Praxis in Action

My idea for our activism project involved trying to reduce my impact on the environment by limiting my intake of cow’s milk and using less plastic. I did this by rotating through alternative kinds of milk, including almond, coconut, and oat milks. When coming up against using plastics, I limited and reused plastics everywhere I could. I brought my own straw for my morning coffee, and didn’t purchase new, single use plastics, other than what is listed below. I also kept an ongoing log of my day’s experiences and what I ate and drank throughout the day that adhered to my goals. My goal for this week is to find ways that I can stick to reducing single-use plastics and alternative milk choices long-term.

Day 1: 4/11

Today I brought my steel straw to use for my coffee. I’m a total creature of habit, so I was worried I would forget to bring this, but I cleaned it out and brought it with me for the ride into work. I ordered my coffee with almond milk, which tasted delicious. My stomach didn’t seem to quite agree with it, but I will give it a shot for at least the next couple days to rule out this being an issue.

Something I noticed right away was the price jump. It was an extra 70 cents to use almond milk as opposed to my usual skim.

Lunch: ordered a veggie burger, with no cheese and a side of sweet potato fries. I could have gotten more veggie toppings, which I kind of wish I had, but ordering out can get pretty expensive! I didn’t really miss the cheese on this burger, I was surprised to find out. But when thinking about how it would have held the burger together better (it was kind of crumbly), I had an idea – to keep an eye out for places that have vegan and vegetarian options and “edits”. I would have gotten cheese if there was a vegan option! As well, instead of using another cup or bottle, I refilled this morning’s water bottle with the filtered water machine at work.

Shopping for snacks: A lot of the things I picked up had milk products in them, or were made in plant that also processes these products. So, for these things (crackers, oatmeal, granola bars), it will be hard to go completely vegan. I never realized all of these things might not be fully vegan! I did well on making vegetarian choices, but I did also buy a large plastic bottle of water. (I’m going on a short road trip to my father’s and needed something quick and portable that would hold a lot.)

Dinner: Due to extenuating circumstances, I couldn’t make the most ideal choices that I would have liked tonight, but I did what I could. I went out to dinner, and ended up eating a tuna salad sandwich, but drank out of reusable glasses. I opted to not use a straw. It was kind of frustrating only when taking the last few sips, and having the ice cubes fall into my face! Other than that, it was fine, and didn’t really miss the straw. The lack of options really stuck out to me today – no vegan options, few vegetarian and no paper straws.

Day 2: 4/12

Today I realized how hard it is to start a new habit! On my morning coffee run, I ordered it with almond milk, and the cashier automatically gave me a straw with it. Without thinking, I opened it and put it in my coffee – I didn’t realize it until I was halfway home! I was hoping this would be a little easier, but now realizing it will take a little more intention. I did better at lunch – I ordered out for a veggie sandwich, and it came in a paper container which was a bonus! Today wasn’t great due to my extenuating circumstances but will try to do better tomorrow! Dinner was pasta, which I didn’t realize came with (buttered) garlic bread, but overall not too bad.

Day 3: 4/13

Today I realized how difficult these initiatives are to accomplish, as many places don’t have the alternatives like certain milks or non-plastic options to offer. Today’s uses include:

  • 1 plastic cup used in the morning; saved 1 straw by using a steel one with coffee.
  • Lunch: reheated leftover pasta; no additional plastics or animal products used.
  • Dinner: I had a long drive, so I had to grab fast food, but I limited myself where I could. I used 1 plastic to-go cup and saved 1 straw by using my own. I used no additional plastics that night.

Day 4: 4/14:

Today, I continued to use my straw for coffee, with which I got almond milk, but used 1 plastic cup. Saved 1 straw.

For lunch, I had a veggie sandwich with no cheese, and it was delicious. I normally get cheese added to sandwiches, and was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, but I did! I typically would have ordered an iced tea in a plastic cup, but decided to drink the water I already had.

I went out to eat for dinner, and did not use a straw; I ordered a cheeseless burger for my meal.

Day 5: 4/15:

When I ordered my iced coffee this morning, I decided to try coconut milk, which I liked better! I did use a disposable plastic cup, but used my own straw.

For lunch, I did have chicken, but also a salad and soda – no other meat or cheese was included.

This evening was unfortunately kind of a mess, and had me somewhat doubting my ability to keep this activism up after the assignment is over! I can’t imagine being a very strict vegan or vegetarian and having to deal with hiccups in your day – it could really disrupt everything! I had plans with a friend, and for dinner I ended up needing to eat a slice of pizza, and using one plastic cup & straw for my drink.

