Month of Action Check-in

The three actions I have completed so far are thrifting, buying in bulk, and using reusable goods.

I’ve always bee an avid thrifter, but now that it’s my only option for clothing I’ve become a master.  I can sift through the racks for hours and alter anything to fit me perfectly.  I’ve been making trips back to my parents’ house just to use their sewing machine.  My favorite thrift store in Columbus is the Goodwill on High St. near the Rally’s, it has a lot of gently used items from reputable brands.

Buying in bulk is pretty nice, especially for items like grains, granola, and raisins.  It’s also nice to be able to bring your own reusable bags in order to reduce plastic waste.  I love going to Lucky’s on High St, they have awesome options for bulk items and I can ride my bike there which is awesome!!

Speaking of my parents’ sewing machine, I have been completing some DIY projects for reusable goods, including beeswax cloth and cloth pantyliners.  Both of these projects were really fun to make and help reduce waste.  The beeswax cloth is just cotton fabric coated with beeswax that can be used as a foil alternative.  Of course, I always carry my trusty stainless steel mug, because you never know when caffeine is needed.  This is a zero-waste necessity!!

An action shot of my trusty mug!!

The beeswax cloth drying- this can be messy so definitely do it while your parents are sleeping so they don’t get nervous about the countertops 😉

The beeswax melting onto the fabric


Month of Action Plan

The issue that I am tackling this semester is the excess of waste created through food waste, the fashion industry, and the use of plastic in packaging.  The majority of ways to help solve this problem are changes people can make in their own personal choices on a day-to-day basis. There are also other opportunities to reduce waste on a community level. In this post I will explore these options and list which ones I choose to take during this month of action.


Food Waste

  1. Composting-This can be one is a variety of methods, including indoor/outdoor composting and composting services.
  2. Buy local-Food that doesn’t travel far is inherently better for the environment and reduces waste, and this method of action helps to support local famers.
  3. Dumpster diving- A plethora of food is thrown away every day from grocery stores, restaurants, and bakeries, and by looking in the right places, you can find a delicious (and safe) treat!

Textile Waste (Fashion)

  1. Investing quality- By investing in quality items you are able to keep them longer, lessoning the amount of items that need to be manufactured.  While it may seem like a lot of money in the beginning, it will definitely pay off as long as you take care of your clothes!
  2. No fast fashion- This is a good rule to live by as most fast fashion stores (such as H&M, Forever 21, and Target) use unethical methods of sorting their textiles and their labor.  At the end of the day, their clothes are not as durable as they may seem!
  3. Thrift, Thrift, Thrift!!! – People donate the nicest stuff!! If you are willing to invest some time and effort into searching the racks, you can really make a wardrobe that is unique and sustainable!
  4. Recycle- Always donate your old clothes, and if they are too worn to donate, recycling them at a local textile recycling plant is always an option, there are drop off centers in many locations.

Plastic Waste

  1. Buy in bulk- By buying your groceries in bulk, you are able to reduce the amount of packaging used.  But be careful to only buy what you need as to not waste food.
  2. Reuse- This is a big one.  By using reusable everyday items you are able to keep so much waste out of landfills.  Some examples: stainless steel water bottle/mug, bamboo cutlery for travel, menstrual cup, reusable produce/grocery bags, as well as reusable items to replace paper/cardboard items
  3. Visibility- Plastic waste isn’t always something that is visible, and an action to address this root cause is to use different language/labeling when talking about waste.

My Month of Action:

Food Waste

  1. Composting- I am going to use the composting service “The Compost Exchange” since I live in an apartment complex that has a serious raccoon problem.

Textile Waste

  1. Thrifting- I have been purchasing most of my clothes for thrift stores for many years now, but as of this month I am going to see if I can go a whole year buying all of my wardrobe items secondhand. (Not including intimates/running shoes)

Plastic Waste

  1. Buy in bulk- I’m beginning my bulk journey with small things like oats and rice, and hopefully one day I will be buying everything in bulk that I can!
  2. Reuse- I am trying to use everything mentioned above!
  3. Visibility- I am labeling the trashcans in my house and my parents house with a “Landfill” and I am going to try and say “throw it in the landfill” instead of “throw it away” to make the issue of waste more visible.

I think that the most difficult thing about going zero waste is that it has the ability to affect several areas of day-to-day life.  I think that I will face many challenges in trying to reduce my waste, as a busy college student it can be hard to reduce food and plastic waste.  Over the course of the next month I will try my best to reduce my personal waste as well as educate others on America’s waste problem and what they can do to help solve it.

