Category Archives: College Life

Economy, oil spill and applications

I can’t quite remember how many jobs I’ve applied for now, but it’s well into the double digits.

I’ve received automatic HR emails from two, and nothing from the rest (well, except a rejection from one). It’s hard to keep writing about how great I am with such dismal results so far, although I’m surprised to still come across jobs at organizations that are doing wonderful things for Wisconsin’s environment and citizens. I hope one of them lets me help out! And give me benefits…..

What else is going on in my life aside from editing and re-editing my resume and drafting cover letters?

Well.

– On Tuesday I had a can of garbanzo beans with salad dressing for lunch. Delicious.

– I’m also in the beginning stages of training for a half marathon (as promised!). I’m really excited about this free, healthy excuse to be outdoors – daily!

– Yesterday, an enviro-friend and I re-committed ourselves to sticking to this guide for sustainable fish- dining after a guilt-ridden spicy tuna roll. It was delicious, but my enjoyment was tainted by my free-riding, sad, species-endangering conscience. Anyway, here’s the link. use it. (And read more food suggestions here.) In addition to this, I’m also going to try to cut out Styrofoam completely. Here are some facts about why it’s pretty bad for the environment, or you can take my word for it!

Finally, the oil spill has been on my mind a lot. Ugh, it’s just so sad. I don’t want to ruin everyone’s day by discussing it too extensively, although this is a GREAT reflection on that matter, but here is something interesting that Sam found:

As of March 19, 2009, for the first time, Gallup found that Americans were more concerned with the economy than they were with the environment. (Click on the image for the full article)

However, as of May 27, 2010, the Oil Spill seems to have changed this.

Way to look on the bright side in a bad, bad, bad situation! Have a look at this!

This is why we should keep talking about it (here’s an interesting way to do so, thanks to my friends at Clean Wisconsin for the link), ignoring every single thing Sarah Palin ever says, and promoting clean, renewable energy.

But actually, right now!

(ideas: letter to the editor, call your legislator, write Obama!)

Optimistically yours,

Jenny

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Biking is awesome

After a few bad car accidents, I’ve had the mentality that everyone behind the wheel of a car is trying to kill me.

However, after finally getting out on a bike a few times in the past couple days, I’ve loved it.

It makes me really excited to get over the butt-hurting phase and just get out an go: no over-heated car, no stopping at the pump. No better way to enjoy a beautiful day!

Anyway, I’m sorry for the blogs of lacking substance the past couple days. It’s been a whirlwind of studying, exam taking, saying goodbye, wishing I had more time with new friends, and being sad to leave old ones.

I’m leaving tomorrow and I haven’t so much as unzipped a suitcase to begin packing. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually might really miss it here.

Ok well, last night out on State Street tonight!

Cheers to all the other graduates and happy summertime,

Jenny

Almost there

My friend just turned to me and said, “Jenny, in 7 hours you’re done with college.”

Wow, that’s weird.

Studying economics has sucked these past few days, but when else in life will I be able to set aside 3 days straight (or 4 years… well 17 years) that are only meant for learning (and drinking copious amounts of….er, coffee)?

Anyway, I’ll have the exam and then celebrations tonight.

More reflective post to come tomorrow.

Be well,

Jenny

Also, this is funny:

Simple Pleasures- College Edition

There’s one week left of school (finals week), and then I will load up the car and move out of Madison.

This means that I’m wearing nothing but dirty laundry, I haven’t eaten any raw produce in I can’t remember how long, I never sleep (because during the week I’m studying and on the weekend I’m partying), and the only exercise I get is walking to class. Life is kind of pathetic in a hardcore kind of way.

Well, or just pathetic.

Tonight on the way home from studying (yes, it’s Saturday) Adi and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for her next baking miracle (check out her blog!) and we each bought an apple. It was awesome.

On the way home, we made a list of simple pleasures- the kind that you never really know how great they are until you go to college.

Enjoy, and then add some of your own.

