Elise Rubenstein

ENST 246 : Environmental Activism

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 771 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    665
    pounds of CO2
    have been saved
  • up to
    81
    meatless or vegan meals
    consumed
  • up to
    120
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    1
    documentaries
    watched
  • up to
    1
    community events
    hosted or attended
  • up to
    24
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill
  • up to
    9
    conversations
    with people
  • up to
    1
    waste audits
    conducted
  • up to
    300
    minutes
    being mindful
  • up to
    360
    gallons of water
    have been saved
  • up to
    360
    minutes
    spent learning

Challenges

Simplicity

De-Clutter My Home or Dorm Room

I will de-clutter, clean, and donate or recycle unneeded items in my home or dorm room.

COMPLETED 25 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Food

Reduce Animal Products

I will enjoy 3 meatless meal(s) and/or 0 vegan meal(s) each day this week.

COMPLETED 27 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Community

Support Native Communities

I will use the resource links provided and spend 60 minutes learning about the native populations that lived in my area prior to colonization, and what I can do to support those that still exist.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Waste

Carry my Trash

I will carry all of my unrecyclable, non-compostable trash with me to raise my awareness of how much I send to the landfill.

COMPLETED 19 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Water

5-Minute Showers

I will save up to 20 gallons (75 L) of water each day by taking 5-minute showers.

COMPLETED 18 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Nature

Keep a Nature Journal

I will journal each day about my experiences in nature.

COMPLETED 20 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Health

Learn About Local Environmental Justice Concerns

I will spend 30 minutes researching environmental justice concerns in my region, their causes, and local initiatives to address these concerns.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Food

Watch a Documentary about Food Sovereignty

I will watch 1 documentary(ies) about food sovereignty: the right of local peoples to control their own food systems including markets, ecological resources, food cultures and production methods.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Simplicity

Go for a Daily Walk

I will take a walk for 10 minutes each day.

COMPLETED 12 OF 90
DAILY 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 12 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Food

Join a Local CSA

I will sign up for a local CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture).

Completed
One-Time 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

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 1 friends each day about the issue.

COMPLETED 4 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Waste

Personal Waste Audit

I will collect all of my unrecyclable, non-compostable trash to raise my awareness of how much I send to the landfill.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Health

Avoid refined sugar

I will adopt a diet free of refined sugars, which eliminates sweetened beverages, candy, and processed foods.

COMPLETED 7 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Simplicity

Buy Used Clothes

I will spend 30 minutes learning about the perils of fast fashion and will buy my clothes at second-hand stores when I shop.

COMPLETED 6 OF 90
DAILY CHALLENGE

Community

Host a Viewing Party

I will host a viewing party with 5 friends and/or colleagues to watch a movie or present a guest speaker on an environmental issue that matters to me.

Completed
One-Time Challenge

Feed


  • Elise Rubenstein 3/07/2019 10:44 AM
    Things definitely were amped up this last week of the challenge, but we made it through!
    One challenge I chose to do this week was a personal waste audit. I had already done the carrying trash around challenge, and noted that I actually wasn’t ending up with all that much trash, meaning that most of my waste must be in recyclables. Because of this, I wanted to take a look at just how much plastic I was using and putting back into the waste stream, so I thought this would be a good way to do that. Rather than taking out our trash/recycling from our room, I told my roommate to just let it build up this week and that I would deal with it at the end of the week. The result was a little alarming, and I’m not sure my roommate was particularly appreciative of the waste corner that developed in our room. I found that, as I had predicted, I was using A LOT of plastic products each day, the majority of which was coming from the food that I was eating. I also found that a lot of the plastics we were putting in our recycling were not cleaned particularly well, and might in fact be contaminating the entire load of recycling. It definitely helped me to conceptualize where my waste production was coming from, and moving forward how I can start to reduce that impact. 
    One of the daily challenged I did this week was purchasing/researching about buying used clothing instead of new clothes. My research took me down a whole rabbit hole of sustainable clothing options. At first, it seemed like used clothing is absolutely the way to go, in terms of sustainability which makes complete sense. But then I started to get into some info about synthetic materials, and was pretty devastated to learn that not only are my beloved fleece layers releasing microplastics into the ocean every time I wash them, but pretty much all older, more worn clothing is doing this too. So it seems that there’s a bit of a tradeoff here. If you buy used clothing, then you are not putting more material out there and reducing emissions that would have been created during the production process, BUT by buying older clothing you’re purchasing materials that are more worn down and therefore more likely to release these microplastics when you wash them. So what to do? So far I’ve come up with no answers, other than to never wash your clothing, especially your fleece, which I can’t say seems like a particularly viable option. I found information about someone trying to design a filter of some sort for your washing machines that will catch these plastic fibers but so far there does not appear to be anything actually out there to use. I’ll definitely continue to keep my eye out though!


