by Lia Weinseiss

In the current times, it can be difficult to uphold friendships in ways that we have become accustomed to. We can’t share a dinner, go for drinks, and/or hang out at each other’s houses. It seems cruel that in these times when our mental health seems to be at its most fragile, we cannot even see a portion of our support system.

So what can you do? You can text, arrange Zoom calls, send letters, and send gifts. You can show your love and support by checking in every once in a while. While it is certainly a different, modernized form of friendship, it is possible. We do, after all, stay in contact with our home friends when we are at school and with our school friends when we are at home.

However, in these times when our mental health is so fragile and we are doing our best to keep our own heads above water, how much do we find ourselves with an obligation to ensure our friends are doing well? Is a weekly text enough or should it be daily? Are we bad friends if we can’t bring ourselves to do those Zoom calls?

man having a video call on his phone
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

(Zoom is a popular method of calling, and people use it when they are distanced)

We are all going through different struggles, some of us more than others. “Family therapist Catherine Lewis says communication can be fraught when friends are experiencing the pandemic differently.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) If some of us are struggling more than others, it can often be difficult to have the will to reach out or even incite feelings of jealousy if some are dealing with isolation better than others. This can make it even more difficult to keep up friendships, especially if you are in the position of the one expected to keep up contact. 

Being alienated from friendships that used to be a part of daily life can create unexpected rifts because “people are now having to pick and choose what works in a friendship, and what’s maybe no longer a good fit.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) Without seeing people in person, we can easily read texts in a negative way or think that a lack of Snapchats means that a friendship is now lackluster or unimportant. A simple lack of communication can lead to rifts and the eventual fading away of a friendship. With extra time, self-reflection can help us realize that people who used to be in our lives may not have a place there anymore.

 To put it bluntly, this time can make or break a friendship; so, what are some tips you can use to stay close with your friends even if you can’t communicate with them?

  1. If you have a problem, address it.

In a time where verbal communication is one of the only tools we have, letting issues brew because it feels like there is more time to solve them is not the answer. Ignoring your friends or pretending things are normal will only amplify the issues – quarantine or not.

2. If you can check in, do it every now and then. If you can’t, let your friends know why.

Communication is key, though you are under no obligation to text your friends every day. That being said, in times when people are often struggling, texting a friend when you can will have an impact on their day. If you are unable to communicate daily, texting your friends and being honest can often avoid issues that are likely to arise by complete silence.

3. Set up Zoom events.

Though setting up Zoom meetings can sometimes feel like a burden, they can also be a beneficial way of bonding. A simple quiz as a reminder of enjoyable past moments can help bring back to life a friendship that feels largely online.

4. Set up a book trading system.

pile of books on green summer lawn in park
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(sharing books is a great way to stay connected)

Being able to send books to one another not only lets you and your friends know what each other are thinking, but it also gives you more things to read and do. I’m not going to list out all of the benefits of reading, but it can definitely help.

5. Listen to your friends if you can.

If they are having issues, and you can take on the mental capacity to listen, do so. Talking out situations with your friends can often help strengthen a bond that might be fading because you cannot see one another face-to-face.

6. When asking friends if they have an ear to listen, ask if they are able.

Dumping issues on your friends when they are struggling themselves can create an unintended issue in a relationship. Just checking in with them to ensure they are okay can ensure that you create healthy boundaries in your relationship.

 

by Nicole Mattson

Like many people who have seen the video of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, you might be wondering what you can do to be actively anti-racist. You might show your support by protesting on the streets, by donating money to organizations who need it, or by donating supplies such as food and toiletries to those on the frontlines who are protesting. If you are unable to protest, or don’t feel safe leaving your house during the pandemic, an easy way that you can begin becoming anti-racist is by educating yourself. This is a key component of being anti-racist, and putting yourself in the shoes of black, indigenous, and people of color. When you acknowledge that racism exists and is harmful, as well as that everyone has an implicit bias of some sort, helps to promote change in your own community. To be anti-racist means that you recognize people’s differences and you actively seek to change past beliefs–it is more than just being sympathetic. One way you can educate yourself is through reading. Reading can shine a new light on your perspective of what has been happening–not only the past week or past decade–but the past couple hundred years in the United States. Listed below are five books to consider reading to help you better understand what marginalized people have been through.

