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Bucknell ENST 246 - Spring 20224 Feed


Reflection, encouragement, and relationship building are all important aspects of getting a new habit to stick.
Share thoughts, encourage others, and reinforce positive new habits on the Feed.

To get started, share “your why.” Why did you join the challenge and choose the actions you did?

  • Danny Meuser's avatar
    Danny Meuser 2/26/2024 7:57 PM
    Journal # 4
    During the last few weeks, I feel like I have grown to appreciate the simple habits that I once used to participate in so frequently. Reintroducing these little habits like walking around outside, eating quality meals, and having fun away from screens have increased my overall sense of wellbeing. I felt like I gained a better understanding of what kind of food I should be eating and what food really is supposed to be for people. Food should be fuel for our bodies to support staying active and always trying to learn new things. Water is the baseline for all life on this planet and the eco challenge reminded me how important it is to practice sustainable water usage. This challenge allowed me to see how much I take for granted in the part of the world I live in and the kind of family I grew up with. Good, wholesome, nutrient rich food was always available to me as I grew up but when I came into college I definitely strayed away from proper meals and moved toward processed fast food that is easy and cheap. This challenge made me reset to my basic foundations as a healthy human and remind me of the things I can do to help everyone feel this way. On page 98 of Conservation in the Progressive Era the author provides a quote that was very profound to me. The authors state, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” This deep relationship people have with nature and natural processes is at the heart of what a simple and happy lifestyle endorses. Historical conservation efforts respond to concerns about water scarcity and pollution. Conservationists recognized the importance of water resources and advocated for sustainable water management practices to ensure access to clean water for future generations. The counterculture food movement also emphasized the importance of water conservation in agriculture. Practices such as organic farming and soil conservation techniques. These movements seem to have a lot of backing to them, on page 14 of Food for Dissent, the author states “While many natural foods initiates anticipated that a snowball effect of alternative production and consumption would compete with (and maybe overtake) conventional food production, it did not.” This culture of cleaner, organic food has not taken over the role of “conventional food” but the more people learn about the benefits of cleaner food the more popular it will become and therefore most cost effective. People need to be more aware of cost effective ways to have access to whole foods and clean diets. Overall, both conservation and the counterculture food movement share a common goal of promoting sustainable practices that address the interconnected challenges of water insecurity, energy consumption, food security, and general public health. The historical and cultural origins reflect a growing awareness of the need to protect natural resources and promote healthier, more sustainable communities.

  • Molly Jorden's avatar
    Molly Jorden 2/25/2024 5:27 PM
    Journal #4
    Through the “water” challenges provided by EcoChallenge, I have learned that conserving water and being mindful of how much I use is the most difficult to accomplish, in comparison to the other topics. In terms of the “energy” category, I feel that a lot of my life has been using energy, in places that don’t necessarily need it. I feel that now, I am more conscious of when it is unnecessary to use energy, especially when not using it is not an impactful inconvenience in my daily life. The food category has been a particularly difficult challenge for me, as before, I had already struggled with the food options on campus. However, I have learned that when I eat more greens like spinach and broccoli (which I have now been doing daily), I feel much more energetic and optimistic about my day. It has been the most impactful challenge on my personal well-being. Lastly, the health category has been very relevant in my life for the past couple of weeks. I have been sick for a while, but the EcoChallenge which addresses talking to a doctor, and developing a plan to address health issues was incredibly beneficial to me.
    For the past two weeks, I have felt a much stronger connection to the environment, which has everything to do with the EcoChallenges that I have been checking off in recent days. The “water” category under the EcoChallenge website has been particularly impactful this past week. The Hetch Hetchy Debate reading provided an insight into these challenges that changed my perspective on the importance of water, and its protection. I feel that in past years, I have taken advantage of the unlimited water resources that were available to me, however, my recent challenges of shorter showers and limiting water when brushing my teeth have made me much more conscious about why and when I use water, in addition to how lucky I am to have it. This debate really spoke to me as so many environmental causes like it are combatted for convenience. This is something that I personally struggle with, as so many of the EcoChallenges are to some point, inconveniencing. While the end result of the fight for Hetch-Hetchy was disappointing, it did shed light on why it is so important to value the future of our planet, over day-to-day convenience. This has been a large factor in what has motivated me to stay consistent in my tasks, even when they get in the way of time efficiency. The “food” category has been impactful as well. The reading from week 5; Naturally by Michael Pollan provided me with awareness of the corruption within the organic market. This made me more aware of what I have been eating and the impact my decisions have on the environment.
    Reading about the historical and cultural origins of the counterculture food movement from Naturally by Michael Pollan informed me of how organic food has been a movement for longer than I had originally understood. This, in addition to the information under the EcoChallenges I have been completing, has shown me the personal impact I can make. Beforehand it was more difficult for me to understand that I could have an impact, however now I know that I am responsible for making an effort to make changes, to minimize my harmful impacts on the environment. These origins show how while thinking that a certain act (like buying organic food), has a positive impact, it can also have the opposite effect depending on its background and current corruption. This has made me significantly more aware on what brands mean when they say “organic” which has changed the way I think about many large (technically organic), brands. The challenge that has stood out to me the most in terms of relating it to conservation and the history of counterculture food has been reducing animal products in my daily meals (under the “food” category).

