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UNLESS!

EXP46 is over….

the earth and we all shed a tear.

Social Marketing

1. I would evaluate the success of the paper campaign in three ways: 1) If the library and Eaton switch to default double-sided 2) If paper use declines and 3) If professors include double-sided printing as a requirement on their syllabi.

1)            This is an easy way of evaluating initial success.  While the switch wouldn’t necessarily mean a reduction in paper use, it most likely would.  The switch would especially most likely increase double-sided printing in documents that are not assignments.
2)            If the switch in Tisch and Eaton is never overridden, we would expect to see a 50% reduction in paper use.  However, that is probably unrealistic and since the mission of our campaign was simply to reduce paper use, I would call it successful if a significant difference was found in paper use between this year and the next.
3)            The only way to get to 50% paper reduction with the switch to default double-sided in printing centers, is if students feel they can or must turn in assignments double-sided.  The more professors that require their students to do this the more likely 50% reduction will be possible.  However, at this time, to my knowledge, no professors require their students to print double-sided.  Therefore, I would call this a successful campaign if the number of professors that include double-sided printing as a requirement on their syllabi increases at all.

2.            The way we came up with a campaign idea, by writing down all our ideas on a piece of paper and finding a common thread, worked really well.  Every student was then invested in the idea, and all agreed that paper use was problem on campus.  It was a fast and easy way to come up with a campaign. After setting the idea, we went around contributing thoughts about what the focus of the campaign should be and settled on something definite.  That made it really easy to identify who we needed to contact and how the group should be split up.  Splitting the group into different task forces was necessary and each person worked well within her group.  As far as implementing the plan, I think the most effective thing was being persistent.  The staff group had a hard time getting through to people, but once they stuck to their guns something happened.  Likewise with the faculty, emailing just wasn’t enough and just going in wasn’t enough either.  That posed a serious challenge considering how many faculty members we have.

3.            Mostly I think we could have used more interaction between the groups.  While the staff group did a great job contacting and talking with IT and other folks, they really could have used support from the faculty.  That goes for students as well.  Another change I would make would be to start working on sending an email out to the entire faculty right away.  Obviously this never happened.  I think a lot more professors would sign our pledge if more of them got it. While I think the pledge is a great idea to encourage professor  involvement, I’m not sure the purpose of the student petition. Since most students said they didn’t print double-sided because they didn’t know how or because they thought professors didn’t allow it, I feel like the only barriers to them printing double-sided is the default setting and being encouraged by their professors. Perhaps a better idea would be to rally students to talk to their professors and ask them to consider encouraging all of their classes to print duplex.

Psychology

1.            I experience the feeling of cognitive dissonance all the time. Understanding the concept and the different ways that people deal with the feeling, made me realize that cognitive dissonance can be a really good thing…if you listen to it.  An understanding of normal human behavior, and how we deal with problems once we know about them, is essential to creating change.  It is certainly a touchy subject.  First, you must explain the problem in a way that makes people feel empowered and that they can offer a valuable contribution to the solution. This is where a lot of behavior changes stop because people have the amazing ability to remove themselves from problems, saying “I don’t need to recycle because my toilet is low flow” or “An individual recycling won’t make any difference”.  Convincing people to break free from these behavioral traps is challenging and requires a combination of careful persuasion and modeling.  In this class, we were forced to confront our cognitive dissonance head on and heed its call.  In learning how to deal with cognitive dissonance ourselves, and behavior modeling for others, we have learned how to plant the seed thought of behavior change in others.  Along that line, the behavior challenges made me realize the merits of positive reinforcement.  People are likely to continue their behavior if others tell them it is good.  This undoubtedly persuaded me to generate less waste and was also probably the reason I was more likely to forget my clothing tag than my trash bag.  People thought the trash challenge was cool and would tell me I was doing a good job, while the clothing tag just made them feel uncomfortable.

2.            Understanding the basis of behavior has allowed me to connect with others about changing their behavior.  Since I can understand why making a change is so difficult and articulate that in a way that is personable (…this is an instance when I was feeling how you are and this is how I moved past it).  I now have the ability to really help my friends make environmental decisions in their everyday lives.  Framing behavior change in this light makes it seem as if we are all working together (well, aren’t we?) to make a difference.  This kind of support is necessary and gives people the feeling of membership to the “environmentalist” group.

