April is Earth Month

April is Earth Month, and April 22 is Earth Day. Growing up, I never cared much about Earth Day- I wasn't into science class at school, and I always thought, why should I care about global warming? Especially since I lived with a conservative family, climate change and global warming was never discussed. This cycle of not caring came with me into college, but recently, party thanks to my friend Syndey and partly thanks to my SMC education, I've discovered that the environment is not just a "liberal issue" or a special snowflake thing or something to not care about. Caring for the environment is something all people have as citizens of this earth and as Christians (if they are Christians, that is, but really, I think most major religions stress the importance of loving your neighbor and the beauty of creation). 

First of all, we all live and share this earth- humans, animals, plants, etc. I once was talking to a sciency friend who told me that technically, humans are an invasive species, because they inhabit areas they did not originally inhabit, change the landscape, and make it harder for the area's natural inhabitants to thrive. We bulldoze trees and leave tropical birds homeless, or allow those plastic things that hold aluminum pop cans together to choke fish in the ocean. Out of respect for the creatures we share the planet with, we should commit ourselves to sustainable practices like recycling and composting.

Part of my passion for the environment also comes from my Catholic identity. In 2015, Pope Francis released the Laudato Si, a call for people everywhere to recognize their moral responsibility to care for creation. Pope Francis says that because God created the whole earth, we need to treat it with the respect it deserves as part of God's creation. He agrees with science that climate change is real, and says we all need to work together to protect the planet. Harm to the planet affects everyone, but especially the poor, who live in areas without proper recycling systems or trash disposal. Many impoverished nations don't have access to clean water. To protect the poor, we have to protect the planet.

So what can you do to help the environment? Simple things like turning the faucet off while you brush your teeth or taking shorter showers can make a big difference in the long run. Remember to always drop off your disposable trash in the yellow bins in the dining hall. Unplug appliances like your Keurig or lamp when they're not in use, and always turn the lights off when you leave a room. Eat local or organic food that don't require a lot of pollution and pesticides to make, and at the end of the semester, recycle all your papers instead of throwing them in the trash! Also at the end of semester, participate in Blue to New by donating your uneaten/unopened food, clothes you no longer wear, textbooks, and anything else in your room you are not keeping. Donating to places like Goodwill helps keep items out of landfills.

Sustainability is a goal here at SMC. Jan Cervelli emphasizes it in her presidency and has helped enact policies at the school to make it more sustainable (bye, straws!), but as students, we can participate in that sustainability, too!