The plastic bag you tossed in the ocean during a beach trip took the life of a marine animal after wrongfully thinking it was food and suffocating to death. The car you drove to work in emits greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming, a process held responsible for heating up the Earth at an exponential rate. The “forest” you passed by with slim to none trees due to deforestation wiped out an organism’s home and reduced overall biodiversity. The actions humans partake in harm the environment and more often than not, we do little to reimburse these actions.
The small innate habits we possess can easily be wiping out entire ecosystems and coincidingly, the organisms which they contain. While many may argue that chopping down trees can result in prosperous urbanization, no matter how many houses we build on this planet, our universal home is Earth. We should have been protecting and preserving this planet all these years and since we failed to do so, now is a better time than ever to change our habits and become more environmentally friendly.
1. Vegan Lunch Options
The dairy and meat industries are breeding grounds for animal cruelty and as video footage of such cruelty continues to surface and make its way into the public eye, more and more people are taking action. People are withdrawing their support and have stopped purchasing dairy and meat products in an attempt to drastically reduce the abuse found in these industries. Meat consumption, in addition to the abuse it took to acquire the product, is harmful for our environment as it increases the output of carbon and thus contributes to global warming significantly. Dairy products have the same effect since the farms use fertilizers and grain, while the livestock release carbon into the environment. Our economy, therefore, would also reap the benefits of ridding dairy from our diets as less energy and supplies would be used. The school already does a great job of not serving an excessive amount of meat. However, we can try to introduce more vegan or at the very least, more vegetarian options to make a bigger impact.
2. Monthly Clothing Drives
As teenagers are constantly growing and following new fashion trends, we tend to get rid of clothes from our closet often. We can successfully repurpose these clothing items by hosting monthly clothing drives. Landfills are areas where items are thrown away and is lined with a plastic covering. They are naturally viewed as a proper way to compile people’s trash, yet are responsible for various pollutants and toxins, harming both our water and oil. The most common items found in landfills, some of which being plastic coffee cups, clothing, and plastic bags, can take up to 500 years to fully decompose. In the midst of these years, greenhouse gases are being released. As a school, we can easily avoid this by having monthly clothing drives where we can collect student’s old or unwanted clothing and allowing others who want it, to take it! By doing so, we can recycle products within our student body without even realizing it.
3. School-Sponsored Cleanup Projects
It is quite remarkable what cleaning up can do to what seems like a small area. Just recently, it has been recognized that a 33-year-old male helped coordinate a beach cleanup project that has lasted more than 100 weeks. Versova beach located in Mumbai, India, as a result, has been deemed the world’s largest beach cleanup and the hundreds of volunteers continue to clean the beach weekly. With the help of these volunteers, they were able to remove 12,000 tons of trash from the beach, many of which being plastic products of some sort. Working as a united community, our school can do the same! The Environmental Action Club participates in an annual beach cleanup event in Asbury Park, yet there are other stream cleanups held throughout the year by other organizations. The school can help organize more of these events and allow the student body to get involved. We can also clean the Thompson Park in replacement of free days in gym to get steps in while helping the environment in our own community.
Plastic pollution is one of the main killers in marine animals! These organisms are often seen floating dead in the ocean and later found to have a shocking amount of plastic in their bodies, since so many consume plastic, thinking it is food.
Carpooling is such a simple and effective way in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the environment. During commutes to work or school, these gases are constantly being released from cars, trucks, buses, and more. However, we can reduce this by minimizing the amount of vehicles we have on the road. This can easily be done for students who get dropped off as one car can drop off kids from a smaller community. It is also an efficient method for those who have working parents and still need a ride. Students who ride the bus, similarly, are also in a sense “carpooling.” Riding the bus with kids from your community is more efficient than having every child dropped off to the school individually.
5. Discussing Eco-Friendly Habits within the Science Curriculum
As students, we often learn more about the effects of our actions rather than learning about the actions themselves. In science classes, we can have discussions about pollution, global warming, etc. but we should also discuss how we can make small changes within our daily lives to help make positive change. Vinisha Patel, President of Monroe Township High School’s Environmental Action Club, explains it perfectly: “The best way to make the most impact on the environment is to make small changes that result in long term habits. Without changing the products and habits of the population, the outcome will remain the same…as opposed to being proactive and nipping our environmental disaster at the source.” Many people simply think that recycling and using a reusable water bottle counts as doing their job of being an eco-friendly individual and although these actions do help, we should educate ourselves on how to make a bigger impact. For example, we can learn how to reduce plastic use by substituting single-use straws with reusable ones or converting to use of bamboo cutlery at home. Also, we can be more mindful of our water use by closing the tap when washing your face or brushing your teeth. Solving a problem of course requires action, but it begins with being informed and becoming educated about the issue at hand.
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