Environmental literacy

1.            While I wasn’t introduced to new environmental issues in this class, I have certainly learned how to confront them in a productive and collaborative way.  I had thought about my behavior as it related to all of the challenges before this class, except for the clothing challenge.  While I certainly think about reducing consumption in general, sometimes it is hard to make the connection between your shirt and the environmental injustice involved with producing or disposing of it.  The challenge was a bit exhausting because its message was basically reconsider everything our economy has taught. It’s a great message and I really took it to heart. Even though the class didn’t reveal any new environmental issues to me, the guest speakers really helped me understand better the ones I knew about.  This was especially meaningful in regards to the presentation about climate change and the talk about environmental economics.

Critical Thinking

1.            The most reliable source of information is peer-reviewed journals. The next valuable source is books and other publications of renowned scientists that have a lot of peer-reviewed work, or other well-regarded theorists.  One should always be skeptical of how a study was funded and who is affected by the results of a study.

2.            I think debates are a great way to start the conversation about environmental topics because they utilize actual research (versus the norm of hearsay),  and reasoning. They definitely stimulate critical thinking because we were all forced to come up with arguments completely against our sincere beliefs.  Understanding the other side is a great tool to have in conversations with people who stand firmly on that side.  In addition to researching and formulating arguments, debating taught us how to talk to people with differing views: don’t get too heated, actually listen, acknowledge that you have listened and that you agree with the person to some degree.  These are the tools necessary for productive conversations that actually evoke change.

Community Building

1.            At the end of last year, I really began to feel frustrated at Tufts because it felt like there were few people on my side.  I was a member of ECO, but our membership was low and our lack of overarching goals and general commitment was discouraging.  Trying to connect with like-minded people was really a main reason why I enrolled in this course.  Reading about the trayless campaign when I was abroad, I was inspired by a class that actually brought people together to get something done.  We all often have these fleeting ideas about how to improve environmentalism on campus and don’t have the human capital to do it. I do feel like this class has been a community for me, maybe even more now that the class is over. These are people I worked closely with and I know are on my side and ready to act in the future. I have also had a much better time in ECO this semester, probably because before it started I put myself out on a limb and emailed anyone I thought might be interested in a foodie-related campaign.  Forming a community of people to unite around a cause (other than drinking) is seriously hard when everyone is stuck in their friend groups and not willing to put themselves out there.  This class did the hard work for us, and we were all able to let our guards down because we had direction and something uniting us besides just will.  Like me, I’m sure other people in our class have realized that community building is the only way to make change and that it can be done.  Putting yourself out there may seem hard, but it is worth it, and you are likely to meet great people like the ones in our class this semester.

2.            Of course I will stick with doing. Maintaining enthusiasm is easy because I am passionate about the subject and because doing is incredibly rewarding. Blabbing away about environmental issues just makes you feel depressed and lonely, while getting together and taking action makes you feel apart of something good.  It lights the fire that says You are making change. The flame is warm and welcoming.

THANK YOU FOR A GREAT SEMESTER!


Behavior Challenge #4

I found wearing the clothes pin to be a lot more risqué even than carrying around my trash and certainly more than demanding to know where my food came from.  I think the reasons for that are: if you are my friend, my opinions about food have been drilled into you, and although carrying around trash is visible and people were often amazed at how little was in my Ziploc, they still got to throw their own garbage away and never had to think about it again.  Another reason I think, is the human factor presented by the sweat shop statistic.  No one has too much compassion for pesticide ridden tomatoes, but people in general feel that dangerous and unfair working conditions are wrong.  I feel like Tufts students are a fashionable crew and it is very important for them to consider who really paid for their nice, expensive, designer-brand clothing. I really think the pin did that.  People would squint a little and then read my pin and say “Wo,” with a decided look of self-reflection.  A lot of people asked “Where did you come up with that statistic?”.  When I said I just looked at the first 30 pieces of clothing in my closet and did a little research, the responses were “Hmm, that makes sense,” and I could tell they were thinking about their own closets, and how they would probably find similar results.  I’m not sure if anyone I talked to went home and started rummaging through their wardrobes looked for tags, but maybe some of them thought more about buying second-hand, or at least investigating oft-bought labels.   A couple of people asked me where I bought my 30% second-hand clothes and I got to tell them about fun places in and around Somerville that I like to shop.  “Wow, I never would have thought to go in there”.  I said “In my opinion, it is really important  to think about consumer decisions as political acts”.

My clothes-buying ethic changed along with the maturing of my eco-self when I came to college.  Although I often got hand-me downs from my sister (things she doesn’t want and a lot of things she bought too small), I never thought about where my clothes came from, or what went in to producing them.  I shopped much more frequently and much less frequently at second-hand stores than I do now.  Express, Gap, even Polo, and one huge shopping trip when I visited Spain the summer after Freshman year were packed in boxes to come to Tufts.  Luckily I still have a lot of those clothes.  I have a pair of pin-striped jeans that I bought in the 7th grade!  However, they were produced in Hong Kong.

