Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Break

I hope you all have a good winter break. We spent our last meeting of 2011 making snow globes out of jars and knickknacks. Some people have been requesting the directions for making the snow globes, so here we are:

It's a pretty good how-to, I'd say. In January we'll resume initiatives and important club work, but for now, get lots of sleep, be kind to others and the environment, and enjoy your break!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snow globes!

Don't forget to bring materials in to make snow globes this Friday. Also, t-shirts--buy 'em and wear 'em!

Monday, December 12, 2011

the holidays!

I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but for those who do, there are some environmentally aligned decisions that everyone makes every year. For example, Mr. Steussy recently posed the question of artificial vs. fresh tree. That is, which one is more "green"? There are problems with each, and it's up to the individual to decide which option they are more comfortable with.

Our wonderful member Nicola mentioned at either last Friday's meeting or the one before that there was such a thing as a replantable Christmas tree. They're called "Real Christmas Trees". The link takes you to the National Christmas Tree Association's website, where you can find more information. This seems to solve at least part of the problem of cutting down live trees annually while not resorting to the production of plastic. I think it's pretty neat.

The other (and more creative) option is to build some kind of recyclable/renewable Christmas tree. The one above is made from books, which I kind of think is the coolest thing ever.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just say no!

As I'm a senior right now, college is on my mind a lot. One thing that occurred to me is that nowadays, you don't wait for a fat envelope anymore (although, I'm sure there are exceptions), but you refresh some random webpage to the point of exhaustion. One college kindly informed me "we will provide some admissions decisions only online, not via regular mail. You may request that a copy of your decision letter be mailed to you after you receive it online", which I think is fantastic. This college, in particular, I have no complaints about, but there are some others who are... much less committed to saving the world.

Ever since that fateful day when I took the PSAT as a sophomore and unwittingly said I'd be open to receiving mailings from Collegeboard and their partner colleges (or however the phrasing is that allows them to sell your names to colleges) I've been absolutely bombarded with mailings for colleges that I'm not interested in (seriously, Milwaukee Engineering? I'm looking to be an English major.) and pricey summer programs. So, I think the time may have passed for the PSAT-takers for this year, but if you ever have the choice of opting in for Collegeboard's mailings:

Unless, of course, you actually want your inbox and mailbox to be cluttered wastelands (or if you want to read the 100+ brochures of obscure colleges). 

And, on a slightly-related side note, the same motto (JUST SAY NO!) can be applied to plastic. Be sure to write your letters! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

seasonal cooking pt. deux

well, okay, that's a bit of a misnomer. Baking and cooking are technically two different things. This is a recipe for some chewy ginger cookies that seem nice and appropriate for the holiday season.

There are three different "types" of ginger in this recipe, which, paired with the dark brown sugar, molasses, and other spices give these little cookies a lot more depth than they look like they'd have. They're delicious, trust me. The cookies that this recipe is for are vegan, but feel free to substitute dairy products if that's what you'd like (although the nice thing about these is that they don't have "bad" cholesterol).

ingredients (use organic/fair trade/sustainable wherever possible!):

2 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated nutmeg
a few pinches of kosher salt (kosher does make a difference, promise)
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper (I know, weird, just trust me)
3/4 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup of canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of Ener-G egg replacer
2 tablespoons of filtered water
1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons of peeled, freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallised ginger
about 1/2 cup of raw (turbinado) sugar


"prep" all of the ingredients: grate the nutmeg, peel and grate the fresh ginger, chop the crystallised ginger, and mix the water with the egg replacer powder (again, this is the "vegan version") until it's smooth and creamy.

(the crystallised ginger, all nicely chopped by my lovely assistant James Curry)

after all of that is taken care of, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

now, mix the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

in a separate bowl, mix the canola oil and brown sugar until it's all nice and combined. Add the egg replacer mixture, vanilla, grated ginger and molasses to the wet mixture. Again, make it all nice and smooth.

add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until juuuuust combined. Don't overmix! It supposedly does bad things! Now, add the crystallised ginger and mix it around. It should be pretty thick, gooey, and dark.

the crystallised stuff gets you pretty sticky, as my lovely assistant found out.

all right, now you've got to take out a couple baking trays and get ready for the fun part. Put the turbinado sugar into a shallow bowl. Take little glops of the dough about 1 tablespoon in volume. Roll it gently in the sugar and place on the baking tray.

Do that until it's all used up.

Space them about 1 1/2 inches apart on the trays, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. You can tell when they're done if the edges are a bit firm and the centers are cracked.

let 'em cool for about five minutes until you transfer them to another plate or rack.

mae thought the dough was pretty tasty, at least.

don't worry, I sanitised afterwards.

well, that's it! happy ginger-ing!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Hello everyone! I hope you had a good week back from break. Here's the stuff we talked about at yesterday's meeting:
  • Bottles! Katra is in charge of ordering the aluminum water bottles, and she should have it done by our next meeting. Also write your letters to Mrs. Roberson about the reduction of plastic water bottles. Her email is We need those sent!
  • T-Shirts! They have been ordered, and they need to be sold! If you ordered one, go ahead and buy one, they're pretty neat.
  • ASB! There's a meeting coming up at the end of December, but I will speak to them before then about our concerns and requests.
  • Gardens? That's possibly our next initiative. We'll have to decide on the details, though: what kind of garden we want, where we want it, and what kind of plants we want to grow. My own two cents: I think that whatever it is we do, we need to take into consideration the environmental impact/benefits of such a garden.
So yes, that's it! Yesterday was a rather brisk meeting. Now that we have our goals for the water bottle initiative figured out, we must complete the process of actually achieving those goals. So, play your part, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sustainability 101?