  • Stephen Schousen's avatar
    Stephen Schousen 2/19/2024 5:10 AM
    Journal 4

    1. I’ve learned that I take really long showers. This is definitely an area that I can improve in. While I did not select that as my eco-challenge, I traditionally don’t use straws so I didn’t really need to adjust my life in terms of the challenge I selected. I also end up taking several showers a day. Usually, one in the morning before class, one after my run or bike ride, and one after my evening swim or lift. This seems like a lot, so I’ve tried to get my first workout of the day out of the way before class, or on days that I can lift immediately after my run or ride. This can get me down to 2 showers a day and save a lot of water. I’ve tried to be mindful about my water usage in other areas as well. Little things like remembering to turn off the water when I am washing dishes and not actually rinsing a dish, and turning off the water while brushing my teeth. I’ve also learned that I eat a ton of food. I used to eat predominantly at the bison and the commons, and aside from being really expensive it ends up being pretty unhealthy and unsustainable. I’d get 2-3 takeout containers a day along with plastic bags and the like. I’ve switched to doing most of my own cooking and this has been great for my health and my environmental impact. I typically gain a pound or two when I am at school but I didn’t this semester cooking for myself. I also notice that I produce less waste and can be mindful of the type of produce and meats I am buying. I also definitely do not eat enough fruits and vegetables at school, and I’ve made a conscious effort to get a serving in with every meal. Berries with my granola in the morning, vegetables mixed in with my rice at dinner, and avocado toast typically for lunch. As far as energy is concerned, I prefer to be cold and usually sleep with the window open in the winter, so the thermostat is already at its lowest setting in our place.
    2. I’ve learned that organic isn’t everything. Typically, when I shop, I buy organic options whenever possible. I assumed that they were simply superior and the Co-Op I work for deals almost exclusively with organic produce so I associated it with small farms and sustainable agriculture. I still buy organic berries and vegetables as I am not a fan of pesticides and organic foods do not contain as many as non-organic foods (Pollan, Naturally).I am aware however that my choices may not be as environmentally friendly as I originally believed them to be. I also realized that the Bucknell sustainability plan should really include limits on student energy usage. As I mentioned earlier, water usage in my apartment is not exactly optimized. My roommate took a 30 minute shower an hour before I wrote this, and I have had some similar lengthy showers in the past. I don’t see a section on student buy-in in the sustainability plan. Things like limiting the amount of hot water apartments have access to could go miles into making Bucknell Students more mindful of their water usage.
    3. The rejection of the supermarket middleman in favor of local, direct from source produce championed on page 2 of The Gathering Storm is a crucial piece of my diet at home and incredibly important to achieving a more sustainable culture and lifestyle. While the author in this case traded with her friends, I have the option to shop direct at CSAs, Lancaster Central Market (which happens to be the oldest year-round farmer’s market in the US), and buy from any one of hundreds of local roadside stands.

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:31 PM
      Nicely done Stephen! Very curious to hear more of your adventures in cooking for yourself, especially given the nutritional demands of your fitness regimen. I'm really into thinking about this (how what I eat helps fuel my workouts; how my workouts demands a certain level of nutrition if I am interested in muscle gain, etc). Would love to talk more about it. I'm also interested in the notion of the Sustainability Plan placing limits on student use (rather than just encouraging conservation). How do you see that playing out? How would students receive this? I really don't know; I'm curious to hear what you think.