  1. Sit down restaurants
  2. The first day that’s 40 degrees after winter and people are so excited they wear shorts
  3. The smell of the apartment when someone cooks or bakes
  4. An unexpected ‘A’
  5. Care packages
  6. Free beer
  7. Free anything
  8. Seeing puppies and babies
  9. Meeting boys in class, not at bars
  10. The first outdoor farmers’ market of the season
  11. Birthday shots
  12. The decision to be done working for the night
  13. Changing into pajamas after walking home from class on a rainy day
  14. Going back to bed after an early morning lecture
  15. Non-cumulative finals
  16. A lecture that applies to your life, not just the class
  17. Sitting on Bascom
  18. Clean sheets
  19. Nights out that end up being unexpectedly wild
  20. Girly music
  21. Eating dinner on the roof
  22. Thanksgiving break
  23. Good haircuts
  24. Das Boot
  25. Flowers
  26. Going somewhere that is not in walking distance
  27. Halloween costumes
  28. Class-is-canceled emails
  29. The times that studying is “nice”
  30. Appreciating that Madison is actually really pretty
  31. Margarita nights
  32. Your first apartment when you don’t have to wear flip-flops in the shower like at the dorms
  33. Game days when everyone on State Street is wearing red
  34. Free Chipotle on Halloween
  35. Parents in town = free dinner
  36. Discovering an awesome new song
  37. The walk home from your last final
  38. Finding a new study spot
  39. Cleverly-titled wireless >>>>
  40. A stocked pantry after grocery shopping
  41. Lighting candles
  42. Someone telling you that you look skinny/pretty/something other than tired
  43. Playing flip cup at bars
  44. Ice cream on the first warm day
  45. Texts from last night, stumble upon, facebook

46. Eating apples.

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The Great Teacher Thank-off

Today was my last day of 17 years of class.

Of all the influences on my life over the last 17 years, I think my teachers have been some of the best and most under-appreciated. Its hard for me to imagine as dedicated of humans anywhere as the teachers I had in high school, and I know I would not be the same person without their commitment, patience, intelligence and inspiration. The first few years of college with 400-person lectures was a tough transition as a result, but even in college, there have been some truly outstanding role models that deserve my accolades and appreciation.

They may never see this, but they deserve a thank you.

Here is a list of all my favorite teachers.

To you I have to say: Thanks a million!

(Also, since I’ve been a really lucky person, this is going to take a while)

Miss LaBelle, 3rd and 4th grade- (I wonder what your name is now) I bet you weren’t more than two years older than I am now when I had you in 3rd and 4th grade. The fact that I have so many, and such fond memories from your class says something about your ability to get kids excited about learning. I still remember how proud I was when I learned how to spell ‘hypothermia’ and ‘very’ (not, “vary”). I also remember the day I attempted to show the class that I could make a parallelogram with only 2 sides. Anyway, what’s most vivid is the brightness of your smile and how eagerly my friends and I sought that smile and your approval.

Mr. Stuckey, 5th grade- I think you taught me how to read. I have the most scattered memories from your class (somethings about Oconomowok, the million dollar song, a picnic at Oak Park…?), but I remember you had ultra enthusiasm and ultra patience and I remember that you got really excited about finding cool new ways for us to learn. That was awesome.

Mr. Kendrick, 7-8th grade English- I really, really hated you at first. Diagramming sentences – that sucked. But you taught me my most valuable skill and truly instilled a passion for writing that I still carry today. I will never forget your flawless 5 paragraph essay approach, or the way you pushed and pushed us until we got it. I remember wondering why a person as smart as you would spend all your time with 7th graders, but now I know why… because you’re really good at it!

Mrs. Blankenship, 7-8th grade Geography- I remember that you did a good job explaining serious world issues, even for junior highers. I remember you trying to explain the meaning of what had just happened on 9/11. On top of these important lessons, you were fun (remember when I wore your sparkly boots?) and I still remember a lot of foundational information about the world from your class. And, not that many people know where Djibouti is, so that’s cool too.

