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Danielle McCowan's avatar

Danielle McCowan

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

"My mission is that my small actions have a ripple effect."

POINTS TOTAL

  • 0 TODAY
  • 0 THIS WEEK
  • 1,311 TOTAL

participant impact

  • UP TO
    3.0
    conversations
    with people
  • UP TO
    1.0
    donation
    made
  • UP TO
    45
    minutes
    spent learning
  • UP TO
    187
    pieces of litter
    picked up
  • UP TO
    15
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill
  • UP TO
    1.0
    waste audit
    conducted

Danielle's actions

Community

Donate Zero Waste Period Products

I will donate 1 zero waste period kits to young people with periods so that they can reduce their waste and the financial burden of menstruation while continuing their education.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Join a Cleanup Effort

I will host or participate in a beach, highway, river, or other cleanup effort in my community.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Research Local Waste Sites

I will spend 20 minutes finding out where landfills and/or toxic waste sites are situated in my region and which communities are most impacted by these sites.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Tour A Waste Management Facility

I will spend at least 30 minute(s) touring (virtually or in person) a local dump/transfer station, material recovery facility, and/or landfill to learn about our local waste and waste recovery streams.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Say No to Styrofoam

Throughout its life cycle, polystyrene (styrofoam) can harm people, communities, and the planet. I will refuse styrofoam whenever I can, making sure to kindly let people know why I'm asking for alternative packaging.

COMPLETED 0
DAILY ACTIONS

Study

Plastic History Buff

Single-use plastics are everywhere, but that wasn't always the case. I will spend at least 30 minutes learning about the history of single-use plastics and how it became ubiquitous in our daily lives.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Dig into Bioplastics

I will spend at least 30 minutes researching the impacts of bioplastics and how to properly dispose of them in my city, and I will share this information with 5 friends, family, and/or colleagues.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Follow the Chasing Arrows

The chasing arrows symbol we associate with recycling doesn't always actually mean something is recyclable. I will spend at least 30 minutes learning the different meanings the symbol can have.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Advocate For Better Food Packaging

I will advocate for alternatives to single use packaging at local grocery stores, markets, or work.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Share My Actions

I will make my environmental actions visible by sharing about them on my social media networks and the Plastic Free Ecochallenge participant feed.

COMPLETED 2
DAILY ACTIONS

Community

Keep My Community Clean

I will pick up 5 piece(s) of litter each day.

COMPLETED 17
DAILY ACTIONS

Study

Learn about Plastic Production

Plastic production, not just disposal, pollutes communities and harms people. I will learn about the impacts of plastic production on humans, animals, communities, and the environment.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Estimate Your Ecological Footprint

I will calculate my ecological footprint, and from the results brainstorm and take action on ways I can reduce my annual footprint.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Complete a Waste Audit

I will conduct a waste audit - including recyclables and compost - to understand how much waste I create and where I can reduce the most.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Sunshine Bleached

I will hang-dry my laundry to use the sun as a natural bleach alternative, or use another natural bleach alternative.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Catch Those Microfibers

I will use a microfiber catcher in my laundry, or install a microfiber filter for my washing machine.

UNCOMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Kitchen

Reusable plates

I will use a reusable plate instead of a paper or styrofoam plate when visiting my parents or when necessary at work at lunch time.

COMPLETED 1
DAILY ACTION

Kitchen

Swap the Snacks

I will swap out 1 prepackaged snacks a day for fresh fruits or veggies.

COMPLETED 14
DAILY ACTIONS

Kitchen

Cook a Plastic Free Meal

I will prepare meals at home each day without using any items packaged in single-use plastic.

COMPLETED 0
DAILY ACTIONS

Participant Feed

Reflection, encouragement, and relationship building are all important aspects of getting a new habit to stick.
Share thoughts, encourage others, and reinforce positive new habits on the Feed.

To get started, share “your why.” Why did you join the challenge and choose the actions you did?


  • Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/31/2023 7:30 PM
    Also, if you're looking for a plastic free meal, make gazpacho. I made some today and while mine didn't end up being plastic free because the bread I bought was in 2 plastic bags, you can definitely make it without bread, make your own bread, or try buying it from a bakery.

  • Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/31/2023 7:23 PM
    Wow! To me, it feels like the month went by so fast! I can't believe the challenge is coming to an end, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep challenging ourselves to keep using less plastic, keep picking up trash, or keep having conversations. This month had some wins and losses for me. It definitely wasn't a plastic-free month, like the 2 paper cups and a couple of plastic utensils that I used while I visited an amusement park. But I did pick up a lot more trash than I ever do, I posted more about the challenge on Facebook and Instagram, I ate a lot more fruits instead of yogurt from little plastic #5 cups, and I learned from the waste that I'm creating. I'm looking forward to next year, but in the meantime I'll keep challenging myself, keep learning, and keep being mindful of my actions.

  • Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/29/2023 7:29 PM
    I went to the farmer's market in my area for the first time today! I bought garlic, a bell pepper, soap, and local maple syrup. (:

  • Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/25/2023 7:59 PM
    I was looking at our team page just now and wow! we are making a big impact! We've had up to 126 conversations with people, spent up to 3,338 minutes learning, picked up close to 2,500 pieces of litter, and kept about 1,500 plastic containers out of the landfill! (Among other statistics). Great job everyone!
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Follow the Chasing Arrows
    Recycling right requires both systemic change and personal and community awareness. How can you expand what you've learned about the chasing arrows symbol to encourage broader changes in your community?

    Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/25/2023 7:52 PM
    I did some research into this topic by reading an email sent out by A Drop in the Ocean's Krystina Jarvis in which I learned about what each type of plastic can be recycled into. I also watched a very informational video from Emma at The Simple Environmentalist. Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryr_73ZQZNA. I also watched Emma's video on wish cycling. I've learned that first I can help spread awareness about recycling right through conversations and by sharing on social media. I also need to figure out what is recyclable where I live and actually recycle right so I do not contaminate the recycling. I can also choose and encourage others to purchase items made from recycled material if I need the item new to encourage companies to continue to make items from recycled materials.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Estimate Your Ecological Footprint
    What did you learn about your ecological footprint by using the calculator? What did or didn't surprise you? What are some ways you will take action to reduce your footprint?

    Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/20/2023 8:08 PM
    I learned that the areas of mobility, food, and shelter are where the majority of my footprint comes from. And I would agree with this as I drive to work and have been traveling more. I would love to bike more but there are no dedicated bike lanes nor are there sidewalks near where I live so I feel that biking would be dangerous. It's quite unfortunate. I used to go to a grocery store that was farther away but now I go to a closer one, so that is good. In terms of food, it can be hard to find fruits that aren't from other countries. I try to buy from local companies (processed foods) but they probably get their ingredients from all over. My house could be more energy efficient, but I'm also limited by my energy provider who says that they are "focused on green energy", but apparently gets about 30% of their energy from coal and 50% from natural gas. Anyways, goods and services were my areas of least consumption which is great! I would like to try to find ways to reduce my transportation impact. I actually did get a car with better gas mileage back in September so that is better. I would like to research ways to make my house more "green" and check out the farmer's market when I have the time. But I'd have to drive to it which then adds to my transportation impact. Haha. I'll keep brainstorming more ways to reduce my impact.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Complete a Waste Audit
    What did you learn about the waste you create? Where can you reduce the most?

    Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/19/2023 7:52 PM
    I did the waste audit for one week and I learned quite a lot! I learned that I produce a lot of my waste in the kitchen. I try to recycle and compost as much as I can, but I still have to throw away fruit stickers, lids to juice bottles/jars, twist ties from bread bags, etc. I'd like to see if my husband would be okay with reusing the bags that tortilla chips come in as trash can liners in our bathrooms so that they are being used for another purpose since we have to throw the bag away anyways. Somehow we also managed to produce less compost during the week of my audit, which is great. I would also like to advocate to Silk for better packaging of their soy milk because I have to throw away the cartons that it comes in. I would also like to try making my own granola instead of buying granola that comes in non-recyclable bags.

    • Danielle McCowan's avatar
      Danielle McCowan 7/20/2023 7:14 PM
      Nice! However we can reuse something is a great idea!

    • Kris Hay's avatar
      Kris Hay 7/20/2023 12:32 PM
      Just like the chip bags idea, we use Silk containers as small trash can liners.

  • Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/18/2023 8:00 PM
    I found this while out picking up trash around my neighborhood. I never know what I might find.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Community Share My Actions
    Have you noticed a difference in how your community, friends, and family members use plastics since you've shared your own actions?

    Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/16/2023 6:41 PM
    I shared on Facebook yesterday about my results from the Ecological Footprint calculator. I wasn't expecting anyone to respond to it, but I actually received a comment! A previous coworker took the quiz and they have some things that they want to work on. That made me so happy! In other news, I seem to be influencing my mom a little, too. Two visits ago to my parent's RV (they own an RV, which is at a campground, and a house), I took home some cans or plastic water bottles for recycling. On my last visit, my mom said that she decided to take home some glass bottles to recycle because of my previous action. She told me that she might consider getting a recycling container to keep at the RV. As I'm typing this out, I wonder if the campground could provide a recycling bin. It probably depends on the waste removal company that services the area...
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Community Donate Zero Waste Period Products
    How can having access to zero waste period products help people who menstruate overcome barriers to education or other opportunities?

    Danielle McCowan's avatar
    Danielle McCowan 7/15/2023 7:22 PM
    I didn't realize that even today there are places where menstruation taboos exist. Even in Venezuela which is quite shocking. In a few places, the women are kept in a special hut which keeps them from participating in society or going to school I assume. In Kenya, they are not allowed to eat animal products which I find interesting. I feel that it could be very shameful/embarrassing for the woman when they are on their period. I am glad that organizations that educate and engage the communities exist. Hopefully one day there will no longer exist these taboos.