    • Dayane Da Silva 3/17/2019 5:44 PM
      Hello Elise Rubenstein,
       
      As I read your mid-journal for unit 2 and familiarized myself with your journey with dealing with the daily challenges, I could relate to a lot of the things that you were going through. Like yourself, I defiantly found the last few weeks of the challenge to be extremely challenging and tough. However, I was extremely impressed by the challenges you chose, as they weren’t easy to do. I was especially impressed by the “carry the trash” because a lot of the times here at Bucknell students are really preoccupied and worried about their self-image and self-presentation, so it is really bold and admirable that you chose to carry the trash you consume around with you. I am also glad to hear that you noticed that you didn’t collect that much trash, I believe having a visual reminder of the amount of trash you consume throughout the day/week can have a big impact on you and your ability to collect/ have that much trash. Additionally, like yourself a lot of the trash that I collect is mostly from plastic objects, so I am glad you were able to notice that and began to make a change. What I found particularly interesting about your observation of the plastic waste was that it was mostly coming from the food that you consumed. I had never thought about all the left-over food that I often throw out in the recycling bin, and how that can contaminate the plastic before reading your post. However, reading about your experience and your take on that will really help me in changing my own habits and making sure all the waste from the container is fully over it before I throw it in the recycling bin. Overall, I am inspired by your bold choices, and I hope you found these challenges to be an enriching experience.
       
      Word Count: 312
       

  • Elise Rubenstein 2/28/2019 8:36 AM
    As the challenge has continued and we’ve added more and more challenges to our docket, I’ve definitely found it more difficult to commit fully to all of them. In the first two weeks when I only had a handful of challenges I felt like I was really able to continually give my full attention to them, and have them constantly at the back of my mind. This week, I think my biggest barrier was really just being able to remember all the different challenges and truly give them my all, rather than just focusing on a few.
    One challenge that I chose for this week was to reduce single use disposables. Compounded with the carrying around trash challenge this felt like a very natural transition to make. I already had the awareness of how much trash I produce, however since I didn’t have to carry around recyclables I had sort of been giving myself a pass on those. As a result, I became aware of just how much plastic I was using and recycling. The area that I use the most plastics is definitely in the Bison. About 75% of the food I purchase in the bison comes in some sort of plastic container. In some instances I was able to just save the containers that I was getting from the Bison and reuse them elsewhere, but that wasn’t always the case and I found myself over the week changing what I would have otherwise chosen to eat based on the packaging it was in. I think this is something I will definitely continue to  be cognisant of in the future. 
    Another challenge I chose to do this week was just to take a 10 minute walk each day. As a college student without a car I end up doing a fair amount of walking each day anyways, but often just with the intention of getting from point A to B. In the warmer weather I love to take walks with friends, but as it gets colder I find myself using that as an excuse to get outside less and just walk around for the sake of walking around less. Doing this challenge definitely helped me with my other challenge of nature journaling, as I was dedicating 10 minutes a day to just enjoying nature, which gave me plenty to write and draw about. I definitely hope to continue this challenge after we are done with this unit, as it was a really nice way to break up my hectic days.
    One of the one time challenges that I did was to join a CSA, which was a little ambitious given that I am on a meal plan already though the school and am on a pretty tight budget for other groceries. However, a few of my friends and I did find a mushroom CSA that we are going to split, and cook meals together with! Pretty psyched for that! We haven’t yet joined as we are still figuring out logistics but it is in the works! I think that something like this will be much easier to continue once I am no longer required to be on a meal plan and actually able to cook all of my own meals. 