Since coming to college my wardrobe has been expanded primarily via Jumbo Drop, Artifaktori, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, and Poor Little Rich Girl.  There are some clothes that are just hard to get second-hand: underwear, winter coat and pants.

Gap underwear is cute, comfortable and produced in Cambodia. Here are the key findings of the 14th Synthesis Report on Working Conditions in Cambodia’s Garment Sector:

  • There is no evidence of forced labour.
  • Two factories dismissed pregnant workers or forced them to
    resign.  One of these factories also discriminated against men during recruitment, out of concern that they could lead a strike.
  • One factory that had adversely altered the employment status of workers returning from maternity leave has discontinued thispractice.
  • Four factories that previously did not require workers to provide reliable age-verifying documents prior to hiring now require workers to do so. Two factories still do not require casual workers to provide such documents.
  • No underage workers were found in any of the factories monitored.
  • Six factories failed to ensure workers’ freedom to organise and/or freedom from anti-union discrimination.
  • All of the factories monitored pay regular workers the minimum wage for ordinary hours of work.  However, approximately one quarter of the factories do not comply with minimum wage requirements for casual workers.  The level of compliance with wage payments for normal overtime work was eighty-nine percent for both regular and casual workers.
  • Eighty-five percent of the factories monitored provide 18 days of paid annual leave. Sixty-three percent pay the correctentitlement during maternity leave (non-compliant factories typically pay workers half their wages, but do not pay half of their other benefits).  Only one third of the factories monitored pay sick leave in accordance with MOLVT policy.
  • About sixty percent of the factories monitored ensure that overtime work is voluntary. However, overtime work is not exceptional in nearly three quarters of the factories monitored, and nearly sixty percent of the factories do not limit overtime to two hours per day.
  • Workers in three factories complied with some legal requirements prior to going on strike. All of the strikes covered by this report were peaceful.
  • Progress in meeting health and safety standards was mixed. More than half of the factories provide personal protective equipment to workers. Nearly three quarters of the factories failed to install safety guards on machines.

This year my H&M coat hit the dirt. I didn’t want to get another H&M coat for the very reason that cheap clothes are usually cheap for a reason: cheap labor and poor quality.  I wanted a coat that would last and be a little more responsible.  I bought a coat from the brand HoodLamb made of organic cotton and hemp.  The materials were probably expensive (as well as the coat), but the labor was probably cheap as the coat was made in China.  The Blue Asphalt black skinny jeans that I wear nearly every day were also made in China.

It’s hard because I want people in Thailand and China to be able to support their families, but I don’t want to support the companies that pay them unfair wages, provide terrible working conditions and aren’t dependable. I guess I’ll leave it to the millions of people who shop at the Gap to pay those wages and try to shop only at second-hand stores or Etsy.  But I’m not sure what to do when I can’t find what I need second-hand.  Do I cave and buy a coat made in China? Should I research extensively for a coat made in the US?

When I do need something that isn’t available second-hand I head to Harvard Square.  The big hubs: Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, both are overwhelming.  Urban Oufitter clothes are produced all over the world while, obviously American Apparel garb is produced in the US.  Even more Am Ap is a political clothing company, supporting immigration and equal rights for illegal immigrants.  However, all politicalness aside, consumption is bad for the environment.  Even with organic cotton shirts and hemp sandals, they are still shirts and sandals that you don’t really need.

The best is to not shop at all…and learn how to sew.

This is my busiest semester yet. I’m preparing for senior thesis research, trying to get all of the necessary elements in place so I can dive in once school gets out.  That means applying for grants (got Summer Scholars woohoo!), going through the Institutional Review Board (IRB), getting farms on board to work with me (two out of three so far), laying out a research design, and formulating interview questions. This is likely to take up most of my free time during the rest of the semester.

I’ve also been working on my own initiative through ECO to start a student garden. Facilities has approved a location!  A couple of graduate students applied to teach an ExCollege course called “Emerging Alternatives in Modern Agriculture”, a component of which will be maintaining the garden.  They were just called back for an interview and are in the next round.  On Thursday we are having a get together and fundraising even for the garden: a potluck and documentary screening (The Real Dirt on Farmer John) at the Crafts House.  Food at 6, movie soon to follow.

