How to be More Sustainable in a Dorm

This summer, I became very passionate about living a greener life. With a surplus of resources at home, this was simple to do.  I’m back on campus now and don’t want to drop these new habits I established,, so now, I’m trying to be more sustainable here at Ohio University.

All of us use a toothbrush everyday [hopefully] and dentists recommend we throw away our toothbrushes in exchange for a new one every 6 months. Just think about all of the toothbrushes sitting in landfills. Last spring I made the switch to an EcoFrenzy Bamboo Toothbrush. This toothbrush is 100% biodegradable and the packaging is even zero waste. Add a bit of a review and why bamboo is better.

Another part of my bathroom routine I transitioned to a more environmentally friendly option was the switch from liquid soap to bar soap. Bar soap has little to no packaging compared to the packaging and plastic when it comes to liquid soap. Bar soap also comes in the same variety of scents as liquid soap. This is saving a plastic bottle not only at my kitchen sink but also in the shower. Add a little bit of why else it’s better + link a few. 

Kitchen utensils [forks, knives, spoons,etc.] are also a huge part of our daily lives. My freshman year I got into a very bad habit of using plastic utensils because it was “easier”. I was too lazy to wash a metal fork and reusable plate after a meal in my dorm room. In the long run, buying reusable kitchenware saves money and is way better for the environment because you don’t have to throw away a paper plate, plastic, and spoon or knife after every meal you have in your dorm.

My freshman year, I did not use the recycling bin as it’s purpose instead I used it for extra waste. I’m embarrassed, but I learned, if I need another waste basket, I should go buy a cheap one from Walmart not substitute the recycling bin for waste. Don’t make the same mistake: use the recycling bin for its original purpose of putting less waste into landfills. 

Everyone preaches using reusable bags, but I always seem to forget mine or not have one when I need it. This summer I invested in these foldable reusable grocery bags. They come in packs of 5 and adorable patterns. The best part is that they fold small enough for me to put in my backpack or purse. This way when I make an unexpected trip to the grocery store I will still have my reusable bags. If you still forget your bags: always make sure you get paper over plastic at check out!

Last but not least, when I did my grocery shopping for my dorm I bought compostable garbage bags and reusable paper towels. You can reuse most reusable towels 10 times at least and they are usually machine washable. While you may not think about these, they are simple changes that make a big difference.

Discover: Charleston, South Carolina

Vacations have always been different for my family. Ever since I was a little girl, my dad coached a select summer baseball team. As a result, I have always done most of my traveling through baseball tournaments. A few of my favorite places have been Orlando, Florida, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittspurgh and Ontario, Canada. This year, I’m adding Charleston, South Carolina to that list after my brother had a baseball tournament there. My family made the 10-hour drive a few days before the tournament began so we could appreciate the scenic history and culture the city has to offer.

Exploring Charleston’s History

My family and I spent the first day downtown, admiring the historic buildings like Rainbow Row and shopping at The Historic City Market. One of the most popular items that were being sold at the market were hand-woven grass baskets. I loved the originality of the baskets and how they related to the city, so I was curious about buying one, but to my surprise, they ranged from $200 to $300! Later, I learned that the price is so high because of the amount of time and energy it takes to weave just one basket.

That afternoon, we drove to the Angel Tree. Pictures definitely don’t do this species of Oak justice! Over the years, the branches have looped and intertwined. Due to its age, the park has posted up some of the branches to help support the weight of the tree. 

Embracing South Carolina’s Marine Life

The second day we went on a kayaking tour! I love kayaking at our family cabin in Northern Minnesota, but let me tell ya, kayaking on a lake is a piece of cake compared to the currents in the ocean [my arms were noodles the next day]. We also saw so much marine life like crabs, pelicans and a family of dolphins. 

Finding a Balance

The next few days followed with baseball games and some really good food with the team. My family has always struggled with balancing these trips as a family vacation and tournament. In years past, I have been the only older sibling on the trip and have felt out of place. I don’t necessarily want to hang out with the parents, but I also don’t want to be around my brothers. This year was different. My family made a conscious effort to balance family time with baseball time and it made all the difference in making this trip a memorable one.

Discover: Harrison, Ohio

A small town surrounded with cornfields, Friday Night Lights traditions, six generations of my family and the home of the Wildcats.

Welcome to Harrison, Ohio, a small suburban town located on the westside of Cincinnati. Harrison is uniquely situated on the Indiana and Ohio State Line. Until I began my college experience in Athens, Ohio, this is the only place I have called home.

Living in a small town isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is difficult to find things to do on a casual summer day, but I always seem to stay busy.

My favorite way to spend mornings is catching up with friends or crossing off items on my to-do list at The Coffee Peddlar. As soon as you walk in the doors, the old wood floors creak and you are greeted with friendly smiles. My go-to drink is a Frozen Coffee Peddlar [I LOVE the rich caramel flavor!]. On warmer days, the secluded courtyard is the perfect place to soak up the golden sun. If the breeze bites a bit more harshly that day, I opt for a Snickers Mocha and cozy up inside the cafe’s homey atmosphere instead.

