John Gibbons

ENST 246 : Environmental Activism

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 716 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    730
    pounds of CO2
    have been saved
  • up to
    58
    meatless or vegan meals
    consumed
  • up to
    300
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    420
    minutes
    spent outdoors
  • up to
    2
    public officials or leaders
    contacted
  • up to
    21
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill
  • up to
    81
    conversations
    with people
  • up to
    43
    plastic straws
    not sent to the landfill
  • up to
    1,305
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    540
    minutes
    of additional sleep
  • up to
    1,521
    gallons of water
    have been saved

Challenges

Food

Advocate for More Food Options

I will advocate for local and/or organic food options at work or on campus.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Food

Reduce Animal Products

I will enjoy 1 meatless meal(s) and/or 1 vegan meal(s) each day this week.

COMPLETED 29 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Transportation

Learn More and Talk to My Friends

Access to public transportation is a social justice issue! I will learn about the need for public transportation in my community and tell 3 friends each day about the issue.

COMPLETED 27 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Water

Fix Leaky Faucets

I will fix faucets or report leaky faucets to facilities that have been wasting up to 9 gallons (34 L) of water per faucet every day.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Simplicity

Eat Mindfully

I will eat all of my meals without distractions, e.g., phone, computer, TV, or newspaper.

COMPLETED 25 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Energy

Switch to Cold Water

I will switch to washing my clothes in cold water, saving up to 1,600 lbs of C02 over the course of the next year.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Nature

Go for a Daily Walk

I will take a 15-minute walk outside each day.

COMPLETED 20 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Health

Healthy Sleep

Effectively working for sustainability requires self care! I will commit to getting 45 more minute(s) of sleep each night to achieve at least 7 hours per night.

COMPLETED 12 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Nature

Explore My Area

I will explore at least one new hiking trail or nature walk in my area.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Waste

Reduce Single-Use Disposables

Historically, marginalized and low-income communities live closer to landfills, contributing to a multitude of health problems. I will find out how I can limit single-use items and do my best to limit the waste I generate.

COMPLETED 7 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Simplicity

Meditate

I will meditate or create a moment of silence for 15 minute(s) each day to reflect on things important to me.

COMPLETED 12 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Waste

Go Paperless

I will reduce the amount of paper mail that I receive by opting into paperless billing and ending unwanted subscriptions.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Waste

Lobby For Reusables

I will lobby my dining hall to have reusable dishes and silverware in order to minimize disposables.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Waste

Skip the Straw

Plastic bags and small plastic pieces like straws are most likely to get swept into our waterways. I will keep 2 plastic straw(s) out of the landfill and ocean each day by refusing straws or using my own glass/metal straw.

COMPLETED 11 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Water

Say No to Plastic Straws

An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. By asking for no straw when placing a drink order, I will keep 3 plastic straw(s) of out of the ocean each day.

COMPLETED 7 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Energy

Power Down the Computer

I will power down my computer and monitor when not using it for more than 2 hours, saving up to (1.1) lbs of CO2 each day that I do this.

COMPLETED 7 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Feed


  • John Gibbons 3/07/2019 9:58 AM
                This week I added challenges to my list in the waste water and energy categories. I also completed my added one time challenge of exploring my area by going on a nature walk or visiting a local trail from last week. For me this meant visiting R.B. Winter State park with a couple of friends. Although it was cold we missed the worst of the weather, which resulted in an incredibly refreshing trip lasting a couple of hours. We all agreed to limit the use of our phones, which was easy without the service, with the exception of some music when we reached a scenic spot. Trips like this are something I have heard great things about but never had the time or drive to do it for myself, which I realize now was a huge mistake. It was incredibly beneficial in that it was an opportunity to let go of the stresses and worries of school and upcoming assignments/projects, similar to how my daily challenge of 15 minutes extra spent outside each day has helped me relax during times of stress. Before an exam I had today I took 15 minutes to walk around campus which immensely reduced my nerves going into the test. Like the challenge of spending more time outside each day, I could also see myself adding a weekly challenge of exploring more trails and parks. I also added the challenge of lobbying for reusables, which we already do in terms of plates and silverware, but the amount of plastic cups and Styrofoam cups we go through each day could be reduced by a lot should we include reusable cups and mugs in our budget.  Similarly, I chose to reduce the amount of single-use materials that I use. While I have always been decent at refilling my own water bottle, I would like to reduce the amount of plastic trays and similar products that I use during the week, specifically at the bison which is an area we have always acknowledged as problematic. Looking at the additional information and tips for how to reduce the use of plastic, I learned more about a lot of the impact I have. This included learning that gum has much of the same chemical makeup as plastic and is a huge problem for the environment, and that plastic lighters are a big source of wasted plastic, while matches represent a much better option. I also plan on starting to buy food in larger quantities, to reduce the amount of plastic each time. Another simpler option for reducing plastic is that of buying glass jars in bulk rather than plastic bags, especially for storing food. Plastic lunch bags are one of my biggest sources of waste when I’m and something I really want to work on reducing. Glass jars also represent an art project for younger kids that could encourage their use. I also had no idea that the chemical makeup of plastic causes it to take 500-1000 years to decompose, which should be enough to convince anyone that it is worth reducing. 