  • Joseph  Melgar-Egoavil's avatar
    Joseph Melgar-Egoavil 2/18/2024 11:28 PM
    Journal #4:

    What I have learned about myself throughout the daily challenges is that I genuinely am a lazy person especially when it comes to going on the daily walks or choosing organic ingredients when eating meals since the fries always look good or the burritos sound good but choosing scratch-made meals and also eating the organic fruit bought form giant is way better for our carbon footprint but also at times harder to acquire than regular processed packaged meals. This daily challenge definitely has had me thinking critically about what is going into my body. For example, after watching the video of “ Real Food” I became skeptical about the foods I was eating making sense of what is actually good for my body and what is not. Coming back to the egg dilemma, is it good or bad for us? Well turns out it is good for us not like what medical experts said that it is a cause for high cholesterol levels, which ended up being false. After watching this video I started thinking about other labels or foods we've been told are bad for us or good for us and ended up being false. What I have learned about the relationship with our environment through the daily challenges is that minimalism has definitely decreased the amount of personal waste I create throughout the day, being more conscious about the amount of water I am using and light energy since at the end of the day it has to be paid one way or the other and to generate that power or water there are factories that are polluting ecosystems for me to have this energy source. So ultimately every choice we make in our lives whether that be consuming food water or light energy has an indirect impact on the environment maybe not a mile or two down the road but entire waterways feeding into hundreds of communities are being affected by us humans from our waste mostly and luxury of commodities that in other circumstances would be managed a lot harsher. Some of the impacts can be water pollution, watershed pollution, air pollution, factories creating aluminum for our vehicles release chemical pollution into waterways then getting into the fish and ultimately into our bodies. Origins and history of conservation relate to the challenges in the way that most of the challenges revolve around energy conservation tying into the first couple of policies the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act in the 1900’s. And especially because the NEPA has remained focused on controlling industries and pollution regarding breathable air and drinkable water. The cultural origins relate to the original cultures being native Americans mostly and their symbiotic relationships with Mother Earth, they didn't face climate change or water contaminated or polluted air. They made sure that even when taking from the giving earth they had to give back in some way so they would keep the fish healthy, their ways of living were sustainable like taking cold showers and not using much water since they had no water heaters, almost like the shower head challenge focusing on the reduction of water usage.

    Energy5, E. C. (2023, November 6). The intersection of renewable energy and water conservation. Energy5.

  • Hannah Schaeffer's avatar
    Hannah Schaeffer 2/18/2024 10:27 PM
    Journal 3
    1. Through the water, health, food, and energy categories, I learned a lot about how I live my life. I found myself being reminded about the effects of my actions way more than before. Especially in the food category, I found myself thinking a lot about what I was consuming and the health impacts it can have. I chose the challenge to reduce processed foods and refined sugars. Now whenever I want to get something to eat and snack on it is much more than just grabbing what I want to eat and it is about what is the best choice for me to make for myself. For the water and energy challenges, I found it easier to make those changes. My challenges were to turn off electronics and lights when not in use and to not use plastic straws. Turning off electronics was already something I was used to doing at home which I channeled to implement here, and for the plastic straws, I already didn’t like using single-use plastic bottles, so now I carry around a straw with them. I learned a lot about what issues I had previous attachments to and which I had more of a challenge to incorporate into my life.
    2. Through these past 4 categories, I feel more connected with the environment because of the connections that each topic has with one another. Especially thinking about the reading of Food for Dissent by Maria McGrath, I definitely think of food more than just fuel. A quote by Waters included by McGrath explains how food can be used for connecting with a more natural and healthy lifestyle. “You set a table, and make it a beautiful experience that they don’t forget. This is an environmental movement that’s about pleasure on the table . . . Through beauty. It’s not telling people what to do. It’s bringing something to people that can change their lives, and that they can do easily.” When I make sure I have a daily meal without processed foods, I feel more connected with nature because I know that is where my food is coming from. I can also see myself including these food practices after this challenge because it makes me feel better knowing that what I am eating is good for me and also better for the environment. Through the challenges of water and energy, I find myself closer to the environment as I think about how much waste I am reducing. By turning off the lights, I am reducing the amount of fossil fuels I consume, and by reducing the amount of plastic straws, I am limiting the amount of plastic waste I consume. This connects to this week's readings about waste, where Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein explains, “What constitutes our waste changes, and with it our understanding of the world.” By thinking about what I consider “waste” I change how I feel about the world around me. I started to care more for it as I realized the changes I could make to my lifestyle to reduce the amount of trash I leak back into the world.

      1. The countercultural food movement directly relates to the food and health challenges, as the purpose of this movement was to control your health through the food you eat. Especially in “Real Food: The Best Diet” by Andrew Weil, he explains how the food trends in recent history have not been in the best interest of health. He explains that increased portion sizes and sugar consumption have caused a higher percentage of people who are overweight in the US. These unhealthy relationships with food also cause other health issues such as inflammation and diseases. The counterculture movements urge people to not follow these easy trends and to source their food in natural ways to have control over their health.
      2. Conservation has a deeper connection to the water and energy categories. Through the reading of “The Intersection of Renewable Energy and Water Conservation” by Energy5 Your Way, they explain the various sustainable ways to both preserve water resources and produce energy for the world. The focus on keeping the world’s natural resources as preserved as we can has been constant throughout the history of conservation. To ensure that you are not worsening any conservation issues, it is important how you use the water and energy resources we gain from the planet. This connects with the Eco Challenges through these categories as it focuses on people reducing their contribution to waste.