I love being in downtown Harrison and diving into the local shops. Right next to The Coffee Peddlar is Parlour on the Avenue, a modern spa placed in an antique setting. This is a perfect place to go to indulge on yourself after a long week at work. The Parlour has a rustic, victorian theme, but offers the same, if not more, services at a trendy spa you would find in the city.

Just down the street is a locally owned store, Two Friends Boutique. This is one of my favorite shops because they always have a unique and fashionable variety of merchandise. Today, I purchased a “locally grown and raised” tee! I thought this was very fitting as I reminisce on all of the things I love about this small town I call home.
My favorite spot for dinner is Market Street Grill. One evening when I was about 10 years old the restaurant wasn’t a very busy place. The chef came out to visit me, my Mom and Gramma. Somehow the conversation led to how the sub-basement had been used as a part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. I couldn’t hide my curiosity. At that age, I was very interested in the Civil War and inspirational figures from that era. The chef saw my eyes light up and immediately asked if I would like to see. We went through the kitchen till we got to cold cement stairs and made our way down to the sub-basement. I will never forget tracing my innocent fingers along the tallies engraved into the brick wall that are believed to be placed by former slaves.

After dinner, there’s nothing I love more than being able to catch the last few rays of sunlight. The best place to do this is at Lincoln Lee Sports Complex. The sports complex has always had a special place in my heart as it is named after my late cousin and is owned and operated by my family. In fact, my Dad, Uncle and Grandad have all coached baseball there since before I was born. But, even if the fields don’t have sentimental attachment to you, there’s no better way to spend summer nights in Harrison — surrounded by the contagious energy of a baseball game and watching the sun slowly disappear into the night.

Although I always knew I wanted to experience life outside of Harrison after graduating high school, I couldn’t have anticipated missing the little things that really make this place home. What are your favorite hidden treasures in your small town? Share with us on Instagram!

The Growth of My Mental Health

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my own mental health journey. My journey started before I could even comprehend what exactly it was I was embarking on. As an infant, I was challenged with circumstances beyond my control. Doctors began running tests because I was on the lower end of the growth chart for my height and weight. They tested for Celiac Disease and Cystic Fibrosis. Fortunately, both tests came back negative. When I was nine months old, I was diagnosed with Failure To Thrive, a term used by pediatricians to describe poor physical growth of any cause.

Throughout elementary school, I was small, just like the doctors said I would be. This presented challenges within itself, such as people constantly picking me up, being judicious and mocking me. I felt inarticulate, insecure and unsure of myself. I was always below average on the growth chart, and during fifth and sixth grade, I fell off the chart for both height and weight completely. As a result, my pediatrician sent me to an endocrinologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Once I met my endocrinologist, more tests began. My doctor ruled out chromosome abnormality and anything that could stem from my family history. At this point, I was faced with a difficult decision: to remain short statured, or to start taking human growth hormone. My endocrinologist highly suggested taking human growth hormone because she was worried about how my short stature could affect my future [for example, it would be very difficult to bear a child]. After much thought, deliberation and hesitation, my family and I thought the prudent decision would be to try the treatment.

I finally convinced myself that I would have to give myself a shot each day. During the injection training, I got a text from a family friend reassuring me that I was strong enough to do this, she was hopeful it would work and prayed for me. This was the exact support I needed during mychallenge.

The ominous part was that the injection had to go in a fatty area, which was difficult because I was underweight. I could only rotate the injection in four areas, and I would usually have bruises and scar tissue there, which caused the injection to burn. I was never allowed to go on a vacation without the injection. In fact, I had to train one of my teachers to give the injection to me so that I could go on my eighth grade Washington D.C. Trip. Another side effect I experienced from the injections were migraines. Due to the severity and amount of migraines I began to experience, I started another prescription to take at the onset of every migraine in hopes that it would not last as long or be as severe.

I continued taking the growth hormone until my sophomore year of high school, when my growth plates had closed. I was always worried and nervous about what people thought of me, and my physical struggles were no exception.

Due to my unforeseen circumstances with growth hormones and bullying, during my junior year of high school I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. When I first realized I was struggling mentally, I was ashamed. I didn’t know how to tell my parents or how to even fathom the idea of asking for help. I coped with my depression, alone,  until this year- my sophomore year of college. This year, my anxiety became very obvious, and I finally had an open discussion with my parents about what I was dealing with. Both my mom and my dad were loving and understanding, but they were still hesitant to start me on any medication due to the negative effects my mom has experienced in a similar situation. Eventually, my doctor convinced them that this was what was best for my health at this time.

While reaching out and asking for help was a difficult conversation to be had, it benefited me in the long run. Now, I’m such a strong advocate for mental health awareness and firmly believe someone should never feel ashamed about how they are feeling. It’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes you just need time or to lean on friends. Other times, you need to take time for yourself and remember not to compare yourself to others. Challenges will always arise, but depending on how you face the challenges, the outcome can be more profound than you have ever imagined.

While I have learned lessons from my experiences, I still have a lot of growth to do. My mental health is more positive than it has ever been before, but it is not just because of the medication. It took a lot of work to get where I am today and a huge part of that is the CHAARG [Changing Health Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls] and the LVNG Limitless community.