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November 20, 2019 |


Letter from the Editor

NOVEMBER 20, 2019


Finding My Will to Fight For the Planet The Cost of Sustainability Aimee Olexy Wants You To Know Where Your Food Comes From


How To Travel Sustainably On Your Next Vacation


Eating Vegan For A Week: How Hard Is It?

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The Mission Behind Penn Sustainability 'Designs for Different Futures' at the PMA: Making Art in the Time of Climate Change

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The Faces of Fossil Free Fridays I'm Done Waiting Around For Someone Else To Solve The Climate Change Problem


Your Guide to Recycling On and Off Campus


What Does It Mean to be Green Living Certified?

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The Low-Down on Beefless Burgers Behind the 1.5* Minute Climate Lectures Meet Patrick Teese, President of Epsilon Eta

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Does Anyone Know How to Recycle? Living with a Climate Change–Induced Hopelessness



limate change isn’t the crisis of our generation. To leave it at that would be to trivialize it. The warming of our planet and melting of our oceans is too big a problem to be put into the hands of today’s youth. Climate change and its effects have been a long time coming, and the consequences of our delayed action, whatever tragedies they will soon prove to be, will plague the years, decades, and centuries to come. I, like every writer in this issue, am tired of the rhetoric that passes around the responsibility of climate change. I am tired of endless discussions followed by little to no action. So how could we not dedicate an issue of our magazine to this rampant sense of exhaustion, and our efforts to maintain hope in the face of it? For the last several weeks, we poured our hearts into pieces on self–improvements in sustainability, highlights of climate activists on campus, and what our responsibility is in all of this as members of a leading research institution. This issue reflects the way in which every choice we make can be thought of in terms of its sustainability and impact on climate change. We can choose to be vegan, to stop traveling by plane, to reduce the amount of waste we produce. But beneath every story that investigates these smaller adjustments in this issue is the urgent need for greater action. Though we should all start obsessing over the individual ways we can adopt more sustainable habits, we need a revolution around the globe in order to halt the dire effects of climate change. Climate change and its fallout are no longer worries that we can ignore, but ones that we need to consider in every second of every minute of every day. This issue is our commitment to doing that. In writing of climate change through the lens of a college campus, we challenge ourselves and our readers to do more. This is our world too, and we should never forget that.

A Closer Look at Penn's Composting

Sophie Burkholder, Special Issues Editor

Design Editors: Gillian Diebold, Lucy Ferry, Jess Tan, Tamsyn Brann

Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief Dalton DeStefano, Managing Editor Daniel Bulpitt, Audience Engagement Director Lily Snider, Assignments Editor Ethan Wu, Media Director

Design Associates: Isabel Liang, Ava Cruz, Joy Lee, Rhys Floyd, Sudeep Bhargava

Allison Wu, Long–Term Features Editor Ryan McLaughlin, Word on the Street Editor Katie Bontje, Ego Editor Sam Kesler, Music Editor Srinidhi Ramakrishna, Developing Features Editor Bea Forman, Style Editor Shannon Zhang, Film & TV Editor Sophia DuRose, Arts Editor Sophia Dai & Eleanor Shemtov, Photo Editors Tahira Islam & Katie Steele, Copy Editors Kira Horowitz & Sarah Poss: Copy Editors Dean Jones & Jackson Parli, Video Editors Alice Heyeh, Print Director Ego Beats: Amanpreet Singh, Sonali Deliwala, Katie Farrell, Amy Xiang, Ananya Muthukrishnan, Margaret Dunn, Fernanda Brizuela Music Beats: Mehek Boparai, Melannie Jay, Teresa Xie, Petyon Toups, Julia Davies, Keely Douglas Features Staff: Zoe Young, Hailey Noh, Katrina Janco, Chelsey Zhu, Katie Bontje, Isabella Simonetti, Denali Sagner, Chris Schiller Style Beats: Diya Sethi, Karin Hananel, Sofia Heller, Mark Pino, Hannah Lonser, Hannah Gross Film & TV Beats: Shriya Beesam, Samantha Sanders, Anna Collins, Jonah Charlton, Aashray Khanna, Deren Alanay Arts Beats: Rema Hort, Sarah Yoon, Tsemone Ogbemi


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Staff Writers: Ana Hallman, Arjun Swaminathan, Tara O’Brien, Hannah Yusuf, Sophia Schulz-Rusnacko, Jordan Waschman, Jessica Bao, Quinn Robinson, Layla Murphy, Anya Tullan, Hannah Sanders, Julia Esposito, Avery Johnston, Harshita Gupta Illustrators: Anne Marie Gruden, Brad Hong, Jake Lem, Christopher Kwok, Diane Lin, Jacqueline Lou, Isabel Liang, Sammie Yoon, Felicity Yick, Brandon Li, Allison Chen, Madonna Nisha Miranda, Cloe Cho, Sriya Choppara Staff Photographers: Hoyt Gong, Sophia Zhu, Diya Sethi, Adiel Izilov, Sally Chen, Mona Lee, Emma Boey, Amanda Shen, Sudeep Bhargava, Adrianna Brusie, Kelly Chen, Eli Cohen Video Staff: Sam Lee, Megan Kyne, Morgan Jones, Mikayla Golub Copy Associates: Kate Poole, Serena Miniter, Erin Liebenberg, Lexie Shah, Carmina Hachenburg, Luisa Healey, Agatha Advincula Audience Engagment Associates: McKay Norton, Rachel Markowitz, Kat Ulich, Brittany Levy, Jessica Bachner, Maya Berardi, Stephanie Nam Cover Illustration by Sammie Yoon Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief, at You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. ©2019 34th Street Magazine, The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. No part may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express, written consent of the editors (but I bet we will give you the a–okay.) All rights reserved. 34th Street Magazine is published by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc., 4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19104, every Wednesday.


finding my will to for the

Layla Murphy

My journey from climate guilt to climate action I guess I'd call it environmental guilt—a feeling of being completely useless and also completely responsible for more than I want to accept. It’s the fear of extinction. It’s the discomfort of having my survival instincts kick in, and being confused as to why some people seem so unafraid of the danger. It’s the anger I feel when someone asks me why I protest. It’s the disappointment of forgetting my metal straw, or worse yet, the disappointment of knowing my metal straws won’t save me. It’s hopelessness and helplessness. I feel so guilty. Egypt is my home. For the five years I lived there, I breathed in over 100 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter—the most damaging type of air pollution—every year. And no one seemed to care. The science curriculum at my school included a study of the greenhouse effect and grim predictions of global warming, but these seemed more like cautionary tales than calls to action. “That’s for your generation to handle,” they’d tell us. I knew they were right. I knew this was my responsibility. But I also knew that my high school had a severe littering problem, that car pollution made my city’s air unbreathable, and that my country’s agriculture industry would collapse with the dwindling of freshwater resources. All of this felt like a little too much weight on the shoulders of a 17– year–old girl with no political power. I try to use my privilege for good. My family lives comfortably, and my high school classmates had insane amounts of money and social connections. I knew we should be using all these advantages to help better

the Earth, so we tried. As part of my school’s business club, I collaborated with the Zabaleen—Cairo’s historic trash collecting community—to upcycle single–use plastics. Our startup, A Cleaner Egypt (ACE), collected plastic water bottles from campus and turned them into bracelets. I liked having a part in extending the life cycle of these plastics, but I knew they too would eventually end up in a landfill and burn. My actions didn’t really stop my classmates from buying tons of plastic water bottles and chucking them carelessly in the trash. So how much were we really accomplishing? Was I doing anything at all to help our planet, or was I making an empty buck off a high school start–up? My feelings of helplessness returned. I took refuge in maintaining some environmentally friendly habits. I turned off my air conditioner and lights when I didn’t need them. I bought a reusable water bottle. I disposed of plastics in the appropriate bins at school, even though it was tacitly understood by most students that recycling in Egypt was a farce. Some studies claim 12% as the magic number: only 12% of waste generated is properly disposed of or recycled. I did the most a single person could do: I encouraged others to follow my lead. I remember arguing with a friend over this, telling him how much it bothered

me to see him buy plastic water bottles every day at lunch. “I’m just one person. Whether or not I buy this bottle isn’t going to stop Dasani from making their product,” he told me. I was upset at his words, but also didn’t quite know what to say. I wondered if maybe he was right. I told him that every person’s actions counts, but it started to sound like I needed convinc-

I thought of my Dasani–obsessed friend from home. Could it be that this person, who I thought was so careless and so blind, was justified in his actions? Could it be that 100 massive corporations were counteracting every positive choice I’d ever made? Were they really controlling the fate of the species? My fate? The despair nearly suffocated me. There is no deeper sadness

Jessi Olarsch | Illustrator

ing myself. Coming to America felt like a second chance. I knew people in the States were more informed about climate change than some of my peers in Egypt. I had heard of companies going carbon–neutral and knew of debates over the Green New Deal. When my plane landed in Arizona this summer, I hoped this awareness would make me feel less useless. That was before my brother sent me a Twitter thread. It was a slap in the face. I didn’t know how little I knew about global warming. I didn’t know that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of fossil fuel emissions.

than feeling small. So I changed my approach. I was done making small choices. None of my science classes in high school told the full story. We learned about carbon footprints, but never about the revolution needed to end them. I’d seen my American friends posting videos of climate marches on their Snapchat stories. I knew that in coming here, I could take an active role in my democracy in a way that I couldn’t as an American living overseas. When I got to campus, I joined Fossil Free Penn. I marched downtown with them for the Global Climate Strike. Their Friday sit–ins became a part of my

weekly routine. And last week, I nearly lost my voice chanting and singing by their side at the Board of Trustees meeting. I am part of something larger here. Instead of working in a microcosm, it feels like I’m contributing to a movement. But in a way, I’ve become more cynical. Personal actions— at least in a vacuum—seem less significant than they once did. At the same time, becoming active in a bigger fight empowers me. I’m sick of people obsessing over metal straws, but I bring mine with me wherever I go. It’s in my backpack at every Friday sit–in. I suppose now that I’m taking big steps, the smaller ones will feel less stupid. I’ve finally started to reconcile my fixation with sustainable personal habits with my desire to strike against the fossil fuel industry. These days, I strive to do both. This is an existential crisis for me, and finally, it seems like people around me are as terrified as I am. Far from creating an echo chamber of panic and calamity, joining a climate action club has energized me. It proves the power of numbers without dismissing my individual initiative. It gives me more influence than I ever dreamed of having in high school, while also justifying the earlier habits I adopted. Climate action on Penn’s campus gives me an incredible sense of purpose. Don’t get me wrong, it feels good to be part of something—but I’m still utterly pissed off. The difference is that here, I get to be pissed off alongside a group of equally angry, intelligent people. I get to sit, scream, jump, sing, and chant next to people who are as driven as I am to champion the defense of our planet. Here, I am a fighter.