Mr. Redmond, 9th grade Debate- you are engaging, fun, confidence-instilling and it’s no surprise that everyone wants to be in your class. Thank you for your criticism and confidence.

Mrs. Divinski, 10th grade Biology- I hope someday I know about something to the extent that you know about biology. Your knowledge and passion for biology was inspirational, and the fact that you made me, the most un-scientific person, interested in majoring in biology says a lot. Aside from those damn drosophila flies, your class was really awesome. Thanks for making learning so fun.

Mrs. Keekley, 10-12th grade journalism/newspaper- Mama Keeks, the words I’m about to write will not express how much I owe to you. I already know it. You were easily the most influential teach I’ve ever had. Your passion, enthusiasm, expectations of us, and support for us… even when we were being annoying 16 year olds, was memorable and touching to say the least. Thank you so much for dedicating your time and last nerve to us and the paper… we’re all better people and writers because of it.

Mr. Ahlquist, 11th grade Algebra- the fact that I didn’t dread going to math class all day long when you were my teacher says a lot. You’re fun, engaging, and make math fun (well, as fun as it could be). Thanks for your patience, encouragement, and for not taking things too seriously, it was refreshing.

Mrs. Budolfson, 12th grade Biology- I really admired you. You’re pretty, smart, happy, and made it “cool” to learn biology.

Jeremy Rhiele, HS Guidance Counselor- I’m so happy I got the opportunity to know you. You have amazing insights that I will not soon forget. Thank you for being someone who is not afraid to bring up difficult or emotional topics – it’s refreshing and insightful. I think I’ve carried many lessons I learned from you into college and will continue to do so.

Jeff Judge, 2nd semester Spanish- You were the relief to my worst semester of college. It was so hard to be home while all my friends were away at school, and there was that car accident and my grandma’s funeral… but there you were everyday and you were so bright and really brought our class of really diverse people together as friends. You have such a talent for teaching and your laid back, fun, and down to earth personality is memorable and effective. Muchas gracias por compartiendo tu talento conmigo.

Jack Kloppenberg, Environmental Studies, and Food, Culture and Society- Jack, You are easily my most memorable professor of college. 112 literally changed my life and completely redirected my academic focus. Your passion is contagious and your message is clear. Thank you so much for teaching in such an unadulterated way. You have so much to give and I feel so lucky to have learned from you!

Liz Mills, Environmental Studies TA- Liz, you took what Jack shared and applied it to all our lives. You took the time to make comments, challenge, and pose topics in a way that I’d never thought of them before. Thank you for being the first in college to write me a recommendation when I was so unsure of myself, and also for recognizing the revelations I had that semester. You and Jack really had a big impact on me.

Amos, Susan, and Andrea, SIW- You guys showed me that when you want something you gotta go get it. I learned a lot about journalism, politics, and life last spring. Thanks for challenging me and for your your sacrifices and your friendship. What an awesome opportunity that was!

Cal DeWitt, Ecology- Cal, what a joy it was to be in your class. Your “we are they” concept is so important and your message is so simple, it’s contagious. Thank you for your positive, welcoming and warm attitude. You have no idea how much a college student appreciates fresh banana bread at their professor’s house… that was so awesome. I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to learn from you and thank you for making us laugh when we were stressed beyond belief. You’re really good at that, among many, many other things!

Jack Williams, Paleoclimatology- Coming from someone who is horrible at science and was expecting to snooze through your class… I was blown away! You made complex scientific concepts interesting, relevant, easy to understand and even captivating. Thank you for finally providing me with a good understanding of the issue I thought knew so much about.

Bill Cronon, Environmental History- Your class was outstanding. American Environmental History was so interesting and enlightening. Thank you for the captive final lecture, it really redirected my perspectives on how the past affects the future, and where to go from here. I was SO lucky to get to take your class, it’s really a life-changer.

Samuel Pratch, Ecology TA- Samuel thank you for challenging us and asking difficult questions… and waiting as long as it took to get an answer. Redefining “nature” was important for all of us, and your perspectives were profound and memorable. Thank you for being so positive and forcing us all to challenge our own ideals.

