Written by Chloe Ortiz, Undergrad Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow

Welcome back to the Cool Block journey! Just as a reminder, Cool Block is an empowerment program that utilizes neighborhood relationships to focus on: disaster resiliency, livability, carbon reduction, water stewardship, and empowering others. Last month, our UCSB & UCI student teams tackled energy and disaster resiliency, and this month we’ve moved on to Topic 3, ‘Cool Lifestyle,’ and Topic 4, ‘Cool Home and Cool Wheels.’ 

Topic 3, ‘Cool Lifestyle,’ focuses on refining daily lifestyle practices that help reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Some of the action plans students have created for this topic include but are not limited to: reducing your household waste (practice ‘refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot’), eating lower on the food chain, taking shorter and/or colder showers, washing dishes using less water and energy, turning appliances all the way off, living a low-car lifestyle, and washing and drying clothes efficiently. Most of the action items have a list of resources tailored to each participating area! Some of the local resources available in Isla Vista for these topics include but are not limited to: UCSB-A.S. Zero Waste Committee, SB Zero Waste Events, Isla Vista Compost Collective, UCSB Transportation Alternatives Program, and UCSB Bike Sales

A lot of team members got creative with their action plan items for Topic 3, ‘Cool Lifestyle!’ Not only did Piper Lovegreen--junior Physical Geography major-- invest in biodegradable laundry balls, but she also took it upon herself to build a compost at her house!

Tarun Kumar, a freshman Physics major, realized that his family wasn’t using their solar panels as efficiently as possible. So, they started charging all of their appliances during the day time, when their energy came from their solar panels, instead of charging them during the evenings, when their energy came from the grid. Lily Mendez, a junior Environmental Studies major, decided to take a shot at eating sustainably-sourced fish, and she used the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch as her guide! Alyssa Jain decided to shorten her shower time in a risky, but highly effective way: she now takes showers 5-10 minutes before class to ensure that she gets out in time! Ingenious! 

For the next two weeks the teams will be going through Topic 4, ‘Cool Home and Cool Wheels,’ in which we will explore ways to make our household and transportation systems as efficient as possible to further reduce our carbon footprints. Some of the action plans include, for example: becoming a wise buyer (resist impulse buying, choose products with less packaging, keep your material world in a circular flow, etc.), circling your economy, and offsetting your footprint. Some of the local resources for Topic 4 include: IV/UCSB Eco-Vista Green New Deal, IV Trading Post, UCSB Free and For Sale, UCSB Sustainable Tech Repairs, and IV Second-Hand Store Map. The teams are excited to take on Topic 4! Full steam ahead!

Join us for the March newsletter to hear more about the next two topics: Topic 5 ‘Water Stewardship,’ and Topic 6 ‘Safe, Healthy and Green Block.’