Sunday, December 15, 2013

What You Should Care

Dear friends,

When I was younger, I knew very little about the environmental issues. But one motivation I had to be sustainable was recycling -- an exchange of snack money for a child like me at the age of ten. At home in China, my mother kept a recycling bag behind our kitchen door. Once the bag got full, she would send me out to the street by our apartment to find the recycling man, who always sat by the street. My mission was to bring him to our place. Then he would sort out everything we had in the recycling bag, weigh all the cardboards and newspapers, count out plastic bottles and cans, and pay us accordingly. We exchanged recyclable materials for cash, which would always be transferred to my wallet. I did my part to help the planet after all. 

PLU in Fall, by Shunying Wang
After I came to the United States, I became more aware of the sustainability efforts people made around me. My co-worker back in a community college had to remind me, at least once a day, to take out the garbage I threw into the recycling bin and put it into a regular trash can. From then on, I learned to think twice before throwing things away.
Now being a PLU student after joining some sustainability activities, I have developed a better understanding of what it actually means. In a short version, being sustainable means to find a balance between the increasing human activities and the impacts they had on the nature. But in a more personally accessible level, I realized that I had to figure out why sustainability matters to me.

It matters if we take shorter (or even fewer) showers or to turn off the water when it is not being used because a number of states are predicted to face water crisis by 2016; It matters if we buy less bottle of water because about 2 million plastic bottles are being thrown away every hour; none of them can be decomposed naturally; It matters if we turn off the light as we leave a classroom because about 2 pounds of pollutants can be released each hour with the light on.

I can go on and on to talk about using fewer papers, reducing the numbers of personal vehicles, etc., but can’t you see a pattern here? All of the sustainability movements cannot be done by one individual. This can only work if we all participate, and it will all come around a full circle and finally benefit us! Just because we have not seen or experienced any major consequences that are negative, it doesn’t mean that they won’t come. 

So after you read this post, I hope you can ask yourself the same question and soon find the answer. We are short on time. The planet is short on time. 

"You have to hold yourself accountable for your actions, and that's how we're going to protect the Earth," Julia Butterfly Hill said.

Good day.

Love always,

Shunying Wang

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