    • Andrew Stuhl 3/01/2019 9:59 AM
      so cool! I want to hear about the mushroom CSA! And of course you'll learn lots more about CSAs thru your work with Nell and Groundwork farms!

  • Elise Rubenstein 2/20/2019 7:43 PM
    Some of the new challenges that I did this week included carrying my trash around with me, taking five minute showers, and nature journaling each day. Overall it was a lot of fun!
    I think that the most surprising one was definitely carrying the trash around, in that it was actually a lot less than I thought. A lot for the products that I use are plastic, or paper, which means a significant amount of the waste that I produce is recyclable (although I did have to do a bit of research to really verify  what I could and could not recycle). It did make me think a lot more about making sure that I was recycling my recyclables, but I almost think it might have been more impactful if the task was to carry around my recycling, or specifically plastic products. One thing that I thought about going into this challenge, was trying to decide if I should try and go about my normal consumption of goods so I could see how much trash I produce in an average week, or use this as an incentive to change my trash production habits. I decided the most productive thing to do in terms of potentially having this impact my habits more long term was to try and use this as incentive to change some of my habits. Throughout the week I noticed myself becoming more and more aware of what I was choosing to buy, especially in the Bison, based on what trash the item would produce.

    As for the nature journaling, I had  a lot of fun doing it. I spend a lot of time outside, and love just observing nature and appreciating what's around me, so this provided a fun outlet to write that all down, and preserve those moments. I also did a little research about nature journaling and got a little more into the artistic side of it, which was fun as well. I did find it a little challenging to think of things to write about everyday, which I found surprising since almost everyday I make my friends stop at least once to look at a random plant next to the sidewalk, or a bird flying by anyways. I think that often by the end of the day when I went to write in the notebook I had forgetting many of these passing little moments, so I started carrying my notebook around in my bag and jotting things down throughout the day. I’m really excited to be able to look back on all of these little snapshots of nature! I think this is definitely something I will continue to do moving forward after this challenge, maybe not everyday but whenever I see something in nature that inspires me to write about it!

    My least favorite, but probably most environmentally impactful challenge that I did this week was the five minute showers. I would say that my worst habit environmentally speaking is the length of my showers, and this is a fact I have recognized for a while but done nothing about until now. I knew this wasn’t the greatest habit in terms of water consumption, but I really didn’t realize just how bad it was! I had no idea that even 10 minutes in the shower can generate 4 pounds of CO2 emissions! I definitely slipped up a few times with this challenge and lost track of time, but it's definitely something I will attempt to continue after this month. Another big surprising aspect of this challenge was the comment thread on the article posted in the learn more section. The article was written by someone who takes 4 minute showers every day and just talked about why you should do this, and tips on how to do this. A majority of the comments were directed towards this individual telling him that this is a disgusting habit and that anyone who showers for less than ten minutes probably is a gross individual. As a whole they jumped to a lot of (generally incorrect) conclusions. It made me think a lot about the conversations we had towards the beginning of the semester about the stereotypes about environmentalists and how people respond to them. 


    • Allison Rhyu 2/28/2019 11:14 AM
      I found it quite admirable how you made the initiative to add taking five-minute showers to your Campus Eco-Challenge. While I did see that initiative in the water section of the challenges, as someone who loves taking long hot showers to unwind after a long day, there was a part of me that was admittedly a bit hesitant to take on this challenge. However, after seeing from your response the detrimental environmental effects of the long hot showers I enjoy so much, even if it may not necessarily be a five-minute shower every day, I definitely want to make the conscious effort to at least cut my shower time in half. I was quite shocked to see that even ten minutes in the shower a day could create four pounds of carbon dioxide emissions! As someone whose showers are usually at least twenty minutes a day, it’s quite harrowing to see how much my daily ritual can detriment the environment. Thus, now when I take showers, I am going to make a conscious effort to time my showers so I can grow aware of how long they take, and even if I cannot completely reduce my time to five minutes a day, at least make an attempt to significantly cut back on my time. Since actually showering is a fairly fast-paced task, with long showers being more for the relaxation aspect or from simply growing unaware of how long you spend, picking up this habit should in no way actually affect my hygiene. (word count: 253)