    The intersection of Renewable Energy and Water Conservation. Energy5. (2023, November 6).
    Kaiser-Schatzlein, R. (2021, April 24). The history of New York, told through its trash. The New Yorker.
    MCGRATH, M. (2019). INTRODUCTION: THE GATHERING STORM Baby Boomers and Their Discontent. In Food for Dissent: Natural Foods and the Consumer Counterculture since the 1960s (pp. 1–14). University of Massachusetts Press.
    Weil, A. (2014, June 10). Real food | the best diet | Andrew Weil, M.D. YouTube.

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:23 PM
      Great Hannah! A very thorough Journal entry. I appreciate you working each day on your challenges, and I also appreciate how you connect the EcoChallenge to our readings and other course materials. In this Unit, I really wanted students to be able to have an experiential journey (daily behavioral changes) and be able to contextualize it / understand it through an intellectual journey (readings on the impacts of these behaviors as well as their historical/cultural origins). I'm glad you feel closer to the environment as you think thru your daily actions, and whether to reach for that sugary snack :)

  • Maisie McGowan's avatar
    Maisie McGowan 2/18/2024 8:00 PM
    1) I have better understood my tendencies and values through the last four eco-challenge categories. Under the water category, I chose a customized challenge of showering for less than 10 minutes per day. From an environmental standpoint, 10 minutes is still quite a long time to have water running for one person. In class, we talked about how showering with hot water for that long is a luxury in many parts of the world. However, I wanted to select something realistic to get myself in the habit of thinking about the length of my showers, which I would shorten over time. I have little trouble spending around seven minutes showering on a normal day. But there are certain days when I find myself right at the 10-minute mark, such as when I wash my hair. This challenge has emphasized the fact that the standard of hygiene to which I am accustomed is not sustainable on a global scale, and I am lucky to be in a position where I consider 10-minute showers normal. I am working on shortening them each week.

    I chose to heat and cool the room naturally for my energy challenge. I have learned that I enjoy having natural airflow in my room. Heating the room naturally does not feel super effective, but I have a large window and keep the shades open at all times to let sunlight in. When the room gets too hot, my roommate and I turn on our fan and open the windows. It is refreshing to have outdoor air passing through our room, and it is effective in cooling the room. I am not sure that this is tempering the room completely naturally because my dorm does not allow us to shut down the air conditioning system, but I keep it at a moderate temperature and try to use the window and fan to adjust accordingly.

    The food category has further solidified to me that I enjoy eating whole foods more than processed goods. My favorite meals at the dining hall are scrambled eggs with vegetables for breakfast and the vegetarian stir fry station for dinner. These meals are both relatively unprocessed, and I feel satisfied whenever I eat them. I also love the smoothies from the dining hall, which are made with whole ingredients as well. This challenge has proven to be easier than expected because I have realized that the processed food I eat is usually in the form of snacking, not meals. It might be more effective to focus on whole-food snacks.

    My health challenge is to write down three things I am grateful for each day. I have learned that I have a lot to appreciate in every part of my life. I am generally a positive person, but like everyone else, I find myself looking at life through a negative lens sometimes. I am not sure that this eco-challenge habit could pull me out of a difficult mental state, but I think it is powerful in preventing me from reaching such a point in the first place, which is a much more sustainable goal anyway.

    2) I have learned that the environment can provide so much value that I have not yet taken advantage of, that is, until doing the challenges in these last four categories. As I mentioned before, I have taken value from my attempt to heat and cool the room naturally. “Renewable energy… [offers] significant advantages in mitigating climate change” (The Intersection of Renewable Energy and Water Conservation). Although using direct sunlight to warm the room is different than typical solar-powered energy, it is the same idea and proves to have less of an impact on the environment. Therefore, since the environment can offer me so much, it is only right that I try to limit my negative effects on it.

    Water is another environmental factor that provides so much value and that I often take for granted. My challenge of taking shorter showers has emphasized this idea. Since “water conservation practices ensure the availability of freshwater resources for present and future generations,” I must make sure to stay conscious about conserving water (The Intersection of Renewable Energy and Water Conservation).