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ho wd h

cost of sustainability

Jul c

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Am ira C


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How climate change disproportionately affects low-income populations. Sofia Heller


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rec tor

s a y s t h a t voting for people with policies that focus on climate change and paying attention to companies’ wastes and emissions are effective ways to help the environment—and ones that don't require a certain level of wealth. Julci Areza (C ’21), who identifies as a first–generation low–income student, agrees with Marina. She believes the movement for environmental justice should be rooted more in tackling systemic issues, rather than praising those who spend the money on sustainable products and condemning those who don’t. Seeing people so unaware of the particular climate change issues faced by lower–income communities is frustrating for Amira. “The only way we can actually make change is joining coalitions and mobilizing,” she says. “So, I get angry and frustrated, but I get very hopeful because I see the mobilization taking place, not only in the U.S., but across the world, on this particular issue, from a climate standpoint and from an income inequality standpoint as well.” Di

ported in the School District of Philadelphia records. The reports include cases of mold, asbestos, and flaking paint containing lead. Amira says that older buildings and facilities have a hard time adapting to shifting weather conditions, which can have a daily effect on the lives of students attending school there. “Those students have food insecurity at home, their parents are dealing with job and income insecurity, and they are going to schools that are toxic,” she notes. “You think about these kids and they’re not coming to Penn, but they are living right in the city where we are.” Penn Environmental Group Co–chair Marina Dauer (C ’22) feels that Penn, as an institution, does not do enough to help the surrounding communities. Since Penn isn’t paying Payments in Lieu of Taxes, Marina says the school misses out on a significant opportunity to help the minority and frontline communities around it. “As of now, I don’t think Penn is being a good neighbor to communities near it, especially considering how much wealth is on campus,” Marina comments. “The

M ed ia

well–off city, you’re educated, and maybe are higher– income, you wouldn’t necessarily think climate change is the biggest deal, because it’s something that seems more far off in the future,” Johanna says. “However, in reality, a lot of people currently experience the effects of it.” Johanna sees this tendency both in Philadelphia and at Penn, and wishes the media would give more attention to the effects of climate change in lower–income areas. “Most of us are college students, so we live on a nice campus where everything is pretty regulated,” Johanna says. “We don’t necessarily connect climate change to what we see day to day, but there are people who live near landfills, who actually do see the effects of pollution every day.” Because of her own personal experiences, Amira prioritizes work that combats these effects in Philadelphia. Through organizing efforts with local groups, such as Our City, Our Schools, Amira says she’s seen more closely the detrimental impacts that climate change has had on Philadelphia's public schools. Since 2015, there have been more than 9,000 environmental problems re-

benefits on campus aren’t being spread to the neighboring areas when they really could be.” Marina finds that the mainstream framing of environmental activism isolates low–income people as well. Since individual responsibilities—such as buying the right water bottles, the right clothes, and the right appliances—are highlighted as the best ways to combat climate change, being the socially promoted version of sustainable becomes very costly. Marina finds this message of pushing individual responsibility misleading, because it limits the discussion of large–scale actions that need to be taken by governments, businesses, and institutions around the globe. “But it also leads to a lot of inequality and people feeling like they can’t be a part of it because they don’t have money for the Hydro Flask or low–energy appliances,” she says. Instead, Marina wants people to focus on the bigger issues in climate change. She

Et ha nW u|

Whether she was at school or at home, it didn’t matter. If Amira Chowdhury (C ’22) wanted water, there were going to be toxic levels of lead in it, caused by lead infiltration in the public water system. After immigrating to the United States from Bangladesh seven years ago, Amira moved to a low–income neighborhood in East Los Angeles. The other public schools in her area shared her high school’s lead problem, as did her entire apartment building. One of the primary effects of climate change is the disruption of the water cycle, resulting in a negative impact on drinking water supplies, sanitation, food, and energy production. “This is an experience not only shared by me but shared by working, low–income students, especially in urban contexts, who are attending public schools,” Amira says. Climate change disproportionately affects low–income communities and communities of color, yet this is not always acknowledged in climate change discussions. Johanna Inamagua (C ’21), who identifies as a first–generation low–income student, says she didn’t know about this trend until high school. “If you’re the kind of person who lives in a

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Nestled across from historic Washington Square, three bird boxes sit atop the sign marking the entrance to Philadelphia's iconic restaurant enclave, Talula's Garden. As customers walk through the iron gate, they're transported to a hidden urban oasis. The city street disappears as they enter a picturesque patio, tucked away amid vines and beams of wood. Hundreds of yellow twinkling lights enlace the leaves, illuminate the quiet street, and thaw the brisk November evening. In the words of chef and restaurateur Aimee Olexy, walking into Talula’s Garden is like transporting yourself to “a hideaway secret garden.” In partnership with restaurateur Stephen Starr, Olexy has made a name for herself in the Philadelphia food scene through the opening of Talula’s Table, Talula’s Garden, Talula’s Daily, and most recently The Love. While Olexy says that she takes pride in the fact that many people associate her and her restaurants with being farm–to–table, her mission doesn’t end there. “Really the mission for me, my mission, is trying to tell people to make good food choices. And in making good food choices, making a food choice that’s a little more local, it’s more seasonal, and it’s more sustainable,” Olexy says. Olexy adds that she doesn’t want to be “uber preachy about it,” but rather wants to make an impact on individuals when they sit down to eat at one of her restaurants. She says that if someone leaves her restaurant inspired to try persimmons for example—a fruit they may not have known existed or is in season—or learns that Pennsylvania has great wines and chooses to buy a local wine instead of foreign, that's a win. “Inherently it kind of makes 6

us more connected, and if we’re more connected it means we’re more connected to our land. So if I know where my cheese came from, you know where your cheese came from,” she says. While Olexy has grown her restaurant empire into an established Philadelphia entity, her mission of using homegrown ingredients and making her restaurants feel like a "sanctuary" draws back to her childhood in rural Chester County, an hour outside of Philadelphia. Summer was peaches in August; fall was apples in September and pumpkins in October. While her family members weren't farmers, they were gardeners. Eating her mother’s canned tomatoes, zucchini relish, and banana bread, all from homegrown ingredients, was a regular occurrence. Her sustainable approach to her restaurants today “was kind of the fabric of my life—not in a highfalutin way, that was kind of the par for the course where I was raised,” Olexy says. Olexy worked in restaurants throughout her life, beginning in high school where she worked at the Spring Mill Café in Chester County. Owned by a close friend of hers from France, this is where Olexy first “got the bug” for becoming a restaurant entrepreneur herself. After having served as a General Manager of multiple Starr restaurants—Blue Angel, Tangerine, and Pod—Olexy emerged into the Philadelphia food scene in 2001, this time as the co–owner of Django, a BYOB restaurant in Society Hill where she put her farm–to–table upbringing to practice. “We gathered food from the farmers market, we cooked it, we served it that night based on how many reservations we had,

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and we did it over and over every day,” Olexy says. “It really was the hallmark of farm–to–table cooking in the moment. We had a limited menu, but we did all kinds of stuff, and everything we did we made it there ... It was really people’s second home. It was amazing.” After six or seven years, pregnant at the time, Olexy says she decided to sell the restaurant and move back to Chester County to raise her daughter. Nevertheless, shortly after her daughter, Annalee Talula Rae, was born, she once again got “the bug” to start another business. She called up her longtime friend, Starr, and the two went on the hunt for Olexy’s new venture. Inspired by her love of family and its newest member, she subsequently opened Talula’s Table in 2007. Olexy describes it as more than a restaurant serving “twenty to thirty dollar entrees”; it was also founded to be a cafe, a prepared food outlet, a cheese shop, and a lunch place that showcased her love of “all things food.” Years passed and, with her daughter being older, Olexy wanted to expand and also get back into the city. Thus she opened Talula’s Garden in 2011 and the adjacent cafe, Talula’s Daily, in 2013. Having lived and worked near Washington Square for many years, Olexy knew the area well, and she knew this vacant art deco building facing the park had space for an attached garden— the perfect home for Talula’s Garden. “I wanted to emulate my mission in the space,” Olexy says. “Because in Philadelphia, you know, a lot of the outdoor seating you’re sitting on a sidewalk, but what’s cool there is you’re sitting at a hideaway secret garden.” Olexy got right to work. She

