Opinion: 3 easy steps to be more sustainable
Being passionate about the environment is very frustrating. It seems like at every corner, there is opposition and resistance that only furthers the climate change problem. The President of the United States has openly expressed his disbelief in climate change. Companies in various industries continue to have no concern for their impact on the environment. There is an overwhelming portion of the population, young and old, who continue to be ignorant about climate change. Truthfully, it can be very discouraging at times. Not to mention, it is an extremely complex problem so trying to fully understand the brevity of it may be slightly overwhelming. But regardless of what it seems, climate change is an extremely serious problem that will determine the future of humanity. There is no more time to discuss whether or not it exists, and the sense of urgency is at its apex. We must all take action: on a personal level, on an institutional level, on a state level, on a national level and on a global level. We must all act because in some way or another we have, and in some cases continue to, make the problem worse. As discouraging as the problem may be, as difficult it may be to understand, there is still hope that we can make changes. There are numerous countries, cities, companies and institutions striving to create a more sustainable future. Through policy changes, investment in sustainable technology or just minor changes to purchasing behavior, there are many actors participating in the creation of a sustainable future. While these actors exist, it’s up to us, as individuals, to support these actor’s efforts. Support can take many forms and figuring out where to start may be difficult. However, I’ve prepared a quick guide to sustainability that can take you from a sustainability novice to an expert in just three easy steps. Step 1: Educate yourself and others You must understand the brevity of the situation for your actions to be genuine and long-lasting. While you must educate yourself on ways you can be sustainable in your life, it is equally important that you educate yourself about the causes of the problem. As disappointing it may be to see headline after headline that suggests the world is ending and there is no hope, you must know the enemy to defeat it. Getting to understand the ins and outs of climate change can help you find better solutions to stop the continuation of policies that worsen the problem, stop businesses from having no regard for the environment and change the attitudes of individuals who are consciously ignorant to the problem. There are numerous sources of information that do a great job in articulating the problem and suggesting solutions. Personally, I really like listening to and watching TED talks, documentaries and podcasts. An article that I found extremely helpful is Nathaniel Rich’s “Losing Earth: The Decade we Almost Stopped Climate Change.” Step 2: Take action REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. It’s not just a catchy saying. By applying these three principles to various aspects of your life, you can truly make a difference. While you are educating yourself on the ins and outs of sustainability, make sure you apply this knowledge to different aspects of your life. Since the meat industry contributes so much to the problem of climate change, then you must eat less meat. Because you know that automobiles are a leading emitter of carbon dioxide, then you must drive less. It may seem like an inconvenience, but only at first. The more you practice this behavior, the more it becomes second nature rather than an inconvenience. Step 3: Show your support As I mentioned earlier, support can come in many different forms, and pushing people in higher positions to take actions is one of the most effective ways to do so. Specifically, here at Mercer, I’ve gathered that administration’s approach towards sustainability is largely controlled by student cooperation. In order for the administration to invest more resources towards sustainability, students have to prove that these investments would not be wasted. For example, in order for there to be more recycling bins, we must recycle more and in the correct manner. On the contrary, we cannot properly recycle if there aren’t enough recycling bins or if they are always full. Therefore, Mercer’s approach to sustainability must be altered to allow students to live sustainable lives. Our environment, the physical place in which we are situated, has to enable us to be more sustainable. This means there have to be more recycling reprisals, buildings must be up to date regarding sustainability standards and there has to be a positive attitude towards waste reduction. This also means that we as students must recycle more frequently and properly, we must conserve energy and we must create less waste. It’s going to take a largely concentrated effort in order for real, lasting solutions to be implemented. We must come together now so we can be an unstoppable force that changes the culture of sustainability here at Mercer, then maybe even Macon and after that maybe even the world. If we can change the culture here, we can change the culture anywhere.