All posts by Grace

Grace’s Final Project

Well, at long last, the time has come my friends. Time for me to sum up everything I’ve learned in this one semester and then bid you adieu as I merrily skip away from NYU into adulthood freedom.

This has been one of my favorite classes in my time here, mostly because it focuses almost entirely on a topic that I’m pretty obsessed with, the environment. I’m literally a tree-hugger (really, there are pics of me hugging trees everywhere) and I’m also into an artistic industry, so this class was perfect for me. It gave me the chance to really kick off my waste-free lifestyle and I’m excited to share with you guys what I’ve learned and accomplished so far, and what I plan on accomplishing in the weeks, months, and years to come.

My goal was simple: To identify the waste I’m contributing to landfills and start to take steps to move away from needing/using these materials. Pretty straightforward right? In order to accomplish this goal, I came up with 5 steps for myself.

  • STEP ONE: Identify the landfill waste I produce over a two week period
  • STEP TWO: Fully replace necessities in my home with sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives
  • STEP THREE: Fully commit to making my own products
  • STEP FOUR: Start the slow, long transition into sustainable fashion
  • STEP FIVE: Find a place to compost in NYC

I can tell you right now, I was hoping to be able to crash course myself into this kind of lifestyle, but just like anything else in life, this is gonna take some time. There are habits that have to be altered, materials that have to be purchased, and old goods that will need to be disposed of properly. I’ve already identified what needs to change and how to change it, so at this point in time I’m slowly starting to transition myself into actually making those changes.

STEP ONE! When I presented my midterm to you all, I talked about how I’d already tried keeping track of my landfill waste by writing notes for everything I tossed in my phone. I decided to try some good old-fashioned handwritten notes for my 2 week period, but guess what? It didn’t really work out that great. You know what did? Taking a video on my phone every time I put something in a trash can. You can see my lil compilation video right here. It forced me to really take notice of how often I was tossing something in and what it was I was tossing in. When I was just trying to write it down, I really believed that I was just throwing away the cotton rounds I used for makeup remover and maybe some food. Turns out, I was visiting the trash can a whole lot more!

STEPS TWO-FOUR! These three steps are still in the process of being undertaken. I’m going to include a link to my class presentation at the bottom of this post because it includes a lot of links to the websites I’ve been using to help me identify the products I need as well as where I plan on buying these products from.

STEP FIVE! Wowee you really can compost in NYC! This was a cool thing to learn about, and a slightly frustrating one too. Here’s a better look at the map of where they have brown bin collections in NYC:

2017 Compost Collection in NYC

Notice anything about this map? Besides the beautiful earth tones they went with for a color scheme, it pretty clearly shows that environmental activism is something really only available for the affluent. “Future Expansion” in all of the poorest neighborhoods of NYC. Awesome. On the one hand, this map is really helpful as I apartment hunt because I want to end up in a neighborhood that has the brown bin collection (if I can afford it). On the other hand, it enforces this idea that being eco-friendly is a rich person thing.

So where do I go from here? Social media of course! I’ve created an instagram account called @optimistic.recyclingbin and I plan on documenting my journey and sharing information as I continue down this path to Earth friendly enlightenment. I’ve already posted my trash video, and I have a few more posts already planned out, check them out below:

As I said earlier, this isn’t an overnight change. A waste-free lifestyle is an act of rebellion in our consumer based society, and it’s a lot of hard work to undo the mindset to use, use, use. I’m excited to keep learning, and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you as I keep on working at it.

Check out links and all that fun stuff here!

And check out the instagram here!

Environmental Issues – Grace Giffune

Going into this class, I felt that I had a pretty solid grasp on the multiple different ways that human beings are wasteful. Just going back to my roots, I was raised to waste not, want not; using everything up until it couldn’t physically be used any longer and only then getting rid of it. This class, and a lot of the material we covered, opened my eyes to plenty of other ways that we’re harming the planet. Educational and depressing!

A sad little plastic bag in a tree

It’s interesting just how obvious something becomes once it’s pointed out. It’s like when someone tells you “You’re tongue never fits comfortably in your mouth”. See? Now you’re annoyingly aware of how weird your tongue feels inside your mouth. You’re welcome. That’s how I felt after the very first thing we had to watch, Idle Threat. Now I can’t even walk down the street without seeing 1 or 20 vehicles just letting their engines run for no reason at all. It makes me feel dirty to breathe in the air here, and now I’m not sure if it’s a mental thing or if it’s because the air actually is super dirty. I can’t even imagine what it was like breathing the air here before any of the regulations we have now.

Food trucks running their engines and polluting my air while tricking me into wanting to fill my bellay

What I would have really liked to take pictures of and share I am unfortunately not able to because of the contract that I signed, so I had to make do with pictures of similar things on the street. I started working for this company known as Earth Angel (look them up here!!) and their whole mission is to make movies without making a mess. Things I’ve learned from this class plus what I’ve been learning with Earth Angel has really opened up my eyes to a whole plethora of wasteful living examples. Essentially my job is to sort trash on set. You would not believe how many people just default to putting things in landfill bins even when presented with a choice of landfill, recycling, and compost.

Where else should an old pizza plate go?

So much trash, like this discarded pizza plate ^^ belong somewhere else! Composting isn’t just for food scraps people! And why is it so hard for people to check to see if something can be recycled? Everything that is able to be recycled in this country has that cute little label that we all know and love. So why don’t people LOOK FOR THAT BEFORE JUST DUMPING SOMETHING IN A LANDFILL BIN?????? This has quickly become my biggest pet peeve. There are literally bins on the streets of NYC where you can separate recyclables and landfill but do people ever actually try? Noooooo, it’s too much effort and too confusing apparently.

Human being logic: create trashcan, put trash anywhere but the trashcan

Another thing that I’ve really become aware of (which is unfortunately not pictured here) is water usage. I’ve always tried to be as conscious of this as possible, but ever since hearing the woman from the River Project talk about rain and overflowing sewage, I’ve been hyper-aware of this. I don’t have a timer in my shower, but I’ve been trying to take the fastest showers that I can (7 minutes is my best time so far), and I continue to keep the faucet off if I’m not directly using any running water. I wish that I could figure out the best way to make my roommate conscious of this, because she’s over there taking 45 minute long showers. Like, what is she even doing in there??

I didn’t know that trees wore shoes, how kind to give them hand-me-downs!

I’m still struggling to find the balance between letting all of the very real and very dangerous information I learn scare me and put me down, and at the same time motivate real change. A lot of things this class opened my eyes to has been very disheartening, and we all know that. At the same time though, there’s always a person or organization working to make things better. Things might move slower than molasses as we try to build a more sustainable future for ourselves but at least we’re aware, awake, and trying.

How did this plastic end up wound so perfectly on this branch?