Kimberly McIntyre

We were given the chance to interview Kimberly McIntyre, from Tissue Technology Shared Resource Lab.

What is your lab position?

Laboratory Manager

How long have you worked in the lab?

8 years

What kind of research do you do?

We provide Histology Services for Research and Clinical Trials

Are you doing any research related to COVID?

We are receiving autopsy samples from covid-19 Patients for Research as well as pre-clinical trial studies

Why do you think people ignore sustainability issues?

Sometimes I think people ignore sustainability issues because they are uninformed

Has the Green Labs program helped your lab become more sustainable? if so, how?

The Green Labs Program has made our lab more sustainable through training and identifying everyday things we could change in in our lab

Kelly Kendro

We were given the chance to interview Kelly Kendro, the Lab Coordinator from the Language and Development Lab.

What is your lab position?

I am the coordinator of Dr. Barner’s Language and Development Lab in the Psychology Department.

How long have you worked in the lab?

I have worked in the lab for just over a year.

What kind of research do you do?

We study how children learn about concepts like language, number, and color. We’re also interested in how children and adults differ in understanding these concepts.  To do this, we test children by playing short games with them.

What is your favorite part about your research?

I really like learning new things, and I especially enjoy finding the answers to questions that no one else has ever asked. (As an added bonus, I get to play games at work  — it’s a lot of fun!)

What makes you passionate about sustainability?

In my position, I’m working with toddlers and preschoolers a lot.  They’re so curious about the world, and they’re always surprising me with their responses and the questions they ask.  Yes, sustainability is important for us right now so that we mitigate our contributions to the climate crisis, but it’s also really important to make sure that there is a habitable world for these kids (and the next generation of kids, and the one after that) when they’ve grown up. They shouldn’t have to clean up the messes from the mistakes of the people who came before them.

Why were you interested in getting your lab certified?

Climate change will affect us all, whether we feel like we’re actively contributing to the crisis or not. As a developmental psychology lab, we don’t work with chemicals or harmful materials in our work, but we do work with people. I was interested in working with Green Labs to make sure that lab members are conscious of minor changes that we can make on a daily basis to become more sustainable.  Even better, the sustainable actions that our lab can practice are also relevant to most people’s daily lives, so we can model them for those we’re in contact with outside of the lab

Hannah L. Rutledge

We were given the chance to interview Hannah L Rutledge, from the Tezcan Lab

Tezcan Lab Team Picture

What is your lab position?
Gradaute research assistant

How long have you worked in the lab?
4 years

What kind of research do you do?
Bioinorganic chemistry

Does your research pertain to sustainability?

Yes! I am conducting research to understand how the enzyme nitrgoenase works. Nitrogenase is an important part of the nitrogen cycle in that it sustainably converts nitrogen (N2) from the air to ammonia, which is bioavailable and helps support life. However, the Haber-Bosch process is currently used as the industrial method of converting nitrogen to ammonia, which unsustainable and is responsible for consuming 3-5% of the world’s natural gas supply (or approximately 2% of the world’s total energy supply ) annually.  By learning more about nitrogenase, we can work to develop a more sustainable industrial method for converting nitrogen to ammonia.

Why do you think people ignore sustainability issues?

I think that many people ignore sustainability issues because they bring up uncomfortable truths that require individual efforts to remedy. Our habits and culture are so ingrained in who we are that it can be difficult to accept these truths and make individual changes to reduce our unsustainable habits. For example, we could reduce (or eliminate!) our reliance on animal products in our diets and we could shift away from disposable industries (such as plastic waste and fast fashion). This can be difficult though because it often intertwined with our personal identities.

Has the Green Labs program helped your lab become more sustainable? if so, how?
Absolutely! It has raised awareness of how small actions can have large impacts. For example, just closing the fume hood sash when not in use can save a ton of energy!

