Extra Credit Senator Sandy Senn

Hello! If you read my last blog entry then you know that I recently went to an event hosted by Cultivate SC. While I was there I met a woman named Carolee Williams who works as a Lowcountry Field Director for the group Conservation Voters South Carolina. While at Cultivate, Carolee and I discussed the topic of the “ban on bans” bill currently in the South Carolina Senate. We both agreed that this bill was outrageous and, if passed, would mean only bad things for our local environment and South Carolina’s waterways. Carolee told me that the best way to oppose things like this was to contact your local representatives. To which I responded with the usual string of excuses about politicians only listening to money, and Republicans only voting Republican, seeing the rejection letters first hand, and being only one person. I told her my doubts and how I thought it wouldn’t make a difference. Well, it turns out that Carolee Williams had with her some local Charleston postcards with beautiful beaches and grand oak trees on them. She told me, “Just write a short message. Say you support local government and not the ban on bans. You don’t even have to address it! Just write your home address and ill address it to your representative.” It was so easy that I couldn’t say no and this was something that I felt strongly about…so I filled out 2 postcards, one with my address and Carolee’s recommendation for wordage and the second with my parents South Carolina address and a similar message. I dropped the postcards with Carolee and went about my arts and crafts.

About a week or two later, my husband and I get a letter in the mail from the SC Senate. Man, were we sweating! What could they want? What did we do? Turns out it was our State Senator Sandy Senn writing with a response to my postcard. Here we go, I was ready for rejection when I read the following message….



For those of you who cant read the letter, ill retype the key lines.

“Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I agree with you and will oppose this bill. I believe in local governments and their ability to regulate themselves and will advocate for that position.”

WHAT?! Let me retype that one more time for the people in the back. She said, “I Agree With You and Will Oppose This Bill.” I don’t think a letter has ever made me happier. Okay, well it was up there in the surprise and happiness category. My senator not only took the time to respond to a postcard but she agrees with me and will fight for this outcome! Yes! It was an amazing realization that there are good guys and girls out there fighting for you and your voice and the environment and our planet. They are going against the popular vote and saying no to lobbyists with big checks and agendas. They are doing their job so now we need to do ours. They need more from us. More support. More good jobs. More critiques. More communication. More opinions. They need us to step up and speak up. So next time you’re out, grab a postcard or sit down and write a short email. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Make it easy on them. If it weren’t for a stranger in a bar handing me a postcard and offering to do the heavy lifting I would never have known that I am represented by a woman who cares about the same things that I do and I would never have realized how much my opinion matters.

So write a letter to your representative and if you ever find yourself in a bar with Carolee Williams, take the time to talk to her because she might just push you to find your voice.

Personal Changes and Shortcomings

Recently, I’ve been doing my best to reduce the amount of waste I produce through my daily activities. This includes reducing the amount of plastic and disposable products I use, making my own products, and recycling when I can

I did my best to make more of an effort to avoid things such as straws, Styrofoam, napkins, plastic bags/wrappers, and any other wasteful products. This was hard for me, and I realized that a had a heavy reliance on some of these things, and to cutting down on them was very hard for me to do. But it put into perspective for me how easily accessible these wasteful products are.

I already make my own hair products, so I didn’t have to reduce my consumption in that department very much. I significantly reduced the amount of eating out I usually did and opted to pack a lunch instead. While it was less convenient than just walking in to the closest fast food place, I didn’t mind it, and I also saved money doing this.

One of the biggest changes I made was to only use reusable containers for my lunch. Instead of using bags and bottles that would usually get thrown away, I bought some containers from Walmart to pack my food in instead. I also did all my shopping using reusable shopping bags. I’ve also found that I liked both these methods more and wonder why I hadn’t been doing this before.

I also recycle, though I’m not as reliant on it. One of the issues I have with recycling is if the materials we recycle are indeed getting recycled. And it turns out a lot don’t. A pizza box with grease stains and melted cheese stuck to it gets thrown in the landfill. PVC plastics contain too many additives also get trashed. Broken shards of glass are thrown away as well. Also, how is the process of recycling these materials impacting the environment? While I think recycling is good and useful for reducing the amount of trash going in the landfill, I think it’s important to not let it give us a false sense of security. Recycling isn’t the only thing we should be doing to decrease our ecological impact.