In this month of action I hope to learn a lot about my own personal consumption and how I can change some of  my personal decisions to reflect my ethical views. I hope that I can make waste more visible in our society, and help to educate others on the consequences of large amounts of waste.




America’s Waste Problem

The issue I’m focusing on this semester is the accumulation of waste in the United States.  For my projects I am focusing on three common types of waste: food, fashion, and packaging.

The majority of food waste in America happens at the consumption stage, and this is caused by both the low cost and the availability of food in the U.S.  Because of these factors, many Americans see food as disposable or not valuable.  Americans also have notoriously high standards for food quality- including the appearance of produce.  This leads to a lot of food ending up in land fillswhen it could go towards feeding those who need it- or towards a composting facility. The root cause of wast


e due to fashion is the high demand for fast fashion.  Fast fashion is fashion which goes from the runway to the racks very quickly- and the increase in fashion design allow for companies to more frequently produce garments.  Because of this endless cycle the average consumer throws away 68 pounds of textiles each year. Consumers are constantly looking to more purchase low quality garments more frequently instead of a few high quality items when needed. This is the main contributor to textile waste in the United States.  Excess packaging is a great producer of plastic in our country and world.  Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, and because so many of our food items and personal care products are packaged in plastic there is an overflow of the amounts of plastic waste both in landfills and the ocean.  The cause of this horrendous environmental plight is the culture of convenience that has become so common in the world.  It is much easier to throw away a plastic wrapper or bottle than to carry and wash a reusable one. Much of the plastic we consume on a daily basis ends up in out oceans and other sensitive ecosystems.


I think some of the greatest challenges facing the issue of waste in America is the lack of visibility: when we throw things away, they are taken to landfills, and for the most part, we never see the true impacts of this mindless act.  Waste production is also something that is greatly impacted by actions taken by individuals in their daily lives, and this is something that can be difficult to change in the age of throwaway culture and convenience.



Ohio has laws in place to help regulate the recycling of household items, and recycling is available to many (but not all) citizens.  However, many other states in the U.S. have regulations requiring restaurants and other companies to have recycling available to customers.  For example, there are regulations in North Carolina that require all restaurants and bars to have an option to recycle bottles.

There are some organizations devoted to achieving zero waste here in Columbus.  Those include student organizations through the university and local composting facilites.  Composting has become increasingly popular in recent years and is an easy way to fight food waste on a personal level.  There is also a long way to go for most Ohioans. For example, I do not have the option to recycle at my apartment complex and so I collect my recycling and either sneak it into other recycling bins or bring it home to my parents- while this is a temporary fix it is something that I know isn’t sustainable for most people.

The Ted Talk I chose for my issue is one featuring Lauren Singer, a popular zero waste blogger.  A lot of the actions she has taken to reduce her waste are things I’m looking to begin this semester:





Issue Selection-Waste Reduction

I’ve always been the one kid in the cafeteria harping on the others about what could be recycled and what couldn’t.  You could find me looking through my family’s trash in order to salvage scraps of plastic to be recycled or reused.  Waste and the lack of recycling options has always been something important to me, and I’ve decided that it is the issue I’m going to focus on this semester.  While I’m very passionate about this topic, since coming to college I’ve gradually done less to reduce my personal waste, and now I want to see how little waste I can create in the next few months.  I’m looking to go “Zero Waste” and this is the perfect opportunity for me to document my journey.

I’m very passionate about sustainability in general and considered other topics such as water and land conservation, but waste reduction seems like an issue I can solve on a more personal level, and it is something I’ve wanted to explore for a while.   I think that all of the resources I need to go zero waste exist here at OSU, I just have to be willing to seek them out.  It will be a pretty big transition for me, but at the end of the semester I hope to be more conscious of smaller decisions that I make in my life.  I think that the only barrier that I will encounter will be my own laziness.  However, I’m hoping that by setting smaller goals I can achieve big results come spring.

Columbus To Do List Part II

For the remainder of my Columbus To Do List items I tried to do a little bit of everything: music, food, coffee, parks, and art.

For my music item I went to see Big Thief with Claire.  Big Thief is a smaller band with a loyal fanbase and it was a really fun concert!  The venue was Ace of Cups, which has a very grunge and intimate feel.  The music was amazing, and we even got to talk to the lead singer for a while after the concert.  I would definitely recommend Big Thief’s music to a friend, and they are awesome live!