Sue Zaeske, Rhetoric- I think your class was the hardest one I took in college, and I have never been so proud of a grade! My writing improved dramatically over the course of one semester. Thank you for having such high expectations and for being a good enough of a teacher to show me how to a meet them. It was so wonderful to be in your class and I really look up to you.

Harvey Jacobs, Free Market Environmentalism- This class was so compelling. You were so helpful in making us really, REALLY know our projects and come to understand the topic… not only for our presentation, but to be applied to the real world. Thank you for posing the questions you did, and for forcing us to face our fears of public speaking. I learned a lot from you, and thank you! It was a wonderful way to end college.

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Blogathon 2010: I think they made it for me

Here’s the thing.

I’m really busy.

So, when I read on twitter about this year’s Blogathon where you post everyday for a month, I was skeptical. This month I will do many things, some of which include:

  1. Attend my last classes, study and take my last exams, procrastinate on my last papers, and stress about my grades for the last time.
  2. Then I will graduate from college.
  3. I will move out of my apartment and…..drum roll…. back into my Mom’s house!!!
  4. I will search for jobs, and hope that I’ll find something challenging, socially progressive, and meaningful – that I happen to be good at.
  5. I will learn what it’s like to be in a long-distance normal relationship. (For the first time in 4 years.)
  6. Maybe I’ll even stop living like a college student (i.e. eat foods that cost more than $0.80 per serving, drink only on weekends less, have an income, have a vacuum, and exercise.)

On top of my busy schedule of turning my whole life upside down, this blog is usually reserved for environment-related thoughts. How will that work? How am I supposed to write about the environment everyday for a month?

Madison is pretty nice these days.

But then, when I thought about it, I realized that, A. it might be really cool to have a record of all those things and, B. how could I worry about writing about the environment for a month when I want to write about the environment for a living?

So here I am.

These posts may end up being a little more on the “personal side” of the blogging spectrum than you’re used to if you’re a Welcome to the Good Life regular (I’m not sure if those exist). But I’m pretty sure I’ll work in “being green” somehow because, well, it’s really important to me.

Anyway, it’s 8:59 in the morning and I literally just heard a loud, “WA-HOOOO!!” from outside of my window. Why, you ask?

Today is the Mifflin Street Block Party in Madison. It’s where everyone wakes up at 7 a.m. to start drinking, makes their way to Mifflin Street, and then…. no one really knows from there. Since I traveled so much this semester, I’m excited to just be in town for an “I go to college at Madison” type event. I know, I’m running a little late, but the taste of toothpaste and Bud Light don’t go well together, so I’m holding off for a while.

So yeah, that’s the deal. I am excited about this challenge, and I am excited to see how I feel about life when June 1 rolls around and it’s all different.

Happy Saturday and stop back tomorrow!

-Jenny

Oh, and here’s the list of the other bloggers who are participating. Check em out! (Or, type #Blog2010 into the search on Twitter).

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Stuff.

We use too much of it.

What a boring lead to a story. But it’s true.

And, hate to say it, but I never quite realized how much it’s true until I ran out of money recently (remember, I’m a senior in college) and noticed just how much stuff I’m accustomed to buying.

I feel like I’ve been deceiving you all by saying how careful I am with purchasing. Because I am. Well, er, was. Well, I thought I was.

For example:

I'm so sneaky.

I might bring my own cup to the coffee shop, but accept a Styrofoam container at lunch because that’s all there was.

I might use a cloth bag at the grocery store but stop and get ice cream in one of those little paper cups with those little plastic spoons and those little paper napkins. (Note: this picture <<< is the trash from one day ONE DAY at red mango fo-yo shop.)

“Because that’s all there was.” Hm, I don’t think I like that anymore. I hate to see all that stuff get used by anyone, but I really hate to see some of it get used by me.

