Capstone Project: Zero Waste Eating on a Budget

I can’t believe this semester is already over. I still remember the beginning of the term when I was trying to brainstorm and choose project ideas. I am now excited to present my finished Capstone project.

For my project, I chose to challenge myself, for the first time, to reduce waste by living two weeks without producing any food waste, including waste from food packaging. My experience and research conducted during the challenge was documented in a blog and video. I am so glad that I chose to do this project because I learned so much about everyday environmental habits and even video editing. It was also really fun. As a college student, I understand how time and finances may be drawbacks to eating zero waste, but through this challenge, I know it is possible! I hope you learn a lot from the research I incorporated into the blog posts, maybe even sparking more of your interest in environmental sustainability.

Thank you everyone for providing feedback on my drafts all along the way and helping me develop this project.

Introduction to News Articles

For my third genre, I will be exploring the possibilities of news articles. The goal of most news articles is to tell a specific story that recently occurred. If written well, even the articles that only contain facts can be very engaging because of the significance of the topic the author is writing about. Some news articles that go more into depth on the topic and are written with a certain point of view/angle of the story are called news feature articles. Those typically focus on a specific person or event, rather than something very broad.

However, all news articles have the same components. The article must have a strong title that indicates what the topic or issue at hand, while also being eye-catching. Right underneath is the author’s name and a couple words about who he/she is to provide credibility, called the byline. Then, the first paragraph contains the lead. The lead is important for giving a detailed preview of the entire story. It includes the basic facts and explains why the piece is noteworthy, which determines whether or not the reader will continue reading. Next is the body, which contains the story or explanation using research. This portion often contains interviews, quotes from researchers, or comments from community people directly affected that would represent the public’s perception. The article is concluded by wrapping up the opening statement or providing a future direction to the story.

News articles are written with a similar style too. They contain short paragraphs, maybe 2-3 sentences, without topic sentences or closing sentences like in an essay. Depending on the medium, they are often formatted into columns. The story is told in an active voice, beginning with the most important facts or in chronological order. All language is very simple and straightforward; there are no metaphors or too technical terms. Background information is always included because of the assumption that no one reading is an expert.

This is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle that provides new updates on the Mendocino Complex Fire. It contains a lot of the typical features of a news article, such as an intriguing title and attention-grabbing facts. Here is an article from The New York Times that is a great example of a news feature article. With its longer length and upbeat tone, it tells a story about Jonathan Kos-Read.

This genre is appealing because I would be able to provide an overview about the current situation with the California wildfires, while still including firsthand experiences or stories. For example, with a news feature article, I could spotlight someone who personally experienced one of the fires. Quotes from someone knowledgeable in environmentalism could also be useful. Hopefully, these outside sources are what make the news article more unique and interesting.

Introduction to Podcasts

For my second experiment, I chose to look into podcasts. Podcasts are like internet radio talks. They are audio recordings of a conversation between a host and guest speaker or monologue of a person’s thoughts. Podcast topics range greatly from news, to business, to fitness, and they contain episodes that fit the theme of the type of podcast. Usually the content of podcast episodes provide exposure to new ideas or information that will provoke thought from the listener. Some benefits to listening to podcasts are increasing time spent learning, improving listening skills, enhancing focus, and stimulating imagination. They’re also perfect for the on the go lifestyle. That’s because they can be streamed on phones, tablets, and computers or downloaded and listened to anywhere, anytime.

All of those qualities are what drew me to podcasts. They are so versatile and are basically a combination of education and entertainment. My project is about the impact of climate change in California, especially in regard to the wildfires that have recently destroyed hundreds of homes and drastically changed the landscape. Creating a podcast episode will allow me to provide news and information about a current, ongoing issue. Since I am from California, I will also be able to include first-hand knowledge on the impact of the wildfires on residents.

