Earth Day, every day

You know what bothers me more than people who don’t care about the environment at all? The people who advertise “going green” one day out of the year, while negatively impacting the earth every other day of the year.

With all of these Earth Day clean-ups going on around central New York and all over the country, the question comes to mind: why, on this 40th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22, 1960), are we still celebrating the earth only one day out of the year? Why hasn’t this evolved?

I feel myself being a bit hypocritical as I am the main organizer for Mother Earth Week. It’s a step-up, true, from Earth Day, being a whole week. But, does it really do the deed of providing lasting, sustainable stewardship to the planet? Not so much.

I spent last weekend catching up on episodes of the show, “The Lazy Environmentalist,” starring Josh Dorfman, a fellow environmentalist, who goes around parts of the country (mostly in urban areas) addressing issues of sustainability and helping people fix those problems.

He shows people how you can be “greener” on a daily basis. Not just once a year. Celebrating the earth once a day, leads people to think that they did something good for the environment. And I agree. The fact that people took some time during their Saturday morning to clean up our area is remarkable. But, why stop there? I think there are many aspects of “greenwashing,” which is defined as the “practice of making a product seem more environmentally friendly than it might actually be” (Greenwashing), that create a sense of accomplishment and success in being “green” for some people.

Companies that give you the impression that what you’re purchasing is “eco-friendly” don’t focus on the fact that what their company does to produce that isn’t so friendly. The Huffington Post refers to several companies who are guilty of greenwashing customers. These are bigger companies that tell you that what you’re doing is actually helping the environment. But, they’re just skirting EPA rules and regulations and feeding lies to trusting customers who don’t see the the truth.

So, before you may or may not plan to do something spectacular for Earth Day, remember that every day should be earth day. If you use a little less water a day in the shower, buy a reusable water bottle instead of the multitude of plastic “eco-friendly” bottles, take mass transit over your own vehicle, use a power strip and turn off your power when you’re not using it, unplug your charger, throw your recyclables in the recycling, pick up a piece of trash daily… if you do all of this, you can be part of the bigger movement which is Earth Day Every Day.

For more information: check out the Earth Day network at http://www.earthday.org/. Or visit the government’s site at: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/

Getting ready to celebrate the earth!

Mother Earth Week is coming up NEXT WEEK AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

On a sidenote: I’m stressing out right now. Amidst my several articles due for JLM 310 and 309, papers for Eng 220, exams for Fre 202, homework for GLS 316, upcoming concert and voice lessons for MUS 497, events to organize/publicize for JLM 495, AND putting together a whole week of environmental awareness events = I am trying to remember to eat and sleep!

I overbook myself, but it’s an addiction because I love being busy from 7 a.m. to 11/12 p.m. every day. It’s a curse I tell ya. But, something tells me that this will all amount to something in the end, so I’ll keep at it.

Bitching aside, are you ready to love ya Motha? Mother Earth Week starts next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. by Mary Walker Health Center where we will be walking along the lakeshore east and west of the building, cleaning up loads of plastic and general trash. That’s just the start. Sunday is our prep/have fun with Indian color festival pigment battle day. That should be fun… the rest of the events are online at our Web site: Students for Global Change.

Two things I wanted to highlight, though were the environmental panel and Oswegostock.

The environmental panel (check the event page on Facebook) is on Tuesday, April 20th at 7 p.m. in Lanigan 104. The point of this panel discussion is to spread the awareness about particular, multidisciplinary sides of climate change and the move toward sustainability. We have professors from the psychology, chemistry and political science departments addressing issues from each of their respective disciplines.

Dr. Kestas Bendinskas, a very active scientist who studies the impacts of coal gasification and such, will address the science aspect of climate change.
Dr. Lisa Glidden is a political science teacher who will talk about existent and future energy policies and the different global policies on the environment.
Dr. Dave Sargent will address the issues of behavioral changes to adapt to a more sustainable lifestyle. He will address issues behind the psychology of climate change and sustainable life as a whole.