This past Tuesday, Mr. Steussy brought to my attention the new major on sustainability launched at SDSU. Upon further research, I found out that sustainability is available in schools across that nation, notably Western New England University, Arizona State University and Columbia University (yeah, the one in the Ivy League).
Yep, this one.

I was rather intrigued by the type of classes offered along with this major. I mean, I always thought that sustainability and environmentalism couldn't be taught. Being green is a lifestyle choice, not an academic endeavor, right?

I found that choosing sustainability as a major requires one to choose from a list of classes including "Challenges of Social Development", "Climate Solutions" and "Survey of Legal and Policy Methods for Sustainable Development". For a more comprehensive list, click here.

So what do you guys think? Would you consider declaring sustainability as your major? How do you think programs like these affect our cause?

Remember guys,

California: The Golden State's nature becoming as rare as it's name

I came across a very concerning issue today, CA's nature is losing almost all of its natural spawning ground. Here is an excerpt from the article by sign-on San Diego journalist Mike Lee:

"The studies show that common trees are fading from their current ranges, premium wine grape varieties are under siege [...]the hub of the state’s water system faces increasing risks[...]"

The new changes in CA's climate and weather(most of which is believed to be cause global warming) is said to be causing the local wildlife change as well.

"[...]Marine creatures are shifting locales[...]and — surprisingly — birds in the state are getting bigger as the weather warms.

Coming across this article makes me think that we should further expand our efforts to get a ban on water bottles, along with a bicycle movement, at San Diego High.

If you you would like to read more into this please visit

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

North Park Library's "Garden"

Happy happy Tuesday!

I mentioned at a meeting maybe a month ago about how the library I volunteer at is starting to grow some vegetables indoors. I snagged a couple of pictures (see below) today in case anyone was wondering about the set-up and is possibly looking into doing something similar.

If anyone is in fact looking into doing this and wants more information, let me know and I can give you the contact information of the staff member who's behind this! She's quite friendly, and has an environmental non-profit organization. 

Monday, November 28, 2011


hey guys, I hope your break was the best it possibly could have been and your return to school at least somewhat painless!

I wanted to remind you to stop by Mr. Steussy's room at some point before Friday's meeting to pick up your pass to the 1100 building during lunch. I have absolutely no way of knowing how long this new policy will be in effect for, so please do your best to hand on to the passes, as they're meant to be reused every week.

Just a bit of housekeeping to (try to) keep us all on track. See you Friday, hopefully with a few more letters, research, or poster designs!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


The most important thing for all club members to do is to write their letters to Mrs. Roberson! Her email is Be very kind in your letters—she's our new principal and we want her help in being able to change the water bottle policy in our school. Very few letters have been written so far... so write, write, write!

We also discussed ASB issues. Primarily, we want an environmental week for our school (similar to "spirit weeks" and preferably around Earth Day). Just as importantly, we want to discuss the issue of unnecessary waste in school events—namely, the releasing of huge amounts of balloons into the air at various school functions. I will personally communicate with ASB about these issues. Again, we want their help in these issues, and I will mention alternatives for the balloons that we have discussed in our class.

Our T-Shirts are coming along, I suppose we're still waiting for our bike rack, and we're considering donating to wildlife organizations. I'll end this post with another detail about the water bottle initiative: we're ordering reusable water bottles to sell in school. It's possible to put designs on them. Do we want a SAVE THE WORLD FRIDAYS logo, or do we want something different? Do want Jiem's BOTTLENOSE SAYS "BOTTLES? NO!"? Do we want REFILL NOT LANDFILL? Do we want nothing at all? These are questions for the ages. What I want to know, is who will be responsible for ordering the bottles? Will it be our treasurer? is that how it usually works

Anyway, that was a good meeting. Have a good Thanksgiving break! I'll see you all in a week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Putting it into action: Thanksgiving

Boy, do I love Turkey Day. Just family, friends and FOOD. YUM! Right? 

The pie guys. The pie.

Also, I just love that one week off from school. But just because we get a vacation doesn't mean you should take a break from being environmentally conscious! Here at STWF, we've been talking about ways to lead a green lifestyle, so why not put all those ideas in action? Here are links and ideas for being an Earth Defender during Thanksgiving:

Have any more tips for surviving Thanksgiving and coming out green? Leave them in the comments below!

Remember guys, 

PS: Bring the posters ideas and the letters for the meeting tomorrow! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winter is approaching!

With the onset of winter near, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to put on a sweater or wrap a blanket around before cranking up the heater!

If you're not one of those people who are excited to break out their sweaters and coats, then perhaps this will convince you:

Lowering the temperature 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit can save you up to 20% on heating costs!

If you're still not convinced enough to don a fashionable sweater this season, then consider some other alternatives to staying warm:
  • Increasing the insulation in the walls, ceilings, and between the floors
  • Making sure all the windows are tightly sealed and don't leak in air
  • Turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm water setting, and the lowest one when you're away
  • Replacing your water heater (newer ones are significantly more energy efficient)
Anyone have any other alternatives? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Water Bottle Initiative Update

I talked to a friend of mine who goes to OLP where they have had great success with reducing the amount of plastic water bottles on campus. Here's a list of things they did, which you may consider suggesting as improvements in your letter to Mrs. Roberson:

  • Added 3 water filters in the area (for people to refill)
  • Removed water bottle vending machines
  • Sold $5 reusable water bottles (STWF is willing to do this!) during lunch
  • Posters to promote the change (don't forget to create yours!)

