by Alexa Schmidt, Features Editor
I wrote an op-ed last semester about environmentalism, and I’m back to talk a little bit more about why you should care. It’s only fitting that this is placed in the generational special issue because of how much things have changed, and that earth day is coming up in two weeks.
This semester, I have been taking an introduction to environmental science class. I don’t particularly have an interest in science, but through this class I can understand and learn about the technical aspects of climate change, pollution, agriculture and more, and how they contribute to Earth’s destruction. Needless to say, I leave class stressed every day.
Climate change is real. Agriculture affects how we get our food, and uses excess resources only to get a low output. Big industries have small businesses under their thumb, and the definition of family farms have changed for the worse. Fossil fuels are still burned to an excess amount. Bee colonies are dying. Coral reefs are bleached, and there is no going back. Habitat loss and deforestation is destroying biodiversity. Environmental displacement is forcing people in the pacific islands to move, which is oftentimes not a plausible option for them. Glaciers and the arctic are melting. The. List. Goes. On.
Don’t these problems make you want to do something? Just because we don’t see them have an immediate impact on us, especially in the NYC area, does NOT mean they don’t exist.
It’s a systemic issue that the government controls. Within the socioeconomic classes, sometimes going green is not an option. And why is that?
Let me create a situation. In a low-income neighborhood, there is a single mother who has four kids. She works two jobs, and when she gets home, she does not have the time nor energy to cook a healthy meal that covers all the food groups. So she goes to McDonald’s to order from the dollar menu. First of all, food should not be able to be sold for a dollar, but that’s an issue within itself.
What I’m trying to get at is that this mother has a lot of other things on her mind, and being green is not on that list. Even if she was to try and buy healthy foods at the store, they are so overpriced that it’s out of the question. What is more reasonable: to buy organic products, or to pay the bills and to send the children to receive a higher education? Food distribution and environmental injustice needs to change for the better.
While I understand that there are so many other issues in the world, environmentalism is one of those things that affect how those other issues will be dealt with. If there is no earth, these issues won’t matter.
When discussing my future, I just assume that I’ll have a job, and I’ll be able to raise my kids the same way I was raised. To feel unafraid every time I step outside. To be able to hike in national parks and feel insignificant in these monumental places that only mother earth can create. To show my children some of the rare places that haven’t been touched by man.
As a kid, I thought I could save the world. And here I am trying to do just that, by asking for your help to be conscious and make sustainable choices. Oftentimes, I lose hope. I ask myself what I can do, because it is so easy to believe that one person cannot make a difference. And the truth is, I can’t save the world, despite what my younger self wanted. But if every person made a change in their life, we could make strides to save this beautiful world.
Do not lose hope. There are people out there whose passion is unmatched, especially when it comes to the environment. And they are here to fight for us, and they ask you to join them in the fight. It is up to you to make those choices, and to care about something that affects you and the generations that follow.
Start with little changes. I’m not saying that you need to become a vegan. I love cheeseburgers, and could never give them up. But try meatless Mondays. Buy Fair Trade products. Use tote bags. Conserve water and energy. Reduce the amount of waste you produce. Most importantly, know your politicians and vote. Build a strong community. Educate yourself and share that knowledge with as many people as possible.
It is not enough to express how much you love the earth on Instagram. Every day needs to be earth day.