I think this realization will make it easier for me to do a few things:

#1, and perhaps most notably, spend boatloads less money. Since I stopped carrying my wallet, I’ve brought tea to class, made breakfastlunchanddinner, not spent exorbitant amounts in coffee shops because I went in with my laptop and good intentions (i.e. coffee, black) but gave in (i.e. medium iced soy mocha), drank less alcohol, not bought little things (nail polish at Walmart, cool pen at book store, cute little notebook at cute little gift store, worthless piece of [colorful] plastic crap at the dollar spot at target), ETC.

#2, gotten angry about the fact that I did these things, and started to do something about it. Ever since I read this earth day post about our impact (consumer demand) on stores (supply), it’s really had me thinking. And now, speaking up.

Have a read:

…But if you, a customer, request a change?

Businesses will listen. Especially if there is more than one of you.

Vote with your dollar. You have more power than you think.

Ask why the business is still using incandescent bulbs when there are $1 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs at Ace Hardware down the street. Ask why the faucet in the restroom pours water out faster than Niagra Falls when low-flow aerators cost about $5. Ask why coffee comes in styrofoam cups when paper cups are used at every Starbucks and Caribou. Ask why the air conditioning is set at 55 when the door is left hanging open. And ask if you can turn the temperature back to 70. Pay attention, and speak up. Write letters, write comments, write letters to the editor, ask to see the manager, and threaten to take your business elsewhere — somewhere that you like the way things are being run.

Tell the business you love what they do and want to continue to be a valued customer. And then proceed to be a pain in the ass. I don’t like to do it, either. But trust me. It works. Business decision makers remember you, and roll their eyes, and eventually change their minds. Because any business that doesn’t serve a customer or a need isn’t going to survive.

When you find a business that does it right, tell every other business you visit about it. Name names. Shame your favorite business into action.

Because we are Americans. We are ego-driven. And we don’t like to be told what to do by anyone without a dollar bill.

#3. Noticed Greenwashing. I’ve learned (and really, it sucks it took me so long to realize it), that there’s a difference between greenwashing, making a “green choice,” and “being green.”

Greenwashing, which according to greenwashingindex.com, is, “when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.” And it’s EVERYWHERE. Read on:

…A classic example might be an energy company that runs an advertising campaign touting a “green” technology they’re working on — but that “green” technology represents only a sliver of the company’s otherwise not-so-green business, or may be marketed on the heels of an oil spill or plant explosion.

Or a hotel chain that calls itself “green” because it allows guests to choose to sleep on the same sheets and reuse towels, but actually does very little to save water and energy where it counts — on its grounds, with its appliances and lighting, in its kitchens and with its vehicle fleet.

Or a bank that’s suddenly “green” because you can conduct your finances online, or a grocery store that’s “green” because they’ll take back your plastic grocery bags, or …

You get the picture.

– “Making a green choice” might mean choosing the organic cotton or bananas or “now less packaging” lotion, when really you could have gone without these things in the first place (refrain from buying the shirt, choose a more seasonal fruit, made homemade lotion!). Don’t get me wrong, green choices are generally good ones, but I would challenge you (as I have just learned, but kind of by accident) to consider whether there’s a greener one…

– “Being green” might mean finding a recipe for my own household cleaner, cooking my own food, carrying a container and fork and cup so I don’t have to accept all those throw-aways (even if it is paper, not Styrofoam). In this context, being green kinda means being cheap. And we could all use some of that. (Especially me.)

So, here’s to less stuff and saving the money for something that won’t be thrown away in 5 minutes, or 5 uses.

Frugally,

-Jenny

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Feet on the ground.

I’ve really missed blogging.

Maybe the reason for my absence is that I don’t know what to say. My travels have underscored this whole semester and somehow college, new acquaintances, old friends, new cities, classes, my job, my brain, some books… they’ve all had a large role in putting such interesting and idealistic things into my head. Maybe I haven’t blogged because I’m scared that if I share them they’ll seem silly or unattainable. Or maybe it’s because I’ve really only been on one flight with wifi? What’s up with that?