Most importantly in my journey of personal change, I did my best to start composting. When it came to composting, I found it was easier to find composting bins and stations downtown than in North Charleston. Much like with recycling bins and centers, there’s very little access to composting areas near where I live. I’m planning on starting a compost at home, but there’s been some reluctance from the people I live with at the moment.

Overall, it’s been an interesting experience with changing my habits. I hope I can refine then and improve for the future as well.

No Straw Please

Over the years, I have gotten very used to my family lovingly calling me a crazy hippie. They laugh when I save scraps of food to feed my worms and roll their eyes when I pull out my reusable grocery bags at the store (though I have convinced my grandma to carry around a reusable bag too). So, I expected similar reactions when I decided to stop using straws. I bought a pack of reusable stainless steel straws and I bring them with me everywhere now. The first time I got to use them was when my whole family and I were out for brunch. Luckily, we were already at a restaurant that only serves straws upon request. When our waitress brought out our drinks, I smiled and pulled out a straw for each member of my family. For a few minutes they stared at me like I was crazy and rolled their eyes at me like usual. However, by the end of the meal, my aunt asked me to order straws for her too. Since then, my whole family has given in and has started asking for no straw when we go out to eat. I have also convinced a few of my mom’s friends to go strawless as well. It is amazing how many conversations I have with people when they see me pull out a reusable straw or ask for no straw during my meal. Sometimes it seems like all of our efforts of convincing people to be more environmentally friendly or conscious goes unnoticed, but at least for my experience with straws, something about the idea gets people’s attention.

No More Plastic!

In order to live more sustainably, I cut out my use of plastics. Instead of buying plastic bottled drinks, I carried a YETI rambler bottle. I went straw-less, as well. I also invested in reusable bags for when I go grocery shopping. The issue around plastic is that plastic never goes away. Today billions of pounds of it can be found in swirling convergences making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. Every year thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed after ingesting plastic or getting tangled up in it. My triumphs were that it made me feel good as a human being that I had the thought of I am making a difference every time I did not use plastic. My struggles were not shopping online and constantly having to clean my YETI rambler for multiple uses. I think more people use plastics because of the same reasons why people use paper plates instead of actual plates; NO DISHES! Haha, but I felt really good by myself with this change. I do think I will continue with this change because of the impact it does have, especially in Charleston with the ocean nearby. You can start cutting down on your plastic waste in a few simple steps: always bring reusable bags when you shop, ditch one-time use water bottles and avoid products made from or packaged in plastic whenever possible (e.g. select unwrapped produce at the grocery store, shop local, cut down on online shopping.)

Plastic Invasion of the Seas

Image result for turtle eating plastic

There is way too much plastic in the ocean, and that too much, is 150 million tons of plastic trash, a number that is set to triple in the next seven years. People use plastic every day, and it is something that has become almost essential to 21st-century living. There is plastic involved in our clothing, our eating, and in our hygiene. But people do not think about where a lot of their plastic is going. It is going to the ocean.

Marine animals every day, are having their homes invaded by plastic, and every year 8 tons of it are being dumped on their front door. 70% of the plastic found in the ocean is a plastic product, and because we are putting so much plastic in the water, a terrible thing is happening. Marine animals are confusing the plastic for food and are eating it.

Why are animals eating plastic?

              Animals are consuming microplastics that are floating around in the sea because it looks almost like algae, or algae grow on top of the floating plastic, or because plastic bags look like jellyfish. There are many different factors that go into who animals are eating the plastic. Some animals like blue plastics because their food is typically food, and so goes for other creatures and other colors of plastic. Also, animals do not always use the same senses that humans do when it comes to food, and their senses are different from ours. To a human, a plastic bag in the water looks exactly like a plastic bag, but to a sea turtle, the bag could look like a jellyfish with weird tentacles.

What is the harm in eating a little plastic?

              Because animals are eating a lot of plastic, they are filling their bellies with something that they cannot digest but will sit in their stomachs making them feel full. Because these marine animals are full from the plastic, they have no desire to eat and they become malnourished from starvation and/or lack of nutrients. If an animal decides to eat something that has a sharp edge, they could be at risk of piercing something.  Also, from a more anthroponotic viewpoint, if a fish is eating a ton of plastic, and you get that same fish on your dinner plate, are you not also eating plastic?