Aside from that I’ve secured an internship at City Sprouts for the summer, managed course work for five classes, three of them upper level, maintained a good relationship with  my boyfriend who lives in another city, and just started an internship with TIE/OOS.

I feel like I have no free time.

It is hard to do everything you can, when you have to sacrifice course work, a relationship, etc. to do it.  Obviously I believe paper use at Tufts is a huge environmental concern and I am dedicated to trying to reduce it.  But I can only do so much.  Working with Dani, I feel a little helpless.  She is on top of the campaign, going above and beyond, spending lots of extra time to help out the group.  I really want to do that as well, but I’m not willing to stretch myself so thin that I snap.  Unfortunately, my role in this campaign is to do what the Faculty group decided upon in class and not much more.  Fortunately, we are a solid group with good ideas and doing what we have talked about will reduce paper use on campus.

My sister is working on a Masters in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School.  When we spoke about my eco-self (over some wheat grass shots provided by the great Growing Power of Milwaukee), she offered advice about finding my niche.  Alex and I work to make the right habitual environmental decisions (small, but important) and encourage others to do the same.  However, we both feel sustainability issues are the most pressing of our time.  We can’t afford only to be “eco-friendly”, we must be earth advocates. In order for my eco-self to reach her full potential, I have to find a way to trust in the environment for my very survival, by which I mean I must find a job in the movement.

My sister went to law school with the hope to delve into sports law.  After one environmentally focused course she felt a responsibility to head in that direction, to use her strengths (logic, writing, anal-retentiveness) and the knowledge she was gaining from school to arm herself with everything she needs to make a difference. Me and my eco-self look to her as a role model. This is one of the reasons I find such value in EXP-46. The class is giving its students what they need to be real advocates, not just everyday decision makers, but changers. My eco-self certainly still has a lot to learn before I will be where my sister is, but I have confidence we can do it together. My sister told me to take in all I can while I am still in college and to be intense in the job search after: determination can get you almost anywhere.   She told me my passion was good and that I would know where I fit in when the time comes.

In June, Alex is heading to Israel for an exciting internship with the Israeli Ministry of the Environment.

YOGURT
Butterworks Farm is an organic, wind-powered dairy farm in Westfield Vermont.  The Lazor family grows everything the cows eat: corn, oats, barley, soybeans, and alfalfa and has been farming organically for 25 years. They make and package their yogurt on site, using the same recipe as when they started with just one family cow in 1975. “We choose not to participate in the gross commercialization practiced by the present day food industry. We want to remain a small one-farm operation.”  Pictures of the cows. I bought Butterworks Nonfat Plain Yogurt from Kickass Cupcakes on Highland Street in Somerville.

EGGS
Pete and Gerry’s Platine Bleue organic eggs are produced on a family farm in New Hampshire that has seen 4 generations.  Pete takes care of the eggs, Gerry takes care of the hens.  Ameraucana hens that produce the beautiful blue eggs that I bought from Whole Foods, were domesticated by the Mapuche in the mid-sixteenth century.  Pete and Gerry are trying to get more family farms on board producing these hens’ delightful and delicious eggs and help smaller farmers package and sell their eggs if they do not have the capacity to along.  Pete and Gerry distribute to Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island. “These unique Ameraucana hens are cared for on very small family farms where they are fed a rich diet of grains, marigold and alfalfa grasses.” Ameraucana hens are an heirloom breed, which is very uncommon for a chicken.
Pete and Gerry’s farm is one of the few small organic egg producers in the Northeast, as many small operations went out of business about twenty years ago, leaving only two farms supplying most of the eggs to the region (see comment).
*Edited after a great comment from Jesse Laflamme, Gerry’s daughter.  See below.

BUTTER
Mendon Creamery produces butter of the unsalted, lightly salted, garlic, maple, cinnamon sugar and lemon herb varieties in Mendon, MA in Worcester county.  My lightly salted butter, which I purchased as Kickass Cupcakes has a very short ingredient list: fresh sweet cream and sea salt.  It comes in a small cardboard tub. The creamery is owned and operated by Gabriella Priora, “Whatever the milk and cream that goes into butter tastes like, that’s what the butter will taste like–just magnified. Butter is the essence of milk and cream,” says Proia. “In fact, I will only buy cream from two area dairy farmers, because only their cream meets my standards.” Mendon Creamery does not have a website, but here is a nice article about the creamery and the addicting butter they churn.