    • Dayane Da Silva 3/17/2019 5:43 PM
      Hello John, I really enjoyed learning about your experience with the last couple of challenges. I’m glad to hear that you got to have some fun out of completing them and turning your challenges into a bonding experience with your friend! I understand it was extremely cold during that week, so I am glad that you were still able to complete the challenge and discover a new trail and spend some quality time outdoors. Additionally, it was awesome to hear that you guys agreed to limit your phone time, and fully soak in the experience and enjoy nature. In today’s day and age, it is incredibly hard to put our phone downs and live in the moment. So, I hope you and your friends found that experience refreshing and enjoyable. Also, it is great that you found real benefits in completing these last couple of challenges, especially in such a stressful couple of weeks. I agree that walking around and breathing some fresh air can really reduce our stress and calm our nerves (especially before an exam as you mentioned), so I hope this challenge also helped you do well in other courses. I also enjoyed reading about your challenge of lobbying for reusables and cutting back on your use of Styrofoam’s and plastics. As I have mentioned before, this is also an issue that I deal with so I understand that although it can be a difficult change and habit, it is a great way to help our environment. 

  • John Gibbons 2/28/2019 10:28 AM
    This week the challenges I chose to add were primarily focused on self-improvement rather than those that directly impact the environment. After posting my reflection last week which included my first challenge in the health category and admitting that I thought there was little connection between environmental activism and self-improvement Professor Stuhl responded and reminded me that environmental activism is either impossible or a fraction of the benefit when the person trying to do the activism is worn down or not mentally there, which really cemented the benefits in my mind. One of the more beneficial challenges I have decided to add this week was the daily challenge of healthy sleep, and specifically increasing the amount of sleep I get by 45 minutes each night, which was easily added to my schedule. Because of the immediate benefits I noticed I looked at the source under the challenge depicting 11 health benefits of increasing sleep that not many people know, including reducing stress, athletic benefits, improved memory, longer life and a surprising relationship between lack of sleep and inflammation which has numerous other health detriments. The other that is more well-known but that I really noticed a change in was sharper attention. After increasing the amount of sleep I was getting for a couple of nights I found my morning classes especially were easier to pay attention in and I felt myself getting less groggy later in the day which is something I have always had a problem with, most likely because of my sleep schedule. I also added the daily challenges of removing straws from the waste I generate, 15 minutes of meditation a day, and considering needs versus wants before making a purchase. Admittedly, straws are not something I use often so I knew this would be one of the easier challenges for me, but that doesn’t take away from its benefits. Meditation has been something I have found both helpful and non-impactful. Anyone who is adept in meditation will say it’s a skill and practice is required, so the days where I find meditation difficult and more of a hinderance than a benefit is understandable right now, because I have had almost no exposure to. Some days during periods of stress however, I do notice an immeasurable benefit in taking 15 minutes of silence and reflection, which definitely makes the practice worth it. The consideration of needs versus wants is another challenge I thought would be somewhat easy for me as almost everything I purchase is a need right now. I don’t often spend money on new clothes like a lot of people so this wasn’t the area I needed to focus on, but cutting out the amount of money I spend on food because friends are going out to eat is definitely something I want to work on. The one time challenge I added was exploring a hiking trail in my area. Last year I had one of my best memories at R.B. Winter State Park with friends, and although I haven’t had time since the week started I have already begun planning a hike with a group of friends at the park again this weekend. 

    • Andrew Stuhl 3/04/2019 10:49 AM
      Oh, I hope you had time to go to RB Winter!! Would love to hear how that went. I hear you on going out to eat with friends and how that cuts into the budget. One thing I used to do in that regard was to join them, but to eat my own meal at home just before, and that way I could tag along and get an appetizer or something. Easier on the wallet, but still enjoy spending time w friends

