We can all protect the environment, right now

Jada Caldwell

The first earth day was April 22, 1970. Just as we’ve made strides in the technological and medical fields and have seen economic growth and expansion of things since that first earth day, the United States has also expanded efforts to protect our environment.
For example, the Clean Water Act, which restricts water pollution, the Endangered Species Act, which protects biodiversity, the Safe Drinking Water Act, which promotes public health, the Superfund program, which primarily cleans up toxic industrial pollution, are all examples of forward-thinking environmental strides made since 1970.
But while we acknowledge those great things we’ve implemented, we must also acknowledge the things we are continuing to turn a blind eye to.
People too often adopt the mindset of, “if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care,” but you should care because it is affecting you. It is affecting you every single day and will continue to until the end of your life and until the end of the lives of new generations that will be born.
Our dwindling natural resources mean that we eventually won’t be able to satisfy daily needs. They are essential to public health and industry. According to the Global Footprint Network, it was approximated that humans are consuming natural resources 1.7 times faster than ecosystems can regenerate.
Deforestation, as humans disrupt and enforce their will on our natural ecosystem, increases CO2 in the atmosphere, further contributing to warmer temperatures.
Global warming dramatically impacts the weather and increases the chance of major hurricanes, tornados and once-a-generation floods happening every year.
These are only a few of the environmental problems plaguing our planet, but they are all significant problems that don’t have one solution or an easy solution.
State governments and our national government have the role of continuing to put legislation in place, and they no doubt have a lot to do.
However, in the meantime, as individuals we have to do our part.
We can advocate for what we want to see changed and have solutions in mind.
Each of us can cut down on the energy and water consumption in our household, or plant a tree or volunteer at programs within our community that are designed to combat local environmental problems.
Or we can replace single–use plastic materials with reusable alternatives: metal straws for plastic straws, reusable bags, water bottles or cups for their plastic counterparts, cloth towels for paper towels or recycle.
It sounds pretty easy, but recently, I discovered that my family and I have been recycling incorrectly—for over a decade.
Picture it. I’m in Latin learning about food in Roman and Gallic societies, and somehow we briefly got on the topic of recycling. As it turns out, if you put your recycled materials into a plastic bag like you would your trash, then the team who goes through the collection of recycled items, immediately throws it away.
I was astonished because I don’t know how my household managed to be unaware of that for so long, but once I mentioned this to them, we made a point of implementing an appropriate method so we wouldn’t end up wasting another decade, not doing our part.
My personal anecdote can serve as a symbol for all of us. We need not wait on town, state and national leaders to begin addressing our roles in a changing climate.
Information abounds. We should all explore ways to correctly impact our environment through appropriate and impactful choices.