  1. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, edited by Sun Yung Shin (2016), is a collection of essays that explore the infamous “Minnesota Nice” and how a culture of passive-aggressiveness can hurt black, indigenous and people of color. Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, it is worth the read, since chances are, you have experienced passive-aggressiveness at one point in your life or in your community, or have been passive-aggressive.

Link to purchase: https://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/good-time-truth

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) is a well-known young adult book that even older adults should read. It is about a black teenager, Starr Carter, who attends a white high school, who also experiences her friend getting shot. It garners perspective as to what it is like to grow up as a person of color in the United States in the modern era. It was even made into a film in 2018 starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter.

Link to purchase the book: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062498533/the-hate-u-give/

Link to The Hate U Give film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MM8OkVT0hw

  1. Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? By Alicia Garza, Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré, and Alana Yu-lan Price (2016) is another collection of essays about the history of police brutality in the United States, with its origins going back to slavery. It talks about the effect on families these killings have. It discusses the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also mentions that the media is starting to focus on police violence this past decade. It questions why police exist and what their purpose is- do they just protect white people? 

Link to purchase: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/941-who-do-you-serve-who-do-you-protect

*Free e-book download until June 5, 2020!

  1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018), has a pretty straightforward title: why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism? Are they afraid to stand up to racist family members? How do we fix that? It dissects why racism exists through media representation, daily life, and more. It is important to have a conversation about race, and DiAngelo’s book will help with that by discussing racial justice.

Link to purchase: https://robindiangelo.com/publications/

  1. The Bluest Eye by award-winning author Toni Morrison (1970) is the oldest book listed here. It’s about Pecola Breedlove who is a young black girl in the Great Depression. Pecola thinks she isn’t pretty enough because she doesn’t have blue eyes, and thinks having blue eyes will make her life better. It does not help when people make fun of her too. Morrison’s fictional book discusses white beauty standards and how hurtful they are to society as a whole, and readers (especially white readers) will be able to gain a perspective on the effects of these standards. Although this story is fifty years old, it is still relevant to readers today.

Link to purchase: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/117662/the-bluest-eye-by-toni-morrison/

*Most of these books can also be checked out for free at your local library–or you can ask a friend to borrow their copy!

Of course, these are just a few books that can give you a different perspective. There are many more out there that you can explore. Some of my favorite black authors are Toni Morrison, who has written many books such as Sula, Beloved, and Song of Solomon, and James Baldwin, who wrote If Beale Street Could Talk and Sonny’s Blues. Reading books by black, indigenous, and people of color opens up a whole new perspective on racism and what they have gone through all these years, and by educating yourself through these pieces of literature can give you a foundation for standing up for others in your community.

In light of the recent events that have shaken the United States and the rest of the world, we at Beyond the Pandemic want to give our full support to the Black Lives Matter movement and people of color, as well as to the frontline workers who have been battling the coronavirus since the beginning. We aim to put a spotlight on what’s occurring and to pass the mic to important voices, and highlight stories and topics that should have been told and talked about a long time ago.

To practice what we preach, Beyond the Pandemic will zero in on the topics of the protests, racism, and the pandemic, and we will give writers of color another platform to write (at least until June 17th, but we will update you if plans change). Additionally, we will be sending out a newsletter shortly with petitions that you can sign so that you can participate in activism that is a force for change and for good–not solely for the sake of proving to the public that you’re “not racist” or anti-racist.

We will post content for the time being when we receive relevant content that amplifies and/or supports voices of color–especially for our black peers. We hope that you will do the same.

The burden falls squarely on each of your shoulders to make as much change as you can, however you can. You do not have to protest (or even donate or post) to make an impact, but by remaining inactive, you are siding against the prosperity of your fellow black Americans.

Below, you will find the websites of a mere few incredible organizations that are a force for change; click the links below to find out more about them (there are simply too many to list!).

Black Lives Matter; NAACP; The Bail Project; EatOkra

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Warmly,

S. I. Phillips, head of Beyond the Pandemic

by Eleanor Kelman

When I first received news that my campus would be shutting down and classes would move to remote instruction due to COVID-19, my initial fear wasn’t directed at how I personally would adapt to the change; rather, I worried how my dad would fare. I had been living at my university in Boston, which quickly became one of the hot zones of the virus; however, once it became apparent that I would need to leave the bubble of my university housing, I only worried about the possibility of catching the virus. Though it does seem a bit shortsighted in hindsight, I truly believed I would be absolutely safe from catching the virus. At the time, the news was reporting that younger and otherwise healthy people would simply catch the equivalence of the common cold and recover without issue; therefore, I shrugged off the prospect of becoming gravely ill in the event I would become infected. However, once I realized I would need to head back home, I began to panic.