Photo courtesy of Aimee Olexy

made the decor “simple and fluid,” with wooden tables, antique collected plates, and water glasses made out of old wine bottles. “I try to use things that are a little less commercial and more household, you know, things that you would see in a nice home,” she says. Her attention to detail, ambiance, locality, and facilitating connections are all key parts of Olexy’s day–to–day. Every night she wants to treat her guests to a wonderful dinner party. Two years after the opening of Talula’s Garden, the addition of Talula’s Daily next door was Olexy’s way of showing Philadelphia her “commitment to all things food, not just like dinner service at a posh restaurant.” Olexy notes that the trimmings of well–butchered steaks from one restaurant on one night can be ground into burgers for the cafe on the next. Her mission is to provide better food choices to patrons that are also sustainable. Because of the Daily’s freeform menu, which is reprinted on paper each day according to the seasonality of ingredients, Olexy has created “a forum to use things” and really carry out her farm–to–table mission in a way most restaurants can't. Even after the massive success of the series of "Talula’s" restaurants, Olexy wasn’t finished making her impact on Philadelphia. In 2017, she and Starr

collaborated once again to open The Love, one of Rittenhouse Square’s hottest restaurants. While many thought her choice of name, The Love, was “risky,” Olexy stood by it. “I wanted to pepper the city with another one that says, ‘here’s another place that really cares about what they do,'” Olexy says. “I was like, ‘What would be a good compliment to Talula’s?’ And I was like, ‘You know, I want to do something on the other side of the city, and the spirit of The Love is do something that cares about the environment and cares about the mission of good food choices and local seasonal eating—and I want to do it smack in the center of the shopping district.'” Olexy has taken her mission of farm–to–table and good food choices to The Love, and its soaring reviews and sought– after reservations speak highly of its success. Her aim was to be both creative yet simplistic, casual yet elegant. Everything from the warm chive butter and homemade rolls to the booths intended to emulate the comfort of a home sofa, adds to the homeyness she wants her customers to feel. "They’re crazy businesses, big operations," she says. "The heart of it is taking care of people. It's like a little family. Like right now. It’s little pieces of the puzzle, and if you’re good at it, you can handle them all.”


How To Travel Sustainably On Your Next Vacation ALL THOSE PLANE RIDES ADD UP. QUINN ROBINSON As fall term comes to a close, many Penn students begin locking down travel plans. Some will return home, some will travel elsewhere, and others will remain on campus or in Philadelphia. But out of the many students flying, driving, or taking a train elsewhere, it's important to consider the sustainability of travel choices. It's natural to prioritize cost and convenience before taking into consideration the carbon emissions of their travel. This makes sense: certain forms of transit are prohibitively expensive, especially if you're taking them every break. And for some trips, only one travel option makes sense—taking a train or a bus to San Francisco can be impractical. However, for the portion of Penn’s student body that hails from the Northeas, what route should you take if you're keeping sustainability in mind? Addressing travel emissions is a little more complicated than you might initially think. While carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per gallon of aviation fuel are comparable to those of standard gasoline—charting at 21.10 pounds of CO2 per gallon and 19.60 pounds, respectively—this ignores the fact that airplanes waste most of their fuel on the runway and during takeoff, rendering these numbers misleading. Furthermore, air travel creates additional pollution that includes water vapor, black carbon, nitrous oxide, and sulphur oxide. These, in turn, contribute even more to the greenhouse effect. All of these factors combined make the environmental effect of air travel worse

than that of driving, even with the increasing levels of efficiency in airplane engines and fuels. And with the cheap pricing of jet fuels internationally, air travel is expected to take up more and more of the transit market share. But we also need to consider the purpose behind some of these flights. Excessive tourism can lead to soil erosion, increased pollution, natural habitat loss, strain on water resources, and increased pressure on endangered species. While ecotourism is a growing movement, the vast majority of leisure travel still operates under standard consumption practices that add up to around 8% of global carbon emissions every year. It's important to consider the impact these trips can have on the environment. Trains ultimately end up being more sustainable than both driving and air travel. Coach buses, too, rank highly when it comes to reducing emissions. While there is little in the way of fully carbon– neutral transit options—very few people can ride a zero– emissions yacht like Greta Thunberg, due to cost barriers—trains and buses provide the lowest emissions footprint compared to the other modes of transportation that are currently available. So if heading back home to somewhere in New England or the Mid–Atlantic, try booking a Megabus this year. When planning on travelling elsewhere, consider looking into eco–tourism options, or maybe rethink the need for a vacation at all. The best way to lower the environmental impacts of air travel is, unsurprisingly, not flying in the first place.

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Eating Vegan for a Week: How Har d Is It?

IT TURNS OUT MAKING THIS LIFESTYLE CHANGE IS RELATIVELY EASY—AND DELICIOUS. Like many people, I grew up in a family where meat was always the star of the dinner table. But coming to Penn has made me curious about veganism—the lifestyle choice of not using or consuming animal products— especially since, for the first time in my life, I live in a big city with more vegan food options. People go vegan for a lot of different reasons, ranging from health to ethics to the environment. The environmental concerns over eating meat and dairy are more pressing than ever, as the livestock industry contributes to 18% of global human greenhouse gas emissions and takes up 83% of all farmland. Eating a plant– based diet might be the “single biggest way” to individually help the environment. I wanted to try cutting out animal products from my own diet, so I decided to quit cold turkey for a week to see how challenging it would be.

1 My week of veganism is off to

a rough start. I didn’t have much time to grocery shop before going vegan, so for lunch, I eat a microwaved sweet potato with nothing on it. My friend calls it “sad.” After class, I keep eating chips, non–dairy biscuits, peas, tofu, cereal—mostly everything I already have in the back of my fridge that’s vegan. At the end of the day, I’m still starving. My stomach growls as I walk by a string of restaurants on the way to a meeting, the smell of burgers wafting

in the air. "I’m weak," I think to myself. I come home and see an apple cider donut on the counter, left by my roommate. I stare at it sullenly. It’s taunting me. Around 11 p.m., I cave and ask my boyfriend to bring me a milkshake from HipCityVeg. I don’t want to rely on eating out on the first day, but I can’t help myself. He brings back McDonald’s for himself. I snag a couple fries without much thought—they’re just potatoes, right? Wrong. McDonalds calls their fries vegan, but this is a contentious issue, due to the "natural beef flavor" in the fries. I consider it cheating—unfortunately, I didn't make it 24 hours.


Looking for guidance, I meet up with Vyshnavi Kosigi (C ‘22), an avid environmentalist and vegan since high school. We agree to talk in Stommons, but in a brainless moment, I walk to Stouffer Commons instead, which prompts Vyshnavi to ask if I’m a freshman (I’m not, just dumb). I confide in her about my french fry fiasco, and she laughs sympathetically. “I only cheated when I was really hungry and I didn’t have anything,” she says, advising me to stock up on vegan snacks and staples. “You have to eat more.” She tells me that on the bright side, a lot of snack foods are “accidentally vegan,” like Ritz crackers, Lay’s original chips, and my childhood favorite, Un-

crustables. Following Vyshnavi’s advice, I go to FroGro, cook up what seems like a dinner for three, and eat some snacks on top of it.

3 I go to V Street for lunch and

order tempeh tacos, a welcome relief from my own less than stellar cooking. The only drawback is the bill. I still don’t feel completely satisfied after eating, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.


It’s the weekend, and I finally have a few hours to cook a big, filling meal. I follow a recipe for vegan lentil stew and spend my evening chopping onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery. The onions make me cry profusely, but in the end, the tears are worth it. My stew is delicious, and I’m actually looking forward to leftovers.


I treat myself to the Magic Carpet food truck near Meyerson Hall. One great upside of this experiment is getting to try places I usually wouldn’t visit. I used to feel like there wasn’t a reason to eat at vegetarian or vegan restaurants if I wasn’t one myself, but it turns out I’ve been limiting my options.

a sophomore living off campus means that, luckily, I have a kitchen, but freshmen and plenty of others don’t. It’s not truly “being vegan at Penn” if I don’t see what it’s like to be vegan at a dining hall. As I walk down Walnut, burying my face deep into my scarf to avoid the wind, I’m not too optimistic. Vyshnavi tells me that while she thought Hill House and Kings Court English House were decent, she ended up spending “a lot of money” freshman year on outside food—the often soggy or cheese–covered veggies didn’t cut it on a daily basis. Once I guest–swipe in, I go straight for the “Very Veggie” food station before browsing through the others. I pile up on black bean soup, pulled jackfruit, banana peel stew, and vegetable rice. The black bean soup tastes like a rich, savory chili. It’s the first thing I finish, and it gives me hope as I try the other foods. Sadly, the banana peel stew is incredibly spicy without much depth, and the pulled jackfruit is so sour, it makes my lips pucker. In an effort to bring flavor to its vegan dishes, the dining hall overloads on salt and spice. If I were a full–time vegan on a dining plan, I think I’d be eating mostly bread and salad, and spending a lot on food trucks.

6 On the day of Penn’s first 7 It’s almost bedtime when I resnowfall of the semester, I hurry over to Hill to eat dinner at the dining hall with a friend. Being

member that my week of veganism is almost over. It’s strange—I don’t really feel like I’m missing

Chelsey Zhu out anymore. I started off the week hungry and tired, but my body adjusted quickly to the changes. I’m not in a huge rush to eat non–vegan food again. Although avoiding dairy is a bit of a hassle, I don’t feel the need to go out and get a burger tomorrow. I used to think meat was irreplaceable, but now giving it up feels like a relatively small sacrifice. One downside is that eating a plant–based diet did turn out to be more expensive. Because I didn’t have prep time and didn’t realize I’d get so hungry, I ended up going to FroGro three days in a row, which ate up a good part of my paycheck. But now that I’ve got more vegan staples in my pantry, I think the costs will eventually even out.

8 The first non–vegan food I eat

in a week is hot chocolate with milk, a comfort I’ve missed in the cold weather. I’m grateful for this experiment because now I know I can be vegan. I’m going to keep eating vegetarian and see how it goes. Since I’ve done it for a week, it no longer seems impossible. The last thing Vyshnavi told me was that you don’t have to be perfect to be helpful. "Just one day of you not eating meat—or one meal if that’s not your norm ... helps the environment in kind of unfathomable ways,” she says. “There’s a tangible benefit to what you’re doing.”