I will sit on the panel too as a moderator and move the conversation along while addressing and student questions there are.

The second event that I wanted to talk about is Oswegostock! This will be the most exciting festival you’ve been to ever, better than the orignal Woodstock!!!! Okay.. maybe not, seeing as how there won’t be any drugs or alcohol floating around the event. But, nonetheless. this will be an event to remember.

During Oswegostock, we will have several bands playing sets while we partake in arts and crafts, food, and games. There’ll be frisbee games, bubble making, tie-dyeing, eco-friendly craft making, and anything else you would like to do. THIS ISN’T A HIPPIE EVENT! It is meant to bring together the Oswego community where people will be enjoying good music and listening to speakers on the environment.

So, with all that said, I won’t bore you anymore! Come out and enjoy Mother Earth Week. E-mail me at kraymond@oswego.edu for more information or visit our Web site at http://s4gc.blogspot.com.

St. Patty’s and Randy Kehler

I’m sure everyone from Oswego is out on break right now having a great time! I know I am. I’m sitting in the sunny San Diego going to the beach, hanging out with my boyfriend, and getting ready for my first St. Patty’s Day as a 21-year-old! I gave up drinking alcohol for Lent though, so it’s kind of anticlimatic seeing as how I can only drink O’Doulls for the night. But I don’t think that St. Patty’s Day should be all about drinking (although that’s how it’s marketed nowadays).

I remember back in kindergarten when it was St Patty’s in Sacramento, Calif. We went to the cafeteria for lunch and when we came back, our entire classroom was ransacked by “Leprechauns!” There were little green footprints painted on the walkway up to the front door. Once we went inside, we saw that all of the chairs had been overturned and there were more green footprints all over. Our teacher told us that we had to search for the pot of gold the leprechauns left, so we embarked on a treasure hunt all around the room, fearing at the same time that these rambunctious leprechauns were hiding behind the bookshelf watching us try to find their gold.

Now that was fun. I compare that to last year when I went to a party where people had to search for gold coins at the bottom of a vat of jello shots. A little different outcome, I’d say. While in kindergarten we walked away with a bag of chocolate and a stomachache, we now walk away with green jello on our shirts and a hangover in the morning. It doesn’t have to be all about drinking, but drinking does add fun – as long as it’s done responsibly. If you’re laying on the floor in a pool of your own vomit, that’s not too cool, especially if you don’t remember the night before! So.. whether you’re going on a treasure hunt for chocolate or a hangover, take part in modesty!



For those of you coming back to campus next week: come out March 24th to Lanigan 102 at 7:30 p.m. Pro-Peace Council is hosting Randy Kehler, a long-time activist who will be addressing the history and philosophy of nonviolence. For 30 years Kehler has been actively involved in the nonviolence movement that includes the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He will be coming to Oswego to lead the discussion on why nonviolence is important in this present time of war, terrorism, genocide and hate crimes.

The talk is free and there will be refreshments afterward, also for free. If you’ve never attended a speech on nonviolence, now is the time to come out and see how relaxing and uplifting talks like this can be!

Wednesday, March 24th, Lanigan 102, 7:30 p.m.

Mother Earth Week

MOTHER EARTH WEEK APRIL 18 – 24, 2010

Mother Earth Week (MEW) is Students for Global Change’s spring week-long festival that focuses on sustainability, environmental awareness and ecological education. Filled with workshops, tables, speakers, documentaries and the culminating Oswegostock concert, MEW reflects the importance of sustainability today and the college community’s part in taking care of the earth.
Monday through Friday (not Wednesday due to Quest) there will be presentations during the day and documentaries at night, highlighting the theme of MEW.

Everyone is invited to put together some sort of presentation, be it a workshop during College Hour, a table in the Campus Center, a speaker, a brochure or an artistic display along the lines of the four topics of the week.

We also need help with planning our Oswegostock outdoor concert planned tentatively for Saturday afternoon. We’d like different bands to sign up to perform, as well having recitations of poems and environmentally-geared readings.

