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Sustainable SustaINable Living

SustaINable LiVinG

written, photographed,

and edited by Abbey Yacoe

For Ramon Fuentes, Evendira the Innocent, and Jacinto 2

Jacinto Jacinto the goat3

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.� - Terri Swearingen


Table of contents Forward - 6 Introduction - 8 Reduce: Food that is no longer food - 10 Reuse: Hidden Villa organic farm - 16 Recycle: Zanker Road Management Center - 22 Conclusion 26 Works Cited - 28


Foreword The process of writing documentary research paper was one of the hardest I have encountered in my life. Our assignment was handed to us in the typical. Freestyle way. They practically said, “Here are some camera’s, software, and computers, project on whatever you want for the next two months, Go!” To confess, our teachers did provided us with countless hours of feedback, troubleshooting, tech support for crashed computers, and several grateful extensions. But, we were all basically left to our own wits, and I have never been more freaked out. This assignment, though incredibly long, and difficult, did teach me quite a lot. I was frightened about conducting an interview. That fear caused me to delay my interviews for as long as possible, which made me a few weeks behind schedule. I was concerned also that my novice abilities as a photographer would severely hurt the visual quality of my whole project. I admit, I spent far too long thinking about each individual word I put on the word processor to write anything of quality at all, knowing that my words would soon be immortalized in a hard cover book with my name on it. My fear is a great testament to the public education system. The first 11 academic years of my life were spent sitting in a desk of a dimly lit classroom while a Teleprompter talked at me. I can conjugate any verb in Spanish or English, but I clam up when I actually have to use those verbs to ask someone a simple question. Freestyle asks you to learn by doing. They ask you to get up, go out, take photographs, ask the right people the right questions, and when we do it right, the end product is picturesque. We are asked to give more at Freestyle than in a normal classroom, and I am grateful for the rare and frightening opportunity I have been given. I hope you enjoy my documentary.



Introduction In our modern world, things talk to us. Boxes in grocery store aisles boast claims of being low fat, no trans-fat, low-carb, or low-cholesterol. Boxes of “food-like” substances scream nutrition from the shelves. Our cars brag about lightening speed, safety, and reliability. Our phones contain ultra genius technology: 7G Internet speed, with a 1000 Mega Pixel camera. Everything from toilets to trousers begs for our attention, commanding we own it, or be left behind in American society’s never ending quest for more. This dangerous diction leaves us so twisted and turned around, that we no longer know what’s real, and what’s not. Nature and city colliding


When approached with the idea of sustainable living, one might think, ‘It’s not me who is the issue, it’s that gas guzzling Hummer over there.’ While that may have been true at one time, it’s not anymore. With 7 billion people on this planet, what may have been sustainable 50 years ago is certainly not going to fly anymore. Of 7 billion, there are 1.4 billion people whose basic necessities are not being provided for them. Humanity needs to start recognizing what important, and what is not. We need to wake up from our fast cars, our smart phones, and our Captain Crunch, and stop being passive about the dangerous ways our world is changing. We have a moral imperative as human beings to make a change to live our lives more sustainable, and all that’s necessary is to follow a varied version of a mantra you’ve heard all your life. Rduce, reuse recycle

the view from the farm



Food that is no longer food

We must aim to reduce by cutting back on the amount of fossil fuels we consume perpetuating the “Western diet”. Doing so will improve health, and be environmentally sustainable. The best way to reduce the amount of fuel we waste is to make a dramatic change in the way we create food. Americans are no longer of the validity of the food we put in our mouths. Do you know who makes the food you eat? Can you pronounce every ingredient? Do you know how many processes it went through before it reached your mouth? The corn and soy industry has a monopoly over all agricultural business in the United States.  The company most widely known for manufacturing of GMO corn and soy is Monsanto. Monsanto is the world’s expert on Genetically Modified Food, or GMO food.  A GMO is an organism that has been genetically altered to be more profitable, and better suited to its environment.  Every day in the United States, and all around the globe, corn gets bigger, chickens get fatter,

10 American industry


companies like Monsanto get richer Monsanto controls 90 percent of genetically modified foods in the US. If you’ve ever eaten prepackaged food, you’ve eaten a Monsanto Product. The United States was founded on the Laissez Faire ideals, of being able to create business without restriction, but with super corporations like Monsanto taking advantage of the system and trading public health for profit, consumers should be wary of whether what they are producing is what is best for us, or what is best for them. We should be wary of GMO foods because everyday we put these food into our mouths without considering the effects. In the book In Defense of Food, Pollan argues that eating food that has been modified from its natural state can have ill effects.  Humans do not know enough about nature to successfully control what we eat.  This can be seen on the shelves of our grocery stores, and in our own bodies. Americans are “eating a whole lot more, at least 300 more calories a day than we consumed in 1985.  What kind of calories?  Nearly a quarter of these additional calories come from added sugars (and most of that in the form of high-fructose corn syrup); roughly another quarter from added fat… (In Defense of Food Pollan 122).” The result? The majority of Americans are overweight and suffering from “Western” diseases such as Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.