Day 6, 4/16:

It’s been occurring to me these last few days that a lot of places that serve food and drinks don’t give you much of a choice with straws anymore. I ordered an iced coffee at lunch today, and it came with a straw already in the glass. I used to typically get paper straws or have to specifically ask for one; they aren’t freely given in some places. For my vegan/vegetarian choice, I asked for oat milk for my coffee and had an avocado and veggie-based appetizer. So far, I think the oat milk is my favorite! This and the coconut milk don’t bother my stomach like the almond milk did.

I wanted a water while I was out running errands later, but didn’t want to buy another plastic bottle. So I bought some coconut water to try, which comes in a paper box. I loved that aspect, but unfortunately didn’t like the water. I would like try to find another use for it.

Day 7, 4/17:

Today, I brewed coffee at home, and used almond milk, so no plastics used! I reheated some leftovers for meals, but did use one bottle of water.


Overall, I would rate my success this week at about a B. I could have done better, but since I was setting out to make small, sustainable changes and educating myself about things, I think I accomplished what I set out to do. I’m a bit of an iced coffee addict, so I wish I could find a better way to get an iced coffee on the way into work in the morning that is convenient and timely, without using a single use plastic cup. I have a long commute with heavy traffic, so can only afford quick AM stops.

All of the single-use water bottles I used this week were ones I had already bought. Going forward, though, I would like to see what kind of alternatives I could come up with to use less of these bottles. Our town water isn’t very good as drinking water, so I am considering buying a Brita. I do like Poland Springs water a lot, so I am planning to buy a large refrigerator sized container instead of a case of water bottles. For either of these options, I could use fill up a portable glass and reusable straw.

Throughout the week, I looked into these alternative milk options to see what the best option was. The types I tried were the most readily available, and had less fat and calories than cow’s milk (coconut milk was higher in calories, though). Coconut milk is known to be more hydrating as well. If I could do this experiment over, and I think I will, I would give myself a little more time to prepare. Working full time and handling school left little time for preparation, so I would like to do a little more research into easy, affordable options. I’m happy to say that in the week since I completed this project, I have not used any more plastic straws! This is certainly something I can maintain in the future.

Plastic use Tally

Straws saved: 7
Straws used: 3
Plastic cups/bottles used: 7
Cups/bottles saved: 2
Note: Since I did not purchase any new single-use bottled waters this week, I did not tally these in my counts.

Praxis – Activist Project


One of the main tenets of ecofeminism is the burden which society puts on the earth. Humans essentially insist that animals and nature are there for the taking, and can be used an oppressed to enrich or assist their lives. The main concept of which is closely linked to the treatment of women through the ages. Many animals are raised for the sole purpose of providing food and meat to their communities. While this may be a good thing on this small scale, it gets much worse when animals are used for mass consumption. They are confined in unhealthy and sometimes painful environments, being fed hormones so they can provide us milk and other products, until they are eventually executed.

My overall goal for this project is to do what I personally can to lessen theburden on the environment by making a few small changes to my lifestyle, that I could potentially stick with long term. My idea is to attempt a vegan/vegetarian diet for one week, as well as reduce my use of plastics. Due to my own dietary needs and health concerns, I’m afraid I can’t implement a full vegan diet, so I wanted to add an extra element to make this project worthwhile. I drink a lot of water, and usually use many disposable plastic bottles. I’ve regretted this for some time, but haven’t yet made the step to take accountable change. As we’ve read in our coursework, pollution is a huge problem on our planet, with much of our unrecycled garbage ending up in our waterways.  This can affect the lives and well-being of women and children around the world, as they rely on clean water in order to feed and clean their families.


I always recycle and am adamant about recycling every product that I can. But I feel that is the only part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra that I focus on. So, I am going to further explore the “reduce/reuse” elements of this! Each morning, I grab a coffee on the way into work. This comes in a plastic cup, and I typically get it with skim (cow’s) milk. For the next week, I will plan on changing my order to include almond milk, and bringing one of my own reusable straws. If I forget, then I will drink the coffee without a straw. Throughout the week, I plan to brainstorm a way to reduce my usage of the plastic cup it comes in. On days that I may go out to eat, I will order drinks that are only served in a reusable glass, and will forego a straw, or bring a reusable collapsible straw.