Monday is the social aspect of environmental awareness (i.e. environmental justice, water crises, psychological effects, arts, music, lifestyle, etc.).
Tuesday is the economic aspect of sustainability (i.e. consumerism, globalization, fair trade, ecotourism, etc.).
Wednesday is Quest day. There will be a sustainability fair focusing on local businesses and their sustainable practices. Clubs are encouraged to set up tables to represent some aspect of sustainability that pertains to their organization.
Thursday is the political day for environmental awareness (i.e. environmental policies, legislation, corporate control, grassroots, etc.).
Friday is the scientific aspect of the week, the meat of sustainability and environmental awareness. The day will focus on climate change, weather disasters, local agriculture, green technology, pollution, etc.
Sunday and Saturday, the beginning and end of MEW will focus on having fun and enjoying our earth! There will be lake clean-ups along the shores of Lake Ontario, as well as fun in the sun activities. Saturday will host the Oswegostock concert where everyone will be encouraged to hang out in the quad listening to music and enjoying food.

If you’re interested in learning more about the week itself, or if you’re interested in being a part of it (which we strongly encourage), contact me at s4gc.osu@gmail.com for more information.

Just a few pictures from last year:


Speech on the environment on Quest Day
Dave Sargent’s electric car
Air day!

Global warming doesn’t exist

Dear Mr. Global Warming himself,

Al Gore, come on. Washington D.C., South and North Carolina, Texas, Delaware and Arkansas all got a TON of snow a couple of weeks ago. GLOBAL WARMING DOES NOT EXIST!

I mean, don’t even regard the fact that the ice in the Arctic is melting causing a drastic change in temperature of the Atlantic Ocean which in turn is creating a shift in the ocean patterns creating greater, more intense storms.

Also, don’t pay attention to the fact that parts of the Northeast and Northwest, which are used to having pretty blustery winters, are seeing almost less snow than parts of Virginia and Delaware.

Most importantly, don’t pay attention to the amount of snow that’s melting from parts of the Arctic that’s submerging Bangladesh, which eventually might be completely underwater.

Listen, Al Gore, our children are out on our lawns in February creating igloos. Don’t worry, we’ve set one aside for you.

Snowstorms in D.C. = no such thing as global warming. Let’s put our money back into coal and unhealthy consumption habits because quite frankly, Copenhagen was a waste of money. The Kyoto protocol is just another way for the Chinese to try to take over the U.S. And, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and increasingly Pakistan are just humanitarian, democracy-spreading wars and not battles over who controls the oil in the Middle East.

Us politicians here at the White House choose to side with Rush Limbaugh and Senator James Inhofe and tell the truth about global warming. It doesn’t EXIST. We still use the money that the oil lobbyists pump into our “public” accounts to buy ourselves nice vacations to the Caribbean and to add to the overall carbon footprint of humans. We would know if global warming was true because the oil companies would tell us that we’re polluting and destroying the earth and atmosphere. But, they’re not telling us, so we’re not going to believe the scientists.

GLOBAL WARMING DOESN’T EXIST, AL. Take your humanitarian realism out of here. D.C.’s only big enough for politicians who know the difference between winter storms and global warming.

Sincerely,

Global Warming Skeptics
A.K.A. All Republican Representatives and Senators and Lawmakers in D.C.

Are you serious? Are we really second guessing the facts? While I am not always 100% convinced by scientists on the latest genome discovery, I am extremely confident that what they’re telling us about climate change and global warming has a huge significance in our lives.

Michael Reilly said it really well in his article the other day, “Massive piles of snow in and around Washington, D.C. brought out the climate loonies.” Senator Inhofe was one of those “loonies” who immediately starting griping about how Al Gore was sensationalized and completely false.

I’ll admit that while Gore’s presentation was a bit dramatic; it did show us very important details. Humans are contributing to the processes of the earth, and we’re speeding them up! We’re putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ever before.

According to NASA’s Web site, C02 has never been at the level it is now in hundreds of thouands of years.

The problem with this “debate” (although evidence is very compelling to say at the very least that SOMETHING is happening to our environment) is that people don’t understand the facts. They’re going off of those who interpret the facts say, and in this case, politicians decided to be the ones to interpret. This, in Al Gore’s case, worked out for him in a good way because his name and face on the “Inconvenient Truth” gave it tons of publicity. But, in the reverse, the fact that he was a politician saying this gave other politicians the opportunity to use their celebrity to be muckrakers and ween out the “facts.” In truth, it’s all just sensationalized because no one knows for sure what is going on.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. puts it simply for us to realize:
– Human Activity Has Increased Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere
– The Climate is Warming
– Human Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Causing Climate Change
– Climate Change is Projected to Continue During This Century

Change is coming. We can choose to either change our habits and try to reduce the effects we’ve had on the environment. Or, we could choose to keep on keeping on, and follow the advice of Senator Inhofe and others, and say that we have no responsibility or accountability for the changing climate.

Once again, it’s your choice – make it.

EndangermentFinding_ClimateChangeFacts

Lessons we can learn from Ghana…


Americans are rich, selfish, greedy and unhappy. That’s the impression I get from my generation. It seems that if we think about other people we might lose everything we have, and we can’t let that happen. After all, status is determined from the money we have, the excess junk we can waste our money on, the selfish hoarding of our material possessions.

Ouch. That hurts. As an American, I’m lumping myself into this category. Although there are millions of people in the U.S. who care deeply for others and sacrifice on a daily basis for the greater good, overall the general feeling in society is to “look out for number one.” We live in a competitive world, so there’s really no time/room for charity.

I hate living this way. I’d rather give enough of my time and money a week to be uncomfortable than to spend that money and time partying it up before, during and after a hockey game. But, I’m not perfect, so I’m not quite to this point yet. I learned this coming back from Ghana, seeing all of the stuff that I have here and how I can forget to appreciate life sometimes. As this blog entry is titled, we can learn something from Ghana; I definitely have since my return.

  • Be nice to everyone you meet, even if they are complete strangers. As Ian Utley says in his book Culture Smart! Ghana, “Ghanaians recognize the dignity of their fellow human beings and have a deep and abiding concern for human welfare and happiness.”  He says that “Human relationships are considered the most valuable of possessions” (41).  I definitely saw this in Ghana as people would inquire about how you were doing (e mefoa?)  and sincerely mean it.  I saw this in the people I worked with at the NGO Rural Action for the Poor (RAP).  We were tagging along as volunteers to do the grunt work, but they went out of their way to give us the best seats and the best jobs to do.  They truly respected us within five minutes of meeting us.Also, when you would meet people on the street, they’d invite you to their home or to church with them. When you did business with someone, you got to know them and know what they were doing.This isn’t completely unheard of in the U.S.; I saw it down in Arkansas in the small towns. But, in Ghana it’s different because of how simply everyone lives and how grateful they are for what they have. That brings us to the next point
  • Be happy with what you have, even if it’s not a lot. I’ve made this point before, but in the U.S. people upgrade their phones every time a new one comes out. I can list off more than 15 people that I directly come in contact with on a daily basis who have gone through two or three phones a year. I know of many people who have enough clothes in their wardrobes to last them three months without having to do laundry. I’m guilty of it. I have more shoes than is probably necessary, but my stockpile is meager in comparison to other girls I know.We are so used to buying the latest trend – the newest gaming console, computer, phone, car, clothes, shoes, hair products, etc. – it doesn’t seem odd that we should hold on to what we have until it falls apart and then buy something new. Plus, things are really made to last that long anymore. Cell phone batteries hardly last two years. I had my phone for nearly three years but I had to finally get rid of it because I’d charge it two or three times a day. We’re a disposable nation with an insatiable appetite for consumption whether it be the aisles upon aisles of food in the grocery stores or the level upon level of department stores at the mall.In Ghana, you buy things because you need them. I noticed that because it is a poorer nation in some aspects, people still using pumps for their water, they go to the bathroom in the gutters along the road, they use a fire to cook their meals. Plenty of the people we drove by or met in the villages had to get up at 4 -5 a.m. to go into the fields to make money to buy food from the market for that day. Disposable is a word that hardly has any use in Ghana, at least in the more rural parts of the country. Everything can be re-used, and should be in order to budget properly.

    Although this comparison isn’t exactly parallel, what is good to take from this is that we have tons of STUFF that we’re not using all the time. Let’s cut down our consumption and just be happy with what we have. Let’s not pine after the latest iPad or iPhone that comes out. Let’s consciously try to think for ourselves and not just give into the groupthink which is consumerism at its best/worst.

  • Stop stressing and start appreciating. Ghanaians operate on something called Ghanaian time. This means that whatever you get done in a workday is what you’ve done for the day. Tomorrow’s another day, and we’ll do what we can do as much as possible and then be done for the day. What this simplifies down to is being content with the work that you’ve done for the day and not stressing yourself out because you didn’t get everything done. Critics may say, well Americans didn’t become the biggest, richest country in the world with that mentality, but studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Harvard have shown that Americans are the most depressed people in the world. So tell me – is it worth be super rich and unhappy, or is it worth being poor and joyful? Ghanaians go to church often; they have community events; they invite each other over a lot; they’re cordial, friendly, and conditioned to be selfless. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but from my experience, a majority of the people I met acted this way – whether or not they knew that I was studying them. As Americans, then, let’s emulate some of what the Ghanaians have going for themselves. Let’s minimize consumption and maximize appreciation for the non-material things that we have – like friends, family, community.
  • Taking care of our environment is important.While Ghana has leaps and bounds to go before they’re optimizing the use of the environment and its sustenance, they do have one thing right: living closely with the land is best for the environment. Ghanaians live off of the land, especially the villagers in the Volta Region. They utilize bamboo for everything, which is great because bamboo is plentiful, can grow nearly anywhere, replenishes rapidly and is very sturdy and versatile. Huts, gates, baskets, carts – you name it – everything’s made out of bamboo. They use everything of anything – meaning that they don’t just kill an animal for its fur and leave the rest of it, instead they utilize everything for something.Although they live closely with the land, the more their markets open up to the rest of the world and the more demand there is for the cocoa, bananas, mangoes, pineapples, coconut and coffee beans – the worse they treat their environment. I noticed that because of the demand for these products in other parts of the world, Ghana has begun what every other developing country seems to be doing, and that’s clear cutting forests and overharvesting lands. It’s because of OUR consumption patterns in the West that Ghana and other similar countries are killing their environment at a rapid pace.

    We as Americans need to take a proactive stance in our consumption to make sure that the products we get are coming from sustainable resources. Fair trade and organic products are much more sustainable for the earth. We as first-world consumers should realize that it’s our obligation to make sure that these countries are protecting their land, which we need to do for our own as well. We need to live more like the villagers in the towns – living with the seasons. We should be more aware of how our consumption patterns directly affect the lifestyles of people in the developing world. I think a majority of Americans have yet to realize that, making it harder for developing countries to develop sustainably. Let’s try to buy organic and fair trade. Let’s try to recycle more or use bamboo for everything. Let’s optimize use of products rather than just minimize them.

I’d like to think that what I’m writing in this blog is going to impact someone to change their habits. To live more sustainably. To care for their neighbors. To take a chill pill and enjoy life around us. I’d like to challenge anyone who reads this blog to take this to heart. I’ve personally have started buying mostly organic or fair trade food. I’m dabbling into cutting my spending (which wasn’t that hard, seeing as how I don’t have money), and I’ve started to focus my mind around being less selfish and more selfless. It does wonders for you.

If you take anything from this blog, take this: stop, examine your life, see how you’re living and figure out what you can change to be happier.

Back from Ghana!!!!

So, Internet in Hohoe is not that reliable, so I had to wait until I got back here to update the blog.

I JUST HAD THE BEST TIME EVER! I sincerely think that I am a missing African child, and I need to go back to my homeland now. I loved Ghana so much! The people, the food, the landscape, the environment, and the overall culture! I will definitely go back there.

Getting to Ghana was pretty much a breeze because all of my connecting flights to JFK went through okay, and after being a little delayed due to people with huge suitcases who were trying to bring them on board, we finally left about 2 hours late. I thought that I would be going all the way to Africa without knowing anyone or anything, and that kind of made me nervous, but luckily on the plane I
got to sit right next to another volunteer, Maureen! By some random act of chance, Maureen and I were seated side by side the whole flight, and we were able to hit it off and talk all about the trip to come. AND, two other volunteers, Jenny and Subby (Sue – bee), were seated side by side just a few rows ahead of us, so they got to bond. It was great.

Once we got into Accra we headed up to Hohoe. It was definitely culture shock to see all of the women walking on the side of the road with the craziest things on their heads – sewing machines, baskets, wood, boxes – anything, you name it, and they were carrying it on their heads. And, there are no road rules in Ghana, as well very poor roads. It was pretty much a roller coaster ride driving around the potholes and over speed bumps every other second. The countryside is so beautiful, though, so you soon ignore the bumps.

The Volta Region is definitely gorgeous with the rainforests, lakes, hills, etc. It’s definitely breathtaking.

To reiterate, I went for three weeks with Cross Cultural Solutions. The other volunteers who were there were all amazing! They were really nice, and we all had similar interests. It was amazingly fun to hang out with the seven other volunteers.

I’ll recap quickly what all we did. We went to the Wli Waterfalls – upper and lower. We went to Mt. Afadjato and got to see the border to Togo. We went to a Monkey Sanctuary and a Snake Sanctuary. We got to see some voodoo in action and some elders and chiefs. We got to go to Cape Coast and Elmina to see the life on the seashore and the slave castles. We also went to the Kente Village where we got to see people weaving. All in all, the traveling that we did was amazing.

The best part of this trip was the volunteer experience, which is of course why I went there in the first place. Half of our time was spent at the volunteer placements and the rest was available for cultural learning. My placement was at the Hohoe District Hospital, but on our first day there the administrator told us more or less that we weren’t wanted, so I moved on to an NGO called Rural Action for the Poor (RAP). RAP does work to mobilize the savings of people in small communities who don’t have access to a bank. It was such an enlightening experience to be with this NGO and see what they do.

Basically, they go into different small communities and talk to the elders and chiefs and people of the community to set up these microfinance groups. Once the groups are organized, the field officer (FO) goes to the meetings and trains the people to start saving their money. The members of the groups do this by buying shares valued at 50 pesewas (like 50 cents) or 1 cedi (like one dollar). Each meeting they buy shares and in this way, they save money. Then, once they get enough money saved, they can start making microloans to each other with interest rates. All in all it’s a fantastic program that allows people to save and borrow and make money!

Well, now that I’ve updated you a little bit about Ghana, I’ll show some pictures, and save more good stuff for another post!

This is a picture of Lelabi, one of the microfinance groups who meet at like 6 a.m. once a week!

Wli Waterfalls!!!
Kids hanging out at the home base watching our traditional drumming and dancing!
The group minus two!

Agh! Ghana is so near :)

I am freaking out! In exactly two weeks I will be flying to NYC to get ready for leaving on my flight to Accra, Ghana, AFRICA! I’m literally having a hard time studying and paying attention in my classes because I’m so excited to go!

On Tuesday, the 8th, I will be getting the last of my medicine – typhoid fever shot and malaria pill prescription. Then, all I need to do is prepare for cultural immersion and brush up on some Ghanese culture. I still haven’t figured out what my name would be. I think Akua because I was born on a Wednesday. Maybe I’ll mix my name and be Akua Katherine!

I leave Dec. 18th at 4:10 p.m. from JFK, and I get into Accra at 7:35 a.m. Dec. 19th. It’s a 10 hr, 55 min. flight. I’m in row G on the flight (I think it’s by the window, if not I might go crazy sitting in the middle seat for that long).

I was told that on long flights like that you need to get up and walk around to prevent any blood clots. I think I will be doing laps around that plane to get my blood pumping, also to let loose some of this pent up excitement that I have. Holy cow, I’m going to be in GHANA!

The guy in my French class, Kwam, mentioned that Hohoe is an area susceptible to malaria, so I’m trying to be extra cautious about preparing. I’m having my boyfriend (who’s coming to visit from San Diego before I leave) bring me some light cotton clothing so that I can be prepared for the hot days and mosquito-infested areas.

I got an e-mail from a couple of the other volunteers who are going to Ghana the same time that I am, and they all seem really excited too! I cannot wait to meet everyone and to meet all of the people in Ghana. A lot of my family and friends are reminding me to buy them gifts once I get in Ghana. A necklace for my sister, coffee for my friend, and some musical instrument for my boyfriend. I hope I have enough money!

What I’m most excited for is to give my time to help others. I think that I might be working in one of the orphanages in Hohoe, and I can’t wait to make Christmas cards with the little children and to show them pictures of the U.S. and my life here.

AND, I will promise to take as many pictures as I can to remember my trip. You should ask permission before taking people’s photos, especially in foreign countries because some people see it as invasion to have their picture taken. Some people, on the other hand, aren’t camera shy at all. So, I’m sure that I will have plenty of pictures!

Here’s a picture from the Africa Travel Magazine showing some Ghanese royalty. 14 days!! The countdown begins!
ghana royalty

21st birthday in Africa!

Most people eagerly await the day when the clock strikes 12 a.m., and they turn 21. Then a night full of drinking, dancing on bars, getting tanked, passing out, and being dragged home by friends. All because you can legally drink.

My 21st birthday is going to be a little different. Although the thought of passing out in a bar is enticing, I think I’m going to enjoy my birthday a little more conservatively. I’m going to get tanked in Africa!~ Just kidding. I am going to be in Ghana for my birthday volunteering in an orphanage I think, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get drunk just then. I’m definitely going to hit up a bar after work to participate in the American rite of passage. I’m past the idea that drinking is cool and fun. I’m way to busy for that. Freshmen year and sophomore year are more the time for partying and then the work doubles junior/senior year, so even though you’re of age, you really don’t have time to give up to drinking.

Living in Funnelle I see tons of freshmen going out a couple of times a week, coming back at like 2 a.m., trashed, and loud as anything. That’s just annoying. When I have to get up at 6:30/7 every morning, I hate being awoken by drunk guys yelling outside or drunken girls being taken out of the building on stretchers. How dumb can you be? Honestly, though, what is so enticing of getting alcohol poisoning and missing your classes and getting a bad reputation as that drunk girl who threw up last weekend.

If you’re going to drink (which the general majority is doing anyway), do it moderately. Get drunk, but don’t get trashed. I personally get annoyed at the frats and sororities that emphasize partying, and I think they’re breeding grounds for alcohol poisoning and passed out girls. That’s why Oswego gets a bad reputation about being a party school because you have drunk people roaming the streets continuously. The residents only ever see Oswego students as being rowdy and drunk. If you’re going to drink, do it in a friend’s room or nearby and just be aware that the rest of the world isn’t revolving around your party life and we don’t really want to hear you throwing up in the hall or screaming outside.

Anyway, stepping down from my soapbox… I’m really excited to be in Ghana. I got an e-mail with a power point on it that showed where I’ll be staying and some of the places nearby which I will be able to explore. When you think of Africa, you don’t really think about electricity or Internet, but they have both in Ghana. They have Internet cafes and long distance phone lines. I think too often Africa is portrayed as a continent full of war, poverty, and rural/agricultural communities, but globalization has reached its arms into the countries of Africa and has created satellite cell phone services, sewage systems, Internet, and electricity. It’s not just a bunch of grass huts, which are still pretty numerous all over the continent, there’s a lot technology making its way into the countries. I’m very excited to be there and to see how a whole other nation exists! A non-Caucasian culture.

Oh ya, and I’m going to be there for Christmas too, which they celebrate! And I can’t wait to make Christmas cards and maybe learn some Ghana Christmas traditions!

Wish me luck, and consume alcohol consciously :)

What is wrong with us?

Sometimes I get really frustrated when I’m at work in the recycling room because countless times students come in and throw out their trash. What’s wrong with that you ask? The issue I have with students throwing out their “trash” is that a majority of what they’re throwing out isn’t trash. I spend a lot of time going through the trash (you may say that’s gross but my concern for the environment is higher than my concern for my hand hygiene), and I pick out pieces of “trash” that can actually be recycled.

I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled water bottles, soda cans, full notebooks/binders, cardboard boxes, etc. out of the trash bags, reducing the volume of those full bags by half. I get so frustrated because I make a lot of signs (from the discarded paper) explicitly explaining where students should place their items. How hard is it to separate your trash? I know in Funnelle hall each room gets three trash cans, two for trash and one for mixed recyclables. I mean, come on! How hard is it to just walk that one step over to your recycling bin to throw something out?

My roommate and I are so taken with this third can that it fills up sooner than our trash cans do. A majority of the trash that we naturally have is recyclable now, thanks to Oswego County’s acceptance of 1-7 plastics, aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, etc. They list everything that can be recycled right on the web site – Oswego County Recycling Program. So if you weren’t sure what to recycle, there it is for you!oswegocountyrecy

I just don’t understand how so many people don’t recognize recycling programs that are going on all over campus. I am curious about why students don’t recycle! Is it because you just don’t think about it? Do you think it’s dumb? Do you just write it off because you think that it gets separated anyways? Or do you just don’t know what to recycle?

What can be done to change people’s attitudes? I’m really curious. I get so cynical sometimes because I think that nothing is working; people don’t care about anything anymore. Just themselves. It’s the narcissistic Facebook generation that’s growing up now, and they just care about parties on the weekends and updating their statuses via their iPhones.

I know, I know. This is not an accurate representation of my generation, but I feel like this is the case a lot of the time. I do so many social awareness programs, like holding discussions, speaking at events, presenting fliers, showcasing posters, spreading awareness via word-of-word, etc. And I feel like these pleas are falling on deaf ears. Maybe it’s because our generation is facing overload right now. We’re inundated with so much information, thanks to the Internet, that we just shut down. We become super specific, focusing on things that directly affect us, and nothing else.

But we can’t do this! At least in my opinion I think that we can’t do this. Because of the Internet, we should become more and more global and aware. We don’t have to do something for everyone in the world, but if we are open to societal changes and norm changes, then maybe we can help the world that we live in. I guess my biggest issue is living sustainably, which a majority of us don’t do. But, we’re making progress, so for now, I’ll lay my cynicism aside in exchange for optimism.

The U.S. itself has a long way to go in terms of reducing our environmental impact, but we’ve made progress. The biggest area that we have room to grow is in the waste section, in my opinion. According to the EPA’s Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), in the year 2007 alone, “Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted 85 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 33.4 percent recycling rate” Compared to 1985’s percent of 10.1, we’re doing pretty good.
msw
But, we could do so much for the environment if we just changed our behaviors a little bit. If we just recycled more water bottles or just paid attention to where we were throwing our trash, we could instate better, sustainable habits. We need to take our eyes off our phones and computers long enough to look at the environment around us and enjoy it before it disappears, which will happen if we don’t change our behaviors.

Please recycle! It’s a start! That’s all I’m asking for right now. Please pay attention to what you’re throwing away and question if it’s really trash or if it could be reused.