  • John Gibbons 2/21/2019 7:45 AM
     
    This week’s additions to the EcoChallenge were excellent additions in terms of what I found that worked and didn’t work with my first group of challenges. One of the main things I noted in my first reflection was my lack of influence in terms of changing things like the lightbulbs used in my school-owned housing, changing the source of our food as well as the kinds of food we are served, and conflicts regarding the time I had for the challenges. Because the majority of the challenges I selected during the first week involved talking with friends, staying away from my computer, calling facilities about leaking faucets, I wanted to try and choose more activities that challenged me to spend more time. Two of the first challenges I knew I wanted to try were daily walks and practicing gratitude for the environment. These each asked how much time I wanted to spend on the activities, which I chose to be 15 minutes each day. To do this I knew I planned to leave for class about ten minutes earlier than I normally would, and during this time I took routes to class through campus that I had never explored before. Besides the immediate benefits of appreciating nature, I found that these walks helped calm me down before class and put me in a mindset to pay attention, alleviating a lot of the other distractions I usually have going straight from my house to the classroom. Because of the benefits I noticed from this, I decided to look at the additional information, which immediately confirmed what I thought the benefits were. The University of Michigan demonstrates links between reduced depression, stress, and increased mental health associated with spending more time walking outside. Because of the ease of this challenge and the benefits I experienced, this is definitely something I could see myself continuing after the challenge is done. This challenge was also intriguing to me because there is not really any barriers I could face in trying to maintain this after the EcoChallenge is over. Almost everyone has 15 minutes of free time on any given day, and rather than filling this time with a mechanism for avoiding boredom, it is incredibly beneficial for the self, and for the environment when these walks reduce or replace the use of a car. Another challenge I recently added is that of eating without distractions. Typically in my house meals are served to everyone at the same time, which results in a lot of socializing. I liked this challenge because I went into it not knowing what exactly the benefits of it would be so I found the Harvard Medical School article about the effects of distracted eating that much more surprising. Specifically, the article argues that distracted eating has been associated with weight gain. In terms of socializing, this makes sense because I find myself often getting seconds because of the amount of time I spend talking with friends, and not paying attention to what I was eating. When I started taking my meals to my room I found that I ate less, it took less time to eat, and I felt more productive afterwards, so this is another challenge I would definitely consider doing again. This was also the first challenge that I had selected in the Simplicity category, in part because I didn’t previously associate the challenges in this category with the traditional definitions of activism, for the most part. However, some of the next challenges I plan on adding will come from this because while these behaviors might not immediately impact the environment in a good way, they do show immediate impacts on the person doing the challenge, which is arguably just as important. 

    • Andrew Stuhl 2/21/2019 9:36 AM
      I really like how you integrate the resources into your narrative of the challenge and your experience of it. Great idea to leave just a bit earlier for class -- I never thought of that as a way to get exercise, get outside, clear the mind, and calm the mind. Sometimes when people schedule meetings with me, I suggest going for a walk instead of sitting somewhere and talking -- I put that out there in case it ever makes sense for you. I find that walking really stimulates my creativity, if I want to put my mind in that kind of frame. And, yes, you are so right that taking care of yourself is a crucial part of activism -- to avoid burnout. But, also, focusing on simplicity reduces urges that lead to consumption and consumer behavior, which, as we saw in Story of Stuff and Minimalism, is often based on fear, FOMO, insecurity, and jealousy. These can be combated, though not necessarily eliminated, by being mindful, seeking inner strength, and choosing simplicity.

  • John Gibbons 2/14/2019 9:26 AM
    Beginning the first week of the campus Ecochallenge was really interesting for me. Before I started I was worried that other than the basic daily challenges that I considered easier to complete it would be difficult to find challenges that I could fit into my schedule. These challenges were those that consisted of using my email less each day, or unplugging before leaving my room, things that naturally integrated into my schedule. Although I considered these challenges easier, that isn’t to say they are not equally as beneficial. One of the great things about this program is it lets people start with smaller challenges and encourages them to build up and increase participation. Although I had done it in the past as a matter of convenience, during the Ecochallenge I contacted facilities to fix a shower I noticed was leaking which led to an increased consideration about the environmental impacts of the things I noticed and chose to report or not report. It was also a gratifying feeling that not only did I initiate the fixing of a leaking shower, but also made a huge environmental impact. It is especially rewarding that  when a challenge is marked complete the site tells you how many gallons of water are potentially saved because of your actions. One of the more surprising results from the first week of participating was how willing friends were to have conversations about the issues we discussed. Because the majority of my friends have had little to no exposure to the world of environmental activism and the role it plays in their lives is most likely smaller than it plays in others, I expected pushback when bringing up topics like adding recycling bins to our house, or making some attempt to start composting. It was a pleasant surprise to see that so many of my friends were not only willing to have the conversation, but also interested in making actual attempts to resolve the problems I brought up. Two of the largest obstacles I see myself facing in these challenges is lack of time and lack of influence. Many of the larger projects that include things like initiating the repair of a bus stop or meeting with local community leaders are things that many college students would fail to fit into their schedules. The other challenge I see myself facing is the lack of influence I have in terms of making change. For example, when advocating for changes to be made in terms of where we get our food, the types of food we get, and how we dispose of it, much of this was shut down for different reasons, one of the larges being cost. This again is something that represents a realistic possibility for life after college, but while here the majority of the food we consume is chosen for us, and would take a large group of students to change. One of the more interesting resources that I came across mentioned the little known area of food justice and the danger that low-income areas face in terms of nutrition. Previously to the class I had only heard about the issue of nutrition in low-income families on a couple different occasions, but this is something I have started to find incredibly interesting. Although I am not sure what kind of permanent change I could make to my lifestyle to change these circumstances, I could see my continued participation in lobbying for increased awareness and better nutrition in low-income areas. Another resource that was particularly surprising to me was the information on energy saved as a result of using cold water. The most interesting statistic was that 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine is during the heating of the water. Becoming better at monitoring my use of hot water, especially in washing my clothes is an example of something I could definitely see as being a permanent change in my life.  