    3) The historical and cultural origins of the counterculture food movement and conservation are manifested in modern ways through the challenges in these categories. The counterculture food movement was originally practiced by very distinct groups of people, particularly hippies and organic farmers. The food movement was a fight for a more sustainable food system, orchestrated by people such as Gene Kahn (Pollan). As “the control of Cascadian Farm wound up in corporate hands” and Kahn began taking a business approach to the food movement, the meaning of organic and the counterculture push changed. However, the fact that it changed does not mean that it is less impactful or gone. One of my health challenges is to eat two whole-food meals a day, which aligns with the argument of the early counterculture food movement and the overarching missions of modern-day industrial organic farms.

    Another aspect of the counterculture food movement and conservation was related to food sovereignty. Carol Flinders, an early member of this food movement, recalled the value of “food intimacy in ‘one another’s backyards…’” (McGrath). My one-time challenge was to watch a documentary on food sovereignty. The documentary I watched emphasized the value of native people’s ability to grow their food on their own land. This connects back to the early countercultural supporters in Food for Dissent. Further, it emphasizes that native people have been practicing the values pushed in the counterculture movement since the beginning of their time, far before the movement emerged in the 1900s.

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:20 PM
      What a thorough and thoughtful Journal, Maisie! I really appreciate you taking the time to reflect on each of your challenges, how they are going, what you are learning, and how they connect to our readings. That's wonderful. One big goal for me as instructor for this unit was to encourage students to have an experiential journey (daily behaviors of the eco challenge) that they could tie to an intellectual journey (reading about the impact of those behaviors and their historical/cultural origins. I absolutely love the point you made following watching the food sovereignty documentary regarding the deeper roots of food values - not just in the counterculture movement of the 1960s but in many Indigenous practices that have been sustained for thousands of years. I also really want to applaud you for the careful evaluation of meals vs snacks and how you have been able to find healthy, delicious and satisfying whole-food meals, but snacks have been harder. That's the kind of evaluation we can get to when we do challenges like this and take time to reflect -- we collect data/observe our own habits and then see things that we didn't fully realize before. I'm also really impressed that you've been able to get to 7 min showers! It is 100% true that people with long hair need more time in the shower than those who do not, and I should have acknowledged that in class when we talked about it before!

  • Logan Wills's avatar
    Logan Wills 2/18/2024 8:00 PM
    Journal 4:
    1.One thing I learned about myself throughout the last two weeks of the eco-challenge is that when my focus is not on water and energy conservation specifically, my negative environmental impact is much larger than it should be. I’ve taken shorter showers and kept my thermostat 2 degrees lower than what it was originally set at before I started the task and don’t feel like it has affected any other aspect of my life. Besides these two tasks my lifestyle is the exact same as it was before, but now I’m doing my part in moving the health of the environment back in the right direction. This has also made me wonder how many other small tasks like this go by unnoticed and how many can one take on before they feel that it impinges on their lifestyle.

    2.When I think about my relationship to the environment the first thing that comes to mind is my carbon footprint. Taking a deeper dive into the water category of the eco challenge I found some interesting statistics on water use. It was stated in the Take 5 Minute Showers article from the eco challenge reading that cutting down showers to 5 minutes a day can “reduce your water usages and the CO2 emissions by 70-80%”. I never thought something this small could make such a large difference. In fact, taking shorter showers means I have more time to sleep in in the morning, which ties into my health task. This benefits both my health and the environment’s health at the same time. Taking the time to learn more about the benefits of water conservation has made me want to not only learn more but also do more. It is interesting to see how not only the categories provided through the challenge but also the benefits for myself and the environment all interact with each other.In my opinion, this challenge has given me the opportunity to find my relationship with the environment and watch the relationship grow each day.

    3. In terms of water and energy, the origins of conservation can be seen throughout the eco-challenge daily and one-time tasks. Tasks like making sure to turn out the lights when you leave and taking shorter showers are both great ways to lessen one’s footprint in each category. This is what scientists want to see. The blog post The intersection between Renewable Energy and Water Conservation from Energy5 talks about the future benefits of clean and green energy as well as water conservation. An example is when they say, “By practicing water conservation, we guarantee future generations have access to clean and sufficient water sources”. The eco-challenge works towards this by setting tasks like shorter showers and lowering the thermostat. The food and health categories on the other hand work together to support the counterculture food movement. Maria McGrath said “If the consumer refused to be manipulated and makes wise choices that are not based on advertising, he-she-we!—can save the planet.” The eco-challenge supports this movement by providing health tasks like eating more veggies, and food tasks like eating more whole food meals. McGrathe believes that moving towards a diet like this can save both humans and the planet simultaneously.