For my coffee item, I went to Cafe Kerouac with Maddy.  It’s a smaller cafe on N High St. that has a very artsy feel and has a good collection of used books and vintage records.  On a cold Tuesday night it was full of students hanging out and preparing for finals week.  I got an iced pomegranate tea, and it was delicious! It was great to catch up with Maddy and talk about how out first semesters in college have been. I would definitely recommend this cafe to a friend looking for a unique book/record or a good cup of coffee!



For my food item I went to Eden Burger with Kaliegh.  I’ve been vegetarian for a few months now, and it was great that there were so many options for vegans and vegetarians!!I got a vegan burger with fries and it was amazing!! I recommend the American burger, the Eden sauce is so good!!





For my park item I went to Bicentennial Park in downtown Columbus with Brooke and Kaliegh.  It was a great green space in the urban environment of Columbus.  We walked along the paths by the river and stopped to take pictures.  All in all, it was a great park and somewhere I will definitely be returning to in the summer for concerts and picnics!!

While Kaliegh, Brooke, and I were walking back from Bicentennial, we stumbled across the Cultural Arts Center, run by The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.  It is a neat old building that has art galleries as well as artistic work spaces and serval affordable classes offered to the public.  I am looking into taking some loom weaving classes there this winter, I’m so glad we found this place and I recommend stepping in if you’re in the neighborhood.

My favorite experience from the Columbus To Do List was probably finding the Cultural Arts Center.  I’ve been looking into loom weaving for years, but I’ve never had the resources to buy a stand-up loom. I’m excited to learn and practice this fiber art without breaking the bank!

Overall I learned that Columbus has a lot more resources open to the public than I originally thought.  There are many excellent parks and community centers for the public to enjoy, and I will definitely be taking advantage of these as I continue to live in the city!  Finding the CAC has inspired me to get more involved with my own art, as I transition form smaller lap weaving and knitting to larger scale weaving and other fiber arts. To anyone looking to get into the fiber arts, I recommend visiting the different yarn shops around Columbus and finding people who can help mentor you.  It is a very rewarding art and I recommend it to everyone!


Columbus To Do List

This semester I’m going to pick and choose from all of the lists instead of picking a specific one.  This way I can have a diverse group of experiences in the city! I really want to do more outdoor activities, as I love nature and want to see what Columbus has to offer. I’m also looking to eat out more in Columbus, and really explore the different restaurants/food trucks throughout the city.  Food is a big part of culture, and I’m looking to try as much as I can. I’m excited to spend more time with ENR Scholars, and to really explore the city together.

A few weeks ago Claire and I went to see Phoenix at Express Live (LC Pavilion).  It was honestly one of the best concerts I’ve been to!! Both Claire and I admitted that Phoenix was one of our favorite bands in middle school, and I was awesome to see them up so close!! Their performance was super unique, they had amazing graphics and this eccentric, European style that was really fun to jam to.  I’m so glad Claire had an extra ticket!!  The venue was really nice, it was my first concert at Express Live, and it was very intimate and fairly clean.  They also had really good pizza, I would definitely recommend both Phoenix and Express Live to a friend.

While I was there I ran into a friend from my exchange student days (she went to Sweden for a year-she goes to Denison University now!) who I hadn’t seen in almost two years!! It was really awesome to get to catch up with her and see what she’s up to now.  It so amazing how music can bring people together in such a serendipitous way!



Mentor Meeting

Talking with Ursula during my normally stressful Monday was a great way to take a moment and reflect on the past seven weeks of my life.  They have gone by so quickly, with each day full of new, exciting, albeit challenging life experiences.  Ursula, a passionate and hardworking EEDS major did not disappoint with her stories of her transformative first year of college.  I can already tell that my first year of college is going to be transformative for me as well, from athletics to academics to social life, it challenges me to find a balance, while getting enough sleep (if that’s possible).

Ursula is very passionate about her major, Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS).  She didn’t, however, come into OSU with this as her perspective major.  She originally wanted to study medicine, but after attending a medical camp before her freshman year and being involved with ENR Scholars, she decided that a career geared towards conservation and sustainability was more aligned with her interests. After working with a neighborhood in her hometown to create a Labyrinth she found that working with communities was her calling. I also want to work with communities, and it’s exciting to talk with someone about shared aspirations.

