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Giovanni Simmons's avatar

Giovanni Simmons

Capstone summer 22


  • 0 TODAY
  • 296 TOTAL

participant impact

  • UP TO
    meatless or vegan meals
  • UP TO
    traveled by foot
  • UP TO
    pounds of CO2
    have been saved
  • UP TO
  • UP TO
    spent outdoors

Giovanni's actions

Visions of Sustainability

Online Energy Audit

I will complete an online energy audit of my home, office, or dorm room and identify my next steps for saving energy.


Consumption and Economy

Buy Only What I Need

I will not buy anything except items required for health and safety.



Walk Instead

I will walk 4 mile(s) each day this week instead of driving and avoid sending up to 25.97 lbs of CO2 into Earth's atmosphere.



Pick Up Litter

I will pick up litter on my street and ask others to join me in taking care of our neighborhood.



Say No to Plastic

Plastic bags and small plastic pieces like straws are most likely to get swept into our waterways. This week, I'll say "no" to plastic bags at the store and plastic straws in all of my drinks.



Reduce Animal Products

I will enjoy 1 meatless meal(s) and/or 1 vegan meal(s) each day this week.


Ecological Principles

Practice Gratitude for Earth

This week, I will spend 60 minute(s) each day outside, practicing gratitude (prayer, meditation, journaling, etc.) for Earth and the nature surrounding me.


A Call to Sustainability

Sign a Petition

I will sign petitions 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?

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 7/13/2022 10:37 PM
    For eco challenge eight, I decided to  do an online energy audit for my apartment & identify the next steps to saving energy. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our apartment scored a 10. At first I thought I entered data wrong but I double checked and it was all correct. To preface, we have a 1 bedroom apartment and our bills are anywhere from $30-$60 per month. I’ve realized that we don’t actually use much electricity and in places that we do, our devices are mostly energy efficient. Our apartment only uses electricity and doesn’t have gas stoves, so I only had to enter our electric bills. We have powerstrips everywhere that we have things plugged in, our light bulbs are energy star rated bulbs, and have many other efficiency factors. The building we live in is really old too, and the heating is baseboard heating which is really expensive to use from what I’ve heard, so we’ve never used it. We also don’t have air conditioning so we just  have a couple of fans that we use when it’s really hot and open up some windows. In terms of lights, we usually only have one on at a time in the evening and during the morning/afternoon we use the large East-facing windows to get natural light in. I really am curious what is causing a spike in energy use in a couple of months though. Sometimes the energy bill is double that of the previous month but we don’t really change our habits so I’m not sure what is causing this.
    My next step to save more energy is to better organize our refrigerator so it doesn’t pop open. Occasionally it cracks open a little bit which increases the energy it uses. Many of the other suggestions on the website don’t apply to me though because I live in an apartment so I can’t recycle my refrigerator or get an energy-star rated washer/dryer.

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 7/11/2022 10:39 PM
    For eco challenge seven, I decided to stick with buying only what I need. This included only buying things that  are required for health and safety. This week’s challenge really forced me to think every time I wanted to buy something and forced me to back out every time. It made me realize how many things I typically buy and don’t even hesitate to get. For example, I was tempted several times this weekend to get coffee at a coffee shop, but instead  I decided to just make coffee  at home. The same goes with eating lunch or dinner out. I also thought about buying some organizational tools to get my kitchen sorted and my new mason jars labeled, but instead decided to just leave it as is and use tape to label the mason jars instead of buying a label maker. Although I really wanted it, I realized that I don’t need it and I can just use what I have at home and make the best of that. Overall, this challenge forced me to feel comfortable and happy with what I have instead of always wanting more things. I’m not necessarily the type of person to always need more and more, but I do enjoy getting myself something nice every once in a while. I’m glad I did this challenge though because it makes me appreciate what I already have and it  pushes me to think more creatively. I actually didn’t buy anything this weekend other than a few groceries.