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:14 PM
      Great Logan! I like how you point out that taking shorter showers means more time for sleep. I love finding the positive in things like this. This is especially important for environmental activism at the individual level, because, for so long, it has been described as "giving up" something. It may be true that we are giving up long showers, but we also gain / receive in return too -- like more sleep, more water conserved, more energy conserved, more money saved on water and energy utilities, more time!

  • Alexandra Balsamo's avatar
    Alexandra Balsamo 2/18/2024 6:48 PM
    1. Through the daily challenges, I have learned a lot about myself. For instance, I didn’t think I used a lot of plastic water bottles until recently. I use my reusable one during the week, then wash it on Friday and don’t pick it up again until Monday. I didn’t notice how many plastic water bottles I was wasting by using them on the weekend. I would also use them quickly after the gym instead of filling up my reusable one. I have stopped this since the challenge. Another thing I have learned about my life is that I have so much to be grateful for. One of my challenges is to take ten minutes of mindfulness/meditation a day. This has to be one of the best parts of my day. I thoroughly enjoy sitting quietly, breathing, and just thinking of all the good I have in my life. I have found that it really helps to ground me and myself.

    2. I have learned how much impact we have on our personal environment through this challenge. One of the things I chose to do was meal prep. It is sort of difficult to do as a freshman in college, however I like to write down what I want my meals to be for the day then plan my day around that. This “meal prepping” has helped me eat healthier and more sustainable food products. In “Real food, the best diet” the guy talked about how important it is to cut out sugary drinks. I used to like to drink a vanilla latte once every few days, but now I tend to just get Americanos. I also feel that meal prepping helps our personal environment. By making sustainable and healthy choices (such as buying farmers market organic strawberries as opposed to Walmart brand) we are contributing to a better life for ourselves and for the environment. By meal prepping, I am able to plan my meals and where the food comes from. I can support local farmers by planning my meals and what I'll need before I go out to shop and then shop at a farmers market.

    3. The historical origins of conservation and the counterculture that I relate to the eco challenge is Hetch Hetchy. They wanted to build a dam so that the people of San Francisco would have water, however some people disagreed because they felt it would ruin a national park. We know that they did build the dam and it was good. In our reading about organic farming, we learned that a lot of the mom and pop farms were sold to big corporations and now most of the big corporations claim to be organic. These are related to the challenges because it shows us that we have to look outside the box. For instance, if I really want something fresh, organic, and to support local farmers, I should go to a farmers market rather than the grocery store to get my produce. For my one time challenge this week, I chose to host a viewing party of a documentary. I am excited to find a good one to share with my friends! I want to find one about American farms and organic food.

