly surprised to come away with further knowledge on the subjects and potential solutions.

In the “Greening the Ghetto” presentation by Majora Carter, I learned that the South Bronx once had no waterfront parks, nor access to the river because of so many power plants and sewage buildings. More importantly I learned how the “greening” of a community can have a positive impact on crime rates, overall health, and environmental health. She touched on the topic of green roofs, which we have discussed in scholar seminar. In the “Your Health Depends on Where You Live” presentation by Bill Davenhall, the observation was made that healthcare providers never ask for a history of the environment patients spend most of their time. Knowing that the environment can have a major impact on health, even leading to death, I was shocked we have not made advances in client history based on location.

The topics of these sustainable design presentations urge me to live in an environmentally thriving area. If that is not possible based on career, family, etc. I will use my ability to advocate for improvements. Adding more green space, installing a green roof, or choosing a home based on pollution maps can improve my life and the livelihood of our planet.