Jess Tan | Illustrator 8

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The Mission Behind Penn Sustainability The group wants to help Penn reach carbon neutrality by 2042.

Jonah Charlton

Remember those people standing next to the garbage and recycling bins at New Student Orientation who were eager to take your empty pudding containers? Those were students from Penn Sustainability, whose mission tackles much more than just collecting trash. Penn Sustainability is an initiative dedicated to creating programs to build a more sustainable campus. The team includes three full–time staff members, four student interns, 140 faculty/staff eco–reps, and 23 student eco– reps. The team lives within the Office of the University Architect, Mark Kocent. Within Penn Sustainability’s larger mission of a more sustainable campus, the team has split the work into seven subcommittees. Work is done through the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee (ESAC). “Overall when we first established the ESAC committee about a decade ago, when we started the first Climate Action Plan, it was under the direction of Dr. Gutmann who had signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment to achieve carbon neutrality for the entire campus by 2042,” Kocent says. Since Gutmann signed the Commitment in 2007, Penn Sustainability has authored a Climate Action Plan every five years. The document is a roadmap, with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2042.

Climate Action Plan 3.0, released earlier this year, features a number of goals. One goal for the next five years is getting a Power Purchase Agreement. “It would probably be a 20 to 25 year commitment that would involve likely offsetting about 70% of our emissions from electricity,” Kocent says. In addition to the Climate Action Plans every five years, Penn Sustainability publishes annual reports tracking progress. “The five year plan sets the roadmap and then the annual reports say ‘Where are we at? What have we done? What do we still have left to do?’” Sustainability Analyst Madeline Schuh says. Within Penn Sustainability, there are a number of ways students can get involved, including the Student Advisory Group for the Environment. “We created SAGE, which is for students only, as a way to get student feedback," Schuh says. Penn Sustainability intern Abbey Waugh (C ‘20) encourages students to get involved. “Largely, most people do not know what Penn is doing to be sustainable and they just make assumptions that Penn is doing nothing,” Abbey says. “So before you make any assumptions, I would tell students to read the [Climate Action] Plan. Maybe after reading you will make the same judgement, but just read it first. And then go out and try to teach others about it.”

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'Designs for Different Futures' at the PMA: Making Art in the Time of Climate Change The latest special exhibition considers the way art interacts with climate change. Tsemone Ogbemi The Designs for Different Futures exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art explores the role of design in different aspects of life in the future, in light of the past and the present. Questions of climate change, sustainability, energy, food, and health encompass the show’s wide–ranging focus, and its creators come from varied fields. A few are visual artists, while other contributors to the exhibition are authors, designers, scientists, and game developers. Some of the pieces intersect with art on a literal level, but some are much more abstract and theoretical. The concept of the exhibition emphasizes the diversity of thought and skills necessary to sustain human life, and the life of our

Images courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

planet in the face of climate change and other global crises. One particular installation in the exhibition, called Resurrecting the Sublime, created by artists Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Sissel Tolaas, and scientists from the biotechnology company Ginkgo Bioworks led by Christina Agapakis, attempted to recreate the fragrances of flowers that have been extinct since the early 20th century. Using DNA from preserved flowers, the artists synthesized and predicted the smell of an environment full of those plants. The

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installation was a glass room with pods that emanated a beautiful, yet unusual, herby scent. This particular piece raises the question of what extinction means in a world of advanced technology, and perhaps changes our relationship with species that have been lost due to the impact humans have had on the environment. Another project called Ouroboros Steak questions the validity of claims that "clean meat," or meat grown in laboratories, is a sufficiently ethical and sustainable alternative to agriculturally–sourced meat.

Currently, the preparation of lab-grown meat requires fetal bovine serum, taken from the fetal calves of slaughtered, pregnant cows. For Ouroboros Steak, Andrew Pelling, Grace Knight, and Orkan Telhan use human cells and a “human serum made from unusable blood bank byproduct,” according to information provided by the museum. The tongue-in-cheek title of the piece acknowledges the shocking nature of the project, which “looks toward an imagined post–clean–meat future.” One of the largest installations in the gallery took the form of a giant, luminescent, plastic bubble that viewers were encouraged to enter, one at a time. The bubble was filled with opaque balloons, lit from the inside, that changed color according to their external temperature. As the level of carbon dioxide in the air increased, the bubble released sighs. That piece, called, Another Generosity was created by Eero Lunden, Ron Aasholm, and Carmen Lee in conjunction with the Lunden Architecture Company in 2018. According to the plaque accompanying it, Another Gener-

osity was meant to mimic “the effect that humans have on the greater planetary atmosphere.” In this surreal installation, the intersection between art and technology was clear. The interactive element was consistent with common elements of contemporary art. The exhibition also stated that this artwork is meant to “provoke questions and curiosity rather than focus on solution–based responses to sustainability within design.” Every piece in Designs from Different Futures was from the 21st century, and several were produced in 2019. The collaborative nature of many of the projects, and the necessary line between technology and art that they each walked, made the exhibit an uplifting one, a show replete with the products of imagination, science, and altruism combined. There is a hopefulness in the sense that several incredibly smart and creative individuals have dedicated themselves to raising issues of sustainability, and accomplished something. Designs for Different Futures will be on at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until Mar. 8, 2020.








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of A closer look at the student–led movement demanding that Penn's administration address climate change julia esposito

The first floor of College Hall is filled with Penn students, sitting scattered across the lacquered wood. Some are chatting, while others work quietly on their laptops. A few of them hold bright orange signs with demands written in bold: "Stop funding climate change." The chatter dies down and rises up again in waves. Occasionally, someone unfamiliar with the event wanders by, curious eyes attempting to decipher what exactly they’ve stumbled upon. One person sitting down in the room may be studying for physics while someone right next to them works on an internship application—others are simply talking about their days. Despite these differences, every person in the room has one thing in common: a demand for accountability from the Penn administration when it comes to climate change. Penn’s administration has outwardly promoted progressive ideals. Like many college campuses, there have been pushes for diversity, sustainability, and equality. But for many students, these words are not enough—especially when it comes to one of the largest issues plaguing our world today. In particular, Fossil Free Penn—a group that formed on Penn’s campus in 2014—is determined to make a difference in our administration’s handling of the climate crisis. Fossil Free Penn has done a lot this year with their implementation of Fossil Free Fridays. Penn students gather every Friday from noon to 4 p.m. in College Hall to demand that the administration be held accountable for their continued investment in the fossil fuel industry. 1 2 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E N O V E M B E R 2 0 , 2 01 9

The organization’s formation was inspired by the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City. The march consisted of hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets to demand action against climate change. In fact, it went beyond just a march—it started a movement that rippled out to impact other countries and college campuses everywhere, influencing the creation of Fossil Free Penn. The sit–ins are a powerful way of taking a stand—or rather, a seat—against the lack of action on the part of Penn's leaders. There’s a shared passion in the hearts of every student sitting in at College Hall each Friday. Recently, the student–led group received attention for shutting down a Penn Board of Trustees meeting through peaceful protest. The protesters held signs demanding a town–hall meeting with

While the protest was a loud and powerful gesture, the sit–ins seek to apply pressure through consistency. As explained by Campaign Coordinator Katie Collier (C '22), “With one–time actions,

"WE'RE GOING TO BE HERE EVERY FRIDAY UNTIL YOU DIVEST." aministrators about future climate action, and chanted loudly in opposition to the current Penn Climate Action Plan— which still does not include divestment from fossil fuels. Days after the protest, multiple faculty members expressed public support for the movement in a guest column for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

they have the opportunity … to not think about it again and ignore us." However, the repeated nature of the sit–ins is where the organization seeks to gain power, says Katie: "this never–ending, consistent, ‘We’re going to be here every Friday until you divest.’” The goal is to keep coming back until the administration has no choice but to

do something about it. More specifically, as Katie described, “We’re demanding that President Amy Gutmann, Chief Investment Officer Peter Aman, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, David

Cohen, all participate in a town hall in which they: one, address student and faculty concerns over … their multi-million dollar fossil fuel investments," and, "that they address how Penn plans to lower their carbon emissions in line with the IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.” A feeling of frustration seems to be another commonality between many of the protestors. Jacob Hershman (C '20), president of Fossil Free Penn, says, “The fact that Penn purports to have any com-

mitment to sustainability or preserving the environment is completely undermined by the fact that it’s dumping money into the pockets of the people that are making this a problem in the first place.” As is well–known by now, the IPCC report in October of 2018 declared that we have 12 years before we face the devastating consequences of climate change. Currently, the planet’s surface has warmed by 1 degree Celsius. According to the IPCC, if that temperature goes higher than 1.5 degrees Celsius, there will be serious repercussions in the form of droughts, sea level rises, and excessive heat waves. “What’s it going to take?" said Jacob, "A bunch of students sitting in the middle of Penn’s main office.” This isn’t just contained to Penn’s campus. Since Fossil Free Fridays began, other campuses have gotten involved in similar action to push their schools to divest. Fossil Free Pitt and Tufts have both considered or started similar sit–in protests. Schools like Smith College and the University of California schools have already taken measures to divest. The aim of divestment is to seriously impact the fossil fuel industry—a leading cause of climate change. It’s easy to stand aside and wait for the administration to make things right. It’s harder to decide to step in and make your own voice heard; however, it's important to pay attention to these protests. As the IPCC report says, we need unprecedented, radical change. Making a difference means making demands. And these demands aren’t just for those camping out in College Hall every Friday. They’re for everyone.