Like many others, despite not being in the at-risk group for COVID-19, I have family members who are. I’m living with my family at home, and my dad is immunocompromised. Even simply coming home from school made me nervous. Parties were thrown every night, and since I lived in a popular upperclassmen-only area of campus, these parties occurred directly outside my front door. I was at the crossroads of wanting to enjoy the final days of my college experience and not wanting to put myself, and subsequently my dad, at risk. I even considered trying to remain on campus or staying with my boyfriend’s family to avoid any chance of passing on the virus. Neither option would prove particularly feasible, and on top of that, my parents wanted me to come home so I could maintain a sense of normalcy.

My family is doing its best to act like we have the freedom to move around, but our need to be hypervigilant reigns supreme. My parents go shopping once every two weeks when the supermarkets open in the morning. We wear masks every time we leave the house to go on walks around the neighborhood. I’ve been keeping connected with friends via messages and video calls. At first, I found this to be a suitable substitute for actually living on campus close to my friends at all times, but lately, I’ve been feeling more and more antsy and fidgety. I have felt completely lost within my own thoughts for what seems like hours every day. The one time I got some reprieve when I drove to stay at my boyfriend’s house for a few days, I never left the car until I was at his house and reinstated my entire quarantine routine while there. When I returned home, I quarantined inside my bedroom for a week (with my parents placing food outside my door that I ordered by calling our home phone). My parents will crack the occasional joke about paranoia, but we understand that it’s something we all have to do in order to keep my dad safe.

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[Each of us has our own personal mask in my family. I got the groutfit one.]

It’s been difficult, to say the least. When I see friends posting on social media about going grocery shopping, I feel a pang of jealousy — my parents don’t allow my siblings and me to go to the store with them. I got plenty of messages like “Oh, that’s stupid!” when I documented my in-room quarantine to my Snapchat streaks, but it wasn’t stupid in my household. Sometimes I want to hop into my car and drive to the local hiking trail or shopping center just to get out of my head for a while, but I know that I shouldn’t. Maintaining safe quarantine practices isn’t all that essential for me, but it could be literally lifesaving for my family. I still can’t help those feelings of lamenting having to be so tightly-wound from sneaking in, though, no matter how much I know they are selfish. 

Whenever I get caught up in jealousy and a weird new-age type of FOMO I thought I had left behind at college, I find people in similar situations to mine. One of my best friends from childhood is severely immunocompromised and, for months, found themselves unable to leave the house just to take a walk. Many of my friends live with elderly family members and have been more worried than myself. Some people I know have even caught the virus themselves, know people who have caught it, or have come in contact with someone who caught it. I also know some people who are in the exact same boat I am with an immunocompromised member of the family.

In all honesty, it’s been a tough time for everyone. That being said, hearing how I’m not alone in my fears has made it a lot easier to handle. If I need to, I can call up a friend who understands my frustrations perfectly and just vent for an hour without feeling guilty. My support network has truly strengthened during quarantine, which was something I was not at all expecting when I said my “final” goodbyes to my friends before beginning the long drive from Boston. My friends and family have been there for me in a way I’m eternally grateful for, especially given that this has really challenged how close we are!
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[My beloved Google Calendar even has some standing friendship dates!]

Whereas remote learning was, pretty objectively, absolutely terrible, remote socialization has been lovely. People who I hadn’t seen in a while and had accidentally fallen off my radar (sorry!) due to my hectic pre-COVID day-to-day life have become my close friends again. I’ve been more inspired to reach out and initiate conversations, something I have always struggled with, due to the fact that there are no longer any real ramifications. After all, who is going to be too busy to video call? We’re all stuck here with too much time on our hands! And no one has lamented me being more active on social media; in fact, I’ve started commenting on posts of people I haven’t seen since high school who have found themselves elated to reinvigorate our friendships. Navigating and mastering social media to stay happy definitely had a bit of a learning curve for me at the start, but it’s allowed me to focus my energy on the people I really care about and fully nurture those friendships.