Recycling bins were also added in the case anyone continued to bring water bottles from home.

Anyway, don't forget to do your letters/posters/research!

I have searched high and low on the school website and Google for Mrs. Roberson's email address to no avail, but I'll be going down to the main office tomorrow so I'll post it soon!

Edit: Thanks to the anonymous comment below, we now know is her email address!

Monday, November 14, 2011

more baby steps!

The wonderful and amazing Jiem made a post a bit ago with a few "baby steps" everyone can take to make your daily activities just a little more eco-friendly. I thought I'd just expand on that for a post today. Some of these were discussed in a previous meeting, but it seems a good idea to go through some things in either case.

  • Print back to back: We all print long essays and assignments and whatnot for school, right? Right. In order to save paper, it can be a good idea to print to odd pages first and then the even pages on the backs. Of course, this takes a second of brain power in order to figure out how to put the papers back in so it all works out, but I think that it's beneficial in the grand scheme o' things.
  • Use smaller margins: In the same vein, it can be good to make your margins smaller so you can fit more words on less pages. Now, when you need to do strict MLA or something of the sort and there are specifications this doesn't really work out. Most of the time, though, there's no problem. I usually go for 0.6 inches all around, because after that your printer starts to object.
  • Don't leave the lights on: This seems obvious, I know. BUT, it can be important to remember that, as far as energy goes, simple light switches are the type of device that don't take a whole lot of energy to get going. By that I mean that any extra second the light is on (when you don't need it) energy is being wasted. Like, if you were to leave a room for twenty minutes but were planning on coming back, turn the lights off. TVs and the like should be left on (up to a certain point) because turning them on and off needs a lot more energy. Make sense?
  • Stick a bucket in your shower: I noticed this at a friend's house, and I think it's a neat little idea. So, nobody wants to go into a shower before the water has warmed up, right? That's no fun. But while the water's warming, it's also running, which means there is some waste happenin' there. A good solution would be to get a bucket, name is Wonderfully Helpful Gorgeous Shower Bucket, and stick it under the faucet/head/whatever it's called. It'll fill up with the cold water that you don't want so that when you're ready, you can take it out and go about your business. Use that cold water for something like watering your plants!

So, maybe just pick one thing to try out and get used to and take on another if you're feeling up to it. But don't rush anything and then fall out of the habit. It's better to do a little than too much if that's going to happen!

Baby steps!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Farmers' Markets (a documentary)

Natalie, Joanna and I all made this for Film class. Cool stuff about organic farming, EBT, and living local:

Also: after meeting members of some other school's environmental club, I was really enamored with the idea of developing a community garden on the campus of the school. I'll propose it at our next club meeting—I think it would be good to look at after we have established our bottle initiative.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Out of town!

Hey guys. I'm on a trip right now, super busy. You're all great! Don't forget to write your bottle letters. See you next week!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Do you see this creature?! This majestic, beautiful, and magnificent creature?!
Well, it's called the Western Black Rhinoceros AND THEY'RE ALL GONE. EXTINCT. DEAD. 

This news has been announced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature just today. Further statements claim that more rhinoceroses are on the verge of extinction as well. There is hope, though. In the past, many animals that have been declared extinct have been "found" and, through efficient conservation programs, have gained numbers. Such animals include the White Rhino and Przewalski's horse. 

Now, I'm not sure how to help out what's going on in Africa from all the way here from San Diego. Picketing? Yeah, raising awareness is nice but unless we do something big, no one's going to do anything. Fundraising? I guess sending money to conservation groups is a great way to help, but that's a little impersonal. I'm up for it. Have any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

Also, don't forget to bring letters or designs for posters to the next STWF meeting NEXT FRIDAY!

Remember guys,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

cooking seasonally!

Most, if not all, of my posts so far have been about food. What can I say? Food is great.

Anyway, cooking seasonally is pretty important as far as the whole being-nice-to-our-planet thing is concerned. Our year is divided up into four neat little sections, each one bringing different weather and different crops. The more sustainable (and fun, really) thing to do is to buy what's in season. It usually tastes better, is cheaper, and is more easily available. To find out what foods grow/sell in what seasons, you can always Google it, but it also tends to reveal itself to you. Like, you know it's summer when there are massive amounts of corn at your local market for twenty-five cents a cob. I'd also recommend going to farmer's markets and trying to detect a common theme!

The common theme right about now seems to be squash. Squash and gourds and other silly-shaped produce. I can dig it. I figure it's one thing to tell you to buy and cook around the seasons, but it's quite another to help you out a bit. So, here's a recipe!

Autumn Bisque
(serves 4-6? about?)


1 large butternut squash
1/2 of an acorn squash
1 large potato (or two small ones)
1 medium yellow onion
2 carrots
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 small pear (or apple, whatever you'd like)
somewhere around 4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme
(I should have put rosemary and sage in it so I could make a Simon and Garfunkel joke)
1 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of creamer (I used coconut creamer, normal people could use heavy cream)


preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

before you start prepping the produce, gaze at the beauty of the vegetables. This is a crucial step.

all right, so when you're done with that, you need to peel and dice the squash, potatoes, pear, carrots, and onion. Don't dice the pear as fine as the others - just trust me on this one. The squash can be a bit tough to work with because, well, they're tough. I usually slice them into smaller sections and then just chop the peel off. If you do this, try not to loose much flesh. It's possible to peel a butternut squash, but pretty much impossible to try to do that with an acorn squash. It's kind of a trial and error thing. Be sure to leave out the fibers and seeds from the centers of the squash (you can always roast the seeds for a little snack, though!).

