Dog sitting by bag of poop

Written by Chloe Ortiz, Undergrad Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow

Welcome back to the Cool Block journey here at UCSB! As winter quarter wrapped up, the UCSB Cool Block members participated in a mid year celebration with our fellow UC Irvine participants! At this celebration, we were all able to celebrate our own accomplishments, as well as learn from other Cool Block teams! We opened up with a flock exercise, in which everyone could get up, move, and pretend they were a bird! Everyone really enjoyed this exercise because when we’re all up and moving together, it almost makes it feel as though we’re all together in person! After our warm up, each team went around and talked about their Rose, Bud, Thorn, in which they described a highlight about their experience thus far, a new idea or something they are looking forward to, and a challenge they have faced. We noticed that while a lot of the teams were struggling with participating online, they have also realized various advantages that they could not achieve in person! One example of this is the actual celebration itself; if we were in person, we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate with UC Irvine! 

It was really interesting to see the differences between the two campuses: the UCSB Cool Block program is currently designed towards any student who wants to sign up. Students are then assigned to random teams in which they meet weekly to work together and offer support when completing the action tasks. UC Irvine however, has dedicated an entire class to Cool Block. So, students sign up for the class and then work on the Cool Block journey throughout the year with the guidance of their classmates and teacher. 

Spending time with the other UCSB teams and the UC Irvine teams helped remind us that Cool Block is a growing program. People are starting to participate in Cool Block initiatives all over the state, and all over the country! While these steps might seem little at the individual level, it’s important to remember that we are all making a difference together. 

This week, Cool Block members are meeting to tackle topic 5, Water Stewardship! We are going to be exploring lifestyle practices that will help protect and minimize our use of limited water resources. This topic is extremely relevant for California residents, as it seems as though we’re sadly in a perpetuous drought. We’re also starting to see a pattern here… Many of the water savings actions will help reduce not only your environmental impacts, but also your water bills($)! Some of these actions include: reducing water used in personal care, reducing toxins from toilets, reducing toxic products in your household (local resource: IV/UCSB Household Hazardous Waste), drinking refrigerated water (which minimizes the water wasted while waiting for the tap to get cold), reducing the number of toilet flushes, cleaning up after your dog, reducing water used for gardening, and more. I’m looking forward to working through some of these tasks with the help of my teammates! 

Don’t forget to join us in May for topic 6 ‘Safe, Healthy and Green Block’ and topic 7 ‘Resourceful and Community Rich Block!’