This isn’t to say that everything has been rainbows and sparkly unicorns and I love having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay home and relax. I’ve been terrified to leave my house, but I am equally afraid of the ramifications that come with staying inside. I miss my friends dearly and wish I could say I am too busy rather than too bored. That being said, the resilience I’ve seen in everyone, including myself in a way I don’t feel uncomfortable bragging about, has been inspiring. Quarantine has had its fair share of negative side effects, but I think it has presented a feeling of “we’re all in this together” that I have never felt before. When I chat with my friends for the umpteenth time about my problems and see them listen intently, it makes everything feel just a little bit better.

   This change is easy to make, but very impactful. When recycling, make sure you rinse out jars and other recyclable food containers. The rinse does not have to be perfect, but anything with excessive food residue cannot be recycled. Dirty items also risk contaminating other recyclables, so one dirty item has the potential to ruin a recycling bin, forcing it all to go to the landfill. But, as I said, this is an easy fix, so there’s nothing to worry about!

     To clean your recyclables, you can put water in it and swish it around until the majority of the food residue is gone. If it is a sticky residue, such as honey or jam, I like to fill the container with water and let it soak for a bit. 

     That’s it! Rinsing your recyclables is such a simple change, but it is so impactful. By making it a habit, we can greatly increase the percentage of successfully recycled items.

By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

by Olivia Garcia

Wars are won in one of two ways. Either you knock off your component with sheer brutal force or you both opt into peace treaties and compromise. But contrary to popular beliefs, we are not in a war. The Coronavirus is not an enemy we can fight with the usual tactics; like with guns or blowing things up.

The success of a nation has always been directly related to the strength of their leaders. However, the very presence of the novel Coronavirus has changed the word “strength” to “compassion”. Due to the fact this virus is not something we can blow up and obliterate, tactics that countries such as Russia, China, and the United States are used to, we have been challenged with thinking outside the box. This is a concept these three countries have a difficult time with. Nonetheless, the challenge then became “how do I alter my plan of attack?”

In my opinion, the very reason these next three countries were able to combat the virus so effectively is that they are able to think not based on the needs of security but the needs of their citizens. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen all quickly understood there was only one way they could fight the spread of COVID-19: compassion. Each country understood that in order to gain success over the virus, you needed to understand these three truths: act early, tell the truth, and lead with compassion. 

Each of these three countries all had early plans set up at the first sign of Coronavirus in their nations. By March 26, New Zealand Primeminister Jacinda Ardern implemented a four-level alert system to categorize and simplify the state of emergency her nation was in at any one time. By March 22, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had contact bans in place as well as mobilizing German troops to assist in the transition of normal to quarantine lifestyle. The country of Taiwan had an unusual advantage regarding the fight against COVID-19. In 2003, the country found itself handling an outbreak of the Swine Flu. This recent flu-like epidemic gave them an advantage in terms of planning ahead. They quickly understood the severity of the situation and trusted science in regard to their own decision making. It didn’t hurt that their vice president was Dr. Chen Chien-jen, a Taiwanese epidemiologist and politician. 

The second reason New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan have had success in the fight against COVID-19 is that none of these leaders tried to downplay the severity of the virus. They were upfront and frank about the uncertainty the future had for them all. However, one thing they did not let happen was an out-of-control manifestation that this virus was something larger than they could handle. Jacinda Ardern never let fear manifest in her country. Whenever she addressed her citizens, she spoke plainly but with confidence. Understanding that fear derives from the lack of understanding within a situation, she always explained why every action was taking place. Within five weeks, Taiwan’s government swiftly put together a list of 124 action items that the Taiwanese National Health Command Center (TNHCC) would execute. These actions included border control, travel restrictions, case findings and analysis, resource allocation, and spreading political and communicative decisions. By streamlining the democratic process of decision making and passing of bills, they have surpassed all the “red tape.”

Finally, each region understood that the only way to win a fight against an invisible enemy was to get everyone on the same team. This is where I believe that it is important to speak about the fact that these three leaders are all women. Globally, the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 have been led by males. They have all instinctively downplayed the situation because their first concern is not for the mass population but for their personal political careers. None of these three countries did that. 