  • Dora Kreitzer's avatar
    Dora Kreitzer 2/18/2024 6:10 PM
    1. The first thing that I learned about myself is that I really don’t need meat. I’ve never really loved meat anyway—I enjoy it in things like casseroles or pastas, but prefer not to just eat it on its own. The substitute meat I used this week was delicious– I actually liked it better than normal ground beef. Doing the challenge, I also realized how rarely I eat meat at lunch already, so the bigger challenge was dinner, but even that has gone mostly well so far, so I think I might try to continue to be vegetarian after this challenge. Cooking for this meatless week, I learned that while the actual process of cooking even simple meals often stresses me out, I get enough joy from the end product that I think it’s worth it for me to do it more often.
    From the health challenge, I learned that building more movement into my day really isn’t that hard. For my joyful movement, I’ve just been playing music that I can dance to while I get ready for the day, and it has made me feel happier and more energized in the morning. I know I talked about how hard it feels for me to add things to my life, but building more joy and movement into something I have to do anyway (get dressed and ready every morning), it has felt pretty easy. My other health challenge has been loving-kindness meditation, which I have been doing for a couple minutes before bed. I used to journal every day, but on nights when I was up late I wouldn’t want to take the time to do it, so I stopped recently, but the meditation makes me want to get back to the journaling practice. The meditation itself is nice–I like having a chance to clear my mind and think of something positive before I go to sleep–and I think getting back to my journaling practice would help me do that, too.
    2. Through my water and energy challenges, I realized that, especially when I’m at Bucknell, I’m not very frequently thinking about the amount of resources I’m using. When I’m at home and know that my parents are paying for electricity, water, etc, I'm very cognizant of how long my showers are, when I leave the lights on, what electronics I leave plugged in, etc. But on campus, more of that falls to the wayside when I don’t have to think about who’s paying for it. Timing my showers and unplugging anything I wasn't using, however, made my resource consumption far more top of mind. When Dr. Udo came into class and in reading the Sustainability Plan, I realized how much my individual actions contribute to a larger campus climate, and also that my actions have more than just economic effects. My daily water and energy choices definitely contributed to the “waste and consumption reduction” area of behavioral change that the Sustainability Plan seeks to foster in individuals on campus, and seeing this framed as helping to “[reduce] waste status, [achieve] carbon neutrality along with [enhance] the ecological conservation and restoration of campus,” I connected my behaviors to larger environmental goals, and learned that I need to keep those in mind regardless of where I am (15). In Maryland and Lewisburg, it’s the same resources we are trying to protect.
    Being more aware of the food I’m eating in the last week has also made me realize how much of what I consume is only distantly related to the environment. Even in getting my meatless meat, because I was dead set on making taco pasta, I recognized how removed that is from natural food and food cultivating processes. I also got a very sizable shipment of Valentines Day candy from my parents that I was happily eating, probably a direct contributor to Dr. Weil’s data about Americans’ total sugar intake skyrocketing in the last 160 years. As I was watching his lecture, and arrived at his point that we are eating more processed foods than ever before that are so far from what nature produces and have displaced real food in our diet, I was eating a cup of microwave Kraft Mac & Cheese–ironic, right? Though all of these things are technically vegetarian, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have any detrimental environmental contributions or health contributions for me. Dr. Weil’s talk demonstrated to me that those two things (my health and the environment) aren’t actually that far apart–what’s most beneficial for the environment would most likely be the most beneficial for me, and vice versa. My current diet is fraying my relationship with the environment, distancing me from what it naturally produces and in the most convenient for me cases, is leading me to contribute poorly back into it, which is something I would like to continue to address.
    3. Beginning as far back as our class history covered, many of the water challenges probably stem back to environmental concerns raised during the Hetch Hetchy debates. Warren Olney explained that the reason they wanted to dam the Tuolumne River was to give the Bay of San Francisco area the access to a sufficient amount of water for their growing population, and other small streams wouldn’t be enough. While those on the other side argued for the importance of preserved, untouched landscapes in the National Parks, one thing that never came up was if the Bay area truly needed that much water. After the Hetch Hetchy Dam tarnished a beautiful environment and as we’ve depleted many more water sources since these debates, the need to reduce our own personal water consumption is extremely clear; almost every single one of the water challenges was aimed at using less water in our daily routines. As Energy5 details, water conservation leads to “preserving ecosystems,” “saving energy” (therefore supporting another challenge category), “protecting water quality,” and “ensuring water availability,” all of which we can trace back to conversations about Hetch Hetchy.
    Regarding food, many of the food challenges (joining a CSA, buying from a farmer’s market, buying local and organic, eating vegan or vegetarian, eating whole foods, etc.) are only possible and feasible because of the counterculture food movement that made those dietary provisions more in demand, and thus more widely accessible. Carol Flinders, Laurel Robertson, Bronwen Godfrey, Alice Waters, and many others recognized the impact that eating naturally can have on the self and on society, and recognized that food could be a solution to the overconsumption, commercialization, convenience-oriented supermarket (and more general) culture they were observing (McGrath). Food for Dissent and the natural food movements created competition with industrial agribusiness, basically inventing the green economy according to McGrath, and as it became more popular, caused more mainstream businesses to follow suit (McGrath). Not only did these movements create audiences for farmer’s markets and CSAs, but they also contributed to more environmentally friendly, wholesome, organic foods being available in the grocery store. This wider availability, fought for by natural food activists, is what allows so many of the food challenges to be realistic for participants

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:05 PM
      Great journal Dora! I especially appreciate the multiple, specific connections you made between readings/course materials and the daily challenges you've been working on in the EcoChallenge. That's great to see, as I want this unit to have not only the experiential component of trying new behaviors but also the intellectual component of understanding the impact of those behaviors, as well as their historical and cultural origins. Also, while we are pushing ourselves in this unit to try new things and look for 'better' options for food, movement, (love your joyful dancing!) -- I also hope you can be easy on yourself. No one is perfect and Kraft Mac N Cheese is a completely reasonable meal every now and then!