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 7/06/2022 9:36 PM
    For eco challenge six, I chose to walk 4 miles each day this week instead of driving and avoid sending up to 26 lbs of CO2 into Earth's atmosphere. I haven’t been using my car recently since I moved downtown, so for this eco challenge instead of avoiding using my own car, I avoided getting rides from anyone. I went to visit my friend in SE Portland a few days ago and he offered to come pick me up, but instead I decided to go by the Orange line and take a long walk to his house. I was okay with this because it was a really nice day and it pushed me to get my steps in for the day. When I got off the orange line, I was surprised by a freight train that was blocking my path to my friends house, so I waited. While I was waiting here, I saw many idling cars and people standing around and I waited for around 15 minutes. After some time passed I eventually realized that there was a bridge  that I could walk over not too far down the road (very embarrassing). I eventually reached my friend's house and took the same trip back by the Orange line. Not only did this change make me feel better about my impact on the environment, but it also gave me my daily dose of sunshine and pushed me to get some exercise which I really enjoyed. Thankfully I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere that day so it didn’t matter that the trip took 30 minutes more by public transit than it would if I drove, but it is  definitely something to consider when doing this. One thing I didn’t think about until now is how I might feel differently in the colder/more rainy months of the year.

    (Photos show friends we found during our walk and that pesky train!)

    • Lexi Silva's avatar
      Lexi Silva 7/07/2022 10:46 AM
      Hi Giovanni,
      Great pictures of your walk! I thought it was really cool that even though you had other quicker, and easier transportation options, you were more self-aware with your time and community that you took the max and spent more time outdoors on a nice day! I thought it was pretty neat that you mentioned how it took more time than usual, which really increases the need for many people to just drive since we live in such a fast-paced society. 

    • Madison Scruggs's avatar
      Madison Scruggs 7/06/2022 10:05 PM
      Hi Giovanni this is awesome! It's really cool how these challenges are getting us out of our comfort zone, and were able to create new routines that we might enjoy even more than our current routines. 

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 7/04/2022 9:17 PM
    For eco challenge five, I chose to pick up litter on my street and ask others to join me in taking care of our neighborhood. My girlfriend and I regularly take walks through our neighborhood, where there is more trash than I would like there to be (none would be ideal). I chose to do this eco challenge because I thought it would be beneficial to slow down and understand the area more, so I asked her to tag along in this eco challenge. One thing I noticed living in student housing is that there’s more trash in the common areas here than surrounding apartment complexes—not just the common areas but the surrounding streets and sidewalks too. At first I was frustrated when I realized how much trash there was and upset with seeing how others don’t care about their impact on the environment and the space around them. Not only does it impact the environment, but also makes the space around them look bad. Another thing I noticed in my neighborhood is dog poop either being left and not picked up at all, or someone will just throw the bag on the road or sidewalk after bagging it. More clean-up stations to dispose and get bags will promote people to pick it up in the first place and dispose of it in the proper place! Something similar for cigarette butts would help too, as they are the most common item littered. Although seeing all the trash in our neighborhood was frustrating, in the end it got us both thinking about what could be done to solve many specific issues.

    • Montgomery Archambo-Pietsch's avatar
      Montgomery Archambo-Pietsch 7/05/2022 12:16 AM
      I also picked up liter this week and was frustrated by the amount of cigarette butts I found! I read once that they were the most littered item in the world!

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 7/04/2022 9:16 PM
    For eco challenge four, I decided to reduce my plastic use by saying no to plastic bags at the store and plastic straws in all of my drinks. I chose this eco challenge because I’ve always wanted to make this a permanent part of my life, so I've been practicing it recently to  hopefully make it a permanent habit. I’ve had reusable bags for  many years, but since I had a big change recently (I stopped using my car and taking public transport since I moved downtown), I found it more difficult to remember the bags every time  I went out to get  groceries. Previously, I was able to just leave  them in my  car and go get them if I forgot. To integrate this change into my life, I thought that I could just put the bags in a place that I would remember them more easily, so I made an area for the bags near the front door. With this change, I would see the bags on my way out the door or as  I’m putting my shoes on to hopefully remind me that I need to take them. Anyways, aside from my strategy to make this change a regular habit, I want to say that it  made me feel a lot better being able to consistently click “0” when asked how many plastic bags I used. I also noticed that the bags I brought from home feel a lot more reliable and sturdy! My next steps in reducing plastic were to use glass packaging rather than plastic in the kitchen. I bought some mason jars to store bulk pantry items and also got some glass straws which come with a little pouch to carry around!

    The included image shows my simple, new change. I put the main bags I use (only 2-3) for smaller grocery trips in another bag, ready to go. The extra bags are all put in this unused planter (repurposed!)

    • Gabe Dicenzo's avatar
      Gabe Dicenzo 7/06/2022 12:08 AM
      The constantly clicking 0 made me feel so guilty. I'm the absolute worst when it comes to using reusable bags. Every time I hit the 1 I feel like the employees are judging me. I'm a believer and I know it's something that can be done so easy but for some reason I leave them tucked under the sink or in the back seat. You've reinvigorated my motivation for bringing reusable bags on a regular basis. 