What can be done?

              There are a lot of alternatives to plastic out there, and they are definitely worth the extra cost. There are many people trying to enact change, and a great example is how the UK banned microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic, from their country. In the US, California placed a ten-cent fee on plastic bags, so for every plastic bag the consumer gets, they have to pay ten cents. Because of this law, many people began using reusable bags and the liter from plastic bags in the streets was greatly reduced. Another fun plastic free item is the bamboo toothbrush, which either uses bamboo or charcoal bristles. Buying a metal or glass reusable water bottle not only saves the consumer money in the long run but also is plastic free and means no one must lug around a heavy pack of water bottles.


Works Cited:




Personal Change– Plastics Consumption

Something I would love to change about the way I live is my plastic consumption. I always see the same video circulating around on Facebook about the woman who could fit all the trash she produced for 5 years in a mason jar. While its important to note that she likely has other footprints that may be greater than mine I can’t help but feel challenged to do the same. By reducing my plastic consumption I could literally be saving animals lives. They are less likely to ingest plastic if it isn’t available in the first place. I would also be impacting oil production by reducing plastic consumption. Even trying to set this goal of reducing plastic consumption, if I am to fail, will teach me about being more thoughtful and even then I would hopefully stick to a few reduction techniques. Since I have yet to try this out I’ve thought deeply about exactly where most of my plastic usage comes from and what I would need to consume in order to make this work. Firstly, i’m a college student and I work part time so I don’t always have time to prepare food myself. I constantly find myself throwing away money on overpriced to-go meals. Almost all of these meals come in plastic containers, with plastic cutlery, and in a plastic bag.  By food prepping and planning ahead I could eliminate what I think is likely my largest plastic usage concern. Next, plastic water bottles. I own probably 10 reusable water bottles all scattered throughout my life and I still end up with plastic. For this I have the means to save on buying plastic water bottles I just need to change my consciousness towards bringing reusable everywhere I go. Another item I use its tampons. The plastic applicator I throw out at a minimum 3 times a day is another source of waste i’ve pin pointed. Today reusable pads and even cups are now available and even more encouraged for menstrual health. This would undoubtedly I think be the toughest change to make from a hygiene stand point. The other large consumption hurdle I would have to overcome is food packaging. I’m hoping I can reach out to the blog community to help me with this one. Besides shopping fresh produce, how do I consume boxed or canned goods without using as much plastic? The research I’ve done into it shows that in New York City there is a store in which everything comes unwrapped to eliminate waste. I absolutely love this idea but lets be honest we barely have a fair selection of reasonably priced grocery stores in the area. If anyone has an thoughts or tips please share with me! I’m excited to try and be more conscious.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDbb_9_l9VY


Benefits of Cutting Red Meat

I made a very hard decision last semester, and that decision was to take red meat out of my diet. Doing so has made me feel a lot healthier because when I stopped eating red meat, I lost a couple of pounds in a couple of weeks. Cutting out red meat mean I was choosing leaner forms of protein, so I am now consuming less saturated fats than I was before. After watching a video of cows being penned in these small areas, walking around in their own feces, I would not stand to eat their flesh any longer and watching Food Inc was a good reminder of why I continue to not eat red meat.

There are many reasons to stop eating red meat, and a lot of those benefits are anthropocentric. The benefits affect humans in a positive way physically. Readers Digest has a whole article about the benefits to the body that comes from not eating red meat, and a couple that stood out was the lowered “bad” cholesterol levels, the decreased risk of heart disease, and the associated weight loss.

Many Americans suffer from high cholesterol, and according to the CDC, 95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL. Having a high saturated fat diet is attributed to high cholesterol levels, and if reducing intake of red meat can lower LDL levels, it seems to be worth the sacrifice. Heart disease is one of the largest issues in the United States and kills over 600,000 people per year, and one of the reasons people suffer from heart disease is because of high cholesterol levels. There is an obvious connection between lowered cholesterol and lowered risk of heart disease. According to a research article by Renata Micha, “On average, processed meats contain about 400 % more sodium and 50 % more nitrates per gram. Dietary sodium increases blood pressure (BP), and may also increase peripheral vascular resistance and impair arterial compliance”. The article explains how red meat can cause cardiovascular problems, and it is a commonly known fact that salt is not heart healthy. Burgers, Hot Dogs, and a lot of other processed meats are very salty and terrible for the body.