By not giving in to GMO’s, and instead choosing to eat local, or organic foods, we are doing 3 things. First, Americans are saving vast amounts of fossil fuels that would be used to ship GMO’s all over the world. Second, eating local and organic is healthier, because you know what is in your food. Diseases like cancer, or heart disease don’t exist in countries that are still developing, or even in the United States 100 years ago. Lastly, by not allowing GMO foods to take over, we are making a choice not to tamper with nature, and run the risk of GMO species dominating native ones, and to protect the natural biodiversity of our world. The only way to truly be healthy and sustainable is to stop obsessing, stop preserving, stop using fake sugar, low-fat milk, or no car bread, and return to a time when food used to be simple; We need to eat food that comes straight from the soil, in order to reduce the impact we have on this planet.

zero waste attitude 14


Reuse: Hidden Villa organic farm


We must learn to reuse by relying on perpetually renewable resources, and by caring for our measured renewable resources. Hidden Villa is an organic farm in Los Altos Hills that aim’s to do both. Hidden Villa relies on the best renewable resource there is, children. Their main focus is to get education involved with the organic movement, because children are the future. The key to changing the world in any way is simple, get children involved and teach them early.  “Our mission is to inspire a just and sustainable future through our programs, land and legacy (Hidden Villa).” Sophia Stephens, an 18 years old high school student, is a perfect example of the benefits of teaching children to live sustainably. She remembers visiting Hidden Villa as a child, and has worked there for the past few years as an assistant to the animal husbandry manager.

a nice little scarecrow at Hidden Villa

“I was interested in sustainable agriculture, and since I know what hidden villa is like, and have been there before…and I really like animals and gardening … I thought it would be really fun to work there and help there (Stephens).”


Hidden Villa runs a sustainable business, providing summer camps to teach young children, school programs, programs for teens, and opportunities for teens such as Sophia to volunteer on the farm, and raise animals. Hidden Villa makes money to provide these services to children by growing and selling 100 percent organic plants and animals to local markets.

18 farm patch at Hidden Villa

`Hidden Villa practices sustainable agriculture, such as pasture rotation, animal rotation, providing open space, and healthy food. “There’s organic farming, but more importantly, there is free range farming. All you need to do to make a chicken organic is feed it the organic pellets. The chicken can still be in a cage, and just fed the organic pellets, and still be considered organic…The chickens at Hidden Villa are free range, and live outside, and eat organic food… they have movable chicken coops … so they can graze in different areas, you know they eat bugs and stuff (Stephens).” Treating animals this way is not only humane, but it’s beneficial to the environment, and it turns Hidden Villa into a completely sustainable ecosystem. Allowing the animals to move gives them fresh grass, suppresses the buildup of parasites and disease, and keeps pastures healthy by fertilizing the soil, and killing bugs. By not keeping animals packed in dense coops, Hidden Villa is dramatically improving the quality of life for many birds “When farm animals are kept in dense populations, they have a poor quality of life and can have a very harmful effect on the health of the environment. As density increases, these negative effects undergo exponential growth…we make sure that we keep our animal populations at a level that adds to our efficiency while maintaining a high quality of life and a beneficial effect on the environment. (Hidden Villa)” Sophia has taken all that she has learned from working at Hidden Villa, and started practicing her own sustainable agriculture at home. “Basically, we moved here, and then a few years later we decided to get some goats and chickens and a donkey, because we live up here, and there’s property and open space. The donkey, we actually got because in South America they use donkeys to protect their livestock, because the donkey makes a really loud noise, which is actually really loud and it kind of scares people sometimes (Stephens).” Sophia raises the chickens for eggs, and the goats for milk and cheese, and the donkey as a pesticide against mountain lions. The chickens and goat are the family lawnmower, and the donkey, the entertainment system. The Stephens’ families’ sustainable practice allows them to obtain a large part of their diet from their backyard, instead of from halfway across the country. a chicken!