Making vegan & vegetarian changes may be a little more challenging. Aside from the change to almond milk in my coffee, I plan to reduce my use of dairy and meats in my daily meals. I typically eat a lot of turkey and chicken, with the occasional steak or hamburger. I plan to focus on plant based dishes, and asking for cheeses to be removed from sandwiches I have made (I’m a big sandwich person!). I do love veggie burgers, so I plan to make one of those for dinner this week. I usually have cheese on any kind of burger, so this will be a new challenge to find something to replace that, or to try foods without this ‘safety net’. I love cheese, so I’m interested to see how this works out!


As for the achievement or affect I expect to have, I realize that over the course of 7 days, the impact one person might have is not huge, but it will be something. At the very least, there will be one less person using that straw, or buying meat, or eating cheese. I understand there might be health benefits as well, and I want to see how I feel after doing this for one week. Cutting the calories down from eating cheese or using alternative types of milk will be a plus, but I don’t plan on counting calories for the basis of this project. As well, I’m sure I will talk to people about it during the course of the week, so it could possibly get others to rethink their use of plastics, or use almond milk for the first time. I will record what I eat and do each day to see how well I stuck with my plan, and my feelings on doing so. I will attempt to count how many pieces of plastic I could have used and did not, and report on how well I think I could keep this activism going beyond this course.


The works we read this week showed us many different aspects of how environmental degradation can affect those of lower economic status and, specifically, how they can affect women at a higher rate. The reading The Chipko Movement addresses this issue directly as it discusses the 1970s movement in India. After being denied the right to use wood from part of the local forest for tools, villagers in the Alakananda valley were angry when they learned that the government implemented other plans for the land in that area. Instead of using the forest’s resources for something useful for their village, the government put the area to use as grounds for a sports company. Women that lived in the area protested, and were able to save the land from being razed, but not without a new term being coined in the process.

Source: Wikipedia

When the protests like these became popular, it birthed the term ‘tree hugger’, due to people forming circles around the trees in order to save them. Language such as this is meant to be derogatory, which discredits those in the movement – women, in these cases – in order for the ones using it to be taken more seriously. Not only did the Indian government in this example think it was ok to use the land to their own arguably selfish advantage, they thought it would be ok to risk the livelihood of the women and children who depended on it, as well.

A similar sentiment is brought up in the article “Speak Truth to Power” by Wangari Maathai, as it shows women’s innate connection to nature. Since they are the primary food and water source for their families, they are the first to “notice when the food they feed their family is tainted with pollutants or impurities” (Maathai, 2000). The health of the earth is manifested in the health of the children that ingest these resources – when water and crops are bad, their children become ill and sickly. Editor Kerry Kennedy explains the work Wangari Maathai did in order to ensure women in Africa had seedlings to grown trees to help “stop soil erosion, provide shade, and create a source of lumber and firewood” (Maathai, 2000). Maathai came up with a plan to plant millions of trees throughout Africa and the rest of the world. She called this the Green Belt Movement.

By Kingkongphoto & from Laurel Maryland, USA – Wangari Maathai 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, CC BY-SA 2.0,

This plan not only motivated countess women throughout Africa, it gave them confidence in their abilities and encouraged other women and neighbors to become involved. The movement grew, but came to a head when oppressive forces decided they wanted to transform a piece of land that community members accessed for free. The Nairobi government attempted to build a large building in this public space in Uhuru Park, but Maathai and those helping her in this mission protested against it. Just like the government wanted to oppress nature by way of this public park, they decided to oppress these women as well, when they had a valid opposition to it. They attempted many things in attempts to embarrass and dismiss them, but seemingly nothing in the way of bringing in a valid counter-argument.

All of this being said, I do agree with the question of material deprivations relating to deeper issues of disempowerment. Men and those in power are threatened by strong, capable, outspoken women. They resort to childish tactics of name calling and bullying instead of joining the fight with integrity, facts and intelligence. President Moi’s “ruling party parliamentarians threatened to mutilate her genitals in order to force Maathai to behave ‘like women should’’ (Maathai, 2000). I’ve learned that when things like this happen, this is how you know you’re right in your argument…but that it is also an unwinnable one. Though I do believe this is true on both sides of the coin. I think when people resort to this style of fighting, they know they don’t have very solid ground to stand on, so they try to ruin one’s credibility, and embarrass and stress them out enough that they will eventually back down. As she said in the article, “Parliament was just being mean, chauvinistic, and downright dirty…I know I was right, and they were wrong” (Maathai, 2000). Actions like this are an unbelievable overreaction. There will likely always be people with too much power that wish to wield that on others to ensure they always stay in control. Without help from our governments, and without our oppressors realizing we are all on the same side, with no one person being more important than the next, we will have a long route to go until we are all equal.