Why else should you quit eating red meat?

            Removing red meat from your diet is a great stepping stone towards becoming a vegetarian. I want to eventually be a lacto-vegetarian because it is not necessary to eat meat in order to get the necessary nutrients. Quitting meat cold turkey is very hard, so setting parameters and slowly increasing them is a slow way to introduce the idea that there are other foods that are filling and full of protein. Cows and other animals are not meant to live in cramped pens eating corn all day, shuffling around in feces and getting filled with hormones to make them grow. I drove past a cattle farm in Texas, and the smell was so terrible and spread for miles past the “farm”. There was no grass where the cows were, having been trampled on too many times to grow there, and the cows were loudly mooing, and the cows were shuffling around looking agitated. No living creature should live like our meat cattle do.


Works Cited





My Experience With A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet (WFPBD)

On Tuesday our guest speaker, Justin McGonigal, came in to discuss sustainable nutrition and his personal experiences. Throughout my 3 years of being a Public Health Major whose about to graduate this spring, I have learned the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. Last year one of my Professor’s, Professor Lavelle presented us with a project that I thought was not only ridiculous, but difficult being a college student.  She had us, for a whole week experience a whole foods plant based diet and consume 2 to 3 meals a day that were strictly plant based. When she said no meat, including fish I thought that this would be the hardest thing to experience. I decided in that moment that I was not going to participate in this project, I would fake it till the end, how would she know? Well, that’s where my story begins.

When I read over the syllabus for this project I realized that not only did we have a partner, but we had to take pictures of our meals, “accountability is important for this project”…I and my bank account were officially screwed. The first of this project she wanted us and our partner to go to the grocery store and find a meal under $10; which was our budget. Que selfie with partner on aisle 7! Once we figured out what meal we wanted to make; thank you Pinterest, we were able to find all the ingredients and to my surprise we only spent $2 over our budget which wasn’t too bad. After my experience with the grocery store I started thinking that this project might actually be interesting, so I decided to actually put effort into it and ignore my doubts. Over the course of the week I learned about a whole foods plant based diet. I not only lost weight, but I looked and felt incredible, my energy levels were through the roof and my mental state was completely different, but for the better. I no longer felt depressed and anxious, I’m usually the girl that tends to “overthink” everything that goes on in my life and that even seemed to fade as well. My personal experience with this diet was overwhelming and such an incredible journey in a matter of 1 week. That summer after Junior year, I was able to share my experience and actually help someone using this knowledge that I have learned. I just didn’t expect it to be someone that was extremely close to me…that someone was my father.

The summer of 2017 my father had a blocked artery in his heart and he caught it before a heart attack could. The doctors at MUSC were incredible and saved his life by placing a stent in his heart, he say’s that he feels like a new man! All my life he’s always had elevated cholesterol levels. My father has been placed on a diet plan, but he slips up like any normal human; more so than he should. He has become a very athletic 55 year old man. He runs almost everyday, participating in marathons such as the Kiawah and Myrtle Beach marathon alongside my 26 year old sister and boy can he keep up; chicken legs! He’s even joined the Park West, Men’s Tennis League. a bunch of old men playing tennis is definitely a funny sight to see, but I’ll give it to my dad he’s the best one out on that court! I have mentioned to him lately, especially after this lecture with Justin  McGonigal that he needs to be implementing a whole foods plant based diet. I practically retold the whole lecture to him. Like any adult now a days and parent, he laughs at me and say’s that his Paleo diet is “doing just fine”! I guess I can’t blame him, no parent wants advice from their kids and he most definitely doesn’t want to say that I’m right (maybe I should email him the lecture on YouTube!). I love him and he loves me, and I will always keep bringing it up till I’m blue in the face whether he wants to listen or not. I am his daughter after all and you know what they say, the apple does not fall from the tree!