Photos by Lily Sutton

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I'm Done Waiting Around For Someone Else To Solve The Climate Change Problem My long–time awareness of climate change didn't make me any less ignorant about it. Julia Esposito Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. These three words were hammered into my brain as a kid. Starting with learning how to plant trees in the elementary school garden, environmental sustainability was a prominent part of my young education experience. Posters on the wall showed a dying cartoon Earth with a little thermostat in its mouth, encouraging the younger generation to “make a difference” and “save the Earth.” I took all of this in stride. I enjoyed the coloring activities and being granted more time outside during my school day. I was too young to understand the full implications of the activities. I just assumed they were another part of our daily curriculum. As I grew up and graduated from elementary school, I learned. I learned about oil companies and about greenhouse gas emissions. My science teachers taught me about carbon and that too much in the atmosphere has increased the global temperature of the Earth. In those classes, we created solar cookers and competed to see who could make the best renewable energy oven. We read articles, invited guest speakers on the topic, and learned about the dooming consequences of our in-

ability to even recycle prop- tives I hadn’t considered. I erly. Of course, I realize now became more aware of the that this way of thinking is issues the world faces. I masomewhat detrimental to the tured into someone more climate movement, as it places passionate and ready to help most of the responsibility on fix the problems that matthe individual—especially tered to me. when that individual is just Even with my newfound a middle school student. invigoration, I still didn’t After a while, the rhetoric t h i n k much of became so normal for me that I didn’t associate it with anything important. Climate change existed. Global warming was an issue. It was happening. I was aware of it. M y first year of college was an awakening for me. I had never lived outside Brandon Li | Illustrator my suburban town of Trumbull, Connecticut. I was used to cookie–cutter houses and a public school climate change. It remained where I was surrounded a background thought for by familiar people. I didn’t me. Once you’ve experienced travel much as a kid, and it something for long enough, never felt like I really saw the it eventually doesn’t register world outside of my subur- anymore. That’s what makes ban bubble. climate change one of the College thrust me into an most dangerous issues huentirely new environment manity faces. and exposed me to perspecWe all know what it is.

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We’ve seen evidence of its existence. We’ve read the reports saying we have twelve years to change our fates. We’re all aware of the issue. And yet, most of us are still ignorant of it. I’m still somewhat ignorant of it. It took me until my second year of college to do something. Taking a class centered on climate change, along with doing more research on it, has pushed me to join activist organizations a n d l o o k f o r ways to help. I ’ v e written articles, had debates with friends, and tried to understand what I can do to make a difference. But before doing anything about climate change, I was complacent about it. I was willing to sit back and let others figure it out. I was content to study for my classes and get through school, ignorant to the fact that each day spent pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere was a day closer to detrimental climate

change consequences. Even now, I wonder if I’m doing enough. Some days, I fall back into my habit of forgetting about climate change. I worry about my own problems—what I’m going to wear the next day, how I’m going to raise my biology grade, or if I have enough dining dollars for a morning coffee. Climate change is such a huge issue, that, at this point, it seems impossible to tackle, especially when I feel like I’m tackling it alone. But I’m not. None of us are. We’re all in the same boat: worried about climate change, unsure what to do about it, and feeling unprepared to take on something so massive. Instead of locking ourselves into this hopeless way of thinking, however, I want to stress the importance of looking into different options. Find local groups to join. And if there are none, find friends and start your own. Making a difference doesn’t have to be a full–time job, but it should be something that requires real effort. Simply put, we are not doing enough. If we were doing enough, this issue would be far in the past. Stop waiting for climate change to fix itself. Stop being aware, but ignorant. If we don’t open our eyes, we’ll soon be staring out at an unrecognizable world. I know I’m not about to let that happen.


Your Guide to Recycling On and Off Campus


Recycling can conserve the environment and boost your mood. Avery Johnston Recycling can undoubtedly be a confusing process, and it is made all the more difficult by lack of insight into recycling policies and practices. Here are a few tips for how to do it. Philadelphia Policies The universal list of recyclables in the city includes plastics, paper, cartons, metals, glass, and cardboard. Restrictions, rules, and requirements are specified for each of the aforementioned categories. One important rule across all categories is the necessity of emptying and rinsing the garbage if it has come into contact with any non–recyclable contaminants like juice, food, or other waste. A commonly held misconception is that the lids and caps of bottles or other capped recyclables are not themselves able to be recycled. This isn’t true— Philadelphia Street Department’s sustainability policies state that both lids and caps are okay to recycle. On the other hand, plastic bags are actually not okay to drop in the recycling bin. They twist around the recycling facilities’ equipment, potentially damaging it and therefore increasing the cost of maintenance. Certainly, no taxpaying Philadelphian would want increased maintenance costs. Some other common materials that cannot be recycled are styrofoam, tissues, paper towels, napkins, needles, and disposable cups and plates, though these decompose relatively quickly in landfills. So, how should you dispose of your recyclables? The city will provide residents with a recycling bin at many locations throughout the city. In addition to these numerous centers, bins are also available at several community partner locations. If none of the provided locations work for you, you can use any bin or container (up to 32 gallons), presuming

that you have labeled it as “recycling.” Recycling is picked up the same day as garbage—place your bin curbside. All recyclables can be placed in the same bin, according to Philadelphia’s single–stream policy. It's important that you correctly sort your recyclables and non–recyclables; if any non–recyclables make their way into a container, the entire bin may not be recycleable. For the first several months of 2019, the city of Philadelphia only recycled around half of all of the garbage picked up as a result of an expired contract with a recycling plant. Recently, the city returned to usual recycling policies. Penn Policies The university’s recycling policies are essentially identical to the city of Philadelphia’s. Recycling on campus is even easier than recycling off–campus—just drop your recyclables off at any of the designated garbage locations in each of the residential buildings. Penn also uses a system of color–coded bins: gray/black for landfill garbage, blue for singlestream recycling, and green for compost (organic/food waste). There are also specific Penn policies for lab, electronic, and miscellaneous waste. Elemental or E–Force may be used to pick up electronic waste, according to Penn’s Waste Management and Recycling system. Batteries can also be picked up and recycled at a cost by contacting the FRES Sustainability office. Lab waste, excluding waste from tissue culture labs, can be recycled as per the usual recycling policies. Furniture can be recycled through Ben’s Attic. Shoes and clothing can be reused through PennMOVES or left at the Goodwill dropoff box outside of Rodin College House.

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What Does It Mean to be

Green Living Certified? Your guide to Penn Sustainability's green–living campaign. Layla Murphy When I moved into my dorm this past August, I remember seeing a collection of “Green Living” stickers plastered on my neighbor’s door. I thought they had probably done the PennGreen orientation program or were part of a special club. But these stickers are peppered around campus. They read “Green Living Certified” and can be seen on dorm walls, mini fridges, and office windows. They include a ranking—Bronze, Silver, or Gold— and, as I later found out, are an initiative by Penn Sustainability to encourage students to reflect on their environmental impact. I spoke with members of Penn Sustainability to learn more about these peculiar stickers. Heidi Wunder, Assistant Director for Communications at Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, told me that the program is now in its sixth year. The Green Living Certification Program was born out of an earlier initiative, Green Office, which allowed whole departments to get green certified. When students took notice, they requested a similar system for certifying individual living habits. Now, students, faculty, and staff can obtain their green living certification through a quiz on the Penn Sustainability website. Open to both on and off– campus residents, the survey begins with a set of prerequisites. These include turning lights off upon leaving a room, reporting leaky faucets, using energy–efficient bulbs, recycling, and being willing to encourage others to follow sustainable habits. Once those prerequisites have been met, the questions move on to

specifics on purchasing, energy usage, waste production, transportation, and involvement with sustainability groups at Penn. Each question has a weight to it. Answering “yes” to adopting a vegan diet, for example, yields four points. For comparison, using reusable shopping bags for groceries yields only one. Depending on the final number of points, the survey places respondents into the Bronze, Silver, or Gold categories. It takes 25 points to get to Bronze, 40 for Silver, and 55 for Gold. Following the survey, respondents who meet one of the certification levels are mailed a sticker, and automatically entered into a raffle— weighted based on certification level—to win certain prizes. Sustainability Intern Patrick Teese (C '20) describes the Green Living Certification as “a way to get students thinking about the individual impact of their environmental decisions and to encourage new habits and routines and to introduce these new potential ideas to students.” The Penn Sustainability website also includes a manual that outlines environmentally friendly habits and suggestions for changes to make in everyday life. Elizabeth Main, one of the sustainability coordinators at Penn Sustainability, details the dynamic nature of the survey. With changes in technology, for example, the survey has to be updated to reflect the newest, most sustainable practices at any given time. For example, Main said that the survey recently had to be updated to include LED lamps as an alternative to traditional bulbs other than CFL bulbs.

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Diane Lin | Illustrator

Furthermore, as new initiatives appear on campus, the survey can change to reflect that. For example, Main notes that now the Sustainability office no longer encourages students to simply buy used clothing, but to support the on–campus thrift store, Penn Closet, while doing so. Moreover, in explaining the recent expansion of the survey to include off–campus housing, Main says: “Even if [students] reducing energy in their off–campus apartment doesn’t directly affect Penn’s carbon footprint, it’s still good to instill these behaviors of energy conservation.” Once this addition was made, the quiz was changed to include steps that couldn't be taken on campus, like collaborating with landlords to implement weatherization or choosing energy efficient appliances. One of the main goals of the Sustainability office is to reduce the overall campus carbon footprint. While Main concedes that “the majority of our campus carbon footprint is from

energy and electricity,” she and Wunder both cite waste minimization as a top–priority concern. Unlike energy usage and electricity on campus overall, waste is a tangible problem for students to tackle. Main says that students can certainly play a part in reducing energy usage, “but I think waste is really where we see the biggest opportunity for impact from students.” Main emphasizes that it's important for Penn community members to understand what can and cannot be recycled, better comprehend the deleterious culture of single–use disposables, and realize that reduction in the first place is “much, much better than recycling.” Patrick praises the commitment of Penn Sustainability and applauds their efforts to convince the administration, faculty, staff, and students to adopt more “environmentally friendly alternatives to everything that they do." That being said, the Sustainability office

cannot force other sections of the University to adopt habits against their will. All strides taken must be feasible for each departments’ respective resources and compatible with their priorities. Within its scope, the Sustainability office plays a large role in developing the Climate and Sustainability Action Plan, and encourages students to read it. Patrick says that “students sharing suggestions for what Penn Sustainability could advocate for is really helpful. The Sustainability office tries to push for greener goals and ideas, and does a good job at making those aims heard.” Having taken the certification quiz myself, I can attest that it’s quite eye–opening to the broad range of personal changes that we can make as students to reduce our personal and collective carbon footprint. Take the survey and learn how our way of living affects the Earth. If nothing else, the survey comes with a cool sticker.