Recently, I listened to Trash! from NPR’s Planet Money podcast. This podcast episode discussed the economic issues that have risen for America’s recycled products. Other popular podcasts include Freakonomics, This American Life, and Stuff You Should Know.


For the most part, they all follow the same format.

Podcast episodes generally follow this order with these characteristics.

  1. Intro – who the podcast speaker, outline of discussion topics, about 30s
  2. Jingle – easily identifiable and unique to podcast
  3. Discussion
  4. Outro – summary with conclusion
  5. Closing remarks – thank you, referencing next episode, resources, tagline
  6. Jingle

Depending on the type of podcast, some people may or may not choose to write a script beforehand. If a script is written, it is important to first think of a theme, topics to discuss under the theme, and the length of the episode. Straight from the beginning, the host should engage listeners early on to hook them into the episode. This can take the form of an interesting story or current attention drawing issue. Since podcasts are listened to, providing context and visual aids enhances the listener’s experience. Write for the ear, not the eye. Other tips include having variable sentence lengths, simple terms and no jargon, and a linearity to the episode. It should be straightforward, to the point, and without any unnecessary details that don’t add to the central argument. Listeners often remember the first and last things most, so a specific call to action is typically made at the very end.

If you want to learn more about podcasts, check out these links.

Introduction to the Genre of Infographics

For my first experiment’s genre, I have decided on an infographic. Common types of infographics include informational, comparison, timeline, and how to. Infographics are the highest shared content type, and according to MIT, 90% of information sent to the brain is visual. I am interested in this genre because of its ability to convey information in an artistic, thorough, and concise manner. Usually all of the infographics I see easily catch the reader’s attention with the bright colors, recognizable symbols, and organized layout. With increased readership because of those qualities, it is easier to get important messages across and have people remember it.

During the time that people started eating Tide Pods, my chemistry professor showed us this infographic.

For the most part, this infographic is representative of its genre.  To be an infographic, there should be an overall burning question or problem that it aims to solve. Then, there are other relevant facts to answer sub questions. In this case, the main purpose would be why Tide Pods should not be eaten, and the sub questions would be like what’s inside a Tide Pod and what happens when someone eats one.

Infographics also make use of statistics, charts, graphs, and icons. The purpose of these depictions is to allow for minimal use of text to display data, explain concepts, simplify ideas, and show relationships. They make abstract ideas much easier to understand. In the example I showed, chemical depictions and structures were used because they best enhanced the text. It is important to make sure that the structure of the data enhances the information because sometimes words do just fine in representing the information. It is also just as important to ensure that the graph or chart accurately represents the data, as mistakes can easily be made during the process of creation.

Flow is one of the most important aspects to consider when making an infographic. Based on the purpose and type of information that is presented, both the layout and information must flow. Regarding layout, there needs to be an appropriate structure, like two columns vs. one column. The format and colors should remain consistent throughout the infographic. Regarding the words, they should start with what the reader will gain from the infographic and then dive into the details. That way it will be like a story for the readers, leading to excitement and curiosity as they read. When thinking about the words, one key point is to know who the audience is, especially for the purposes of technical language and style. The Tide Pods infographic manages flow well in both of these categories.  The two column and blue scheme format remains consist throughout, and the inclusion of chemical structures and simple chemistry terms works well for their audience with a basic chemistry background.

Here are some websites with more examples and tips on infographics.

Hello Minor in Writing Community!

Hi everyone! My name is Natalie, and I’m from San Francisco, CA. I’m a junior majoring in biomolecular science. As of now, I’m planning on a career in the pharmaceutical sciences. Since freshman year, I’ve been involved with BLUElab, research, and the Michigan Club Synchronized Swimming Team. Last year on the team, I got to compete in USA Synchro’s National Collegiate Championship in Arizona! I also enjoy reading books and exploring new places. And of course, I am pursuing a minor in writing. I really want to develop as a writer and am excited to begin with the Gateway course!

Exploring a city just outside my hometown!