When you're done with all of that, the produce will not be as pretty as it once was. It's on its way to being tasty, though, so it kind of all evens out.

Okay, so transfer the squash, potatoes, onion, and carrot to a baking tray. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss it all around a bit so it's evenly coated.

Stick the tray in the oven and leave it there for ten minutes. After ten minutes, add the pear (or apple, I guess) and continue roasting for another fifteen minutes. You can use this roasting time to chop up your parsley and thyme.

When the vegetables, etc., are done, get out a pot. Put about two cups of vegetable broth in the pot and set the stove to a low heat setting. Now, stick all of the stuff you just roasted into a food processor or blender. Blend it until it's super super smooth. Sometimes it helps to throw a bit of broth in there.

So when that's done, scoop all of the blendy stuff into the pot. Mix it around. Add your herbs and spices and raise the heat level to medium. Add as much broth as you want to make it a texture that's good for you. Thick, but not too thick. I didn't measure everything exactly, but it's nice to just adjust it to your tastes.

So let it all heat there for ten minutes. Then you can add your creamer, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about half and hour.

Lastly, you should mess with it a little. I added a bunch of cumin and didn't really measure how much. I just kept tasting it to see what it needed. I also stuck in a shake more of cinnamon and some salt. I added a little too much salt, so I put in some turbinado sugar. I think I put more black pepper, too. And a small shake of cayenne.

Serve with some toast or other tasty side!

It was delicious.

If people respond well to this post, I'd like to do more posts like this in the future, but it would be silly to put up a lot of recipes and the like if no one ever uses 'em.

Happy squash-ing!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NOVEMBER 4 MEETING - Water bottle initiative!

Hey hey hey buds. Important, text-dense stuff this week!

We are now pursuing our water bottle initiative. Our main goal is to reduce the use of water bottles throughout the complex. We want everyone in the club to start writing letters for the complex principal. I believe her name is Mrs. Roberson? I couldn't find her email address, but I'll post again later with more information about the letter-writing campaign. A few ideas for what to include in your letter:
  • Your environmental concerns and reasons for supporting the club.
  • A link to or mention of videos, documentaries, or any other sources you find are helpful and informative, as the specific issues with water bottles.
  • A question on how feasible it would be to implement change in the school's relationship with water bottles—how do order vending machine products, who do we order them through, can we change what we order, who chooses what the other school vendors sell, etc. Don't deluge them with questions, but do express a curiosity for how we can affect change.
  • Mention past initiatives of this sort. I believe OLP, another San Diego school, already removed water bottles on their campus? That is something I heard in the meeting, but I'll need a confirmation on that.
These are all just suggestions for the letter—write it however you feel is best, and focus on the issue of water bottles.

Also part of our water bottle campaign will include informational PSA-style flyers warning against the use of water bottles and promoting the benefits of water bottle alternatives. I suppose there's an open invitation for the design of the flyers. Bring any designs in to the next meeting and we'll decide what to do with them.

We must additionally consider the question of where these flyers will be placed. The ideal would be in locations where water bottles are sold (vending machines, near food carts, etc.; they could also alternatively be placed near water fountains). Where we can place the flyers is a different question from where we should place the flyers—I would suppose this would be under the jurisdiction of ASB. I can go to them soon and discuss the guidelines for the initiative.

As part of this initiative, we're also considering purchasing reusable water bottles to resell on campus. This will allow for a more accessible transition to reusable water bottles and increase school awareness of our club. Also, depending on how much the bottles cost, we may even be able to raise some funds. The details for this aren't complete yet—we will discuss this more in our next meeting.

On that note, we don't have a meeting next week! So, in the next two weeks, everyone should start writing their letters for the principal and consider designing a flyer. Otherwise, good job on the recycling initiative and keep up the good work!


A couple questions for our presidents:
  1. Is Mrs. Roberson in fact the name of the campus principal?
  2. What is her email address? I tried to find it on the school website, but it wasn't available anywhere.
  3. What are the details on OLP?
You can just leave your answers in the comments section, and I'll make a new blog post with the correct information.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Baby steps

Yeah, it's difficult to just go green on a whim. As much as I'd like to get a hybrid, I'm not that rich. Cutting animal products cold turkey? I wish you luck. Even though I'm sure everyone wants to help, I'm sure a ton of people are overwhelmed by the great demand to change every single aspect of their lives just to promote a healthy earth.

So, I propose baby steps - small, easy ways to reduce waste and promote a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Don't charge your electronics overnight. This is an easy one - just don't do it. Your phone really takes only one to three hours to fully charge. You don't need to waste six hours worth of electricity on your phone. Charge your electronics right when you get home from school or work. Take it out before you sleep. Done. 
  2. Time your showers. I had a friend who told me that they get their best ideas in the shower. This is also the same friend who took 30 minute showers every day. Please time your showers. You get wet, you lather soap, you rinse it off. I bet you can do that in under five minutes. For extra points, take a "navy shower": turn off the water while lathering, letting the water run only to get wet in the beginning or rinse off at the end.
  3. Look for food in the pantry, not the fridge. Keeping your refrigerator door open uses a ton of energy and exhausts a ton of ozone killing toxins (think of it as a air conditioner for your food). Also, don't keep checking the fridge every two minutes hoping food will appear. It won't. Yeah, I understand that perishable items must stay cold. I'm just saying the next time you're craving an ice cream snack, why not have some chips instead? Or, for the health conscious, an apple and some peanut butter? 