If anyone would like any information on recipes or general information I have a public Pinterest board dedicated strictly for a whole foods plant based diet! I am lactose intolerant and there’s even a recipe for vegan mac and cheese and it’s INCREDIBLE! Here is my link https://www.pinterest.com/lostgirls13/plant-based-diet-recipes/  ENJOY 🙂

What’s Cookin’ ?

Good evening ya’ll! My post is about my new found love for cooking and whole food plant-based meals! Professor Saunder’s boyfriend really inspired this interest – I began looking up recipes right after the lecture on Tuesday. I found a website: http://forksoverknives.com, where I found numerous recipes to help me transition to a whole-food, plant-based diet. So far I have cooked/prepared four meals including the ones shown below and Apple Oat Pancakes (yum). I have been pleasantly surprised at how the meals have turned out because I’m a newbie at best when it comes to cooking, but the recipes are so outrageously delicious that it’s hard to mess up. One cool thing is that Forks over Knives has even gotten me to consume Apple Cider Vinegar, a product I never thought I would swallow due to the smell alone.

I highly recommend checking out what a whole-food, plant-based diet has to offer if you haven’t already. http://forksoverknives.com is a great place to begin because the recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are conveniently listed for each meal. In addition, there is a documentary on Netflix titled Forks Over Knives that should be interesting to watch, I know I’m going to. Enjoy the pictures I captured from tonight and let me know if you plan to get cooking, maybe we can together! 🙂

Sweet potato with chick pea chili! 

Raw Apple Crumble cake from Forks Over Knives! SOOO GOOD

Gina helped cook tonight’s dinner 🙂 Friends make it so much easier.


Here’s What I’ve Made So Far:






Thank you:)

Eating For Pleasure

I recently read an article published online by the journal Scientific American titled,

“How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brian into Wanting More Food”

This article was written on January 1st, 2016 by Ferris Jabr


In summation, the article discusses how human advancements have resulted in an overabundance and availability of food. This, in turn, has led to overconsumption or the habit of eating for pleasure and no longer for survival. This change in the way we obtain food has resulted in a chemical change in our brains. According to the article, this is referred to, by scientists, as Hedonic Hunger. Simply put, hedonic hunger is what we consider to be “cravings.” A strong urge to eat foods even when we are not hungry. This urge in combination with copious amounts of inexpensive and unhealthy food has led to rising rates of obesity and associated health concerns.

If the body is functioning correctly, when we are low on energy hormones are released to create a feeling of hunger. Once we have consumed enough nutrients a different hormone is released to create a feeling of being full. These hormones alternate throughout the day to ensure energy levels remain balanced. The control center that regulates this release of hormones is the hypothalamus.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that rodent research led to a new discovery about food and the brain. The hypothalamus was not the only pathway capable of releasing the hungry/full hormones. Scientist calls it “the reward circuit” and it is the same area that lights up in response to gambling or drug use. This part of the brian is “captivated” by foods high in sugar or fat. This is a problem because the reward circuit is POWERFUL. Studies show that our brain’s reward circuit lights up (releasing large amounts of dopamine) simply by viewing or smelling foods that are high in sugar and fat. The release of dopamine consistently over long periods of time can create dopamine resistance in the body that ultimately results in larger amounts of the sweet or fatty food required to achieve the same pleasure high. On the opposide side of this cycle, we find sharp drop-offs and very low lows. The absence of food that activates the reward circuit, in a person who has routinely consumed it,  can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and desperation. This often results in the person consuming more unhealthy foods in an attempt to maintain their “sense of well-being.”



This article goes in-depth about the modern relationship that many humans have with food. Now that we no longer have to hunt and gather food to survive we can eat more freely and in much larger amounts than ever before. With so much abundance of food, how do we ensure that we are self-regulating or diets in a way that is healthy but still enjoyable? Much research has been done to answer that question. Today, you can log onto a computer and find resources dedicated to helping you manage your diet through portion control and a balanced diet.

One of my favorite websites for this is choosemyplate.gov

This site has a variety of resources for you to use including a food tracker and lifestyle quizzes.

Let’s be the generation that reverses the trend and lives long, healthy, active lives!


The link for the article is here: