Final Project Reflection

 

Throughout this course, I have learned a lot about Environmental education, and what it means to live an eco-literate lifestyle.

At the beginning of the semester, I wasn’t sure about what living eco-literately meant. We were asked to think about times in which we felt connected to the environment. In my first creative blog post, I talked about how I thought recycling was key to taking care of the earth and I thought that by just recycling, I was already  helping the earth in a big way. While I believe that recycling is still a very important part of taking care of the earth, I have learned that there are many more things that I can do to reduce my carbon footprint.

Through our embodying eco literacy group projects, I feel that I learned a lot about different ways in which I can do my part in taking care of the earth. During the project, things that I have done, and still continue to do, include recycling and repurposing materials, meal preparation to reduce the amount of food waste I produce, composting, bringing reusable water bottles and containers instead of disposable ones, bringing reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, carpooling, and less beef consumption. Before this class, I never realized just how big of an impact the beef industry has on our environment. This project had made me more aware of my embodied actions and I think that is something that will always stick with me.

Another big takeaway for me in this course was the vermi-composting activity we did as a class throughout the term. At the beginning, I was a bit hesitant to participate in this activity because I grew up thinking that worms and dirt were gross and dirty. However, throughout this course, I learned that it is okay to get a bit dirty sometimes. I also thought that the idea of changing our perceptions about what the words ‘gross’ and ‘dirty’ meant. We were told that instead of saying “this is gross” we should think “why do I think this is gross? Where did I learn to think this?” This was key in changing my perception towards the project, and by the end of it, I was a lot more open to touching the worms and to sorting through the soil and compost. Something as small and simple as this provides us with a way in which we can give back to the environment. Composting is a great way to reduce some of the organic food waste we produce and when completed, it provides us with an abundance of nutrients that we can use in our own gardens, allowing us to give back to the earth.

Growing up, my family always planted a garden and had fruit trees in the back yard. Each year, my grandparents worked day and night to make sure their garden was healthy and being taken care of. At the end of each season, seeds from their tomatoes and other plants were harvested and then passed on to my dad and uncles to use in their garden the following year. I think that gardening and growing your own food is a great way to show our love for the land and that “The land loves us back… She provides for us and teaches us to provide for ourselves”, as cited on page 122 of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s ‘Epiphany in the Beans’. My grandparents were key in instilling the passion and importance of gardening down to my father and his siblings, and in turn, my father with pass the tradition down to us, and on and so forth.

Something that I really enjoyed about this course was the outdoor aspect of it. Especially during the busy times in the semester, it can be really difficult to find the time to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer. The idea of practicing stillness was a bit hard for me to understand at first, because I never really thought that laying in the snow was a productive use of my time. However, after participating in the stillness excersice, I found myself feeling a lot more calm and I realized that although I was laying in the cold snow with incredibly strong winds, I felt so at peace and it was nice to just take a moment away from the busyness of school and just take in the fresh air and appreciate the moment.

I think that as a future educator, taking your students outside, and getting them to engage in a stillness activity would be beneficial.

To conclude, I enjoyed this course and I learned a lot about how to live an eco literate life and also the importance of giving back to the earth.

 

Creative Journal Entry #3

To me, embodiment is when you are actively participating and contributing to the issue at hand.  You yourself are physically putting in the time and effort to help lessen climate change to the best of your ability. Even if you are only able to help in small ways, it is sometimes the small things that build up to creating a big result.  With the embodying ecoliteracy project, I have been doing my part to help reduce climate change in a variety of different ways. I have been doing things such as composting, using plastic/glass containers instead of ziploc bags, eating less beef, planning meals to reduce as much waste as possible, and bringing my own reusable shopping bags with me to the grocery store. The main thing I have been focusing on, however, is recycling. Throughout the process of this project, I have learned more about what can and can’t be recycled. I have also found that I have become more aware of what kinds of things I have been throwing out and that much of what I want to throw out can either be re-used, recycled, or composted.

For my visual, I wrote all the things I have done/plan to do to help reduce the waste that I produce on my hand. I put my hand in front of the recycling bin because that is the thing that I have found myself focusing on the most throughout the process of the assignment. 