    • Andrew Stuhl 2/21/2019 6:05 AM
      Good work! I'm very curious to see your nature journal -- I wonder if you wouldn't mind me taking a look sometime! I have always admired those who journal and I can see the immense value in having a daily record of thoughts (esp to look back on in future years), but I could never make it a habit that didn't feel like a chore. I think it is very wise to keep the notebook handy and jot down thoughts and passing moments as the occur. I certainly do this when it comes to my scholarship, and what I'm thinking about particular research or a particular paper/essay/project I'm working on. Our minds are so active and creative, but not always 'on demand' -- so it is essential to capture moments of inspiration! I hear you on the stereotypes of environmentalists -- and comment threads are especially horrible and aggressive. 

  • Elise Rubenstein 2/13/2019 7:54 PM
    I ended up switching which challenges I was going to do this week, since we started a bit earlier than anticipated and some of the other ones I had chosen needed a little preparation (such as with composting, I first need to figure out where I will be able to compost). So the challenges I did choose to partake in were going vegetarian, decluttering my dorm and getting rid of some belongings, as well as researching about local native communities.
     I anticipated the vegetarian challenge to be fairly easy since I didn’t think I really ate that much meat to begin with, but it turns out I was just wrong about that. The first few days were definitely challenging and I almost ate food with meat a handful of times before catching myself. One thing that helped was that I had told all of my friends about this challenge so they helped to remind me when I wasn’t thinking about it. After the first two days however, it got significantly easier and I actually barely need to think about it already. I think that in terms of barriers I was anticipating finding protein alternatives to be challenging however I eat enough beans and other proteins aside from meat anyways that this hasn’t been an issue at all. I could definitely see myself continuing to be vegetarian after the challenge ends, although it is more likely that I would be pescatarian. 
    As for the decluttering challenge, that one was very easy to start off with. I cleaned out my drawers in my room and invited friends over to go through them and take what they wanted. I had one friend who said that because of the clothing she got from me, she didn’t go out and buy new clothing that she had previously planned to buy. This challenge was difficult to do every day, since I did such a big decluttering the first day and definitely lost a little steam after that. I do however recognize that I have too many belongings in my dorm room, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find more things to get rid of each day. As for continuing this in the future I think it would make more sense to continue this until I feel as though I have a more reasonable amount of belongings and then, rather than continue to declutter, just work to maintain and not add things. Or, if I do buy new things such as clothing only buy used to reduce my impact. 
    My one time challenge was to research about native communities in our area. This was one I was definitely excited for, and something I had been interested in doing for a while. As someone who does a lot of backpacking and other outdoor adventures I’ve realized I am frequently on land that is likely important to someone in some capacity, so I was interested to learn more about that. One of the resources provided was an interactive map that shows you native populations prior to colonization. Using this I was able to learn about native communities in this area. Earlier this year I went to a conference about Outdoor Education and something that was discussed by many Outdoor Education programs from other schools was that they do something called land acknowledgments on all of their trips, and recognize who’s land they are on. I think trying to do that more in my own life, as well as even maybe working to somehow implement that into our school’s outdoor education programs would be a way I could move forward with this challenge. 

    • Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2019 5:38 AM
      This is awesome! I would really love to hear what you found out in terms of local Indigenous communities. I've done only a little research on this myself and really want to learn more. Could you share with me during office hours sometime, or maybe consider choosing "final presentation" as an added assignment for this course -- and report your findings there? Also, in terms of composting, let's talk. I was thinking that maybe the local Center for Sustainability (on Fraternity road) would perhaps receive your compost -- they have a compost pile in the garden that is directly behind their building. Finally, I wonder if you would consider making an appointment with the Bucknell campus dietician/nutritionist? I went vegetarian in college (and remained so for a few years) and, when I did, I met with my campus' nutritionist. It was really helpful and eye opening in terms of making sure I got the nutrients I needed. For women, this is even more important, especially when it comes to iron intake. I think the appointments are free, and they are always educational! Keep up the good work!