The Low–Down on Beefless Burgers Everything you need to know about the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger crazes BRITTANY LEVY To beef or not to beef, that is the question. Well, not the only question. The hype surrounding plant– based meat substitutes left me with questions. What’s the difference between the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger? How can a fake burger “bleed?” Do these burgers have as much of an environmental impact as their marketing claims? I’ve got the beef on beefless burgers. The founders of the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger both for the same reasons: produce a plant–based burger that tastes realistic enough to be an alternative to animal protein. They did so in slightly different manners. The Impossible Burger is primarily made from soy protein concentrate, whereas the Beyond Burger derives its protein from pea protein isolate. Another distinguishing factor is the way they both "bleed." Impossible Burgers use soy leghemoglobin, also known as “heme." Researchers discovered that heme is the ingredient that gives blood its red color and animal meat its iron– rich flavor, so they produced heme in the lab by extracting it from soybean plants and inserting it into genetically engineered yeast. Beyond Burgers, on the other hand, get their red color through beet extract. The companies also differ in their business models. Beyond is direct–to–consumer, so you can likely find it at a local grocery store. In contrast, Impossible sells directly to restaurants, including Burger King, Red Robin, The Cheesecake Factory, Bareburger, Qdoba, White Castle, and soon Little Caesars, which will sell an Impossible Sausage Pizza.

Both companies are trying to expand, with Impossible Burger available in certain grocery stores and Beyond Burger in restaurants like Dunkin’ Donuts. Comparing their price points is difficult, as Impossible Burgers are sold at varied price, but for reference, an Impossible Whopper at Burger King is $5.59, and a package of two Beyond patties sells for $5.99 at most grocery stores. Both patties have as much protein, more fiber, more iron, and less cholesterol than real beef. But they disturb “real food” advocates, such as nutritionists and even the CEO of Whole Foods, because they replace a "whole food" with a processed alternative. Now that we’ve got the skinny—and the fat—on these meatless burgers, let’s get into the weeds on their environmental footprint. By now, we all know that meat takes a toll on the environment. Reports suggest that livestock are responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and cows alone produce 65% of total livestock emissions. So, yes, abandoning burgers is a good move for the environment, and plant–based burgers make this abandonment easier—in a way that can generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, require 46% less energy, and use far less water, land, and energy than beef burgers. The worldwide consumption of meat is still increasing. But with Beyond having one of the most successful IPOs in recent history and both companies rapidly expanding around the world, beef–less burgers seem to be heading in a promising direction towards enacting change.

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Behind the 1.5* Minute Climate Lectures Three lecturers discuss ways students can become environmentally sustainable on campus. Fernanda Brizuela During September 2019, a number of faculty and students at Penn came together in front of College Hall to communicate the urgency of climate change and its impact across disciplines. The College of Arts and Sciences organized a series of lectures with the goal of communicating the consequences of climate change and steps both the University and students can take to make a difference. The name of the 1.5* Minute Climate Lectures stems from a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states that surpassing an average global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius will have catastrophic and irreversible effects on the environment. Each lecture has a salient common theme, generally focusing on the fact that climate change is quickly becoming an irreversible problem that we have to fight against. However, there’s an implicit message within the series—climate change affects every aspect of society and is a problem that can be solved through interdisciplinary strategies. This is exemplified by the areas of expertise of those who participate in the lectures, which feature speakers from careers not only in environmental studies, but also ranging from design and urban studies to Africana studies and Germanic languages. One of the speakers was Megan Ryerson, an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning and Electrical Systems Engineering at Penn. She gave a lecture on the relationship between air travel and sustain-

ability based on her education and expertise in transportation and environmental engineering. Ryerson says that she wanted to bring up the topic of air travel because it is a widely used service, yet not necessarily thought about in terms of reducing emissions despite its significant impact. “I thought it was a real opportunity to put a fine point on a topic that I wrestle with and I think needs to be much more in the public mind,” she says. As part of her research, Ryerson studies the way governments deal with the balance between the problems of economic development and climate change, how cities have action plans for sustainability yet invest in air transportation services, and how airlines optimize costs and the impact of this on public use. Even though she focuses on other research areas, such as airspace routing, she continues to emphasize the environmental impact. The series also gives insight into student experiences, as it included a lecture featuring Jacob Hershman (C ‘20) and Vyshnavi Kosigishroff (C ‘22). Vyshnavi mentioned that their goal for the lecture was to emphasize the way Penn students can use their resources to engage with the Philadelphia community. Even though she believes that Penn does a great job engaging with and empowering local communities, the institution’s choice to invest its endowment in fossil fuel industries also negatively impacts these same communities. Vyshnavi says that it’s extremely important for people to recognize that climate change is

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an imminent problem. “I feel like there’s so much that is being taken away from me,” she says. She remembers growing up in Delaware and seeing the fumes coming from factories. Knowing that many local chemical companies were responsible for air pollution, she decided to become involved in local environmental policy. She involves herself in the Philadelphia community as a member of the Youth Climate Lobby, and works on large–scale projects such as the Philadelphia Climate Strike as well as local goals such as starting a plastic bag ban. On campus, she is involved with the Student Sustainability Association at Penn (SSAP) and Fossil Free Penn (FFP). The series also presents lectures that include the personal experiences of students and staff, such as one spearheaded by Bethany Wiggin, an Associate Professor of German and the Founding Director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH). One of PPEH’s current projects focuses on climate storytelling. The initiative Wiggin chose to describe in her lecture was “I’m Sensing Climate Change, What’s Your Story?” During the lecture, Wiggin and other PPEH members talked about personal experiences when they first witnessed climate change. “One of the best ways, right now, to act on climate is to really start talking about it—a lot,” says Wiggin. “To just say this is what I’m feeling; this is what I’m seeing in my neighborhood.” Their goal is for people to share

Sharon Lee | Photographer

their stories through the creation of a public storybank. Once in the storybank, stories will be geotagged to create a visualization of environmental experiences in each specific area. The project is currently ongoing and anyone can contribute by submission through a website, which also features podcasts and blogs on climate change initiatives. One of the major projects that PPEH is currently working on is a symposium on Environmental Storytelling and Virtual Reality, set to take place on the weekend of Nov. 22 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. PPEH worked in partnership with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Cinema and Media Studies Program to host. The symposium will capitalize on the need to educate everyone on climate change and be proactive about the issue, by increasing awareness through virtual reality. As a precursor to the event, on the weeks leading up to the festival, there were four locations around campus where students had the opportunity to try out small–scale virtual reality experiences. Roderick Coover, a Temple professor of film and media arts, designed the different experiences, with the help of poet Nick Montfort and composer Adam Vidiksis. The goal of this project is to give Penn students a vision of campus and the overall Philadelphia area in a future affected by climate change. Using virtual reality as a tool to generate empathy will hopefully give people who participate a more urgent

need to act on this impending problem. Even though each speaker at the 1.5* Climate Lectures has a different background and different visions for the most effective ways to combat climate change, they all agree on one thing— there are many ways in which the University and its students can work to prevent this issue from getting worse. From a travel perspective, Ryerson says that the University and other institutions must take a look at the travel habits of their faculty and staff. It’s important that people think about ways to reduce the impact on travel, such as through the use of video conferencing software. Ryerson agrees that controlling air travel could be difficult, especially for students who are not from the area. However, she encourages students to scrutinize any trip and avoid unnecessary air travel. Vyshnavi offers a different perspective, saying that one of Penn’s primary goals should be to stop its investment in fossil fuel industries. As for steps students can take, Vyshnavi and Wiggin agree—the most important first step is for people to educate themselves and start important conversations on climate change. As Penn students, we have the opportunity to use our resources to both educate ourselves on climate change and communicate the importance of the issue. More than anything, we have a responsibility to urge our university to think about our planet’s future and become a more environmentally responsible institution.


Meet PATRICK TEESE, President of Epsilon Eta

Read on to find out how Patrick stumbled upon his interest in environmentalism. Patrick Teese (C ‘20) is no stranger to Penn’s green community. Hailing from Smithtown, New York he is a member of Epsilon Eta, Beekeeping Club, Urban Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board, and an intern for Penn Sustainability. Penn attracted Patrick because of its highly regarded linguistics program, but during his freshman year, he quickly realized that linguistics was not the right course of study for him. After taking a seminar in the department, Patrick decided that although he found linguistics fascinating, it wasn’t something that he could see himself doing as a career. After sampling a number of courses in different disciplines, he stumbled upon urban studies. “I’m still not entirely sure how that happened, but I really enjoy it and it’s a good way for me to reconcile a lot of interests that I didn’t realize I had and combine them all into one major and one course of study,” says Patrick. The course Cities and Sustainability (URBS–417), taught by Ariel Ben–Amos, sparked Patrick’s interest in environmentalism. “It’s basically a look at the practical realization of sustainability goals,” he says. “I was hooked and I wanted to learn more.” Patrick found Epsilon Eta, or Ep Eta for short, when his friends brought him along to some events in the fall of his sophomore year. Ep Eta is Penn’s co–ed, pre–professional environmental fraternity. “Ep Eta is a group of people across years from a lot of different places doing a lot of different things and it's been nice to be exposed to different ideas and different experiences like that,” says Patrick.

