Happy Earth Day, and happy finals week. First of all, it’s important to recognize that the biggest problems with the environment are not caused by individuals. They’re caused by big companies who use up resources and create factories and commission thousands of semi trucks to deliver their products. However, as individuals, we do have some power to affect these corporate companies and do our own part in the meantime.
As we get ready to leave school for and enjoy the summer, we need to be mindful of the environmental luxuries we won’t have off-campus and do what we can to compensate. We won’t have water-bottle filling stations that make us feel good about using a reusable water bottle, and we won’t have labeled garbage cans that make recycling easier. People often forget to be mindful of the environment in the summer anyway because of the heat, use of water and exotic fruit. In honor of Earth Day, here are small ways for students to help the environment when you’re not in school.
First, buy local fruit and veggies for your summer barbecues. There are usually sections of grocery stores specifically designated for these products. Some towns and cities will even have local farmers markets like the U does during fall semesters. If you can’t buy locally, make sure to only buy products that are in season to decrease the labor of poor workers who farm and harvest the food in the countries where it’s grown. For example, in the summer, apples, avocados and peaches are in season but mushrooms, pineapple and sweet potatoes are not. You can look up this information and more on the United States Department of Agriculture website. If you’re hot and want to take a dip or have a pool party, go to the local swimming pool instead of filling up your own mini pool that you’re going dump out onto your lawn afterward. It’s not worth it, and it wastes water and increases your water bill, which will end up being the same fee you would pay for the public swimming pool.
Also, don’t run your sprinklers during the day. The sun will evaporate all the water and your lawn will fry. The best time to water your lawn is at sundown. Use reusable shopping bags. You can buy them at any dollar store. Plastic is one of the most harmful materials for the environment. Even if you recycle plastic grocery bags for little trashcans in your home, it’s still using plastic. They take forever — literally forever — to biodegrade, they get tossed in the ocean and they strangle all types of animals. They even blow through the wind on the streets and highways. Let’s team up and kill plastic bags along with napkins.
Finally, when going camping, be very aware of how much garbage you use. Don’t leave your trash at the campsite. It will ruin the site, it’s rude to other campers and it disrupts the animals’ homes. They could eat it and choke, harm themselves or be poisoned. Take your trash to the property’s dumpster.
Have fun this summer. Just remember that fun doesn’t have to mean thoughtless. Planet earth deserves to have a good summer.