Plastic Ocean: Microplastics

“Microplastics (those measuring up to 5 millimeters in diameter) make up almost a fifth of the 8 million tons of plastic that end up in the oceans each year (CNN).”

person holding clear plastic bottle
Photo by Marta Ortigosa on Pexels.com

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that measure up to 5 millimetres in diameter. They can come from a variety of sources; including larger plastic debris that degrade into smaller and smaller pieces. On the other hand, some micro-plastics, known as micro-beads, are produced to put into products such as face wash, toothpaste, and cleansers.

In this day and age, people heavily rely on plastic for almost everything. This heavy reliance has increasingly begun to negatively impact both our planets health and our own health. Plastic in the ocean not only harms our sea life – killing animals such as whale and coral reefs – but greatly effects the health of the people and contributes to warming. If you still don’t believe that this is effecting you, you might be surprised by the fact that you might be eating or drink things that contain these tiny plastics.

How exactly do these plastics end up in our food? When larger plastic items make their way into the ocean, they are eventually broken down by the sun, the motion of the waves, and natural fragmentation. Tiny threads from our synthetic clothing make their way from our clothes washers into wastewater systems, and eventually into the ocean. Micro-beads from facial scrubs, toilet cleaners, and similar products are flushed into our water systems. However this is not where it ends. 

Microplastics sent to our oceans, are eaten by marine life, which in turn are eaten by humans or larger animals. Unfortunately, when plastic accumulates inside of these animals digestive systems, although they may feel full they are not able to attain the proper nutrients that they need. There is some evidence that microplastics can absorb toxic chemicals and then release them in an animal’s digestive systems. Similarly, there is also evidence that potentially-toxic plastic nano-particles may be able to migrate through the intestinal wall during digestion. Whether they then enter the bloodstream is not yet clear.

iStock/eco2drew

This is only one case of how plastic has effected both our planet and ourselves. As explained by National Geographic, in 2018 a pilot whale was found dead in Thailand. The cause, starvation. During this whale’s autopsy, 17 pounds of plastic were found in its stomach. This pilot whale starved to death because the plastic found in its stomach made it impossible for it to eat nutritional food.

Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s executive director states, “This is one pilot whale, this doesn’t consider other species. It’s symbolic at best, but it’s symbolic of an incredibly significant problem (National Geographic).”

UCSD Sustainability Ambassadors

I was given the chance to talk to Tyler Valdes.

How did you become interested in sustainability?

Like many folks, it really all began for me back in high school when I took AP Environmental Sciences and had a wonderful teacher who I also had the opportunity to travel with to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. That trip changed my life and sparked my interest in sustainability as I got to witness and immerse myself into rare and fragile ecosystems. Since then, nearly all of my academic, professional, and extracurricular experiences have been driven by my passion for sustainability, climate action, and environmental justice.

Were you involved with any sustainability organizations on campus while at UCSD and if so, could you talk about your involvement?  

Before coming to campus, I was quite involved with sustainability organizations at another UC campus. During my undergraduate studies at UC Irvine, I was keen on becoming involved with the vibrant sustainability community so I participated in a range of organizations and programs including: the Sustainability Resource Center, The Green Initiative Fund, Global Environmental Brigades, Costa Rica Program: Global Sustainability and Cultural Immersion, Campus as a Living Lab, Student Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Catalina Environmental Leadership Program, and Earth System Science Club. I then ended my undergraduate experience by spending a semester abroad in New Zealand at Lincoln University in its sustainability program where I studied Environmental Policy and Analysis and won an award for a sustainability design project with my friends. After graduating, I worked with various nonprofits in the field of outdoor education and community engagement where I had the opportunity to foster environmental stewardship in K-6 students and canvass for more street trees in disadvantaged communities. I also served as the Program Coordinator for the UC Irvine Sustainability Resource Center where I planned, implemented, and assessed collaborative programming and supervised innovative student projects that empowered a campus culture of sustainability.

Currently, I am a graduate student in the Climate Science and Policy program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. It is a one-year, intensive professional program so I have not been on campus for very long and will be leaving already by this summer! Luckily, I am participating in the sustainability community at UC San Diego by serving at the Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Engagement Fellow where I oversee the UC San Diego Sustainability Ambassadors program. The Sustainability Ambassador program aims to promote climate action and raise awareness of UC’s carbon neutrality goals through peer education and programming with a focus on energy solutions. In collaboration with the Inter-Sustainability Council, I also co-direct UC San Diego’s 5th Annual Green Talks which has gone virtual this year! Green Talks is a TED-styled event that educates and engages the campus community on various local sustainability issues and inspires action toward addressing the climate crisis.  

