Our world is burning. In 2020 alone, over 7.7 million acres have been destroyed due to wildfires alone. Nowadays, the effects of global warming can’t be ignored. Unless we drastically cut our carbon emissions in half over the next five years, our planet could be uninhabitable by 2040. In all political, social and economic circles, the environment should be at the forefront of discussion. This includes us students. However, it is difficult to feel that we can change the world, as students are cooped up in a classroom with 25 of their peers and are constantly told that their worth is their percentage on a piece of paper. The fact of the matter is, that every little thing we do counts toward the earth as a whole. Although it may not always seem like it, doing very simple things can change the world, not only by the initial impact, but also by the examples that we can set for others.
There are many ways that one can begin to turn back the clock on what will soon be an irreversible damage. These range from simple tasks to potentially some drastic changes that could be integrated in one’s life. The first thing that came to mind, is trying to switch our world to a digital platform. With the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the school work at Heritage Woods happens online, and as such, it should not be difficult to have most of your learning done online in order to reduce excessive paper consumption. Paper is recyclable, but that doesn't mean it just goes away. Papers could be burned; emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they could also be composted; releasing methane gas and Co2. Keeping your work online will help to reduce our carbon footprint.
The second thing is to try to reduce meat and dairy consumption. This perhaps sounds like a daunting task to some people, but this is something that anyone can do if they are looking to make a difference. Every year, meat production industries are responsible for almost 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Making an effort to having even one vegetarian meal a day will make a huge difference. The other thing is to try to walk to school daily. Cars are responsible for at least one fifth of the carbon pollution in North America alone. If walking to and from school is not an option, then consider public transit. Having 20 people on one bus is far better than having 20 individual vehicles on the road. Though these options are more cumbersome, you should still try your best or try some easier suggestions.
Another huge issue are plastic wastes. Every day, over 60 million plastic water bottles end up in the landfills, and this is not even including the bottles that end up in our oceans. This accumulates to over 21 billion, 900 million plastic bottles a year. It is not difficult to buy a reusable water bottle —so please do so. Our school is filled with water bottle refill stations, giving students no excuse not to do our part. The water bottle is only a fraction of the garbage that ends up in landfills or back in our ecosystem. One suggestion is to come to school with reusable containers rather than with bagged lunches. It's time to say goodbye to Ziplock bags and use a reusable alternative. If you do have garbage, it is critical that you dispose of it correctly. Our school hallways are filled with various forms of recycling bins, please get rid of your garbage in the correct one. Most importantly, do not litter. The field after lunch can often be found full of food wrappers. Do your part and hold yourself accountable for doing right for Mother Nature and our community.
It is more important than ever that we do our part to better the world around us for each passing second. Being an eco-conscious member of our society is extremely important. Please consider reducing paper usage, meat and dairy consumption, fossil fuel bruning, and plastic wastes. These things may seem small and ineffectual, but they are rapidly becoming a matter of life and death to us.
Written by Cloey Aconley