As soon as lockdown and halting of movement became the clear first step in stopping the spread of the virus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel understood the immediate concerns of her citizens and addressed them. As a human being, you need three things to survive: shelter, water, and food. Understanding what she was asking of her country, she tasked Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Kloeckner to find the solution to the possible food shortage as well as face the issue of panic buying before it became present. 

Besuch Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel im Rathaus Köln
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Taiwan understood their population’s major concerns were about their own safety. President Tsai asked all private and public manufacturers to immediately start mass-producing supplies such as masks for both the public and healthcare systems. She then united Taiwan under one name, “Team Taiwan.” Instead of bringing fear and separation by not having unified decisions, like the USA, Tsai simply and effectively unified her country in one little slogan. By unifying the countries, the actions they took were more accepted. Having gained the public’s trust, each step she took to move forward was met with optimism. 

蔡英文官方元首肖像照
President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen

I do not believe that any country has done as well as New Zealand. In my opinion, New Zealand is the best example of how compassionate leadership can lead to positive, quick, and effective results. Much like Taiwan, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern knew that addressing her nation under one name would unify and connect her citizens. When addressing her country she would always end her statements with “Our team of 5 million.” She would approach the public confidently and with compassion, even taking the time to speak with children and answer their questions. She even held a press conference just to address children and explain why the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were having difficulties navigating around social distancing rules. Her slogans kept spirits high within communities. She expressed the message of kindness towards one another, rather than hatred toward an invisible virus. By changing the focus from scary health concerns to “let’s help each other out,” New Zealand is now in the stages of getting back to normal. 

Jacinda_Ardern,_2018
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern

The war with COVID is very simple. Those cities which are thriving and rebuilding their economies have leadership that puts the needs of their citizens first and above their own political likeness. They understood that within a state of emergency, their roles as president, chancellor, and prime minister are first and foremost to protect human life above political personal gain. In the words of our New Zealand friends: Be Kind and Stay Calm.

By Andy Chau

Soon, I will return to Isla Vista with only one goal in mind: to move out. Once everything is packed up and I am ready for my journey home, I will have basically ended my academic career. I would say the class of 2020 was reluctantly forced to “retire” or graduate early after only two years. No more late night library sessions, no more drunken runs at Freebirds or International, definitely no commencement and concerts on bucket lists. Everything is on hiatus until this virus is miraculously eradicated. How did 2020 become the first leap year to leap into BS? 

A part of me is relieved that I can rescue the rest of my dust collecting belongings but a part of me knows I will long for IV for a long time. I guess I fell for the common pitfall of taking things for granted. As surreal as it is, I can’t believe I’m saying this. 

I’m sad that I didn’t get to leave UCSB on my terms. The string of events were slowly becoming a separate chapter that defines the two years of my presence. I know it’s not too late and coming back as an alumni is always an option, yet this whole ordeal with the coronavirus has made it bittersweet. Despite the short duration, I had many aspirations to finish my journey with a bang. Now, I will be moving forward with plenty of “what ifs” and regrets about not doing enough. 

While things won’t return back to a certain “normal,” I’m happy to know that there were at least a good amount of memories I can reflect back on. Besides, two years can fly by so it’s only fair to be involved! The more I think about it, the more I figure out how many experiences I will leave hanging. Likewise, I can’t control what’s beyond my capability. Maybe I can extend my college career by one more year, who knows (it’s expensive though). 

Although this isn’t an official goodbye, I would like to dedicate my gratitude to the following: Alpha Phi Omega [Psi Chapter, Pi Class of Fall 19,’ and Jenny C. (my big)]; Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) [James H. (my big), TUF Fam]; Santa Barbara local photographers; healthcare + frontline workers; my parents; the UCSB Transfer Center; my best friend Michael; UCSB’s Davidson Library; and the entire IV community. Without them all, my college experience would have a lot of missing pieces. It would be absolutely boring but it was not. Obviously, I feel a need to finish what I started but I would rather be safe than sorry. 

