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Frances Bigelow's avatar

Frances Bigelow

capstone fall 22


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  • 61 TOTAL

Frances's actions


Research Better Transportation

I will research one of the solutions presented in this week's session on Transportation and see if there are any groups in my community already doing this work.



Attend a Meeting

This week, I will attend one local event or meeting concerning a current issue in my community such as a planning meeting, a town hall, or a training on taking action.



Sign a Petition

I will sign a petition in support of an environmental or social initiative in my state.


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?

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 11/26/2022 8:17 PM
    This week, the change that I've resolved to undertake is to begin composting. I've wanted to do this for a while, but haven't been able to figure out a viable way; I live in an apartment building that doesn't offer compost as part of its waste-management program. However, I live very near to some of PSU's residence halls, which have an outdoor dumpster setup, including compost bins. It's quite easy to walk over once or twice a week and deposit my compostable waste in these bins. This is my short-term solution; in the longer term, I'd like to get a proposal together and talk to my building manager about the possibility of adding compost into our community's waste program.

    • Sydney Brown's avatar
      Sydney Brown 11/29/2022 8:03 AM
      I wish I was able to compost; I live in an apartment as well and do not have access to anything. I'm glad you found a place to try composting and I hope you could get composting for your building! Thanks for sharing.

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 11/20/2022 11:35 PM
    This week, I decided to track all my purchases. I found that most of what I purchased this week was food. I bought groceries yesterday, a sandwich on Thursday, and donuts on Wednesday. I think that these generally were necessary purchases; I was very mindful when grocery shopping of what I would actually use over the course of the week, and I didn't have time to pack a lunch on Thursday because my schedule was even busier than normal. The donuts were a slightly more frivolous purchase; I have to walk by Sesame Donuts on my way home, and I wasn't having a great day, so I was more easily tempted by that than I may be ordinarily.
    The one outlier was a birthday gift for my mom. I recently gave notice at my retail job, and my last day was yesterday. I wanted to put my employee discount to use while I still had it, so I ordered two garments from the brand's website for delivery by her birthday. A more sustainable choice would have been to buy my mom's gift at a local business or to make her something myself, and then to bring it with me when I go home for Thanksgiving.

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 11/09/2022 4:59 PM
    This week, I chose to look into Portland's public transportation system and ways in which it could be improved. On the whole, I remain impressed with it. Portland has a very strong public transportation system for a city of its size. I always compare it to Seattle, where I grew up, which has nowhere near the same level of transportation. Seattle has a decent bus system, but it lacks some coverage and doesn't come as frequently as one would like, and it's just now building a train system. Seattle is a significantly larger city than Portland, but it has a much weaker transport system.
    This is not to say that Portland has a perfect system, however. Especially in the outer parts of the TriMet region, coverage can be spotty, and it can be challenging to connect to neighboring transport systems. However, I did find a plan that TriMet has put forth to improve coverage, increase frequency of buses and trains, and expand the number of electric-powered buses in their fleet, among other things.
    Public Transportation Improvement Plan (

    • Katherine Cushing's avatar
      Katherine Cushing 11/11/2022 12:14 PM
      Hi Frances
      I, too, am from a place that lacks in the public transit department. I am a big fan of Portland's public transit, but I agree with you that it could certainly be improved in those ways. 

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 10/26/2022 8:34 PM
    This week, my actions were to reduce my use of plastic products and to watch “The Story of Bottled Water”. This short documentary was extremely illuminating to me. I’d never really thought about how bottled water became such a ubiquitous product in spite of its redundancy. Having now watched the film, it makes a great deal of sense that this was the result of consumerism and corporate greed. I drink a lot of water; as a voice student, hydration is of great importance. I’ve used a reusable water bottle since high school, and after watching this short film, I’m very glad for that fact.

    My other goal was to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that I use from day to day. I came into this with a bit of an advantage because I’ve taken measures in the past to reduce the amount of plastic that I use. I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I don’t really use straws, and I always carry a reusable water bottle. The obstacle that I encountered was the plastic sandwich bag. I typically bring my own lunch to campus, which often consists of a bagel with cream cheese and leafy greens. I normally carry this in a Ziploc sandwich bag, which is not sustainable at all. I’ve been trying to figure out an alternative, but the reusable sandwich boxes that I’ve seen are designed more for standard sandwich bread, and the reusable containers I already have are not the right size or shape to fit. I’m wondering if there are reusable sandwich bags that I could use instead.

    • Sydney Brown's avatar
      Sydney Brown 10/27/2022 12:31 AM
      Thank you for sharing your perspective on that documentary. It makes me want to watch it! Reusable water bottles are so handy and I'm glad they make such an impact.

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 10/21/2022 11:12 PM
    This week, I took two actions for my ecochallenge. The first was to plan out all of my meals at the start of the week so that I could be sure to use all of the food that I had. I found this to be very successful. I do my best not to waste food, but it definitely happens sometimes that I’ll buy tomatoes, for example, and then not eat them all before they go bad. That did not happen this week. It was a very simple action to just sit down at the start of the week and map out what I’d eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, but I feel that it helped me to make the most of the food that I had. Additionally, it made it much more straightforward for me to prepare my meals, because rather than deliberating over whether to have a sandwich or soup, etc., I could just consult the list I’d written out.

