While you log these experiences, please reflect on NPR on Goals, Writing, Success
3rd self intervention:
Erika Rasmussen: Final Intervention Reflection
In my final intervention I decided to get rid of social media. As a person who is constantly on these sites I figured this would be a good intervention. I am constantly going on when I have free time or when I am bored. So I figured this would be quite challenging–and it was. I first decided to get rid of all of the applications that I use on my phone, which was a great start because if I just randomly decided to check my phone the apps wouldn’t be there to tempt me. This worked out great, but I was starting to go to my internet app on my phone to try and log into Facebook through there. While it was easier not to use social media on my phone, it was difficult to free from it from my laptop. That was my biggest struggle. Also during this week I was in search of a ride share–which I use Facebook for. So I did end up re-downloading that app so that I could find a ride. This week was a little difficult, especially in the beginning but towards the end I was actually not using any apps, and I did end up deleting my twitter account altogether!
Anh Le: Final Intervention
I’ve attempted to journal as a way to reflect and appreciate life as it is rather than what it could be. I was never able to journal for more than 3 consecutive days, so I made it my goal for this intervention to journal for a week. I attempted but skipped a day 3 times so I didn’t officially start until last Tuesday 6/5. Each day I would write down the highlights of the day, as well as 3 unique things that I an grateful for. I learned in my personality class that daily recording of little things that we are grateful for makes us happier, and I definitely felt that way after this week. It was somewhat challenging on bad days to come up with things I was thankful for, but it was very satisfying at the end of those days when I recognized the silver linings of the mishaps. My family, professors, and the opportunities I’ve had as a college students were some of the top things that I noted in my appreciation list. I learned a lot more about myself through reflections of my days, and felt physically and spiritually more connected to my body and my mind. I realized that a lot of my negative emotions are easy to mitigate once I am aware of the roots of these emotions and accept them as they are, rather than trying to fix them. After I’ve met my goal, I realized that this is something that I want to continue, especially the list of things I am thankful for.
Kendall Spector: Final Intervention Reflection
For my final intervention, I stated I was going to meditate in the mornings and nights. Now I’m well aware that meditation is usually silent, a peroid of reflection and relaxation (albeit for many people, including myself, I think that meditation is almost stressful at times– is one supposed to completely rid their minds of thoughts or is it time to reflect?) I began the intervention in silence– I would sit on my floor and just close my eyes… but then my mind would wander to “oh my god Kendall your room is so messy. Why is there a wet spot on my floor? etc etc.) I found the silent meditation actually stressed me out more (which is more a reflection of myself and my inability to be ok with silence at times, but that’s a whole other issue). Halfway, I switched to mediation with ambient in the background. I found myself getting lost in the sea of noise and letting my mind wander to a semi-blank state. Once I began to do this, I felt calmer. I’ve been hyper self critical lately and I found that the morning music meditation calmed me down and helped me subside my self sabotaging thoughts. The night meditation didn’t work out as well. I tend to be running around, getting ready to go out or mix with friends, buy things to drink and I didn’t prioritize it as much. I wish I did– I think I’ll try that next week when I’ve moved to Seattle. I also plan to continue the morning music meditation (until maybe I can do it in silence!) This exercise did help me grow in self confidence, but it more so exposed me to things I need to work on.
Brenyn Bierbaum: Final Intervention Reflection
My first four letters were sent to my parents and my two brothers. I told them in the letter why I was writing them and what influenced the idea. I got a call back from all of them saying they appreciate it and do agree that a letter has much more meaning and value than just a phone call, or text. They said they also wanted to write me back starting this summer when I go abroad. Since I will be seeing them in two days, there is no reason for them to write me back. It was great to hear back from them and their appreciation for the letters. My Mom and Dad said they would even keep every letter that I send. I look forward to sending more letters this summer and all next year. I may even start writing letters to my close friends who are at different schools. Overall, a great experience.
Amanda Stahler: Final Intervention Reflection
For my final intervention I tried to get more sleep for a week (during the week days) and go to bed around 10 every night. I was relatively successful where I was able to go to bed every day this week sometime before midnight. Getting more sleep helped me feel more rested the next day and allowed me to wake up earlier. I noticed I am way more productive in the morning and feel more accomplished by the end of the day. Those few extra hours of sleep made me feel not only well rested, but less stressed and overall feel better mentally and physically. It also made me more alert in the morning to get more chores and work done faster. I think I still need to focus on trying to get to bed closer to 10 or at least allowing myself the full 8 hours of sleep recommended. I think this is a helpful goal since once I begin working full time and having 8 hour work days I will need to be able to get up early and be alert at work. I also made a few other adjustments to my intervention during the week like drinking less caffeine later in the day, because I noticed it made it harder to fall asleep that night. I also noticed that the more rested I felt with more sleep the less caffeine I needed to stay awake during the day. This entire quarter has been extremely stressful with my 5th year thesis, balancing that with other classes, and dealing with other person issues so there were nights that I would just lay in bed and not sleep at all. I would just lay in bed for 6 hours trying to sleep and be incredibly frustrated and tried the next day. Going to sleep early helped me allow that extra time to focus on relaxing and getting into a normal sleep pattern.
Mariana Perez: Final Intervention
My final intervention was about trying to not use social media on my phone and not watching movies/tv shows/videos. I felt like I spent a lot of time wasting my energy on my phone and laptop that I didn’t enjoy the outdoors that SLO and surrounding areas have to offer as much as I wanted to, so thats why I wanted to do this as my intervention. I found it difficult when I was waiting in between classes or if I wanted a break from studying to not be on my phone. I tend to use it when I don’t want to study and I also find that I want to be on my phone when I don’t feel like interacting with people. Instead of hiding behind my phone, I was forced to make conversations with people I normally wouldn’t have, like talking to people when I am waiting in line to order coffee. It was really nice! I still went on my phone occasionally but it wasn’t for very long. The not watching movies/tv was hard just because my roommate and I usually binge watch together after we cook meals and if we aren’t planning on going out. So it was hard to say no when that’s an activity we love to do together, but it forced us both to try other things, like the gym or go rock climbing, which is something we both have wanted to do for a long time. We also went hiking and saw the sunset a couple of times. We kept ourselves busy. We even did a deep cleaning of the house. I definitely feel like I can implement this into my everyday life. Just turn off my phone for a couple of hours everyday and focus on being present rather than mindlessly watching stuff off of a screen.
Ariane Schiesl: Final Intervention
For my final self intervention, I decided to try to stop saying negative things about myself and tried to refrain from unnecessary complaining. I am prone to stress and I noticed that when I am very stressed I sometimes get negative and blame myself for the situation. I thought that it would be good to practice more positivity during this busy time at the end of the quarter to see if I could get through finals with more productivity and less negativity.
The first thing that I realized is that it was very difficult to define complaining and that complaints are defined more by the state of mind and tone of voice than the actual statement itself. I also struggled with remembering the rules I had set for myself, especially as the week got busier with presentations and a final. I would like to continue this intervention in the future to reinforce more positive thought patterns.
Despite my struggles, I did have some successes. One day I was very focused on the intervention and I found myself saying hi to many classmates and encouraging them without even thinking about it at times. At the end of that day of positivity, however, I noticed that some negative feelings had built up and that I was feeling especially tired. I think that being more positive toward myself and in my interactions with others will get easier with time, but it is difficult at first because I have to put in more effort to change my thought patterns.
Another success I had was that I was able to start studying for finals early in the weekend because I had more positive thoughts than I typically would that I would be able to do good on my finals. Maintaining this level of productivity and positivity is challenging though. For the past two days I haven’t started to study for my exams until the afternoon. I plan to continue this intervention through finals to see if positivity and productivity get easier, but I think there is always going to be room for more growth.
Vivian Cheung: Final Intervention Reflection
For my final intervention, I decided to practice empathizing with more people. My sister’s boyfriend is someone that I’ve struggled to get along with since their relationship began because I didn’t think he was good enough for her. For this intervention I began to emphasize with him to understand his perspective. It must’ve been really scary to meet your girlfriend’s family who’s probably very loud and opinionated. He probably didn’t get the chance to express his point of views and our family immediately placed a lot of judgement on him. The act of him showing up to our family events means that he’s supporting my sister and being present in an important of her life. I shouldn’t be the one making things harder for their relationship. I should be supporting him because he’s making my sister happy.
I think that loving somebody is really complicated because I don’t want to to share my sister with anybody else and maybe I wanted to keep her all to myself. I think i acted out defensively and resorted to thinking that he was not good enough for her. I never took the time to understand his perspective, he probably recognizes the awesome and loving person she is.
Anita Kelleher: Final Invention Reflection
For my final intervention, I decided to tackle living a minimalistic lifestyle for one week, giving away or discarding what I don’t need, use or love. One of the aspects I dislike most about myself is my difficulty in making decisions, even the simplest ones, like where to study. It seems to silly but I waste probably 30 minutes each day sitting and considering my options, rather than just deciding on one and being content with that choice. When I watched the documentary minimalism, I loved the asethetic appeal of LESS but I also really believed what the two men, known as “the Minimalists” were preaching. I believe that they were genuine in what they were saying when they talked about minimalism making life easier and that they weren’t just simply speaking at a camera for a profit. For those of you who haven’t watched this documentary, I highly recommend you do. (It’s on Netflix). SO.. my own journey. I started Day 1 by removing the clutter from my room or simply the decorations that weren’t serving a purpose AKA they didn’t bring me extreme joy to look at and they don’t have a functional use. I had this huge poster above my bed that really didn’t make me feel anything. It was just simply decorations, so I got rid of that and hung up my pressed flowers from Big Sur. Looking at those evokes 100x more feelings than the previous painting which is now available at your local Goodwill. I probably threw out or gave away about 5-10 things from my walls and shelf that were just junk. I also took down old photos that don’t make my heart beat a little faster. Photographs are have a really profound effect on me and so only keeping the ones I cherish the most helps me to focus my attention on what matters most. More work is still to be done on removing the unnecessary decorations but already, my living space feels more breathable. Minimilism is cool because it is a reminder that white walls are not a bad thing. Since when does every corner have to covered up with color and art. White is good.
Next, I tackled my closet. This was a week long project, still in progress, where day by day I go to my closet and pull anything I don’t love or use anymore. And it’s gone. I took my donations to the Goodwill. I went through my socks drawer that have no matching set, my workout drawer, my jackets, my shoes under my bed, EVERYTHING. Then, I went into my storage boxes. You get the point, but I gave away these things and I truly feel less anxious, less enclosed. You wouldn’t think that having more room under your bed makes you room feel bigger, but for me, it seriously does. The best way I can describe the way I feel is I can truly breathe better. I even tackled my car. Minimalism is cool. The principle is basically keep the things that really tug at your heart and ditch the rest. If I don’t love it, someone else can have better use for it.
Another cool side-effect of this final intervention is my mentality changed. I went to a garage sale this weekend and everything I picked up, I found myself second guessing do I truly want or need this. And all I walked away with was a book shelf for $5. My brain knows that the materialistic crap that makes me smile for those 30 seconds only adds more to worry about in the long run. This journey of minimalism has really helped me to feel in touch with my own wants and needs. I am really content with my choice for this final intervention and as moving time gets closer and closer with the end of the school year, I will continue to encourage my peers and roommates to try this same challenge.
Brooke Begg: Final Intervention Reflection
For my third self-intervention, I had decided to set aside time to meditate for 10 minutes each day. I had decided to do this because I am naturally a very anxious person and with finals quickly approaching, my stress level has been high. When first deciding to do this as my self-intervention, I predicted that my anxiety and stress level would decrease.
After meditating for 10 minutes each day, I can definitely recognize how it has helped me improve my mood over the past week. The first few days of this intervention were hard! It was really hard to just sit for 10 minutes listening to a guided meditation, while my thoughts were still racing. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the other things that I had to do and felt that by just sitting there doing nothing I was getting behind. The first couple days I felt that my anxiety actually heightened for the first few minutes of the meditation because I was focused solely on my thoughts and breathing—there was nothing to distract me from what I was feeling at that moment. However, as I continued each day, I began to look forward to sitting for 10 minutes to just breath and decompress. As for my anxiety and stress now, it is still high; however, in the moment, it allows me to refocus and calm myself down when I recognize the overwhelming emotions. I found that it was a quick way to momentarily reduce my anxiety. This past Monday I had a 20-minute presentation and I have a slight fear of public speaking, so my anxiety was pretty high that morning. Just a few minutes before it was our turn to present, I could feel my face getting warm and getting a little lightheaded from the nerves, but was able to take what I had learned from meditating each day to quickly calm myself down. By closing my eyes, taking 5 deep breaths, each time counting the inhale and exhale, I was calm and ready to give my presentation confidently. Doing this self-intervention has given me the confidence that I have control over my stress and anxiety. Meditation is something that I can and will continue practicing in the future to help manage these periods of high stress and anxiety. I highly recommend it to anyone to just try 10 minutes of meditating a day because it is an incredibly useful tool that can help you take control over your emotions in times where you feel they are in control of you!
Madalyn Hosick: Final Intervention
For my final intervention, I have decided to actively work on being more comfortable with and by myself. I have never had a great amount of insecurities, and by comfortable with myself I don’t mean appearance. I am a codependent person by nature and I really value having a few close relationships to people around me. Graduating next week and facing life literally head on and looking to all the changes coming my way, I find myself grieving the loss of my college life and what has become familiar, as well as all the people I had relied on for security throughout the years. I grew up in SLO, went to Cal Poly, lived with my best friend since middle school all 4 years of college, and always had a boyfriend. Now I just broke up with my boyfriend last week by my own decision but which has still devastated me, am living with people I don’t know and starting a new job in SF. My biggest fear regarding this self intervention is being lonely or unsure, and when I voiced that to my mom she said to pretty much count on both at some point, but that I would get through it. While all of these things excite and terrify me, I realize that the habits I have created for myself are not always in my best interest and might hinder me from personal growth. I can’t make homes in other people, and to be strong and grow from experience I need to be more comfortable and practice relying on myself and creating more of my own inner security.
Update: my final intervention is probably never going to be something that is actually “done” because I think even the most confident independent person in the world still needs to actively check in with themselves and focus on self care and independence. I am proud of myself for making the changes in my life lead to me reclaiming my emotional and spiritual independence. I am driving to the Bay Area to finalize my job offer tonight and see my apartment for the first time before I move in next week, and that feels like a HUGE step towards being comfortable journeying through life by myself because that’s something I would have never done before without the company of my boyfriend or a close friend. I’m trying to face life head on and will continue to work on this, because I think it’s a valuable life skill.
Brett Crews: Meditation
For my final intervention, I am going to mediate every day at the until of the quarter for at least 10 minutes. I have a hard time shutting off my mind and have only heard good things from those who meditate.
Okay, I suppose I have to cut it a few days short to get it in on time but this seems to be something I will continue. Taking the time to completely clear my mind is not something I have ever done. I never knew it would be so difficult to just go blank. It helps me concentrate, think, work, and play harder. I will not stop this and highly reccomend trying it.
Brenyn Bierbaum: Final Intervention
For my final intervention, I am going to start writing letters to my parents and brothers once every other week to keep them updated with my life. While I do talk with them over the phone occasionally, or send them a quick text, I feel that a letter holds much more value and meaning than talking on the phone for five minutes. A letter says so much more than just a small talk conversation or a short “Love you” text. I also do not think I put in enough effort currently in reaching out to my family. As we all grow older, and we spend less and less time with each other, I think that it is more important than ever to stay in contact so we don’t feel guilt or regret in the future. The inspiration for this idea came from moving out of our house. Just recently, my family moved out of the house we’ve lived in all my life. I stumbled across my Dad’s time capsule that my grandma put together from his high school and college days. In it were hundreds of letters that my Dad had written to my grandma while he was in college. I plan to write each my Mom, Dad, and brothers their own letter every other week from this point on.
Kate Bilse: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I decided to give up social media for a week in order to practice mindfulness and being more in the moment. I realized that without social media, I was not any less informed, unaware or up for date on current happenings and social events. I felt like I put more time and effort into social interactions because I didn’t have social media as a scapegoat or distraction. Instead of scrolling through my feed with a few minutes to spare or hiding behind my phone to avoid an awkward silence, I found myself engaging in more conversations with new people and not pausing in the middle of a conversation to check an update. Being inactive on social media did not hinder my relationships in the slightest. I was still fully able to keep up to date on everything and everyone I care about and I put more time into talking to them. I also got more sleep because I did not stay up checking social media so I went to bed earlier. The extra time allocated from not looking at my phone allowed me to mediate more and focus on my own well being and role in society instead of getting wrapped up in what everyone else was doing and the distortion of social media. I don’t need to post what I am doing to feel accepted, I should be happy and confident about my life without peer judgment or social image. It made me realize that if I look at social media less, I can put more effort into doing things that I love such as yoga, talking to friends, increasing my knowledge about the world and volunteering.
Anita Kelleher: Intervention Idea
For me third intervention, I am trying to declutter and live by the principal of minimalism for the past week and this coming week. With the end of the year approaching and my upcoming move into a new house, I’ve started to see notice the amount of crap, for lack of a better word, I have in my personal space. I have old wine bottles serving as decoration (clutter), old photos and posters that don’t bring me very much joy on my walls and way too much clothing in my closets that I haven’t worn in over 6 months. To gather some inspiration, I watched the documentary ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix. By no means am I trying to be a true minimalist; It just isn’t realistic for me to own 2 pairs of shoes. However, I absolutely wan to downsize the amount fo stuff I have that I don’t use or need. So, for my final intervention, I am giving away or throwing away the old and refraining from buying the new (and unnecessary).
Jocelyn Tam: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I want to try getting my day started at 9am. This quarter, I’ve been focusing on getting more sleep, but this turned into me sleeping in until 11am everyday. Because I’ve been sleeping in, I’ve naturally been staying up later at night too. By waking up earlier in the morning, I want to push myself to have a more productive day and sleep sleep earlier at night as well. Besides starting my day earlier, I also want to get back into planning out my day the night before. This will keep me on track of managing my time better to accomplish more tasks.
So I finished my intervention today and this experience has definitely been refreshing. Waking up early and planning my day hour by hour the night before were habits I stuck with my first year of college, but lost this year, so it was feeling fully productive again. I’m definitely going to try to keep this routine from now on.
Mariana Perez: Intervention Idea
For the third self intervention, I will attempt to not watch tv, netflix, or videos and try to stay away from social media. I find that I waste a lot of my day watching movies or using my phone to waste time when I could be enjoying the outdoors. I also tend to complain a lot to myself of how I wish I was doing more adventurous activities like going on more hikes or going to the beach more often but I constantly make excuses for myself that I don’t have time. I know that if I removed the amount of time I spend on my laptop and phone, I would have enough time to do fun activities that I like and that I want to try.
Vivian Cheung: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I am going to start empathizing more with other people. Due to the events on campus this quarter I realized I approached almost every conversation I’ve had with my peers about this topic without empathy. I struggle to empathize with others because I don’t want to show sympathy for them. I know now that these are two different things. By practicing empathy, I’ll feel less angry and I can direct this energy towards understanding other people’s pain.
Rachel Chang: Intervention Idea
I have always been a night owl, which has its pros and cons. I have a natural tendency to focus better at night, and both sleep and rise early. In the real world, however, this is not necessarily sustainable. Struggling to wake up in time, I have often missed classes due to my inability to wake up to my alarms. When I continue to sleep late regardless if I have to wake up early, I end up in a vicious cycle, merely surviving with little sleep. Although I have attempted this several times before, I want to control my sleep schedule better. For my final self intervention, I will sleep before 2:00 am every night regardless of my schedule the next day, and I will wake up at 10:00 am at the latest in the morning. I am hoping to prepare myself for post-graduation life, where I will need to wake up early for work while also maintaining a healthy work schedule to be able to put my best work in.
Update and Reflection:
With my new resolve, I successfully slept around 2:00 am on days One and Two. On the third day, however, I discovered that my rabbit, Nikita, has not been eating, drinking, or moving much at all. Usually, she has the biggest appetite and won’t stop running around until she gets tired. I decided to clean her cage and give her a new batch of food/water. I slept at 1:00 am that night. The next day, I noticed that she still has not even touched her food. After much googling, I attempted a few tactics to see if I could rewet her appetite. My friend told me that she noticed her rabbit not eating one day, and the next, he died. Because I could not find an animal hospital or vet that either specialized in rabbits (this is important) or was open/had availability, even though I slept at around 2:00 am, I could not fall asleep until much later. I still woke up at 8:00 am the next morning, however, in order to call to make an appointment at a vet in Pismo (one of the two I found that specialized in rabbits). Luckily, they had availability that day and I was able to get her checked. Unfortunately, they instructed me to force feed Nikita 4 different medicines up to once every 6 hours. Nikita is a very sassy and stubborn rabbit, and this involves first catching her, wrapping her in a tight rabbit burrito to restrict movement, and then emptying several syringes full of medicine, which she utterly refuses. Not only does this take a lot of time, but it is also mentally draining, especially given my upcoming finals and projects. Although I attempted to follow new sleep schedule, this new development made it much more difficult. Even if I slept on time, I had to set alarms to wake up in 6 hours to feed Nikita, which can take upward of 40 minutes, fully waking me up and requiring me another half hour to an hour in order to fall back asleep. All in all, I tried, but given the circumstances, I was unable to reach my full potential. I will continue to follow this sleep schedule now that it takes sometimes as little as 20 minutes (on a good day) to feed her.
Ariane Schiesl: Intervention Idea
For the final self intervention, I will stop saying negative things about myself and try to refrain from any unnecessary complaining. I think that if I practice acting more positively, it may help me to think more positively. This can improve my attitude and productivity which will help me move through preparation for finals more smoothly. Reducing the amount that I complain will also help me be more empathetic towards others if they are involved in a situation that I have initially perceived as negative.
Hailey Taylor: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I will not be using social media for a week. I tend to judge people and while I am scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat I am bombarded with negative thoughts about other people. I really dislike the who I become, almost like I’m consumed by the worst version of myself. I hope that not using social media will help me recognize why I feel the need to be so judgmental.
I finished my intervention and I was shocked at how hard it was. Initially, I left social media apps on my phone as I had believed I could just not open them. But I quickly realized that I check social media much more than I thought I did. I would be watching something with my roommates and almost subconsciously I would grab my phone and open a social media app. By the third day, I had to delete the apps to make sure I did not use them. In the end, I realized I had a lot more free time. In fact, I even started reading for fun again, something I constantly complain that I wish I had more time to do. Additionally, it was much easier to get out of bed in the morning as I did not have my phone to scroll through and keep me in place. In all, I just had more time for things I really enjoyed. Furthermore, I realized that I get the urge to look at other peoples social media quite often, which makes me feel strange. In the end, I am teetering with the idea of deleting all my social media. I think it may be super beneficial for me. But, I am worried that I would be missing out and unable to connect with classmates and friends from home. In all, I have questioned my reliance on social media in my relationships and as a bad habit.
Madison Moore: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention I am going to refrain from my social media channels and put more time into exploring with Fay. I feel like when I am in school I go through stages of getting very anxious and it puts this cloud over me that makes me want to stay indoors instead of taking advantage of the beautiful SLO area. This feeds into me checking my social media pages more and takes away precious moments that I could be sharing with my daughter. I am going to put 30 minutes to an hour (more if I can) a day to doing some kind of activity outside with Fay when we get home from school/daycare before the sun goes down. Not only am I hoping this improves my anxiety, but my connection with Fay and the outdoors as well.
This was by far the hardest intervention for me, not necessarily in every area, but a few. As I decided to do my intervention about less time on media and more focus on time spent adventuring with my daughter, it also turned into managing my time better. I was successful in making sure I had at least 30 minutes to an hour of time outside spent with my daughter when we got home for the day which I feel has benefitted us both more already. Though I did find myself going to check my social media pages many times and would catch myself as I would be scrolling through. It was tough the first couple of days because I really never thought about how blindly I was doing this. Though I’ve completed my intervention, I am still going to continue to work on this because I actually really hate social media. Nothing good comes from it to me. I’d much rather spend my time doing something useful with my time. As I was doing the intervention, I decided to focus on better time management as well as I keep noticing myself running late to school lately. This is the trickiest one because now I’m not only getting myself ready, but my daughter as well. I am known to my friends as the one that is always “fashionably late”, but it really is a problem I’d like to continue to work on. I was still late to school and dropping my daughter off at daycare this week and it really does frustrate me. Even when I’m making good time in the morning, I always find myself being late still. This intervention really opened my eyes up to some important aspects of my life that are worth changing and I know it can only get better from here if I continue to put the work needed into it.
For my third intervention, I am going to play podcasts in the background instead of random youtube videos or shows. I always need some sort of background noise no matter what I’m doing. Instead of having pointless and mindless content, I am going to try to listen to something thoughtful and educational. I always enjoyed podcasts, I just always find excuses to watch something instead of listening. Often times I don’t even remember what the video or show was about and it just wastes time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to be playing a video when I am not even watching it.
Hopefully I will learn a lot more and spend my time more wisely.
This was a lot more difficult for me than I thought since I just mindlessly let a show or video play in the background whenever I’m doing something like cooking. I ended up only listening to 1-2 podcasts and giving in and just watching a TV show. My productivity hasn’t changed much but I am hoping to be more mindful of how I spend my time overall. The one podcast that did make a noticeable difference for me was about design called Adventures in Design by Mark Brickey especially the episode “What’s The Dream Version of Your Career” featuring special guest. I find myself in creative ruts and this podcast really helped bring me out of it. It was a nice exercise to only listen to tone of voice without the social cues of facial expressions.
Shayna Aigner: Intervention Idea
For the last intervention, I am going to call or Facetime my parents/brothers every day for a week. I realize I do not talk to them very often and I feel like I am missing out on important parts of their lives and they do not know what is going on with me anymore. I used to be so close to them before moving away to college and I want to get back there because they are a big backbone of my life.
So I completed this intervention. I FaceTimed either my little brother, mom, or dad each day for a week. They were so shocked to hear from me that they even first asked if everything was okay and if it was an emergency. This really impacted me. I do not want to not talk to my family to a point at which when I do call, they assume it is something bad. I will continue to talk to them more and make the time to catch up with them and update them on my life. The only person I could not get to answer or make time to talk to me was my older brother. He works full time and has another part time job so our hours of availability always clashed. He also never really makes the time to talk to me when I am actually home. So this is something I will continue to work on. It was also easier securing a house when I actually called my mom for advice on what questions to ask before signing a lease. I do not know why I didn’t originally just call her for help. I think I have this perception of myself that I am super independent which correlates to me not needing my family and not needing their help, which is so not true. Everyone needs a supporter and I am so lucky to have four in my life.
Jenny Hoekstra: Intervention Idea
For my final intervention I will work actively to reduce the amount that I use filler words such as ‘like’ or ‘um’. I know this is a problem with the way that I speak and I have become conscious of it recently. I notice now when other people do it often or when someone speaks with out the use of filler words; people who don’t use them sound much more credible and that is something I aspire to. To hold myself accountable I will try to be consistently conscious of the way I speak, and set reminders on my phone every hour to remind myself to be working on it.
Outcome: This intervention was hard for me–I am not sure if I actually reduced the amount that I use filler words or just became hyper-conscious of it, but either way I am glad that I did it. It almost felt like the more that I thought about it, the more I said it and then just became frustrated. One of the main reasons that I chose this intervention was because I had an important interview this week and I wanted to use the intervention to help me speak as smoothly as possible in the interview. One way that I noticed that made it easier was speaking as slowly as possible–this for me is extremely hard to do. I naturally am a verbal processor and I try to speak as fast as I think and–for all people–this is impossible. I noticed that what felt for me speaking as slowly as molasses was a normal speed to speak at, and helped me reduce my use of filler words. I think I will continue this intervention for as long as I need to until I am content with the way I speak.
Sylvana Saleh: Intervention Idea
For my third self-intervention, I have been trying to 1) be patient with my roommate and 2) stop thinking about the future or wish for college to be over. Around this time especially, it is very hard to remain present with a lot of exciting things coming up such as graduation. I have been trying to force myself to focus on the present and what’s in front of me because I will never get college back once it is over.
Intervention Update: After changing my mindset and attitude about these two things in my life, I have seen positive impacts. I’ve come to see first-hand how a good attitude really goes a long ways. With my roommate, we have started talking more. It is hard for me to interact with her because I think that she focuses too much on herself when this world truly needs better listeners and more genuine people. I guess I took the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” too seriously because it is very hard for me to fake a friendship with somebody so often times I resort to silence. That is what I had done with her. Now, I force myself to be civil when I can. It doesn’t mean I have to be her best friend but I can still work on bettering myself in the process. We have had some better talks and are checking in with each other more often. There are still times when I am not in the mood for her selfish tendencies but I just try and play it cool. Regarding remaining present and enjoying each day for what it is, I have noticed how much more joy I have been experiencing with the people in front of me. I am also slowing the days down in the process. However, I am still trying to balance and understand what it looks like to be present and dream about the future. I’ve come to realize that thinking about the future and looking forward to future events is not a bad thing. However, it may be harmful if you miss out on everything that is right in front of you. Throughout this last week, I made a conscious effort to reel myself back in when I spent too much time thinking about my family visiting and traveling after graduation. Having a promising job interview made things more complicated because with future employment, you have to be thinking about a lot of future things. Overall, I had the opportunity to understand how I want to live my life for the sake of my dreams, how I want to portray myself to others, and that looking forward to the future is not a bad thing.
Outcome: This intervention proved more difficult than I expected. I started out well; I deleted my social media apps, and found time to meditate in my own way every day. Because it was one of the last weeks I’ll be living in Morro Bay, a town I’ve grown very fond of in my time here, I found myself going to my favorite spots around the area for sunrise or sunset, to process my year here and days ahead. The landscape really enhances the meditation, whether at the shore or the top of Black Hill in the state park. One thing that constantly permeated my meditative thoughts due to the landscape is the Morro Bay power plant. Given my interest in energy and the environment, its presence really reinforced the transient nature of all power structures (theoretical and physical), and the importance we must show to sustainability in our own lives and our communities. I found myself oddly attached to this archaic vestige, and the identity it holds over the town. It made me realize that we cannot discount or discredit what has come before us, and most importantly we must be considerate of voices and decisions from our past while bringing about our future. It really reinforced for me the learning aspect of life, and relatedly, respecting our origins. As per the second portion of my intervention, stopping TV while reading before sleep, I was not successful. Its incredibly difficult to come home late from working, and not want to do anything else besides mindlessly tune out until your brain shuts off. Particularly as this last week of school had me fretting over different deadlines, I found myself coming home and just not wanting to think. Shutting off impulse control was difficult, but I also have been waking up early to start working much of this week. In that regard, I think its ok to indulge in impulses if you partition your schedule appropriately. But I might be justifying my failure here. I still think my impulses have been getting the better of me and its something that I’d like to work more actively on. The stressful nature of these last weeks was perhaps not conducive to this part of my intervention. I will have to continue to try and break the cycle.
Intervention idea: I find myself terribly distracted by whimsical impulses more recently. I cant stay focused or on task it feels like for more than a few minutes at a time. Part of this I think has been a result of my social media use creating a short cycle attention span. For this intervention, I am going to stop all my social media and tv use and replace it with meditation for 10 minutes a day to center myself, and a return to books as a form of entertainment, particularly at night, where I often find myself only falling asleep to tv/netflix these days.
Madi Stepherson: Intervention Idea
For my third self-intervention, I am going to practice yoga in some form every day. I’ve recently gotten into yoga, and I take a wide variety of classes. When I find myself super busy or overwhelmed with school work or my job, I tend to skip exercising/running/yoga etc. This week, I am going to make practicing yoga and taking time for myself a priority. I started my intervention on Thursday. This morning, and I went to my favorite early morning yoga sculpt class at 6am. Hopefully, I can keep this up throughout the week and feel reenergized and motivated for finals.
Outcome: I love yoga!!! Especially yoga sculpt! It’s so fun, and I’m so glad that I made my practice a priority this week. I took sculpt, yin, and hatha classes this week, and on the days I had and hour of extra time, I was able to fit in bootcamp and pilates as well. I was surprised to feel even more energized on the days I could double up because I thought that exercising for over an hour a day would leave me feeling super drained in the afternoon. Fortunately, it had the opposite effect on my energy level. I was able to practice yoga along with another form of exercise four out of the seven days this week. Even though I just started practicing yoga about two months ago, I’ve already started to notice changes in my body, awareness, and energy. I am so proud of myself for making it to my hot yoga studio every single day for a week, especially because it meant getting up at 5:30am for some of my favorite classes. When I was in high school, I thought I was going to play collegiate soccer. I practiced almost every day, ran workouts on the weekends after games, lifted weights before school, etc. My dream of playing at the collegiate level ended after a serious concussion and multiple verbal offers being rescinded after D1 and D2 coaches more seriously considered my size and stature due to changes in the women’s game. I was “too small”, and not being able to train my senior year due to my head injury would prevent me from putting on muscle weight/getting stronger/more technically skilled. Having to give up something that I put so much time and effort into that wasn’t school related was devastating to be completely honest. I was angry with my body, and I felt like I would never find something like soccer again. This intervention led me to the realization that yoga could fill this void that soccer left. Your current size, strength, flexibility, and awareness does not matter in yoga. It’s all about it finding the connection between your mind and body, and you just have to work at getting better. It’s something that I can continue to practice for the rest of my life, and I look forward to turning this intervention into a habit!
Kendall Spector, Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I want to meditate for ten minutes in the morning and at night. I have found myself stressed, anxious, and suffering from panic attacks for the first time in my life this year. Personally, I know I am not taking care of myself fully as of late– mostly due to cramming my schedule. I need to finish tasks, plan ahead, and not just shove my issues aside. I think meditation will help me center myself and prioritize my life. With so many milestones coming in the next few months: moving to Seattle, starting a new job, and graduating, I find myself lashing out and dealing with anxiety in unhealthy ways.
Amanda Stahler: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I want to try and get more sleep. I have tendency to continue working late into the night to the point where I am up until 2 or 3 in the morning and then have to wake up early. I think getting enough rest and sleep is the most important things for your mental and physical health. My goal is to go to bed by 10 pm day during the week in order to get the required 8 hours of sleep that is recommended. I think getting more sleep will increase my productivity during the day and general mood.
Grace Gius: Intervention Idea
The last few weeks, I have felt helpless. Consequently, I have been spreading myself too thin and getting too involved in too many activities in an effort to regain control, but this usually backfires and I feel more and more helpless. I have been anxious for about 3 weeks now; this is the longest period of anxiety I have ever had. In yet another attempt to gain control, for the third intervention, I am going to eat vegan, not use social media, and meditate to the Solfeggio Frequencies at least once a day. One of the sources of my anxiety is the responsibility I feel to act on what I want to change, causing me to frequently research injustices and work on activism or volunteering; in my free time, if I am not doing those things, I feel guilty. I need to do things for myself. I need to slow down or something bad undoubtedly will happen. I hope this works.
My final intervention was to ultimately make more time for myself and do things for myself. I did not exactly follow my intended actions, but I succeeded in making time for myself in that way. It has helped my anxiety; I am generally more relaxed than I usually am, but when something sets off my anxiety, I still have a difficult time coming down. This week, external pressures of both school and bad family-related news have made it extra hard to relax, but I have managed to partake in activities that are purely leisure and I temporarily get my mind off of things. Not using social media has given me back a lot more time; I didn’t realize how addicted I was. The only downside is that sometimes I want to quickly take my mind off things in a short break, and usually I would use social media, but recently I have been checking the news and reading articles. The news isn’t always happy and sometimes stresses me out more, but when I need to relax, I have learned to stay away from the politics section.
I don’t know if I will use social media again after this. I will probably not let myself use it until after finals, and after that, I might just use it sparingly or delete it altogether. I haven’t decided. For meditation, I will continue to set aside time everyday, but I have noticed that it has become an activity in itself. When I listen to the solfeggio frequences, I do feel emotionally cleansed, but when I practice kriya yoga, I reach an indescribable mindset that is more powerful than when I just listen to the frequencies. I don’t just use meditation to relax, but also to work towards enlightenment and temporarily disconnect myself from both my body and mind. Once the disconnect happens, it is an indescribable experience, but I often get impatient waiting for that disconnect to happen, which forces it to take longer. It takes more work to reach that state of mind, but the results are far more rewarding.
Where do I draw the line between work and relaxation? I have yet to define it, but without this intervention, I probably would have never even asked myself this question.
As for going vegan for a week, I failed multiple times. It causes me great amounts of guilt that I am not vegan, but I understand I need to allow myself simple pleasures of enjoying things like cheese or ice cream sometimes. But at what cost? Are my enjoyment of these foods more important than boycotting the exploitation and mistreatment of animals?
My failure at being vegan parallels other things in my life. I enjoy wearing nice clothes, going to Disneyland, and things of that nature, but how can I when I know that someone somewhere was exploited in the process of creating the very product that I enjoy?
I don’t know. This intervention answered none of my questions and left me with more than I started.
Emma Stine: Final Intervention
I had a lot of trouble coming up with a final intervention. I could not decide whether to do an intervention that could potentially change my perspective, or one that could potential help others. Coming up with an intervention made me analyze myself and my values. I ended up doing an intervention that was easy, controversy free and has the possibility of directly helping people. For every dollar I spent on groceries, food and day to day things, I donated a dollar to KIVA. I liked this intervention because, I feel like it is really easy to get mad at very wealthy people for not donating more money, but I also need to walk the walk. I ended up donating to a Pakistani women who is trying to expand her business. ee
Elly Halladay: Final Intervention
For the third intervention, I am going to go vegan for the week. I have had a lot of friends decide to go vegan or vegetarian once starting college and I always thought to myself: “I could never do that”. I have developed pretty unhealthy eating habits since coming to college two years ago and I have always wanted to eat better. So, for the next week it’s fruits and veggies and healthy living for me!
Update: So after 6 days of eating vegan, I realized that my unhealthy eating habits did not go away. I learned that being vegan does not necessarily correlate to being healthy. The hardest part about eating vegan for the past week was not being able to eat cheese or other diaries. I did not realize how much diary played a big role in my diet and it was hard to not consume food with that in it, especially on campus. However, even though my food options were limited and I ate a lot more food, I still didn’t feel like I successfully maintained a healthy lifestyle. I ate a lottttt of potatoes and carbs and a lot of snacks. If I were to re-do this intervention, I would challenge myself to eat healthy instead of eat vegan. However, this was a good exercise in self control and proving to myself that I could accomplish a goal if I set my mind to it.
Brooke Begg: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I have decided to meditate for 10 minutes each day. I am a very anxious person, so around this time of year when the quarter is starting to wrap up with final papers and projects due in the near future, my stress and anxiety level peaks. I have learned a lot about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in my psychology classes, so I have decided to implement it within this last week before finals week to see if it has a positive effect on me. I have chosen to do a 10 minute guided meditation each day because it is something that I know I can accomplish each day without feeling more stressed about time to work on my papers and projects. If meditating this short amount of time appears to help me with my feelings of stress and anxiety, then it is something I can use in the future to help me through these periods of stress.
Nathan Lubega: Intervention Idea
I find it difficult to talk about my feelings and ask for help. Why is it so easy for me to shut people out whenever I’m in a tough situation and not talk about how I feel or ask for any assistance? Why do my friends have to drag me kicking and screaming to help me and why do I consider it a form of weakness to accept their help? I am going to identify the root of this issue and find a way to mitigate or eliminate it entirely by being more conscious of when situations arise that I may need some help, talk about my feelings with my friends, and ask for and accept help offered to me by those around me. I aim to do this over the summer and note any change in my stress levels and closeness with my friends.
Outcome: So I went a little over a week by asking for help at least once a day. As someone who believes themselves to be highly independent, these past 10 days have been against every inclination of my character and gut feeling. In the beginning, my pride seemed to take this as a joke exercise and the thought of asking someone for help in something that I can do on my own felt like weakness. But as I persisted, so did my understanding. All this time I’ve had all these people around me, who are there for me and would like to help me in my life and I haven’t so much as acknowledged their abilities. At the end of this week, I’m moving my stuff out of my apartment and into a storage unit and had fully planned to do this on my own, as I’ve done countless times before. I’m good at this sort of thing, it would take me multiple trips in my sedan and a few days but it would get done. As soon as I asked my friend Clarisa for help, she was surprised! “The mighty Nathan needs help!”, she said, and jumped at the chance to help me. She drives a van, and already with the 2 of us, I’m already mostly done moving out. I find this quote to be apt in my case; For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack. As much as I enjoy being the lone wolf in my life, I am far stronger when I ask for help.
Pete Schwartz: Intervention Idea
I’m going to identify when I am offended and inquire into it. How do I feel physically? Why am I offended? What about me makes me offended? How do I want to be at this moment? Can I realize this in real time and name it, or will this just happen after the fact? I will journal about it. I’m just not feeling creative to come up with something new, and I did this Last quarter for our energy class, and it proved to be helpful and I think made me a better father and husband. I vowed to continue it indefinitely, but I didn’t… so here I do it again.
Outcome: I’ve done this before and found it to bring a peace and acceptance. This time was harder. In fact there were times that the meditation on my conflict process seemed to actually incubate and amplify the offense. However this period of time was particularly hard for me with respect to conflicts at home – so, the greater intensity of conflict may be the reason that the intervention was more difficult this time. Additionally, this past weekend I navigated the conflicts much better (in my opinion). As before, this intervention helped me understand how I make the offense… or what about me makes the offense. My child doesn’t do what I tell them to, or they don’t want to hear my explanation… and I’m mad. Why am I mad because my child is who he/she is? Isn’t that interesting? So, maybe exploring how I created my own offense did help me navigate future conflicts.
Kelly Lyons: Intervention Idea
For this intervention, I want to start keeping a journal every day. I’ll start by jotting down a few thoughts at the end of every day and see how much time it takes. The purpose of this is to record my experiences in college and hopefully make it into a habit that might last for years to come. I have always thought journaling would be a valuable thing to do, and hopefully this intervention will make it a habit.
Outcome: This was actually a lot easier to make time for than I anticipated, and it actually became something that I looked forward to at the end of the day. At the beginning of the intervention, I didn’t really know what to write about and I felt kind of awkward journaling because I haven’t done it in so long. As the days passed, however, it became easier to elaborate and write more than just events that occurred. Looking back on this week, writing down my thoughts throughout the week has been extremely beneficial because I actually have specific memories of things that happened throughout the week, rather than the days becoming so blurred that I have few specific memories. I really want to continue to do this because I’ve found that it’s a great way to reflect and destress, and it will be a really cool thing to look back on in the years to come.
Matthew Walker: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention I want to attempt to make no monetary transaction for a week. I’m not sure how extreme I want to take this for the first time I try it. For example, I cannot decide if I want to buy groceries before I start the week or not. I know I won’t stock up on things I don’t need. The purpose of this is to remove myself from capitalism as much as possible.
Kaitlyn Johnke: Intervention Idea
For my third intervention, I am very tempted to shave my head, but I think this has a bit more of a long term affect than I am willing to deal with for this exercise. This exercise will be a trial run head-shave before the real deal. I will be putting my hair up or hiding my hair in public. This is something I am not really completely comfortable with, I am used to always wearing my hair down except when exercising. Hair plays a big role in socializing and daily life, especially for girls, and a lot of thought and daily care goes into it, which I believe is unnecesary. I want to see what happens to my personal consciousness of appearance with a lack of hair and also observe other’s reactions to me. I predict that the biggest difference will be in my personal consciousness, because I will tying my hair up, which can be seen pretty commonly already in many girls at Cal Poly.
Reflection: It was a relief to spend a week not thinking about my hair, and also not giving myself any choices in the matter, just putting it up and heading out the door. I did not notice a big difference in the way people treated me or saw me, which was to be expected because of how it is common to see women with their hair up here at Cal Poly. To explain a little further why this intervention was so important to me, it is because I have been dealing with hair loss for about a year now, which, being a 22 year old female, is tough, even if other people don’t notice it (that much, yet). A few days before declaring my intervention, I decided I wanted to and would be OK with shaving my head. This was a big internal decision for me to make, given the expectations of society for girls to have hair. A few days into my intervention I posted on a Female Hair Loss forum about my situation, and asking for advice from others who have shaved their heads. One women responded saying that it had been iron deficiency that had caused her hair to fall out, and once she started taking supplements, all her hair grew back. I went back to check the results for the iron tests that I had done in the last year, and found out that I was very iron deficent, and this was likely the cause for my hair loss. Now I am getting more serious about iron supplements, and I feel much better knowing what is likely to be causing my hair loss. Because of this intervention, I also feel more confident that I am more than my hair, and would still be OK if I decided to shave it all off.
Brandon Dela Cruz: Intervention Idea
I become very stubborn when it comes to finishing any sort of assignment or task. There were numerous times where I get stuck on completing something that I would spend an enormous amount of time trying to get myself unstuck, but not ask for outside help. I would put myself into a gridlock and try many other ways to solve my problem, but the idea to ask someone else for a way would never cross my mind. I have this “lone wolf” mentality where I forget that I have outside sources to help me, so I decided that, for the last intervention, I will ask more people even more questions about my work, both inside and out of academics.
Outcome: I’m now feeling more comfortable admitting when I need help in anything, whether it’s schoolwork or personal projects. This past week, I went around and talked to many of my classmates for help on various homework problems and projects due within the week and also assisted others in their work as well. As finals are coming up, I thought I was going to see myself studying and struggling on my own again, but I started to move my studying spots around and gravitating to where I can find people who can get me unstuck on problems I cannot solve. I feel my mentality of solo perseverance easing up and I’m closer to one where I can freely ask for help, not feeling any sort of defeat when I cannot finish something on my own. I’m also starting to see that my past ways of doing work was very painstakingly hard, and it’s almost baffling to me that I thought that was the only way I could do things. I now just need to not feel afraid to ask for help when I know I need it, and I think I’ll become more efficient in my work and even more thankful for everyone who helps out.
