Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Rant on the Environmental Awareness of My Peers: We Could Do Better

Dr. Kelrick
Nature and Human Nature
17 March 2014

At this point, I just need to rant. I need to rant because I know that we as a species are so much smarter than this. It’s understandable if the average American citizen may not know the impact of, say, drinking a bottle of water over getting a glass and filling it from the tap – that I realize is something very seldom mentioned in the news, or stressed as more important than the next environmental issue. But to watch my exceedingly intelligent peers continually throw out blatant recyclables and have no regard for refilling reusable tumblers instead of purchasing daily disposable coffee cups? These are such menial changes that make huge differences! The most frustrating aspect of all of it is that I know Truman students are consciously doing these things. They know how to live a minimal impact lifestyle, yet choose not to. And though I know I can’t spend my life correcting them or reminding them how large is the impact of their carelessness, it is still a recurrent nagging concern in my life (which is probably only exacerbated during and after my participation in my Nature and Human Nature class).

Often my attitude in Nature and Human Nature class is piqued due to the fact that I am clearly surrounded for 80 minutes by other good-willed environmentalists, and I heartily enjoy hearing their takes on the current natural world around us. However, after the class it ultimately highlights for me the other end of the spectrum: the people who couldn’t care less about the condition of our earth. I saw it in my friends when I went home for spring break; I saw it in my brothers as I went to visit my mom’s; and I saw it in the people who chose to order their coffee in a disposable cup at my favorite downtown coffee shop (where the mission stated on the shop is to be environmentally friendly), and they condone the option of drinking from the store’s beautiful reusable mugs.

It all comes to mind now because I am looking at a prime example of why we want to preserve this Earth. I’m looking across the beautiful expanse of prairie land that is my university’s farm, and though it may be my preferred happy place, the same could be said about the next person’s; be it at a mountain side, a lake, the beach, a log cabin in the middle of the woods – most likely your happy place lay outdoors as well. Do you want always to be able to think of that place as it was the very first time you imagined it? Or do you want over time to see that human hands have left a water bottle there in the distance, under that tree that stood for strength in your peaceful recollection?

Imagine for a moment that while your happy place lay at the beach, another person’s takes place in the middle of the woods. You go on a hike with your college backpacking class and accidentally drop the wrapper from your energy bar, but don’t stop and go back to get the wrapper because it would put you too far behind the rest of the group. Would it be safe to claim that now this very spot, a spot quite possibly the happy place for someone else, has been tarnished by a human hand? Had they known of the litter, is it not safe to say they would now wish to find a different place to direct their worried thoughts? But this is beginning to go beside the point.

We cannot continue to live vicariously through other people’s wasteful habits, only to do the right thing when environmentalist tendencies strike our fancy, or when they are brought to our attentions by the news. We are an intelligent people capable of so much more than that. In that respect, I know I can speak on behalf of my peers, because I know every Truman student has the awareness and exposure required to live a minimally impactful life. To see more of this conscious effort in my school and home and anywhere else that is not just inside my one university course would make me an exceedingly happier (and less frustrated) person.

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