Topics: Bioplastics, Personal Resiliency Programs, Using Anger Effectively
On this episode of Solutions News, we talk about bioplastics being developed as renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic solutions to petroleum-based plastic. We then turn to the concept of personal resilience and take a close look at several college programs that are being deployed to help young people learn resiliency skills in the face of trauma, crisis, or just frustration. Our Guest is Sunrise Activist Rose Strauss, and we finish the hour with “didyaknows” and a story about productive anger – and how it can be the source of both personal power and positive social change.
The first story this week focused on biodegradable solutions to the plastic epidemic around the world. Creating sustainable alternatives to plastic helps to fight overly wasteful consumer habits and lessens pollution, especially in the oceans. This sector, which was once a niche solution is becoming more mainstream as more people understand the long reaching consequences of plastic pollution. For example, Trader Joes is working to reduce plastic use in stores in the United States, and Iceland, a supermarket chain in the UK, is phasing out plastic in stores in favor of solutions like compostable bags for produce. Bioplastics are types of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than from petroleum. Bioplastics can come from almost any organic material (e.g., straw, wood chips and food waste) and lessen waste by allowing less to go to landfills and creating plastic-like material that biodegrades much more rapidly than oil-based plastic. A company in Mexico, Biofase, is using avocado pits to make biodegradable cutlery and straws and selling them across the US, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Continuing with the idea of recycling food waste, another process, Shellworks, creates a creates a thin film-like alternative to plastic made from seafood waste (lobster shells). Just another reason to like guacamole and lobster.
Resilience and Trauma Training in Colleges
Colleges across the United States are making an effort to confront the idea of childhood trauma as part of an increased focus on student mental health and coping with stress. In 2013, ten Ivy League schools formed The Resilience Project, to research mental health issues among students and develop more effective mechanisms to help student resilience. Many modern techniques to help students include online programs and courses for college students. At Florida State University, all 6,000 students in the freshman class will take an online course called, “The School Resilience Program”, to learn about coping with childhood trauma and techniques to cope with the stresses of college. Here in California, UCLA was one of the first college to implement an online program and promotes student participation in a 6-8 week study that teaches skills to combat anxiety and depression. Even locally at UCSB, the environmental studies program has a course on how to deal with “EcoGrief”, about optimism and courage in the face of the climate crisis we face globally. All of these courses are centered around the idea of destigmatizing mental health, and by providing tools that can be useful dealing with the stress trauma and struggle that are just a part of life.
Anger as a “Prelude to Courage”
The last story this week focuses on anger. There’s a general unspoken agreement that getting angry -- and expressing it -- is something to be avoided, especially for women. But anger is an entirely natural, very human emotion, whether it’s triggered by trivial annoyances or by serious issues of injustice. And let’s face it: We have plenty to be angry about in our lives today. Research suggests that channeling anger can improve health, enhance intimacy, further social justice, and spur creativity. Many modern and historical social movements have begun with anger over the status quo. This idea is especially important to mention on International Women’s Day as turning personal OR sociopolitical anger into positive action restores our sense of power—and contributes to the well-being of the planet.
Rose Strauss is an UCSB Environmental Studies student and climate change activist working to start a local hub of the Sunrise Movement, an organization building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America.
On July 18, 2018, Rose gained notoriety in an exchange with Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, who called her “young and naïve” after she asked him about $200,000 in fossil fuel campaign contributions. Videos of the exchange went viral with the hashtag #YoungAndNaive, and Teen Vogue published an editorial by Ms. Strauss in which she vowed that “young and naïve” voters like herself would be promoting the ouster of politicians who they believe aren’t working for their generation.