Right now I think it’s because I’m just scatterbrained and can’t form complete thoughts.

College is coming to a close – it’s time to form complete thoughts. (Maybe even for a living?)

I’ll try to break it down.

First of all, I have traveled more this semester than any other time in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to come and go to DC (3 times), Boston, Minneapolis, L.A. (3 times), Michigan, Singapore (!) and Malaysia (!), and of course, Madison. Looking back, it seems like too much and not enough. (Here’s a sample.)

It’s too much because all the airports, waiting, taxis, waiting, expensive food, guilt about carbon emissions, missing my senior year in Madison, waiting, and always saying hello/goodbye is exhausting and expensive.

On the other hand, it has not been enough. I have a gift of such incredible freedom to go anywhere, and where have I gone? Why haven’t I been more places? When will I go? How could I possibly complain?

Despite this concern, I have dedicated myself to keeping my feet on the ground for a while, and I’m happy about that. Before I get into this, maybe I’ll get into what traveling has meant for me.

Travel has given me independence. It has taught me problem solving, patience, ability to make conversation, ability to ask for help. It has taken me some places to see something new, and others to see nothing new. I have had some of my best thoughts while sitting on an airplane or after I’d missed a connection and had four hours to kill and $2.50 to spend. It’s been both exciting and exhausting.

While I’ll probably make a few more trips before my flight benefits end later this year, here’s why I’m excited to stay put.

I’m excited to really get to know one place. I want to go on bike rides, figure out the bus system, find the best restaurants and farmers’ markets, and make a community. I want to be involved with something that matters there – not just watch and admire others who are.

I want to bike to work, and jog in the morning and pack a lunch (without it getting taken by TSA).

So, because of all those things, it’s goodbye to weekly traveling for now and hello to the rest of the semester, blogging, applying for jobs, saving money, and trying to live as close to no impact as I can to make up for it all.

This may seem less exciting to many than all the traveling, but I’m REALLY excited about this.

Here’s to 3 weeks in Madison!

-Jenny

p.s. It’s Earth Week. What are you guys doing for it??

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Keeping things in perspective

Guess what?

Today I found out that I FAILED MY FIRST EXAM OF COLLEGE. 36 out of 78. Officially. Failing.

It was in econ. There are no excuses for this poor display of academic ability and dedication, but after 4 years of humanities and social science-type learning, my brain doesn’t do too well in econ language.

But I know, no excuses.

On one hand, this was very saddening news that made me question my intelligence and commitment.

Ok that’s a lie. It really only made me freak out, because if I fail econ this semester I don’t graduate this semester!!

But I’m not gonna fail econ.

So, on the other hand (the better hand), I’ll just be a little happy that I waited until the second semester of my senior year to fail an exam. Maybe it’s because of all this —->

No, it’s not.

It was because lately, I am really focused on post-graduation and the exciting life I have ahead of me instead of studying for silly things like econ exams.

So, in order to get all this non-studying excitement out of my system, I’ve decided to make a list of exciting things that I hope happen in my life.

It’ll just be right here on the Internet me to check back on anytime I need to, and THEN maybe I can concentrate on school a little better.

K. here goes:

1. Graduate college

2. Attend my sister’s graduation and wedding (!!!) in LA this summer (**Edit** and Go to Vegas for the Bach party!)

3. Train for and run a 1/2 marathon with my Dad and my sister

4. Go to Ecuador (hopefully with my friend Andrea) doing some sort of conservation volunteering

5. Bike from Minneapolis to Duluth and back with my friend Allegra (and meet cool people in the process)

6. …buy a bike?

7. Apply for jobs and don’t accept one I’m not excited about

8. Continue to develop my blog and online “brand” (and do interesting things with my life so I have something worthwhile to share)

9. Go to Asia for spring break

10. Live life without owning a car until I have children

Tonight's creation

11. Cook a lot, and become a wonderful culinarian like my MOM!

Ok that’s good for now.