As long as you start, it'll be easy to do other things to help the environment - construct a compost pile, set up a community garden, maybe even sacrifice your Joe-joes to boycott palm oil.

Add your own baby steps below. Remember guys,
The power is YOURS!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paper everywhere!

I often feel like this gal:

And when I do, the thought always wonders into my head: Is the IB actually trying to kill trees?

Between the massive amounts of homework we get, the countless IAs, we have CAS and the EE, and it just seems like the deluge of paper NEVER ENDS. This probably won't be changing anytime soon, but there are a couple of things you can do to reduce your paper consumption:

  • Print double-sided! (Most printers will allow you to do this manually, where you print the odd pages first and then flip the pages for your printer to print the even pages in reverse)
  • Don't print! (Unless you have to, of course)
  • Recycle all those college letters you're getting! (I use them for scratch paper/homework)
  • Go paperless (pay your bills online, get newsletters online, etc.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

soy soy soy

so I came home from school today and didn't know what to post about right away. Sorry I'm not always full of big plans and tiresome call-to-actions. Anyway, I was snacking away at some homemade granola and staring at my soy milk carton, and it gave me an idea.

I consume a lot of soy. Not too much -- I try to get 25 grams of soy protein a day out of my required 50 and not much more. I've heard too much soy is bad for you, but 25 grams is recommended for health reasons. But that's not what I'm supposed to be talking about right now. Our little club is/was founded on the notion of "small things you can do to help" (the environment, that is). So, I thought I'd give an example of my steady and imperfect evolution of environmentalism as it relates to a teeny tiny aspect of my life.

I will freely admit that I used to drink Silk. My parents aren't into the whole organic/sustainable/local thing, so when I first went vegan I was perfectly all right with whatever my mom would buy at the Albertson's up the street. I think I continued to purchase it until we saw Food, Inc. in Theory of Knowledge and I learned about the horrors of Monsanto soy beans.

After seeing the film, my entire perspective towards consumer responsibilities, organics, and sustainability were altered. As a result, I started buying organic soy milk (among other things). I tried Earth Balance and stuck with it for a while because, well, it was tasty. Slowly, though, I became more aware of local and generally sustainable products. Recently I have switched to Organic Valley, pictured above. I didn't take a picture of the back, but the little company calls itself a "family of farms" and is basically a co-op of small farming families who use sustainable methods to grow non-GMO soy.

Of course, this isn't perfect. It never will be and you shouldn't freak out about it. Rather, do the best you can. For the time being, I'll stay on the lookout for a kind of local version of Organic Valley to meet all of my little food goals.

This went on a lot longer than I meant, but you get the point, right? Small changes make a big difference, that kind of thing? Eh? Eh?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Hey hey hey. Your lovable vice president here. Sorry I didn't post yesterday, I was busy with an event. A couple things that were brought up at the meeting:
  • Bike racks! We're getting a bike rack soon for the new building. An interesting tidbit: if we manage to fill it up, we'll be able to get another new bike rack. So this provides an incentive for those of us who like biking and want to promote it more at the school. I suppose it would be good to promote it schoolwide and build awareness. What you can do right now is bike to school as often as possible (or, a suggestion, if you know you can't bike everyday, maybe set up a schedule or somethin' so you're biking regularly). Don't forget that you can also take a bike onto public transportation if you live farther away.
  • Suzie's Farm! I'm not sure if going on a field trip to Suzie's Farm is really an explicit "goal" of the club, but it's definitely something we're going to try to do. In any case, Natalie and I are working with Joanna to make a documentary on farmer's markets that includes a possible interview with the farm. We'll let you know how things go.
  • Water bottles. They are still bad! We should formulate an initiative soon.
  • The continuing recycling initiative! It continues! Play your part!
That's pretty much it. Here's a cool advertisement for solar panels from an old National Geographic. I think it's maybe from the sixties?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Update Today

Going over today, we gained three-four new members: Say hello to Tori, Victoria, Robert, and Sabastian(maybe). New goals were working on finding an easy way to get a Club field trip to Suzie's Farm. I brought up the idea of getting a farmers market to supply the school with fruits and vegies, not positive its going to happen. Shirts will be here soon, but we'll be waiting.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Environmentalism ... and higher education?

Thanks to co-president Rebecca Chhay for the inspiration.

So if you're a high school senior like me, you're probably worried about the next big step - college. Juniors, start searching. Lucky for you underclassmen, you've still got some time, but that shouldn't stop you from researching now.

Most people have a certain agenda when looking up certain colleges - academic reputation, financial aid opportunities, how awesome their a cappella groups are - but DON'T FORGET ABOUT ENVIRONMENTALISM. Seriously, so many high school teachers require us students to use so much paper (no voy a decir nombres). At least in university, you can find ways to reduce the waste of resources and completely avoid schools that don't have a green agenda.

A great site to check out is this one - The Green Report Card. They do have rankings and comparison charts, but most importantly look over their criteria to assess sustainability - things such as the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, accessibility to locally grown food and active student organizations for environmentalism. I'm not going to look up universities for you; It's worth the time to research universities that fit your preferences. With that, I wish you good tidings.

Remember everyone,
The power is YOURS!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is there a Farmers' Market near you?

(Hint: The answer is very likely YES.)

Going off of Lauren's post. . .Farmers' Markets!

San Diego Farmers' Markets

Hopefully you've been to a Farmers' Market before, but if not, you should definitely check one out as soon as possible, even if you don't think you'll buy anything because you should see what's out there (beyond Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, etc.).

If you haven't been to one, another super nice thing is that most vendors have samples readily available, and if you're thinking about buying something but you're not sure if you really want to, they're pretty willing to accommodate you if you just ask for a sample.

So, make it your goal to check one out if you haven't been already. There's a list of locations HERE.

Also, Lauren's post alludes to this, but the vendors at the Farmers' Markets tend to be the same ones at other locations, so there's no need to go to every single one.

I also think that my fellow co-President Natalie and our lovely VP and blog writer Jimmy are working on a documentary about Farmers' Markets, so hopefully we'll be able to seen that soon!

And, lastly, a couple of reminders:
  • Mr. Steussy will have t-shirts available at our club meeting this Friday; bring $15 if you'd like to buy one!
  • Think about goals for our club, and how to implement them! (see Jimmy's post about the last meeting if you forgot what was discussed)

Monday, October 24, 2011

suzie's farm!

this is a happy post!

Suzie's farm is super cool. It's local, organic, and named after the sweetest looking dog in the history of the world forever, but I'm a sucker for dogs and pretty much cried when I read the little intro paragraph. ANYWAY, what's important is that Suzie's Farm sounds really neat, and while I'm far from the authority on these things, I'm not aware of too many organic farms so close to us.

On the "farmer's markets" tab, there's a list of the markets that they vend their produce and things at, and it looks like most if not all of the farmer's markets in the immediate San Diego area. The Mission Hills one is new and pretty dinky, and they've even got it there.

I just thought that this was neat because as much as buying organic is important, we should also make our best efforts to get our food as locally as possible. This is a bit harder, but still very worth it. So hooray for Suzie's Farm and places like it!

I'll end this post with another dog:

Friday, October 21, 2011

OCTOBER 21 MEETING and The Story of Bottled Water


Important things brought up in today's meeting! Here we go:
  • Continued the recycling initiative. Signs have been doled out to place on all the recycling bins we'll be responsible for. Also, it has been suggested that we place a large recycling bin out in the courtyard, with a bigger sign, to further encourage recycling.
  • In terms of long-term goals, I suggested we do something to encourage ecologically-friendly forms of transportation in the school. Part of that initiative could include partnering with ASB to increase awareness throughout the entire campus.
  • Bottles. Mr. Steussy brought up Tapped, a documentary about bottled water. Bottled water is bad, real real bad. I have not seen Tapped, but I have seen this great video called The Story of Bottled Water. It's real short, mostly animated, and very clearly lays its arguments out. Check it out by clicking through the picture below:

Mr. Steussy suggested pushing for awareness of the issue and perhaps even trying to ban bottled water from our school. Anyhow, this topic is certainly worthy of your time and research. The easiest thing you can do now is to stop purchasing bottled water and look for alternative means to fulfill your water needs. It'll save you money and be better for the environment—a win-win!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Environmental "Rankings"

I was poking around the New York Times website earlier, and apparently there are efficiency rankings. I google searched environmental rankings to see what would come up, and apparently it's kind of a thing. Surprisingly, even though California is supposed to be failing at everything it's doing, we're not failing (completely) at being environmentally friendly!

To check out the New York Times map on who's who in the environmentally-friendly world, click here.

Although, according to the Huffington Post, California is leading the nation in environmentalism (we're 2nd according to the New York Times). So go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for being a Californian, but don't forget that we're not done saving the world.

If you'd like to check out the article, it's here)

Anyway, my point is that we need to step it up (according to the NY Times) if we really want to be saving the environment. Come to this week's meeting with suggestions for long-term programs that we can implement, or goals (e.g. Lauren proposed the recycling program) that we can set for this year!

See you Friday!

Monday, October 17, 2011

starbucks really isn't that cool, guys


I work at a local, independent coffee shop and have been for close to two years, so I will openly admit that I do not like and never have liked Starbucks Coffee. However, this isn't for reasons of "competition" or what-have-you, but more so because of their ecologically insensitive business practices.

I get it: Starbucks is cool. They play your favorite indie songs and all the stores are furnished just right and make you feel super nice. Or whatever. I just think we should all keep in mind certain things about the company that, at the very least, cause you pause or make you more aware in one way or another.

There's this neat article on ecosalon that gives nine reasons why you should avoid Starbucks. I'll admit that some of them are a little trite, but I agree with the overall sentiment. Aside from already being wary of McDonaldized corporations and ideas that have managed to permeate throughout today's society, I just am not okay with the decisions that the company has made and the way they seem to view the world.

From the article:

"4. Then there was the Ethiopian coffee debacle. In 2006, the Ethiopian government attempted to trademark regional coffees such as Sidamo and Harar because these specialty brews sell for up to $26 a pound, with only about $1 getting back to the Ethiopian coffee farmers. Starbucks, working through the National Coffee Association, blocked Ethiopia’s trademark bid, helping ensure the continuation of poverty in an already impoverished region."

Read that, and then read it again. I can't be the only one who's completely appalled. As much as Starbucks tries to give off the vibe of being "hip" and "green, there are big decisions being made in the company that are, well, selfish and mean.

Also stolen from ecosalon:

"7. Starbucks has decided to increase their purchases of Fair Trade coffee – but that’s only after years of pressure from Fair Trade groups. Considering that the worldwide coffee trade is a huge source of oppression and poverty in third world countries, buying Fair Trade goes far to support better wages and working conditions for coffee farmers. So far, only a small percentage of Starbucks coffee will actually be Fair Trade Certified, but they’ve still created a marketing campaign around it. I’d expect better from a large corporation; since Starbucks is large enough for the world to pay attention to its products, they could push some powerful change by using their influence for the greater good.

8. No matter what they do to be a little more green, if Starbucks won’t pour coffee into a reusable mug, they’ll never win my heart. My husband informed me of his own infuriating Starbucks experience where they refused to fill his travel mug, instead handing him his latte in a disposable paper cup and telling him he could fill his travel mug himself. He’s not the only one who’s had eco efforts thwarted like this at Starbucks."

If you keep up on issues of food and the environment in America (and other places, of course), you're aware that we're told it's best to buy organic, sustainable, and local. There are benefits in terms of the economy when you choose to support your local shops rather than a chain, but there are direct environmental ones as well. A San Diego run coffee roastery that a lot of shops stock is called Cafe Moto, who make it a point to use Fair Trade and organic beans. A favorite of mine is Cafe Virtuoso, which is all organic, mostly Fair Trade, and donates a portion of its proceeds to places like the Rainforest Alliance.

That second reason (#8) is there just as a kind of "really??".

Finally, places like Moto and Virtuoso just straight up make delicious coffee. And isn't that what we're all after anyway? Starbucks is overly acidic, sugared up, and just kind of icky. It just seems like considering switching where you go for your caffeine fix is a "win" in a bunch of different ways.

Anyway, I'm sorry that both of my posts have been heated and essentially claiming "THIS STUFF IS EVIL", but I really do think it's important to consider everything you purchase to be a decision on what you think is good and should be supported. "Every dollar is a vote" kind of thing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

new officers!

hey, I just thought it would be nice to give a quick shout-out to our new officers! Rebecca and Natalie were elected last year, but we recently chose new members to be our Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer! So . . .

VP - James Curry
Secretary - Nadia Florman
Treasurer - Natalia Semararo

They've been added to the sidebar (with the exception of Jimmy, but hopefully we can get that sorted out), but I thought I should just say something anyway.

Congrats and here's to a new year!

Friday, October 14, 2011



We had another meeting today. The recycling initiative is continuing: all the IS teachers have been notified of our plans, and Mr. Ankeney has suggested somehow expanding the recycling effort to Arts. I am not certain if that would involve current members taking out recycling from Arts classes or if it would involve getting Arts students involved in the effort and in our club. Either way, kudos to the members currently involved in making sure recyclables get recycled.

We have also begun an initiative for getting a bicycle rack in the 1100 building. So far we have simply contacted the school—this initiative is still in its early stages.

Also, T-Shirts! We planned to order some new T-Shirts for the club and to sell on Earth Day. They are all organic, I believe, and they have a great design, created by Benjamin Rehm from last year. I'd post the design but I do not have it on my computer, so here is a picture of a tree:

The actual design is of a tree and some roots that look like a bunch of bikes, so like, it's not that different from the picture. Ben's design is much cooler, though.

Those are the main points from the meeting today! If you have any questions, ideas, or if you just want to say hello, feel free to post a comment underneath this post.

On a completely different note, I'm currently idly listening to Björk's new album/expansive multimedia project, Biophilia. Seems appropriate, considering that the "biophilia hypothesis", as defined by Wikipedia, "suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems...In other words, our natural love for life helps sustain life". I suppose most of us here are biophiliacs in some way. Be kind to nature and have a great weekend!

The World is NOT Our Canvas!!!

New Blogger, Hey Everyone I'm Taylor! Another oil spill occurred this week near New Zealand. It is said, by New Zealand authorities, to be the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand. There are reported to be up to 350 tonnes of oil leaking into the Pacific Ocean, and up to 1,000 birds and animals dead from over exposure. Authorities are warning people who live near affected coasts to stay away from shore.

How people are helping

Currently the New Zealand Department of Conservation are searching the oil slicked coast for any sign of animal life. More than 3,000 people have been working day and night to clean up the oil covered shore and area's in the water near the beach. Over 220 tonnes of oil, including debris from the ship, have been cleaned up and disposed of.
If you would like more information about the clean up of New Zealand's oil spill visit:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whatever Happened to Captain Planet?

I grew up watching Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Yeah, this show:
It may seem insignificant, a little kid watching a cartoon, but Captain Planet made me conscious of the dangers to our environment. I wanted to be a Planeteer. I wanted to help the environment. 

Nowadays, educating the public about being environmentally conscious has become severely linked to commercial interests (think about those water filter systems whose angle is to reduce the use of water bottles). I say "severely" because beyond trying to sell products and promote some sort of message with short little thirty-second spots, there is little being done to actually teach the next generation. Sure, there are those pamphlets they give to elementary school students that show the proper way to recycle, but does anyone actually remember to follow those pieces of paper? I had it easy - Captain Planet engraved the importance of being green into my mind. Yeah, I was brainwashed by television, but I say it taught me right.