Ursula is very involved at OSU, and it was really nice to speak frankly about time management and scheduling.  She’s very passionate about diversity, and is involved in the MANRRS organization. She is also involved in the Morrill Scholars Program, a scholarship awarded to students dedicated to both academics and diversity at Ohio State. Inclusion is something that is really important to her, and I think it’s awesome that she has found clubs that align with her interests. Going to a large school is awesome because you can find so many different kinds of organizations and people here.  Not only is she involved in these two organizations, but she is also an ENR Mentor AND works at the front desk at the Agriculture Administration Building.  As a student athlete, I’m always looking for better ways to balance my academics and extracurriculars.  Ursula told me that that a planner is a student’s best friend.  She also said that it’s okay to say no sometimes, and that mental health always comes first during a stressful week.  Knowing my limits is something I sometimes struggle with, but I’m working on setting aside time just to relax and focus on myself more.

ENR Scholars has been an awesome way to meet people who are interested in the same things as me, and to learn more about my major.  As a second year scholar, Ursula was Abe to give great advice on how to make the most of ENR activities.  She said to show up to the activities that you’re invested in, and really be present for them, making the most out of your time with the other scholars and advisors.

I’m so glad Ursula and I were able to get together and reflect on OSU and our time here, I hope we can do it again sometime!!

VIA Strengths

My top five strengths are Humor, Love, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Curiosity, and Gratitude.

Here’s a quick description of each of these terms:

Humor- Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.

Love- Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.

Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence- Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Curiosity- Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.

Gratitude- Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.

While I agree with most of the strengths I received, I am a little surprised by the order in which I received them.  I think that if I were to rearrange them I would put Curiosity a little higher. I use Curiosity everyday as a member Ohio State’s rowing team. I am a coxswain, the smaller athlete who steers the boat and motivates the rowers.  As a coxswain, I am continually learning more about the sport and being curious helps me to perform my best everyday.  I also would like to see Gratitude a little higher on my list, as I have the opportunity to be a student athlete at my dream university, and this is something I’m thankful for everyday.

Here’s a picture of me coxing an eight:

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Career Exploration

I’m not as far along in my career exploration process as I’d like to be, researching my future options has recently taken a backseat to my academics and athletics.  I’m hoping to get a lot more research and clarification this summer, as I’d like to take some time to work here in Columbus and reflect on my first year of college. As of right now I’d like to major in Environmental Policy and Decision Making, and maybe one day go to law school and work for the public sector dealing with some form of energy policy.  I was involved in Youth in Government in high school, and I always found energy policy really interesting and also very impactful. I think one think that I learned from the RIASEC discussion was that while I may have dream job in mind for my future, there are tons of jobs in the world that will be just as fulfilling.  I also realized that I am definitely someone who works better in a group with other people, working alone is not something I think I would find as fulfilling.

My three codes are Social, Enterprising, and Artistic.  O*Net came up with many different careers for me, a few that I found interesting were: Public Relations Specialist, Recreation Worker, and Broadcast News Analyst.  I think the career I would be most interested in would be the Public Relations Specialist.  I’ve never thought about a job in communications before, but I can definitely see myself doing something that deals with the public.  O*Net gave me a few jobs that had to deal with public service in general, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do.  While lawmaking doesn’t come up, I still think that it falls along the lines of my results. While attending law school isn’t set in stone for me, I do think it’s something that has the ability to be very transformative for me and my career opportunities. This was a really interesting exercise, and while it didn’t necessarily make me want to change my major or career path, it has given me some interesting things to think about. I think I might look into internships in communications this summer to see if it’s something I’m really interested in.  No matter what career/careers I end up in, I hope that they are involved in conservation and are fulfilling.

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About Me

My name is Mallory Johnston and I’m a freshman in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars Program. I’m very excited to being living on campus and attending Ohio State, I have a feeling this is going to be an amazing four years!! I’m very passionate about the environment and how human interactions affect it. My love for nature has always been a large part of my life, especially outdoor activities such as hiking and paddling. I grew up in central Ohio, hiking with my family and reading as much as possible.  My childhood spent roaming around the woods by my house greatly impacted how I see the natural world around me.  I really became aware of environmental issues, however, my junior year of high school when I was living in Catalonia, Spain.  I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student for a year, and it was on of the most transformative years of my life. Not only did I learn another language, I now consider a small fishing village 5,000+ miles away from Columbus my other home.  I lived right on the Mediterranean coast, and while the sea was absolutely gorgeous, there was a common theme throughout it: pollution.  Living so close to a  beautiful force of nature and seeing how a strong human presence can be destructive, I became inspired to study Environmental Policy and Decision Making.  I hope that one day I can help protect the environment from destructive behaviors and to help educate people about the natural word around them.