Eco-Literacy Braid

In my love letter, I wrote to my grandparents, thanking them for the lifestyle they lived and things that they taught me. In doing this braiding assignment, I found connections with Taylor and Leeza‘s letters. We all wrote to our grandparents and thanked them for growing gardens and for teaching us how to grow food of our own. A connection that I made with Taylor is that she said she would always try to sneak garden peas when her grandma wasn’t looking. I did the same thing, but with my grandma’s cherry tomatoes!  I remember that they were always so sweet and my grandma would always end up giving me some to take home at the end of the day. Leeza and I both talked about how our grandparents lived without many of the modern technologies and luxuries that many of us today can’t imagine living without. I always enjoy going over to my grandparents’ house because it allows me to take a break from technology and just focus on spending time with my grandparents, whether that be in their basement visiting, or outside, helping them in their garden.

While there are similarities between our letters, I also noticed some differences. One of the things that stood out the most to me was that both Taylor and Leeza talked about their grandparents living on a farm, while my grandparents have always lived in the city. However, regardless of where our grandparents reside(ed), they were able to give back to the Earth in the best way that they could and knew how.

Ecoliteracy Love Letter

Dear Grandma and Grandpa Drews,

Your passion and love for gardening is inspiring! I will always remember coming over to your house and being amazed by your beautiful vegetable garden! You had a true green-thumb, and always took such excellent care of your garden! Whenever we would come over in the summer, you would ask if we wanted to help pick tomatoes, carrots, beans, beets, zucchinis, and before your tree died, cherries too!  I want to thank you for teaching us a bit about gardening and for always giving us fresh garden vegetables and fruit! It was something that I always enjoyed and looked forward to, come autumn. I also remember finding snails, slugs, and worms when we helped in your garden and thought it was gross. You explained that having these creatures present are a sign of a healthy garden! Now that you are no longer able to take care of your garden as well as you could before, I hope that we can continue that tradition for you! In doing this, I hope that I will be able to pass it on to my kids eventually, and they’ll pass it on to theirs, and so on.

Your garden was not the only eco-friendly part of your family home. Many of your lifestyle choices reflect the idea of what it truly means to live an eco-literate lifestyle! You have chosen to go without things that most people today could not imagine living without!  Computers, cable, a dishwasher and A/C are all things that take up so much extra power, energy, and resources. I want to thank you for braving the heat, e

ven on some of our hottest summer days! (I know how hot your house can get in the summer!).

Even the smaller things you do make a big difference! For example, whenever you give us baking and goodies, you save and recycle your plastic bread bags instead of buying more new Ziploc bags! We, in turn, give the bags back and reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes into our landfills!

Finally, I want to thank you for setting such a good example of what it means to live an eco-literate lifestyle! I hope that I am able to learn from your example and incorporate many of the things you do for the environment into my life!

With Love,

Aimee

 

The picture in this post shows my sister and I looking for worms, snails, slugs, and bugs, along with the first sprouts starting to poke through the soil in my grandma and grandpa’s garden.

Creative Journal Entry #2

This week, we were asked to think about how we could “make the leap” to help reduce climate change.

A large part of the climate change issue is the gas and oil emissions that we produce. We can help do this by carpooling or using public transit, and can further reduce these emissions by biking or walking. We can also help by cutting down on unnecessary power consumption. Turning off lights when you’re not in the room and unplugging things when you’re finished with them are a couple ways in which you can do this. I know that I am guilty of leaving lights on when I walk out of room, but with the embodying ecoliteracy assignment, I plan to make this something I am more aware of and it will be one of the small ways in which I can help.   A third way to help the issue is by changing your eating habits. Eating organically and locally and limiting the amount of red meat you eat also reduces the amount of methane that goes into the atmosphere. I never realized before that beef production played such a big role in the climate change issue. In an article I read, they suggested that even if you don’t want to go completely meatless, you can reduce the amount you eat in a week. They mentioned that it’s not something that we need everyday, as we can get protein from other sources.

These are only a few of the ways in which I can help, but they will be the ones that I am going to focus on the most!

 

Creative Journal Entry #1

I believe that in order to feel connected to our environment, we need to take care of it.  By recycling, we can keep more garbage out of landfills and oceans, which contributes to the overall health of our earth and animals. By reusing materials, companies and factories don’t need to produce as much new product, which then eliminates some of the gases and pollution from these factories.

For my first visual representation, I decided to gather some materials from around my house that can be recycled and then put them together to form a sort of collage. The blue, checkered base is a piece of an old cardboard box. I found pages from a magazine, newspaper, flyers, and an old phone-book. I also gathered some bottle lids and pop can tabs.

Every piece of recyclable garbage that is saved for the recycling bin helps to keep our environment clean and healthy, allowing us to enjoy our time outside, exploring and connecting with our environment.