Could you talk about your projects with the Sustainability Ambassador Program? What were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences? 

The Sustainability Ambassadors hosted a series of Lunch and Learns as well as presentations and workshops in winter quarter where we discussed climate change, UC’s carbon neutrality goals and progress, and energy conserving actions. Currently, our team is planning for Green Talks which will include an amazing lineup of recorded presentations from sustainability professionals which students will be able to view online and submit questions that will be answered during a live Q&A event. Also, we are developing an official website and online training that will share resources for those keen on learning more about climate change, UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, and actions they can take to help reduce their carbon footprint. The most valuable lesson that I have gained from this year with the Sustainability Ambassador program is that collaboration is key in education and engagement efforts as I have found that it always takes a team of talented and passionate individuals with unique strengths to create a successful project or event.

Why are sustainably minded projects important to you?

Projects that take sustainability into consideration are very important to me because we must be mindful of our resource consumption and consider the impacts of our projects in order to effectively sustain our economy, the environment, and overall society. I believe sustainability encourages people to use systems thinking when planning or managing a project. Projects founded on the principles of sustainability are key in creating an inclusive world centered on equity, resilience, and justice.

How have you been adapting to COVID-19?

While I much rather prefer to work in a collaborative setting, I have adapted well to working and studying from home. I take breaks to go for walks and ride my bike while practicing social distancing. I definitely enjoy watching shows and movies on Netflix and reading before bed. Right now, I am finishing The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – an excellent and quick read for anyone interested in personal development. Also, I have been enjoying plenty of Zoom happy hours and online calls with family and friends. I believe that practicing self-care and just doing the best you can on any given day is how we can keep moving forward during these challenging times.

What are your career goals and hope for the future?  

As a budding sustainability professional, I hope to establish and grow a career where I can build community resilience to climate change through education, engagement, and advocacy. Currently, my strongest career interests are centered on sustainability program management, climate science communications, and environmental justice. By expanding my understanding of the science-policy nexus through my graduate studies, I aspire to support the implementation of effective science-based climate solutions within higher education institutions, nonprofits, or local government in San Diego County.

I hope that moving forward, our communities can continue to engage in the climate conversation beyond Earth Day events and actively show up, speak up, vote, and take action on climate. I hope that the climate justice movement can continue to evolve so it centers and celebrates more youth activists including Black, Indigenous, and people of color leaders. In recovering from this pandemic, I hope that more people will understand the interconnectedness and interdependence of our economies, ecosystems, and social structures. I hope we shift away from capitalism and colonial hierarchies that perpetuate socioeconomic inequities. I hope for a world where there is enough for everyone, forever. 

UCSD Food Cooperative

I was given the chance to have talk to Shiva Das. Here is what she had to say…

How did you become interested in sustainability? 

I stopped eating meat when I was 11 and became more involved with environmental activism and sustainability communities. One of my biggest interests in sustainability is the impact that easily incorporated lifestyle choices can have on our individual environmental footprints. As college students or younger people, it can be difficult to implement some of the changes more commonly associated with sustainable living – electric cars, solar panels, going zero-waste, and the like. However, nearly all of us are able to make a significant positive impact in our lifestyles by making “smaller” changes such as reducing our consumption of animal products and single-use plastics. I have always been interested in helping people to live more sustainably without sacrificing the comforts or convenience in their lives!

Were you involved with any sustainability organizations on campus while at UCSD and if so, could you talk about your involvement?  

The main organization I am involved with at UCSD is the Food Cooperative (located in the Old Student Center in Muir). The Food Cooperative is a non-profit, non-hierarchical, student-run, and student-owned cooperative (one of four on campus – the others being Groundwork Books, The Che Cafe, and The G-Store). Our main goal is to provide healthy, low-cost vegan food to UCSD! Within this we also work towards combating food insecurity on campus and in the surrounding community through our donation-based free meal program. 