    My other action was watching the documentary Wasted!: The Story of Food Waste. Overall, I found this film illuminating. I was especially interested in its discussion of anaerobic digestion, a process by which the methane gas stored in food waste is converted into renewable energy. I’d never heard of such a thing before, but I really want to know more, because it sounds like it could be a terrific idea. I was a bit disappointed, however, with how little the film dealt with animal agriculture as a major driver of climate change. I’d have expected a more complete consideration of that issue, and I found it to be rather skated over.

    • Katherine Cushing's avatar
      Katherine Cushing 10/24/2022 9:36 AM
      Hi Frances,
      I think that planning out meals to avoid food waste is a very good use of time and energy. That is something that I would like to bring into my own life but have not yet. I usually buy a lot of sweet potatoes and squash so they last a long time, but I certainly have had many tomatoes go bad before I got around to eating them. 

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 10/10/2022 4:57 PM
    This week, I took a few different actions for my ecochallenge. First, I completed the Ecological Footprint Calculator from the Global Footprint Network. I found my results alarming. My overall ecological footprint was 5.2 gha (global hectares, the preferred unit for biocapacity), while the maximum biocapacity per person that the Earth can sustain is 3.4 gha. I’m well below the average American’s ecological footprint, which is 8.1 gha, but I’m still far above where I’d like to be. My carbon footprint comes out to 9.9 tons per year of CO2. According to the calculator, if everyone conducted their lives as I do, we would require the resources of 3.2 Earths to support it. I was surprised by my results; although I certainly knew that I had room for improvement, I expected my overall footprint to be lower. I don’t have a driver’s license, so I primarily travel by foot or take public transportation if the distance is too great to be realistically walkable. I’m a vegetarian, which lowers my dietary footprint significantly. On reflection, though, I realize that there is room for improvement. For example, I travel by plane a few times a year to visit my relatives in California. It would be worth looking into whether it would be feasible to make this journey by train instead, because trains have a significantly smaller environmental impact than planes do. I already travel by train when I go home to Seattle, and I enjoy the experience much more than air travel, so I wouldn’t be at all adverse to switching to train for a longer journey.

    I also looked into renewable energy options from my power company. PGE offers several renewable energy initiatives. I had already opted into the lowest tier of renewable energy, Green Future Choice, in which, for a fraction of a cent per kW h, all of your electricity comes from renewable sources. I chose to upgrade my plan to include Green Future Block, which invests in local infrastructure for renewable energy, and Habitat Support, which supports efforts to strengthen and revitalize Oregon salmon habitats. In total, this will increase my monthly energy bill by $4.38, less than the price of a cup of coffee.

    The third action that I took this week was to contact my local government officials in support of sustainable legislation. Specifically, I emailed Portland’s City Council members to voice my support for the ordinance with proposed changes to the Portland Clean Energy Fund. The proposed changes would align the PCEF’s activities with the city’s other sustainability efforts in order to more effectively allocate funding, as well as setting specific immediate and five-year goals. The immediate priorities include maintenance and expansion of tree canopy and developing energy efficiency in affordable housing. The five-year priorities include decarbonization of public transportation and expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency within general housing and commercial buildings. The ordinance will come to council on October 19.

  • Frances Bigelow's avatar
    Frances Bigelow 10/03/2022 5:08 PM
    I watched the documentary Climate Refugees (2010). I found this documentary to be very interesting because of both its subject matter and its age. It was made in 2010, which was the relatively recent future, but long enough ago that many of its predictions have begun to come true. The film deals with the human cost of climate change, namely displacement and death from natural disasters, food and water shortages, and other climate-induced issues. It references contemporary examples, including Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Sidr. In the twelve years since the film was made, we’ve seen an ever-increasing number of extreme weather events, from the wildfires in California and Australia to the heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest to Hurricane Ian ravaging Florida right now, which bears out the documentary’s prediction that these events would happen “more often and in more places”. The film does, however, make a couple suggestions for solutions, ranging from small, everyday changes by individuals, like switching to bike commuting or public transportation, to larger-scale infrastructure shifts, like repurposing disused automobile factories to build wind turbines. Despite its occasionally outdated reporting, this film is a very stark, very effective portrait of the human consequences of manmade climate change.

    • Sydney Brown's avatar
      Sydney Brown 10/05/2022 12:44 PM
      Wow, I have yet to see that documentary, but after your synopsis I would like to look into it more. It seems so relevant to climate matters of today, such as increasing weather events. Because of the time the documentary was made, it's foreshadow of what's to come due to human consumption and the way it will impact the earth. The changes it suggests, such as individual change, is so important yet there should also be a push for systemic change as well, due to the inability to enact global change solely on the individual level. Challenging policies that are made or taken on climate change is crucial. Thank you for sharing!