    • Emily Fisher 2/18/2019 3:06 PM
      John, it is interesting to hear you admit that although challenges might be small, they make a huge impact. Throughout reading journals posted by our peers, it was a common theme that many people felt as if their small challenges weren’t enough or that they were easy on themselves. However, what most don’t realize is that these small five minute a day or fewer problems can make a huge impact once incorporated into daily life. It is all about the effort to do something that can be as easy as picking up the phone and calling facilities. No one else would probably have done it for a while, and that is why you have already created a more significant impact on not only yourself but the environment. I have also been speaking with many of my friends and family about what I have been learning and my personal opinions. I know that many of my friends who aren't familiar with environmental issues would find it shocking that 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat it up. Such facts are reasons for people to push themselves to make a change in their daily habits. 
      I also enjoyed your commentary on the realities of these challenges. Some people might not be as financially capable of buying the most organic product or shopping with the luxury of worrying about the environment instead of cost. Without a doubt, many college students face this barrier as well which is why it should be interesting to see what people in our class start picking once the easier ones are all used up. 

    • Cara O’Neill 2/17/2019 1:41 PM
      I definitely can relate to your worry about being able to fit all of these challenges into your schedule. As each week goes on, I feel like I'm going to forget challenges I've picked and begin to neglect them. I am still nervous about being able to balance and make a habit out of all my challenges I have chosen. I really like your point about reporting things like a leaky shower head. This is such an easy and important issue to resolve. I feel prior to this class, I wouldn't have reported a leaky shower to facilities because I wasn't aware of a change it truly could make. I also feel like people neglect to do this out of laziness or thinking they couldn't do anything to fix it. I think this challenge is really important and I actually chose to pick up this challenge for Week Two. 
      I feel like your point about lobbying for awareness of better nutrition is a really good one. There is such a strong link between poverty and fast food and I feel like breaking this link could be so important and make a huge change in this system.
      I strongly agree with your point about the difficulty of maintaining an environmentally friendly lifestyle in college. I made a similar a claim in one of my journals. I think it's hard to make major changes in things like your diet and housing style when these things are pre-planned out for you. I also think in terms of activities like composting, many activities are virtually impossible while being a college student. However, things like recycling are super easy to do in college considering that next to almost every trash can on campus there is a recycling bin. 

    • Tyler Strobel 2/17/2019 9:00 AM
      First of all, I liked how you distinguished between challenges that are easy to integrate into your schedule and challenges that are not easy to integrate. As I reflect on my own challenges for week one and the challenges I’ve committed to looking forward, I think one major aspect of the Eco Challenge is convenience. When it’s all said and done, after education about environmentalism and the effects of humans on their landscapes, I think convenience is a major reason why people prefer to be less environmentally friendly. Why use a reusable mug that you have to carry and keep clean when you can use a paper cup once and never see it again? Why go out of your way to report a leaky faucet when someone else will eventually fix it? I think you get to the crux of this when you reflected on “an increased consideration about the environmental impacts of the things I noticed and chose to report or not report.” I think if we were all okay with being slightly inconvenienced more often, we may have less environmental problems than we do. I also (mostly) agree with your discussion of the obstacles college students face: “lack of time and lack of influence.” As students, we’re busy both during working hours and after the business day ends. I think after college, may of us will be able to affect change in our communities because we have the time to. I agree that students lack influence on this campus. It’s only when students are either organized (like B.A.D.) or in positions of power (like BSG) that major changes can happen. But I also think Greek life is a major institution of power on this campus. I don’t know if you’re in a fraternity, but if you are, I think you have more influence here than you realize.