I did my third intervention this week (week 7) since I was afraid it would be very involved and I did not want to put it off until I was busy preparing for finals. I decided to buy groceries for the week before starting (I spent $100). I did not make any purchases and went a full week and found this was way too easy. I only made a few changes in my life. For example, I brought food in tupperware to campus instead of buying food. I sought out free food when I could. I cooked dinner instead of going out. I went to the bars with my friend for his birthday but did not buy any drinks. I found an aloe plant on the sidewalk when I was sunburned, instead of buying aloe at the store. My motorcycle is currently not running, so I did not buy any gas or drive anywhere either. I found it to be much more sustainable than living without a budget. The only downsides? I could not splurge on slodoco or go do frivolous activities with my friends. However, I usually never enjoy these activities, (like going to the bars or the movies) and it gave me an excuse not to go. Surprisingly, everyone offered to pay for me, but I explained that it would defeat the purpose of my intervention. I felt very productive this week and the time I did spend with my friends, I enjoyed more than usual. However, even though this was so easy, I would not consider it successful. Even though I bought my food before the week started, I realistically spent over $13/day on food (dividing $100/7days). I want to continue trying this intervention with a slowly decreasing weekly budget. Next I also want to attempt going a week without using headphones, as I have them in my ears for over 5 hours a day every day, and this cannot be good for my hearing or mental state.
2nd self intervention, spring 2018: Empathy Self Intervention: Consider a time when you are dealing with another person and you recognize that you are regarding them as “the other”… whether it be in a conflict, or in amusement, contempt, lust or whatever. See if you can empathize with them – how are they seeing the world? Describe this process and how it might transform your interactions with them. This is not a theoretical perspective. I expect that you will (1) Imagine what they are experiencing and feeling (in the past, many students described their own feelings)… what is their situation? (2) communicate your experience in doing the empathy, what it was like for you, and it if changed your perspective, feelings, or actions.
As someone who has had a difficult past growing up in a 3rd world country, further increased by enlisting in the Marines at the age of 17, I have found it generally difficult to be empathetic to others as I feel that “I’ve had it worse”. The military is very effective at teaching Marines to demonize your enemies in a conflict as it makes it easier to win the war. So essentially empathy has been brushed aside and suppressed by the various experiences I’ve had in my life. I’ve felt that if I can endure hardships on my own, without any assistance, then so can everyone else. Whenever I am faced someone struggling through life, either through emotional and physical pain, homelessness, poverty, etc. I subconsciously enter a competition of sorts, with the mindset that I or people that I know, have had it worse than you. The truth is that veterans exhibit some of the highest homelessness rates in the country, friends of mine in Uganda endure poverty daily as they don’t have access to the economical resources that we have here in the states. However, I am finding that comparing sufferrage between people is an ultimately flawed and wrong idea. Other people having “more suffering” doesn’t stop those with “less suffering” from enduring hardships. It should be that fact that I can relate to the different types of hardships that enables me to be more empathetic in life. This is a rather humbling idea for me as it involves setting aside my pride to recall my experiences of being in similar shoes and trying to provide the assistance and/or understanding that I wish I had when I was in a similar situation.
The one thing I have been lucky in my life is to have good physical and mental health. I’m only just realizing how important that has been in helping me overcome obstacles in front of me. Many people around me have to overcome their own struggles with physical and mental health issues such as, depression, asthma, allergies, etc., and if I put myself in their shoes, I don’t know if I would be able to be where I am today if I faced similar obstacles as them. And so I empathize with their present situation, we don’t choose where or how we’re born but we choose to make the best of it; I can improve my station but others have to live with health issues their entire lives.
For this second intervention, I decided to try to fit my feet in my mom’s shoes. Living through the Viet Nam war and oppressive postwar in Saigon, my mom’s family worked really hard to help my family become permanent residents and now naturalized citizens. My mom was and has always been very cautious about obeying the laws and making sure the process of becoming lawful citizens to be as smooth as possible. I know that I didn’t have as high of a risk of deportation compared to “undocumented” people, but I understand the feelings of being afraid of my government, both in Viet Nam and here prior to naturalization. I was really excited to be able to participate in politics and have my voice be heard and tried to encourage my family to do the same. When Trump decided to take away the DACA program in September 2017, my oldest sister and I were furious, as many of the people in our lives are directly affected. We tried to get as many of our family, friends, and acquaintances to call their state legislators and governors, sign petitions, protest, etc. so that innocent people, especially students, wouldn’t have to leave their family and what they now call home. I know that my mom didn’t have the opportunity to education like her daughters do, but I still wanted her to be informed about political issues and let the government hear her opinion. When my sisters and I discussed this topic at the dinner table, my mom told us that there is nothing she can do, other than pray for the poor people. At the time, I was so angry at her for spending her free time watching pointless videos on social medias instead of learning about these issues and what she can do to help. I expressed my frustration to her in a way that would be considered as disrespecting a parent in my culture, but I just didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to do anything with her power as a citizen to help those in a similar situation that she was in. Now that I have encountered and talked to people of colors from different backgrounds and am more educated on social issues, I can finally see why my mom was the way she was. She lived through war and grew up in a country where the government was oppressive and freedom of speech is nonexistent, and those who tried to rebel would end up in prison or executed. As a woman, she was raised to submit and listen to men and not express herself even if she wanted to. This lifestyle has been a part of her for 40 years, and I believe that these factors have shaped who she is. What I might have seen as an effort to make a change might have been a waste of time to her. This incident makes me reflect on the ignorant part of me to interpret others’ perception as my own and make my judgements about people on that basis.
When go back home to San Diego to visit my family, I find myself getting very easily annoyed by my little sister. I don’t see her very often and we don’t text on a regular basis but we have always been close. The reason I get very annoyed is because she is always complaining about something and her bad attitude is always taken out on whoever is there. My first reaction is to dismiss her. Then, I usually just tell her to get over it. This really upsets her and she ends up breaking down and just causing a fight. After this happens I always feel horrible for escalating her stress. I always forget how it was in middle school and how every situation seems forever permanent. My sister does have a lot of things on her plate like band, school drama, and volleyball. It is easy to dismiss other people’s complaints and compare them to mine. In reality, everyone is dealing with something different so it is unfair for me to just undervalue their experience. So I can definitely understand the stress she is feeling and how it can affect her mood daily. I should work to be more understanding and patient when hearing her out. I think that if I were to help her instead of causing more stress it would make her happier at home and improve our interactions with the rest of our family as well.
I am grateful we have to rewrite our responses, because the more I thought about this, there is one person that I haven’t really thought of putting myself in their shoes and that’s my mother. We don’t come eye to eye about most things, and it mostly has to do with my brother. My brother and I are very different and we are about seven years apart. And a small fact, that I usually don’t share is that he is biologically my mother’s but my dad adopted him when he was 1 or 2 years old, so basically my dad is his true father. We never really got a long, and I honestly blame him for a lot of the tension that was/is in my family. When he was in high school, he became dependent on drugs and alcohol. His substance abuse caused a lot of fighting between my parents, because neither one of them could agree on how to go about it. Because I was young at the time, no one really included me in the situation and I grew to despise my brother. My resentment continued to grow because I felt he wasn’t growing up and taking responsibility for his actions. Instead he became dependent on the people that were enabling him (grandparents and my mother). I tend to be on the side of my father of how to care for my brother and that usually causes problems between my mother and I.
This intervention made me take the time and see the situation from her point of view. If I were her during this time, “I would want to do anything for my son. He is not stable and if I help him take care of himself, maybe he will get better. Maybe if I buy him clothes, fix his car, or make doctor/dentist appointments, he will eventually learn. He is getting better and trying. If I don’t help, then I will not be a good mother”. My mom is amazing and strong. And it’s really hard to understand what she is fully going through. And as much as I can disagree with her choices on how to help my brother, I know she is doing her best. “I would want to do everything I can to help my son. I wouldn’t want to see him homeless or unable to take care of himself. I would never want to doubt his intentions or question if he was being honest’—although I, personally, always question/don’t believe him. I also could see myself developing resentment towards my father if I were her… He is an extreme hard worker and he has always been independent. He bought his house at a young age and he knew how to save money. To him my brother is a “taker” (which in my opinion he is). But to my mom I can see her saying: “why can’t my husband support me and understand that our (my) son is not the same as him. He is trying his best and you just want to leave him to suffer. He is our (my) only son. I want you to be on my side. I am tired of fighting against you. If you love me, you would be more helpful. And why can’t my daughter listen to my side of the story. Why doesn’t she try to get along with her brother more? Why don’t they work it out? She is always taking her father’s side. She has no idea what she is talking about. She doesn’t understand the situation. I have no idea where she is getting this information from”. That is perhaps what it is like in her shoes. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It brings me frustration and sadness to admit some of the feelings she might have. And I wish I had been more understanding and I am trying to be better now. It’s hard to feel empathy when its decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with when it affects me. In my head, I feel like she isn’t thinking about how all this affects me. Writing this almost makes me feel selfish. That I wasn’t trying to understand the situation through the eyes of my mother (or my bother). I was looking at it only through the things that I agreed with, and I tended to agree with how my father felt.
I have put off rewriting this self intervention for a while because I did not want to see the perspective of this particular group of people, but I could not pinpoint why. At Cal Poly, this group of people makes up a significant majority of the population and the overall hostility of the group frightens me. Looking within, I understand now I largely avoided this assignment because it made it easier on me to generalize them as other. I did not want to believe that it was possible for so many people to lack empathy, but even being in that mindset further generalized this group.
I am X. I am chatting up someone in town from Cal Poly and I hear that you’re starting a club, what club is it?
She’s nervous… I see. She wants to start a Students for X club. I never thought she would do this, doesn’t she know she is aiding in the victimization of those people? And on top of that she is demonizing X! The land of the X people, who, if she somehow doesn’t remember, literally moved there because they were exiled? Does she think that they are the oppressors? And X are violent too…does she read the news? X people kill X people during their protests! God, the conflict is bad out there but if X really wanted it to end, they’d act more civil too.
Ok yeah, I don’t want X’s military to kill innocent people either, but they’re not the only ones to blame.
I won’t get too heated up, but I don’t understand. I’ll let it be. It’s fine, I’ll ignore it. It’s not like she’s radical, but I don’t know, it still just bugs me
Last weekend, I went home to San Diego for mothers day. Following Roger’s talk, I was feeling pretty pessimistic and just really disappointed in myself and in the society we are living in here in the U.S., and especially in our government. I’m very strongly rooted in my political beliefs, but I try my best to keep those feelings to myself since I believe politics is a very personal choice and I won’t sway anyone since we all have our reasons for believing or supporting X,Y and Z (for the most part). However, for the sake of this piece, it’s important to know that I passionately do not respect our president.
I was welcomed home on Thursday morning by my mom at the train station in San Diego and she could immediately tell something(s) were on my mind. We went home, started our usual snacking in the kitchen and she asked me what was going on. I started to tell her about the conversation we had had in class and my overall disappointment in the United States at the moment. Between the ICE stories in the news, the blatant racism on Cal Poly campus and the gun violence in America, I’ve been feeling LOW. I’m generally not an emotional person but this conversation actually brought me to tears. I expressed to her my desire to move to Argentina (where most my family currently lives) after college for a while because I needed a change in “system and people.”
Contrary to what most people would predict, my mom didn’t put an arm around me and tell me everything was going to be okay. She didn’t say she agreed with me or understood what I was saying. In fact, she blatantly told me that she could not disagree with me more. She told me that I need to proud of this country and appreciate the country I live in. I was beyond frustrated that she was clearly not looking at society in the same eyes as I was. I thought she was ignorant to what going on around her. I was angry that she wasn’t terribly upset by the all the news of events affecting both citizens and non-citizens of this country alike… At this point, my self intervention occurred.
My mother immigrated to the US from Argentina when she was 30 years old. She grew up under in a dictatorship, at a time when inflation was absurdly high and unpredictable, when her mother was publicly ridiculed for being a feminist and the only woman at her job, where free speech was not allowed, where a higher education was discouraged, etc. etc.
I agree with what Sylvana said on Wednesday in class. Our self intervention does not need to entail giving in to what the other person believes and ditching our own beliefs. Rather, I believe that disagreement sparks beautiful conversations, especially in politics. However, my mother raised me to be patriotic. As a dual citizen of Argentina and the United States, I have always felt proud to call both places home. My mother always raised me to work towards the change I wanted to see, from on the playground to now in the real world. She encouraged me to not allow our president or any superior figure in my life to revoke the pride I have always carried with me. In conclusion, yes I am disappointed in the society I am living in (myself absolutely included) but I think I can view the world in one of two ways: I can see this country of mine as a lost cause and a rock on a declining slope or I can find the issues I am most passionate about and commit to working towards the difference I hope to see SOON. So, with that, I’ll keep holding myself accountable for the change I want to see.
A few weeks ago I attended Dolores Huerta’s talk at Chumash. My roommates and I planned to get seats as soon as the doors opened and to save spots for a few friends who got out of class right before the talk started.
We found a row of seats and saved two extra next to me. As the talk got closer, Chumash got very full and it was progressively more awkward as we had to turn away students looking for seats. Right before we spotted our other friends, too male students walked over and asked if they could sit in the spots. We started to explain that we were saving them and they cut us off saying, “They have a right to stand.” Then they sat down without further conversation, picked up the coat and purse I was using to save the spots and put them on the floor in front of me.
Being the mature college students we are, my group and I, taken aback, started complaining and gossiping about the student’s rudeness right beside them. Right away I tried to get over it and understand it from their perspective and right away I kept failing. I hated that I had to sit right next to these guys that didn’t care enough about my perspective to even argue about the situation.
These men very well could be right. In a lot of ways saving spots is unfair to kids that don’t have friends that can come early. Furthermore, they didn’t know how long we had been in Chumash in order to get these seats. Maybe the pair had sat down and now felt a little guiltily and awkward. They also started talking in Spanish and were Latino. Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist and big role model for Latino communities so I am sure this talk meant more to them, than me. In that case they should definitely have the spots over me. Finally, this really didn’t matter, it wasn’t a big deal and I needed to get over myself.
However, I remained heated, got frustrated with myself and felt ridiculous. Here I was, listening to a woman who has helped overcome tons of hardships for minorities and labor workers. This talk was a place for activists to be re-inspired, especially if they were students who had their own set backs or disadvantages put on them. To think of all the times civil rights leaders and minorities have had to be quiet when they are walked over or ignored in much bigger and more threatening ways. I, a super privileged person, couldn’t even get over this tiny insignificant encounter.
I don’t know quite what to do with this. Despite how insignificant the occurrence, I could try to use it to more understand my privileged and how much it sucks not the be listened too. Maybe next time Ill be able to get over myself quicker or be brave enough to keep talking to those I am mad at. Being quick to empathy seems to be a habit that you can only practice at.
A few days ago my roommate got frustrated at me for not cleaning up the dishes immediately after I put them in the sink. At first, I felt defensive but then I thought about where she was coming from. My other roommates and I are really busy and we do not have as much time to clean up around the house as her because last year she got in a really bad car accident and broke her back so she spends more time at home. Instead of complaining about her back hurting which she cant control, she will sometimes comment about the house not being clean which she can control. A week later, I pinched a nerve in my back and I now emphasize about how she feels because it is easier to pick out little things that bother me, such as the dishes not being put away if I have no other option but to lay around the house all day. I can now understand how this whole year it is hard for her to see me and my roommates running around and being active while she is not able to. Laying around for a week complaining how my back hurt also made me realize how strong of a person she is because she never complains or brings attention to her back even though it is extremely painful. Even though laying down feels better for her back, she cleans the house, which shows how big of a heart she has. Seeing the situation from her perspective, made me motivated to help out around the house more because not having enough time is a scapegoat and not a valid excuse. She inspires me to not focus on the negatives and help out in any way I can no matter situation I am in. So next time she asks me to do the dishes or help out around the house, instead of getting defensive I will do my best to help.
I have always had different opinions on things than my older sister, which has always caused problems between us. Most recently she was trying to given me advice on something I had already made my mind up on. The way she approached the topic made me feel like she was attacking me. It eventually lead to a larger argument and I was so upset with her. Looking back at it she really was trying to give me advice on something that she had so much more experience in than me in. She knew what it was like to be in the position that I am in now, and she has a sense of wanting to give me all of the information and advice she had. She probably felt a little worried for me. I know she only wants whats best for me and that she did not mean to come off as attacking, but she portrayed it to be differently.
Being home for Mother’s Day a few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. My Grandma and Grandpa are two of the most important people in my life and while I truly value their opinions, I don’t see eye to eye with them on some social issues. I really try to avoid talking about politics with them, but per usual, they came up when they asked me about school because they had heard about the climate at Cal Poly recently. In my view, my grandparents can be extremely close-minded and unable to take any other opinions seriously besides their own. I had to take a step back and think about their ideologies and where they might have come from. They are part of the Baby Boomer generation, and I needed to understand that often this generation has a mindset that they are always right. They grew up in a very different America than I am currently living in, and this obviously affects the lens that they view the world through. Instead of becoming frustrated and defensive while talking to them, I listened to what they had to say and politely suggested that we could agree to disagree. Having discussions about sensitive social topics with people from other generations can often prove to be difficult because the social contexts from those generations are so difficult, but I found that it helped to come into the conversation with an open mind and genuinely work to understand the other person’s point of view.
Recently I met my friend’s sister and I think she is great, but it really bugged me that she seemed so educated on many environmental issues (she even cared about them a lot) yet was so wasteful and unconscious in her consumption. “Why does she insist on living her life this way? Why hasn’t she made more changes?” I thought but did not say. But remembering our empathy intervention, I then thought “How is she thinking about this?” I came to the conclusion that she is probably thinking exactly what I was thinking when I was her age! Just 2 years ago (before I took my first class with Pete), I would get so frustrated about how the environment was being destroyed and then go drive to the beach and eat a burger to help me forget about it. I was waiting on big companies to make some changes, or waiting until I owned a company big enough to make the changes myself. I did not examine my consumption habits closely or bother making large changes in my life. I attempted to put myself in her shoes and imagine what she was thinking. After doing that, I talked about what I had recently learned in PSC 492. I told her that if she stopped supporting companies that engage in poor environmental practices (nearly every company), they would have one less customer, cut down one less tree, release one less ton of CO2, and so on. I told her about some of the changes I am making in my life and I think she was happy to hear about it. I’m not sure if she’ll make any changes or not, but I hope so.
When I went home a few weekends ago to celebrate mother’s day, I realized more than ever why I do not want to move back to Orange County–where I grew up–after I graduate. I have always sort of felt like it is not the place I feel most at home, but specifically in the past visit, I felt particularly out of place. Especially since I came to college, I have always been someone who is passionate about the Earth and making it a better place. Most people I talk with in OC, however, seem to me to be living with the goal of making their own life better.
My specific intervention was with my mom and brother as we were about to leave for a Mother’s day hike. My mom asked me if I’d like a water bottle for the hike (a plastic one), knowing very well that I never use them and always tell her that she should always use her reusable one. She said “its just easier to hold when hiking and I can just get rid of it after”. This is an argument I have had with my mom and brother many times–I responded by saying that plastics can remain the earth for hundreds of years, and there really is not getting “rid” of it–especially because she doesn’t make a strong effort to recycle. My brother, of course, was on her side and questions “why it even really matters”. I began to feel like they will never understand my point of view. Reflecting back now, I am empathizing with my mom–she grew up in a time where high-density polyethylene plastic bottles were a relatively recent and great invention. I can see how it would be hard for her to change her ways after doing something for so long and not fully understanding the consequences for our earth. I can also see how it might be strange for her for her youngest daughter to come home from college with all this new-found knowledge about ways we can be better to our earth and to basically be teaching her about the topic. I think that understanding her perspective a bit better now will help me continue to talk to her about how we as a society can be better about our waste.
I have always perceived my roommate to be really silly and shallow and vapid. I initially grew up relatively poor (my family has since earned/ grown into a higher economic bracket) and I always considered myself to understand hardship more than an average Cal Poly student, while dichotomously now living and going through the same socio-economic sphere of upper to middle class peers. There are so many instances where I find my roommate to be absolutely wasteful and ignorant to her unending consumption, and in my head (not in a nice way but kind of with contempt) I think about her upbringing being upper middle class not knowing anything else or any better than fulfilling her own desires and expending money without an issue. She just bought three different concert tickets and a whole wardrobe for senior pictures and got her hair done in the same week and she’s always bringing physical things into the house like silly kitchen gadgets or food that goes to waste or new technology. Part of my reaction to her consumption is jealousy, and the other part is how my original values don’t match with hers and how it has been amplified by this class and I have been inspired to focus more on living in line with my values and live simply without contributing to waste or harm to the environment. I have already empathized my understanding of her upbringing in a really negative and mean way that is not constructive, so now I need to re-approach the issue in a way that is constructive. My theoretical values are not objectively more right than my perception of hers just because they might be more idealistic. And maybe I’m focusing on the flashier instances of consumption on her end and internalizing it rather than really approaching my own consumption with a keen eye. If I think about how she views the world and how it started when she grew up I don’t believe it is with mal-intent and she probably just wants to live a good life and does the things that make her happy- the same things I would probably do if I had the additional means to do so and the things that I am just jealous of.
Added revision to self intervention: regarding all the empathy talks we had in class and really trying to self reflect, I realize I was anti-empathizing with my roomate even though I did try to put myself in her shoes you can’t really practice that well without good intentions (and I did not have the best of intentions). Empathy to me, comes from removing all context and and intention from the situation or person you are trying to empathize with, and really just rooting it down to the shared human emotion and experience of two people. I wasn’t doing that and I am looking to practice that in my life.
I was talking with my roommate last night. We have been roommates for two years and get along well. I can usually tell what’s on her mind and how she’s feeling just because I’ve known and lived with her for so long. Last night she was telling me a personal story and opening up. All of a sudden stops and freaks out. She claimed I made “a face” and thought that I was upset about what she was saying (her story was about a boy who I had introduced her to). She then proceeded to freak out more thinking that I liked her guy that she was telling the story about and then ran out of the apartment and would not listen to me saying that I was not upset. I was mad at her first because I was upset that she was overreacting for no reason. I truly was not mad at all and did not think I even made a face. I am still kind of upset because she has not talked to me about it and refuses to answer my texts. However, I am looking from her perspective now. I realize that she probably was already super self conscious about telling me this story and her seeing me make a face ( although not intentional) made her feel guilty, causing her to overreact despite what I was saying.
Last week during an EWB discussion of the changes and uses in technology discussion, many good thoughts were shared discussed, disagreed, and agreed on. Many points came up as a byproduct like factories in the developing world, developed, or partially developed. Also, technology junkyards damaging the health in developing countries. Overall, a general and semi incorrect but for lack of a better phrase without a super in-depth 30 pages response “abuse and taking advantage of the developing world for our “better””.
An older computer science professor came in towards the end of the conversation. He proceeded to tell us the US doesn’t exploit the third world and historically has developed extremely successfully on its own without causing damage elsewhere as a byproduct. We spent over an hour after the meeting trying to explain the exploits, abuses and environmental abuses the US has had and continues to create in many different countries. I noticed more than we characterized him as “the other”, which we did, he characterized us as the “the others” and would not even consider our point of view.
We tried to see what he meant but could not. From before we were the US and into the first hundred years we exploited slave labor. We have always repressed Latin America and whenever there was something we wanted within a country we took. But we considered it. We see that there were not factories, we see that despite the obvious exploit of slavery the US economy did progress without much more than that until we found what we wanted in places like Central and South America. But we still discuss the lengths he was ignorant. We did our research on what he said but when it came to what we said, he has not even considered. It went in one ear and out the other.
ADDED REVISION: I have been trying to step into his shoes and look this from his eyes. This makes me uncomforatable and I do not the mental mode I imagine in his head. From his view he is a teacher used to teaching and believes he has more experience and credibility than students who are challenging his ways. I would feel backed into a corner especially coming into our group and saying the he thinks. I think he’s fighting to keep what he believes alive. I still cannot fully enter his shoes because knowing what I know and believing what I believe, stepping into ignorance is uncomforatble and I feel dirty.
This quarter, I’ve been struggling with a computer engineering class I have to take for my concentration. As a designer with no experience in back-end development, I’ve been having an extremely hard time understanding the subject. Thankfully, I have an older brother who is a fourth year computer engineering major. Because he lives in San Diego, we’ve screen sharing through Google Hangouts in order for him to help tutor me. Communicating online also comes with chances of miscommunication, connection problems, and other limitations. Not only has it been difficult at times for him to explain concepts to me over screencast, he has also been getting quickly impatient with me. In return, I’d get frustrated with his impatience since I’m merely a beginner at coding. After a few disputes, I finally tried viewing the situation from his perspective. As someone who has had coding experience for almost 6 years, I can see why he’d think learning this new language is not that hard. As mentioned before, it’s also hard for him to easily explain concepts to me over video chat. With this in mind, I’ve been trying to teach myself this subject at home before coming straight to him for simple questions, which I can tell has eased our tutoring sessions.
Yesterday, my roommate’s ex-boyfriend stopped by to talk to me (probably my roommate, but it ended up being me as I was the only one home). I’m not going to lie, but I never really liked this boy. He’s fine, but he has always seemed a little too arrogant for my liking. I have always stood by my roommate’s side and encouraged him to let go, as their relationship, in my eyes, is not healthy for either of them. Yesterday, we talked for about an hour, and I really tried to take the time to see from his point of view. In the end, I still feel that the best route for him is to no longer pursue my roommate and to just let go (I already know she has moved on). However, I now much better understand his more recent actions. After he confided in me regarding his own growth and insights he has gained in college, I feel it is much easier to connect with him, and I feel a lot better about him as a person and as an ex to my roommate.
Growing up, I’ve always noticed that my uncles or my mom’s brothers never really fit in with our family. My grandmother immigrated to the U.S. when she was 30, but she grew up in China with a very traditional Chinese mindset of favoring her boys over her girls and she always spoiled her boys. My mom and my aunts have accepted early on in their lives that they would need to support themselves and that they would never receive the same attention as their brothers. My mom and aunts worked very hard and overtime were able to all successfully start their own businesses in order support their families. However, one of my uncles who is 40 years old never and fully established his businesses/career, takes advantage and ask for money from my grandmother to pay off gambling debts. Not only does he ask for money from my grandma, but he also asks my mom and aunts for money because he knows that we love our grandma and we don’t want her stress about that her sons needing money. It’s frustrating to see the most hardworking women in my life are giving away their hard-earned money to my “lazy” uncles when they are fully capable of working themselves. I try to empathize from his point of view, and I think maybe the lack of communication about how this behavior is impacting our family. Maybe there are other factors that I’m unaware of and it’s possible that he doesn’t feel welcomed to express these issues with us. I believe a major part of his behavior is that our family never acknowledges his point of view and continued to neglect his perspective. By shunning him from our family we’re ignoring the problem, I think it will take time for our family to come together to help him.
This spring quarter has been difficult for me as a member of Panhellenic Greek life. As I’m sure many of you reading this are aware, at the beginning of the quarter there were racist and insensitive incidents that occurred with a couple fraternity members that unfortunately were used to by the media to define all of Cal Poly Greek life as racist and ignorant. I do not condone the acts by these members and I was really ashamed that I was being linked to these events. Before this quarter, I was proud to say that I was a member of a sorority on campus, but this April I found myself refraining from wearing letters and taking Greek letters off my car and water bottles. Then, President Armstrong and the Cal Poly administration made the decision to put all of Greek life on suspension which gave my sorority and many others who were being respectful and following administrations rules the same punishment as the fraternities who had acted insensitively. For weeks I was angry and confused as to why I had to face the same punishments as those fraternities. I didn’t do anything wrong yet I was being treated the same. However, I began to consider why Cal Poly and President Armstrong would make the decision that did and what good could come out of it. I looked internally into my sorority and saw that the new standards Greek life is going to be held to is promoting a very positive change throughout my sorority. For example, we began a diversity committee and book club to help educate people on difficult topics such as white privilege and cultural appropriation. I realized that President Armstrong wasn’t punishing me, he was challenging me. The terms of suspension were there to challenge Greek life to step up to the place and better themselves as an organization. I realized that even though I wasn’t involved in the incidents, I could still learn learn and improve my character, and be a change in Greek life and on campus.
Since last week’s discussion, I have been considering how President Armstrong might have been feeling during all of the chaos that went down at the beginning of this quarter. He was also being punished for the ignorant act of a single individual and he faced a much more difficult punishment than I did. He took all of the blame, people were calling for his resignation, and he all together must have felt exhausted and ashamed. Looking at the situation from his point of view, I can’t imagine being in his shoes at the time. Even though this decision still continues to frustrate me, I understand what led him to make that decision.
This weekend I was going out the door of the grocery store carrying a large bag of groceries and some flowers for Mother’s Day. A young single homeless mother was sitting outside with her two young daughters asking for food and money. She spoke to me asking for help and then she said “God bless you.” I responded by saying, “I don’t have any money on me, sorry.” This was true because I had paid for my groceries with my debit card. When I said this, her expression immediately exchanged and it looked as if her eyes were saying, “seriously?” As I walked to my car, I thought about how she had acted rudely towards me, but as I was loading my groceries into the car, I tried to see things from her perspective. I realized that I might have looked as if I should have had money on me, with my nice customized Cal Poly jacket and the fact that I had a car and plenty of groceries, and even some flowers. In addition, she didn’t even specifically ask me for money so I had made an assumption about her. I also realized that she was probably just tired, hungry, and wished that she could get a university education like me. I dug out some cookies that I had purchased from the bottom of my grocery bag and I went back and shared with her and her daughters. One of the little girls was extremely excited and could barely wait for me to get the cookie out of the container. I hadn’t even thought about what her poor children must be going through! I was so happy that I could make the little girl happy. Her mother once again said “God bless you” and I felt a lot better that I had tried to see things from her perspective and that I had decided to help.
After discussing this in class and thinking about it some more, I have realized that the lady’s reaction may not have even been about me. She could’ve felt frustrated with herself for not being able to provide for her children or she could’ve been embarrassed about having to sit there asking for help and then getting rejected at first. I can imagine how it would be hard to continue asking for help after many rejections and especially if some of the people that she asked for help had treated her badly. She may feel frustrated about whatever circumstances occurred to cause her to be in that position and how unfair it is for her children. If the circumstances were caused by a mistake she made herself, she may be feeling even worse. All of the Mother’s Day flowers on display and the fact that the holiday was the next day could’ve made her feel more inadequate than usual. All of these factors could make her feel frustrated, anxious, and sad and I am glad I gave her another chance.
When I was a freshman, I elected to be an accounting minor. I figured I loved puzzles, enjoyed my professors, and was amused by the idea of rule codification and digging into said code to find answers and (at times) loopholes. To me, accounting seemed creative. However, as I rounded out my senior year, I found myself begrudgingly looking around the room at the other students– I couldn’t stand to be in class with them, my professors seemed uninspired, and I egotistically believed I was better than all other students simply because I didn’t want to go into public accounting. This may sound petty, but imagine finding yourself in a classroom four or five days a week with 40 students whom you cannot connect with and at the core– have different philosophies on how to approach life. To explain, it seemed every accounting student I met was dead set on having the most predictable life possible– I had been in countless interviews where the interviewer stated “just knock four years out doing something you don’t love and then you’ll be able to do something you enjoy” or “I didn’t expect to be here, but 25 years later, I haven’t left!” Growing up, I craved adventure, challenge, constant change– I came to Cal Poly on an art scholarship from high school, but chose economics because I felt I loved the theoretical approaches and game theory involved– I chose accounting because I felt it was a skill I could use that would help me further solve these puzzles. Walking into my first accounting class of my last year, I had turned down a job offer to continue accounting and was happy with my choice– however, on the first day, the professor made us raise our hands– “How many of you have jobs with the Big Four?” Almost everyone but me raised their hand. I felt anger, frustration, what I thought was pity, and almost scoffed. I looked down upon all of the students who had settled into those jobs (in accounting, we call them meat grinder jobs because they chew you up and spit you out after two years of sleepless work). I felt almost a sense of hatred towards those around me (now recognizing it is slight jealousy and lack of understanding). Two weekends ago, I received a message from an old friend of mine who had graduted two years prior and worked in the bay for one of the Big Four- PwC. He had complained about his job prior, so I felt it was okay to be sarcastic– “How’s life in the grinder?” I asked. He typed for awhile– no response. A day later, he told me that while it wasn’t his dream job to be working in the big four, it challenged him– he was a first gen college grad, graduated top of his econ class, and chose to do forensic accounting for a bit. His family needed the money and he wanted to help support them. He find joy in doing something with boundaries during the day and letting himself explore whatever he wanted to outside of work time– he had gone to Cannes Film Festival, Norway, and Brazil in the last year in his free time. Who was I to judge? I have no idea what my co-students are doing in their free time, why they’re pursuing accounting, or be jealous of the fact that they know what they wish to do with their life at a young age. In a way, it’s admirable. Going into class last week, I enjoyed it for the first time in awhile, everyone was attentive, had their notebooks out– I, on the other hand, was had my notes sprawled out and my desk slightly messy. Maybe I wasn’t made for strict accounting, but it’s still puzzle solving. Everyone has their reasons and I have no reason to assume.
After being gone for Winter quarter doing fieldwork for my senior project, I have moved back into the same relatively empty PCV apartment with two other apartmentmates that I had been living in Fall quarter. This year campus housing crammed people into apartments, making single rooms into doubles, but me and my apartmentmates got lucky- even though we have this furniture setup, made for six people there are only three of us. We each get our own room, with a bunkbed, two closets, lots of extra storage, desks, chairs.. While I travel, I like to couchsurf. It is an interface for meeting other world travelers, finding and providing a place to sleep, and most importantly, intercultural interaction. Almost all of my experiences with couchsurfing have been amazing, though I have always been the one recieving the hospitality. I thought that with a spare bed in my room, I could offer it up for couchsurfers. From the beginning, I was open with my apartmentmates about this, so that they could be included in the fun of hosting, and it could maybe be thought of as something we did together. I had couchsurfed in a few other college students’ housing, and it was fun to be welcomed by an entire apartment of friends. It should be noted that my two other apartmentmates are really good friends, and I am the odd one out, I only met them when I moved in. From the beginning, I could note that my apartmentmates were not as excited as i was about couchsurfing. We agreed on regulations for accepting couchsurfers, such as they had to be college aged girls, could only come on weekends, could only be in the apartment at the same time as me, etc. At the beginning of this quarter I started hosting couchsurfers, which went great. I informed my apartment mates about them, and my couchsurfer guests mainly only interacted with me, my apartment mates hardly knew they were there except for the notifications I provided them. Then one of my apartment mates talked to her parents and some of her friends and decided that she felt unsafe about the situation, which she articulated to me. She asked if I could stop hosting couchsurfers. My response was to explain all the ways we had put up precautions so that she was safe – I also pointed out how she wouldn’t have even known about the couchsurfers if I hadn’t told her. I asked if there was anything I could do to make her more comfortable about it. She told me there was nothing I could do to make her feel more comfortable. We had a few entire apartment meetings about this, to facilitate this dialogue. My remaining apartment mate said she could see both sides of the situation, and did not want to take sides. I told my apartment mate I would be hosting anyways, because it wouldn’t impact her. She decided that she was not going to let me host couchsurfers, and would do anything to make that happen. She wanted to write me up, get housing involved, get me into trouble. Her appeal to housing was that she felt “unsafe” which is the key phrase in getting your way. I decided to go along with my apartment mate’s wishes. I do not want to cause drama or problems within our apartment over something so small. I understand that couchsurfing could be a very foreign idea to her, she has not benefitted from it as much as I have. So I am no longer accepting couchsurfers to stay in my apartment, but I am going to be camping with them on the lawn. And now the atmosphere in our apartment is at peace.
ADDED REVISION: My roommate is likely feeling insecure when I bring friends/couchsurfers over, because I was gone for a quarter, she is used to only having people here that she already knows. With me here, there is more competition for the use of the common area, which cannot be shared as easily if I bring over people that she is not familiar with (versus a situation in which we all know the people, it would be comfortable for everyone to hang out, the scenario she likely found herself in while I wasn’t here). The addition of couchsurfing felt like too much of something she did not have control over, she doesn’t trust me or the couchsurfing system. Then, when I told her I would continue having couchsurfers even though she told me not to, she felt attacked and justified in going to housing. She probably was so scared of couchsurfers, probably by the ideas conjured for her by her parents and friends, that she felt like she wouldn’t want to pay to live in this space anymore.
My younger sister and I sometimes have a hard time seeing things eye to eye, so going home this past weekend, we had a few minor issues because of how different both of our lifestyles have changed since I left for college. I am the middle child, so my older sister and I are in college, and my younger sister is a sophomore in high school. With my older sister and me being away at school, my little sister gets a lot of attention at home and gets certain privileges while we are away, such as always getting the front seat in the car. Well growing up in my family, the oldest person always got to sit in the front seat of the car. However, when I was home this weekend, I put a riff in her routine and expectations because she was no longer granted the front seat at all times. My mom had to quickly remind her of our family rule and how things are when all of us are home. Though this is a trivial issue, I can empathize with my sister’s frustration. I tried to consider what it was like to be home without any siblings and then having my routine thrown off with the return of my sisters. She has a lot of attention to herself and has grown to expect that she doesn’t really have to share much these days. I can also understand the unfairness of this rule. As the middle child, I never got the front seat in the car, until my sister went away to college. It is hard to give up traditions that you have been raised up expecting, so even though this is a simple, trivial issue, it represents how much her life has changed without us in it. She is used to coming home and not having any other sibling to share things with, no one to take the front seat from her, no one else to share tv time with, and no one else’s schedules to work around. It is like she is now an only child. So with me and my sister returning home, I am sure it is a bit of a reality check with having to return to sharing things again and not having her plans be the priority all the time. I am sure that from her point of view that this was completely unfair and that I should be respectful of her routine and space. In her eyes, I think she felt that it would have been fair for us to switch off who got the front seat, however in my experience, I always had to give up the front seat whenever our oldest sister came home from college. Even though this is a tradition that continues to take place, I realize that I need to recognize and respect that she has a new lifestyle at home– being the only child a majority of the time—which will maybe help us openly communicate better to resolve these minor issues.
I went home this weekend to L.A. to see my family for mother’s day. My mom recently moved to Alaska with her husband but my dad and step mom still live in Pasadena. My dad and I just never seem to see eye-to-eye and we argue practically any time we see each other. It has been this way since I have been 16, as it is with most 16 year olds. But, while all my other relationships have healed since my teenage years, my father’s and mine hasn’t. When I see him it typically ends in frustration and I can never seem to shut my mouth around him like everyone tells me to. This weekend, I tired live by what Roger said in class about understanding that the actions of others are what they deem to be best for the future from their perspective. Maybe if I considered the intent of my dads actions, I could begin to empathize with him and feel less angry when I see him. The weekend was long and I held my tongue multiple times but, instead of silently cussing my dad out in my head, I took it a step further and considered his point of view. I was not passively avoiding confrontation, instead I actively tried to engage with the situation – to be empathetic. Instead of thinking about how much I disagreed with what he said or the way he treats people, I thought about why that was the way he chose to act. My oldest brother passed away when I was 14 and the ripple effects are still strong. I have felt for a while that my dad refuses to let me decide things on my own. His opinion must always be noted, even in situations he knows next to nothing about. This drives me crazy and I tend to feel like a child around him, making me angry and causing arguments between us. The discussion this week made me consider why he feels inserting his opinion is necessary- Maybe he feels he can protect me with his advice? Maybe he is extremely scared about loosing another child and will do anything to prevent it? Maybe he feels incredibly helpless and that this is the only way to grab even a tiny bit of control? Instead of feeling angry at my father and guilty about being upset, I felt an inkling of a sort of understanding of what my dad has and is going through. Our experiences with loss have been extremely different and, prior to this weekend, I never thought about how that could impact our relationship today. I realized that when my dad tries to give me advice and I get upset, he must feel an even stronger desire to protect me. It must terrify him to know that I can cause him an incredible amount of pain if I make bad decision. My dad sees his actions as safety- in what world would he want to make me feel annoyed with him? Given the past, this only makes sense- my dad is simply scared and is trying his best to avoid more pain for both me and himself. Additionally, the responsibility he must feel in watching me grow into an independent adult and his hope that I do the right things must be more anxiety-inducing than anything I have ever experienced. When my dad injected himself into my life over the weekend, I chose to try to see his advice as form of protection instead of as a loss of my independence. After I left I got from my dad that said “awesome to see you” and it felt really nice to know that he appreciated my effort to see things from his perspective.
I had asked my dear friend if she wanted to go to the beach this weekend and bring along her boyfriend. She excitedly agreed we should make a day out of it so we planned for Friday evening. She even mentioned that we would be able to have a bonfire afterwards. We haven’t had the chance to spend quality time with one another and I was excited to finally do something that brought us both joy while also getting to know her boyfriend. When Friday finally came, people kept texting her to make other plans. She has a hard time saying no to people and is quick to please others. Eventually, she was freaking out because she had jumbled all these plans and there was so much miscommunication going on that she started getting really angry and didn’t know what to do. I was getting really frustrated with her because I could see so clearly how she kept digging herself into a deeper hole all because she was trying to please everyone around her. When I tried confronting her about it, she got pretty defensive which annoyed me even more because it was impeding on our original plans. However, I quickly noticed a disconnect on my end. In a season where I am experiencing a lack of community in my own life, I think my heart has hardened towards various people. I selfishly wanted my friend and her boyfriend for myself because I knew that I would be happy.
She, on the other hand, wanted to bring others into community with one another and give many people the same amount of joy that we would be experiencing. When the God of the universe made her full of grace, love, kindness, and acceptance, I was trying to take that away from her. She was trying to love others the best that she knew it and I tried to kill it. She was probably thinking, ” why can’t Sylvana help me love others the best that we know how? Why can’t she understand that my other friends want to be surrounded by good community as well. If we all come together, we will be spreading more joy. This life is too short to spend it away from the people we love. Sylvana also loves friendships and community. I just need her support right now but she is only thinking of herself.”
I acknowledged this and apologized to her. I assured her that I was having a good time (which I was) and that I would be fine going along with her plans. The rest of the night ended up to be very sweet and fun.
I have noticed myself having to step back and self-intervene with many people in my life within the last year.
An example of a situation I found myself in was just this past week while my father was up visiting me and my daughter. We have made the choice to live small to save money while I finish school. My dad is my biggest supporter and works hard to help us out with so much it’s truly a blessing. But sometimes I think he just lives in his own bubble and he doesn’t understand some things that mean a lot to me.
I am currently figuring out which day I need to move home for the summer, and a lot of things come down to money, but we got into a discussion about how I would love to stay where I am for at least one more night after finals so I can just de-stress and relax and enjoy the beach before I leave for the summer, and he just laughed in kind of a judgmental way and said, I don’t see the point of you doing that if it’s gonna cost more money. This just made me mad and I wanted to say, sometimes, it’s just about enjoying life, but I didn’t say anything and cut the conversation short so we wouldn’t have to talk about it anymore. This conversation stayed with me for the whole day and I couldn’t seem to understand why he didn’t understand why I wanted one day to be with my baby and relax while enjoying some fun beach time. But as a couple days went by, I really did put myself in his shoes and thought to myself, what is it that my dad is thinking about for this situation? And I came to a great understanding. As I reflected on our conversation, on his side of the conversation I found his meaning was this….Maddie, I know you want to enjoy a nice day with your daughter after the stress that finals brings on, but I’m getting older, I can’t do a lot of the things I was once able to do, so I can’t do many jobs that I used to do to help you out financially. I have some extra money to help you out, but why wouldn’t you want to come home and enjoy a day here instead and save money. I want you to have fun and enjoy your time here, but it is a financial struggle for you and I both, so staying another night for no real reason but to have one last fun day doesn’t seem financially logical to me. Can’t you see that it just isn’t in the budget.
Since then, I have decided to go home, save money, and enjoy a fun day with family and friends to destress and just come back for a visit over summer when I have the extra cash to support it.
I had a conversation with my neighbor last week about what she was planning to do for the summer and after graduation since she is graduating this quarter. Her views are not necessarily the opposite of mine, but are rather much more extreme than mine, so extreme that I become anxious talking to her watching my every word so that I don’t say anything that will set her off. She told me that after graduation she would like to either travel around and help the less fortunate, or go to grad school. I thought both were great options and asked her if she is considering Cal Poly’s grad program. She said no because she does not think she could express her views here or further her agenda. She told me that Cal Poly is not a culturally diverse school and could not understand where the minority population is coming from. I thought about it and tried to empathize with what she was saying and where she was coming from. I think she was effected in a negative way by recent events which caused her to become upset and frustrated with the current Cal Poly. I wanted to say something to her that would have probably set her off but I decided not to and ended the conversation there. Our friendship remains the same.