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 6/29/2022 10:28 PM
    For my third eco challenge, I chose to have meatless/vegan meals several days this week. To start this week off, my girlfriend and I wanted to have chili (interesting choice on a hot day, I know), but we decided to make some substitutions in the meal that would make it vegan & completely meat free! We switched out the ground beef/turkey that we typically use for Impossible beef and substituted the beef broth for vegetable broth. Today, we are making pasta with “meat sauce” (Impossible ground beef), and I can truthfully say that it tasted a lot better than I expected. My whole life, I’ve been used to having meat in almost every meal, but looking back it seemed to be more prominent in dinners, so for this eco challenge I wanted  to focus on making meatless dinners to challenge myself. Next up, we’re trying the Impossible beef patties and Impossible sausage links! I’ve also noticed the difference in how real meat versus Impossible meat makes me feel after I eat it. Typically with regular ground beef, I would feel bloated and weighed down by all the grease—but this feeling was not present after eating the Impossible meat,  so I’m really looking forward to trying the other products and regularly implementing this into my diet, as I only see upsides to this change! (Included photo shows the most recent meal, pasta with impossible meat sauce)

    • Gabe Dicenzo's avatar
      Gabe Dicenzo 6/30/2022 7:59 AM
      Thats some good looking vegan bolognese! Any future recipes you have your eye on? I've never tried cooking a meat substitution (besides like tofu but ya know..not quite the same) but this gives me some inspo and the cooking itch.

      P.S.  Your Rhaphidophora is awesome. 

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 6/22/2022 9:41 PM
    For the second eco challenge, I chose “Practice Gratitude for the Earth”. I decided to spend at least 60 minutes a day outside, where I would practice gratitude for the Earth and nature around me. Over the past week, I have spent more than this time every single day, and I am thankful that I was able to enjoy the beautiful weather in San Diego up until Sunday. During my time in San Diego, I went on several hikes, one of which I sat with my friends at a viewpoint after a hike near Torrey Pines. As I typically do during hikes, once I reach the viewpoint I like to meditate by sitting in silence and taking that time to carefully listen to everything around me. It was a little difficult in this specific area since there were cars nearby and other people on the trail, but I still tried. This experience brought me to appreciate everything around and got me to understand the life in nature that surrounds me better. This Friday I also plan to take a walk into Washington Park to relax and enjoy the nice weather.

  • Giovanni Simmons's avatar
    Giovanni Simmons 6/20/2022 8:17 PM
    The eco-challenge I chose was to sign a petition. Although I signed multiple petitions while browsing through, one grabbed my attention the most which was "The Global Petition to Protect the Amazon". This petition specifically is personal to me because I have family in South America who directly appreciate the beauty and culture that comes from the Amazon, which must be preserved.
    The petition itself goes into detail about the importance of the Amazon Rainforest, specifically its impact on life on Earth and the many species of flora and fauna that reside there. It traps large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is released back into the atmosphere when the trees are cut down or burned.
    To make an impact myself, I decided to share this petition with other friends and family members, and if interested they could read information provided on the petition or read a research paper I wrote on the impact of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest (link).
    One thing I struggled with was seeing where else I can take action in my personal life. I want to share this information with others, but I want to know what else I can do. From prior research, I know that cattle ranching is the leader in deforestation in the rainforest, so reducing consumption of those things will make a direct impact, but there was no section saying what changes one person could make in their own life.

    • Gabe Dicenzo's avatar
      Gabe Dicenzo 6/21/2022 7:42 AM
      Great work Giovanni,
      The Amazon is home to many of my favorite plant species so seeing this petition made me feel good knowing that others share an interest in the region. Unfortunately the Amazon is one of our harshest reminders of the consequences of pollution and highlights the need for a sustainable future. After reading what you plan on doing to make efforts to reduce your impact I hope to reflect on my actions as well and take steps towards improving my own sustainable lifestyle. 

    • Jillian McDaniel's avatar
      Jillian McDaniel 6/20/2022 10:19 PM
      Hi Giovanni, 
      It's awesome that you found many petitions to sign. Thank you for sharing this petition because I am going to go sign it now. In the documentary I just watched for this eco challenge, one the things they talked about was the deforestation of the rainforest and how much of an impact that has on the world, especially when it comes to limiting CO2 emissions. Forests are basically the lungs on the world.