CHEESE
This week I enjoyed year old Vermont cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company.  The master cheese maker there has been crafting cheddars for 40 years. “Our artisanal cheddar cheese is handcrafted from premium cow milk from small Vermont family farms,” their website says, although after the Pete and Gerry’s discovery I’m not sure what to think about these “small family farms”.  The Grafton website doesn’t list any of the farms. I bought the cheese at Kickass Cupcakes, a distributor I really trust, but I think they have realized what I have: cheese produced on site at a small family farm is really expensive. Some customers at Kickass Cupcakes, namely college students, can’t afford to spend $15 on a block of cheese, even though that block is admittedly better (tasting, for the animals and probably for the earth).  Although, after watching this video I didn’t feel too bad about my breakfast (above), as it is clear the company is dedicated to transparency.

RESTAURANT
Vision: Local, sustainable, fresh and seasonal food, cuisine and ingredients.  My dinner menu: polenta fries with Massachusetts own Great Hill blue cheese dressing, classic tomato soup with Vermont cheddar grilled cheese, mixed winter greens with lemon-Dijon vinaigrette.  The evening was finished with a complementary square of Somerville’s own Taza Chocolate.  Here are some of Garden at the Cellar‘s favorite purveyors: Fiore di nonno, Taza Chocolate, The Herb Lyceum at Gilson’s, North Country Smokehouse, Stillman’s Farm, Silverbrook Farm, Island Creek Oysters, Great Hill Dairy.

I focused on animal products because I think they are the most important.  And also because, regretfully, I buy all of my produce from other parts of the world (mostly California) that can grow organic veggies this time of year. I very much look forward to my World Peas Coop CSA share come summer.

POTLUCK
Get ready for Signe’s original chili using Baer’s Best heirloom beans (Edible Boston article) from Sherman Market in Union Square and all organic vegetables.

The Zero Waste Challenge was a lot of fun, and I think I did pretty well. Here are the contents of my bag (all trash that couldn’t be recycled or composted for one week):

1 goat cheese wrapper…I tried not to finish it but it was getting ridiculous.
1 Q-tip.  I was really upset with myself about this.  I grabbed it from the bathroom cabinet without thinking (I don’t even use them often), cleaned one ear and then realized.  I was so ticked I just threw it in my Ziploc without cleaning my other ear.
The plastic covering to one tampon (I got lucky the week started on the tail end)
The plastic rim around a tub of yogurt
Parchment paper I used to line my baking sheet for making granola
2 band-aid wings and one band-aid
A pink wrist band for getting into Harper’s Ferry for a Goosepimp Orchestra show.

I’m lucky that I already have the habit of bringing a mug and Nalgene everywhere, that I am a steady member of the clean plate club and that I started composting this summer.

Fun ways I avoided trash: I used the shiny wrapping from a chocolate bar to make a birthday card for my friend Lauren.  I made Jamie drink the last half of my tea sample at Whole Foods so that she could throw the cup away. I only drank beer on tap when I went to bars. I only blew my nose when I was also using the toilet and I added to the collection of vegetable/fruit stickers on our kithen cabinet.

I feel like the biggest trash generating activity is processed foods, which I really try to avoid. Also, going someplace where you don’t think there will be food, but there is, and all on disposable plates, is always a problem and serious measure of self-control.  I went to the Eat Your Way to Better Health event (menu) on Friday, and I emailed the head person ahead of time to see if dinner would be served on china.  Turns out the event was really classy and I didn’t have to worry.

I thought the coolest part of the challenge was wearing the bags on our bodies for all to see. First of all it makes you really want to reduce your waste, secondly it can be a sense of pride, and lastly people notice it.  They ask about what you are doing with a bag on your back and say things like, “Wow, that’s really great,” and “Holy crap, you have to carry it around for a whole week?”.

Yesterday I was sitting in front of the campus center enjoying the beautiful weather and doing some reading. A couple of friends joined me with the some food from Hotung. They saw the bag and asked about it, and I got hungry watching them all eat.  I pulled out a left over black bean burger (thank you Moosewood), topped with garlic sour kraut (thank you Real Pickles), with a thick slice of red bell pepper on the side. It was almost awkward watching them internalize their wasteful habits while I munched on my delicious, homemade meal.

I had a really scary close call earlier that morning, when I sat down and realized my bag was missing.  I was so sad and retraced all my steps to no avail.  Luckily it had fallen off right inside my front door.

So anyway, I think the challenge was great fun and that everyone should do it to come to terms with how much they use and waste, and to be cognizant that waste actually has to go somewhere.  The challenge really got me thinking about recycling.  Recycling takes a lot of energy and we should try to reduce buying things in packages all together. I’m sure my opinions on this matter will be stronger after hearing the recycling debate tonight in class.

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