Homework time.

oh, one more thing, would you mind logging on to http://www.facebook.com/cleanwisconsin and click “become a fan.” This is where I’m interning this semester, and trust me, Clean Wisconsin is up to a lot of cool stuff you wanna know about!!

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I had an article published!

It’s about the meat we eat. I think it’s really important – but you probably already know that about me if you read this blog.

Enjoy (and sorry for my long absence. I’m coming back… soon… with a vengeance!)

-Jenny

Make your meals meatless

Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can help our health and the environment.

By Jenny Lynes

The Green Room

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Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010

“Help stop violence?”

“Not today,” you said.

Gruesome images of upside-down, bloody, feces-stained cows litter animal rights and environmental literature. They’re on the pamphlets you’ve rejected on State Street, too.

It’s disconcerting to read studies about the negative effects of red meat and belching cows ruining the atmosphere, to be sure. Still, surprisingly little of it actually translates to a change when we’re standing in the lunch line. The answer to why most of us don’t oblige and cut down? Simple: Meat tastes good.

Though I won’t deny an occasional urge for my favorite sausage-filled breakfast sandwich, I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in cutting out meat to improve my health and help out the environment. So what did it take?

For me, it wasn’t until I left my urban home to work on a small family farm in Maine and asked the farmer what he thought about “industrial meat” that I realized how simple the choice really is. “I would never eat that shit,” he said. That pretty much settled it.

Don’t get me wrong––the farmer and I shared plenty of eggs (fresh from the coup) and bacon (formerly known as Napoleon the pig). But as I learned more about the implications of mass-produced, machinelike treatment of animals, I learned that most of the meat I’d been eating away from the farm was a product of a disgusting, unethical and dangerous industry that wreaks havoc on our land, water, air and health. Did you know that the chickens to be served at KFC are fed and raised in a manner that they reach physical maturity in just over one month? Count me out.

Let’s put animals aside, though, and first consider the implications for our own bodies. There was a time when eating meat was considered a treat. Now, it’s not unheard of to have it in three meals a day. Need protein, you say? Americans currently consume around 110 grams of it a day, which is roughly double the government’s recommended intake. In fact, new research has shown that high consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease, as much as 50 percent among women. This type of diet also increases our chances for diabetes, and the rates have sharply increased since 1980 to prove it. Don’t worry too much though, there’s still time to prevent it simply by replacing some meat eating with plant-based foods.

Americans spend about $147 billion annually on preventable illnesses related to food choices: obesity, salmonella outbreaks, diabetes and heart complications. This, paired with astounding hormone influxes and antibiotic resistance thanks to the manner in which it is produced, results in a big headache for the health sector. All the while, the meat industry is encouraged to expand because of better sales than ever before.

While there are scary implications of mass-produced mystery meat (read: McDonald’s), it’s not that all meat is bad for you. But, we must consider if we want to support such practices and realize that we often do so at the expense of putting something healthier into our bodies.
Onto the environment. Since pigs, for one, produce about four times the amount of waste a human does, you can only imagine what happens with literally millions of pounds of feces created daily––it leaves the feedlots with a one-way ticket into our streams and rivers, polluting our air on its way. On top of this pollution, the industry contributes huge amounts of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

However, these are preventable problems. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week, the effect would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. While I have determined that the quality of industrial meat is unsatisfactory for my preferences, I realize that is personal. One thing that isn’t: our responsibility to be informed and choose to take steps to help preserve the resources on this planet for those who will come after us.

My overall-wearing, milking, chicken-feeding days have ended, and I’ve resumed my Madison residence for now, but I remain happy and confident with my decision to give up meat unless I know where and how it was raised.

While I don’t believe everyone has to take this step, I do think the message is clear––we need to change the way we eat. I propose that we all eat much, much less meat than we tend to currently. My challenge for Madison is to include it once every other day for now––but I think you’ll see, as I did, that a life with meat as a treat is surprisingly pleasing.

Jenny Lynes is a contributor to The Green Room. Please send all responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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