We work towards sustainable business practices in a number of ways. By serving vegan food (and especially locally sourced products, which we aim for), we try to make it easier for people to reduce the water use and emissions associated with their food production. We use reusable dishes and encourage people to bring their own – but we also offer compostable options for on-the-go! In addition to this, we work with the folks over at Roger’s Garden to both buy produce and to compost our food waste.

Could you talk about your projects at The Food Cooperative? What were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences?  

My main project at the Food Cooperative is facilitating our basic needs program. I manage the operation and finances of our Pay-It-Forward fund, which allows those in need to obtain free meals, no questions asked. It is largely funded by customer donations in addition to various in-store item sales – for example, 100% of our coffee sales go towards the fund. 

The most valuable thing I have gained from facilitating this program is the knowledge of available resources on campus as well as the opportunity to communicate directly with community members who may be food or housing insecure. The Hub, The Triton Food Pantry, and the Food Cooperative are all resources that I believe not enough people on campus are aware of. 

Why are sustainably minded projects important to you?

Sustainability projects are important to me because while most of us agree that we have reached a critical point with environmental issues, not enough of us know what we can do to help combat them. It is easy to feel as though any positive impact of our individual choices will be drowned out by the damaging choices of large corporations – but this is not the case. Sustainability projects help remind us that environmentalism should not be about placing blame, but about doing what we can to improve our situation.

How have you been adapting to COVID-19?

Adapting to COVID-19 has been difficult between the social isolation and online classes. Thankfully, I live with roommates so I am never without company. As a silver lining, it makes sustainable choices easier since restaurant closures mean less single-use packaging and utensils. I am fortunate not to be in a high risk population or have my life severely impacted by this situation, and I truly feel for those who do. I think the most important thing to do right now is make sure to check in on each other (especially if you know someone who is quarantined alone), and if we are able, to donate to organizations like Feeding America which are helping people through this difficult time.

Sustainability Focused Internship

National City Chamber of Commerce is offering sustainability-focused internships to students who are looking for more opportunities in sustainability, business, border relations or event planning.

The Chamber is looking for an intern who can assist with the Binational Sustainability Conference!

Deadline to apply is May 18, 2020!

If you have any questions feel free to contact Stephanie Hernandez, a member of the board of National City Chamber at stephanie.hernandez@energycenter.org

Triton Food Pantry

I was given the chance to speak with Alexis Wesley, Lead Manager at the Triton Food Pantry.

How did you become interested in sustainability? 

I became involved in sustainability primarily through my work with the Triton Food Pantry, beginning in my first year at UCSD. Now in my third year at UCSD, I have witnessed the significant effects of sustainability on our environment, specifically in regards to food waste and providing our food insecure population with the proper nutrition and resources to thrive at UCSD and beyond.

Were you involved with any sustainability organizations on campus while at UCSD and if so, could you talk about your involvement?  

Through my work with the Triton Food Pantry and various organizations on campus, I have been able to work alongside individuals in the Student Sustainability Collective, the Inter-Sustainability Collective, and Econauts, as well as various gardens on campus, such as Roger’s Garden or the Marshall Community Garden. My interactions and work with these organizations has further strengthened my knowledge of and passion for sustainability as well. 

Could you talk about your projects at Procurement?

The Triton Food Pantry aims to best serve our food insecure population while achieving our sustainability-related goals. We are constantly working to improve our sustainability efforts in regards to our normal methods of operations, events, and any projects we see through. Our most recent sustainability projects have been our zero-waste events partnering with HDH, in which we provide participants with reusable food containers in pursuit of lessening the environmental impact of one-use containers. We also encourage our users to bring their own reusable bags while obtaining items from the pantry in pursuit of eliminating plastic bag usage in our pantry. 