HANNAH GROSS Although he still remains ways to get involved in envibest friends with his freshman ronmentalism and sustainabilyear hallmates, Patrick says he ity and that looks very different was looking to go beyond the for a lot of people,” he says. walls of his dorm, and look for Patrick thinks that individnew communities to join on ual action can be important campus.“I was able to do that to learn about environmental when I sort of happened upon issues and the way that daily acEp Eta,” he says. tions can fuel them. However, Patrick now serves as Co– he adds that “in order to solve President of Ep Eta alongside a lot of the issues that are facSophia Landress (C ‘21). “It’s ing us as a community, be that cool to be involved in the green locally on campus or globally, community at Penn, especially because it’s growing very rapidly and because there’s a lot of cool things going on right now and a lot of impressive initiatives,” he says. Penn’s interconnected green community is a group of people where it’s commonplace for students to belong to multiple Student Sustainability Association at Penn (SSAP) groups. “Being a leader in a group is exciting,” explains Patrick. “But sometimes it also feels like I'm not a leader in a group, because it's a collaborative environment within Ep Eta and within the green community.” Patrick also serves as the unofficial “hive manager” for Beekeeping Club and interns with Penn Sustainability. One of the major projects he worked on as an intern was “Move–In Green” which made sure freshmen disposed of their waste properly on move–in day. He is currently working on an infographic to explain the waste system and waste streams at Penn, so students can find it in a singular document that is easy to understand. For students looking to get involved with environmentalism or sustainability at Penn, Patrick suggests that people try to find out about the different groups that make up SSAP, and see what appeals to them most. “There are so many different

it’s really important to address them on a much larger level.” As fall semester comes to a close and graduation draws ever nearer, Patrick isn’t quite sure what he wants to do next but says he’s interested in getting a job related to sustainability. “I think I’d like to combine [sustainability] with my interests in design and the built environment,”

Kelly Chen | Photographer

he says. “I’m not exactly sure what that will look like but, ultimately, I would like to do something involved with urban design through architecture, landscape architecture, or city planning.”

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DOES ANYONE REALLY KNOW HOW TO RECYCLE? A look at West Philadelphia recycling bins points to room for improvement Sophie Burkholder

On a blustery November Wednesday following homecoming weekend at Penn, the campus sidewalks overflowed with piles, cans, and bags of garbage. Wednesday is collection day for the neighborhood surrounding Penn’s campus, so for those without a landlord or private pick–up service at their residence, hump day is waste day. In kicking their garbage to the curb, those living just west of Penn’s campus have to confront their week’s worth of waste as they set it outside to be whisked away later that day. And after homecoming parties and pre–games and brunches, there’s waste galore. In Philadelphia, garbage collection days are also recycling collection days. So within every small circle of plastic black cans on these sidewalks are spots of blue ones, with the white recycling triangle emblazoned on their sides. College parties should yield all kinds of recyclable waste. Wine bottles, salsa jars, beer cans—all of these items can be recycled according to Philadelphia’s single–stream policy. But there’s a catch. While most containers can be recycled, they need to be thoroughly rinsed of any residue or food contamination, according to Philadelphia rules. Worse yet, a lot of items that people tend to think of as being recyclable—plastic bags, paper towels, styrofoam takeout containers—

actually can’t be recycled at the local plants Philadelphia uses to process waste. And if a recycling bin contains even one item that can’t be recycled, odds are that none of it will be recycled. So how well do Penn students living off–campus and their

Street was plastic bags. In nearly every blue bin were several plastic bags stuffed to the brim with what residents perceived to be recyclable waste. But recyclable or not, by placing this waste in so many plastic bags, all contents of the bin are immediately

respondents feel that their lack of knowledge about recycling might be leading them to recycle incorrectly. Believe it or not, common items that might seem recyclable, like greasy pizza boxes, plastic utensils, or Red Solo cups, can’t be processed in

rendered non–recyclable. Even a perfectly rinsed–out wine bottle doesn’t stand a chance against the wrath of a plastic bag. Poor recycling habits aren’t uncommon across the United States. An April survey from Covanta, a global waste management and incineration company, found that 62% of

Philadelphia. These items, and others like them, are largely non–recyclable either because Philadelphia’s current infrastructure can’t handle the materials they’re made out of or because they have non–recyclable contaminants. Plastic bags, in particular, have the potential to cause damage

Lydia Ko | Illustrator

West Philadelphia neighbors know the drill when it comes to recycling? Based on several photos taken of recycling bins set out for collection last Wednesday, not well at all. The worst offense among photos taken along Spruce Street, Pine Street, Locust Street, Baltimore Avenue, and 41st

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to the machinery in recycling plants, opening the door to increased costs in maintenance and equipment damage. But how does this all fit in to Philadelphia’s waste processing system, and what’s the real impact of improper sorting when it comes to recycling? According to Kyle Lewis, the recycling program director for the Philadelphia Streets Department, “one bad bin can spoil a whole truckload of material.” For example, Lewis says that wet paper or cardboard can’t be recycled by Philadelphia systems. If a bin mistakenly contains liquid waste, when the contents of that bin go into a truck’s trash compactor with the contents of others, they have the potential to contaminate other pieces of perfectly good recyclable materials. The fate of contaminated recyclables is uncertain. Until last spring, Covanta took about half of the city’s recycling and burned it in waste–to–energy incinerators. Now, under the city’s new contract with Waste Management, Lewis says that contaminated recyclables are still picked up by recycling trucks. However, once brought to the Waste Management Material Recovery Facility (MRF), different sorting methods might send that contaminated recycling to a landfill, incinerator, or other form of non–recyclable waste disposal. These uncertainties around


the destination of recycled waste are reflective of a broader recycling crisis in the United States. In January 2018, China, who was one of the world’s biggest processors of recycling, enacted the National Sword Policy—a crackdown on the kinds of materials and contaminated waste the country would accept. Before this new policy went into action, China took in about 70% of the world’s plastic waste, amounting to seven million tons per year. And simply put, when the National Sword Policy went into effect, the United States didn’t have the infrastructure to process its own recycling at anywhere near the same level. James Regan, the Media Relations Director for Covanta, says this is in part what led to Philadelphia’s choice to incinerate some of its recycling at local Covanta incinerators. “China’s crackdown underscored the lack of recycling infrastructure that we have in the United States, and showed that we relied too long on China to deal with this waste.” Lewis agrees, but emphasizes that the city never considered incinerating recyclables as a permanent solution to the crisis. “When China’s policy came out, we were in the middle of winding down a contract,” she says. “And when that contract ended, the vendor increased our recycling rate by 300%.” In the interim of negotiating a better and more affordable contract, Lewis says the city made the hard decision to continue sending well–sorted recycling to MRFs, but to also start sending contaminated materials to Covanta’s incinerators. Now, through the city’s new contract with Waste Management, Lewis says all of Philadelphia’s recycling will be sent to local Waste Management MRFs for sorting and processing at a cost of about $90 to $100 per ton, with incentives built in for reduced contamination. Even though the MRFs contain

magnets, screens, and optical scanners to help sort the single– stream recycling, Lewis says it’s still better for the city if people properly sort their own recycling at home before pick-up. “I like to draw a parallel to the air we breathe,” says Lewis. When residents correctly sort their own recycling, they reduce the chance that their waste will be sent to landfills or waste–to–energy incinerators, which in turn reduces the air pollutants that result from these processing methods. “We want to continue to breathe clean air, and the air that we breathe is not a matter of mine or yours,” she says. “It’s ours. Anybody who throws something away is somebody who can recycle—who needs to recycle.” But for students living in apartment buildings, or through leases with landlords in off–campus housing, there’s not always a need to think closely about their relationships with garbage. Tim Stewart, a leasing agent and specialist for Hamilton Court Apartments, says that residents simply need to take out their trash to the building’s dumpsters. Though the apartment building has both regular garbage and recycling dumpsters, Stewart acknowledges that the choice to recycle is really up to residents. Bill Grove, the Senior Operations Manager for University City Housing, says he thinks the office’s residents are relatively good about maintaining proper recycling habits. He says that their buildings with more than six units are required to have private haulers like Waste Management. “The private haulers let you know if your recycling is fouled by household waste, and we haven’t really heard that from them,” he notes. However, Lucy Corlett (C ‘20) thinks that there’s still a general apathy about recycling and waste pathways among Penn students. After working all summer on a project that examined what she calls "Philadelphia’s waste crisis," she sees a lot of ways people could improve their waste–relat-

ed habits. In her research, Lucy said she spoke to adults who’ve lived in Philadelphia for a long time. “And they’re all perfect recyclers,” she comments. “They see it as a favor they’re doing for a city that they love and care about and identify with.” Sometimes, she thinks there isn’t this same identification with Philadelphia in students coming to college from all over the world. “Even my roommates, who are really kind, woke people, do not recycle properly, and do not attempt to,” Lucy remarks. Though the Philadelphia city website keeps an updated list of recycling rules, and city officials have plans to roll out more public education programs on recycling as part of the new Waste Management contract, there’s a question of whether or not these efforts should be focused elsewhere. Because recycling slowly degrades the quality of the materials it processes, the system serves more as a delay to incineration or landfill disposal, rather than a final solution for most products. The classic “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra often puts the most emphasis on the last of the three actions, and recycling is so often seen as the gateway to other sustainable habits, that few stop to ask the question of how sustainable recycling is itself. “The one thing that the recycling crisis has really shown is that reuse and reduction are really the ignored portion of the waste hierarchy,” Regan says. He sees the best solution to current disparities in recycling knowledge to be reducing the quantity of waste, as opposed to turnovers of infrastructure to process mistakes in waste–sorting. Lucy also thinks that people who are concerned with issues in the recycling pathway should take a look at their own waste production first. Upset last year by the news that some of Philadelphia’s recycling was being sent to incinerators, she decided

to take steps wherever she could in reducing her garbage. She wants people to realize that “it’s not better to buy an iced coffee in a glass bottle than it is to get hot coffee in a wax paper cup, because both of those things end up in the waste pathway.” While waste–to–energy incineration is undoubtedly a better option for disposing of contaminated recyclables than landfills or ocean–dumping is, Lucy knows that the thought of burning waste and producing pollutants is still extremely disturbing. She encourages people to read up consistently on updates to the recycling rules

of Philadelphia, and to do their best to discourage frivolous waste disposal among friends and family. But overall, Lucy, Regan, and Lewis all acknowledge that no progress can be made without group effort. Lucy especially stresses a resistance to packaged materials, and a constant awareness of opportunities to eliminate waste production in daily life. “We need to unlearn our resistance to reuse and our tendencies to produce trash,” she says. “There has to be a cultural revolution around use and waste.”