I'm not advocating the return of Captain Planet or the establishment of some similar TV show. People watch enough television as it is. I'm just saying that it's much more difficult nowadays to preach this message of being green than it was ten years ago. Things change, I get that. However, the passing of time cannot justify neglecting our environment. 

What do you guys think? Has educating the importance of being green been forgotten? Is the media an effective means to teach the environmental movement? What did you guys think of Captain Planet?

Remember everyone, 
The power is YOURS! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Anyone remember the BP oil spill?

So, one of the things that seems to happen in terms of environmental awareness is that whenever a major tragedy or disaster strikes, being environmentally conscious is all the rage. The BP oil spill of 2010, anyone? Has anyone really been keeping tabs on it?

Well, I'll admit that I've probably been neglecting the poor Gulf of Mexico in its time of need, however, I did some research it about it the other day and I came across this nifty website that the federal government maintains:

As it states in the top left hand corner, it's "An Official Website of the United States Government" and they are still, nearly a year and a half after the day, working on cleaning up the Gulf. The latest press release they have up is from about a week ago, October 6, 2011. It's called: Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy For Public Review and you can check it out here

It's a long-term strategy to maintain the environment, and it is actually, truly open to public review, so why don't you take some time now to read it, and if you think you can come up with a better strategy or you just want to comment on it, then submit a comment (there's a link at the bottom of the press release in the above link)! The comments are only being accepted up until October 26 (a mere two weeks from now), so if you're interested in submitting a comment please do so immediately!

Monday, October 10, 2011

boycott palm oil!

hey guys! This is really important! I implore your attention!

So, palm oil is an immense ecological and humanitarian concern that everyone should be made aware of, but it never seems to catch on. I don't know if it's because it's too easy to just shrug off or because not enough awareness is out there, but in either case not much seems to be getting done and we should really all be making our best efforts to combat the problem.

Aside from being absolutely terrible for you, palm oil is ruining the rainforests and the lives of the indigenous people who live there. Essentially, palm oil companies go to places like Indonesia where there crops can grow best. But, apparently buying land the honest way is just no fun, so they often promise the natives a share of the profits or a flat playment in exchange for farming in their part of the forest. When interviewed, these men and women claim that they would be all right with the entire ordeal, if not for the fact that they are very rarely given what is owed and are thrust into the terrors of poverty.

I feel like that's upsetting enough, but it goes on: palm oil companies, as you might guess, aren't really into that whole "sustainable farming" thing. All of the problems that we usually encounter with mass production of produce and genetic engineering can apply to palm oil crops. Except, of course, it all happens within out wonderful and diminishing rainforests.

I know everyone likes things like Girl Scout Cookies, Skippy Peanut Butter and Mission Tortilla Chips (that's right, I'm name-dropping like there's no tomorrow), but I really think we need to consider the effects of everything that we're doing. By purchasing these products, you are directly supporting the companies responsible for incredible amounts of damage.

boycott palm oil! tell all yo' friends!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Solar Subsidies

I've wondered more and more about the viability of solar power after seeing car companies finally begin producing 100% electric vehicles. So what about that other oft-promised Utopian technology, the solar panel?

Here's an infographic that's been circling around the internet for a while now. Seems like as good a place as any to start a discussion on solar energy:

Friday, October 7, 2011

hey dudes

Jimmy here. Excited for the new year and for starting up again at Save the World Fridays. Hope you are too. We're going to have a fun and productive year, informing people about environmental issues and trying to affect change in any way we can.

This year's first initiative, spearheaded by the fantastic Lauren Nelson, was the establishment of a task force in charge of ensuring that items placed in recycling bins throughout the school actually end up in the recycling dumpster. Lauren has made a sign-up list for students interested in volunteering to take out the recycling for any teacher with which they happen to have an IB Support class, TA Service Learning period, or any other sort of free period. Most teachers have already been accounted for, but if you want to sign up, ask Lauren and she will put you down. In any case, Lauren will soon post up the list in Mr. Steussy's room to serve as a reminder of who has which teacher.

We're doing this because our school's custodians have not been taking out the recycling (due to budgetary concerns) since last year. Lauren will be communicating with some school people who are responsible for making custodial decisions—I suppose they mentioned that the custodians were going to recycle this year, and so this communication will let us know what the situation on that is. Either way, we will be happy to help keep our school clean and efficient.

Happy saving!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Honey bees

If you've ever had honey before, you'll know that it'll be a sad day on this earth when there isn't any more. Unfortunately, in some countries, that sad day has already arrived. In China, workers have to hand pollinate pear trees due to the lack of honey bees.

In the United States, this sad day is also arriving soon. Take a stand for the honey bees and sign this petition by Credo:

Check out this page for Credo's other current campagins:


Please plan on visiting Save the World Fridays' booth at EarthFair! We will be selling t-shirts and bags that are environmentally-friendly.

Where: Balboa Park (in front of the museums)
When: April 17, 2011 from 10 AM-5PM

For more information:

Please carpool (with a full car; it's EarthFair for crying out loud!) because the parking will be ridiculous after noon, take public transportation, or hike! If you do plan on carpooling, I would also personally recommend parking at Roosevelt Middle School, or risk getting stuck in traffic.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow in 49 states?

You read the title correctly,  according to a report by 49 states out are partially covered in snow. The only state not covered is Flordia. The National Weather Service estimates that 70.9% of the country is currently covered in snow, normally it's about 30%. What a winter!