It seems a bit strange to say that my recycling habits, knowledge of climate change and appreciation for the earth came from art school, but it’s true. My senior year of high school, I transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy to pursue music. Among the many artistic benefits and skills I gained from attending this school, I’ve noticed long term improvements in my everyday actions as well as my overall attitude towards our planet as a result of my time there.
The first thing that struck me when I got to Interlochen was that my roommate was a recycling FIEND. She would get *gently* mad when I would forget to recycle toilet paper rolls. I honestly didn’t realize that people recycled those. I didn’t even know what COULD be recycled. Through my roommate’s painstaking efforts to help me, I too became a recycling fiend by the end of the first semester. The separate dumpsters for recycling outside of our building made it so easy to recycle. Back at home, no one came to pick up recyclables, so you would have to drive them across town. This made it so inconvenient to recycle that no one did it.
An especially impactful aspect of my time at Interlochen was the ecology class I took. Our teacher taught us about all of the native birds, frogs and mushrooms in the area. She took us outside to look for various species all year long. She would even take us out on the weekends to kayak on the lake and look for turtles, certain plants and ducks. Being outside in nature so often gave me a greater appreciation for our planet.
Our teacher also got us involved in environmental projects within our class as well as in the greater community. We helped plant trees as a part of a community initiative to restore the biodiversity of that area and helped plan the construction of a large greenhouse that had been in the works at the time and is now finished and thriving. We also all presented on different aspects of climate change science so that we could all inform each other and other students outside of the class about what causes climate change. Understanding the science behind it helped me better comprehend the importance of taking care of our planet.
No, I didn’t think that an ecology class or my recycling roomie’s encouragement would end up being some of my biggest takeaways from music school, but they were. When we pay attention to our planet and all of the beautiful species that coexist with us here, it’s difficult to not fall in love with the earth and want to protect it. Spend some time in nature and focus on the beauty and truth you can find within it. It’s truly a game changer.