Our Time is Now!

How hard is it to walk five more feet to a trash can to dispose of your Juul pod or to take those two extra seconds to ask for no straw with your soda in the drive-thru window? Surprisingly, it is not hard at all. It is time for us to recognize our wrongs, take action, and play our own individual parts in giving back to our planet by accepting the damage we have done and also taking small actions daily to prevent the accumulation of further damage. 

As it is hard to overlook the damage at a time like this, I’m sure that all of you have questioned the standing of our planet; the place we rely on to survive day by day. Over the past few weeks, the Amazon Rainforest has burned continuously, the place you, your friend, your pet, and everyone else on earth rely on for 20% of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon, a major reason we live the lives we do, absorbs millions of tons of carbon every year, and through the destruction of these trees, the carbon has been emitted right back into our atmosphere. Those who are selfish and uneducated took that away, but those who burned it to utilize land are not the only people responsible for the ongoing decline in the health of our environment, we all are. People are hurting themselves and others by taking advantage of ecosystems that are so vital to our lives. 

The damage done is almost irreversible, considering many species were harmed or killed while the trees burned to ash, but there are small things we can all do to preserve what’s left of our environment. 

An ongoing problem has been the human production of waste, resulting in a little more than 4.5 pounds of trash produced per person each day. One thing you can do to stop this is to use minimal plastic or packaging to wrap food, and instead use reusable containers. You can also bring your own reusable bags back to grocery stores to prevent plastic bags from running loose and landing as a flag in the closest tree. You’ll be prepared anyway since NYS is banning the use of plastic bags, so get ahead!

We also struggle with the idea of recycling. On almost any glass, metal, or plastic bottle the label will tell you the recycling details. Also, certain paper products can be recycled, such as printer paper, tissue paper, paper plates, etc. You can even recycle back into the Earth by composting. It isn’t hard to look up a chart on Google these days to see what can go into a compost pile. As a heads up, some items that can be composted include fruit peels, coffee filters, vegetables, bread, etc. Go start yourself a compost pile, it gets you out of the house and provides free soil!

No matter how many Earth Day Cleanups schools and communities do, it always results with a new layer of garbage on the side of the road a week later. People toss their leftover McDonald’s trash out the window without a second thought with the mindset that, “Oh, I don’t live right there, so it won’t affect me,” or, “Someone else will get it, who cares. It’s more convenient for me!” Just wait the extra ten minute drive to your house or the local gas station to dispose of your Doritos bag the right way. What people don’t realize is that the second that bag leaves their hands, the risk of that floating bag killing an animal or polluting our Earth skyrockets. One sweep of a strong wind will blow your trash into the nearest body of water or forest for birds or other species to scope out and eat. Hold onto your trash! The birds and the fish are begging you!

Ever heard of plastic straws? They stink. Turtles, birds, and other curious little creatures mistake those straws, that you use once for a fancy drink, as food only to lead to tragic deaths through choking, or not being able to digest a straw that was not meant for digestion. There have been more and more solutions to solving this problem that we should all be taking advantage of. Use a paper straw if you have the option between that or plastic, or, you can find a pack of stainless steel straws online for four dollars versus buying a pack of disposable straws for six dollars. Think about it: for even cheaper, you will never have to purchase or use a straw that could harm an animal ever again! The solution is easy. 

This is where the task lands on us and becomes our responsibility, although it always has been. If each of us just took the extra time to think of a safer alternative to everyday tasks, the world would be a better and safer place. Who cares if it adds on a couple more minutes to your daily routine? Take those little opportunities to give back to the place that lets you fulfill your dreams, gives you opportunities that show up when you need them most, allows you to see and embrace the people you love infinitely, and the place that provides a future for your own babies or grandbabies, or you will come to regret it. Do what you can before it’s too late. 

Further tasks that you can complete to help your planet: plant trees, take a walk or bike to work to conserve gas, use organic tampons (trust me they work the same), and invest in a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic waste.