To UCSB, I have no clue where to begin. Over the past two years, it has been a literal roller coaster of character development and mistakes. It would be an understatement to admit that I wanted to drop/transfer out and experienced multiple panic attacks because I thought I made the biggest mistake of my life. I lost a part of my identity, became confused, dug myself a deep hole and slowly crawled my way out. The process wasn’t easy and for a while I felt constantly trapped. Did I fail? Yes. Was it painful? Indeed. Somehow, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I fought everyday to redeem myself. The repetition of schoolwork and responsibilities challenged me but after every quarter, I stood firm. Santa Barbara, I haven’t scratched the surface of my potential. After all the suffering, I have much more to accomplish. For now, I will be content with ending it in June but I promise I will be back. Farewell UCSB, and until next time.

by Mia Foster

batteries lot
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

(A bundle of multiple colored batteries)

Currently it is considered safe to throw away single-use batteries in all states except California. However, just because it is deemed safe enough by the government does not mean it is the best option. Today I will go over how to recycle different types of batteries and, if you are unable to recycle, how to properly prepare your batteries for the landfill. 

Recycling Alkaline/ Single-Use Batteries

Every single-use battery contains reusable materials, such as zinc, manganese, and steel (Earth911). As in any other form of recycling, by choosing to recycle our batteries we divert them from the landfill, create new products, and prevent excessive mining for new metals because the metals from the recycled materials fill the quota.     

To recycle single-use batteries, find a mail-in or drop off recycling service near you. Call2Recycle is a wonderful resource, and Home Depot has partnered with them. If you live near a Home Depot, you can take your dead batteries to said location and they will recycle them for you. Earth911 also has an extremely helpful Recycling Locator that can help you find recycling facilities near you.

Recycling Rechargeable Batteries

It is required that we recycle reusable batteries when they are at the end of their life because they have toxic chemicals and heavy metals that are not safe for landfills (Home Depot). They are recognized by the EPA as hazardous waste and should be treated as such (Earth 911). These batteries can be recharged and reused hundreds of times but they will eventually die. When they do, follow the same process as with single-use battery recycling; the same facilities often handle both types of batteries. It is important to note that if you have a piece of technology with a rechargeable battery that dies, with the exception of cell phones, it is best to remove the battery from the device prior to recycling.

anonymous person showing recycle symbol on smartphone
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(a phone with a recycle sign, which is what you should do with your batteries if possible 😉 )

Throwing Away Single-Use Batteries

If you cannot recycle single-use batteries, you can dispose of them in the garbage (excluding Californians) if you take precautionary measures first. Dead batteries are not entirely dead and they are still a fire hazard. To prevent issues with disposal, tape over the ends of 9-volt batteries and place batteries in a plastic or cardboard box to avoid sparking.

Conclusion

Batteries are very common in our everyday lives and the proper disposal of them is an issue nearly no one understands. My family has jars of dead batteries sitting around waiting for the day when one of us knows what to do with them. I figure there’s no time like the present! Hopefully with this information on battery disposal we can rid ourselves of dead batteries together while being environmentally conscious.

by Mia Foster

Lightbulbs and batteries are such commonly used household items, they are considered essentials. By purchasing the correct light bulbs and batteries, we can decrease energy usage and the waste we send to landfills.

Light Bulbs

analysis blackboard board bubble
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A 60-watt incandescent light bulb is the traditional style but that does not mean it is the best; these bulbs are extremely inefficient and have a relatively short lifespan. The best option is an LED light, which uses 80% less energy and has a lifespan that is 25 times that of the incandescent bulb (Davis). While LEDs have a larger initial cost than incandescent bulbs, the savings in energy bills and the decreased need to continually replace bulbs make the swap more cost-effective over time. By switching your lights to LED, you can significantly decrease the environmental and monetary impact of your lighting. If you need more motivation, EnergyStar reports that: “If every American household replaced just one standard light bulb with a high-efficiency version, the United States would save about $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.” (Davis) The switch might feel small, but it makes a huge difference!

Batteries

close up photo of batteries
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Rechargeable batteries are a more complicated issue. Simply buying and using rechargeable batteries does not make them more sustainable; according to Yale Climate Connections, a battery must be recharged 50 times before its impact is significant (Grossman). This is due to different methods and metals used for production, the energy used to charge batteries, and the different processes of disposal. For this reason, it is suggested that we use rechargeable batteries for highly used items such as remotes, cameras, and electronic toys (Schildgen). These items need new batteries more often, meaning the batteries will be charged many times, making the switch environmentally beneficial. 

Conclusion

The appliances and products we purchase and use are fundamental to the sustainability of our lives. By making educated decisions about purchases we can decrease our individual economic impacts, therefore creating a larger cumulative decrease in energy use and product waste. Small items such as light bulbs and batteries are significant!