Ramon Fuentes




Zanker Road Management Center

Recycling is the practice of taking what we’ve already produced, and simply, use it again. The concept is popular among “Western” nations because it’s an easy way to “give back” without actually reducing consumption of resources. When I say recycling, I do not mean encouraging people to throw away plastic bottles in little blue bins, because melting down cans and bottles

compost piles to recycle waste to make new raw materials is costly, and requires a lot of non-renewable resources.I am referring to taking items we already have, and finding ways to use them again without using a significant amount of energy to alter its physical composition


Zanker Road Resource Management Center specializes on taking old household materials, and recycling them. “At our facility… on average we recycle 80-90%. We actually have a really good recycling rate. We specialize, that is our job here, to reduce what were taking in,” says William Lineberry, and environmental engineering assistant. “Most people consider recyclables like only certain things can be recycled like plastics, but what were trying to do is to find a way to recycle everything.” For example, more compost! they take concrete and turn it into gravel, or utility sand. Then Zanker sells it back to people for a profit. For example, if a company demolishes a house, they brink the waste to Zanker, and pay for them to take it. They then sort the waste and could potentially sell back the same materials to the company that gave it to them in the first place. Old, broken down concrete can be crushed and used as sand in a construction project. The possibilities are limitless, because all of the same components present in the new house, can be found in the rubble of the old.



Zanker works find new markets for materials that would ordinarily end up in a landfill. “A cool story is one of our marketing managers, for the longest time we would stockpile old toilets. It’s hard to get rid of toilets; they’re banged up and dirty. He actually found a gentleman in the bay area, who takes porcelain used toilets, smashes them up, and makes decorative tile and redo’s bathrooms with it. (Lineberry)”Even toilets, (the last thing someone would potentially want to buy heavily used) they can find a use for, and save that many things from ending up as toxic waste in a landfill. Zanker Road Resource Management was purchased on the site of an old landfill. Part of Lineberry’s job is to restore the land that would have potentially been used as a landfill had they not recycled all those household products. “We recently just helped to restore 3 acres of wetlands…the original owners buried some garbage out in some wetland areas, and no plants were growing. So we went out and excavated, backfilled it with clean native soil and planted about 10,000 plants (Lineberry).” Area that was once used to decompose garbage is now being recycled into a habitat where a natural wetland ecosystem can develop. The best part about recycling old products is that companies like Zanker actually benefit from it. Instead of collecting and burying the product, and any potential worth the materials may have had, recycling allows companies to turn around and re-sell materials just sold to them. restoring land 25

Conclusion It’s often easy for American culture to be passive towards foreign ideas. The mindset, ‘unless it is front line news, I do not care, and if it is front line news, somebody else will deal with it’ is the biggest battle in the argument towards sustainable living. The problem with sustainable agriculture is that it is probably not necessary to enact for the survival of the human race. We probably will find alternative methods of producing/ safely consuming GMO foods. We will probably find our modern world methods that will allow us to export these crops to foreign countries for a profit. In 50 years, much of our food will probably still exist in single serving packaging, as much as we would like to pretend we would be picking ourselves in a field of flower and sunshine. But, at what cost?


a friendly scarecrow Ask yourself, is it important to you to for your children to grow up in a world where food is grown in the soil, not engineered in a laboratory. Will it be all right with you that your tomato flew across two continents to reach your dinner plate, or that the chicken you’re eating spent its life in a cage, getting pumped with antibiotics for your eating pleasure? Is it an issue with you that everyday our food is turning into something less and less like food, and more and more into an unfamiliar “food like” substance? It’s true, there are wars, and cancer, and obesity threatening to destroy our world everyday. One could argue that that is more important than fresh produce. Our food industry is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for mass growing and shipping, but by eating only organic, local agriculture, we could drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and potentially end much of American conflict in the Middle East over oil. By eating non-modified organic foods, and eating in moderation, we could drastically reduce cancer, obesity and heart disease, the leading causes of death in the United States, and many other “Western Diseases” brought on by our addiction to High-fructose corn syrup. Living sustainably is a choice. It is a choice we can choose to avoid. We can allow our “food like” substances to talk for us, and companies like Monsanto to further take over the family farm, and the dinner table in one swoop. We can ignore the 1.4 billion people who go hungry everyday because of our costly habits. Or, we can make the choice. We can choose to reduce the amount of non-renewable resources we use, reuse resources that are renewable, and recycle what we already have to get the most out of everything we touch. We have a moral imperative as human to act. Make the choice.


Works cited “Are Brainless Chickens the Solution to Animal Cruelty?” News, Lifestyle, and Social Action on TakePart. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>. “Hidden Villa - Organic Farming, Wilderness, Environmental Education, Summer Camp, and Community Programs.” Hidden Villa. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <>. Food Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. Magnolia Pictures, 2008. DVD. LineBerry, William. Personal interview. 22 Mar. 2012 Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print. Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print. Pringle, Peter. Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--the Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Google Books. Web. Stephens, Sophia. Personal interview. 25 Mar. 2012 “Undesired Consequences of the Industrial Food Complex.” Rainforest Action Network. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <>. 28


“Do Less, with Less”



written, photographed, and edited by Abbey Yacoe SustaINable Living Sustainable Living For Ramon Fuentes, Evendira the Innocent, and Jacinto...


written, photographed, and edited by Abbey Yacoe SustaINable Living Sustainable Living For Ramon Fuentes, Evendira the Innocent, and Jacinto...