Live music • Film • Dance • Theater Art Education • Community

Spec-Trum x J&G Presents: SiR ft. Mereba + Elujay Nov 20 2019 @ 8 PM

We are at it again with a legendary collab! SPECTRUM and Jazz & Grooves are happy to announce our Fall Show featuring SiR, Mereba, and Elujay! Student Tickets (w/ PENN ID) $5, Public Tickets $10 Ticketing on Locust Walk starts Nov 12th at 11am. Order online:

The Unity pres. A Beloved Community Concert Nov 22 2019 @ 7 PM The Unity invite you to join us for a Beloved Community Concert designed to embrace our true connections across cultures, ethnicities and diversities as a united force for the care of humanity and our future as a global society. Light Dinner Communion / Good Will Offerings Accepted

Visit: As an alcohol-free/smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides an invaluable social alternative for all ages.

4014 Walnut •

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Living with a Climate Change–Induced

HOPELESSNESS How am I supposed to focus on anything when the threat of climate change hangs over my head? Harshita Gupta

This is not an essay about climate change. It's an essay about futile existentialism— and a little bit about climate change. I’m a researcher in one of the labs in Penn’s Biomedical Research Building. During one of our lab meetings, everyone sat around a table discussing the ethics of genetic editing. Soon, our conversation moved from the inefficacy of educating people about these complicated issues to the problems of climate change. We briefly debated about the unrealistically exponential growth science would have to achieve in order to solve the crisis. To my surprise, all of the older, experienced scientists in the lab looked to the younger members present. They told us they were relieved climate change would be our burden to bear. They ended the meeting by saying, “we’ll all be dead by the time it really becomes a problem." And they’re not exactly wrong—coastal cities will be going under sooner than most, but we can assume Philadelphia still has some time until we’re all knee–deep in water. Throughout the whole discussion, I couldn’t help but think, if this was how respect-

ed scientists were approaching the climate disaster, what could we possibly do about the sudden burden laid at our feet? I can’t deny that it sent me into a deeply anxious spiral for the rest of the day. College students are already facing constant stress. It can be hard to face climate change on top of everything else. Not only is it intimidating to even think about, much less actually solve, but it also makes all the other struggles needed to succeed feel meaningless. Nothing can make the existential crisis hit harder than thinking about the fact that anything we do might be for naught. If our work, our effort, our legacy has no future, it can feel useless to even try. What’s the point of getting jobs and trying to do good in a world that is rapidly burning? Current college students are considered part of Generation Z: between the ages of 15 to 21. We’re one of the most stressed-out generations, worrying about everything from immigration issues to mass shootings. And reports show that Generation Z is “more likely to report mental health conditions than any other generation.” Going hand–in– hand with this, we also report the highest percentage of any

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generation to seek treatment from mental health professionals, with many rating mental health as fair or poor in surveys. I can tell you that it’s difficult to work with a therapist about issues like procrastination, time management, or anxiety when everything is exacerbated by an existential crisis that seems to have no solution. We are disillusioned with the workforce, and with corporate culture, after witnessing other generations fail to move up despite years of hard work or expensive college degrees. Baby boomers keep putting off retirement, making it harder for us to get promising jobs. In the next few years, there will be more unemployed college graduates looking for work than ever before. There will be more workers than available jobs. Sometimes, when I’m cramming for a midterm with the very intention of getting a job I like in the future, I wonder why I’m doing all this work. If the planet warms even two degrees Celsius more, we’re essentially doomed. The United Nations’ estimate giv-

Sofie Praestgaard

ing us 12 years to get it together might be generous. The older researchers in my lab might've have been too optimistic. It's my generation who will literally watch the world melt around us, with climate disaster triggering everything from mass extinctions to global food scarcity. At this point, it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to adapt to climate disaster instead of thinking about the possibility of averting it. Climate change disasters are already happening nearly every week, and sometimes it seems like all we can do is watch. We all have a lot going on. We’re facing obstacles in almost every aspect of our lives, from our mental health to our job prospects. It’s going to take a lot of work and struggle for us to really get anywhere, and it all feels so meaningless when sometimes all I can do during the day is push back thoughts of impending doom.

But there’s a parable I once heard about starfish that I often think about. In the story, a child throws beached starfish back into the ocean to save their lives. An old man comes by and remarks that there is no way the hundreds of starfish on the beach can be saved—“you can’t even begin to make a difference,” he says. And the child throws another one back in and says, “well, it made a difference to that one.” There is a kind of comfort in even the most existential of crises. Even though this is a bit morbid, we’ve always known that we’re all going to die one day. And maybe the climate crisis means that we can’t leave a lasting legacy. But every small fragment of good we put into the world, even a world that is heating beyond control, is meaningful to someone. At the end of the day, these small pieces of hope and human goodness will have to be enough to sustain us.


A CLOSER LOOK AT PENN'S COMPOSTING Where does all that leftover food from the dining halls go? Anya Tullman In most dining halls, students place their empty dishes and half–eaten meals on a conveyor belt, never to see their leftover food again. It’s easy to assume that food is thrown out. But a peek behind the scenes at Penn Dining shows their attempts to decrease food waste. According to Penn Business Services Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea–Kruger, “We’ll Take it From Here” is a program that reduces confusion surrounding what is and is not compostable. Students drop their waste and dishes in the dish drop in dining halls, rather than sorting compostable food waste on their own. In the kitchen, trained employees separate all compostable food waste, recyclables, and trash. “Students used to scrape their plates before,” Lea–Kruger says. “It’s kind of complicated what can and cannot go into the waste stream, so we’ve taken it all behind the scenes.” Penn Dining hired sustainability intern Kelsey Mallon this year to focus on the university’s commitment to composting and recycling in the dining cafes. According to Mallon, these processes vary with each dining hall. In 1920 Commons, Kings Court English College House, Falk, and Joe’s Cafe, a New Jersey organic recycling company called Organic Diversion picks up food waste and distributes it to places that use it as fertilizer, such as pig farms. Hill College House has an aerobic digester which minimizes waste weight by removing the liquid and excreting food waste through pipes as waste water. And at Lauder College House, all food waste goes into a BiobiN where it is then broken down and used as nutrients for soil. “A new freshman on campus

may not know,” Mallon says. “All the Penn dining staff are the ones who deal with the waste because they know our waste program here. That makes sure that there’s the same amount of all the food going into the compost.” Lea–Kruger recognizes that as technology improves, composting practices will change. She says Penn is committed to changing its compost processes so that they will reflect these external advances. Abbey Waugh (C ’20) and Kalyxa Roman (W ’20) are co–chairs of the Climate Reality Project at Penn, a group that works with administrators to advocate for renewable electricity on campus by 2030. They said they felt that Penn should do more to educate students about composting. There is a compost bin behind Harrison College House that students can bring food waste to, but, Abbey and Kalyxa say, many students don’t know it exists. They say that incorporating a climate sector into the college curriculum or adding compost bins on each floor of the dorms are two ways Penn can encourage sustainable practices. “I think Penn can do a lot about literally anything related to the environment,” Kalyxa says. Although she recently started to compost more, Abbey thinks that many Penn students don't because they just don't care enough. She believes that if students were educated about the benefits of composting, the process would become more popular. “I felt like compost got more popular, but I think that I just knew more about it,” Abbey says. “It’s really like you have to make an effort to do it, and if you have to make an effort to do it then people aren’t going to do it unless they care about it.”

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Penn Sustainability introduces the Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0, the latest renewal of the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Penn’s vision was outlined in 2007, when Penn became the first Ivy League signatory to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, resulting in many Accomplishments and the creation of new Goals for the next five years.




400 sustainability related courses offered across various schools


Support cross-disciplinary research between Schools and Academic Centers



30% net reduction of building-related emissions in FY19 compared to FY14

Reduce Penn’s building-related carbon emissions by 40% by 2024



ACCOMPLISHMENT 48% of staff and faculty commute sustainably


Support campus with an efficient, integrated multi-modal transportation system


25+ LEED designated buildings on campus



Increase the procurement of sustainable food products in catering and dining cafes



Since 2015, Penn Purchasing annually recognizes individuals and teams who develop innovative ideas to improve the sustainability of purchasing

Update campus design and management standards



130+ participants in the Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps peer education program

Incorporate sustainability as a formal component of the Wellness at Penn


All new construction & major renovations track & divert 50% of C&D waste


Increase Penn’s overall waste diversion & minimize waste sent to landfill


on progress to date and initiatives going forward, please visit Penn Sustainability: Penn Sustainability

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Profile for 34th Street Magazine



Profile for 34st