I have to use self-intervention everyday with my best friend. She is one of the most amazing people I know and we have been through so much together in the past 5 years, but our relationship can be strained because of everything that she is going through. She is forced to deal with depression, early onset Crohn’s disease, unsupportive family members, working while going to school, and other mental and physical issues. She is constantly in a bad mood, has a short temper, and can be extremely sensitive. It is hard for her to get along with others and she has a tendency to project her anger onto me. I try to help her and be supportive in anyway that I can, but it can be emotionally and mentally strenuous especially with everything I have gong on in my life. I have to be very careful when venting about things I stress about because it will back fire into a conversation about how my problems are nothing compared to hers. Any good deed I do as a surprise for her, even with the best intentions, she gets upset. She thinks I might use that good deed against her, which is something her family would do to her. There are many more examples but the overall theme consists of me constantly walking on eggs shells and figuring out how to be a good friend. Whenever I get angry or think I am being treated unfairly I try to remind myself to look at it from her perspective. I try to see through her eyes and understand how difficult it must be for her. I think I would also be extremely grumpy all the time if I was forced to be gluten free, vegan, throwing up everything I ate, supporting myself while doing my college thesis, and having family members yell at me all the time and tell me I wasn’t good enough. I think personal awareness is incredibly important in terms of respecting others and practicing empathy. Over the years I have learned how to be a more empathic person for her and figured out how to handle certain situations. I know it might seem silly but we even have a safe word, which I know is generally associated with sexual things, but comes in handy in group settings when jokes or topics of conversation head towards a sensitive topic. I’ve learned that by simply being a good listener and giving encouraging words of affirmation is all the understanding and support she wants. I am incredibly grateful for our friendship because I think it is one of the most honest and pure relationships in my life with the help of self-intervention and empathy.
Difficulty at home: There’s lots of conflict between all of us. Tekuru is 14 and every inch of a rebelling teen. Neil is a strong willed, volatile 9-year-old. I adopted him February 2014 a year after I married Robin. Although I’m his dad, the only dad he knows, Robin is clearly the parent in his life. If there’s a conflict, I may try to resolve it and/or explain why their behavior is unacceptable or just a bad idea. It doesn’t go well. They hear “dad’s right, and you’re wrong”. Conflicts spill into my relationship with Robin. So, I try to remember to say only things that are positive. This morning, Tekuru is at her mother’s house, so it’s just the three of us. I overhear conflict as Neil wakes up a grouch, and claims he’s not going to go to the bike breakfast, which Robin and I know is not true – he loves them, but (in my opinion) sees an opportunity to obstruct. I say “good morning” to Neil, and he growls some response. Robin and I announce that we’ll go to the bike breakfast alone (which we know we won’t because Neil wants to come), and I leave the house to get out of the situation – I feed the fish in the hot tub. When I return Neil is getting dressed to go to the bike breakfast and asks me if he can have my headphones. I respond, “good morning Neil”. He’s mad because I didn’t answer his question. I say he hasn’t said “good morning”. Robin sides with Neil saying he did respond (that was his growl). Oh, I forgot to be positive… I blew it. I agreed with Robin and apologized to Neil and the morning went better. But I’m resentful… I feel I can’t win… Then I consider Robin: “It’s so hard to maintain peace and Neil has to get to school and if we antagonize him, it’s hell. I try to find a way to manipulate Neil into doing what he needs to do (and really wants to do) to get out the door and be one day older, smarter, and wiser. I look to you, my husband to support bringing him up. We manage to get get through Neil’s crappy mood and all looks good and then BAM you bust in and start a fight. Hello, husband, are you helping?” how would I feel if I’m responsible for making something work, and the person I depend on to help me sabotages it? I can understand her being angry. Neil on the other hand was transitioning from computer gaming in the morning, and all of a sudden I’m in his face, “DAD!, leave me alone! shit shit shit shit shit… Why can’t I play Roblox just a little more, I’m tired, I don’t want to go to school… go away.” and he knows he’s supposed to respond to my greeting. “… grumble grumble… good mrnnin.” he did his very best! For him 10 minutes ago is ancient history, and then I come back he is amiable and wants to ask me for something… and I’m passive agressive. I obstruct, “… I asked you nicely, just like we agree we should. Why do you have to be a jerk!” It’s often a battle with the family. Everyone is struggling. I want to recognize the struggle of others.
I’ve recently felt at odds with one of my best friends, and I am realizing that I’ve been regarding her as “the other” out of contempt and sadness. She goes to art school in Georgia, and we are both originally from the same small town in Maryland. Honestly, I’ve concluded that I am jealous of the new friends that she’s made at school, and I haven’t been the best at communicating effectively with her this school year. After some more reflection, I’ve also realized that I am also envious of the fact that she is incredibly talented and driven. She was able to follow her dreams of going to art school, making awesome work everyday, and learning more about creativity while I on the other hand was not strong enough to do so. Instead, I went to a traditional college and picked a major based on what my family and peers told me would make me “successful”. Sophia and I heavily relied on one another last year when we were first starting school, and our relationship has completely changed. We went from being in constant communication to little to none at all. We knew everything about each other’s lives, we sent mail to one another, FaceTimed at least once a week, and we would spend time together over breaks when we were back home. Now, I feel as if we haven’t confided anything in each other this year, and I am hurt that she has not checked up on me especially since I’ve really been struggling mentally these past several months. I was especially hurt when she sent me a long text that accused me of selfishly cutting her out of my life. She told me that I was rude to her for not appreciating the support that she gave me last year, and this really affected me for a couple of weeks. I did not make an effort to contact her for a while, and I did not adequately apologize for my lack of communication. I withdrew from almost all of my friends, not just her. I did not do it on purpose, and I was/am really struggling to cope with what was/is going on in my life. I assumed that I didn’t have the energy to maintain many of my relationships. After taking the time to reflect on it and attempting to empathize with her, I realized that I need to think about the situation from her perspective. She was probably thinking, “Wow, I did so much for Madi last year, and she doesn’t even have the decency to text me every once in a while”, “Madi has been making time for her friends at school but can’t manage to find 10 minutes for me – that’s not what a good friend does”, etc. She did help me a lot last year, and I should have made an effort to maintain an open line of communication even when things got busy and I became overwhelmed with my own problems. Additionally, I realized that even though my actions may not have been unwarranted, I could have easily reached out to her. Sending a quick text would have taken me less than a minute to compose and send. Although I was upset with the way she confronted me, I am beginning to understand her frustration with me and my lack of communication. I need to work on improving our relationship because I miss the way we use to connect and relate to one another. Everyone is struggling in their own way, and I need to become more conscious of that.
In honor of mother’s day, I thought I would write a piece about her. My mother has always been a religious, stern, and yet loving figure in my life. She was a teacher, but for much of her life sacrificed her career to stay at home and raise my three siblings and I. In that, she might have been happy to do so, but it was also a reflection of norms for her and my father within our cultures defined gender roles. My dad played the role of provider for much of our lives and consequently lived more at work than at home, and my mom became heavily involved in all my siblings day to day life. Her strength was in her ability to navigate the complexities of our own lives maturing within a country she and my dad chose for us in immigrating here from India, despite those lives that she produced being lived so far from her own norms and beliefs. She was fervent in her rejection of many our decisions, yet her compassion always kept us close. In that regard, she’s always been a curious “other” for me in how she operates as its’ so guided by principles and beliefs that came with her when she first immigrated here nearly 40 years ago. 4 children later, who are about as diverse and American/Canadian as possible, and she still adheres to cultural tenets that are not logically reflective of her surroundings or education. This has come up more recently due to the diagnosis of my dad with Alzheimer’s. As my dad’s condition progresses, my siblings and I have been trying to get my mother to take on a more empowered role with my father, whether that be management of their finances, bill keeping or simply being the driver on trips. All things my mom is more than capable of doing and knows she should be as my dad is naturally forced to cut back the primary role in coordinating their activities etc. The problem is that my mom still finds herself deferring to my dad in many matters. They live alone, and my dad is somewhat still ignorant or defiant of his compromised decision making and still tries to play the role he has his entire life. My mom despite our implorations can’t seem to wrest much of that power away. She knows better, and she knows she can, and she has to soon by sheer necessity but simply cant. Much of it I think is from the reliance built on my father over those 40 years here. They had no family when they first moved here, and she turned to religion early to keep a closer connection to what she left behind in her country. Religion has kept her providence much of her life, but now ironically it confines her mental and physical well-being because it limits her perceptions of what she is capable of in her relationship with my father. I struggle with how to make her see this despite her knowing better. She’s rejected yet ultimately relented to many of my siblings and I’s actions and choices over our lives, showing her adjustment to Western culture and values and has spent 20 years teaching in public schools, yet in this she can’t find the strength to raise her voice and be heard. It’s not as if she hasn’t many times won out against my father, but now to take his keys or assume control of their accounts seems like a fundamental betrayal to his power over her. . I don’t know, I love her, and try so hard to see her point of view now because she’s always come around for me, but in this I cant help but feel powerless to a slow crushing certainty that she is consciously bringing more pain upon herself and it breaks my heart to see it.
Brandon Dela Cruz
When I was visiting some old teachers who’ve inspired me back in high school, I met a very peculiar man. He seemed to be a security guard of the school of sorts, I wasn’t too sure at the time and even now. But, when I was waiting for my teacher’s class to end, I was approached by this man and thought to myself, “Well, looks like I’m going to be in a lot of trouble.” He walked up to me and asked what I was doing on campus, to which I responded that I was simply waiting for the current class period to end to talk to some of my old teachers. I figured telling the truth would be my best option and hopefully get me out of most trouble; I was even prepared to make a mad dash off of school property too! Instead of instantly reprimanding me though, the man sat down next to me and said, “Oh wow, did you graduate from here?” I told him of course, and the main reason I was visiting was to give an update to my teachers. Then, a conversation sparked from this exchange. I went on to talk about my situation straight out of high school: getting nearly rejected by all the universities I applied to, except for a couple, and that I was going to a community college to better myself academically and personally. But, when the man started to talk about his life, it felt surreal. This man was a high school drop out. He left his education behind to help support his family by getting a job (I forget exactly where). He told me how his family was struggling to get by, but were not totally entrenched. When I asked him what he wanted to do if he hadn’t dropped out, he said he wanted to continue at an art school because he was really into graffiti art. He said that graffiti was always something that he thought he could improve the image of and wasn’t something that was only used to deface property. This entire conversation probably only happened in about 15 minutes, but in that time, I learned about this man’s life and his aspirations. When we parted, he didn’t seem like he was going to report me for being on campus illegally (a visitor’s pass was needed). But, the one thing I will always be mad at myself for is that I never caught his name. I learned about this nameless man’s life whose upbringing will inspire me to keep moving forward and follow my goals in life. Every time I recall this story, I always think about what would have it been like if I had been living with this man’s conditions. I probably would gave up and completely neglect my dreams to solely work for the better of my family. However, I think I understand why this man brought up his interest in graffiti art. He still wanted something to chase, even with his family needing him to work. He wanted to believe that he could do something for himself later on in life and hopefully achieve what he wanted to set out in the first place if he had the right opportunities to do so. If a man like that can still dream, I can as well.
For the first self intervention Spring 2018, don’t throw anything away for a week. Afterwards, sort everything and figure out what you should do with each element. Log your experience below. If you have no place to put the compost, maybe we can bring it to class and get someone to take it up to the SEF.
I have got to admit that is difficult to keep all of the trash I produced in a week. I went to two different farmers markets and did not have a trash bag or means of transporting the garbage so I threw it away. I found that I went for the blow drier in the bathroom or went for an old fashion pants dry off. I was impressed with how little waste I produce at home. I cook a lot for myself and do large meal preps. The waste ends up pretty minimal. I also try to go to them meat counter not the prepackaged to avoid the foam. I also found myself looking to buy recyclable items Here is my photo:
For this intervention, it was difficult for me to save everything because I never knew how much trash I would produce within a week. Although, a lot of the items I thought were essential such as floss, food packages, and toilet paper (did not keep), I found that I over use paper towels and paper ultimately. I use a lot of paper towels mainly for cleaning dishes, and countertops. I think I could really cut that waste out by using a re-usable rag and washing it when it gets dirty. I use a lot of paper to study and I like to write rather than type my notes, but maybe for the sake of this class, I should start taking notes on my computer. I also drink a lot of tea and coffee and I think I should find an alternative to drinking it, since I use so many tea bags and coffee filters. I’ll probably end up going to front porch to have a cup of coffee and make tea only when I really crave it. This experience was eye opening for me and made me realize how much waste an average person produces. I was also being more conservative with my trash during this week since I was saving it and would probably produce more trash when I’m not thinking about. After this week, I want to be more aware of what I am consuming and figure out ways to reduce my waste as much as possible.
My project began Saturday April 14th.
Before starting this self-intervention, I felt like I really had to change my mind set so I could take it more seriously, and I am glad I did that.
This self-intervention was in both ways easier and more difficult than I had expected. The easy part was being able to collect all of my trash and separate it into proper bags while at home. The harder part was to remember that no matter where I was, I had to keep that trash with me to bring home and add it to my collection. Not only was I aware that I started being more conscientious about disposing of my trash, recyclables, and compostables, I also became aware of how much extra stuff I was purchasing that led to me carrying more disposables. This was a challenge for me but I managed to get along just fine without having those impulse purchases of random crap. I loved that aspect of this project because I am definitely more aware of how much I didn’t really think about what I was buying and how I would dispose of it afterwards. Now I go grocery shopping, or shopping for anything, and am conscious of the harmful impacts I am contributing to and I WANT to be better about it all.
I think this project was so necessary and helpful, and could really make a great change if everyone could see the benefit of doing this.
This intervention was more difficult than I expected. I constantly forgot to put the little wasteful products, like tissues, paper, and food waste, into my garbage bag. It was also hard to keep trash on me when I went out or during school. It was so easy to through it away in a garbage can I was passing by without thinking twice about it. Although the total garbage collected does not exactly reflect the amount of waste I produced, it still made me recognize how wasteful I am. A lot of the garbage came from processed food or getting food to go from a restaurant. During this time, I tried to minimize the amount of snacks I ate that are individually packaged as well as use reusable containers instead of plastic bags for lunch. This assignment made me more conscious about the products I bought and made me truly ask myself, “Do I really need this” or “Can I substitute this item with something more environmentally friendly”. The one thing my roommates and I do if we don’t have time to do dishes, is use paper plates. Since the intervention started we have used less and I personally make sure I have enough time to make food and clean so I am not in a rush so I’m less inclined to use the paper plates. Because of this intervention, I am more aware of the waste I produce and I believe I make better decisions in what I consume. I think I will try this again and be better at collecting the trash I make so I can get a better perspective of how much I really consume. I started April 11th and ended April 18th, I just kept forgetting to post about it.
Last Thursday, I began my self-intervention on my daily use of garbage. This experience was far more challenging than I expected, not only because I forgot to save the plastic I was using sometimes, but also because I came to see how much plastic I still use, regardless of my resuasable containers and water bottles. Through this intervention, I did not save anything unsanitary (i.e. bathroom items) because those items are what I consider necessities and their consumption isn’t something I plan to stop. (I already try to use these items sparingly). What I did save was any cups, wrappers or otherwise unnecessary plastic or paper I used. What I came to see was that most of my plastic and garbage consumption is from foods: granola bars, chip bags, produce bags, etc. So then, I began thinking about alternative for these foods and I realized that none of these exact foods are really necessary. There are many substitutions offered in the bulk section of grocery stores, like at Cali Fresh. Instead of purchasing the rewrapped Lara granola bars I eat, I can purchase date bites in bulk, which are exactly the same food item, just without the brand name.
This intervention was so necessary and I wish I had taken the assignment more sternly. I am considering doing it again on my own time and saving everything, food items included, to really see the magnitude of my garbage consumption. This project made me realize how much unnecessary plastic I consume, despite my previous efforts to be consciences of it. I have always dreamed of making my own compost and maybe my next self-intervention will be the start of it.
My project began on Friday, April 13th, slightly later than when I wanted to start because I would forget to collect my trash until the end of the day. I was very rigorous about collect all of my trash everywhere I go, including social events. I would say that I cook more than an average college student so a lot of my landfill and recycles came from food package. About half of my compost came from produces that went bad before I could use them, and other half is food scraps from cooking. During this time period, I avoided using landfill products like multilayer packages and single-use plastics, but there were a few circumstances where I had no choice but use these products. Although I’ve been trying to live more eco-conscious since I stopped purchasing animal products, a lot of the things I buy and use are still not environmentally friendly. The reason for that is mostly for convenience. This intervention has made me even more conscious of how I can live to my values for the environment, and introducing new waste-free practices into my daily routine. The bag on top is landfill, on the right is recycle, and on the left is compost.
This intervention actually had me a little surprised. I expected that by the end I would have accumulated a lot more trash than I actually did. In the beginning I found it very difficult to remember to keep my trash when I was out in public. Eventually this got easier and easier with time, but towards the end of the week I was still slipping up. I think the reason I had a lot less trash than I expected was due to the fact that I do somewhat already have a tendency to use reusable items like Tupperware for my packed lunches. But I have noticed a large accumulation of plastic Starbucks cups—I had about 9. I think something I could work on is investing in a reusable tumbler for my iced coffees. Overall, this intervention was very informative on the amount of waste I am producing and how I can better fix it.
I enjoyed the intervention of saving my trash for a week because I had to take a lot of trash out when I was at home with my family for spring break and I started to wonder where most of our trash came from and how much trash I produced. The most challenging parts of the intervention for me were to remember to keep my trash while on the go, and figuring out what to do with the “gross” trash such as an apple core that molded and a raw meat package. I also realized that more than one person can be responsible for trash when I was with my boyfriend for a day and we prepared and shared food.
On the first day of the intervention, I ordered a pizza and then realized how much waste a pizza box produces! The employee offered me peppers, parmesan cheese, paper plates, and napkins. At first I accepted the offer but I then realized that I really only wanted or needed the napkins. I was happy to see that I was becoming more conscious of the trash I was creating in just one day. For the remainder of the intervention, I mostly produced my usual amount of trash to see what it would look like after a week.
In the end when I tried to sort my trash, I realized that I didn’t actually know how to sort it as well as I thought I would be able to so I did a little research and made my best guesses. For now I will have to throw away my trash because it is getting gross but when I learn more and don’t live in an apartment anymore I would probably like to start a garden with compost.
I have been saving my trash for the past week. I was actually surprised about how I did not generate a large amount of trash. The majority of my trash came from frozen meals from Trader Joes. I realized that items wrapped in tiny packages (such as the Costco fruit snack boxes) generate a very large amount of trash. It was hard for me to collect trash from places that I ate out at and to keep the trash from the food I ate at school. I realized that I lot of the food I eat is either not pre packaged, such as fruits and vegetables, or I food that I can use again and store in reusable containers.
This past week I have been saving my trash in my room. I thought this is the next best thing to carrying it with me, which would be the best way to do this assigntment. The hardest part of this assigntment was actually remembering to save all of my trash. There were a few times when I was reminded and had to pick some thing
I saved the trash I made throughout the week in my house. I found it was pretty easy to store it at home however at school I kept forgetting to keep my trash. Reflecting on this helped me more easily understand my ability to dispose of any material item I am done with. When I am done with some sort of material like a plastic container I rarely ever wonder if it will be useful for me at home for reuse before throwing it away. Furthermore, I realized that the reason I felt very little burden in keeping my trash stored at home is how large my apartment is. While compared to places in Slo it is average but many communities around the world live in much tighter quarters. If I had extended family living with me, having a pile of trash would be more of a burden.
Much of my trash came from premade vegetarian protein substitutes like tofu and vege-burgers. This is kind of ironic because it is very common to become vegetarian for environmental reasons. It is a shame because I don’t know where to get bulk vegetarian food.
To the right I have all of my recyclables and to the left are my compostable products and landfill trash. Also there is a real old gross birthday cake in a plastic container that I didn’t want to take out of the bag. It became a bit of a running joke because quickly in the week I had two empty wine glasses. So for the rest of the week I didn’t drink wine or have people over because I didn’t want to add another bottle to my pile and look bad. So I guess in that regard this intervention was successful.
This is my trash for the week as well as two of my roommates trash who are also in this class (Jessica and Jocelyn) because we all live together. I did not try to limit my trash usage this week but instead wanted to see what trash I actually produced in an average week. In this trash are a lot of food containers and packaging. I used plastic cups and paper plates more than I should have. Sometimes I get in a hurry and do not have time to use actual plates and clean them, so I use paper plates and bring them on the go. Also, when we have people over, we give them plastic cups because we do not have enough glass cups for everyone to use. Although I make a lot of trash, I do still continue to recycle all the cardboard and plastics. We did not save many of the food waste because it made the apartment smell so we had to take those out. I think I could definitely make an effort to produce less waste and to reuse containers. This opened my eyes up to how some people in other countries may not have the ability to just make a lot of trash and throw it away- and have someone else deal with it and get “rid” of it.
Saving my trash this past week was much more difficult than I thought, but the most surprising part of this assignment was seeing the amount of trash that I had accumulated over the week. It was hard to remember at first to not throw away anything when I was out at work or eating out on campus, so I had to leave a post-it note on my regular trash can reminding me to hold onto my trash. I often found myself using more tupper-ware containers and washable utensils because I realized how many plastic bags I kept throwing away. Another thing that I realized was that I use way too many paper towels. So, by the end of the week I stopped using paper towels and primarily used washable dish towels to cut down on this waste. Within my trash, I had a lot of empty cardboard boxes from grocery shopping, which will be recycled, and a few fruit peels/ leftovers that could be composted. I had more trash this week because I went grocery shopping and had to clean out the expired foods within my fridge. In the past, I never really thought about how much trash and waste I accumulated over a week, especially what I was going to do with it/ where it was going to go, but now I know that I need to start doing my part to correctly dispose of it to help create a healthier environment. One of my roommates is very good about saving waste and not disposing of things that could be saved for later, so this week has helped me create more environment-friendly habits. The last couple days of the self-intervention, I didn’t even have to think about saving my trash because it had become so habitual. A few things that I will take away from this assignment are that I need to stop using so many ziploc bags or paper towels, I need to be more conscious of placing recyclables in their proper can, and also to not waste any leftover foods, but instead to store them in the fridge for later.
After keeping my trash for a week, I realized just how much waste I accumulate from food packaging specifically. As a vegetarian, I pride myself on trying my best to stick to whole fruits and vegetables, plant based proteins, and other sustainable raw foods. My primary reasons for following this lifestyle are environmental, but despite these values that I hold, I managed to gather a whole lot of trash over six days. Even though I purchased foods that I thought were environmentally friendly and brought my own reusable grocery bags to the store, I still made the mistake of using the small plastic bags the grocery store provides for fruits and vegetables. As of right now I do not compost, but after this self intervention, I realized that this is something I should probably start doing. I also had to gather lots of cardboard products that my other foods were packaged in. Additionally, it was my birthday this week, so I received several packages and cards in the mail that all generated paper waste as well. The boxes took up a lot of space, and I could tell this irritated my roommate. Fortunately, the boxes were reused to store all the garbage I accumulated. I tried to avoid eating out for the week, and when I needed to eat on campus, I remembered to bring my own utensils and carry my food in reusable containers that I already owned. I did a good job of this, but I realized that a lot of my paper waste also consisted of things like napkins, paper towels, and tissues. I used a lot of reusable containers, but I need to find a way to reduce the amount of paper waste I generate. I need to clean with towels instead of paper towels, and I should find another way to apply my makeup remover at night in order to cut back.
At the beginning of the week, I expected to accumulate much more trash than I actually did. Since I use reusable coffee cups and cook and eat the majority of my meals at home, most of my trash only consisted of plastic water bottles, wrappers of snacks I take on campus with me, food packaging left over after cooking, and paper towels. I was able to fit everything into one paper Trader Joe’s bag, but the trash was definitely filled to the brim and almost overflowing. While I really made an effort to keep all of my generated trash, I was guilty of throwing away apple cores and banana peels on campus because I didn’t want to keep them in my backpack while on campus all day. This exercise made me realize that a significant amount of trash that I accumulate can simply be eliminated by carrying a reusable water bottle with me rather than disposable plastic ones. After I really became aware of the materials I threw away every day, I found that the amount of paper towels I used every single day was appalling. This is such a waste of materials and it can be so easily fixed by using cloth towels instead of paper ones. Knowing that I would be keeping all of the trash I was responsible for throughout the week, I found myself being much more conscious about the materials I was throwing away. I found myself making it my personal goal to keep my trash in one Trader Joe’s bag. I have never had to think about the impact of my personal trash in this way before, and after this week I think it would be beneficial for everyone to do something like this to realize how much each person can accumulate in just a week. Today I recycled the Trader Joes bag and the recyclable contents inside and took the remainder of the trash to the dumpster outside my apartment. Overall this exercise has definitely changed my perspective on my personal waste generation and has motivated me to be much more mindful about the choices I make in my every day life that can reduce the amount of trash that I accumulate.
During this week, it was almost impossible to carry my trash because I went to Seattle halfway through the week and they wouldn’t really allow me to bring a bag of trash as a carry on. For the first half of the week, I accumulated a lot of recyclable trash– I tend to cook at home and many packages come with unnecessary packaging (for example, I do not need to use a separate plastic bag for every separate produce item I purchase). I also tend to drink many cups of coffee a day (this is a separate issue) and do not use reusable cups– so that added up into a tiny hill of 711, Scout, and Starbucks cups that accumulated in my kitchen. After I left for Seattle I decided to throw my trash away– my roommate began to complain and said I couldn’t leave a heaping pile of trash for four days while I was gone. (Reasonable.) However, when I went to Seattle, I went to a late night event that was BYOB– while leaving, I noticed trash everywhere. Beer cans overflowing, paper towels strung across the floor, cigarette buts crammed into odd places (the wall? Seemed to defy gravity), and various glass bottles of liquor smashed and unsmashed, all in a mildly damp basement. I wish I took a picture for class- it was actually upsetting, seeing that it’s an accepting, positive space full of respect for everyone at the show, but the attendees (myself included) didn’t really respect the earth or even think to sort the trash or bring personal water bottles. I didn’t get a photo, felt weird taking a photo of a party’s trash (although I’m sure I could’ve said it was some sort of art project) and I was in a rush to leave for my flight. Next intervention, I shall include 2 photos to make up for it.
My trash collection was kind of surprising by the end of the week for this first intervention. I expected much more than I actually accumulated. A lot of that comes from eating at home, and being able to store my fruits, vegetables, etc in their own containers. I think since switching to purchasing my food at the farmers markets, and reducing my reliance on the grocery store, I’ve reduced a lot of the “packaged” goods I consume. It was interesting just accumulating a collection of trash in my room. The normal disposition to keep a tidy room, leads me to constantly making sure things reach the bins. In keeping it around, and reflecting on that, I thought it was incredibly wonderful to just have a trash and recycling bin one can empty your own trash in to. I was in India recently, and the lack of trash collection or communal bins, whether on the street or inside building complexes, leads to trash just being dumped everywhere with a pervasive mentality of just drop your shit on the ground(sometimes literally!). The other thing I was reflecting on was that boxes have taken on a new prominence in my life since Amazon became a thing. They’re everywhere now, and they’re so sturdy, reusable, and big. I use them to store stuff, most often trash or more recycling. Its such a simple convenience, especially in the context of keeping your trash for a week, that you forget that the type of trash you have is also a luxury. In India people would be making homes from those things. Maybe as a result of this intervention I might start trying to do something with all those boxes.
Brandon Dela Cruz
During this entire week, it seems I only accumulated a tiny bit of trash than what I expected. I was able to fit all of it in a small plastic bag that I used to store my fruit in. Despite that, I was paying very close attention to what exactly I was tossing away and seeing if I could draw any conclusions to my lifestyle. Examining the entire pile at once, I noticed that my overall diet is not too appetizing. It seems all I really eat nowadays, since I am away from home and I never bothered to learn to cook the same meals my parents do, is very basic things like small bags of chips, some sandwiches, and an occasional bagel for a snack. Having said that however, I do cook some things that are more filling than this, but these meals do not go any farther than a simple omelette or some easy-to-fry Spam or sausages. I mostly avoid eating on campus because I put limits on myself in purchasing food when I can whip something up back at my apartment, a mere 15-minute walk. However, looking at this pile is making realize that I should really step up my game in actually making fresh, full meals that I can enjoy and feel a bit more healthy.
This activity made me feel more guilty than I have in a long time. It forced me into the realization that how I act in my everyday life does not align with my values because of routines ingrained within me. While on campus, I sometimes forgot about the assignment and threw my trash out; when I remembered, I would carry around loads of trash in my backpack or hand all day because I usually eat on campus when I can. Daily routines of mine could have less of an impact if I simply carried around reusable cups or packed my lunch the night before, but those thoughts only came in passing and were merely frequent blips that I didn’t pay much attention to. Now, at the end of the week, with no tasks to distract me, I face my ignorance. I do care for the environment, and I used to think I did more than an average person, but what about me is different? The fact that I am conscious of how unethical accepted practices are means nothing if I do not act in accordance. My excuses throughout the week were that I have been forgetful, or that it is too much of an inconvenience to change xyz, but excuses only allowed me to maintain my comfortable bubble of ignorance. I realize this bubble allows me to neglect so many of my values; with recent events at Cal Poly, how can I, as a woman of color, take part in questioning the misuse of power mentally and through conversation, but not take significant action? If I care about the environment so much, then why have I not unraveled my own harmful routines?
I believe the root of my issue lies in my perspective. I understand now that I must switch my observational lens from external to internal. How can I cause change externally if I have not looked inward and caused change within myself? If I do not live in accordance with my values, then I will be living behind an idealistic false identity. As of now, I will not claim to be anything. I will act in accordance of my beliefs and not let the familiarity and comfort of routine keep me from acting how I believe I should.
In regards to my trash bag, (keep in mind I live in a 4 person apartment with 8 people, so there is not a lot of space to keep a week’s worth of trash), my bag was taken out with the regular trash by one of my roommates. I will take the blame for that. Here is a photo of it on one of the last days.
This activity definitely made me more conscious of my decisions regarding waste generation. For the most part, I was able to compile my trash in one brown paper bag. However, there were times when I was on campus and either forgot to save certain trash or could not keep it in my backpack for the sake of it ruining the inside of my backpack before I had a chance to properly dispose it. On a daily basis, I try to pack my food for the day in reusable containers but sometimes it is more difficult because those containers add more weight compared to the standard sandwich baggies. Since I walk to and from school (20-30 minutes each way) and usually spend long days all over campus, it is easy for me to want to be kinder to my body, pack lighter, and use baggies that I can throw away throughout the day to lighten my load. This exercise has forced me to consider other ways that I can use less baggies and contribute to sustainability.
Most of my trash consisted of organic material such as banana peels, apple cores, and other vegetable waste. My trash also included cardboard, plastic and paper bags, and used paper towels. I have noticed that this week was filled with many “finishes”. This means that I finished off a lot of my food supply such as my oatmeal, cheerios, frozen veggies and fruit, and other produce. Having finished off a lot of these products, I have found myself throwing away more trash in the form of packaging and unreusable containers. This has gotten me thinking about ideas to reuse packaging. For example, perhaps the cheerios company could create a reusable container that consumers could buy with their first cheerios purchase. Then, they could install dispensers at the store so that people can bring their reusable containers and fill them up with cereal as one would do with jelly beans or dried fruit. This way, packaging waste would be eliminated. I am dreaming of a world where everything is in dispensers at grocery stores. I also became aware of just how many paper towels I use on a daily basis because my roommates are not very clean and ruin all our towels in the kitchen. I am aware that I need to set up a better system or perhaps buy my own towel to use. Additionally, after observing pollution prevention at the Avenue (on campus) for a class, I am realizing that composting opportunities are few and far between. While I do not have composting near my house, this has made me want to be proactive and get my apartment complex involved with composting as well.
This week before I began the intervention, I tried to think of ways I can reduce my personal amount of trash, both so I could help the environment and not have to carry too much around with me. My class days are very long so I pack a lunch in reusable tupperware, but I pack snacks in plastic baggies that I tend to throw away at the end of the day. So, this past week I challenged myself to reuse the plastic baggies every day to try to reduce the amount of plastic waste I had. It worked pretty well and ended up only using two compared to the eight to ten baggies I would use on a typical week. However, I quickly realized that plastic was not my biggest problem. As you can see through my healthy snacking choices, the most trash I collected was Reese’s Peanut Butter cup wrappers. They are my guilty pleasure and I can go through a small bag very quickly. What I did not realize about them until this week was that Reese’s individually double wraps each small cup. That means that per cup there are two wrappers that get discarded. I quickly realized how wasteful double wrapping the cups are and thought that if they only packaged the cup once, it was greatly reduce their footprint. The other items in my trash consisted of a ruffles bag, a plastic container that had pasta in it, some napkins, a drier sheet, and some cliff bar wrappers. I accidentally threw away a Subway bag at the beginning of this week that should have been included in there as well. This intervention made me more aware of the amount of trash I collected throughout a week and lead me to think of new alternatives such as reusing plastic, that I would not have thought of before.
It was more difficult then I thought to remember to save my trash during the day, but it made me more aware of what I was eating on campus. I was more willing to bring my own lunch and food to school that had a limited amount of waste then to buy something on campus that would contain multiple layers of wrapping or large trash pieces. I’ll admit there were multiple occasions I would forget during school and throw my trash away, but it got easier towards the end of the week. It was interesting to see the waste I collected and sort it according to recycling and compost. The majority of my recyclables consisted of different cardboard boxes and plastic wrappings. There were a few pieces that were not recyclables and would have to go to the landfill, but I tried to make an effort to check labels if they could be recycled. My apartment complex off campus does not have a compost bin, so I don’t usually have my own compost collection. However, after this intervention, I truly enjoyed having my own compost bag because it made me waste less food that I could either eat or save. Having a separate compost bag helped me realize how easy it is to help reduce food waste that goes into landfills. It also isn’t too difficult to bring my compost to one of the composting bins on campus, however it could be more convenient. My compost consists mainly of eggs shells, small food scraps, and a huge amount of watermelon rinds (from only one watermelon!). I felt bad adding so much food scraps from the watermelon rind into the compost so I looked to see if the rind of watermelon has any other uses. It turns out that watermelon rind has great nutritional value, so I tried out a few juicing recipes online but it still left some food waste after. Overall, I learned that collecting and separating my trash made me more aware of my own trash usage, inspired me to be more conscious of reducing my waste, and showed me how much I miss composting. It also seems like there is great potential for projects that work on expanding compost to San Luis Obispo housing and reducing trash waste from campus dining.
I started collecting all my trash on Monday morning, and I am stopping now on Saturday because my trash smells bad and is cluttering my apartment. I learned that collecting your trash is inconvenient. It is inconvenient to carry around and inconvenient to store at your home. This helped me realize that if it is inconvenient for me, it is surely inconvenient for the poor people who cannot afford to live far away from a landfill. Instead of just moving this problem (trash) to another place, I was encouraged to find a way to re-use things instead of throwing them away or recycling them. I found that plastic items are extremely useful and easy to rinse and re-use. This week I was reminded of what my friend once told me: “There’s a reason recycle is last, re-use is second to last, and reduce is first.” It takes energy to recycle a material. If you re-use a material that’s great, but it still ends up in a landfill eventually. If you reduce, you can cut down on things you don’t need, which really solves the problem in my opinion. At subway, I would ask myself, “Do I need a bag with this sub or can I re-use an old bag, or simply go without?”
After doing a similar assignment for a class a few years ago in high school, I have made a conscious decision to be aware of how much trash I create. I try my best to avoid excess plastic packaging, I bring my own bags to the store, I use reusable containers and utensils. I thought I was a very aware person. After collecting my trash this week, I was pretty shocked. Since going to college, I have come to rely on a lot of meals that come in plastic packaging and cardboard boxes because of how much I hate cooking. Not only is this affecting my sodium intake, I now see the environmental impact – I collected a lot of plastic. The plastic made me consider how a lot of trash is a convenience that we are lucky to have. I rarely buy whole fruits and vegetables. I only buy things that are already cut up and likely mixed with other things that have also already been cut up and usually its all frozen together. I do this because if I buy the ingredients for my favorite Trader Joe’s Greek Salad separately, then not only do I have to put it together myself, I also have to commit to eating Greek Salads all week so that I use up al the ingredients before they go back. Plastic packaging is a luxury and a convenience that allows me to have a choice in what I want to eat for the rest of the week. I can be picky about my foods and cravings because plastic packaging is there to protect me from expiration dates. Currently, I am choosing convenience over impact and I need to question my reliance on pre-packed, frozen foods and their external costs.
I started April 12, I remember because I took home chicken bones from Farmer’s Market with my family. I decided that this quarter, I’m going to put compost in with the compost; but everything else, I’m going to try to carry around with me – because it seems more and more that we really don’t recycle things in the recycle bins but rather put them in recycle landfills. There are always boundary problems… where does my waste end and society’s begin? I have a large bottle of olive oil from our family. I pick up some garbage off the street. I’m carrying both with me to recognize the convenience of throwing away that we all take for granted. But I picked up someone’s discarded lunch on the 6th floor today and threw it out because I’m not going to carry around someone else’s lunch. I finished this evening… Wednesday April 18, one day early. Robin sent me a list of food to buy at Smart and Final on the way home… I can’t carry anything home because my backpack is full of garbage! So, I rode home and took the stuff out of my pack and went to the store with an empty backpack on the tandem that has a crate on the back. Carrying my garbage with me raised the stakes a little. I started thinking twice about using anything that would entail waste. You see below three small piles: recyclables (left), trash (front), plastic bags that require special recycling (back, right). Full disclaimer: We went camping last Saturday – Sunday. I’m not sure about what exactly happened with our trash, but I did collect everyone’s compost and bring it home.
For the third self intervention, come up with what you are going to do and do it. Be creative!
For my final intervention I decided to refrain from eating meat for a week. Meat has always been a staple in my diet, whether it has been chicken or red meat. In the past I have stopped eating red meat for extended periods of time so I decided to take it a step further and completely remove meat from my diet. The first thing I noticed was the love I have for vegetables and how I had previously underutilized them in my diet. I also found myself spending less money on food than usual. Although I only went 6 days with this self intervention, I can see myself trying it again based on the benefits I experienced during the trial.
I had decided after the second self-intervention that I wanted to make the third self-intervention about self-reflection and awareness. My goal for the week was to actively remind myself to self-reflect and be aware of what I was doing, how I was feeling, and what I was saying. This is a tough thing to get used to out of the blue, since the days are busy and it is very easy to go through a whole day without ever checking in on yourself. I decided to set two alarms throughout the day to encourage myself to stop and think, one at 2 pm and one at 6 pm. The other two times for check-ins would be after waking up and before going to bed. The primary goal wasn’t to launch a large scale self-analysis project, it was more to develop the habit of casually checking in with myself and reviewing my state of mind.
The notes I wrote during these quick self-restrictions consisted mainly of what I had done so far, how I was feeling in that moment, or what was on my mind. They started of very simple. Just woke up, feeling a little tired, had a weird dream about so and so, etc. The notes weren’t very substantial, which was fine, since the point of the self-intervention wasn’t to provide detailed, psycho-analytic notes on my mental state. It was around the third day when I started to notice the habit gaining traction. I was feeling reserved, quiet, and craving solitude, so I went and found a spot to sit on Dexter lawn. When I sat down, I recognized the emotions I was feeling and tried to figure out their root cause. After a few minutes of reflection, I was able to identify the issue as anxiousness surrounding my relationship and was then able to come to terms with it and let it go.
To sum my self-intervention journey, I would say I learned a key few things. I learned that I have the power to let things go and to remind myself that crappy things pass and that there are always things to be grateful for. I also started to gain a better insight into what things or situations resulted in emotional responses. Through self-reflection, I can learn better who I am and how to deal with life around me.
For my third self intervention, I decided to take cold showers rather than warm ones. Although the first couple showers were difficult, I quickly became used to it. I found that I spent far shorter time in the shower because I spent less time enjoying the comfort of steaming hot water. Now, I typically spend only about a couple minutes in the shower, which is about a third of what I used to spend when taking warm showers. Outside of utility savings, I found that overcoming the mental battle of taking cold showers was a great way to wake up in the mornings. I no longer craved coffee in the mornings because the ice cold water would wake me up and keep me feeling alert. By the end of this self intervention, I now prefer cold showers over warm ones and plan to continue this as part of my daily routine.
For my self intervention I spent the week without listening to music. I did this in part to help me concentrate more on my various projects and schoolwork that I had because usually when I am listening to music I am not doing anything else as I tend to get lost in it a lot. This was difficult for me to do because I am a very musical person. I tend to spend around 2 hours each day playing around with music, or finding new stuff to listen to. After about a day and a half without it, I noticed I was less excited about my day. Not to be dramatic, but everything just seemed a little more grey. I made it 4 days until I eventually found a little bit of time and an excuse to give in. It was neat to kind of realize how much time I use up on just one particular interest of mine. I did get more work done than I usually do because of it. However, I also realized how much more important music is to me than I thought. I do not think that I will ever go without listening to music for that long of a time again.
For this intervention, I decided to try to not make any negative comments or complaints about anything for the entire week. I sometimes get in the habit of complaining about certain things, such as school or job searching. Most of the time they are things that I really have no reason to complain about. I have realized that my room mates and some of my friends do the same thing. I think it’s important for people to be able to let out their frustrations and vent, but I also think I often fail to see the good things. This intervention was inspired by one of my economics teachers who one day during his lecture said, “If you call something bad, how can you see the good in it?” This brought to my attention how influential our words can be on the way we perceive our experiences. I think by habitually pointing out the negative aspects of certain things, such as schoolwork, I start to only notice those things and miss a lot of the good. Going the entire week focusing on only saying positive things forced me to think about things in a more positive light. It also made me realize negative things that I often say without thinking about. For example, If my room mate is complaining about how time consuming masteres program is, normally I might say something like, that’s a bummer man, Im sorry. During this week, I tried to respond to these types of situations by trying to find something positive to say. Another example is talking about politics. My room mates and I often talk about the unfortunate events taking place in our country’s government, and during this week I made an effort to be more positive about the whole situation. This intervention was a challenge, and I definitely was not perfectly in line with my goal for the entire week, but I found a lot of value in constantly trying to turn negative comments into positive ones, and I want to continue to make this effort.
Four years of training to be an engineer and I’ve come to the point where I’m conscious of every hour in the day in my 168 hour week. I frequently have 80hr work weeks and when I have 80 hours of work and include a 1.5hr/day to eat, an hour to get place to place, an hour for the rec, and then time for laundry etc, I’m left with just under 60 hours. That’s eight hours a night to sleep. I’ve leaned my schedule to the point where I pick the first thing I see on restaurant menus, and I buy angel hair pasta, because it cooks faster. As such, I focused my self intervention on slowing down. My goal was to recognize the world around me and to live in the moment, so I decided I would take a photo a day of something around me. I found that I really enjoy taking macro photos which are photos that zoom in on something tiny leaving only one part in focus. The self intervention taught me to appreciate the environment that I am a part. More importantly, it taught me that there doesn’t need to be constant energy expenditure to reach a point of satisfaction. The world does not need to keep bustling to be happy. There are little moments that are overlooked, and there are pieces that are forgotten and destroyed in the rush of society. I’m going to try to keep continuing my photos, so I stay connected.
Similar to Kyle, my car has been out of use for about a month now. At first, I was frustrated, but since then I have come to realize that in a town like SLO, having a car isn’t all that necessary. So, for the past month or so, I have only been biking (or walking) to my destinations. I’ve found that I feel much more in shape from all of the cardio that I normally wouldn’t have had, and it’s nice to know that I am able to lessen my impact on the environment. Instead of driving to the store to get groceries, I will just ride my bike and bring an empty back pack and get a few things at a time. This has helped me reduce overall waste as well, because I tend not to waste food when I buy in smaller amounts. It’s been quite an experience, and has made me much more sensitive to planning things ahead because I know that I might need more time to get somewhere. I will admit that I did drive my car once recently, but only because I had to be somewhere that it wasn’t realistic to bike. I plan to continue this behavior unless necessary — I’ve come to really enjoy the time I spend biking, there’s something quite liberating about being able to travel using only your own energy.
For someone who does zero waste practices at home and at school as best as I can, I still have much more to learn. While I did not store my trash daily, I decided to perform a waste audit on my own apartment. As I live alone, I could say that I am the sole contributor of the waste, save for a few guests. To do so, I dumped out my trash bags and emptied my recycling bin to find any trends in my general waste and find ways to improve it. I noticed a few things; first, I use a lot of cans, for beans, and tomatoes and this was the bulk of it. Secondly, plastic milk jugs and paper towels were the other big contributor of the waste. I have decided that not only would it be better for the environment, it would also be better on my wallet to by bigger multi-use cans for tomatoes and buy beans in bulk and soak them myself. I was also looking into cardboard cartons for milk and buying dish rags to replace a lot of the paper towels usage. I still have much to learn and improve upon but I believe that this is a good start. I hope to encourage those around me; friends and family to evaluate their own waste and find similar ways to reduce it.
Cole Van Brunt
For the third self intervention I chose to meditate every morning for 20 minutes. I would start the session by sitting out in the backyard closing my eyes and purely focus on my breathing. I would do this for a long as I could until my mind started racing and thinking about all the little things I had to do that day (maybe 5 minutes). This proved to be quite useful as I often found myself remembering small details of schoolwork that I had forgotten to do all together. At around the 10 minute mark I used a technique Jordan Peterson teaches his psychology classes. I would close my eyes and imagine where I would like to be in five years. I tried to make this imaginary place as real and reachable as possible all the while keeping it to the highest standard. This was my heaven. I focused on relationships and career far more than any random material wishes, and this allowed me to lay down a framework for a path to get to this desired ‘heaven’ in five years. This idea has now become my goal that I am pulling myself towards at all times. Then I would take 5 minutes and create a ‘hell’, the last place in the world I would want to be in five years. I found that this ‘hell’ was a very clear picture and made me realize that we all know our weaknesses, and to make yourself think about them, and where they could bring you granted me a sense of motivation as something to run away from at all costs. This exercise has given me some clarity into what I value in life and what weaknesses I have and must be aware of. I recommend both the meditation and the heaven/hell exercise to everyone.
For our third self intervention I decided to try to go each day using only $3 per day to eat. This intervention was planned because I actually ran out of money in my account to eat with for the last week of may. I purchased beans, rice, frozen chicken and broccoli. This all totaled 22.67 which I rounded down to about 3$ per day to eat. Every day I ate the same thing, rice with beans in the morning, chicken, rice and broccoli at night. Many nights I found my stomach grumbling, hungry for more food but I realized that eating much more calories was what I was used to and my body was fully capable of functioning on the calories I had. This intervention taught me a lot about how not just a person a developing nation lives but more about how many people live in my own country even my own city. It showed me that for many people food is about getting their nutrients, not about a variety of all sorts of experiences and tastes like I am normally used to. I found that 3$ is enough but I was pretty miserable and the days that I was active took a huge toll. I found myself open the refrigerator hoping I could eat something more without even thinking about it. This week also showed me how often I visit my kitchen because I’m bored and not fully because I’m hungry. Many times I found myself wandering into the kitchen even though I knew I was performing this intervention all week.
For our third self-intervention, I decided to only take cold showers this week after working with DIGDEEP this quarter to supply hot water to Navajo families. We were working with families whose reality was houses without running or hot water and I realized I couldn’t think of the last time I had taken a cold shower. This week I was reminded how difficult this can be and how much I took instant access to hot, running water for granted. I did find that my showers were much shorter, I was more inclined to turn off the water when I didn’t need it and took less frequent showers though. It took a lot of convincing myself to get in that shower though. Even though it is summer in a relatively warm part of the earth (warmer than it is at the project site for most of the year) and I tried to take a shower at midday when it was hot outside, it was still difficult to do, and it is very hard to imagine doing that before dawn during the winter in a very cold climate, which is what many of them have to do. This intervention was very helpful in reminding me to not take things like hot water for granted, and never belittle difficulties in other people’s lives. I think it can be easy to forget how much small hardships can affect the lives of others when it is not a hardship that we have to live with. I also want to start incorporating cold showers into my routine more to improve my water and energy usage and improve my comfort in living outside of my comfort zone.
My intervention consisted in reading an entire page of a random book from my book shelf in the morning.
The intention of this intervention was to do something that would impact daily thinking in an unexpected way.
Reading a page of text amounts to about 250 words. Each word is tarried over as understanding is attempted, despite the fact there is no context. The pages cited below were read in the last five days. The page decision for tomorrow is pending.
Karl Marx, The Comminust Manifesto, page 109.
Beer, Statistical Dynamics, page 887.
Robert Jordan, The Dragon Reborn, page 371.
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Manca, [Spanish version] page 99.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, page 585
Context is naturally sought to understand the rest of the passage, and without the context, an understanding of the author’s message was ungraspable. During these moments of confusion, the passages were still meaningful, in part due to their grammatical structure and partly to the meaning of the words in isolation. It has been intriguing to discover that there is still so much meaning encapsulated by the syntax and diction alone. Moreover, value is found when thinking more carefully about how people speak and the words they choose separate from the context of the discussion. This focus on word choice developed into a habit of making puns by taking words that are spoken metaphorically out of context by treating them as literal. Interlocutor frustration was observed by facial redness, unresponsiveness, prolonged silence or irritable tones. The main insight gained from this intervention is that metaphors and personification were used in almost every conversation conducted. As a brief mental excerise, it served to introduce a variety of words into daily thought. As an influence on daily thought, it changed regular conversations by breaking the previous habit of contextualization.
This intervention wasn’t planned but I thought it would be a good idea to write about. Due to car troubles, I was without a car for a little over a week. I had always wanted to try to become less reliant on cars for my transportation and this was a good time to experience it. Using friends, roommates, and the bus I was able to do all the activities I normally would. I noticed that it was a lot less stressful traveling because I did not have to worry about finding a parking spot on campus or wasting my gas getting to school. One reason I never tried this was because I always thought that the bus takes forever, but after riding it multiple times I realized that it took no longer than my usual trip would have taken. It also helped e feel more at ease knowing that my car was not contributing to the GHG emissions of the planet. It was a very enlightening experience, and it has made me come to appreciate public transportation and car pooling on a whole new level.
My final intervention consisted of meditating every morning, right after I wake up.The goal was to meditate before I do anything in the morning including going to the restroom. Ever since I heard from a distant relative that meditation positively impacted his life, I wanted to try it, but I never gave myself the time to meditate. Thanks to this class, now I have to give myself time dedicated to improving my life and mentality. At first it was difficult to wake up 20 minutes earlier than I usually do. I didn’t want to wake up so I tried meditating in bed, which I found it didn’t work out because I fell back to sleep. The next time I tried meditating I made myself go downstairs and meditate on the floor. I wanted to start reflecting on my past and future life choices, especially since I will be graduating this summer. I have a lot of life decisions to make in the near future that it has been stressing me out. I noticed that when I was more stress about schoolwork, it was so much harder to concentrate on meditation, because my mind will fly to my school work and all my other responsibilities. Meditating in that state of mind did not end up working, it ended up being time to dedicate to my to-do list. The times were I didn’t stress about schoolwork, I noticed that my day came out to be more bright and hopeful about the future.
Starting last Friday, I attempted to go a week without listening to music, podcasts, or anything else that could serve as a distraction. I hid my headphones in a drawer and deleted spotify. Unfortunately, I gave up on Tuesday night after deciding that the intervention was interfering with my ability to work. I have some focus/concentration issues, so being able to multitask is very important. As the week went on, I felt myself growing more and more frustrated. I think that if it weren’t dead week and I wasn’t under so much stress, I would have found it much easier. I suspect that part of my difficulty stemmed from living in an area where I am constantly mentally stimulated with music, video, and interactivity. If I lived in an area where music is not constantly playing, I would have a much easier time not listening. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for music after this week. The world is so quiet.
For the third intervention, I decided to do something that Pete had suggested earlier in the quarter that directly relates to my group’s project, Water for the Navajo Nation. The families in the reservation receive 1200 gallons of water each month per household. Assuming an average of thirty days per month and an average of four people per family, this equates to 10 gallons of water per person per day. I decided to see what it would be like to live on just 10 gallons of water per day. The biggest change in my life was showering. I haven’t washed my hair in a week, which I normally do every other day. I have also only washed my body once during this week’s time. In an effort to stay under 10 gallons, I turned the water on and got my body wet, turned off the water, lathered up, and then quickly rinsed. However, I am still pretty sure that I went over 10 gallons of water that day. As a full disclaimer, I did not actually measure my water consumption each day. Instead, I was just exceptionally water conscious. On the last day, I decided to actually measure how much water I was using without changing the way I was living compared to the 6 days prior. I was happy to find out that I was indeed staying under 10 gallons of water (with the exception of the day I showered). Additionally, I did not include flushing the toilet as part of my water usage (they don’t have flushing toilets in the Navajo Nation). 10 gallons of water is really not much and it is very easy to surpass that amount in a day. I found myself counting down until I would be able to shower again (I felt pretty gross by day 7). However, something to keep in mind is that it isn’t only a week for the Navajo people. I knew I would be able to shower again in just 7 days, while this is their daily life, every day. It has made me more aware of the daily life struggles that the Navajo people go through and made me more appreciative of the simple things, such as showering.
This intervention for me was aimed at being more connected to what is going on around me and facing what I often try to avoid, Silence. I walk around most days with headphones in my ears trying to avoid the sounds of the world, but this week I did not use headphones at all and attempted to be more aware of the world around me. In addition, to make myself more comfortable in silence I tried my best not to speak to anyone first and only speak when someone spoke to me. Even then I tried to keep it short and soft. In retrospect, maybe dead week with all of its group projects and need for oral communication wasn’t an ideal place to do so and I ended up speaking a few times to voice a concern. The most striking realization is how many thoughts went through my head that I would have said, but now did not that really never needed to be said. In addition, not having something to draw away my attention was somewhat difficult at first, but became fairly comforting later on. When I responded to someone speaking to me, it felt as if my words held a larger weight than before and a soft speaking voice lead to easier understanding and reduction of conflicts. In all, I have learned that I can be much more comfortable in silence and not use audio as a crutch to avoid it. This intervention was to address an issue that I personally have not been comfortable with and saw this as an opportunity to grow as a person by reflecting on it. I am grateful I have been given the opportunity to thoughtfully reflect like this now, and all quarter.
For this self-intervention, I wanted to do something to change my diet and make it healthier. I already am a lacto-ovo vegetarian (meaning I eat dairy products and cheese but no meat or fish of any kind), so that wasn’t an option. My roommate is really into fitness and she tries to follow the Paleo diet so my self-intervention is sort of an inspiration of that. For a week, I only ate foods in the most natural form I would have been able to get them had I sourced them myself. So that meant no cheese or bread or anything that someone else physically made. But I still maintained my vegetarianism throughout this week, which proved to be difficult when I realized a lot of my protein sources are processed in some manner. I ate two dozen eggs over the course of the week, a lot of quinoa and beans, and A LOT of vegetables and fruit. I surprisingly did not find myself as hungry as I thought I initially would because I wasn’t eating less food, I was just eating more natural food, so I was constantly snacking on carrots or nuts or apple slices. The three hardest things that I missed in my daily diet was cheese, ice cream, and hot sauce. I still used spices to flavor my food but unfortunately hot sauce is not naturally occurring in the earth. Going forward, I find myself reaching less for processed and man-made snacks and more for naturally sourced fruits and vegetables instead. I was able to go to the grocery store and not buy a loaf of bread and I’m confident that I’ll be able to survive without it.
In this third self-intervention, I spent the past week going completely vegetarian. Although this wasn’t as big of a change in my own life that it would be for other people’s lives, I decided to use this week as a sort of experimental period of this change in my life. I have considered going vegetarian many times before, so this was a good opportunity for me to actually commit to doing so. I enjoyed implementing this food choice into my life for the most part because it allowed me to get creative in cooking and my meals, which I really enjoy doing. Overall, it was not too difficult of a transition, but there were some points during the past week that I did indeed wish this self-intervention had not come at the time that it did. However, I think it was a good experience, and I am glad that I tried out “officially” being vegetarian for once, rather than just mostly eating a vegetarian diet, without using a strict title. I felt good about making some, though minimal, sacrifices in my diet that would potentially reduce my carbon footprint and be part of a more sustainable lifestyle. Although I appreciate the opportunity to experience this type of change, I am disappointed to say that I am still unsure about committing fully to being vegetarian because I admit my selfishness in enjoying creativity and liberation with food, which is something I’m passionate about in life. However, I have come out of this week with revived intentions of paying more attention to the sources of my food and being more careful about buying good quality food, especially when it comes to meat and other animal products.
For my third self-intervention, I decided to track my water use and attempt to use under 10 gallons of water per day. This was inspired by the project I am working on in the Navajo Nation because 10 gallons is the maximum any one person can use in their house per day there. I found that my number one water consuming activity is something that is not really in my control – toilet flushing. If I had my own home with a low flow toilet or a system like Pete’s, this would be less of an issue. Unfortunately, I spend the majority of my day every day in public areas and urinating outdoors is generally frowned upon in our society, so I really have no other option than to use the high flow toilets provided to me. If I don’t count toilet flushing, I was successful at keeping me water usage well below 10 gallons a day. The main ways I reduced the water I used was by taking shorter, less frequent showers and using a lower flow rate out of my sink while washing dishes. It is easy to take a shower by turning the water on just to rinse and turning it off while washing, but I usually am too lazy to put that thought into it. I also avoided washing my hair for six days because that uses the most water of my shower routine. With washing dishes, I realized that I really do not need the water running the whole time at full flow, so I trickled it out of the faucet to rinse the dish, turned it off to soap it up, and then trickled it again to wash the soap off. These are easy change that I can make to conserve water, but it really gave me perspective on what it is like to have to actively think about the amount of water you are using per day so that you don’t run out by the end of the month.
For my third self-intervention I have decided to try to clean up my language. I have noticed myself using more vulgar language on a more regular basis. I want to rid myself somewhat of this habit because this summer I will be working in the county jail doing some programming and I am expected not to use any sort of aggressive or offensive language. I have noticed so far that anytime I am cursing it is as a way of putting emphasis or emotion behind a statement and not ever really directed at any person or group. I think when I complete this intervention I will be far more conscious of my language.
Well after attempting to cut the cursing out of my life for a week I have realized how frequently I was really using them. And it seemed like a lot. Many a time this week I caught myself as I was about to let a word slip, or more often then not right after I had let a word slip. As I initially noted the way I caught myself wanting to use these words was always as a way to show emphasis or expression, not ever in an aggressive way towards a person or group. This realization made me rethink what my intervention was really about. I can’t tell if this intervention was about cutting out these words cause I view them to be negative and aggressive or was my goal to cut out these words just for the sake of doing so. If this was about just cutting them out then I obviously failed. But if it was instead about cutting them out for being negative or aggressive then I think I was somewhat successful, since I do not use these words in aggressive or particularly negative ways. Either way I am now far more conscious of my language and feel as though I have more “control” over my language.
Benjamin James Trinh:
I have been notorious for constantly purchasing water bottles, sodas, etc. Drinks that are made in non-reusable ways. Especially after all the talks we have had about becoming in a sense a more green person, I want to personally impact my life. I will be only drinking water and the occasional coffee in my hydroflask or in a reusable cup I have at home. While this may not seem that difficult, this could extremely affect my life for the better. I want to reduce my carbon footprint and I believe this is a great way to start it.
Throughout the week, it was actually extremely difficult to remind myself that I was only allowed to drink from my hydroflask! I also seemed to forget my hydroflask when I went to class. Fortunately there are many water fountains that aided me in not purchasing water bottles. I did drink the occasional coffee at Starbucks, but I explicitly told them to fill my reusable tumbler instead of providing me with a new cup. I didn’t even know that was allowed until this week. This habit that I created during this week will only follow me onto the new week and potentially for the rest of my life! While I know that only drinking from my reusable bottle will be very difficult, I am now much more aware of it. When given the opportunity to choose between the two, I definitely will go with the latter.
Negativity is a powerful force that can spread like wildfire. In my daily life, I make it a personal goal to remain positive. While I would say that I am a very outwardly positive person, I can also be a very cynical-minded person inwardly. I tend to be negative towards myself and others in my thoughts. There is a disconnect between the positive person I am outwardly as well as the person I aspire to be inwardly, and the negative person my thoughts make me out to be. This being said, my 3rd self intervention focuses on this mental negativity. For the week, I wrote all my negative thoughts down and when I had time in the moment, stopped to process where that negativity stems from and how to spin my thoughts in a positive light. If I was unable to process in the moment, I took the time at the end of my day to go through my negative thoughts and collectively process all of them. My goal was to become more self aware and conscious of my mental attitude.
Here’s what happened:
During the week, I noticed that most of my negative thoughts were either about myself or about how the actions of others were affecting me, which I found very selfish. My negativity directed towards myself stemmed from my self conscious mentality. This is the part that I wasn’t surprised about. What I was surprised about was my negative thoughts about others. I noticed myself making unfair judgements about others or complaining about how someone else’s choices affected my life. In reality, their choices weren’t directed to affect me, yet it was my choice to let them affect me. I learned that my happiness and ability to push back against negativity stemmed from my attitude. If I made the choice to be positive and push back against the negative thoughts, then I would remain in a good mood. However, if negativity creeped in and I chose to sit in it, then I just became more and more pessimistic. This week, I was surprised to notice that I tended to sit in the pessimism more than I initially thought I did. This result could have also been a consequence of reflecting in the moment that a negative thought came. Instead of brushing it off and moving in, I forced myself to think about the negativity, unfortunately leading to more negative thoughts. From this week, I learned that is more effective, at least for me personally, to let negative thoughts go in the moment, to move on, and take time to reflect later. It is important to reflect, but it is also important to not dwell in pessimism.
For my third self intervention, I decided not to use any social media or reddit for a week. I deleted all of the apps and didn’t log on to anything on my computer. I did this for a few days, and didn’t find it to be that difficult, so I followed your suggestion in the email you sent and tried not to look at anyone in the face unless they interacted with me directly. I found this to be enormously difficult. I was only able to keep it up for about two days, without being perfect, but I learned some things from it. I noticed that I make snap judgements of every single person that I look at. I think this directly impacts the interactions I have with people. It’s something I do without even thinking about it, but I think that by realizing that I do it, I have a better chance of being able to stop myself from doing it. I wasn’t able to keep up the not looking at people in the face, but I will try to take the lessons I learned from it to heart.
I also got something out of the social media abstinence. It helped to start breaking down the compulsion I have to check my phone every time I am bored, or challenged, or whenever really. At the beginning of the week, I found myself checking my phone, but not doing anything on it because there was no social media. Towards the end of the week, I checked my phone less and I didn’t really miss social media at all.
My self-intervention is to do five minutes of meditative breathing every morning. I have done it in the past and enjoyed it, but I have a hard time keeping it in my schedule because I can always convince myself that there is something more important that I could be doing. I downloaded an app called “Breathe” to help me make this change. My main goal is to focus on taking deep cleansing breaths and trying to rid my mind of thought apart from thinking about the breathing. The first day, I did it first thing after I woke up and I fell back asleep. I decided to change my plan to be a little later in the day to avoid this problem. I tried to plan to do it at the same time every day but I found that I was getting angry with myself when I would forget to do it at exactly the right time. By the end of the week, I was doing it before I went to bed, which resulted in me not using technology before I went to bed. It helped my sleep and helped me have a quiet moment of being unplugged without feeling like there were other things I was supposed to be doing. In the future, I think I will try to implement more quiet breathing time throughout the day in addition to the evening so I can be more present moment to moment.
I have no early classes this quarter, and the result has been developing a bad habit of staying up late and waking up late in the morning. Whenever I don’t get out of bed until late in the morning, it really dampens my whole day. For this intervention, I want to wake up earlier and have more productive mornings. Each morning I will be out of bed by 7am at the latest and start my day by meditating for 10 minutes to a guided online meditation. I’m hoping this will make me more sharp and focused and allow me to meet more of my daily goals.
For the third intervention I decided to try three things differently. Firstly, I will not waste water to let my shower warm up in the morning, I will just hop in right when the water starts. Next, I will make sure that I actually use all the food I have grown in my garden (there’s a lot of kale and onions to be had this week). Lastly and most importantly I will assess all thought based on the criteria of constructive or destructive. If the thoughts are purely destructive I will not regard them as my own, but treat them as you would dirt that has gotten into your eye, flushing them out immediately.
Historically, I am incredibly bad at responding to electronic forms of communication. I can take weeks to respond to an email, and often times forget altogether. I am even terrible at replying to texts from my friends in a timely manner, and this tends to put a lot of strain on my friendships. SO, for this intervention I am going to actually reply to emails, texts, etc as soon as possible. Additionally, I have a bit of an issue with school related stress and anxiety that is definitely beyond what is healthy, and have had a few panic attacks in recent weeks. This has been an issue for me to varying degrees for a while and I have yet to actually get professional help for it, because I am generally not very good at asking for help. So for this intervention I am also going to actually go to the health center and see if they can help me.
My third intervention is inspired by the cool climate carbon calculations we did for class a couple weeks ago. I found, when I was attempting to lower my carbon emissions to the global average, that my meat consumption is one of the biggest contributions to my carbon footprint. For my intervention, I have decided to not eat meat (including fish) for the next week.
Update: I completed my intervention today and it was a lot easier than I thought. I realized I rarely eat meat regularly in college so it wasn’t very hard to cut it out of my diet. I ate a lot of beans in place of where I would have put chicken or ground beef (veggie tacos are actually a lot better than I thought!) The one area where it was difficult to cut out meat was when I went out to eat. My mom came to visit this past weekend and she wanted to take me out to eat. We went to Lincoln Deli for lunch (a sandwich place) and it was kind of hard to justify paying $10 for a veggie sandwich but it was doable. Overall, I think I will continue to minimize my meat consumption since it makes a significant difference in carbon dioxide emissions and is so easy to eliminate. I think this mentality encourages the argument that there is no better way of curbing emissions than using less and only using the minimal amount needed to survive.
I plan to go vegetarian and caffeine-free for a week. I typically find myself consuming less healthy options when times get stressful (such as nearing the end of the quarter!), so I want to challenge myself to eat vegetarian and also to avoid processed foods. Also, I drink a lot of tea and hardly drink any water, so this I feel would be a more difficult challenge.
For my final intervention I will be going barefoot for a week. The only exceptions to this will be places where it is required to where shoes (labs, gym, etc.) and also where it may be dangerous to do so (I like to go running on Bishops peak). I have always wanted to do it, and I’m not sure why I never have or what I was afraid of. I hope to uncover that as well over the week.
Once again I would like apologize for posting late. This week of barefooted-ness was actually amazing, fun, and painful. Some quick things that I learned over the course of this week: grittiness and rocks can actually feel nice underneath your feet, asphalt can get very very hot, paint lines on asphalt are the oasis i never knew I needed, socks are incredible inventions, and sometimes you don’t stand out as much as you might think.
Throughout the week I caught a few people looking at me funny, but I’m honestly sure they didn’t really care. The people that would ask me about it the most were my friends, and they all thought it was really cool and were very interested in not only what I was doing, but the class as well. I also found my self feeling happier throughout the course of the week. I think that this was the case because I was doing something that I had always wanted to try but was just a little to try to actually try, and that it was something knew in my life, something to shake things up and reminded to me to enjoy life small pleasures like grass or pebbles.
Caleb Ostgaard: For my final intervention, I want to break down some of my care for image. I have worn a fake tooth since high school, and haven’t gone a full day without it. I have planned to go a week without wearing it. The tooth is obvious, and in the front of my mouth. I want to make myself feel more comfortable about having an image that isn’t seen as traditional. Below is a picture of my tooth.
Update: This was a very interesting and revealing self intervention. I found myself very uncomfortable at times. I work as a waiter at a restaurant, and therefore and constantly talking face-to-face with people, trying to “woo” them for tips. I realized I was talking with my mouth slightly closed to not expose my missing tooth. I felt embarrassed to have it. At school, I did the same thing. The only time I really didnt think about it was when I was hanging out with my roommates at home or hanging out with close friends. Even when I was hanging out with friends at a bar, I would still try to hide it in public. I forced myself to try to talk with it more open, even if it made me uncomfortable. Most people didn’t even say anything, and I even asked my coworkers if they noticed. All but one said they did notice anything – and the one that did notice had just thought it was a piece of seaweed (I work at a sushi restaurant) on my tooth.
I don’t know exactly what my goal with this intervention was, but I wanted to feel less normal and force myself to deal with what that feels like. Most people my age have had braces or relatively aligned teeth. At most, some people may not have had braces and don’t have the straightest teeth. But completely missing an obvious tooth without any replacement is rare (at least in a middle-class privileged culture). This intervention really challenged myself to rethink how care-free I was about my own image.
What yes self intervention is going to be I should that when I am reading a book or working I often become or even often so involved in what I am doing that I lose sight of everything that’s is happening around me and often become irritable when I am not bothered. So I am going to try and keep an open mind and remember that there are other things happening besides what I am doing.
I wanted to do two challenges: not spend any money and take 5-10 minute showers. I do not usually go out to eat but I tend to spend quite a bit on online shopping and I’ve been feeling guilty for taking long showers. This will also force myself to wake up earlier to pack lunch and not sleep until the last minute.
I read the news… I mean I kind of think it’s important for me to read the news. However, the feeling I have now, following our present national soap opera leaves me feeling ashamed of myself after reading the news… like it’s pornography. It’s what I’ve been going to bed with and waking up to. I won’t use my computer for anything other than direct work-related tasks or direct communication to people close to me. I think it will bring me closer to Robin (my partner) because I’ll ask her what’s up. At least this will stimulate conversation instead of the isolation I feel when we sit at the same table in the evening each of us immersed in our computers. It’s been almost a week now. I definitely feel more in control of myself with my computer. I remember feeling “sucked into” the computer and for the week I’ve set boundaries. Also, it’s been very hard to resist. I watched 20 youtube videos that my physics students posted for their projects. Then youtube knows what kind of videos you like to watch, and I was really tempted to watch…. just one short one. So it’s funny. We have our little habits, and automation of actions that’s hard to overcome. It’s also be a struggle to decide where to draw the line. I realized I wanted to talk about pulling out of the Paris Agreement, so I read two or three articles about it… but I didn’t read the neighboring articles… I read the titles because I had to see what the subject was… oh, I wanted to read more than the title, but I didn’t. I think my life is better just using the computer for work. Likely I’ll go back to using it for news and a little bit for amusement (like in two minutes when I finish this post!) but maybe not as much as before?
Empathy: For the second self-intervention, we will identify when we “otherize” someone and seek to see the world (and maybe ourselves) through their eyes. Then write about your experience
Apologies for this being so late! My definition of feeling empathy is to be aware of your surroundings and of the people in it.
I feel like the more you discover or go through in life, you can either be more empathetic or lose the ability to feel empathy. I always think of empathy being represented in different types of CEOs. Some rule with an iron fist and everything has to be according to plan to be successful. Some empathize with the struggles of its workers and share a generous amount of stocks with them. Both are successful, but the amount of empathy exhibited result in different social skills and values. Personally, empathy is certainly good but not one of the “essential” ways of life. It is also fairly easy to “otherize” another because of a difference in culture, beliefs, values, or opinions. For example, there are people for and against efforts to address global warming. Personally, this frustrates me quite a bit; I just don’t really understand why they are so opposed to the idea that we are harming our environment. But taking a step back, some people probably have not had the education to understand how we are polluting the earth and others might have grown up during a time where it was just nonsense. Similarly, in China, women have been putting off marriage to pursue an education or job. After the “marriage” phase, they are seen as leftovers. Even now, my parents have this mentality that women are meant to groom themselves for marriage and settle down to have a good life. By using a different lens to view the global warming problem it is easier to find an explanation, rather than blatantly “otherize” another for being blatantly wrong.
In general, I try not to “otherise” people in public, especially when it comes to driving cars or small mishaps in food service. I can easily forgive a driver who cuts me off, or makes a turn when I have the right of way because I have found myself in those same situations where I unintentionally, made a poor decision. I can forgive the staff at a restaurant for a misplaced order or a long wait because I know that I have made similar mistakes in my previous jobs, or that no mistake was made and the situation is just a result of unpredictable events. In my week of attention to “otherising” I have noticed that I have a fairly good instinct when it comes to not otherising. A much more useful observation I made over this period is the amount my peers “otherise”. In fact, sometimes I jump to the defense of those “others” when I witness my peers making hasty judgements, for I know that it is a dangerous form of discrimination. For example, a friend I was driving out of town with kept getting angry at other drivers on the road (while I am driving) and called them “stupid” and “idiots” among other things. Before this moment, I never realized that this type of behavior was “otherising”. But this time I came to the defense of the other driver, telling my friend that I too have made some of the same mistakes and to judge each driver off of one mistake that was witnessed is unreasonable. I hope to develop an effective method of bringing “otherising” to the attention of those I witness doing it.
We see the word “empathy” everywhere, especially here on campus. I feel like this word gets so often confused with sympathy. Sympathy is merely feeling sorry for another, while empathy is actually trying to put yourself in people’s shoes and feeling how they feel. I also feel like we forget to do either of them sometimes until it is too late. We tend to act consequentially, which means we tend not think before we act. We need to learn how to be empathetic before we act. Think to yourself “How would these people feel like if I did this?” I try my best to create an inclusive environment for everyone to feel like they can truly be themselves. There have been times when I witness the “othering” of people, and it really hurts me. Nobody knows what people are really going through, and our actions could just add to the suffering that a person already feels. If a worker at fast food chain is moving slowly and the customer complains it could seem like a normal action, but the worker could’ve just suffered a loss and this act could just pull them deeper into a state of depression. Much like sexual assault, it is up to all of us to always use empathy before making decisions
Cole Van Brunt:
Empathy is obviously a very important attribute of humanity, without it I doubt humans would have made it this far. I was lucky to have it engrained in my mind at a young age by my father and his old buddy Don. Don used to come over and babysit my sister and I when things got too busy. My sister and I were not huge fans of his. We had other babysitters from the neighborhood and would complain to my dad and ask for someone else besides Don. We did this because Don never wanted to play games, instead he would sit outside on the stoop and smoke those cheap gas station cigars before microwaving us some mac and cheese. I was often upset with Don and he knew this but would ignore and continue on moping and smoking. As I got older and learned more about Don I realized chaotic imbalance his life had been perpetually spiraling into. See Don was the homosexual youngest boy of six, born into a deeply religious family living off the scraps of welfare in the heart of Richmond. He was beat by his brothers until finally expelled from the family all together. He then became a serious alcoholic struggling to stay off the juice. The moping Don I knew was recently diagnosed with AIDS and given a estimate of 10 years to live. Looking back at those times, I can’t bear the idea that I might have been that ‘snotty little kid’ to him. To this day I invite him over to the pool when I come home for summer, hoping I can make up for any bad decisions a young boy grasping at the ideas of empathy might not have fully understood. We should all be thankful that we have the ability to empathize otherwise one day down the road you might be looking back in regret.
In my opinion, one of the most effective ways to exhibit empathy is by listening. Even though we are taught at a young age to not judge a book by its cover I continue to see my own friends and others in my life act as if they have a person all figured out after their first impression of that person, even if that first impression is just a simple introduction or even a few glances at their social media profile. I have found myself in the past having pre-conceived feelings towards a person I have never met before simply because of the way my friends have talked about him or her while around me. Although I make an effort to be empathetic towards everyone I am around, I recently found myself making this error. One thing that I found to be extremely useful to me when trying to empathize with another person is to truly listen to what a person is saying. There have been too many times in the past where a friend has been telling me about something completely irrelevant to my life, leaving me to wonder why they’re wasting my time telling me about their problem that I can’t do anything about. It took me too long to realize that when a person is talking to you about an issue they are having, they may be searching for advice or simply looking for a person to vent to. As a listener, the way you respond to a person can have a big impact on the situation’s outcome. I’ve learned that it is the small things such as this that come to foster meaningful relationships with people I wouldn’t have normally associated with.
Empathy is important in the classroom for all parties. When you’ve studied a subject for so long, it is sometimes hard for professors to empathize with their students’ difficulties. Students need to empathize with other students, not just in group work but in day-to-day operations. The classroom is a place of organized, but unwritten rules. Though there is no requirement, most students tend to sit in the same place each class, know when is appropriate to leave the classroom for water or the bathroom etc. It’s important to consider how your actions may affect other student’s ability to learn. Lastly, students need to learn to empathize with their professors. Usually I’m too ADHD to pay attention in class so I’ve been forced to learn how to learn from textbooks and online material. Since my preferred learning method is self-taught, I often struggle to understand why some professors operate the way they do. Things such as “surprise” quizzes on Thanksgiving week (in the past when we had class Thanksgiving week) and such are often seen as something the professors do just to fail more students. Though it’s easy to see things that way, really professors are hired to do a job, and teaching is an important part of that job. Our professors really just want us to come to class and learn, and they’ll use every tool they can to make us learn.
Empathy or as some people refer it as to “putting yourself in someone’s else shoes” can be very difficult to accomplish especially in this culture. Everyone knows that in order to understand others and not be so judgmental one has to have empathy, but even though people know this, hardly anybody practices it daily. Having my ankle sprained made me have more empathy for people that have disabilities. Before, I never really took the time to consider how difficult it is to lose one of your abilities that you constantly use. I never really appreciated walking without any effort or pain. Now, every time I usually think how difficult or unsafe it is for a person who is disable to pass a certain obstacle. I observed that people in similar and noticeable situations for example people on crutches can have empathy towards each other, because there are the only ones in the same situation. It is hard to have empathy towards others when they don’t wear their struggles for everyone to see.
First off I’d like to apologize for this post being almost a week late. For me, empathy was something that has been instilled in me from a very young age in different forms from many teachers and many life events, more than I can mention in this writing but I will touch on a few. Empathy was first first taught and understood to me not as a form of feeling what pain or grief somebody else felt, but as a way to truly try to understand why someone had a different point of view than you, and how they saw the world.
When I was in 6th grade, I was lightly scolded for calling a book i had started reading “boring”. My teacher explained to me that it was okay to find something boring, but to be aware that just because I was bored while reading the book, the text wasn’t inherently “boring”, that was simply my opinion. Labeling the book boring would be wrong of me because it could give people the wrong impression when they began reading it, or could even prevent them from reading it in the first place. I suppose this sparked an interest in me, while the teacher was probably trying to tell me that in life that there are many opinions, not all necessarily “right” or “wrong”, it made me want to want to understand where others opinions were coming from, and believe them myself. Even if only for a moment.
The second lesson I learned was a life one. I won’t go into full detail of the events (feel free to ask me I don’t mind explaining), but when I was in middle school my mother was razed and my dad was shot in the head by two police officers. My father lived, the bullet went through his jaw and exited the back of his throat, although he was in and out of the hospital for the next two years, and now half his face is paralyzed. Now during this time I was faced with an interesting decision of which societal side to take, either my father was actually trying to attack the officer and the officer was protecting himself, or the cop was racist and was looking for any excuse to use deadly force. Those were the sides that my friends, the news, and society in general told me there were. However, I knew I couldn’t live with either of those choices, so I chose to believe that honestly my parents were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the cop made an honest mistake. For me this major life event really forced me to think of situations from everyones point of view, really considering how they feel and why they feel that way.
The final important piece that I will talk about was actually the play Hamlet. Hamlet is my favorite piece of literature, and my favorite quote in the story was when Hamlet said “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Right and wrong is often only in the minds of ourselves, despite how solid, true, and real we believe truth and righteousness to be. It is so important to not only understand how and why others feel the way they do, but to really try to see it from their side, and feel what it is like to be in their shoes.
Extremely late! I apologize, I started late and wanted to get a full week of consideration in.
Throughout the last week, I tried to stay particularly conscientious of the empathy I displayed towards every individual I interacted with. I would like to consider myself a naturally empathetic person. I’ve centered my career aspirations around helping others. My dream is to practice medicine in the medically impoverished regions of the globe. I’ve done a significant amount of service-learning work with homeless and international individuals who are in need. When doing so, I’ve always tried to approach the individuals I am working with as equals and work with them to develop ground-up solutions that they truly want. Even in politics, an area of topics I feel extraordinarily passionate about, I’ve always sought to maintain a tempered view and understand where other individuals are coming form
All of these examples, however, have often been centered in broad ideas of empathy. Many of them do not require me to consider individuals and their unique perspectives and feelings. I therefor tried to really focus on how individuals would feel in my direct interactions would feel. I tried to empathize with their individual perspectives and feelings, something that was unusual for me to really focus in on in the day-to-day.
I’ve never considered myself neurotic, and I don’t know after this week if I would, but I noticed throughout the week as I examined my actions that in many ways of life, I have a very particular way of doing things. I’ve always written this off as just being the correct way, and it generally is, but at some point the details are pointlessly minute (for example, I like 2% milk and my lady friend likes nonfat milk). Throughout this week I tried to empathize with how my particular, constricted views might make my roommate or my lady friend, or anyone else feel. I tried to approach scenarios from the others’ point of view. “How would my roommate feel if I asked him to do X? Is it appropriate for me to do that? How can I mitigate negative feelings that he might feel?” These kind of questions were challenging to ask at times because they would often lead to a necessary conclusion that the action I wanted to complete was not an empathetic one, and should therefore not be done (whether or not I viewed it as “logically” right). I truly believe, however, that this was an important exercise. As I mentioned, I pride myself in pursuing a path that empathizes with the oppressed. And while I hold views that empathize with those groups as a whole, it is not true empathy. No individual can be surmised with a group label. True empathy requires consideration and concern for individuals who I come into interaction with. I will try to continue this practice to develop my ability to empathize with others, despite whatever doing so may cost me.
Empathy is a trait that allows people to form connections with each other. Through empathy and compassion individuals can come together and help each other in times of need. But at times, it is easy to get caught in oneself and look at others as being different without trying to understand where they are coming from. At one point this year, one of my roommates in my house (out of 6) decided he was going to mow our lawn after our landlord had failed to get a gardener for our house after 6 months of telling us he would. This was fine with the rest of the house, however this one roommate became angry with us when we did not come out to help him with the front yard. None of us thought that the lawn was our problem as the landlord was supposed to take care of its maintenance as per our lease agreement, however this one roommate felt that if he was outside making our house look nicer we should want to be outside with him. This eventually turned into an argument that was eventually resolved, and ironically the next day our landlord contacted us notifying us that he had scheduled a gardener to come the following Monday. While this situation was resolved, I feel that myself and my fellow roommates could have helped out in the front. In my roommates eyes he felt that we valued our time and energy over his because we did not want to help out. While this was not true, looking back at the situation now if we had thought of this my other roommates and I would have definitely helped him. In this case empathy would have been useful to prevent an argument and hurt feelings.
In order to make the world a better place, and to understand one another and why people may behave the way they do, empathy must become an essential tool. I try to be empathetic, however, it can sometimes be easy to not do when you “otherise” someone.
A few weeks back, I was downtown for bike night. It was fairly late, around 2 a.m. when my friend and I go to unlock our bikes to ride home. Of course, I find that someone has mistakenly locked their bike through my brake line. I was pretty pissed off at whoever did this to say the least (and looking back, this is another opportunity to practice empathy – I could have just as easily done the same thing to someone else) and waited around for about 20 minutes or so hoping this person would come to unlock their bike. At this point, downtown was pretty much a ghost town, however, I very recently got this bike and I wasn’t going to leave it downtown. I had never been there that late, when all of the college students have left, and it was a completely different place. The only souls left on the streets were the homeless and the drifters, sprinkled with the occasional drunk person making their way home. At one point, a man approached me and my friend, after seeing us fiddling with the other persons lock in an attempt to get it free. He was quite disheveled, missing a few teeth, and I must admit I was a bit apprehensive at this point due to how quite it was downtown at this point. He comes up to us and asks what the problem is, and I figure I might as well explain to him. He takes a look at the situation and quickly whips out an Allen wrench tool out of his pocket. He quickly went to work and within 5 minutes my bike was free! I felt like such a fool for assuming this man may have approached us out of ulterior motive, and looking back on it it was because I was otherizing him. Just because he wasn’t a college student, and was a bit rough looking I immediately made assumptions about him. We talked for a few minutes, and I learned that he had come to the States from Guatemala. I got his name, Aldo, and thanked him profusely. I offered him some money for his work and time, and he refused it, saying that it was just the right thing to do. I am still blown away by this human being that I had the opportunity to meet, it seems very rare to meet someone so selfless these days. He told me he had a similar situation the other day but no one stopped to help him. This made me sad, but also made me realize how much empathy was a part of Aldo’s life. Just a few days later, I was walking back from the store when I saw a couple who had blown a flat and seemed like they were struggling. I was about to pass by and continue on my way when Aldo popped into my mind, and I felt it was my duty to go see if I could help in any way. I approached them and asked if there was anything I could do and the guy said they needed a bigger socket. My roommate is a mechanic, so I assured them I would be back shortly with plenty of different sizes. I came back and about an hour later they were good to go. They offered me money, and in the spirit of Aldo, I refused. Aldo has reminded me that in today’s world it is often that we are very disconnected from each other. Empathy is the solution to that, and allows us to connect with and understand one another even when our situations and lives may be completely different.
Empathy is an emotion that is crucial to humans communicating and truly understanding each other. Most everyone will feel empathy towards another person on a daily basis, but it is much more difficult to feel empathy for someone that differs in opinion, beliefs, and other factors. It is in those situations that empathy would be the most useful in creating an understanding or a compromise.
It has been a goal of mine for a few years now to be more aware of myself and of surroundings. By this, I mean really paying attention to how I may be acting, what I am feeling, and what I am saying. Being aware of these things can help me to be more conscious and present in the moment. I also believe that empathy goes hand in hand with being personally aware. Throughout this past week and a half, I have been actively trying to remind myself to be empathetic. By writing a large capital “E” on the inside of my wrist, I reminded to myself to step back and observe the situation or conversation with an impartial eye, to step out of my own shoes, and to understand the other point of view, especially when differences were present.
Actively trying to be empathetic presented more solutions in two relationships that I engage in every day: the relationship I have with my roommates and the relationship I have with my girlfriend. Using empathy, especially in disagreements or emotional situations, I felt that I was better able to find a way to help myself and the other party involved. It is so easy to immediately discredit or get upset at someone who is at odds with you, which is where issues arise. But if simple empathetic thoughts are used, one can see how the other person is just like you in more ways than not.
Empathy is a difficult emotion to put into words. To empathize with someone, is to relate to others’ emotions on a personal level. Empathy, is the ability to step into another being’s reality. In general, people are not conscientious of their empathy or lack thereof. Our ability to empathize is the basis for a functional society because no relationship would be possible without an understanding of how the other person/living thing is feeling or thinking. It is also what drives us to “do the right thing” or feel shameful for participating in deviant acts. One can argue that empathy is what stops most humans from directly harming others. Disregarding laws and modern society, empathy gives humans a guide to what is right and what is wrong. However, there are so many instances where there is a disconnect and, from our perspective, there is no way to relate to a certain other group or thing. As an environmental engineering major, where I see the greatest disconnect is between human and nature. Most of the population, especially here in America, sees the earth as a place that we can continue to take from and disrespect without any repercussions. Since we are not directly affected by our actions, there is no accountability, which allows us to remain ignorant toward the issues. In relation to what Roger talked to us about, the weight of always paying attention to the harm we are inflicting on our environment is too much for a person to handle, so most of us block it out of our reality in order to survive. There are people in other societies who feel a much deeper connection to the environment and do their best to respect the resources that the earth provides and try to minimize their impact. A great example of this is the Native Americans. As part of the Water for the Navajo Nation group, I have researched a little bit about their culture and way of life. Although many of their traditions have faded because of the situation they were forced into generations ago, they are aware and respectful of the methods their ancestors used to thank the earth for all it does for us. If more people could empathize with our environment and understand our impact, it would be much easier to decrease the damage being done.
For the past year or so, I’ve been exploring and trying to come to terms with my privilege in society. Most people agree that recognition of power, privilege, and voice is easier when you don’t have it than when you do. I have found empathy for those without voice at times when I don’t have it, such as when I am on a bicycle (as described in this article) in a society that prioritizes speed, comfort, and industrial growth over the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists (in my opinion). Another time is when I struggle with my verbally abusive 8-year-old. Conventional wisdom states that because I adopted him after marrying his mama, it is she that is empowered to set boundaries for him. However, her parenting style is to not set boundaries, and while I respect her arguments supporting this style, it seems to leave me as a frustrated spectator to the fireworks. As his conflict spills into our marriage, I feel voiceless in our family. Simultaneous, I am in a position of power in various student organizations that I support. One student is outspokenly critical of the way I manage in a way that casts me as an oppressive arm of the societally established patriarchy. Despite this criticism, I actively choose to continue supporting this student’s projects because I both appreciate this person’s good work as well as I’m reasonably sure their project is dependent on my continued support. Does my resentment for this student provide me with empathy for my wife’s resentment ofmy efforts to be heard in the family? Does my perceived lack of voice in my family allow me to empathize with this student’s perceived lack of voice in our society and in particular their lack of voice in my decisions with respect to the student activities that I facilitate? I think that merely asking the question is part of the resolution… even if it won’t necessarily make it better.
Responding and acting with empathy is something that I use in my everyday life. I am a Psychology major so we talk about empathy a lot especially in how to respond to those in need. Going into this week of actively practicing empathy I knew what to expect and what had challenged me in the past. I have had previous assignments regarding actively practicing empathy and I know the hardest part of practicing empathy is practicing it in regards to people I don’t know. I don’t always allow people that I don’t know the time or space for me to understand their situation. If a stranger is doing something that I find detrimental to me then I usually just make the split second decision that they are annoying. This week that is the problem I really tried to tackle. I found it easier at first to slip to old habits and not allow myself to feel empathy for strangers while they cut me off on the road, but as the week went on it honestly did get easier. I found myself slowing down and appreciating the added positivity that increased empathy had brought. For me it feels so much better to be happy and positive towards people so when I was really responding with as much empathy as I could I found myself feeling happier and more relaxed in my life. Empathy is something I think we have to work at for our entire lives, and it can do nothing but benefit our lives and relationships with others by making them more honest and representative of true feelings and experiences.
Empathy is an important skill to develop to see the world from a new perspective, treat others respectfully and learn how you can support one another and be of service. I think that sometimes the most dangerous situations are those where people cannot see that they are not being empathetic because they are blinded by their own sense of what is right and have become convinced of the validity of their own understanding. In these kinds of situations it might not be difficult to see it once someone else has pointed it out but it can be very difficult to identify in yourself. Anyone who doesn’t do it the way you do just ‘doesn’t understand’ and doesn’t see your true intentions, or doesn’t get that you don’t believe you will act in a way that someone else might. I feel this is especially true when the differences in view are cause for consequences for one or more party, for example getting ticketed by police.
One situation where I found myself needing more empathy was when I saw policemen at Dexter lawn ticketing cyclists. As someone who bikes to and around campus frequently and thinks of myself as generally well aware of my surroundings and a safe cyclist, I found it unfair that they should patrol these areas. They ticket anyone riding their bike in the no bike zone even though there is no through vehicle traffic and besides 10 minutes before to 10 minutes after the hour there is very little foot traffic. I believed that I had always seen cyclists riding safely and hadn’t seen many dangerous situations. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal and in all honesty thought it was petty and that there were more important things for them to worry about. I knew that it was not right for me to be frustrated or angry when I saw this happening or almost had it done to myself so challenged myself to think of it with a new perspective. What I finally was able to remind myself was that they were doing their job, which in its essence is to keep the campus community safe. It is unfair for me to get frustrated at something they are doing for my benefit. They are also people with families doing their jobs, something they have dedicated their lives to. I have also seen close calls between cyclists and pedestrians and realized how dangerous it can be, especially at the bottom of the steep hill by Dexter and the tight corners. I had to realize that I couldn’t be the exception, and that even though I initially believed I would be careful, you never know when you could accidentally cause something to happen, and even if one person gets hurt that’s one too many. It is not worth taking the risk. It also helped show me there are many times when I am not a safe cyclist; I had initially, and wrongfully, just automatically considered myself as an exception and had to realize that there were many areas I was at fault and needed to improve.
Empathy is an extremely important emotion in order for us to develop any sort of relationship with the people around us. A person with a good sense of empathy can understand what makes another person feel happy, sad, angry, appreciated and neglected. This ability allows for people to connect on a much deeper level than just through verbal communication. Being empathetic is not an easy thing to do however, and I think empathy is valued very differently throughout our society. Most people value having the ability to be empathetic as a great attribute to one’s personality, but unfortunately there are others who have developed a non- empathetic way of life because of how society has treated them, and how they have developed through life. Here in the United States as we live in a very competitive and judgmental society, where empathy can be easily lost in the struggle for personal success and greatness. I think naturally humans are empathetic, yet some are driven to a point of constant defense from fear. A threatened feeling will cause people to revert back to their primal state of survival, where they must do whatever it takes for them to get ahead, or at least feel that way. Normally these people who lack empathy are a result of a childhood or life experience where empathy was not given to them. This is why empathy is so important in my opinion, we must be able to use some amount of empathy even in our most frustrated and angry states so that we can avoid spreading negativity to others. It is the classical bad apple ruins the bunch scenario, but it also occurs in both ways. Empathy can spread through the smallest and simplest connections in life, such as having a friendly conversation with the Mom in the grocery store checkout line who is struggling to keep her kids under control, or the man who sits alone in the back corner of the church. Building empathy can be built from a simple habit of trying to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, and really trying to feel with those people. I noticed with myself that I have become very critical of everything around me, and it has affected my life by introducing necessary negative thoughts. Learning to forgive others and yourself when these negative thoughts arise can help to build empathy with those around you. This is something I plan on doing throughout the remainder of the year so that I can become more empathetic.
Empathy is a very complex emotion, one I believe is one of the major deciding traits about a person that makes them human. Empathy is understanding and feeling other people’s emotions even if one has never experienced anything like what they are facing or have faced. Empathy is much more complicated than sadness because one can feel sadness for someone else but not truly feel for them if they don’t put themselves in another person’s shoes. But empathy in my mind is centered around listening, whether it is listening to other peoples stories or their side of the argument, one must first listen before they can even start to understand or develop thoughts about another person. Throughout my life empathy has been put to the test with my father who grew up so much differently than me and cannot always be there for me and my family thought me growing up. Sometimes I develop anger that he works too much and doesn’t want to spend time with the rest of our family. My empathy is put to the test when I take a step back and realize all he has done for me through my years growing up and the sacrifices he has made for me throughout his life to give me a life that he could have never had. It was important for me to understand more about his life growing up to realize why he is the way he is and how I can help. We have come much closer as a family thought this quarter when all of us listen to understand instead of listen to reply. When we are listening we try to focus on what the rest of us are saying instead of listening so I can form my rebuttal. I feel that this one thing though it may be small is the key to feeling empathy towards another person not only members of our family but people across the globe. My ability to feel for one another has grown over the course of the week and although the differences are small I can already see them leading to something bigger.
In general, empathy is probably not something that people think about when thinking about mathematics. To the non-mathematician, math may seem like a cold and heartless discipline, entirely disjoint from our notions of empathy. This assumption, however, is a result of the poor way in which math is generally taught. Math is too often taught in way that lacks the required empathy to portray it’s true beauty, but not because the subject itself is somehow the antithesis is empathy.
Math is a truly beautiful discipline, devoted to seeking out and understanding patterns. However, communicating complex and abstract mathematical ideas in a way which conveys their importance and allows the learner to both grasp the structure of the idea and fill in some of the details themselves is really, really challenging, Effective mathematical communication requires knowing which pieces of the puzzle to reveal, and how and when; this is only possible if you are able to place yourself in the position of someone learning the material for the first time. Patience and empathy for those learning is absolutely essential to the transference of knowledge in a way that preserves the structure and elegance of the subject.
Ironically, I realized that lately I have been frustrated with one of my math professors for (in my opinion) failing to teach some really important concepts in a way that communicates what is actually important and interesting about them. In my irritation with my professor’s apparent lack of empathy in his style of teaching, I myself forgot have empathy for my professor, and acknowledge the true challenge of effective mathematical communication. This professor actually devotes a ton of time to trying to improve as an educator and I know that he really does care a lot about all of his students. He is also the reason that I get to go to Germany to do math this summer, so it’s actually really unfair of me to criticize him so harshly, and I’m honestly embarrassed that I haven’t been more grateful. I guess while I would like to consider myself empathetic, I really do have a lot to improve upon as far as deeply committing to empathy as one of my core values, and I hope that as time goes on I can begin to develop a more empathetic disposition in all areas of my life. I have also recently thought a lot about how empathy is too often seen as just an innate trait that some people have and others less so, because in reality having empathy for others is a deliberate choice that you can make every single day, and hopefully over time it becomes more and more natural.
I consider myself to be an empathetic person. But don’t we all?
To me, empathy means not only considering another person’s viewpoint, but replicating their feelings within yourself. You don’t have to agree with someone to empathize with them. My ability to recognize and accept the feelings of others was tested when I came to the politically tumultuous climate of San Luis Obispo from my peaceful liberal town of Lafayette. See, I grew up with the strict doctrine of being kind to others, celebrating differences, and respecting the environment. My friends were all taught the same core values and their parents had the same beliefs. There was a conservative club at my high school with 3 members out of a 1200-count student body. Everything changed when I came to Cal Poly and saw my peers using Fox news as a credible source.
I began questioning what I knew about politics. If I had been raised in a conservative household, would my feelings about current issues change? If I am certain that my position is the right one, why do people with opposing views think the same thing? Is this how people whose governments censor what information they can access feel? Instead of folding under pressure, I learned to become politically active. I went to marches. I went to meetings. I wrote essay-length blog posts. Still, I can’t truly empathize with people who are directly affected by policy changes, because my middle-class pasty-white cisgender Jewish-but-not-enough-to-really-count neck is not on the line the way many people’s are. Even San Luis Obispo, the happiest town in America, lives in a bubble made of “Free speech means I won’t face any consequences” and “Why can’t we all get along?”s that other places cannot afford to blow. Empathy means recognizing our privilege as a city that is able to Ignore.
Being an empathetic person is one of the most important and simultaneously difficult things that a person can be. To be empathetic, you have to be able to open up and allow yourself to feel other people’s emotions to truly understand their feelings and motivations. Throughout my life, I have been told that I am an empathetic person when sometimes I do not feel like I am at all. To me, being empathetic is simply trying to understand other people better, which is perhaps the best thing that a person can do in a world filed with technology and a lack of direct communication. With so many layers between us and the people we are communicating with via text, email, facebook, twitter, ect, there is even more of a need for stronger bonds between people. Recently, my empathetic skills have been put to a major test with one of my close friends. She was in an unhealthy long distance relationship after having to take time away from Cal Poly for her mental health. She currently lives alone in an apartment directly below my house and often required my roommate’s and my emotional support when her boyfriend decided to end their relationship. Originally, we were all very empathetic, saying to ourselves that if we were in her situation, we would be feeling the same and need the same support. We all assumed that it would pass rather quickly and her despair would not be our burden much longer. When her issues continued past what we had all deemed an appropriate amount of time, I began to get angry with her when she would come to me for support because I thought that I had too much going on in my own life to deal with hers. I kept thinking, “If that was me, I would get the hint and not talk about it anymore. I’d be over it by now.” But then I realized, she’s not me. She might not have the same emotional capacity as me. This truly may be the most pain she’s ever been in in her life or this experience could be bringing back emotions from previous negative experiences. Then I thought about what I would want if I were in her position and being weighed down by extreme emotions, if I was experiencing something so painful that I felt the need to keep seeking comfort in my friends until I felt okay again. I realized what an ass I was being to her, not wanting to try to understand her pain because I was “too busy.” I started to try to listen to her more often and, while it is still difficult to sit there an listen to her continue to worry and be upset about the same things, I know that she needs someone to listen to her because her brain doesn’t work like mine and she cannot be comforted as easily as I can. Having this realization was somewhat heartbreaking for me but it really stuck with me and has taught me to be extra considerate towards other people (not just friends or family) since you never truly know what someone is experiencing or how they are feeling. Understanding not only what empathy is, but also how to live as an empathetic person is arguably one of the most valuable skills a person can have.
I think it would be hard to live my life without empathy. Humans are such social creatures, I think we are hardwired to consider the emotions and thoughts of the people we directly interact with. I think the problem comes when we affect people with our actions without contacting them directly. With more degrees of separation, the more room for a lack of empathy to emerge. An example of this that I have noticed in my personal life has been in my relationship with my girlfriend, that has recently become a long distance. Before when we were physically together, it was relatively easy for me to read her emotions and anticipate how she would feel about things that I did. I had her facial expressions, her tone of voice, her body language, a lot of things to read off of. Now, we communicate mostly over text and occasionally via video chat, and it is much more difficult for me to imagine what she is feeling on a daily basis. She can tell me certain things in words, but without the non verbal cues, it’s harder for me to really empathize with her. I think this experience will make me a better and more clear communicator, because I have to be deliberate with what I say in order to get my feelings and thoughts across in a way that she can understand. I hope that I can take this lesson to other parts of my life.
I believe nearly every issue present in the world today can be traced back to a lack of empathy. I often think about the progress that could be made if everyone considered what it would be like to see and experience other people’s perceptions of the world. I think we would see a lot less war, a lot more socioeconomic equality, and experience an increased sense of connectedness with all the people we interact with every day. Despite my beliefs about how great empathy is, I often find it difficult to individually practice empathy on a daily basis. It is easy for me to theorize about how great the world would be if everyone was empathetic, but not always so easy to practice empathy in the midst of dealing with my own set of challenges. In this sense, this self-intervention has brought to my attention how hypocritical I can often be when it comes to empathy. I have realized one of the areas of my life in which I struggle with empathy the most is driving. I tend to get frustrated with other drivers easily who are going slow, taking a long time to make a right turn at a red light, or not using their blinker. I have also realized that I often do things like stop too close behind people or pull into parking spots faster than some people are comfortable with. Even though I feel in control when doing these things, I realize it is perfectly reasonable for them to make other people nervous, and even upset. During this self-intervention, I have begun trying to really consider the fact that every other car on the road is being driven by someone who has very really emotions, abilities, and anxieties which I should respect just as much on the road as I would if I were talking to them face to face. I think this process has opened my eyes to the fact that empathy, for me, is not something I can turn on or off, it is something that must be worked at and practiced. I plan to continue my effort to show empathy on the road, and also in many other facets of my life in hopes that I can be a part of creating the empathetic society which I believe to be the answer to a plethora of issues in the world today.
I feel a world without empathy is really a world without love. The ability to emphasize with others is a trait that makes us humans so different from other beings. Gaining empathy will make us a bit more humanistic. A bit more loving. I do not have much trouble empathizing with people in the mental and emotional sense, but I do not have much experience empathizing in the physical sense. For my intervention this past week, I wanted to empathize with those who has limited access to hot water. I think of how the Doughtery family from my church, who moved to Guatemala to serve as missionaries, do not have consistent access to running water, nonetheless hot water in the town they live in. For them, moving from privileged United States to impoverished Guatemala was definitely a huge lifestyle change for them. I also think of refugees and migrants at camps that does not have access to running hot water too. Throughout this week, I took cold showers and washed everything with hot water. First, I realized how much I use hot water for EVERYTHING. I washed my face, hands, dishes with hot water and brushed my teeth with hot water too. I knew the cold water was going to be a struggle, and I often resented taking a shower this past week. I realized how comfortable I liked to be and even a slight temperature change would make me uneasy. I would like to continue this type of intervention as a constant reminder and also it is like a form of training for my body to submit to my will (in this case taking a cold shower).
From my perspective, empathy is inherent to the human experience. I often find myself grounded by hearing other people’s stories and understanding their perspective from events in their lives more so than events in my own life. I think that might be part of why I am an English major–my entire college career will be full of just hearing other people’s stories and reflections on life. That being said, I find it really difficult for me to excuse behavior because of some deeper level of feeling. At least for me (at least before this intervention), I thought I was good at suppressing my stress and still acting the same on the exterior. Throughout this week I have been able to find that empathy is more than just excusing someone else’s behavior for what other stressors may be affecting their attitude. I also found that my mood and habits change when I am stressed and although I might not take it out on other people, it does affect my relationships.
I have several really close friends that I generally enjoy spending time with, but at times I find myself frustrated in the way that they continually want to talk about their problems to the point that they are repeating the same information again and again and again and it can get quite annoying. I have come to realize over this week that this might just be a manifestation of their more naturally extroverted personalities expressing their insecurities and worries about specifically their relationships. I am more inclined to the introverted side, so I rarely volunteer my worries on a consistent basis such as they do. But I do have my worries, etc., I just choose to express them in a more quiet way such as journaling. I can’t make my friends change the way they express their fears but I can continue to exercise patience and empathy by listening to their words and gently reminding them that I hear them and validate their emotions. I think I might also start to express my problems more towards them as well so that way it seems more like a friendship and less like a therapist and her client. Overall, I think I have really benefitted from this week of thinking about empathy and although I already considered myself an empathetic person, I will continue to keep the concept at the forefront of my mind to see what else I discover.
Suppose that human evil is most prominently promulgated through a default lack of empathy when our conscious lives are confined to what bounces about in our skulls. In keeping with this, our tendency for ignorance of other’s thoughts and feelings is a manifestation of a natural human behavior whose name is apathy. The esteemed Kelly McGartland recently expressed the relevance of this notion, “It can be easy to emotionally detach yourself from another person and to view them as the ‘other'[…]”. I like to think that my maturation as a member of a family, a community and the Cal Poly student body has fermented primarily through mixing with views held by ‘others’. In my effort to mix, I engaged in dialogue with people completely at odds with me. This was frustrating at first because my inclination was to shoot down every claim in my sights that appeared immiscible with my understanding of the world. In time, however, I encountered an intriguing perspective of how beliefs are justified by their roles in particular worldviews. By taking a moment to listen to another explain themselves fully I was able to place their beliefs within their framework for understanding the world. I would subsequently feel the nauseating embarrassment of having a naive objection rest on the tip of my tongue. In addition to swallowing impulsive responses, I formed a habit of embarking on my turn in discussion with a question of clarification.
A good example of me employing these strategies requires a bit of context. As a nonreligious atheist for a number of years, I sought to expand my understanding of religious life by conversation through the practice explained above. Contacting CRU representatives on campus, I spoke with two men who manage it. Over the course of five weeks we met five times. Our discussions varied from meaning, language and life, to the afterlife, religion, the Bible, God, faith, and then to family, friendship, love, sex, even Jamba Juice preferences and how best to cook an egg. To our surprise, there was little fundamental difference in our lives. We lived day-to-day encountering similar problems, such as a difficulty rising in the morning, burned food, computer problems, paying rent, staying up detrimentally late watching YouTube, and parking tickets. In most ways we were the same. Having exchanged an obstructive critical attitude towards another’s ideas for the empathetic attitude, insights were gathered and shared that would otherwise have been left buried. Whether empathy can best be modeled as a bell-curve with a happy medium or thought of as a state or mind to be switched on or off, it was essential for my transformation.
My conversational expectations are now molded to anticipate something unique in every mind, to find a golden idea as though I were rocking in a chair mining a book for nuggets of wisdom. If empathy is a pillar of healthy human behavior, and an empathetic attitude its method of construction, then to prevent the entropy of apathy that leads to rubble of society and diseased human relationships, a step in a promising direction takes upon your shoulders the distinctly human burden of a journeying into the unfamiliar territory of different minds. “The surest way to corrupt the youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently”–Nietzsche said that, and I think he is on to something.
True connection with another person is not an easy task. We are fundamentally alone in our mind, trapped behind bars forged of the random circumstances we are born under and tempered by our fixed frame of reference. As close as you ever get to someone you will never see the world as they do. Each person is living a life as vivid and intricate as your own. The way each person sees the world is shifted and focused based on the building series of choices, compromises, failures, and doubts that they have weaved through to get to this moment. Every person. Their complex intentions and viewpoint may likely never be fully evident to themselves, let alone another person.
How can we make meaningful connections knowing we will never truly understand where a person is coming from? How can we come to terms that each of the multitudes of people are just as complex as we are? Many unknowingly and knowingly choose refusal. Refusal to believe that the lives of others are as vivid and vast as theirs are. To never know the full thoughts of others is to be, by default, assured that the “others” are far more different than alike. Refusing to think of others complexly is easy, but the result is further isolation.
Imagining others complexly is hard. It is a challenge that never stops, and that you will never be fully successful at. It is, however, a defiance to believe that we can deeply connect to others. The exercise of empathy is strenuous, and in personal experience I admit honestly that I have failed many more times than I have succeeded. Whether it is a family that is not well off, or a homeless person on the street, it is easy to ignore the depth of their lives. Their fond memories, their daily struggles, and their pain will never be seen from the surface. I would like to say that I can always pass a person and address with compassion their complexity as a person, but that would not be true. As I try to improve, I know I will never be perfect in seeing others complexly and compassionately, but I never want to knowingly choose the alternative.
Empathy is a very large part of human interaction and I think that this is something that myself included isn’t shown enough.
One of my biggest pet peeves and really frustrates me is when my friends say that they can not be happy. My best friend has gone through some pretty rough things involving their family and losing loved ones. I can speak from experience that this is a very traumatic experience and takes time to be able to deal with the feelings that you feel. That being said after several years of “not being able to be happy” and seeing them drag other people down with them and they refuse to go see someone to talk things through or even talk things through with me, it can become very frustrating because I knew the person that was always happy. This week it happened again and rather then getting frustrated I just asked whether or not they would go to therapy if I went with them. They said yes and after much discussion we realized that the problem wasn’t that they couldn’t be happy it was that they felt vulnerable if they went to therapy. I think stepping back and really thinking how can we fix this and looking at the problem from someone else’s perspective is a very large part of empathy.
I find empathy to be a key element within human interactions, but I understand how difficult it is to be empathetic and to consistently keep the intention of acting with empathy at the forefront of your mind. I try my best to, and I pretty frequently think about how I both want to and need to make empathy a priority in my relations with people, yet I consistently get frustrated with my inability to accomplish this.
Our focus on empathy recently in 392 has made me think even more about how empathy works and has led me to value it even more, but also to develop some questions about it. One question that has been on my mind is: after empathizing with someone I have encountered differences with to the point where I recognize their reasoning and where they are coming from, is there a point at which I am still validated in thinking they are wrong? I feel selfish in feeling this way, and it’s possible I’m not doing this whole empathy thing completely right. Regardless, this question has come up in multiple interactions with people with whom I have tried to demonstrate empathy, so as part of my learning process, I plan to continue reflecting on it.
A good friend of mine continuously exhibits behavior that has recently led me to question why I continue to feel the need to put time and effort into maintaining our friendship. This friend can be really fun and hilarious, down to hang out and adventure, etc., but he has his flaws as well. His humor is mean, which I find myself overlooking much of the time because I, myself, can fall into not having the nicest sense of humor as well sometimes. But, I also have recognized recently how I truly do not like the person I and others seem to become around him. He seems to always have something negative to say about people I understand him to be friends with, but changes his behavior around them when he is with them. I know this can be a common thing for some people, but it is to an extent I find myself uncomfortable with at this point. This week throughout my interactions with him, I employed empathy, as I usually try to, and I think I understand some of the reasons behind his behavior and mentality because I feel like I am a pretty perceptive person. However, I came to wonder if it is okay for me to yes, recognize the reasons behind his behavior, but still consider his actions and treatment of others as unjustified. In most cases I find empathy allowing me to justify someone’s behavior, and without empathizing, I wouldn’t be conscious of why he or she may act that way. But with this friend in particular, my attempts to empathize leave me with some questions, like: Do I use empathy to an extent within the bounds of our relationship to justify his continual mean and hurtful actions because I can see where they may be rooted? And do I just accept that he remains stuck in his ways, that seem wrong to me and toxic to those close to him?
I am very judgmental. When it comes to my aerospace teams, I place so much value on the success of the project, that I judge my teammates by their ability to perform a role. It seems so natural to me that everyone is there to complete a task. However, I lose sight that we are in school; classes aren’t supposed to be competitive. We are there for each other, and we are there to learn. When I stepped into my senior design class this year, I failed to recognize that. I saw one of my teammates as a weak link. His sometimes-backwards nines that looked like P’s made me discredit all the math and technical competency that he really possessed. I failed to see how incredible of a person he was. It wasn’t until I had a leadership class whose day’s focus was that sharing and understanding your teammates is necessary for a successful team that I took a step back. I felt so embarrassed that it had been two quarters, and I had no clue how incredible he is. He told me about how he earned a bachelor’s degree in business from a Chinese university and was the supervisor at a steel barrel manufacturing plant in China before he lost relations with the local government. His manager failed to cooperate with the authorities wrecking his role, and he moved to the states with his wife and children where he now commutes from the bay area every week to complete his studies. I had to see his side before I could understand. I learned that he is one of the most driven individuals I have ever met, and he’s part of the team. I’m there for him.
Empathy is something that I’ve been trying to make myself grow in deeply during my time at college. I’m heavily involved in the international center with international students, and if there ever is conflict, it normally stems from extremely different backgrounds (entirely different nationalities). As an English teacher in Prague, I also had find ways to understand my students struggles as a first time language speaker and relate it to my struggles when learning German and Spanish. But even then, it can still be hard to fully understand someone’s struggles until you fully place yourselves in one’s shoes. Even better when thinking about conflict – place yourselves in the other’s dirty, stinky socks. I once heard that at an entrepreneurship meeting, and I thought that phrase was much more fitting than the typical “shoe” phrase.
I like to think of myself as a pretty empathetic and easily-to-get-along-with guy when meeting people. Lately, however, translating emotions over text has been pretty difficult for me. Particularly, even to the extent that I alway misjudge my one of my best friend’s (that I’ve grew up with as neighbors) texts and always think that she’s doing something to anger me or is angered by me. Time and time again, I still have misread her texts – even after coming to understanding of previous conversations. I thought this exercise would probably be insanely beneficial to this situation (and to my overall understanding of written conversations I will have throughout my life). I’m much more of an in-person sort of guy, so the first thing I don’t have going for me when opening a text is being super happy to be texting. I think that alone already affects how I decode texts and their meanings. Everyone uses punctuation, haha’s, emojis, and expressions differently over texts, and its important to understand how certain people use certain things. It has taken me countless conversations in person to understand her side of texting to finally understand where she’s coming from. We haven’t had much time to hang out in person lately due to conflicting schedules, but have still had to figure out housing together over text. I’ve been pretty annoyed about her way she has been going about it, particularly because it seemed like I was doing almost all of the work and she seemed to not even realize that and almost angered by me (which came off in her texts, from my viewpoint). We talked in person for a while and talked about how I always think she’s angry, and she explained how she goes about texting with me, and I’m slowly starting to understand her texts better. It felt very strange being so close to someone in person, but still not understanding they text. It feels good to have a better understanding now that I’ve done this exercise.
“Empathy-the ability to understand and share the feelings of another” (Google Definitions). This is a simple, straight to the point definition of empathy, which in more colloquial terms means the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I believe that everyone could be more empathetic of the people around them. One every day scenario that I realized that I could be more empathetic in occurs in a parking lot. At Cal Poly specifically, parking is very competitive and I have noticed that I get very frustrated when I feel that someone “steals” my spot. Actually, I don’t just get frustrated with the situation, I get frustrated with the driver who took my spot. Is it actually my spot? Of course not, but I feel some sort of entitlement to it. Thinking about it, I am unsure where this sense of entitlement comes from. That spot is just as much mind as it is the other persons. They are trying to get to class just the same as I am, and this is something that I should be able to recognize. It should be easy for me to empathize with them because we actually are in the same situation. Out in the world, people tend to try to park as close as possible to whatever store or destination they are trying to get to. Likewise to the other scenario, I will get frustrated if someone takes the closest spot available that I was heading towards before I can get there. However, thinking about it, I am a young, able person and there is no reason that I can’t walk the extra distance. I don’t know anything about the person who took the spot and I think that sense of distance between myself and the other driver is what makes it so easy for me to become frustrated with them. However, for all I know they may be older or handicapped. They might actually have a physical need to park that close, and I do not. While this is a very simple example, the thought process can be applied to most situations. It can be easy to emotionally detach yourself from another person and to view them as the “other,” but I believe that if we all tried to empathize with other people and tried to understand where they are coming from, the world would be a nicer place to live. Recognizing my inability to empathize in the simplest of situations has been eye opening for me. I plan to start parking in the back of parking lots to save spots at the front for the people who need it more. In general, I want to strive to be a more empathetic person who can not only understand how someone else is feeling, but actually do something that might make them feel better.
Benjamin James Trinh:
Empathy has always been something I feel everyone can benefit from. The ability to understand and feel what other feels is truly something we can benefit from. When someone chooses to be empathetic, then sympathizing and becoming more self aware occurs. I recently saw a very eye opening video on empathy that doctors have everyday. When a patient comes in they may look completely normal, but they truly are in a lot of pain. Patients are judged everyday by strangers that truly do not understand what the patient is going through. As for me, I want to become a doctor as well and empathizing with a patient makes the job even better. An occurrence of me using empathy happens pretty often.
For my self intervention, I choose to put my shoes in one of my closest friends. He recently got a girlfriend and it has honestly made the relationship that we had much more distant. I became bitter that he did not hang out with me as much as he used to. I resented him and was very passive aggressive around him. But then I became curious and wondered why he was not hanging out with me as often anymore. I decided to put myself in his shoes. I began to realize how this girl makes him feel and as a result he chooses to be with her more often. I am a still a very good friend of his and I began to become more mature and only wish the best of him with her now. One thing that I did realize though was that I had to find a way to hang out with more often and that was by spending more time with both of them together. As a result of this compromise that I made with myself we actually all became good friends and I see her as a great addition to both our lives.
Ultimately when one chooses to be in the shoes of the other person you begin to realize how we all go through problems of our own throughout our lives. It is not fair to judge someone without truly understanding what this person is going though. If I did not choose to empathize with my friend and his relationship with his girl, I don’t think we would every be good friends again. I also do think if he choose to empathize with what I was feeling than maybe we would both benefit. Overall, this self intervention of empathizing with others truly opens your eyes up to the problems that other people deal with everyday. We are so quick to judge other people but once we put ourselves into other people’s shoes then we become better at sympathizing and more open minded.
When I think about Empathy, I immediately think about relationships and human connections. Being able to put yourself in another’s shoes is a vital aspect of communication and interpersonal interactions. In order to facilitate beneficial dialogue between two parties, whether that be for day to day conversation or for design and problem solving, we must develop this sense of trust and understanding of one another. Personally, I’ve made it a goal to become a better communicator. This means active listening and showing empathy for other people. What I struggle with is reserving my judgements and this stems from regarding another person as “the other.”
For example, one of my good friends in my main circle of friends, has recently become part of an organization on campus. This organization has taken up most of his time and now he spends more time with new friends from the organization. Not only do we rarely see him, but when we do see him, there is also of tension and he isn’t very pleasant. This being said, when I put myself in his shoes, trying to keep judgement aside, I can see maybe why his relation with the group is changing. I first think about how much social interaction is involved with his organization, along with outside organization for events, and I feel exhausted just thinking about it. I also think about all the new people he has met and how exciting it must be to start building more relationships, getting to know each individual person with their corresponding quirks and unique attributes. By imagining the exhaustion and excitement he must be feeling, I can start to understand why he doesn’t have the energy or time to commit to a separate group of people. This exhaustion could also extend to him not being as kind, because once you are tired, negativity can spread like wildfire.
By understanding the reasoning behind him being distanced from the circle of friends as a whole, I don’t see him as the villain or aggressor to the situation. In my interactions with him, I can be more patient. Putting myself in his shoes helps me understand that I shouldn’t take offense to my person when he is in a bad mood or doesn’t want to socialize more. While it’s easy to say that I wouldn’t address the situation the way he has, in reality I don’t actually know how I would act under such circumstances.
Overall, going through the mental exercise of empathizing with another is not only beneficial to one’s self, but better for the relationship between the two or group of people.
I am familiar with empathy self-interventions, as my work in counseling psychology and my work with children requires me to have a great deal of practice in the areas of both patience and empathy. Practice is key here and one person I don’t have much practice with in my mother. The next couple of paragraphs detail my thought process through this experience. She and I have had a great deal of conflict in the last six years or so and at this point I find it extremely difficult to empathize with her because she seems so irrational and she has hurt me so many times. With Mother’s Day coming up, I figured now would be a good time to try on the empathy hat again. I started by spending some time reflecting on the fact that she refused to respect the boundaries I have been trying to set in place over the last several weeks. I have asked her to not contact me unless there is an emergency for the time being because I need some space from her and she has not stayed true to her word. This got me thinking, what part of her saying that she wouldn’t contact me if that’s what I wanted did she not understand? They were seemingly her own words, but trying to empathize with her helped me to obtain a little more insight into the cognitive dissonance created by agreeing to not speak to your daughter. Over and over again my mom has emphasized that she wants to have the sort of relationship with me where we can talk about anything – a relationship that was the opposite of what she had with her own mother. A lot of problems stem from the fact that she treats me like a peer rather than her child. I can see where it comes from – she wants to be friends with me. She and my dad split when I was very young and I am the oldest, I have always acted like a second parent I our house. She told me secrets I couldn’t tell my brothers, she told me about the men she was dating . . . she treated me like I was a friend. When the time came for me to spill my guts, she was wasn’t a good friend to me or a particularly good parent. I worked on seeing it from her perspective. My self-intervention is to spend some time every day for the next couple of days actively thinking about things from her perspective. She wants to talk to me about our problems. The problem is, I have done the talking for years and years and have been written off every time, so now, when what she wants more than anything is to be able to talk through our problems – I won’t do it. I’m trying to see it from her perspective, see, she thinks that our problems started when she married her new husband and she that years of me talking without her listening have worn on me. She needs me to talk to her so she doesn’t feel like she has failed as a parent. My perspective is that I need some time apart from her in order to heal. After considering that all she seems to want right now is to know that I haven’t completely abandoned her and left her behind, I decided to text her on Mother’s Day – just a simple message. “Happy Mother’s Day (flower)”. During this week, my way of interacting with her has changed in how I think about her and I made a small step towards interacting with her in a healthy way.
In general, I believe that most people have some understanding of empathy, and the idea that we are able to understand the feelings of others. We understand that, in some sense, there is a sort of general human condition that exists in our world, and all of us share in that collected mindset of thoughts and feelings; frankly, it’s part of what makes us the intelligent species we are, that ability of cognition of other’s emotions. Still, that doesn’t stop us from judging, disagreeing with, or getting angry with other people – whether we call them assholes outright or just think it to ourselves, we often lack empathetic thought.
I have this problem quite often with a roommate of mine. Generally, this roommate does not say a word to me, even when we run into each other or share a room in our own house; I will often say a quick hello to him when we do meet, to no response. When he does talk, it usually concerns problems with the house or our living situation, and often comes across as accusatory. Generally, he talks more to my girlfriend than he ever does to me, something I only know because of what she’s told me herself. Due to this, it feels awkward to try and make dinner while he is also in the kitchen, or to play music in my room or watch TV while he is home, as his room and mine share a wall. Additionally, it always seems like he is in the room that I want to go to, no matter what time of day; he’s in the kitchen when I want to make dinner, he’s taking a shower when I want to go to the bathroom, and so forth. It then feels like he takes FOREVER to do whatever he’s doing in there; his shower takes thirty minutes, he has an hour-long dinner, etc. All things considered, he frustrates me on a regular basis.
However, when I think about it, maybe I should learn to empathize with him a little more. He does a labor-intensive, team-focused major (Engineering) just like I do (City Planning), so perhaps his silence at home is because of his social interactions during the day. I mean, thinking of myself, nothing sounds better after a long day than some private de-stressing time. Besides, problems in the house do need to be dealt with; he probably doesn’t want to be mentioning them himself, but recognizes their unavoidable nature. His involvement in a project-based major like mine could also explain our similar schedules, and why we do always want the same area at the same time. Plus, for every time I’ve felt like I had to wait for him to finish, maybe he’s had to wait for me?
I know that I still need to work on my empathy for others, and hope that self-reflection can continue in this area. Hopefully, this can eventually reflect in my relationship with him, and if not friends, we can at least become more comfortable with each other.
For the first self intervention, we don’t throw anything away for a week. Keep all garbage, compostables, and recyclables somewhere. Afterward a week, please sort it according to what you will do with it and consider the best place to put everything. Take a picture of it and post your experience with the picture. If you want to know what this is like, please see way down below. Log your experience below and provide a photograph. I show you how to do this in the video for Wednesday’s class (week 2).
Going into this Self Intervention, I was worried it was going to be difficult and I might have some failures. Well, after a week of consciously refraining from throwing any waste away, I feel reassured that this is something I could do indefinitely. Although I had a couple of slip-ups, where I threw away gum wrappers, I feel good about how I did. This was a cool experience given that I have never done anything like this. One thing that really helped with this process and reduced the amount of waste I had was my ability to prepare all of my meals at the beginning of the week. I have done meal prep before and this self intervention alone will influence me to continue doing it in the future. It is more convenient, cheaper, healthier and less environmentally impactful than other methods of food preparation and I recommend everyone try it.
I was unable to take a picture of my trash because a roommate threw it away in the end, but this was a great experie nce nonetheless. I learned that I generally don’t produce that much trash. I began to notice everything that I would’ve thrown away and thought of ways to decrease my trash amount. I began to reuse the same plastic bag for my peanut butter sandwiches for at most a week. I also started using less paper/plastic utensils. The only thing that was hard for me was eating out because that is where I generated the most waste. It was hard to keep my food waste from eating out because I did not want it to pile up in my car. I hope that maybe I can ask for less paper wrapping for my food just to decrease my amount of waste. This was a very good learning experience overall, and it is something I could definitely do again.
This task was difficult largely because of school – it was easy to put my trash at home in a separate bin, but trash from school I had to carry all day long. I expected to have a lot of trash, and was not surprised. It’s amazing how much easier it is to produce trash than it is for these items to be made. Furthermore, when viewing this picture I try to keep in mind that this is only the waste that I see in front of me. There is a lot more being produced in the industries that make these products, lots of waste in the mining or gathering of the raw materials for these products, etc. Most of my trash comes from large recyclable cardboard or plastic items from Costco. However, I believe that this actually reduces the total waste produced due to the volume to surface area ratio. It takes less cardboard to package 40 trail mix bars in one package than if they were separated into cardboard boxes of 5 bars each.
This self-intervention proved to be a harder task than I thought. Specifically, what proved to be difficult, was to remember to keep and collect the waste. I am so accustomed to consuming and throwing out my waste immediately that it is alarming when I am faced with the pile of a week’s worth of trash. The biggest difficulties were from items that weren’t opened or used at home. I had trouble remembering to bring things back home such as coffee cups from Julian’s or food trays from The Ave. But even with a decent number of items that were thrown away before adding them to my pile at home, I was still surprised at the amount of trash I had. One clear observation I had was the large number of paper towels I used. Although their disposal process isn’t too damaging, I recognized the need for a reusable kitchen towel or just to use them more sparingly in general. Other items that didn’t make the picture was my recycle pile of glass beer/kombucha bottles and beer cans (thrown out by my roommates on trash day).
After saving my trash for a week, I found that I had collected a decent amount. With an unfortunate stroke of bad luck, I had two large packages come in the mail, chock full of plastic packing materials (mostly trash). I started to use these as storage for the rest of my trash. I found that I used a significant amount of plastics in my day to day when I pack lunches and snacks. As I noticed them start to accumulate, I started reusing my plastic baggies, refilling them instead of replacing them. This alone cut down on my trash waste significantly. I also noticed, that I use a fair amount of glass bottles. While recyclable, I know that these are significantly less recyclable than aluminum, which is something I would prefer to use, but usually don’t think about. After a failed attempt to up-cycle one of the glass bottles into a drinking glass (it shattered), I decided to just recycle them. A good amount of my trash was recyclable, which I was happy about. Our recycling bins were full at the end of the week, which means that our property manager comes and throws all of the piled up recyclables into the large, empty dumpster >:(, and so I took them to my neighbor’s recycling instead. (In the spirit of this intervention, I sent an email to our landlord asking them to get more recycling bins). I wish I had sorted out the food-waste as I went (it got very unfortunate by the end of the week to sort it), but ended up taking what I could to the campus compost bins.
This self-intervention certainly made me notice the amount of waste I generate. By volume alone, I think it helped me realize the importance of sorting out recycling and ensuring it doesn’t go to the landfill to occupy that space forever. It also made me want to reduce my use. I plan on keeping some of the habits I developed like reusing baggies and avoiding products with excessive packaging.
*need to post a picture still D:*
I have done the week of not throwing anything away before in Univ 391. Still, even though this was the second I have done it, it was a huge challenge. I have really bad allergies due to all the pollen so I am constantly using tissues throughout the day. Carrying the used tissues with me all day was definitely a little inconvenient. to avoid using lots of plastic bags, I made sure to use tupperware for my lunches and dinners that I packed for the day. A lot of my trash came from plastic bags that I used to put vegetables in at the grocery store or at farmers market. I realized that this waste can be pretty easily avoided by bringing my own re-usable bags to the store with me. I tend to not throw away any food because I hate wasting it. However, I did have to toss some vegetables this week because they went bad. Not throwing this food away and having to keep it around for a week really reminded me to not buy too much food at once so that it doesn’t end up going bad. This can be solved easily by going to the grocery store two or three times per week instead of trying to just go once. Going forward, I am going to try to continue to monitor the amount of trash I have and do what I can to minimize waste.
Trying not to throw away any trash for a week turned out to be much harder than I originally anticipated. The first day was pretty easy as the idea and challenge was fresh in my mind. But as the week wore on I found myself walking away from throwing something away and then remembering my assignment just slightly too late. Just by trying to be aware of my trash output I think helped me to cut down on my overall amount of trash generated. I noticed through this assignment that most of my personal trash comes from wrappers. This particular week happened to be very heavy on candy wrappers from Easter. My roommates and I make meals together so we tend not to have much food waste on account of us all being hungry and finishing everything. But the waste that also comes with these dinners is more food wrappers such as foil, or saran wrap. This assignment has really made me aware of the amount of trash waste that I produce on a daily basis and has given me a better understanding of steps I can take to reduce waste.
Throughout the course of a week I collected all of the trash that I accumulated through groceries, dining out, and other purchases that I had made. Overall, the intervention proved to be more challenging than I initially thought it would be. The most difficult part for me was remembering to not throw anything away while I was out of the house. Generally, I try to eat most of my meals at home to minimize cost and waste. However, I typically have one or two exceptions every week so I did have a couple boxes of pizza to dispose of. One thing that this intervention made me more aware of is how certain items are distributed into recyclables, trash, or compost. I learned more about which items fall under which category, making my future attempts at minimizing waste easier. As a nation we produce far too much waste, and through participating in this self-intervention I was able to see just how much trash I produce myself in only a few days and learned better habits regarding sustainability and eliminating needless waste.
When I first started the self-intervention I considered myself quite aware of my main sources of waste and how much I created on a daily basis. I assumed that I was pretty knowledgeable in the area and did small things to cut down on it where I could. However in doing this assignment I realized that I generated much more than I thought I did, frequently in very avoidable ways. The two largest areas of unnecessary and avoidable waste generation I found from myself, which actually happened to be the largest amount of trash that I generated, was in small portable food containers and paper towels. Because I usually eat on the go or while doing something else I tend to use a lot of disposable plastic bags or eat granola bars with their own packaging or something similar, generating a very significant amount of waste. I also found that I tended to use paper towels for quick cleaning when I could easily use a rag or other reusable material. This assignment has made me much more aware of small areas in my life where I am creating avoidable waste and I am now more likely to consider that when I am buying groceries or other situations where I have a choice on using more or less packaging. I am going to try to improve my habits specifically by reducing the amount of paper towels I use and trying to always have a reusable towel on hand, and being intentional about using reusable Tupperware, making my own trail mix from larger, reusable containers and not buying small, disposable containers. I hope that in starting with these smaller ways I will move towards a more sustainable and net zero waste generating life.
this is my second time doing big this self intervention and this time was a lot different from my first time. This time the thing that’s I noticed was that I used a lot of cardboard boxes and such that end up just going in the recycle bin. It was right after I had gone home so my parents sent me back with a bunch of packaging I wouldn’t normally have. One of the main challenges I had was that my roommate really hated the trash and felt like they were living in filth by not taking it out. I am going to continue to see how much trash i go through.
Since I took Industrial Pollution Prevention class last quarter, I’ve already been in the mindset to reduce my waste. I bought these reusable produce bags instead of using the cheap plastic ones at the grocery store for my onions and things of the sort. I was really excited to do this intervention, but of course, there were many challenges that arose. I usually have trouble finishing my foods, so I had to work hard to portion out my meals well so that I would not throw any away. Also, I used a lot of tissue to blow my nose since it is allergy season. Eating out produces a lot of waste too, so I was extra cognitive of that and I did my best to bring my own tupperware to restaurants. Lots of coffee/boba cups too.. I think I was pretty successful and did not produce as much waste as I probably normally would. I pay more attention to packaging and do my best to avoid disposable material.
This self intervention proved difficult especially in the beginning. It seemed tedious not to throw everything in the normal trash, but to instead set it aside and keep it in a specific trash can so I could separate it later on. In doing this, I received some criticism from my roommates that thought performing a self intervention was odd, however I dismissed this as people usually comment on things they find out of the ordinary. I usually buy most of my food in bulk so the packaging from this is minimal as there is usually just one package for each set of items I consume. In addition, almost half of the waste that I produced was recyclable as the waste is mostly paper products (if it was not recyclable it was in contact with food), or it was a type of plastic (if it was not recyclable it was in the same boat at the paper products). Most of the time I am fairly conservative in the amount of waste I produce as I am from a family that is fairly environmentally conscious, so I was glad to see that most of the waste I produced could at least be recycled. I think that this was a great experiment at least for the point of introspection, as I realized I could be more careful with the waste that I create. By this I mean that some of the items that ended up in the trash/compost pile may have been able to be recycled if I had been a little more careful.
My waste came from a multiple different sources throughout the week. I typically eat cereal in the morning out of a bowl, so I generate only water waste cleaning the bowl in my sink. For lunch and dinner I cook a meal that I have sized over the ears living on my own. I generate a couple boxes pasta boxes per week and the plastic bag from my plastic chicken every other week. Part of my waste consists of banana peels from afternoon smoothies and mango peels that I compost. I generate no waste during my time at San Luis Obispo apart from 2-3 papers that I recycle per week. I take all of my notes on my iPad to minimize paper waste as much as possible. The biggest times I generate waste is if I forget about a piece of food in the fridge and it goes bad. This happens very scarcely since me and my roommates eat all of our food in the week and visit the grocery store again over the weekend. I try to always bring my own reusable bags when I shop but if I forget then I reuse the paper bags they give me during another trip to the store. Most of my shopping is done at ralphs. Ralphs provides food for SLO food bank so I support shopping there. The foil tin is from a pizza shop that I was forced to trash due to the food waste stuck on the edges. I also have two cans of grease that I have to dispose of in the trash in there.
Cole Van Brunt:
Over the last week I have been surprised at how much waste I actually produce. I almost completely filled up a small trash bag in five days. Luckily, I found that the majority of the waste I held on to was recyclable material, to-go food containers, wine and beer bottles, and some Yerba Mates. The other waste I produced was compostable, mostly consisting of banana and tangerine peels and scraps of throwaway food I would normally give to the dog. The only pieces of garbage I could not recycle or compost was the empty milk carton and some used paper towels. I enjoyed this self intervention as it is insightful to take a step out of the natural grooves of daily life and take a look at yourself from an outside perspective. I do think this exercise will make me more conscious about my recycling and composting efforts in the future.
I started the week trying to approach my intervention as un-biased and controlled as possible. I wanted to see how much trash I normally produced. With that being said, I didn’t change any of my habits, and I was really surprised to see the trash add up throughout the week because I don’t really use much. Nearly all of it is food and drink packaging shown in the paper bag. Another portion is organic waste: squeezed lemons, broccoli trunks, avocado shells, etc which are composted and not in the image. The last bit is receipts, toilet paper, foil. The food and drink packaging seem the most environmentally harmful. They are predominantly plastics which require significant amounts of energy and resources to produce and dispose. The receipts, toilet paper, and foil are intermediate wastes, because they require much less energy to produce and dispose. They also can be recycled to an extent. The last bit, the food waste, is all biodegradable. Moving forward, I plan to avoid plastics and polymers. A good substitute is paper which can wrap lunches and be less impactful on the environment. Reusable containers are also a great alternative to reduce my footprint. Lastly, being proactive by purchasing products that aren’t packaged in plastic is the best way to form a more sustainable life.
For my “keep track of my trash” intervention, I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover that I produce a lot less trash than I originally thought I would in a week. The majority of my waste came from napkins or gum wrappers (I chew a lot of gum). There was more gum trash than pictured just because I constantly forgot to keep the trash gum for this photo. I also think that this week was probably less than most, as I was using less paper plates and napkins than usual, since I was eating mainly leftovers out of Tupperware. Nearly all of my waste was the result of food products, (although no wasted food this week!) and much to my surprise, most of my waste is either compostable or recyclable. The more damaging trash that I produce in general usually comes from items that I use over longer periods of time, so are not as common, like soap bottles, different electronics, etc. I think one challenge that I might have now is specifically noticing the amount of waste that my roommates have produced, which has always somewhat bothered me.
My waste came from a variety of sources. I typically meal prep, so I produce most of my food waste in one big event, and then use reusable containers/tupperware. I also had a hard time keeping all the small waste I produce at cal poly. My class schedule is dense and long on MWF, but I don’t have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was tricky to carry the waste I had make at 10 am on Monday until 9pm without absentmindedly throwing it out. Two notably large proportions of my waste were amazon boxes/plastic wrappers and tissues. San Luis Obispo hits me hard with allergies (especially during spring). I also work two jobs, between school hours so whenever possible I prefer to order online to save time. I’ve been pretty good about not letting food go bad. Costco sells in bulk, which produces less waste but they also are pretty good at preserving meats. there’s a package of vacuum sealed rotisserie chicken that stays good for about a week, and then an additional few days after its opened. I also use certain tricks like wrapping avocados in tin foil and leaving them in the fridge to make them last longer. The amazon boxes aren’t pictured, but I have 3 of them, along with some of my roommates. they’re pointless waste that I could avoid by shopping more in person
I prep most of my meals and I found it difficult to save all the vegetable scraps, egg shells, and food packaging while in the hubbub of things cause many a times I would just casually toss them into the trash. From the results, I realize I eat eggs for almost every meal and that a portion of the vegetables I bring from home almost always go bad. I really do try to eat them asap, but I think a simple solution is just to bring vegetables that won’t wilt as fast. Since I mainly use reusable containers to pack food and a water bottle at school and don’t usually buy food on campus, it wasn’t that difficult to limit my waste at school except for the occasional orange peels and paper napkins. What’s funny is that most of the containers I’ve been using were yogurt/ kimchi/ food containers that I’ve just been reusing after finishing the food content. I’ve been really into trying different kombucha brands lately, which contributed to my recyclables. Looking at my week’s worth of trash, minus a few things here and there, I am interested in a compost bin. I’m not sure how to get one or make one but I will look into it. I always end up throwing away produce bags because most of the time they’re wet, a pain to dry, and too small to use efficiently for anything else, but I want to try reusing them.
I had a fun time collecting all of my refuse for a week. There was virtually no pushback for having a bag of trash in my room, as I am fortunate to have a space to myself. I had a hard time making sure that all of the trash I accumulated throughout the week made it to the bag in my room, especially cooking scraps. Now that I think of it, I did not save any of my eggshells from my breakfast each morning, and almost none of the scraps created from cooking dinner at night. Overall, this exercise made me think about the trash I create, consider where most of my trash comes from, and where it ultimately ends up. I think it would be very interesting to visit a landfill or a recycling center as a class, to see first hand where our trash goes after it leaves our houses on the truck.
This self-intervention was quite the eye-opener for me. I found it quite tough to always remember to keep my waste, and so in reality I definitely threw away more than what is in my picture. I consider myself fairly environmentally conscious, however, the way in which I found myself tossing stuff away without a second thought really made me realize how ingrained it is in our culture to not think about where all of our waste goes. One thing that I noticed about myself is how many paper towels I use. Even though they are recyclable, I think using regular hand towels would be a more eco-friendly solution. Another thing I noticed is how hard it was for me to save compostables. We don’t have a compost pile at my house, and thus, most of it went straight into the trash, again, without a second thought. This makes me think of the huge food-waste problem we have here in the States, and honestly, it kind of makes me feel guilty to know that I am part of the problem. I have talked to my roommates about starting our own compost pile (our city bucket got pretty gnarly really quick) as we have a small garden that would benefit from having compost. Reflecting back on this experience, it has made me realize that even when you may think that you are environmentally friendly, there are definitely more things you could be doing to reduce your footprint.
I have been conscience of my waste consumption regularly for the past couple of years and have driven myself toward a zero-waste life style. I have found that being completely zero-waste is difficult and time consuming. As a college student, life often gets too hectic to constantly think about preparing food ahead of time, shopping strictly for items that are not packaged, etc., but I definitely make more of an effort than the average person. This self-intervention was helpful for me because even though I pay attention to my trash, I have never actually held on to it and carried it around with me. It was good for me to see the actual amount of landfill, recycling, and compost I produced throughout the week and where it all came from. Fortunately, most my waste was food waste and my roommates and I are good about composting. I found that my biggest downfall was with items that were given to me or bought by someone else for me to share. For example, I went camping last weekend with a group of 30 people and all the food was provided. I did not want to be responsible for bringing and storing my own food, so I ended up eating many individually packaged items that I would not have purchased on my own. I think I will continue this challenge for at least the next month to encourage myself to work harder toward my zero-waste goals.
Compost (not all pictured) – Landfill – Recycle
Initially, I thought this wasn’t going to be too difficult or too shocking because I already use reusable materials to bring food to school with me and I use a reusable water bottle and don’t buy drinks on campus. But once I actually began to collect my trash, I realized how much waste I was producing. The majority of my garbage is food packaging and paper products. I really tried to reduce my paper usage during this time, but there were times where it was unavoidable, such as I needed to wipe oil off my hands and didn’t want to ruin our dish towels, or when I took off my makeup with wipes. Also, when I was at work at the Children’s Center I have to wash my hands and dry with paper towels pretty frequently, which I wasn’t able to save. And although I was bringing food with me and using tupperware or glassware to transport the majority of my food, some things like string cheese and granola bars I was unable to pack those without their packaging. In my photo below, the sections are divided up by food waste to the left, with avocado skins, eggshells, sweet potato skins, etc. In the middle are the paper products and to the right are food packages (folded in grape container). Also, over Easter this weekend I ate quite a few pieces of pre-packaged candies (like Reese’s cups and Kit Kats) so there was an excess in that area. For some reason, this week I also finished several food packages that I use multiple times until they’re empty, such as the almond milk and the grape container. Overall, I would like to see my trash production go down in the future, and even though I don’t have the means to compost here at school, when I am living at home I am able to put food scraps in with the green waste. This week was definitely surprising to me, considering that I feel like I am pretty conscientious about trash in general. This showed me I still have to continue working towards producing less waste.
This is the second time I have done such an exercise in self realization. In my high school AP Environmental Science class we did the same week long exercise, and among many other aspects of that class (viewing trash for a week is eye opening but not the most driving) drove me to jump head first into the field of environmental engineering which I greatly enjoy now. With that formative aside completed, it’s on to this week! I promptly started the week off by ruining a plate in the microwave which I then carried around for the week as a badge of shame (at least in my own mind) which regales how not to treat a plastic plate. Lesson Learned. Many granola bar wrappers in the week, a staple snack. Though, it is one whose waste isn’t the most easily recycled. Many eggshells used in the making of breakfasts, dinners, and baking in with the other solid waste. All in all, not as much as I would have expected, but much more than I desire. Simply by gazing into the bag I can see the large amounts of preventable waste used throughout the week. As I look forward to preparing a ceremony and laying my garbage into its final resting place, it is a good opportunity for reflection. At one point in the week I pulled a large stack of junk mail out of my mailbox to recycle luckily having Kelly remind me to not throw it away. And that made getting junk mail immensely more frustrating to me. Without my request or consent I (and everyone else) get large stacks of paper that go straight to a recycling center. An aggravating waste in my opinion, especially when you’re forced to keep it as if you, simply by living, generate this waste. Enough of that rant. The apparent trend is a distinct susceptibility to pizza and cookies. Though, It’s not as if I already don’t know this; weakness to pizza and cookies are what I would consider my 3rd and 4th biggest character flaws. Can you really blame me though? Anyways, the point is I knew that but the trash confirmed it with evidence. An eye opening experience all around, and only a good amount of distain harbored from the USPS and companies colluding to have me walk directly from my mailbox to the garbage.
Saving my trash this past week has been really eye opening and I never realized how much trash I generate. There were many times where I forgot to keep my trash in my backpack and my trash bag also got way too big to carry around. Since I am usually on campus all day I often to pack my lunch so reduce waste I usually use plastic/glass Tupperware. I noticed that I didn’t generate that much trash on campus, but I had a lot more waste at home. A majority of my trash came from a lot of plastic packaging from my food items. I noticed I ate a lot of individually wrapped foods and I could reduce this waste and save money buying in bulk instead. Another thing I noticed was my high usage of paper towels, I love the convenience of paper towels but I know that I can easily substitute this item. Finally, I noticed that I waste a lot more food than I thought I did. Every time I threw organic waste away I noticed that I should make/buy smaller portions because I constantly throwing out food. This experiment helped me recognize areas of where I could easily reduce my personal waste.
For the first self intervention of the quarter, I had to do something that I have never done before. Keeping all my garbage, compostables, and recyclables somewhere surely was going to be a big task for me to do. It came as a shock to me considering how large my recyclables bag turned out, including the fact that I typically am not mindful of this. As I continue to pile on the cans and bottles in my bad I soon realized that I truly need to be more aware of it. It was also hard to take home certain non-reusable items form restaurants so I am sure I used more than I have collected. I am not big on recycling but considering how much I have used in one week truly opened my eyes to how much I use. Considering that I also go out to eat quite often, I had plenty of plastic bad and containers to throw away. By the weekend, my garbage had become nearly full form everything I consumed (mainly food). Including some packages that I have received throughout the week also increased my compost usage. Every time I would eat around campus there would be trash cans with certain labels over telling us how to properly sort the paper plates, napkins, forks, etc. that we just used. Doing that during the week for everything was quite simply very eye opening. I learned how much I used for just myself at SLO in one week. I am very curious to see how much I would do in one month! Overall, I definitely need to be more mindful of using reusable forks, spoons, etc. while I eat. I hope to lower my overall throw away usage throughout the quarter.
This assignment was surprisingly enjoyable for me, I thought it was going to be much harder than it actually was. I collected my trash for one week, not throwing anything away. I feel like I did pretty well over the course of the week as far as retaining everything that I would normally throw away. I started my intervention on the morning of Tuesday April 11th and finished the morning of Tuesday April 18th. I decided it would be easiest to set up two bags and a compost bin in the kitchen of my house (somewhat to the annoyance of my roommates) and have that be the central location for my trash collection. While on campus for class, I would keep my trash and recycling at the bottom of the lunch bag I bring my lunch in every day. This system seemed to work very well actually since I always had the bag on hand, I could put in very piece of trash I felt the need to actually throw away and it was even easier than needing to find a trashcan! As far as the volume of trash I generated, it was less than I thought I would generate for a full week. I discovered that since it is too expensive to buy food on campus, I tend to eat most of my meals at home or bring food in Tupperware to school with me. Because of that, the only main time I generated trash was while I was at home cooking. Since it was Easter weekend, I had three people visiting me in SLO and I kept the trash that was created in meal prep for all four of us, which raised the volume of my bags a little bit. Also, I ate a fair bit of candy after our Easter egg hunt and that generated more waste than I would have liked. This was a great learning process for me, I began to store food in reusable containers in the fridge instead of in plastic bags, even though I normally reuse the plastic bags many time before disposing of them. This storage technique was a little difficult for me because I live in a house with four other roommates and our fridge space is very limited. Since I was using more bulky food storage options, I was taking up my roommate’s space in the fridge and a little tiff arose from it but was handled well all around. I also noticed I was finding more ways to reuse my waste instead of dispose of it. Although my recycling pile was larger than my trash pile, I still feel like it is not ideal to have a lot of recycling either. Overall, this assignment was very eye opening. I never realized how oblivious I am to the amount of trash I generate even though I try to constantly be aware of it. In the future, I would like to continue the practices I have adopted along this week long intervention to produce less waste all around.
Trash, recycle, compost
Right off the bat, I found myself enjoying this Self-Intervention assignment. And throughout the week, I continued to find it valuable with each reminder I got from placing any waste I produced in a distinct spot. I started the morning of Monday, April 10th, and continued until Midnight on Monday, April 17th. In my room and in the kitchen, I set aside two separate bags into which my personal waste would go, and in my backpack, I kept a plastic grocery bag to collect my waste produced throughout my school day. I am fairly sensitive about waste and am pretty religious about reusing to the best of my abilities (with napkins I get as much use as I can out of them, regardless of others thinking they’re dirtied; I reuse ziplock bags, foil, siran wrap for food for as many days/weeks as I can when I choose that form of storage for my food; etc), and I tend to have the mindset that a lot of materials (that others see as pointless) could have potential uses in the future, whether for something practical or some sort of art. Although it was less than I expected, I appreciated seeing about how much waste I produce in a week because it gave me a better perspective on how easily my waste as an individual accumulates. For this reason, I found myself developing a deeper motivation to not only continue recycling and reusing, but also ensure my waste is disposed of in the most sustainable of ways, whether it be recycling, compost or landfill. Additionally, I did not collect the waste I produced at my on-campus job at Red Radish because I thought it would be too difficult to accomplish in the fast-paced environment, and while acting according to certain regulations. However, I think it would be very interesting to undergo some sort of experimentation with examining the amount of waste produced by different facets of campus- dining because ever since I started working on campus, the problem of waste within the system has been quite a concern for me.
This intervention was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, and I definitely think that I ended up making decisions that produce less trash in order to avoid carrying it with me the rest of the day. Thus I probably created lass trash than average. However I think I will continue to think about how my lifestyle creates trash and adjust accordingly in the future, as a result of this intervention. A main thing I realized was that it really does not make sense to buy coffee in a non-reusable cup everyday or even every few days. This intervention made me think a lot about packaging and how inefficient a lot of the packaging that exists is, at least with respect to the amount of waste produced, and I also realized that making small adjustments to the type of products (mostly food products) I buy daily, I can really reduce the amount of trash I produce. For example, I realized that handheld fruits, particularly apples, are really great because I can eat pretty much everything except for the seeds, the sticker, and the stem (very minimal waste). This intervention also reminded me a lot of backpacking, because whilst backpacking you have no choice but to carry all the trash you create. Overall, I am really glad that I participated in this intervention, and I hope to make choices that minimize my trash production in the future.
This first self-intervention required us to retain all of our trash for a full week, which I found to be trickier than I originally thought it would be. Because the majority of my days are spent on the Cal Poly campus, this intervention required me to carry all trash I produced with me as I went throughout my day; however, because I got busy with school or work, this often slipped my mind, and I chucked some things instead of carrying them out of convenience. Due to this, I know that the amount of trash I ended up collecting was far less than what I actually produced over the week. Of the trash I did collect (as pictured below), the majority ended up being food waste or leftovers, mainly due to my girlfriend and I cooking fresh meals for dinner nightly. Additionally, because of the Easter holiday on Sunday, wrappers for chocolate and other candy made up another large portion of the overall waste. I decided not to sort the trash until after the intervention was finished, to fully understand the amount being thrown away. By Monday, I had two full garbage bags of waste collected, not including the items thrown away accidentally throughout the week. It was incredibly surprising to see how much had been collected over such a short period of time, and makes me want to find ways to decrease my overall trash output.
The intervention was a lot harder than I originally thought it was going to be. Not only did I catch myself accidentally throwing things away without a thought, but I also found it difficult in realizing how much waste truly produce. Last week was a bit atypical of my everyday habits and I would like to believe that I produced more trash last week than I usually do. I spent the first few days fully participating in the intervention, but then made the decision to quite the intervention at the music festival that I went to. As seen in my picture, I had multiple granola bar and chocolate wrappers (because Easter week, of course) from the beginning of the week. The basket includes my compost from the first few days, made up of apple cores, banana peels, and coffee grinds. The third pile is a pile of plastic containers from ready- made meals that I grabbed from Trader Joes and Lassens. I believe that if I were to make my food from scratch at home, my trash production would decrease significantly. Despite the lack of full, active participation in the intervention at the music festival, I still remained aware of all the trash that I was producing with all the food that I bought. A slight relief came from the sorting bins that the festival had. All around the food areas were bins for compost, recycling, and trash. There was even a guy near the main area teaching people how to sort properly.
Armando Ruiz: This last week I tried to collect all my trash. It was difficult to remember because at my house, I wasn’t able to simply use my trusty kitchen trash bin. You see, I live in a house with five people and that trash bin is for all five. By endeavoring on this project alone, I needed another bag. Across the living room in the far right corner, I mounted a trash bag, my trash bag, for my use alone. And into this bag I poured all my scraps, my junk and my empty beer cans. But there was some trash that resisted my collection. An alliance of egg shells and store receipts evaded my capture and were habitually tossed away, never to be found. There was one instance where I used a Zip-lock sandwich bag at school and was intent on returning home to put it in by bag, but it betrayed me and found itself tossed in a school trash bin on the way back home (the ones with a small entry hole). Only later that evening did I recall how that bag had abandoned me. For the remainder of the week I decided to use Tupperware to carry my sandwich bag—it’s working out fine. If I were to do this for another week, I would find a better place to put my bag, preferably in the kitchen where I can better remember to use it. Sometimes I would get lucky: as I would be about to drop a box or envelope into the kitchen trash, Tyler (who is also in this class) would shout to me across the entire house “Armando!” and I would stop in my tracks like a deer in headlights. With my eyes bulging and a bead of sweat dripping down my face he would softly, almost in a whisper, ask, “what are you doing with that trash?” And I would respond sulking like a child who has just been corrected, “putting it in my trash bag.” Collecting my trash into a personal trash bag is certainly inconvenient, especially when I have to carry my school trash with me all day until I can bring it home and add it to my collection. I was able to put all my compostables into the spinach container. This did, however, encourage me to buy less food at school, and I will continue to use Tupperware for my sandwiches. This experience also made me much more appreciative of the trash cans throughout the school, incredible!.
|Compostables are in the center plastic container. Trash is in the right middle. Recyclables are everything else|
Kelly McGartland: For the past week, I have been attempting to not throw anything away. I say attempting because there were a few items that I thoughtlessly threw away out of habit throughout the week. However, I was successful in saving the majority of my trash. It was harder than I thought it would be to always be conscientious about my trash and to never throw anything away, especially when I was out in public and not at home. I realized that it had become second nature to just toss something into the garbage can or recycling bin after I was done with it. It was incredibly eye opening to visually see all of the trash that I personally accumulate and contribute to our landfills each week. As the week progressed, I began to make more personal decisions so that the volume of my trash would not continue to increase (and so I would not have to carry around as much trash). An interesting comparison that I was able to make was the difference in the amount of trash I make in SLO and the amount of trash I create in Sacramento (where I am from). I went home to Sacramento this last weekend and I realized that I accumulate much more trash when I am in SLO at school than when I am home. I believe that a large portion of this is due to the way that I eat in each of these locations. When I am in SLO I eat more prepackaged foods than I do at home in Sacramento where I make more meals from natural ingredients. Additionally, I received two packages this week and this made me think about the amount of trash that is almost out of our control. Overall, this week was very enlightening for me and I hope to continue to implement more and more ways into my life to reduce my personal landfill footprint.
Picture: Left- trash; middle- compostable; right- recyclable
Maddy Ciulla: This week, my self-intervention was to save al of my trash for a week and separate it out. In order to keep track of my trash, I kept two bags in my car – one for recycling and one for trash. At some point during the day, I usually am in my car so keeping a bag in my backpack for collection that could be dumped into the bags in my car in made the most sense. Most of what I used went into the Target bag (recycling). Right now, I do not have a reusable water bottle and I think most of the recycling waste was water bottles, so that is something I can look into to help decrease the waste I produce. Another thing I noticed was that I had a lot of face cleaning wipes in the trash and I could help reduce that waste by washing my face more often and not getting lazy and just using the wipes. Overall I don’t throw out as much as I thought I would because I mostly eat food in my home and wash dishes. The unfortunate compromise I keep seeing here is that I use more water when I produce lest trash waste (face washing and washing dishes). I am interested to learn more about composting and what I can do with my compost (or where I can dispose of it) in order to improve my waste management.
Irma Marin: For my first self intervention I had difficulty remembering to save my trash. About 30% of my waste was thrown away. Due to my busy schedule, I had an odd week where I had a mixture of prepared and fast-food meals. I noticed that meals from the restaurant cause the most waste due to the inability to provide reusable containers. If people bring their own container when they eat somewhere else other than home, the waste can be greatly reduced. A great place to eat out at SLO is Poke Chef, they provide a discount if the customer brings their own container. Every time, I would collect my trash at school or at a restaurant I would feel guilty about how much waste one person is able to create. Having concluded the week of collecting my waste, I recognized that most of my waste is either compostable or recyclable. Most of the trash that is not either recyclable or compostable is from the packaging of food. As a future goal, I will try to reduce the amount of packaging food that I purchase.
Casey Everitt: I saved the majority of my trash last week. I tried my best not to throw anything away, but in my absent-mindedness a couple paper cups went unchecked. All in all, I used less trash than I expected.
In the future, I want to convince my roommates to separate their trash and recycling. I am the only one who does, and it’s really a problem.
Caleb Ostgaard: I did the self intervention of not throwing anything away for a week. I did this about a year and a half ago when I took Pete’s UNIV 391, and had a similar experience. It’s interesting to see how your different waste habits change over the years. The main thing I noticed was my food waste. I also noticed that my pile was much smaller than before. I also happened to receive two packages this week from family, so I had the extra added on packaging as well. I did notice that my recycling pile was much larger and that my waste pile was smaller. Although it’s better to have a bigger recycling pile than waste pile, it’s not necessarily the best thing to have waste in general. I hope to reduce my overall waste because of this exercise, and hopefully try doing this intervention once a quarter. It’s a good reminder of what we waste and our personal weekly footprint. I also noticed that I would use more reusable things more often because I didn’t want to carry around the trash.
Piles: Waste (Left), compost (middle), recycling (right).
I plan to recycle and throw away the waste in the bins, and am hoping to start gardening this quarter so will be saving my compost.
Pete Schwartz: I’m going to do something different for this intervention: I’m NOT going to collect my trash. Sounds weak? Maybe not… I do this self intervention most quarters. My kids roll their eyes and ask if we have to keep the bag of trash in the kitchen again. Besides, this is largely my life anyway – bringing back the food and cookware from farmer’s market because we can recycle the plastic and compost the paper plates and food. Tekuru’s embarrassed about her dad (at 13, I’d hope so) who picks her up on a tandem and collects fruit off the street and lost personal items to save them from becoming trash. One of the things that I learn in a self intervention is the strength of societal pressure: Most of our adjustment to a change is dealing with the reaction of our friends and family. So, if the purpose of a self intervention is to bring awareness, change something, and see what happens, then I’ll stand to learn more by intervening as a “toss it” and see how the change feels. For one week, I’m going to throw things away that are not of immediate use to me – I mean not like my clothes after I wear them. I mean like apple cores and plastic forks and plates.
OK, so it went OK. Actually, I failed many times. Like I still picked up things off the street that seemed like I could use them, and I composted or used the recycle bin whenever it was handy. However, I did manage to throw away usable food (that I didn’t like) at open house, and threw compostables into the trash in my office… but the question is: “now that the week is over, am I allowed to pull them out again and compost them at home? Captions Left: Trash in my office that should be composted. And the plastic bags should be collected to return to the grocery store. Notice that there are orange peels in my backpack because they are from today, and the intervention is over, so I’m taking them home. Right: Yes, it felt awkward throwing food during open house in the trash that I otherwise would have taken home to improve with better cooking or at least compost.
Below this line, Interventions from Winter, 2016
Third Intervention – You Decide What to Do
Beth Hotchkiss: Reaching out to Others
My intervention this quarter is to try and reach out to others. Usually, I choose not to contact friends; instead, I let them contact me if they want to hang out. As a result I often fall out of touch with others. Therefore, to get back in contact with these people, I plan on sending them random text messages asking them about their life/seeing if they want to do anything (like coffee or hiking etc..). Maybe some will be interested in talking to me again and we can connect! Will update later-Beth
Update: I got around to my intervention a bit late in the quarter. As a consequence, many of the people I reached out too were too busy to actually meet up. However, they really appreciated the efforts I made and were surprised to see me texting them! I hope to continue this intervention next quarter and strengthen my friendships. Often, I get too caught up with “life” and I forget to slow down and spend my time connecting with others. However, I’ve realized that resilience, happiness, and belonging stem from good relationships. Friends are just as important as other aspects of my life.
So, I’ll be honest. I forgot to do my self-intervention until we brought it up at our presentations on Monday. For the past week, I have been abstaining from eating red meat. After realizing how much CO2 and nitrogen it adds to the environment, I thought this would be a good way to minimize my environmental impact. For someone who eats a burger at least every other day, it was a challenge. However, I have actually found that after the first couple days it got easier and I felt better. I hope to continue this into the future.
After doing the nitrogen assignment, I noticed I was well in the American average. The reason was mostly because of the amount of meat and poultry I eat weekly. The reason I consume so much is because I am currently trying to bulk up and because I am an extremely picky eater, my diet consists mostly on eggs for breakfast and a lot of meat in my other meals. It was already hard enough giving up meat on Fridays because of lent so I tried going meatless for a week; so I bought fish, mostly salmon. After a couple days I couldn’t eat any more fish and I gave in by making some awesome tacos de asada. Looking back, there were a lot of things that I could’ve eaten to get my protein besides meat. Such as beans, and soy meat products. Maybe in the future ill try and consume less than what I do but for now I’m going to stick to my original diet.
Practicing patience can teach one a lot about themselves as well as others. Far too often I see conversations where people are hardly listening to others and are waiting anxiously for their turn to vomit their words into the conversation. I think through patience, I can learn a lot about what people have to say and it also changes the mood of the conversation. People are much more receptive and even reciprocate this listening ability when they notice that their voices are being heard.
I have practiced patience in every conversation for this past week and I have noticed that I am able to form my thoughts more constructively, have less arguments, and sound much more oriented rather than trying to talk as I think. It is a nice feeling and I am going to practice it for the rest of my life.
Yesterday’s lecture got me to start thinking about design more. I became curious about the importance of design in building a product or company. My goal for this week is to everyday look at a product and see how design either helped it in its success or lead to failure. I will write a short paragraph about my analysis in a notebook.
Update- It has been about a week now since I started my intervention. Paying more attention to design has greatly changed the way I view products. I purchased a book called Sketching User Experiences and the first chapter is all about how design is a field just like engineering and business, one that needs to be studied and perfected. I never knew there was so much to learn about design. Now, every time I go onto a website, I look at the design and what makes me want to use it. Most of the websites I like using have a simple homepage that you can easily create an account on. They don’t overload you with information and are very clear. Websites that I don’t like are generally difficult to navigate and the designer is trying to market too hard. The same complex versus simple debate can be brought onto hardware products. I love Apple products, as do many others, and one of the reasons I love them is because they are so simple and elegant. I will continue learning and thinking about why people designed their products a certain way.
Zack: No shoes for a week starting 3/9/16
Monday’s class discussion and readings on Tom’s shoes had me very quick to judge Tom’s development model by saying something along the lines of shoes not being the biggest necessity for impoverished people. This got me thinking, in that case, are shoes really a necessity for me? So I’ll be going shoeless with exceptions only in labs and at work where I’m required to.
My first thought as I embarked on my shoeless journey out the door at 7am was something like oh my god so cold what the hell am I thinking. But, despite some discomfort of temperature and tiny, slightly pointy rocks scattered all over campus throughout the day, I actually enjoyed the experience for the most part and found it somewhat liberating. Feeling the air on my feet and the grass between my toes made me feel a lot more aware of and connected with my surroundings and the textures of all the ground I walked on. This awareness changed my daily patterns as I began to notice myself thinking through my routes that I walked a lot more as to avoid areas I knew were more gravelly for a nice, smooth surface (and also avoid floors of buildings and rooms I knew were pretty dirty). I think one of the most surprising things that I didn’t anticipate though would be people’s reactions. As it turns out, a lot of people really dislike feet. I had several people tell me to my face that I was disgusting and needed to put shoes on (including my girlfriend, that one hurt). I found this really interesting, as I was enjoying the experience and didn’t see anything wrong with it and wasn’t hurting anyone, yet people were trying to put me down and make me go back to the shoe-wearing norm. In that sense, I think I have some understanding of where the people that support the #freethenipple movement are coming from now. So, overall, I think that I learned a lot out of this experience and will definitely be going shoeless again sometimes in the future. However, as my roughed up, cold, and dirty feet showed by the end of the week, shoes definitely serve their purpose and I’ll try not to take them for granted when walking on the pavement ever again.
Ryan: Be silent for 72 hours starting 3/14-18
I watched a TED talk a while back about silence and listening. I posted it below. Essentially, the guy talks about how he failed to listen effectively when people were talking to him (he would be thinking of a response while they’re talking or daydreaming or things). As a result, he decided to stay silent and actively listen to the words people were saying to him. With his experiment, he ended up not talking for 17 years. I find myself constantly thinking of the next direction the sentence will go, what I will say next, and I, ultimately, mishear, forget, or don’t even hear the words that the person I’m ‘talking’ to is saying. To better listen, I want to try this out. I feel like it could be infinitely beneficial for me. We’ll see how this goes because I love talking to people. Very interested, if anything, on what the results will be.
UPDATE: After 24 hours, I spoke on four separate occasions (3 of which were on accident and ranged from “hey” to “need a ride?”). The fourth I couldn’t avoid because it was a call from my boss about work this weekend. Putting those instances aside, I had a really interesting time with my day. It took me about 2 miles on my run with some friends on Distance Club to charades my way to them completely understanding what I was doing and why I was doing it. It’s incredibly frustrating at times but forces me to 100% focus on the conversation. There were times during the day that I would make “jokes” using my hands or body to show what I want to say that made complete sense to me but another person would not or did not get it. I wonder if there are times when even with speech I say something that makes complete sense to me but another person does not get it. Something to think about. I write this from the 5th floor in the library. I am with my fellow quiet people.
FINAL UPDATE: This was a particularly frustrating challenge for me. I think I would rather do the “don’t eat for 72 hours” intervention over this one. Not because it was difficult (although there were times when it was very hard not to start talking i.e. when my friends were having a discussion about a topic that I feel strongly about and had just gone over in my Social Ethics class), but more because I wasn’t able to learn about people and have discussions effectively. I was limited in speech to whatever my facial expressions portrayed and my hands charaded. Because of this, I couldn’t ask questions to people- that was what I missed most. Sure, I was listening better during the time I spent silent. But because I wasn’t able to ask follow up questions or anything of value, the content was limited because people ultimately were not comfortable talking to a moving, breathing, charading but silent wall. Communication is a key part of what differentiates us from basically every other animal. What I took from this intervention was the importance of active listening in conjunction with active communication.
I decided to consume less, read more, and drive less.
I will not buy starbucks for a week starting 3/9/2016.
I will not drive for a week starting 3/10/2016, come rain, hailstorms, or shine.
Working at the United Nations Conference this past weekend in San Francisco as a delegate for the Human Rights Watch strengthened my desire to study international law and diplomacy. In preparation for my career, I have decided to read at least two to three books about international law every year outside of my required reading for class, starting 3/7/2016. Below is a book I am currently reading to start this commitment.
I will not procrastinate starting 3/7/16
I will attempt to evenly distribute my school work & other responsibilities throughout the week. Instead of a late night before the project is due, I will work on the project consistently every day. Instead of waiting until the sink is full of dishes, I will tend to the mess as I create it. Distracting stuff like Instagram or non-urgent work will take a backseat to the task at hand. Maybe this could be a more healthy way of getting stuff done, maybe it won’t work with my schedule. Either way it should be helpful to chip away at a deadline instead of one session of heavy lifting.
Maddi – I will not buy any food with packaging.
For my intervention I want to experience how hard it is to not purchase food that is already pre-packaged.
Results: Thinking about buying food seems like a simple endeveour…simply by the food that you need to eat. However, almost EVERYTHING that is food has some package. Often, these packages are single use only and made of plastics are unable to be recycled leading to large waste accumulation in landfills. I don’t think we even realize how much packaging we accumulate. I can definitely say that it is HARD to not buy things with packaging. I secretly survived off oatmeal and tortillas with Tapatio for the majority of my intervention week simply because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of buying food without packaging. Finally, my oatmeal ran out so I knew I had to do it. It actually wasnt bad at all! I went to farmers with my reusable grocery mesh bags and got lots of fresh vegetables for a wonderful price (way cheaper than any grocery store). Then I went to the Natural Foods Co-Op in SLO with some containers. It was also pretty easy to just weigh my containers before hand, fill it up with bulk ingredients, and then head to the check out counter. I felt really accomplished having not left my negative plastic impact on the environment by buying my groceries for the week. I am going to continue to shop this way. The only exceptions I foresee will be glass packaging for things like sauces (I can re-use the glass or recycle it since it has a much better recycle process than plastics) and almond milk which comes in a cardboard carton. Other than that I can get most everything I need in bulk or from Farmers. I am excited to see how I do!
Katie – eat breakfast every morning
This seems like something I shouldn’t have to be doing an intervention for, but I actually don’t often get a chance to eat breakfast. I usually don’t give myself enough time before early classes to prepare and eat a meal, and when I don’t have early classes I often sleep through breakfast time – two things I want to avoid. The first day of my intervention I woke up earlier than usual, excited to eat a hot meal because I gave myself extra time before class to make it. I made an omelette/scramble with spinach and peppers and a little bit of cheese. It was delicious and I ate it in my living room and looked out into the fog outside my window. It felt nice to have a slow, easy morning with good food. This was before my morning lab for this class, and I spent the lab digging in the dirt to install the heliostat. I felt energized and strong the whole time and didn’t get tired! The next morning I had my 7:40am class, which I usually wake up for after 7:00 and rush to class. This week I woke up early and made myself another omelette. Eating warm food in the morning was a welcome change from swigging freezing orange juice before running out into the cold. I was alert and focused a lot longer than usual in my class (going to bed earlier would have helped with this). On Thursday I didn’t have class until noon, so I made grits with okra and a poached egg. I got some work done in the morning and didn’t get hungry during my class. Usually I don’t eat a meal before my 12-1:30 class and don’t want to walk all the way back home to get food before my 3-6 class, and I end up being hungry for 5 hours. This could also be resolved by packing more food with me when I leave for the day, but I don’t always have portable food on hand. On Friday I had my 7:40am class again and decided to mix it up and have some yogurt and fruit instead of eggs. It was good and helped me stay energized but I didn’t really eat enough of it. Luckily my class was over at 9am and I didn’t have any other class that day. Over the weekend I finished off my eggs and made myself a açai smoothie bowl, both were great ways to start the day. As you can see, most of my morning meals revolved around eggs. I bought a carton of 6 eggs at the beginning of the week and ran out pretty fast. I like eggs as a breakfast item because they have protein and are pretty fast and easy to cook. I’m going to start buying more eggs. I think adding toast or bread would be a good addition to my morning meals, but I don’t buy bread very often because I can never finish a whole loaf before it molds. Hopefully I can figure out the perfect way to energize myself before classes, though I’m pretty sure eggs will be involved somewhere.
Mia – I will get to school by 8am everyday.
All quarter I have been sleeping in and not getting a lot of work done. It’s been hard for me to wake up and get things going. This has been affecting my school work.. and my study habits. Hopefully this will be a good intervention during dead week.
Results: I found that I wasn’t very good at this. I would definitely wake up with intention of getting to school sooner, but did not do well with this 3 out of the 7 days. I think that I am having a hard time challenging myself. As much as I used to push myself to lower my carbon footprint or be studious, I am feeling lazy and careless about my impact. I don’t know how to change this, but I hope that I snap out of it soon. I was most motivated by Maraiah’s intervention and I think I will be trying that next.
Jolie- I will attempt to grocery shop without bringing new packaging into my house. Beginning 3/6/2016
I began the week with a trip to the grocery store, bought a bunch of vegetables without the plastic bags. I hate those things anyway, but I realized how inconvenient they are if you’re getting certain types of loose vegetables like brussel sprouts or green beans, so I stayed away from them. Thankfully I had left over meat and eggs from my last grocery run so I didn’t venture out and attempt to purchase meat. This was definitely a big challenge because I do eat meat, mostly fish, but all of that is already pre-packaged for good reason. I figured I would save that for the next trip. When I checked out, I felt the fact that I didn’t use the plastic bags was an inconvenience for the employees in terms of keeping their hands dry. No one said anything to me about it, so I wonder if they come across this a lot. My second trip to the grocery store was to Whole Foods, containers and my own plastic bags ready for their bulk items. I figured if there was a place I could get away with buying meat without packaging it would be here. I had a plastic container and explained to the employee what I was trying to do and asked if he could weigh and wrap the chicken breast, put it in the container, and then the sticker on the lid. He said he could and I was excited because I thought maybe this could be possible to accomplish, but he ended up just wrapping it the way they typically do and then putting the whole thing in the container. I mean at least at Whole Foods when they do package meat and fish for you it is only with paper, which is a lot better than styrofoam and plastic. I was talking to the people who were bagging my groceries and I asked if it was possible and unfortunately sanitary-wise and the fact that you can’t get an accurate weight on the meat are the reasons why it’s not possible. I wonder if there can be a way to buy meat without packaging in the future. Otherwise, it wasn’t that bad if you’re willing to conform your diet to this lifestyle!
Gabe- I will meditate every day for a week beginning 3/7
This helped me cope with things that have been bothering me lately and I look to expand it to cover bigger issues throughout my life. I’m glad I took part in this. It also helped me relax and prepare for finals. There is so much going on in my life all the time and it’s good to take some time for myself without distractions and just reflect on everything in silence.
Jose – I will read for enjoyment at least 1 hour a day starting 3/7 – Ever since I came to Cal Poly i’ve been given many reading homework assignments. I’ve become so used to reading for homework assignments, that I hardly ever read for fun. After a couple weeks of reading for fun, I realized that when I read for enjoyment, the information stays in my head better. These last few weeks i’ve learned more about the business world than ever from reading articles on Investopedia, Forbes, and Fortune 500. Not only this, but i’m also reading more and more each day. On 3/7 I read an hour. The following week I was reading at least 2 hours a day just because I was getting hooked on the articles I was reading. Not only am I learning new information but my reading abilities have increased. It’s been easier for me to take notes on homework assignments and comprehend readings more clearly. I’m very glad that I set this as my intervention being that i’ve never been a huge reader. Although I still don’t find much interest in reading story books, I will now read articles everyday that pertain to my interests and field of study.
Daniel- I am not going to buy anything (groceries excluded) until after finals week. I buy a lot of small things that i think I need in the moment, but in reality I have no use for. For example I was in rite aid on friday and saw a 99 cent package of q tips and got excited and bought them, because you never know when you might need them, and when I came home and put them in the bathroom drawer there was already a costco sized q tip pack that my mom gave me and I had forgotten abut
Results:All and all it wasn’t that hard, i did have to buy a few things, but I made sure that they weren’t absent minded purchases. I forgot to consider gasoline in my intervention proposal, but I bought it so i could go surfing which made me happy, so I’m cool with it. I also bought some B-vitamins to help me get through studying for finals and pipe insulation and zip ties to jerry rig a padded roof rack set up on my car. So in the end, maybe this wasnt the most insightful intervention I could have made, but its my hope that I will continue being conscious of what I purchase and don’t end up buying things I dont really need.
Daly – I will not use my phone/laptop for a week (limited for school purposes only). Beginning 3/7/16
The first day I almost slipped so many times. I’m so accustomed to checking so many things that are not relevant to my school work, such as news articles, Instagram, etc. I found myself humming or wanting to sing because I missed the music I use to listen to on my phone and laptop. I know I could have listened to my music on my iPod but I felt like that would be cheating. Originally, I really wanted to give up technology completely because it distracts from seeing the world around me and isolates myself from building face-to-face interactions between people. But school hinders that possibility of going without technology completely (my project group would’ve hated me). I found myself bored and not knowing what to do but work on my school stuff and study, which was a great thing that week because finals were the following week. But being on my phone or laptop were sort of like my de-stressors and a way to escape my reality for a bit. But I found other ways to destress. I read (not textbooks), took short walks, and drew/sketched to take breaks from my studies. But of course, I slipped so many times this week. Just to name a few, I texted a few friends to see how they were doing with this quarter, listened to music to drown out my roommate and her boyfriend kissing in the other room (the walls are thin), and I researched and ordered a bike car rack so I can take my bike home for the break (I want to be able to bike around places instead of use my car when I’m back home). Anyways, this intervention definitely helped me appreciate the little things in life. There were so many times where I yearned to meet new people and start a conversation with them especially on the bus but everyone seems to have their eyes glued to their phones or have their earphones in. I definitely want to make some changes in my life with my use of my phone and laptop. I need to balance my time on my electronics and with the world around me. It’s inspired me to be a bit courageous and just reach out to people, start conversations and possibly build new friendships.
Scout – I will start not using my phone on Sunday. Starting next week 3/13.
Pete – I’ll eat vegan for a week, and I won’t eat after 6:00 PM until morning. I started yesterday, Saturday, March 5, and had to cook oatmeal instead of pancakes for the kids, chose not to buy ice cream for a treat for the kids, and turned down the orange slices that Tekuru shoved into my face after dinner. I’m choosing not to make the 6 PM moratorium because we sometimes don’t sit down for dinner until 6:00 PM, so it will have to suffice to not eat anything after dinner. Being vegan is no great step for me as our family rarely eats meat and eat very little dairy. However, it did require me to look at the ingredients in everything I eat, and we looked up vegan pancakes instead of using the mix – we made some pretty great pancakes! I had a unique intervention experience this week – failure, and failure through lack of effort. I ate well after 6:00 PM almost every night. It started on Monday when I came home late from shop and Robin had brought home Thai food from after Neil’s piano lesson. I said I wasn’t going to eat it because of the intervention. By 10:00 I said, “hell with it” and had some food. In doing so, I recognized failure on my part. It didn’t seem hard after an intervention from last year when I didn’t eat after 1:00 PM until 7:00 AM for a week. However, I felt apathetic after a difficult day… weak. I think in this experience should give me empathy for other people in what I may see as shortcomings in their effort to do what they strive for. As a physics professor, I have lots of practice in this area.
I also had an unforeseen intervention. My cell phone died. I think it got wet, but it’s a 4-year old Apple S4, so it was due. I decided to not have a phone for a while. Robin didn’t like that idea, and I also realized the difficulty this might bring because of my complicated “blended family” – in particular in communicating with Tekuru. After a few days, I grabbed an 8-year old “dumb phone” we had kicking around the house and am considering using a phone for just emergency communication. Right now, I’m having trouble with it because it’s refusing to recognize me as the new user – we don’t know the old PIN.
Dom – I will not use my phone at all for a week, beginning 2/27/16.
I was more inclined to do this than I normally would have because my phone broke and I knew I would not be able to use it for a few days and I figured that I might as well add some extra days to it and turn it into my personal intervention. For the most part, I didn’t miss my phone too much during the school week because I was primarily focused on studying and if I needed to work with people it was primarily through email. What I did notice though that really frustrated me was not having the time in my pocket at all times. This was an easy solve though because I began to wear my watch everyday. Of course it was extremely irritating knowing that people were texting me and they most likely were under the impression that I was blowing them off when in truth I was not, but I knew that once I used my phone again I would respond to all the texts and apologize. I really got irritated when it got close to the weekend and I wanted to start making plans but it was extremely hard to make them. When you can only check your facebook or email when you are on your laptop in can be a struggle. I happy I did this, it was a good learning curve.
Jordan – I will not purchase anything on the Cal Poly campus for a week. Nor will I eat at a restaurant. Beginning 3/7/2016
I spend way too much time on campus.It is easy to get lazy and purchase coffee or food from campus market or Julians – but this is often unhealthy and far too expensive for a poor college student living on loans. When studying or focusing on projects I often get tunnel visioned and the easiest thing to do is grab take away food or go to a restaurant really quick (so I won’t eat out either). This intervention will hopefully help me to slow down and enjoy a very human thing – preparing food. No need to outsource food preparation when the act is often stress relieving, more nutritious, and less expensive.
I completed this intervention. It was tough to plan my caffeine consumption while on campus but overall great to cook more and save money. I did fail twice and got beers with friends that were rolling through town – ultimately the community and fun was worth it.
Kat – I will separate my trash and start composting, beginning this Friday 3/4/16
My intervention was going well until Monday morning when I discovery a trail of ants line dancing from my non-compost-able trash container. I had to intervene my intervention. I looked through the trash (Ya, I went through the trash… :S) and saw that my non-compost-able trash is mostly paper towels and napkins, so I decided to start my new intervention by using less to no paper towels or napkins. It has been almost three days and I got none in my trash can. I hope I can keep it up, and the ants will leave my trash alone 🙂
3/16 – It has been exactly one week since I started my intervention for my intervention. During the week, I kept forgetting not to use paper towels. I used them to dry/clean my hands, to clean the kitchen top, and to dry my painting brushes in the weekends. I think the reason why the first couple days I wasn’t using any paper towel because I didn’t cook and and clean up. I thought of using cloth towels, but the thought of bacteria houses in the cloth, and I dry my washed hands with it gave me shivers. I think I am semi-germophobic. I didn’t give up on my intervention per se, but I didn’t restrict myself hard enough. I do reuse paper towels if they ware just wet – I’d let them to dry and use them to clean the counter or the kitchen top. Even though I didn’t achieve my goal of using no paper towels, the intervention has made me think of people who live in places that are way dirtier, too polluted, and have no access to clean water (air?) Now every time I rip a paper towel from the roll, I feel guilty, but I keep on doing it. Does that make me a bad person?? I’m not sure….
Kylie- I will eat vegetarian for a week. Starting 3/4/16.
After completing nearly ten days of eating vegetarian, I feel pretty good. There were times when I found almost forgetting my intervention promise, but it was an exercise that made me more aware of how much meat I consume and how much my entire household consumes overall. I thought I was going to notice myself fatiguing or feeling strange especially after exerting myself during exercising because I eat meat everyday, but to my surprise I felt just fine. I like the taste of vegetables just as much as I enjoy meat so I did not have a problem trying to avoid my normal animal products like chicken and beef for a brief period of time. I feel like our consumer society does not realize the amount of meat we intake and the environmental impact it has. After partaking in this intervention for over a week, I am going to try my best to cut back. I am going to make it a goal to eat meat twice a week instead of nearly everyday like I am used to doing. I do not think it is bad for humans to eat meat, but moderation is something that our american society especially, has neglected to pay attention to. I am going to make an effort to contribute to this concept of moderation in my everyday dietary practices.
Michael Z – I will reuse the sandwich bags I use to pack my food every day (I currently average 9 bags a day). The intervention will begin 03/05/16. This is the end of day 2 of the intervention. Both Saturday and Sunday have felt like an easy transitions towards achieving my intervention goal. Being the weekend, I don’t face the obligation of traveling into SLO every day from Cambria. With my fridge and pantry easily accessible, I can avoid bagging every little bit of food for travel. Consequently, I have had a relatively easy time with my intervention (we will see how tomorrow goes). To make the sustainability challenge a little more interesting, I have also added the condition that I will not waste water on urine. To meet this goal, I will embrace my primitive instincts and (respectably) bathroom outdoors. When that is not a viable option, I will let the yellow mellow and send best wishes to the person behind me. Already these small transitions are opening my mind up to idea of tackling big life changes through incremental developments. Update: As I assumed, the weekdays were significantly more challenging than the weekend in actualizing my intervention. One problem I started to notice almost immediately was that certain foods I pack every day make it difficult to re-use the bags. For example, I pack deli chicken meat and a kale salad quite frequently. The deli meat sits in my bag from the moment I leave Cambria until I find the time or appetite to eat it here at Cal Poly. Sometimes that time is a couple hours, sometime much longer. The chicken leaves a smelly residue by the time I return home from school, and I theorize that bacteria start to multiply. The kale salad has a ginger dressing I use, which too leaves an interesting concoction to find by the time I get home. In a (self-perpetuated) rush the next morning, I often found myself tossing these two bags to the side and using new ones to bag the chicken and salad. The final problem I ran into was the tear on the bags. I’m not a savage, but the bags do wear after a couple days of use. This only happened a few times, but forced me to break my intervention to replace them. From Monday till today (Saturday), I hypothetically would have consumed 54 bags. With the intervention, I used a total of 21 bags as opposed to 54, saving 33 in total. While this isn’t entirely perfect, I am proud of myself for taking the time and energy to make a change in my life for the betterment of something bigger than myself. Finally, with regard to my bathroom habits I have been quite successful. I only caught myself breaking this intervention twice, which came about from the automation in the urinals at Cal Poly. I had to consciously remember to go to a stall to avoid this, which took a little more time than normal. While at home, I embraced my free spirit and bathroomed outside on a useless pot full of dirt. I rediscovered that peeing in the unabashed embrace of nature is fantastic. I will continue to incorporate these interventions into my day-to-day life and use them as inspiration towards future changes of good.
Duncan – I will read more. As a kid, I always loved to read. My parents didn’t really let me watch TV very often, so while most of my friends followed the characters in their favorite TV shows, I would follow the adventures of the characters in my books. At the start of this quarter, I began reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Nine weeks into this quarter I’ve only read half of it. Starting today, 3/6, I will devote time every day to reading, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, and I will finish the book by the time this quarter is over.
UPDATE 3/20: So I didn’t finish Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. But I’m not bummed, because I did still achieve my goal of reading more. I made a point of opening a book and reading a chapter every night before before bed. I forgot several times, mostly Friday/ Saturday nights, but for the most part I was able to hold myself accountable. ZAMM is a pretty dense book with a lot of philosophical tangents, and I found that forcing myself to read this didn’t work so well, and I ended up drifting to other books. I re-read the first few chapter of Frank Herbert’s Dune a few days ago, and read Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull in one sitting this last Sunday.
In addition to reading more, I decreases the amount of time I’d spend idly wasting time playing games and checking social media on my phone, which is a trend I hope to continue. That being said, I did fall in love with a game called “Stack”, in which you attempt to stack a series of blocks on top of one another. Each imperfection in your stack leads to smaller blocks until you eventually cannot stack anymore. But, I digress. All in all, this was a good intervention for me, and one that I plan on continuing to do.
Second Intervention – Empathy Intervention
Carter Price – Frustration with project adviser
I apologize that I have gotten this up here so late. This empathy self-intervention has been a continual process. My senior project advisor has been very difficult to get along with. She has a very strict-business approach to how she mentors us in our senior project. Often I find my-self disagreeing with her style of correction. Sometimes I feel belittled and defeated; I put in a lot of effort and never seem to meet her expectations. This has led me to become embittered and angry towards her. This was not a place I wanted to be in. However, when I began to empathize with her perspective it allowed me to have much more grace for her seemingly harsh criticism.
Part of her job is to make sure that we pump out the best product we can to maintain good relationships with the sponsor of our project. If we were to completely botch the project, it would reflect poorly on her and end up hurting her reputation and the university’s. She feels that being harsh is the best way to motivate our group to do the best job. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with her style or tactics, empathizing with her has helped me to better understand her thought process. Coming to a new understanding has aided in a healthier emotional state and overall disposition for myself.
Since I came to college, I have struggled to find happiness. For a long time, I would always blame other people for my misfortunes, even accusing people of being fake happy. Why wasn’t everyone as depressed as I was? Why the hell are they acting so fake and excited about stupid shit that doesn’t even matter? At some point in sophomore year, I realized that if everyone around me is being negative, perhaps it is me that is being negative. I started to re-read my past journal entries and all I could read about was hatred spewing out of the ink in my pen. Even the depth of the writing would indent several pages after the entry. I figured it was time for a change. Instead of judging everybody, I wanted to be open minded and have a positive outlook in life.
Now that I practice this actively, my entire life has turned around. I have a huge circle of connections, people are excited to see me, my grades are phenomenal, my job has gotten easier, and I have more energy throughout the day. It is through practicing empathy that I was able to give not only everybody else, but also myself a second chance. It has done wonders.
A few nights ago my roommate had his first ‘gig’ at SLODOCO. Him and some friends are in a band and, honestly, did a great performance at the donut shop. Earlier in the day, he had asked my roommates and I if he could throw an afterparty at our place and we all agreed that it wasn’t the best idea to have it at our place on account of our neighbors and general tiredness. He agreed that that was fine and he would find another venue for the afterparty. Fast-forward to after the gig, my other roommates and I have a couple of people ask for “our address for the afterparty”. Our rockstar roommate told people to come over to our house for a party without our consent (actually a complete consensus of ‘no’ from the roommates). We were a little ticked for the slight to be honest. I then tried to imagine his world and his experience with the night. He had just finished his first gig and was pretty amped. He couldn’t find a house for a party because no one else offered up, and, him being (probably) the leader of the band, he wanted the ‘perfect’ night. After viewing everything from his perspective, I was still a little angry that he went over all of our heads (because it wasn’t the first time) but at least I was able to understand the rationale for his decision and was able to make the most of a situation like this.
My parents and I get along very well and almost never have problems, but I usually regard them as “the other(s)” in pretty much all of our interactions. It only really makes things hard when we disagree, because I feel like they aren’t on the same level as me, or they don’t really know what it’s like to be in my position. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to be in their position, what I would tell my future children when they’re my age, and how I would impart all my wisdom and experiences on them so they don’t have to learn anything the hard way. When I think about this, I realize my parents DO know what it’s like to be in my position (to an extenct) they were my age once too, and that they’re probably trying to do the same thing I would want to do: share their wisdom and experiences with me. They’re not trying to be strict or keep me from having fun, they just have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t since they’ve lived through similar experiences and are trying to help me live my best life. When I think about this, it makes it a lot easier to see my parent’s side of things and to not get upset when I have to do something I may not want to.
Spring Break & Summer
I’m trying to practice empathy in regards to my fellow students schedules, holiday plans, and general financial situations. This time of year there is a lot of discussion & buzz around what everyone is doing for spring break as well as summer break. I found myself in one of these discussions recently and my first reaction was of jealousy and bitterness, with the empathy intervention in mind, I realized this was a poor response and that I should spend some time meditating on my feelings. I made the choice to go back to school in my mid-20’s and I’m supporting myself with student loans & a part time job. I don’t have the time or money to travel, but some people do, and thats a great thing. There have been times in my life where I was fortunate enough to sneak away for a bit of traveling / relaxing during holidays, but with school & work I’m pretty booked until I graduate in June 2017. Maybe then I can shoestring some sort of celebratory adventure.
Roomates and Soccer
I am probably one of the biggest soccer fans you will ever meet. My father is British, my mother is German, and I was born in Germany which explains my huge lure to the sport. Growing up the United States was interesting because my dad only watched soccer so it was really all I knew. I was not exposed to american football, baseball, or basketball because all my dad watched on the weekends was soccer which goes on all year. Of course I’ve known the dynamics of the american sports I even played baseball and basketball growing up, but I never followed the professional sports. That all changed this year when I lived with three very typical american-sports fans. Football is on all Sunday or whenever games are playing, we watch basketball typically, and sports center is a staple channel in the apartment. It took me a while to understand the intricacies of the leagues, the players, and the finite rules. I had to ask so many dumb questions to become totally competent, and now it would seem like I have been watching these sports my whole life. Now what is frustrating is that I also watch soccer a ridiculous amount, at least three matches a week. Whenever it is on my roommates totally zone it out and just ignore it, acting like it is not on at all. This really frustrates me because truth be told, soccer is the world’s game. Everybody in every country absolutely glorifies the sport except America (and Canada). It is an absolutley incredible game. My roommates say that they don’t watch because they don’t really get it and not enough happens.The only reason for this is that they never actually watch. They always occasionally look up at the game but otherwise just look at their phones. That is not what soccer is about, you just have to watch the game to understand it. I guess it really frustrates me because it took me a while to understand American sports to the point where I could enjoy them, and they simply can’t do it the other way around. Well, I guess that’s just their loss..
Dmitry- Old Friend
In highschool, my friend Dmitry and I would drive to school together. We both had zero period, and so I would pick him in the early morning and we would walk to class together. I would usually show up about 5 minutes late. For me, this wasn’t a big deal, as we were second semester seniors and our teacher didn’t seem to care. However, it always really bothered Dmitry when I showed up late. Sometimes, he would get really mad at me, and when I asked him why he was getting so emotional, he said it was because I was always late. For me this was a minor thing, but for him, it was major thing. That’s because I was showing up late not to demean him, but because I simply usually woke up late. However, when I showed up, Dmitry took it as me basically saying, “My time is more valuable than yours, I am better than you”. Looking back on it, I wish I had realized why this had bothered him so much. Then I could have addressed the problem of how he thought I was better than him, and we could have still been friends.
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is go longboarding. Naturally, riding so much has made me better at it, but sometimes I don’t really realize this. Over summer, I went longboarding at a new spot with some close friends. I was getting kind of frustrated at one of them because he didn’t want to ride down the hill with me. I kept telling him that he could easily do it, and that he was just being scared. However, I did not take into account that he doesn’t go longboarding as much as I do. If I could go back to this event in my life, I wouldn’t try to persuade him as much as I tried. I now realize that people should only attempt things like this when they feel comfortable and are sure that they have the required skill level. In any activity, it is important to understand that not everyone has the same skill level. Instead, one should focus on giving advice and slowly increasing their confidence over time. I hope that when someone is teaching me something in life, they understand my skill level and allow me to progress at my own pace.
Daly – Building Friendships with Old Friends
An old friend reached out to me on Facebook and it was totally unexpected. I haven’t spoken to him since elementary. It brought back a lot of memories. It was nice reminiscing of my stress-free childhood days. It also made me wonder what my friends from elementary, middle and high school friends are up to these days. It’s been quite a few years and I’m curious how each one has changed and grown. It also definitely made me realize how some of my friendships never really developed because I was always focused on my academics. So, my self-intervention is to reach out to my old friends and catch up with them. I’m thankful for technology in being able to find and contact them. Maybe for spring break, I’ll get to meet up with them, if they’re still in town, or maybe I’ll drive/travel to see them.
Scout Vernon: Empathy Intervention
Being from an area conscience of the environment all I see if the daily wastes that take place within my house. People leave the lights on, the TV runs when no one is watching, the dishwasher gets run all too often, my roommates use a large washer load setting when they have just a few articles of clothing. These are just a few of the little things that are just a little bother some around the house. And I can do my best to turn off the lights when they are not around, but seeing form their prospective they have no awareness for the mistakes or waste they are creating and it just needs to be pointed out. What I can do better is nicely point out the small changes they can make by just turning off the light when they leave the room or always fill the washer before using it.
Gabriela Gomez- Empathy
My intervention for empathy has to do with learning understand different viewpoints. I am probably going to get some opposition to this and its ok, hopefully people consider what I mean. I am a Pro Life advocate. We started a club here on campus and things have been going great. We received some negative commentary from a feminist club here on campus and we could have chosen to respond to their accusations. We were going to, but we learned something that day, or at least I did. We are all the same. My job is not to force my beliefs on anyone, but rather love and show the person my point of view and try to understand theirs. I am a notetaker for a student in one of my classes and found out that he is really involved with the club we had been hearing about and my goal is to learn his point of view and share mine. We both get along really well and I am sure that our friendship is something that can help us understand what we believe is truth by being respectful and considerate of the persons beliefs.
I was very inspired from UNIV 391 to take on the challenge of not using or purchasing anything with packaging. To begin, I defined what packaging is vs. a container. A package is sold to you with the label and storage to market and contain the food. A container is something that will hold the food and is reusable. Ultimately, after much debate I came to the conclusion that I could bring my own containers to the grocery store, farmers market, etc. because you do need a container to collect the food. I only brought containers that could be reused such as reusable bags. I typically shop at Trader Joe’s, but realized this would have to change because everything here is processed and packaged. I sourced my fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market and brought my own reusable bag to collect everything in. I ended up changing my diet for the week because of the types of foods that are packaged. I also went to the Sunshine Market in Morro Bay in order to buy in bulk, so that I could bring my own bag. For my meat, I went to Ralph’s in order to avoid the processed meat and packaging at Trader Joe’s. Here I struggled because protocol makes them wrap the meat and fish in wax paper to sell to the customer. After the week, I felt how dependent I was on packaging and how restricted I was to certain foods. I think with more preparation this would be easier in order to locate more farmers markets and therefore have more freedom with food.
At the beginning of the quarter, I really wanted to take a business class since my major is architecture and I haven’t had any experience with the topic and know it is essential in Consumer America, and to make a living. On my first day of class, the question was proposed on how to test if a business is successful. One of the business students answered “It has to be sustainable…” My mind starts racing about sourcing materials locally, fair trade, etc. This thought process stopped abruptly when the student continued on about how a business is sustainable if they can guarantee they will make a profit and be able to carry on with the business with enough customers. I was mind boggled. Sitting there officially realizing how broad the term sustainable is. Ever since I have been a little irritated with the class and how much it promotes consumerism. So, this week I decided to open up my mind again and try to see things through there perspective. In an attempt, I asked each person in my group more questions about their background, lifestyle and where they come from in order to learn how they got to where they are sitting in this class. I found that, like me, a lot of them were not business majors and had similar views. Others have come to the conclusion that they need money to define success and this is the path they have chosen in order to get there. After talking with them more, I can see more of their background and different opinions and it helps me like the class more since I have more of a personal connection to the other people in the class. I still remain frustrated of the outcome, but happy I got to know them better.
Kylie Everitt: Little Sister
Families are interesting. You become so close to one another and understand each other in ways that most people could not. My sister just turned 16 yesterday and I am worried that her habitual social media routines are contributing to her unhappiness as she gets older. It is hard to be a mentor and a friend, and as a big sister often times I feel as If I have this intrinsic responsibility to take care of her or advise. I have tried to explain that a lot of her unhappiness is attributed to her constant obsession of how she looks and her interaction with her “friends” over social media. As a kid, social media was on the rise but had not been as present in my life compared to her generation. It is hard for me to provide advice on something that I have not had to experience. My parents also get frustrated with her constant use of technology and try to explain that her happiness is going to come from living in the moment and creating who she is on her own without the consent of others through liking a post. I think it is hard to ask her to change because it is a different age she is living in. To her it is the norm and after observing her friends I have realized her problem is shared among a lot of other teens her age. I need to be patient, understanding but also insightful by providing her with advice that she can apply to her situation. I want to be able to create and share experiences with her in which she feels happy without the use of her phone. I think the only way I can get her to step back from the overwhelming power of technology is spending more time with her. It is hard being away at school, but when I am home I am going to try to better understand why she feels so dependent on social media and instead explore the world and the things that make her TRUELY happy.
Kat: Not having a car
My intervention is inspired by the idea of not having a car from Univ 391 class last Fall. After winter break I decided to go back to leave my car at my parents’ house and take the train to SLO. First week of Winter quarter went well. I took the bus to campus; not much happened, and I thought I was getting used it. Second week, there was a bomb threat, and the city bus system went down. At the panic moment, I wished I had my car with me, so I didn’t have to rely to others. However, a Cal Poly student pulled over at the bus station and offered us (other Cal Poly students and me) a ride to school which made my day and ensured my faith for humanity. Third week, President weekend, I planned to go home and asked my brother to pick me up at the train station. He agreed and forgot to pick me up when the time came. I waited for more than an hour and put a lot of thoughts to the whole car or no car deal. I believe the modern life style has negative impacts and is hurting our Earth, so I do my part and hope that my action will have an impact on others. BUT I’m an independent person, so relying on others really bothers me and I really do not like that. Still I went back to SLO without my car. The journey goes on, I still don’t have my car. At this point, I am not sure if I am stubborn (My mom keeps telling to take my car with me) or I really do think of the big picture and protect the environment. I am getting used to hopping on the bus to every where, but when special occasions take place, my dilemma starts all over again.
If there’s anything I’ve struggled with my entire life, it is patience. I’ve noticed that I have anger problems and I tend to let my emotions take over and guide my actions. While it may feel rewarding to allow my anger to fill me up with rage and unleash it out of me, I think it’s better of me to be able to attack my anger head on and kill it while it is still inside of me. I have struggled to find happiness in a schedule when I have 5 engineering classes, a 15 hour/ week job, and trying to balance my personal life. I’m starting to realize that patience will allow me to live from day to day without freaking out and has pushed my capabilities to their maximum potential. Had I let myself be the victim to the pressures around me, I would not have learned. I am sure there is much more knowledge out there for me to grasp and the first step is learning to be patient and open-minded. So this is my intervention.
Daniel – Dad & Sister
My older sister recently got divorced and just moved back home to San Diego for a fresh start. I am also planning on moving back home after I graduate in March and living between my parents’ houses until I find a job and can move into my own place. My dad recently expanded his business, relocating his home office to a more commercial setting leaving a large, empty bedroom in his house. I had previously discussed with my dad the idea of moving the furniture I have with me up in Slo into that spare bedroom opposed to either selling all my bedroom furniture on craigslist in slo after I graduate then having to find new stuff once I found a job/place to live or putting everything in storage. My sister had the same idea and has already moved her bedroom furniture and some of her personal belongings into that room this past weekend. At first I was annoyed by the fact that my Dad & Sister made this arrangement without even running it by me and that I would have to make other plans for my furniture, but then I took a moment to take my sister situation into consideration. She’s just had her whole life turned upside down, she had to walk away from her job, her house and her friends and here I am getting worked up over having to relocate a mattress, dresser and night stand. It gave me a new perspective , and luckily I was able to re-evaluate the situation before I caused any additional distress in my sister’s life
Daly – Friend
I have a friend who I believe is not enrolled at Cal Poly anymore but she tries to convince others otherwise. There are many instances where her friends (which are also my friends) and I have seen changes in behavior and routines. For example, when we go to the gym or attend any Cal Poly events, she always makes an excuse that she’s meeting with her group to work on a project, yet when asked about her project, she doesn’t give any details about it. She seems like she’s not attending any classes because she sleeps really late (4am-5am) and sleeps till late afternoon. She never studies or does any homework. When asked about classes, she just says something very general or says she forgot. It’s frustrating that she doesn’t trust me after knowing her for 4 years. I’ve shared many of my most vulnerable secrets to her and I’ve yet to hear anything personal about her. Many things we’ve talked about have been very “superficial”, such as school stuff, interests (music, TV shows, news, etc.), but never about her life personally (such as family issues, how she’s doing personally with different situations in life, etc.). If I were in her shoes, I would be an awful state (I’m not sure how she puts on a face each day). I would be embarrassed to let my friends know I’m not enrolled at Cal Poly, but I’d feel so alone and I don’t think I’d be able to handle something that big. Is she dying for someone to find out so she doesn’t have to tell it herself? I understand her perspective. It would definitely be my pride stopping me from telling anyone. I’m still conflicted on how to approach her on this. I don’t want to ruin our friendship or make it awkward for her. I hoped as close friends she would tell me so I can offer help and support. I wouldn’t judge her; I just want her to be happy and in a healthy state.
My close friend has been standing me up a lot lately. I think like 7 times. We have been really close friends since freshman year, but he recently got into his first serious relationship with a mutual friend of ours. I’ve been really happy for him and given him space, but we’ve barely seen each other at all. I miss him and the rest of the crew. It’s been especially hard for me to adapt coming back from Spain and not feeling like I have my community. My friend does ask to hang out, but just never follows through/leaves me hanging/flakes out. So far it’s been like 7 times in a row. So in reality that is what is more hurtful than the act of not seeing him. (The feeling like I cannot count on him to follow through). Anyways, it has been a little hurtful but I haven’t been doing so bad. I am putting myself in his shoes, (and from knowing him), I know he is really trying to live in the moment with his girlfriend, so he is in his own world and gets lots in the details. In response, I am going to make some effort to reach out to other friends and meet new people –which is good anyways.
Dom – Conserve Employees
Last night I wanted to do my laundry. Unfortunately there is no washer or dryer in my apartment so I need to use the Apartment Complex’s public laundry for which I need to use quarters. I grabbed my bag of quarters that I need to keep just so that I am able to wash my clothing. I seemed a bit light so I counted it out and noticed that I was missing 50 cents. None of my roommates had change and neither did my car. So I had to go to the gas station down the street to get some quarters because I really needed to get my laundry done this evening. I got to the gas station and asked the two employees if I could have five dollars in quarters. Now, just for the record, I have made this transaction on numerous occasions. I gave the lady my debit card and she was able to get me the change. It isn’t a normal transaction, I know that on one occasion she debited me 10 dollars of gas and then told the computer that I wanted the change back from the gas machine and then she gave me the 10 dollars in quarters. The response I got from the two employees this evening was extremely frustrating. They both didn’t even attempt to find a solution to my problem. I explained to them that somebody has always been able to assist me even if it was in a bit of an alternative way. I attempted three more times to see if they could just try but every time they gave me a disappointing answer, especially disappointing because of their lack of effort. All it takes is an attempt at creativity, an urge to help somebody, or even an urge to really fulfill ones duty of working the cash register of a gas station. But these employees had none of it. Very frustrating. I ended up driving to Bank of America, getting a 20 dollar bill and bringing it back for them to give me some change. While this is annoying, I do not know what it is that makes the workers act like this. Possibly it was their first shift. Possibly, they were raised in a household that did not push for them to try different things. Maybe they had both been dished out a shitty lot in life and don’t like helping other people out just for the sake of helping someone else out. I really don’t know, but what I do know is that this makes me strive to be helpful. It is a motivator to not let people have such a interaction with me. Next time that somebody asks me something and I don’t know the answer, it is a motivator that I need to spend some extra time really attempting all the other possibilities.
Brian – Math lessons
I remember growing up I was always able to do all of my homework on my own without anyone’s help. My little brother was a different story. It always frustrated me how a simple math subject would be so difficult for him to understand. I would always just get mad at him and send him to my mom to finish helping him. It took me a while to realize that something that seemed so simple to me was not for other people. Then i started trying to explaining in ways different then the ways I was taught. I found simpler ways to help him out which made a big difference. This helped me out later in my schoolwork because teaching others forces you to be empathetic in order for you to be effective. At the same time, it improves your skills on the subject because it is more practice for you and you have a better understanding.
Beth- Empathy for my housemates
This past week, I learned that my current roommate wants to live with other friends next year. I have lived with the same roommate for 3 years now so this came as a bit of a shock for me. At first, I was upset with her but then I put myself in her shoes and acknowledged that she was closer to her other friends than she was with me. Even though I am sad to see her go, after my empathy intervention I became less angry. I now wish her the best for next year and am excited to see where I end up next year.
Mariah- empathy for others.
This past week has been a very tough one for me. I got food poisoning on February- 13th -2016, the symptoms started with a bad stomach ache, which I did not think was serious, so I didn’t pay it any attention. However the days that followed were a nightmare, I got a fever, cough, body chills, diarrhea, aches all over my body, terrible headache, I was vomiting, I was in excruciating pain–to say the least. I literally went from getting out of bed to not being able to stand–overnight. I was weak, I could not get myself to eat or drink, I felt like I was losing my body. I knew I had to nourish my body but I could not get the strength to feed myself, I lost all appetite. Even talking on the phone drained my energy. With the little energy I had I got on the phone and I called Mrs. Renoda Campbell- ( coordinator for students of color here at Cal-Poly) to take me to the hospital. I checked in at the French Hospital where my family members found me. My mother almost passed out when she saw the condition I was in. Even though I am starting to gain my energy back again and I feel my appetite coming back in small pieces. I have a different perspective towards sick people. I have gained more empathy towards people who are helpless. I have not been sick for over 12 years, I was a bit detached from what sick people go through. I am also adding more value on what I eat. I understand the importance of cooking my own food and not
Even though I am starting to gain my energy back again and I feel my appetite coming back in small pieces. I have a different perspective towards sick people. I have gained more empathy towards people who are helpless and ill. I have not been sick for over 12 years, I was a bit detached from what sick people go through. I am also adding more value on what I eat. I understand the importance of cooking my own food and not relying on grocery stores for my cooked food.
Michael – self-empathy
I am at ends. With myself. A lot of the discussions thus far seem to focus on how empathy is useful when conflict arises between two people, but I want to take the focus in a different direction. This past weekend I decided to go visit my girlfriend near Yosemite despite having a daunting list of responsibilities here at Cal Poly. In addition to the standard classwork and midterm studying, scoring rubrics for an editor position I work in were due for 37 scholarly articles. Normally, I value the safety and security of finishing my tasks before taking the time to enjoy life outside of school. But the romance of Valentine’s Day and the lure of adventure were just enough to push my mind outside of this tradition. I got back to San Luis Obispo around 3AM Tuesday morning with a drop in the bucket relative to what I needed to be prepared for the coming week. At that moment I came to realize that I would not be sleeping for quite some time to try and keep my head above the water. And in that moment, I felt angry and frustrated at myself. Why did I let myself ignore so many important tasks for the sake of one weekend? I cycled through images of my sleepless self and the stacks of work that needed to get done. The feelings of stress and anxiety started consuming me, and for a second I thought I regretted my decision. But then, I realized something. Outside of this exact moment of stress for school and work, how did I feel? ELATED. I had nourished a part of my life that is typically reserved for the tiny space between responsibilities. I felt reinvigorated in the way I saw the world and giddy at the romantic getaway that was never supposed to happen. The weekend allowed me to nurture the other half of my life that too often gets swept aside. I had felt anger and regret towards a weekend that had made me feel like a million bucks. I realized I needed to be empathetic with myself – the other half of myself – that lives outside of tests and percentages and scholarly articles on cyber warfare. Life requires balance, and although mine may have been a little off after that decision, I would not have had it any other way. Thanks me. You rock.
Jolie – I wrote about group projects and friend
For the past few weeks my studio project has been group work to conduct site analysis and develop a general master plan. I tend to work quickly, thoroughly, and value punctual delivery of drawings and diagrams. I absolutely hate waiting until the last minute to do things, so I manage my time well. I think personally I would hate to seem like the slacker in the group so I end up doing a lot of the work. Two out of my four team mates have been less than ideal to work with. They have been late to our team meetings, they don’t offer their efforts but rather need to be assigned tasks, and they one of them is very picky with the way he thinks things should be done. The day of our pin up (1:10 PM) we were supposed to meet at 10 AM to finish up the last bits that shouldn’t have taken long. They arrived around 11 and each had one drawing to do, which they slacked off until we rushed them to finish. We printed at 1 PM. Ridiculous. I was so angry because I have never cut it that close to a deadline and what they produced did not strengthen our presentation significantly because it was poorly thought out (i.e. the topographic grading didn’t work which is what they needed to figure out). Sometimes I think maybe it’s just me because I try to be on top of my workload, making lists of things that need to get done and then doing them. From their point of view, maybe I seem uptight, or over-bearing, or a control freak, or like I don’t have a life outside of my work. Or maybe they think I will do it for them because I usually end up picking up everyone’s slack. And while I find it acceptable for them to perceive me that way even though I was patient with them up until the last minute, what I cannot fathom is how inconsiderate their actions were. As a group project, you have a responsibility to your team to do your part. After that group portion you can deal with getting your work done however it suits you, but you owe it to your group to be on top of your work. For the next intervention, Roger mentioned just how hard it is to grocery shop without bringing any packaging into your house. I think I will try it for a week or so, however long it takes to make 3 trips to the grocery store. This will definitely require some planning and potentially seeming difficult to employees…
I have a good friend who has always been–for lack of a better word–sassy. I have always appreciated how easily and confidently they are able to speak their mind, something I am working on. However, lately I feel like they’ve been punchy, pushing jokes from witty to just wrong. It feels as if this friend is trying way too hard to get some kind of reaction. At the same time, I know how insecure this friend can be, I tried to put myself in their position. What could I gain from making jokes that no one is clearly finding amusing? Why would you say things you know aren’t right and don’t even supply comic relief? Maybe it’s a call for help or attention, which I have a hard time grasping because I don’t think I would ever go about doing that. Or maybe they don’t even realize they are being annoying or slightly offensive and it’s just merely a lack of communication. This brings me wonder where the fine line is between joking and seriously offending someone, especially with the social/racial climate going on in the nation that can be felt at Cal Poly too. For this reason, at times I may seem very passive, but I’m just quiet at first so I can observe boundaries with people, to better dictate my actions around them. The times when I get worked up are usually when other people are being inconsiderate (as seen above).
Kat – Friend?
I know a girl who always complains about things, everything, and she doesn’t want listen to anyone except herself. I met her in Fall 15, had one class with her, and that was it for me to be her bestie. She talks a lot, so much and, no she COMPLAINS too much about tiny little things. I have been ignoring her text messages and walk around when I see her on my path. Yes, I am avoiding her at all cost because I feel that she is negative and her complaints are ridiculous and nonsensical. Sure, life is hard, and school makes it a bit more challenging, but that is common among students. We, friends, get together to cheer each other up and help each other to feel better. Yes I will listen to my friends’ crisis and comfort them, but what can I do when “I can’t wear my favorite shorts because I have lab. Why is lab so annoying?!”, and when “Oh my god, my hair is so long. I need a haircut, but I don’t like any of the hair salons in SLO.” Just writing this makes me frustrated. BUT, for this empathy intervention, I am taking a step back and trying to answer why she is the way she is. Maybe, I should ask her to hang out and ask her why she complains so much and maybe then we can understand each other better and can be friends….
Jordan – Housemate fun
Found my housemate on craigslist and from the surface level the guy looked like a perfect fit. As time goes by it is increasingly apparent that my initial assumptions about this guy were not correct and he is not the studious, clean, quiet roommate I was expecting. In all fairness he is a really nice guy but vegan explosions in the kitchen, constant bong rips, and ukulele performances at 7 am are all less than ideal.
I tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum and like to keep a clean house and focus on my studies, work, and hobbies. One might call me a grandpa past his college prime. Often I am pissed at this guy for one absurd reason or another (cooking pasta until evaporation and miraculously burning it, hair balls throughout the house, ukulele jam sessions at ungodly hours with less that stellar vocals) and the knee jerk reaction is to blame him for being an inconsiderate, ass hole. The challenge will be to put myself in his shoes when tempers flare and think about the challenges he faces living with me. My assumption is that he views me as a boring, neat freak, and picky elitist. So rather than blame him, I might revert to my pot smoking, anti-establishment days of youth and realize that what I am getting upset over is typically petty and inconsequential.
Mia – I wrote about my evil housemate
I have this housemate that is currently in a large disagreement with me and my other four housemates. It has been a long time coming, and her relationship with each of us is difficult in a different way. Personally, I have a hard time understanding why she gets upset, which makes her the perfect subject for this assignment (as hard as it is). Recently she got mad at me because I have been not communicating with her in order to reduce conflict.
She told me she felt ignored by me. I ignored her because she has been extremely disrespectful to me and my other housemates. The other girls are too scared to even confront her about their issue with her, and she only called me out for being quiet. Right now I think she only called me out because she knows I will confront her unlike the other girls. But let me think in her shoes… If my whole house seemed to be weird around me and I had a lot of insecurities about graduating at the end of the quarter… I think I need to come back to this.
Sadly, it hasn’t gotten any better. To be honest I think it has gotten worse. I am getting more angry as time continues. I feel like she really doesn’t feel understood or welcomed. I can see how she feels this way, because she’s not understood or welcomed by all of us in the house. I seem to get the most shit for it and I don’t know what I exactly did or said. I think that she just does not like my personality. Can I change that? No… I would like to just be civil amongst the silence. I hope that we can get to that level.
Maddi – I wrote about how frustrated I am with my Professor:
This week, I have been grappling with immense anger and frustration at the educational system as exemplified by my experience in my IT 390 class this quarter. I just had a midterm yesterday which I studied for and felt prepared for. Yet, I think I got a D (maybe an F). The professor provided us with the correct answer guide right after we took the test and I got a bunch wrong. Perhaps my frustration arises from the failure…but it also arises from the fact that I feel the test was an inaccurate and unfair opportunity to demonstrate that we understand the knowledge presented in the class. Everyone felt that the test was more to trick us into getting the wrong answers. I literally feel that my professor made a really hard test so that we would all not do well in order to prove the difficult/complexity of the subject matter.
Then I tried to think about it from his perspective. I am pretty positive that he does not think he is doing this. I am sure he feels like a good professor and that he created a fair test. That is about as far as I can empathize as I am still really frustrated. I feel like I was set up for failure and now I have a pit in my stomach for feeling insignificant due to my inability to regurgitate information even though I know that this is no indicator of my self worth….somehow it still feels that way. It is a work in progress…I will continue to try to empathize with his perspective. I will go to office hours and hear him out, but in the end I am feeling pretty upset still.
Pete – I wrote about two that came to mind this week.
I am constantly intervening with myself to bend and be flexible with my kids, especially Neil, 7. When I have a conflict with him and I force him to correct what is wrong, I want to teach him that he can’t do the “wrong” thing. However, I’m sure that what I’m modeling is authoritative rule. Robin helps me remember that I want to find a way to work with him. He wants to be “on the team”, but he is very proud. Last night I went to hug him good night and asked him to close his drawers beneath his bed. He had his jackets in them and they couldn’t close. I said that I’d just take the things that were causing the trouble and I took them. He screamed at being violated in the process. I think he was angry and felt helpless. After looking at Robin, who was curious, concerned, and a little disappointed that I couldn’t have found a way to hug him good night without a crises, (I think Robin cares deeply for both of us and wants for us to have a good relationship, and I think she hurts when it doesn’t work) I went back to his bed and asked if he wanted to try again. He did. He hung up his jacket and closed the drawers and hugged me good night. One of the most helpful things I’ve read about raising children indicated that you can’t punish kids into behaving. Instead you have to catch them in the act of doing something right and reinforcing it. It works the same for adults. So, I could ponder the things I did wrong, but this won’t help me. It’s more effective to recognize that I was able to empathize and soften and try again. I am working to be able to do this sooner, and on my own…. just like you hope your kids will learn to be responsible on their own. Maybe this is another layer of empathy: I’m feeling the same with myself as maybe Neil is feeling with me.
I submitted a manuscript to The Physics Teacher about the very different way my physics classes learn physics… see this video if you are interested to know more about how it is different… and wonderful. It was only about 2000 words and so, I was annoyed to have to write to them after 5 months to ask why I didn’t get a response. The editor immediately sent me the bad news, that the paper had been rejected. I was further annoyed because the paper was rejected for reasons that were not central to what I was doing, but were details. One was that the manuscript didn’t make enough references to the past literature. It seemed as though the paper was rejected, not because what I am doing isn’t interesting, but because I’m not in the PER (Physics Education Research) club. I wrote back to the editor and he agreed with me – that the paper shouldn’t be rejected, just revised to include some of the past literature. In adding some of the past literature, I can re-read my original manuscript and it sounds naive to me. I likely use the wrong words, and likely sound kind of uneducated and unprofessional to someone who has a life’s work in PER. I don’t think that makes them right and me wrong… I think I’m glad that I had that insight. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the manuscript.
Don’t Throw it away Intervention
I started and restarted my attempt at this intervention a few times before I was able to actually go a full 7 days saving my trash. I continuously kept forgetting about it and throwing things away. I found that my worst offense was when I was on campus. This was probably due to the fact that I don’t want to have to deal with carrying a lot of things around, so I would rather just toss it out. I also found this situation of taking the convenient route in where I threw things away, as I became more aware I had a tendency to throw something away in a trash bin, even if it may be recyclable or compostable, just because the trash can was closest (or the easier target to shoot it into).
When I was able to finally get a solid trash collection, I realized that the majority of my waste came either from food packaging or paper products. The paper I had anticipated because of the nature of my courses this quarter, but the food packaging definitely took me by surprise! I never realized how much waste came from the things I eat, and I feel that I can definitely make a better effort to buy things that don’t use so much packaging, or even make small changes like not using plastic bags for things such as fruits and vegetables. Also, the lack of actual organic food waste in my pile such as banana or orange peels made me think that maybe a little bit better diet wouldn’t hurt either.
Here is a picture (below) of my trash for 7 days. I separated everything into different piles: paper products, plastics, foam, glass, foil, and rubber. Although there were times when I went digging through the trash can to pick out a discarded piece of trash that I forgot about, I think I definitely forgot about some trash. I go to trivia every Tuesday at Woodstock’s Pizza and quickly realized that I use a LOT of napkins when there. Seeing the pile stack up made me very aware of just how much of an impact I can have on the environment and waste management. I’m just one person in a sea of people and I managed to use 5-6 napkins for one meal. I know I can do better than that and have since tweaked my habits to use less disposable products like napkins, cups, etc. The biggest misfortune of the intervention was the realization of the near-impossibility of going without the packaging of all of our foods. Pasta, peanut butter, brats, waffles, and basically everything that we buy for food from grocery stores has packaging. In order to minimize and eliminate that kind of waste, people, unfortunately, have to drastically change their lives. Because of this drastic change, it is hard to see a future when people shop wholly conscious of their food they are buying. Even after taking this class and going through this intervention, it is hard for me to change my life accordingly. However, I will still be attempting to take steps toward a healthier and more environmentally conscious life.
Posting pretty late here. I did the trash intervention back in mid January, which happened to coincide with my birthday. Needless to say this produced a disproportionate amount of recycling (pictured) in part due to surprise visits from friends & other celebratory refreshments. This week I also felt like I finished containers of things that I had been using for a while, and this makes it look like I’m even more of a consumer than that week in January should have looked. I consider myself pretty conscious of waste and food packaging- I’ve kept an honest new years resolution from 2011 to not use disposable coffee cups, but this week of not throwing anything away really foregrounded how I’m still part of the problem. Trash I generated was mostly eggshells & other food related items. I recycled the remaining applicable products, which made me aware of things like restaurant waste, and how just because it’s recyclable doesn’t mean its waste neutral. There is still processing & energy that goes into recycling goods.
This self-intervention was quite difficult for me. It is now 2.24.16 I have only just finished this self-intervention. My first go at this was a failure, I ended up only not throwing away about half of the waste I produced. I knew I wanted to do it correctly at least once, so this past week I did not throw anything away. What I noticed was that a lot of the waste stemmed from packaging and paper towels. Actually the paper towels were the largest chunk of my waste. The explanation for this is that we use paper towels to dry our dishes. My apartment began the year by using dish towels but they simply got so dirty so fast that it would be futile to continuously wash them. Especially because we do not have a washing machine or a dryer in our apartment. I have come to the decision that I will steer away from using paper towels and I will use a personal dish towel to clean all of my dishes so that it does not get extremely dirty from the use of myself and my other three roommates. This has been a good and valuable experience. Thanks Pete.
My self-intervention started back in January but I’m sad to report that I was unable to follow through with my self-intervention. Last quarter I had no problem keeping all my trash and not throwing anything away! However, this quarter has been such a struggle! I tried the intervention about 4 different times throughout this quarter but failed pretty quickly and caught myself throwing things away again before the week was up. I’m not sure if it’s due to my schedule change (different quarter than my last intervention during winter 2015) or because I had already completed the challenge and knew what to expect. Either way, I wasn’t able to succeed. The closest I came was keeping a bit of trash for 2.5 weeks inconsistently. Maybe if I had more of a break between the last time I did the intervention and now, I would have had a better outcome from this intervention.
My self-intervention started on Jan-12-2016 and ended on Jan-19-2016. I did not save trash but I decided I would reuse my Starbucks coffee cup and zip lock bags. I chose to reuse my Starbucks coffee cup for a week because I purchase Starbucks coffee on a daily basis and I tend to throw away the cup after I use it. I always throw away the ziplock bags that I use to pack food on a daily basis, so I wanted to challenge myself to reuse my zip lock bags for a whole week. The self-intervention started off great until the middle of the week I found myself really tired of carrying the Starbucks coffee cup around, it became overbearing. Also reusing the plastic zip lock bags was inconvenient. The zip-lock bags got wrinkly and most importantly I had to always remember to take them with me each day.
I did not save any trash during the week of self intervention not because I didn’t want to but because I live with a family and saving the trash is not allowed. I did however, save trash I produced in my room for a week and I was surprised to find that the items that I purchase have packaging that produce a lot of waste. Not only that but I realized many of the items I had could be composted, and I was too lazy to take them to the compost bucket. I keep track of items I purchased and realized that its a lot of waste. There were funky smells coming from the corner of my room and the trash took up a lot of space. I also noticed I use alot of sandwich bags and that needs to stop. I should me more eco-friendly because most of the time I just throw it away.
Carter Price : I began the week of not throwing anything away fairly well; I made sure to throw everything in the box I had set up. Unfortunately, I began to forget at certain points and throw things in the kitchen trash instead of keeping them in my box. I filled my box within the first 3.5 days and realized that all most all of my trash was from food packaging; I had never realized how much waste unnecessary packaging creates. I also caught myself eating everything I consumed instead of throwing away leftovers.This experience made me wonder if I was at fault for consuming the food products or if the corporations were at fault for selling the food products with an absurd amount of packaging material. From now on, I want to be more cognoscente of the amount of packaging on the food products I buy; all I really need is the food anyway.
This week was a particularly good week for me in terms of trash produced because I made enough taco mix to last me the entire week! This meant that I wasn’t having to throw away trash from bagged snacks, granola bars or frozen/ package produce. I normally consider what I throw away, and what I can recycle or better yet compost. The image below sorts my waste from this week into 3 groups. Trash (left), recyclables (top), and compost-ables (right). I plan to put my compost-ables from this week in the same spot I put all my organic waste- the empty lot behind my house. This intervention made me realize that tacos are bomb and make sense environmentally because they can be made from local, unpackaged produce.
Courtney Wedel: Tuesday Jan. 12, 2016. Tuesday marks the beginning of our trash week, so I decided this was the best day to start. I had one week to accumulate the amount of trash and recycle before the trash guys came back our way to collect it for the landfill again. I started off pretty strong, just as any resolution does. I was very conscious of what I was packing my lunch in, using as a utensil, and made more of an effort to carry around my thermos for my daily coffee runs. Not only did I not dispose of any coffee cups this week, but bringing around my own coffee mug has also earned me 0.25 cents off of my coffee at Starbucks. I realized that this was my biggest motivator for bringing my own cup, even though 0.25 cents isn’t even that much money. The thermos also encouraged me to make my own coffee instead of buying it. I have eliminated most of the trash that I would bring to campus through glass containers for my food and a refillable water bottle. Where I was accumulating the most was mainly at home when I was cooking meals I would build up empty wrappers from the food packages. Most of this I was able to wash out and recycle, but it all added up. I realized that there were a lot of things that had packaging and the recycling still does take an energy toll and ads to my carbon footprint. I have been trying to reduce how much packaging I go though, but its hard when it is a necessity that the food companies package it. As much as I wanted to control how much paper and plastic I was using, it felt almost like a lot of company protocols were against me. If I did buy anything, most stores would offer a paper receipt instead of e-mailing. This particular week we were constructing study models for our architecture projects, so a lot of the trash I compiled was from this. I didn’t end up saving it becuase it honestly was just too much clutter for me, but this amounted to most of the trash.
Maddi Fleming: After participating in the “do not throw away” intervention in UNIV 391, I was excited to see if my waste accumulation habits were better. They largely were!! I hardly had any waste aside from compostable materials. There were the occasional food packaging wrappers or Keurig coffee cups but for the most part I was able to pre-pack my food for school in reusable Tupperware. I have found that the task of not producing much trash waste is also a healthy one since it is nearly impossible to avoid trash with a diet consisting of processed foods. But a waste-conscious mindset also leads to the consumption of fresh, home-cooked, and minimally processed foods. I really really really enjoy it because it forces me to spend time preparing my food and facilitating a positive experience around eating instead of a ‘quick and convenient’ model of eating. I am going to try to go as package less as possible by buying foods in bulk and avoiding all processed foods with single-use plastic packaging. I see it less as a sacrifice and more as a value-added choice that leads to enrichment.
Daniel Salas: Having already participated in the “don’t throw away anything for a week” self intervention for the PSC 320 course I took with Pete last spring, I thought it would be more useful to myself and to society to take a new spin on the intervention. For one week I made it my mission to throw away/recycle/compost every piece of litter I came across in my daily life. The rules i set for myself were #1) If I saw a piece of litter, I had to dispose of it into an appropriate receptacle #2) If I saw somebody littering I had to confront them about it and #3) I had to find at least 3 pieces of litter everyday. Once I became aware of litter and started actively seeking it, I started noticing patterns in the types of litter that accumulate in certain places. For example, the interiors of campus buildings are relatively litter free, except for empty coffee cups which are left all over the place and there is almost always a few pieces of litter by the benches of bus stops. I even found a piece of litter while I was surfing, a food wrapper floated by me, so I grabbed it and tucked it into the sleeve of my wetsuit and threw it away when I got back to the beach.
Kylie Everitt: January 12, 2016 marked the first day of my waste intervention. I could not make it a full week but had compiled my trash up until January 17, 2016 before my roomies began to hate the smell and conglomeration of miscellaneous waste in our kitchen. It was hard for me to consider this project to be practical in my everyday routine. I found myself constantly throwing things out then digging through the trash to collect it again because I would forget to save it. Carrying it around was interesting as well. My car became littered with my daily Starbucks cups and other food packaging. It definitely made me think of how much packaging is used for things and I began to appreciate the brands who would either use eco-friendly packaging or try to minimize the materials needed to package their product. A lot of my food products I put into a wooden box in our yard that was left for gardening by the previous tenant. Hopefully I can continue this composting effort and get the roommates involved.
Kathleen Sones: Going about this intervention, I didn’t actually keep all my trash, I kept forgetting not to throw things out or sometimes if they were too gross I would do it. However, I never took out my trash and I did keep a lot of it. And every time I did throw something away, I thought about how much would accumulate if I hadn’t, or how my room or backpack would smell, or how the food would rot and attract bugs. I started the first day not changing anything, just to see how much trash I normally generated, and I realized a huge contributor to trash was food. Sometimes I would end being on campus longer than I was planning for and would have to buy a meal on campus, and shove my gross food trash in my backpack, though a reusable water bottle prevented some potential trash from piling up in there. On Wednesday I stayed up late doing homework and made myself a microwave meal, which generated three pieces of trash: the box, the tray, and the wrapper. I used a paper towel to wipe up raw egg on my counter because I didn’t want to have raw egg lingering on our normal towels. I threw away the paper towel, only because I didn’t want anyone in my apartment to get sick. Because of all the food waste, while grocery shopping I tried to pick things with minimal packaging and buy extra fruits and vegetables. SLO’s law against plastic grocery bags helped me out a little, I was already used to bringing my own reusable bags. However, I forgot them one day, and now I have a bunch of brown paper bags laying in my room. But even when I was trying to cut back with the food itself, lots of trash was generated. All my produce bags piled up, and empty boxes took up lots of space. One thing I noticed throughout the week was how many receipts accumulated in my purse and backpack. Every time I bought anything, another long piece of paper was added to my bag. Second to food waste was paper waste. Receipts in my purse, paper shreds and rough notes in my backpack and all around my room. I realized I generate a lot of paper waste in my room- post it notes, half sheets of notebook paper. I write myself a lot of notes. I should be doing this in my phone, but I usually stick with paper so I can literally move it into my vision. My desk is usually a mess, but this week I couldn’t clean it, because what clutters my desk is miscellaneous papers and notes I don’t need. On Friday I got lunch and saw a movie downtown with my roommate, and really noticed how much trash something that simple generated. Tickets for the parking structure, movie tickets, those popcorn popcorn bags, and food-covered napkins from the restaurant all ended up in my car. I took a short trip up to Santa Cruz on Sunday and Monday and drove with a friend. The state of my car for those two days was like a microcosm of this whole project, tons of trash accumulated. Even though my friend wasn’t participating in the intervention, she’s pretty messy and left a lot of trash in my car, mimicking what could have happened to me if I hadn’t started making an effort to produce less trash. Overall, this intervention made me realize what a problem trash is, and my experience with eggs also made me realize the potential dangers of trash. We need to shift how things like grocery shopping and schoolwork are handled to create less trash, which seems to be happening a little bit. Some stores offer email-only receipts, and notes can be taken on a laptop or tablet. Hopefully more things like this can really make a difference with our trash problem.
Gabe Pregadio: It wasn’t easy doing this. I piled up trash for a few days but I ended up throwing some away because the kitchen started smelling (I cook a lot). I saved up any cardboard, paper, containers, and other trash that basically isn’t food. It was quite impressive. I usually throw things away without a second thought. Sometimes I caught myself about to throw something away, and other times I realized later that I threw something away that I shouldn’t have. I knew that I would be surprised at how much stuff I throw away on a regular basis, and it turned out to be that way.
Daly: I started this self-intervention after class on Monday. It was pretty difficult not throwing anything away for a week. I started off really well but then it went downhill when I started cooking (that was day 2). I always felt conflicted whenever I used an extra bag to collect my food waste (in order to contain the smell so my roommates wouldn’t hate me too much). I felt a little weird having to bag my waste from In&Out and taking it home to add it to my pile. But I wanted to really be true to this assignment. I definitely started to notice the packaging of food; lots of hard foam boards for the meat, cardboard boxes, plastic bags or containers, etc. There were some things I wouldn’t buy or eat because it meant more waste. I have to admit I did cheat a few times especially the paper towels I used to dry my hands in public restrooms. Now, I look forward to what I can do with it. The food waste will go into a compost bin, and the rest is up to me to be creative.
Jolie Leung–1/12-1/16 Coming into this I knew the most waste I would accumulate would be from food scraps from cooking. I cook all of my meals, and though none of the food I cook goes to waste and I try to salvage every part the ingredient, waste is inevitable. Keeping all of that in my room really made me want a compost bin, since practically all of my waste is organic material. However, it did shed light on the packaging for meats and fruit that add a lot of bulk to my pile. I’m glad to say that I do always bring my own bag when grocery shopping and don’t like to take the thin plastic bags for produce because I hate dealing with them. Unfortunately I could not complete the whole week because the thought of deliberately choosing to keep a weeks worth of rotting food scraps in my room was unsettling. I even found myself opting to do my work on the dining room table this week as opposed to my room to avoid it. Sometimes I get on my housemate’s case for not cleaning up after themselves so I didn’t want to move my not-yet-trash into the living room or kitchen.
Ebrahim Feghhi- After initially not attempting my trash intervention, I decided to give it a try. I had a little plastic bag which I carried with me and put my trash. I also put some of my trash which I used in the apartment on the floor of the kitchen. I lasted for one day. Carrying the plastic bag was annoying and I quickly lost motivation for doing it. However, I did learn from the experience. The trash below is about 1/2 the trash I use in a day. I would be shocked to see how much trash I use in a week. I think sometimes we forget the things that are automatically done for us in the western world, like trash being taken out and our toilets just flushing. It’s good to be reminded that these things don’t just disappear.
Michael Zamora: I began this self-intervention after class on Monday 01/11/16 and concluded a week later on 01/18/16 around 2:00PM. The most difficult aspect of this project was adding the cognition in my head to NOT throw something away after I had finished with it. When the structures in my life become cluttered, such as my desk, backpack, or house more generally, my mind becomes cluttered as well. As a result, I routinely find myself tidying these structures before engaging in an assignment to focus my concentration.This self-intervention, however, forced me to come face to face with how much trash my consumption produces in just a weeks time.
Instead of moving the trash “out of sight, out of mind” to receive mental clarity, every day I came home to an expanding trash pile of my own production. I found that my most frequent offending habit is paper towel consumption (98% of that garbage bag), which I use when I’m washing my hands, eating, cleaning a table, picking up trash, etc. I also am more aware of how the structure of food delivery i.e. yogurt in single serving cups, can further compound the volume of trash. Everything we purchase has a carbon footprint of some sort, from the obvious offenders like bottled water to the less obvious zucchini covered in plastic wrap on a foam plate. It is almost overwhelming to come to terms with the fact that every day we are creating waste that does not disappear like we imagine it does when we throw it away. In terms of constructive takeaways, I definitely am going to be more conscientious of my consumption/trash habits and of the packaging of food I purchase. I am also interested in finding a good use for the compostable waste I had gathered, such as nurturing vegetation around my house.
Pete: I’m starting now, 4:00 PM, January 11. I won’t throw anything away for the coming week. OK, so after a week, I have accumulated a small stack by the door:
We see in the upper left compost that is rotting inside of plastic bags, upper right plastic wrappings and bags for food, often used one or more extra times for my lunch, etc. lower left, garbage (you can’t recycle or compost plastic coated paper) including silly straws that I confiscated from the kids because they were too distracting at dinner, and lower right, recyclables. Each goes in its own place. The plastic bags present a quandary because there is some slimy food in some of them from like sandwiches and such. Can I still take them to the “plastic recycle” at the store? I do, but I don’t know if they like it. I still have to clean some of the sunflower seed butter from the inside of the container (lower right) before I put it in the recycle. The most interesting insight was… my life seems like a constant self intervention – I was on the tandem, picking up Tekuru from her Aerial Dancing auditions for the play down by Trader Joes, so I went to TJ’s and bought a huge amount of stuff and totally filled my backpack. You can read from last quarter that one of my interventions (with a wife getting knee surgery) is that I’ll only eat what I bring home myself. However, I had some trash and recycling in my backpack, and really wanted to throw it away because space in my pack was a premium… but I made it work, but it was difficult. Then I got a flat, and I won’t go into details, but it took me all of my patches and both inner tubes and 1 hour to patch it, and in the process, I had to ride half a mile on a complete flat. And I’m thinking, “this doesn’t happen to normal people… to car people.” how do I appear to them, the passer-by-ers? … and I am still carrying around my trash in the overstuffed pack. Tekuru didn’t say much. On the way home, I asked if she was embarrassed by me. She said, “a little.” Well, shit, she’s an 11 year old. Isn’t she supposed to be embarrassed by her dad? But then again, I wonder if maybe I’m a bit of a special case. She thought that some of the instructors were waiting just for us to finish for almost an hour. I pointed out that maybe with all those folks picking up their kids in SUVs from across town, maybe I’m not the one who should be embarrassed? And I’m still carrying some trash in the overstuffed backpack on the Tandem at 10 PM riding home on South Higuera. OK, before I start getting “holier than thou” I’ll stop, but I just wanted to share that moment… I was thinking about you guys.
Jose – I was not very successful in my “don’t throw anything away” intervention. One of my room mates has ocd and requires that everything is clean all the time in my apartment. Every morning he wakes up with some anxiety and says that the only way he can get rid of it is by cleaning up the entire apartment. In a way this is good for me, because I almost never have to clean my apartment. But it isn’t as great as it sounds. My room mate cleans up everything in a bad mood in the mornings and I feel negative vibes. I honestly try to not be in the apartment in the mornings because I rather be around people that release positive energy. I have nothing against my room mate, he’s a really nice guy after 11am. But his ocd in the mornings is not fun to deal with. I prefer not to argue with him, and let him throw away my trash.
Kat: After a week of not throwing anything away, I now have stacks of cardboard boxes laying around. My trash can is full of rotten banana and orange peels, coffee ground, and all types of veggies. I wish I had some space outside of my apartment to start a compost bin. A year ago I started to limit plastic consumption: if the grocery is packed in plastic box or bag, I will not buy it (unless there is no other alternative). As I’m logging in this, I noticed that I have three plastic bags laying around. I feel satisfied (should I?) because the last time I went grocery shopping was yesterday. The picture is my boxes, getting grid of them or saving them for later? Hmmm..
I am starting Tuesday morning Jan 12 at 8am. I am hoping that I can do this week successfully because of my previous knowledge in Zero Waste. Being president of the Zero Waste club, I still haven’t made myself have the goal to not throw ANYTHING away. I am excited to do this…. Well here I am a week late and I threw away SO must stuff. The picture on the left is my compost from just 4 days! The next three days I traveled to Lake Tahoe and found that I had so much waste from going out to eat. I now firmly believe that cooking at home is much less wasteful than going out. I had to throw away the wax paper that had the food on it, and the plastic fork that I used, and the plastic cup to get water. In all of these instances, I tried to choose the “sit down” option to reduce waste, but it didn’t even matter because the restaurants didn’t have any real silverware! I could not hold on to all of the trash I developed over the weekend because it was simply too much. The other image is what I had after one day’s worth of breakfast at the hotel we stayed at.. Lots and lots of waste.
Jordan: Started Monday afternoon at 2:00 pm. The goal is to throw nothing away for a week – however I have already accidentally thrown 2 banana peels and 2 egg shells into the compost. Completed the intervention.This was difficult but ultimately made me cognizant of consumption. The intervention changed my actions on more than one occasion: asking for a rice bowl without a lid, not getting take-away burrito, and using my pant leg instead of a paper towel to dry my hands. The items that I remember accidentally disposing of are a few beer cans at a friends house, many banana peels, and some egg shells ( the peels and shells were thrown away out of convenience so they didn’t stink up my backpack).Once I was done I took a picture (below) and composted some, recycled some, and put the rest in the rubbish bin. Most of the items were recyclable or compostable which was somewhat encouraging, Very interesting intervention and made me think about my consumption and reflect on a book by William McDonough (Cradle to Cradle) that talks about intelligent design and creating items that can be upcycled.
Duncan: It is really hard not to throw anything away. I eat a lot of eggs and instinctively just toss the shells into the trash as soon as I crack them over the stove. It was a little bit easier to keep my trash when I’m at school, because a lot of the time I’m eating in the library or on the move so I end up just stuffing my trash into the pockets on the side of my backpack. But even still, I found myself throwing away granola bar wrappers and used napkins basically every day. On Friday, me and my friends went on a camping trip. We didn’t have a dumpster to put our trash in, so we had to bundle it all up and bring it back to SLO with us. It’s pretty amazing how much trash 30 guys can make in a single day. The house I live in has 12 residents, and as a result we end up making a lot of trash. For example, we had a party on Sunday night which left us with enough trash to fill over half of one of our four trashcans outside, as well as the majority of one of our three recycling bins.
In conclusion: I did a poor job of actually saving my waste, but it did kind of open my eyes to the amount of refuse a single person can generate, as well as how much this effect compounds when living with a large group of sloppy college guys.
Julia: It is incredible how easy it is to accumulate immense amounts of waste as a single human being. In order to limit waste, one definitely has to put the effort, constantly. For the most part, during the day I cook and pack myself a lunch in a a reusable container, so I am good there. My snacks (tangerine and granola bar) create waste…The tangerine could be potentially be put to good use with composting, but that is not an endeavor I am prepared to handle right now. The granola bar wrapper on the other hand will go to a landfill and chill there for thousands of years.. yay. The cooking of my lunch and dinner, also has ingredients that are sometimes packaged to the max. Which has is pros and cons. For example, on Sunday I cooked a meal of rice, vegetables, eggs, with peanut sauce. The scam here is that I cheated a little to save myself some time and used instant-cook rice and frozen vegetables (that comes in little packaging). So there was most of my waste. But here is my dilemma: I am trying really hard to eat better, but it’s hard to do it in the most sustainable way (i.e. use fresh produce and regular rice that is not packaged), because I sacrifice time and don’t have means. The major issues are: lack of good grocery stores (decently priced with healthy foods) nearby, lack of supply of foods that are not crazily packaged, and good transit to get there. When I lived in Barcelona, it was a whole lot easier. There was a “good” grocery store at almost every corner, and I could just get groceries on my walk home. I am a big proponent of sustainability, but in order to move people to change their behavior to be more sustainable, things need to be easier.
Below this line, Interventions from Winter, 2015_
Self Intervention – Your Choice:
Chad: Inspired by Roger’s talk to take my convictions more seriously, I have gotten rid of my home computer/ laptop (this will be long-term but begins this week). I intend this intervention to keep me focused on school work during set times (mostly at the library) and allow for other pursuits at home (engagement with friends, cooking meals, reading books, yoga/meditation). Further, I hope to eliminate wasting time mindlessly browsing the internet.
March 8: The intervention is going well, easy to maintain as I’ve eliminated a fall back (“demolish your bridges, then there is no choice but forward”). I can’t say I’ve reached the fully conscious and intentional life I was aiming for though. There’s been a few inconvenient trips to the library (or apple store) to check email as well as some nice times at my house relaxing without consuming myself in a glowing screen. The largest impact is probably that I no longer feel compelled to check the websites that used to consume a 1/2 to 1 hour of my day, as well as email (I often laugh at how irrelevant my emails now seem). That saved hour, though, seems unaccounted for so perhaps for the intervention to be more impactful, I should focus on implementing something positive into my life, not just eliminating a negative.
Pete: No media for a week – I will restrict my media interactions only to that which directly assists others – no hedonism. I won’t read NPR.org. I will only read Email once a day in the evening and just the ones that directly pertain to work or community action. I will call someone each day that I don’t communicate with much because they are not Emailers. Feb. 26. 9 PM. So I got up this morning, and thought, “Oh, but I HAVE to check my Email because there might be something there that is URGENT”. And then I thought, “Well, it will be interesting to see what happens if I don’t respond to anything until tonight.” and I turned my Emailer off. So I there was nothing for me to do all day it seemed because there was no Email. However, strangely, I got loads of stuff done that needed to get done. Here it is, I just turned my Emailer on and I have!!!: 46 Emails. I’ll read none for fun.
March 2, 9:30 PM. I’ll write this before I start to read my 71 Emails from today that I just counted. Unexpected benefit? I’ve felt more connected with my world throughout the day. I feel more productive and at peace and got my work done smoother and better. I spend less time on Email, because I just process everything through in one shot in the evening. Violations and Compensation? The first morning, I woke up and was habitually drawn to the computer – I realize that there is an addiction of sorts there. I thought, “but, I should at least look over my Email in case there’s a fire to put out or something.” Then I realized that this is what this experiment was for: “just do it and see what happens.” On the first day I didn’t open my Emailer at all. However, throughout the day, I need to Email something to people, so I kept a list of things that I needed to Email, as to not forget them. On the second day, I just opened the Email up and sent the message and closed the Email. I felt distracted because all the incoming Emails would load and appear at the top of the computer, but I didn’t read them, and I’d make a point not to notice. In general, there was little else that created conflict. I think I’ll continue doing this and see how it works for me…. OK, onto my 71 Emails now.
Colton: For this intervention I want to eat dinner before 9 o’clock. Sometime I end up losing track of time if I am working on a project or schoolwork and forget to eat dinner. This causes me to end up eating something like a bowl of cereal or something else simple that is simple to make and doesn’t always curb my hunger. Eating earlier will let me cook a real meal and will keep me from having to snack late at night.
Response: Eating before 9 really helped me sleep better through the night. It also allowed me to get a real meal and net have to snack be fore going to sleep.
Jared: I for some reason associate eating food with relaxing and winding down. For this intervention, I’m not going to eat anything after 3:00 PM. I’m still going to drink a beer or three…I just don’t think I could manage otherwise.
RESPONSE: I found this to be a very interesting exercise. It really separated for me the mental desire and the physical desire for food. The first two nights were very tough and I was legitimately hungry. After that though, it was strangely easy to not eat after three. It did reinforce though that I love food as I was would have random cravings that were very specific. Some unforeseen benefits included a lowered pressure on the digestive system, I spent very little money that week, and planning ahead what and when I would eat made things very different. I usually just eat when I feel like it. During the intervention I would mentally schedule what and when I would eat and stick to it. COMPENSATION: The one night I cheated I went to a show to see a friends band and drank a few too many beers for an empty stomach. When I got home I ate a piece of toast with some olive oil and it was amazingly good. Aside from that piece of toast, I’m proud to say I stuck with it for eight days. What was keeping me going was the thought of how spoiled we are here. I could just imagine people who feel blessed to eat once a day and my cravings would disappear with guilt. True to this course, this exercise opened my mind and helped me towards seeing impoverished peoples’ situations from a different point of view.
Jonathan: I always go to bed late, working on projects. I’m going to go to bed before 10:00 pm
Response: Well this did not work out well for me. I figured that If I could go to sleep earlier I would use less electricity/energy since the sun would be out longer while I was awake. The only problem was I had so much to do during that day I couldn’t seem to get it done and be asleep by 10. I think 11 was the earliest I went to bed. Major factors that played a role was my final presentation happening during last week as well as my parents staying with me for 5 days. They slept in my bed that whole time and I slept on the couch, which only made matters worse. Even when I went to bed earlier I would wake up knowing I had no time to relax and start working again. This did make me aware of how much electricity I use after 10pm however: The heater, the lights in my house. cooking more food because i’m hungry again, etc.
Aydee: For my second intervention, this week I will be sleeping on the floor instead of my comfy bed.
Response: My intervention went well the first 3 days, but after that my back and my whole body started to hurt. After the first night, I was very confident I would be able to do this for the whole week maybe even longer. I woke up feeling refreshed and great, my back felt aligned. The second night was a whole other story. I started to feel pain in my lower back and hips. I could not roll over to my sides because my shoulders and arms would start to hurt. After the third night I started to notice my throat was hurting, I think it might have been caused by the carpet I was sleeping on. I could no longer handle sleeping on the floor for another night, I felt soar all over and it didn’t help that I had been running a lot more mileage in training for an upcoming race. I missed my bed for those three nights and don’t think I want to sleep on the floor again unless necessary.
Yoko: I usually use 10+ squares of toilet paper, so minimizing to 4 for Poo and 1 for Pee.
Michael Pollack: Meditate once per day. (15 – 20 minutes)
Kate Brewer: Stop throwing food waste over my neighbors fence for their dogs, and instead put it in my garden, also I’m going to attempt to stop telling my son “no” and come up with an alternative answer.
Response: My intervention didn’t go so well, after a few days of not throwing anything and everything over to my neighbor’s dogs, I realized two things, they barked WAY more, which annoys the living hell out of me and two, my garden looked like the pismo boardwalk. Needless to say, I returned to chucking my food waste over my neighbors fence. I also rounded up all the other crap I had put in my garden and threw that shit over too.
Now, onto telling my son something other than NO. This, is not an easy task. I had to tell Rafe to remind me to NOT tell him no, leaving him rather confused and me rather irritated hearing my five year old tell me “Momma you can’t tell me no, remember?” -But the upside of this is that I was able to explain to him that telling a growing human NO, can have many lasting consequences and that I should be guiding him towards his own answer or resolution rather than curbing his questions with a stop sign…
Summer: I’m going to not use one-time use plastic items for this week. This includes ziplock bags, plastic bags for groceries and any plastic packaging for food from grocery stores. Any food that I buy from a grocery store will have to not come in any plastic packaging.
Response: First, I have to admit I was not completely successful in my intervention. I started last Monday and was doing great until Friday when I went to an all day conference and they served food and drinks throughout the day. That day I used a plastic cup (I forgot to bring a reusable one) and a plastic plate which I threw away at the end of the day. However, up until that point I had been good about bringing my food in reusable tupperware when I brought lunches to school and bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. That small behavior change was nothing new to my daily life, however once in a while out of laziness I used to quickly throw food in a ziplock bag and bring it to school. I wanted to use this intervention to mark a stopping point for that behavior and to consistently use tupperware (mostly glass containers) to bring my food and drinks away from home. The most difficult part of this intervention for me was grocery shopping and avoiding foods that were packaged in plastic. For example, I regularly buy cucumbers from Trader Joes but they are packaged in a plastic box and they have no cucumber options without suck packaging. In order to complete the intervention I had to go without foods with plastic packaging such as bread, cucumbers, cheese, granola, and bagged carrots (although you can buy single ones at Whole Foods). Luckily for me I get a CSA box that I share with my roommates so I still had plenty of vegetables, including some of the items that I was not able to purchase at the grocery store due to the excessive packaging. Overall, I am glad that I participated in this particular intervention because I am using it as a starting point to cutting plastic out of my life as much as possible. I am going to actively work on not using one-time use plastic items in order to not contribute to the overfilling landfills and trash islands that have resulted from our society’s materialism.
Mayra: I’m going to drink more water this week. I plan to drink at least 2L a day, which I’ll break down to 8 oz. an hour (Ideally, I’d be finished in eight hours since I built in a little wiggle room).
Christian: I an journalling and writing down three things that I am thankful for everyday. It has been a goal of mine to do this, but regularly forget.
Rafael: For my second intervention, I would like to begin and finish my days with a journal entry. I would like to begin by asking myself how I can be more mindful of others and accomplish the goals I want to achieve for that day. I think journaling is an excellent way to reflect on oneself and become more aware of what our perspective on life in general is.
Update: Journaling every day isn’t necessarily difficult but one thing is it does magnify your shortcomings on a daily basis. If one slip up occurs like say you didn’t read x amount of pages today or make it to the gym or maybe you ate particularly unhealthy food then you will be forced to confront it. The subject of my entries was self-reflection so I guess that confrontation only occurs if that’s your subject. Nonetheless, being confronted with your shortcomings on a daily basis is a good way to eliminate them. When you write down how you failed to do something and then follow that realization with a question asking how you can change it then very often action takes place.
Yenny: I was inspired by what our speaker had to say today. For my self intervention I will begin every morning by filling up two large bottles with water. I will carry them with me throughout the day and restrict myself to only drinking water from this source without refilling my bottles. I imagine I will have to ration my supply throughout the day.
Response: My self intervention lasted two and a half days. The first day of my intervention I found it incredibly annoying to have to carry my large bottle around. Not only was it annoying to have to carry it around (it would keep falling out of the pocket in my backpack) but I also realized that I had allocated less water for the day than I originally thought I needed. So towards the end of the first day I was struggling to ration what little water I had left. The second day was a little bit better. Learning from my first day I gave myself more water to carry in the morning. Carrying the bottle around was still annoying but at least I didn’t have to worry about running out of water. The third day, I caved. I made it through the middle of the day until I decided to go for a run. I went back home looking forward to drinking a big glass of cool refreshing water. When I remembered that I was limited to the water in my daily bottle I realized that amount simply wouldn’t be sufficient and I would be risking dehydration. I felt I had no other option then to cheat. Having caved in at the point that I did made me think about agricultural communities in developing nations where men and women toil under the sun. I started thinking about how thirsty they must get while working and how hard it must be to have sufficient water while working in the fields. I realized how grave the risk of dehydration and related symptoms must be for these communities. After this intervention I definitely value my easy access to water even more.
Naina: My goal is to not buy any food from campus and take everything packed from home. I’ve been meaning to spend less money on campus anyway because I’ve noticed a lot of my veggies go bad since I forget to cook them or don’t find the time to cook them before they go bad.
Joel: I haven’t exercise in a while, so I am planining to work out everyday at least 30 min. RESPONSE: This was what i wanted at first but then i wanted to incorporate something else, so I decided to sleep in my car as well. It was very uncomfortable to sleep in a tight space and could not sleep well, I woke up every 2 hours at first feeling the need to strech out and after few days I was able to sleep till morning. I parked far from Poly to walk to school and help to strech my legs, but sometimes I forgot stuff and had to walk back and went back to school in the bus because the bus stop was close. It was a really good experience that help me stay more time in school working on my homework and also saved me money on gas.
Yakov: I habitually check my email upon opening a web browser, and while this may result in prompt responsiveness to some, it overall impedes productivity and distracts me from task at hand for a long time. I’ll make active effort to designate specific times for email checking. Response: I’m addicted to this ritual which mostly distracts me for 30 minutes easily. I did find that after enough time of not checking my email, I would get anxious to the point of not wanting to check my email due to the magnitude of responses I need to make. Lesson learned, just check your email when you feel like it unless you’re avoiding something else. And even then, so long as you’re productive in your procrastination, it’s not that bad. That’s how I get semi-important things done that “I don’t have time” for.
Alejandro: I also plan on meditating. Twice a day. (10-15 minutes)
RESPONSE: During the the week long intervention, I was only able to meditate 3 days. At first I forgot about the intervention so I didn’t do the first two days, but then I completed the next two days. The following days just got way too busy, that I couldn’t meditate/ I forgot about it . But when I did complete the meditation i found myself less stressed out and more relaxed. This intervention made me realize that I get way too busy and stressed out, and that I should find more time to relax and have more fun. Also I am going to continue practicing meditation because when I had finished meditation i found it much easier to do my work, since I was more calm.
Patrick: I am committing to preparing all of my own meals (and snacks).
The speaker for Lifewater reminded me of a water situation affecting us directly: the drought the west coast is currently undergoing. So, for the next week, I will try out restricting my water usage to 2X5minutes per day–I will take 5 minute showers, and time my water usage for everything else (dishes, brushing teeth, etc.), giving myself a maximum of 5 minutes. For toilet flushes, I’ll just arbitrarily add 30 seconds to the timer.
Response: Well, that was interesting! At first, the five minutes of water for all purposes was not too bad, as I already wasn’t a heavy water consumer. However, there was a day when I cooked a lot of food, and had a lot to wash….and hit my limit! It really gives a sense of how people have to prioritize their usage sharply, unlike us where using an excess of water is simply a strain on the wallet at the end of the month. The shower ordeal was a little more difficult. The problem is less that I enjoy lengthy showers, and more that I’m simply slow…but the five minute challenge really made it so that I had to streamline the process. In both five minute challengers, I couldn’t help but feel as though I still hadn’t truly experienced what a water limitation was like, as most people who live under that constraint are limited by quantity of water, instead of time, but as I had no efficient way to measure that, this challenge will have to settle as my perspective on the matter. Still, I wonder if if a great number of people tried to live like this, how much of a difference could be made in our rate of water consumption. Nowadays, when considering doing your part for the environment, most just consider their energy usage, but water utilization is equally important.
Steph: I am not going to eat any refined sugars, specifically those found in baked goods (cookies, bread, bagels,etc.) for a week.
RESPONSE: It definitely was hard and I failed for sure a few times. I realized that I had to cut out a lot of food in order to follow this rule which led me to do some serious research on the topic. Not eating the food wasn’t a huge challenge but I found that what was more beneficial for me was the knowledge I gained from this about how tainted our flour is in this country.
So because I didn’t feel like I could really change anything (besides stop eating flour all together or buy my own mill), I decided to stop cussing indefinitely.
Don’t Throw Anything a Way
Pete: I don’t know if I’m cheating here. I do this all the time anyway more or less. We have separate containers for compost, garbage, and recyclables, and poop (compostable). However, I did put a plastic bag aside to keep my refuse for a week. It’s sitting in the corner with the reused plastic back I took my lunch in and a Styrofoam container that Robin (my partner) brought home. I ate some of the food, so I will accept responsibility for the container. I may try to convince my kids to make something out of the trash for the upcycling celebration next Thursday. I think that if I do that, then it doesn’t count as trash anymore. Additionally, I’ll dump some compostables this week when I empty the toilet and include my compost. So after a week, it’s hard for me to know how I did. I had difficult with boundaries. When I was cooking for my family, could I throw things away? I picked up a beer can out on a hike. How about that? I cleaned the house, producing all kinds of stuff. I chose to allow myself to repurpose freely. So food scraps were put in the compost bin and became dirt. I did the same with the poop. The amount of plastic was pretty surprising for me. We had takeout one night and I included that.
Rafael: This is changing the way I eat in that before I cook or buy food I consider what waste I am generating because I don’t want to end up with two trash bags filled with junk at the end of the week. One type of waste I find unavoidable is packaging waste from groceries. I don’t really know anywhere you can go to buy eggs, meat, or grains without generating some waste. But maybe I haven’t ventured out past the comforts of my supermarket far enough.
Pat: Considering waste has started to make me consider pace as well. The pace of my life seems to be connected to the food decisions I make. When I’m rushing, and hungry, I’m more likely to access a quick food source that requires packaging, then stopping to make a meal or find a fruit/vegetable/non-packaged snack.
Yoko: In general, I only eat at home and I cook my own food so I don’t produce plastic waste. Because I have a lot of sustainable friends that compost food, the scraps (or shells) of food I ate did not generate too much trash for me. I tend to eat the skin of every fruit and vegetable because I have heard that that is good for the body too. However, what I found myself collecting most was the plastic bags I get at grocery stores (the ugly green ones to keep my vegetables). I usually keep them if they are in good shape so I can use them for other use, but I always trashed the ones with holes. I realized that I really don’t need them, and I will stop taking them from now on. Also, I was on my period this week so that produced lots of waste. I felt that the plastic applicators of tampons were very wasteful since you only use them once and throw it away.
Aydee: During the week I found myself struggling to remember not to throw away my trash while I was on Campus. I am use to eating at home for lunch and to bringing my own snacks in plastic baggies that I reuse.This week I didn’t plan my time accordingly and found myself often rushing to school and not bringing snacks. When I would remember to take my trash with me I would end up taking home plastic containers in which I bought my snacks. At home my waste was mostly composting waste. Overall my waste is plastic containers that carry snacks and they can be reused to carry more food.
Yakov: I spend most of my time on campus and when I don’t have the forethought to bring my own food in tupperware, I end up purchasing the campus food which often includes wax paper packaging. I spent a couple days collecting clumps of trash from food and threw it in paper bag at home. When I’m home (rarely), I produce very little trash. To compensate for my shitty eating habits when I’m not home, I buy vegetables mostly and put them into reusable bags (no bag waste). This week I cooked one meal at home and it included plastic non-reusable packaging for tempe, and some mushroom packaging; paper and plastic film.– I threw those into the bag with the clumps of burrito paper wrapping from campus. This trash awareness has got me reassured that I need to devote more time to my eating habits, but it will likely not change overnight. When weekends come and cooking becomes higher priority for me, I produce little trash, since groceries I buy come with virtually no packaging. I haven’t had to throw any juice bottles yet, or anything from the fridge– I have not been home much. I have compost at my house where all our organic waste, sans sewage goes.This weekend I was away building the pilot algae plant, and we ate out for every meal, and any trash we produced was thrown away. This was mostly paper napkins, and plastic silverware and any trash produced before the food was served to us.
This society is functioning with the assumption that trash is produced. Services
that generate trash de facto represent a significant fraction of economy. If you are either too lazy, too busy, and do not go out of your way to buy wholesale and prepare food at home, you’re bound to be a big trash producer. Not throwing away trash requires lifestyle changes, and time to work towards making those changes. It’s pretty ridiculous that a majority of my trash comes from food. I put food in my mouth for energy, my feces and piss eventually makes it back into the atmosphere, biosphere, but there is so much trash which is only a temporary vessel for food transport to my mouth. As for other trash– it’s quite hard to avoid in the lab. Pipette tips must be thrown away, hazardous waste accumulates and requires disposal, spills are cleaned with paper napkins and if it were cloth, the life cycle assessment for washing pathogenic and corrosive napkins almost certainly will reveal that throwing away paper uses less energy— but I’m speculating here. Maybe that’s the kind of assumptive attitude that ruins the world.
Summer: This morning I emptied my bag of trash I had been storing in my room for this assignment and displayed it so I could take a look and analyze the garbage I had collected throughout the week, this photo is the result! Throughout the week the main thought that kept reoccurring in my mind was how often I would reach for the trash without a second thought after opening a package or cleaning up a spill. For example, one aspect I have reflected on is my use of paper towels for cleaning. Although not easily seen in this picture, I used one to three paper towels a day for such tasks as wiping down the counter or stove. The amount seemed excessive, especially because I live in a house with five people and we all cook our own meals and make messes and clean them up, making the paper towel usage in my house absurdly high. From now on I plan to use rag towels more often for cleaning small spills/crumbs in the kitchen to avoid unnecessarily using paper towels. Additionally, I have thought before about the packaging used in grocery stores on produce and have been bothered by it but I often still choose to purchase the produce that is over packaged. Trader Joes seems exceptionally bad in terms of over-packaging their produce. Often the organic options are wrapped in plastic (such as the cucumbers) or contained in plastic bags (such as the apples or carrots). This plastic is unnecessary and significantly adds to the amount of trash that I throw away in a week. I have re-usable bags that I use for my groceries, as well as small ones I use for produce to avoid using plastic bags, so it is frustrating when grocery stores put produce in plastic bags for me. The main thought process I kept coming back to throughout the week was changes I could be making in my life to avoid throwing away this much trash. This picture is meaningful to me because it shows me the amount of trash I produce in just one week of my life and helps me to begin to visualize how much trash I produce in a month, and a year. I realize this sort of lifestyle is not sustainable on a finite planet with limited amounts of space and resources. Large scale changes will be necessary, in terms of production and manufacturing, but also small scale changes can make a difference. Several changes I have brainstormed including in my own life including keeping one egg carton and purchasing eggs from a local (small-scale) farm, and having my egg carton filled up without needing another. Also, in order to avoid throwing away so many cans a week for foods such as beans, I could easily buy black beans in bulk and cook them in a crock pot and use for them for the week and not produce any waste if I use a reusable bag to purchase the beans in bulk. Small changes such as these would significantly reduce the amount of garbage I produce and thus less would be sent to the landfill to pollute the environment.
Steph: I’m practicing something we have dubbed “pRe-cycle”. I am trying to create a balance between living my normal life (aka still buying/eating food) and being conscious of what I am consuming. Over the last week I had three pieces of trash: a yogurt container, a yerba matte fizzie drink aluminum can and a shampoo bottle. I feel pretty good about this but I also experienced this weird stress/dilemma when going grocery shopping. I kind of just wanted to be ignorant and not worry about buying things in cans or in packaging since sticking to these rules limits what you can buy. The alternative would be to make my own yogurt and grow my own beans but that comes with a serious time commitment that I would have to change a lot of my things to make a priority. All in all, I think I have made some serious strides over the last 6 months in my own personal belief of consumption and ways in which I can influence those around me. BUT I am still at a loss for the balance that I am looking for between living with sustainable systems in mind and living within the existing ‘life system’ that I have created over the years.
Chad: I had previously been made aware of my waste by a housemate who aimed towards zero-waste living (largely influenced by Pete). We separate our waste into landfill, recycling, and compost- and have a regular method for sharing our excess (both within and outside the house). However, this intervention took my recognition further. Most of my waste turned out to be compostable or recyclable, yet waste nonetheless and it got me thinking about how to reduce it. Almost all of the waste I generated was a matter of convenience- canned, bottled, and plastic wrapped goods. The largest solution for me is to buy bulk goods with my own reusable containers. This would eliminate my 2 cereal boxes and bean cans. Other convenience-based waste could be eliminated with proper planning – not resorting to cliff bars and to-go foods. The most surprising and hardest waste to eliminate, however, is given to me on a daily basis: receipts, junk mail, hand outs in class, etc… I would come home with pockets full of trash that I’d collected throughout the day against my will.
Sid: I believe the only trash I’ve produced during the week are Starbucks cups and nutrigrain bar wrappers. I generally eat food at panda but I threw out those because it would’ve been a little strange hoarding panda boxes. The cups and wrappers, though, are not recyclable like the paper boxes which I’ve realized before. This poses an issue; already whenever I buy single serve chips I feel a little tinge of guilt throwing away a mass of plastic about the same as the mass of product I just ate. It seems like there could be a more environmentally responsible way to wrap such single serve items like nutrigrain bars and single serve chips packs. As for my trash heap it’s not that sizeable as its made of some cups and wrappers but these few items will probably end up in a landfill sitting there for a few hundred years.
Christian: Most of the trash I accumulated has been either food waste or wrappers of food from the grocery store. There are a few snack wrappers, things like cups, chip bags, protein bars, etc as well. I found the most difficulty in the food trash, as over time it became moldy, stinky and gross. After reflecting on this, I realized that this is why people have compost piles; to both get rid of their trash and to create a fertilizer type of substance for gardening. My only apprehension about doing something like this is self-adoption, and the usefulness of it, seeing how I don’t garden (yet). In regards to the snack wrappers, etc I found it extremely hard to remember to not throw some things away- it is completely reflex oriented at this point, to not even consider it and just.. get rid of it. The accumulation of ‘trash’ was more frustrating to some particular trashes, such as the plastics which are thicker than others, or the add ons to bags which make them more of a waste (like adding a zipper on a bag of spinach, or the larger glass bottles for things as simple as kumbucha, etc. I actually thought of a business idea during this process to reinvent the way we use consumables, or things that should be refillable. After doing some research I realized that this idea is already underway, where people can come into the store to do refills of general household consumables like shampoo, toothpaste, etc, and it is based in San Diego. Heres a link: http://www.shopgreen11.com/.
Changing the supply and delivery service would be a monumental task in the large scale, but I enjoy the way this company did it! Anyways, I can’t find myself saving wrappers forever, or turning them into artwork, but I could see myself creating a compost pile once I have a location to garden!
Alejandro: I just checked my trash bag, that I had been collecting my trash, and after closely analyzing I realized that most of my waste comes from snacks. I realized on busy days when I don’t have much free time, to cook or go buy food, I tend to eat snacks. And this happens more often then I realized, through this week I had about 4 days were I came back to my place with two bags of chips and maybe some candy wrapper. Since realizing this I have reduced the amount of snacks I eat, so I can produce less waste. Another thing this experience brought me was a reusable water bottle. By this I mean a glass bottle that I reused from the lemonade I had bought. I cleaned the bottle and began using it as a water bottle that i carry around with me.
Jared: I was pleasantly surprised to see I didn’t have a mountain of trash by the end. Most of the bulk came from liquid containers (juice jugs etc.) and from smaller packaged items. What affected my decisions the most, by far was what type of trash I had to keep around. I basically avoided meat because I couldn’t keep anything outside. I was also being more careful to use every last bit of whatever was in the container. I have always tried to recycle as much as I can but this exercise takes it to the next level. I was starting to think of how I could possibly utilize my trash and get it out of the way. I noticed I clung to the reusable container (any kind and shape) verses aluminum foil and cling wrap.
Colton Baker: This assignment really started to open my eyes towards the way I am going to look at garbage and what king of waste I produce. I realized that most of my waste is in the form of things that can be recycled or composted. A lot of my waste is in the form of tin, glass or paper. These are things that can be reused by myself or someone else through recycling. Most of the waste that is not recyclable comes in the form of plastic that is around most snack items or the meat that I purchase. Buying snack items in bulk then repackaging them in reusable containers will cut down on the point less waste created by individual packaging.
Mayra Concepcion: Once I started collecting my own trash, I started to realize how much plastic I use on an everyday basis. I started rationalizing and finding “excuses” to sort my trash even more: ‘this isn’t trash, I’ll compost it!’…’this cardboard’s getting recycled!’…etc, etc. I thought I was pretty good at recycling but this exercise showed me where I had been lacking. I know I should be buying bulk items but the convenience and variety always get the best of me. It’s no excuse: I can be just as creative at making yogurt mixes and “luxury” sandwiches.
kate: this was quite the eye opener for my roommate, whom has no clue how much waste and overall shit she accumulates on the daily and then somehow ends up swimming in all of it in her car and our house.
I told her, that for the week, she didnt have to throw anything away. So, the week went on and a pile grew in the back of our house. When we inspected it last night, we both came to the conclusion that by the end of each year, we both would have contributed to an enormous amount of landfill waste… Our cat included.
Hot items in the trash pile included:
cat food cans
makeup remover wipes
& keurig cups.
Joel: I kept all the bags, bottles, cans, and left over. It was heavy to carry the trash with me from morning till afternoon when I got in my car and left everything there. At the end of the week I had a grocery bag full of trash and another almost full of bottles and cans. Even though I tried to eat less, I came to realize that there will always be trash. I don’t know in what way the trash can be reused, but I think that at least I can reuse the bottles and refill it with water instead of buying bottles of water all the time. It helps to reduce unnecessary expenses and helps the environment at the same time.
Yenny: This was my second time partaking in this type of self-intervention. I was rather pleased by the significant less amount of trash that I collected. My first time around, I remember being shocked by how much trash I accumulated by buying food/beverages on campus. This quarter I have really made an effort to not buy food on campus and will usually pack food for the day and reuse my containers instead of throwing them away. As a result, I only had a small amount of trash from my time on campus. Something different about my second attempt at this intervention is that I was more attentive of the trash I couldn’t keep with me and had to throw away. For example, bathroom paper waste. I decided that although I could not avoid having to throw this type of trash away I could at least make an effort to minimize the amount I used.
This project made me realize that yes there is a lot of trash in this picture, it is also over the course of two weeks (for a more consistent analysis). The majority of my shopping is Costco so my trash actually goes a longer ways since i’m not spending more money on packaging, but rather the digestible content. Our household downcycles aluminum, glass, and plastics so that helps, but most of the trash is actually easily broken down materials like paper towels. One benefit to cooking mass amounts of food at once is i’m able to consume the food all week long without additional cooking. This means I use less gas, water, and electricity except to heat up food again in the microwave.
For my intervention I decided to air dry my laundry. This was difficult. It took all day for things to dry, and it required shifts where I dried things I need soon first and dried other things later, this process taking up to two days with one drying rack. It’s incredible the amount of energy used by a drier to dry a whole load of clothes in an hour. I think from now I’m going to dry towels and blankets by air since they aren’t required immediately and they are the things that require the most energy to dry. At least for a while or when convenient.