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!