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Metal Straws are Not Enough

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Elizabethtown chapter.


Recently I did my ecological footprint as an assignment for class and I was shocked at my results because I consider myself to be a pretty ecologically friendly person. I try to use reusable bags, metal straws, I drive an eco-friendly car, I always turn my lights off when they’re not in use, etc. However, I did not realize the amount that even the little things can affect just how much you are taking from the Earth. Once going through the questionnaire found at http://www.footprintcalculator.org/ my results told me I take up 5 hectares of room on the Earth and if everyone lived like me we would have to take up 2.9 Earths. To really put this into perspective, Dr. Mathis Wackernagel said that if we wanted to equally divide the Earth for each human, each human would get 1.8 hectares. However, if we wanted to leave room for other species, each human would get 0.9 hectares. A hectare is roughly the size of a soccer field. To me, my results seemed intense. I did not think that I would take up this much room; however, in America, we have a lot of luxuries that require a lot of Earth’s resources. In many countries people do not have their own car and they rely on public transport to get from point A to point B. Also, we have appliances that people in other countries do not have, and we often take it for granted and do not realize the amount of resources that they take up. This can be seen with air conditioning, it is so weird to other countries to imagine having air conditioning within personal homes, or anywhere at all. The United States gets hot, but not nearly as hot as it gets in other countries, yet we still have air conditioning within our homes. It is the little things that we do everyday that adds up, and even people who take steps to decrease their Carbon footprint, may not realize how big their Carbon footprint really is. Especially in America, we need to become mindful of the luxuries that we have and take steps to really reduce the amount that we really take up. 

I know that this seems really dark and dreary of a topic, however, there are plenty of tips that this website provides that help guide you to reducing your carbon footprint. One question in the quiz deals with how often that you eat meat, which for me is pretty often (almost every day). Their solution to this is trying new vegetarian recipes once a month, or better yet, once a week. This is one that I plan to take part in, and there is even a movement in the world called “Meatless Mondays”, which is when people reduce their meat intake for the health of the planet. This is just a small step, reducing meat intake just one day a week, but it is a step which could have pronounced benefits for the health of the planet. So, to us it seems small, but if everyone participates this would be billions of people not eating meat for one day a week. Other than changing meat intake, you can also take small steps by volunteering time or money to organizations that are working to help the planet become healthier. Personally, in Pennsylvania, we have beautiful state parks which are always looking for volunteers to help maintain the parks beauty and importance. State parks are so important for biodiversity, mental health, having places to hike/ do other outdoor entertainment. We need to keep these preserved because they have so many benefits to the world, we not only need to keep these preserved but gain more areas like them. So, even if you do not have the financial means to donate to these organizations, it is just as important (if not more important) to donate time. We all need to stick together and work hard to reduce our ecological footprint, and take care of our planet because there is only one Earth. We do not get another chance.

Kaylyn Gordon

Elizabethtown '21

Hello, my name is Kaylyn and I am a student at Elizabethtown College studying Environmental Science.