Sustainability, environmentalism, climate change, carbon emissions… the list of “green” terms and phrases goes on and on, and the sheer magnitude of the issue can be overwhelming. We all know protecting our planet from further damage and working to undo the issues of the past is a pressing issue, but it can be hard to implement positive changes in daily life. Taking care of the environment is now more important than ever, but where do we start?
For Boston University student Flower Armijo, taking care of planet Earth starts with a love of the outdoors.
“I am from the coast of Southern California, so a lot of my childhood was spent outdoors,” Armijo said. “The beach was always my favorite place, and I quickly developed a passion for protecting the environment because of that.”
Armijo took her love for all things nature and ran with it, researching the ways that she could make a difference through a career involving the environment.
“I always wanted to be a marine biologist, but after a summer interning for an environmental lawyer, I realized that environmental law was my true passion,” Armijo said. “It’s the perfect blend of science, environmentalism, and politics!”
While the larger issues of climate change, pollution, and humanity’s effect on the environment are always at the forefront of her mind, Armijo doesn’t forget about the smaller issues while dreaming big.
“I hope to one day protect the environment, as well as bring justice to underserved communities who disproportionately bear the consequences of climate change and have the most exposure to environmental hazards,” Armijo said.
It’s safe to say that Armijo is well on her way to achieving her goal. In 2020, she obtained a prestigious internship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she has “been able to learn more about how the government plays a role in protecting the environment through community-based programs and legislation.”
These EPA programs and legislation help to “ensure that all communities have access to a clean, safe environment,” Armijo said.
Armijo plans on attending law school after graduating from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2022, with the hope of continuing her environmental law work after completing her law degree.
So, how can someone who isn’t pursuing an environmental law degree make an environmental difference in daily life?
“I think the most important thing to remember is that small changes in behavior go a long way,” Armijo said. “Many people tend to think that small changes, such as using a reusable straw or shopping bag, don’t make that big of a difference, but, in reality, they do!”
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly,’ from Anne-Mari Bonneau,” Armijo said.
“It is unrealistic to expect everyone to be perfect when it comes to reducing individual impact,” Armijo said. “We should encourage everyone to just try their best and know that that is enough.”
To limit her own waste in daily life, Armijo participates in “recycling, biking or walking instead of driving, buying from sustainable brands, eating locally-sourced organic ingredients, and utilizing natural light during the day” whenever possible.
Armijo’s belief is that anyone and everyone can make the choice to embrace sustainability and a greener lifestyle, even if it’s simply in the smallest ways. Not everyone has to be the greenest, most zero-waste person ever — they simply have to do what they can.
“I can’t always make the most sustainable choices, especially during a pandemic, which has put a pause on the use of many reusable items,” Armijo said. “But I am trying my best to do so when I can, and that’s what matters most.”