  • Ella Van Benschoten's avatar
    Ella Van Benschoten 2/18/2024 12:40 PM
    1) My water challenge is to use reusable straws more and stop using any single use straws (paper or plastic). While previously to this challenge I liked to think that I already cut down on the single-use things plastics and packaging already, I definitely have taken note of how many single-use things I rely on everyday. I would say this challenge has definitely expanded into a larger one of avoiding any single-use silverware and as much packaging as possible as I became more conscious of how much I could still cut down on. I now carry a reusable straw and silverware with me around campus in anticipation. My energy challenges are to unplug and turn off appliances and electronics when not in use. This has been an easier one to keep up with. At home, my parents are definitely more on my case about doing these things to save money, but at school I usually become more forgetful to turn off lights and electronics when not in use because I am not paying for the electric bill or anything. I have adapted to this pretty well since I have a habit of it at home, but I still have to remind myself sometimes before leaving my apartment to make sure everything is off. It can also be a bit problematic with my roommates since we share a lot of appliances like our toaster, coffee maker, air fryer, etc., in the kitchen.
    My food challenge is to have one meal a day that is free of processed foods. This one is also an adjustment for me because even the healthier meals I cook tend to have some sort of “processed” ingredient (cheese, frozen vegetables, sauces, etc.). Typically, the easiest meal for me to prepare for this challenge is brown rice with vegetables. It’s difficult for me to find protein for this type of meal because I am a vegetarian and rely on plant-based proteins and canned beans that are technically processed. While I think after this challenge I could incorporate the idea of eating more whole, unprocessed foods into my diet in the future, I don’t know if it is necessarily sustainable for me to fully cut them out of meals due to issues with getting enough protein in. Finally, my health challenge is to prioritize sleep and get 2 more hours to reach at least 7 hours of sleep a night. This has been difficult for me, but rewarding because I already have more energy in the morning. Getting enough sleep is a challenge for me because I am definitely a night owl and not a morning person (which is difficult for someone with 8:30’s Monday through Thursday). However, getting more sleep has greatly improved my functioning in the morning and how easy it is to wake up, and I am excited to see the added benefits of it in the future.

    2) Through my daily challenges, I have learned more about my own individual impacts to the environment. While I typically thought of myself as aware of my impact on the environment, I learned further about what I can do further to limit it. Most of the things I wasn’t aware of before are simple, everyday habits that can also easily be changed, like turning off the lights and appliances when not in direct use, eating more whole foods, and using reusable straws and utensils. Also, the eco-challenge has made me feel more connected to the environment. Challenges like spending 20 doing nature-related activities, eating less processed foods, and getting more sleep have made me have more energy but also feel connected to the Earth. I have also started to see health benefits of these things. One of my eco challenge resources, “Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet: A Detailed Beginner's Guide,” describes the benefits and basics of a plant-based, whole-food diet. I am a vegetarian and knowledgeable on eating more plant-based and reducing animal products in my diet, but eating vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. This article and my challenge of one processed-free meal a day has helped me adjust my diet in eliminating some of the less healthy choices I make and even pushed me to cook more nights than I typically do.

    3) The origins of conservation are involved in my daily challenges related to water and energy as these challenges are related to reducing my impacts on the environment. My energy challenge of turning off appliances and lights when not in direct use is related to conservation in using less energy, which means less fossil fuels and resources in my daily life. Also, my water challenge of not using plastic straws or single-use utensils work to reduce how much waste I generate which is directly related to reducing the energy and resources that are consumed to create those things. Overall, my challenges reduce my environmental impact by reducing how much energy and resources are used, which is related to the article/class reading, “The Intersection of Renewable Energy and Water Conservation” and the ties between reducing water and energy consumption and their benefits.
    Also, the counterculture food movement is related to my daily and one-time challenges I selected from the food category. My daily challenge was to eat one meal a day free of processed foods which is related to the counterculture food movement as described in “The Gathering Storm” by McGrath where baby boomers saw eating whole foods as a way to distance themselves from a mainstream culture of TV dinners, processed foods, and quick meals. They also took more time to grow their own food and cook more healthy meals, which related to the one-time challenge I completed of baking bread / learning a new form of cooking. Baking bread was super rewarding and tasty and I hope to keep up with it to avoid buying bread at the grocery store that is processed and oftentimes packaged in plastic (which also helps reduce some of the waste I generate).

    • Andrew Stuhl's avatar
      Andrew Stuhl 2/20/2024 3:02 PM
      Great work Ella! I particularly appreciate how you connected the readings to the particular daily challenges available on the site for food / health / water / energy. I hear you that preparing meals completely free of processed foods is a major task. I hope we will talk more about this in class tomorrow/Wed -- that is, the limits at Bucknell (and in general) for these individual behaviors ought to point us to collective action as a way to change the institution/system and make it easier for individuals to make the healthy choice for themselves, the community, and the planet. Also, have you ever purchased beans in bulk, and soaked them overnight for cooking the next day? Overall a cheaper option than canned beans, and far less sodium/preservatives. Def takes some advance planning to soak them tho