The pantry also prides itself in partnering with gardens and various organizations on and off campus in pursuit of lessening and eliminating food waste and negative environmental impacts. However, due to the effects of COVID-19, we have altered our policies in pursuit of protecting the health of our users, managers, and community as a whole; we look forward to resuming our normal methods of operations and the sustainability efforts we aim for as soon as the health of our community is ensured after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences? Why are sustainably minded projects important to you?

 Through my work with the Triton Food Pantry and our various efforts and achievements in sustainability, I have learned the valuable importance of zero-waste initiatives and efforts to end waste of all types. Sustainability is essential in preserving the purity of our environment and the commodities produced within our systems, specifically in regards to food items. I have witnessed the various efforts of our community in prioritizing sustainability, while also providing our population with the nutrition needed for a successful and impactful future; efforts such as hydroponics and bio-cultural diversity in our community are commendable in improving our environment and achieving sustainability goals. 

How have you been adapting to COVID-19?

COVID-19 has presented our community with a multitude of challenges of which I have not personally witnessed before, and therefore I am prioritizing my work with the Triton Food Pantry alongside self-care and sustainable activities. Situations such as these really bring to light the importance of staying in touch with loved ones, friends and co-workers, as well as appreciating the environment in which we live in; I have been prioritizing these actions and appreciations to a great extent these days. 

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Triton Food Pantry has altered its methods of operations to a pick-up window-style service, in which users fill out a form with items they are in need of and a time in which they are able to pick them up from our resource. We have also altered our methods to include social distancing and increased disinfecting in our resource in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Triton Food Pantry is also initiating projects such as a Mobile Pantry, in which individuals can obtain items in pre-packaged bags at various locations surrounding the UCSD area. We aim to provide our food insecure population with the proper nutrition while at UCSD, while also protecting the health of our users, managers, and community; our altered operations and new projects are in pursuit of these goals. Throughout the COVID-19 situation, the Triton Food Pantry will remain open, prioritizing health, safety, and sustainability as always. Thank you!

The Econauts

I was given the opportunity to interview Christy, thrid-year Econaut.

Can you give a brief description on the Econauts and what the organization does?

The EcoNauts are a group of student workers under the HDH Sustainability Department. We focus on spreading awareness about sustainability around campus, and we do this mainly by partnering with RA’s and HA’s to host educational events with their residents. In addition, we take on a variety of other projects like creating vlogs centered around sustainability topics, conducting quarterly waste audits, and hosting Sixth Week Swaps to promote clothing donations and thrifting.

How is your organization involved in the sustainability community?

We attend Inter-Sustainability Council meetings to see how we can partner with other campus organizations, and we are always happy to partner with different groups for their events. In the past, we have attended resource fairs for a variety of campus organizations, allowing us to spread messages about sustainability to many different parts of campus and the student population. We also like to use our vlogs to highlight campus partners working on sustainability initiatives within HDH or that directly impact residents.

Do the Econauts have any specific goals for the 2019-2020 school year?

Over the summer, we revamped a lot of our programs so we are excited to be bringing new, exciting information to residents across campus. We even have digital versions of our programs now that help reduce our carbon footprint further by reducing paper use. We also conducted a bigger and better version of our waste audits this year during fall and winter quarters, which should help us with waste diversion in residential and dining areas.

How are you adapting to COVID-19?

The EcoNauts are sheltering in place at their respective homes but are still working hard to bring sustainability programs and tips to students. With the new virtual format, we are engaging students primarily through social media and our vlogs. Find this great content on the UC San Diego Housing and Dining Facebook and Instagram accounts. As a team, we are looking to come back better than ever during fall quarter. Be on the lookout for all the exciting things we have planned!

The Effects of Palm Oil Production

Palm oil, an edible oil derived from the fruit of the African oil palm, has become a major contributor to environmental degradation. It became a sort of “miracle product” that can be found in everything from cookies to shampoo as it is very versatile and cheap to produce.

However, mass palm oil production has many negative environmental consequences such as habitat destruction, increased carbon emissions, and deforestation. Learn more from the infographics below!

www.tinyurl.com/mxplyes

www.rspo.org/about

For more information on palm oil and how to avoid it:

Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil?

5-minute info – palm oil

What is palm oil and why is it thought to be bad?