Friday, March 4, 2016

Why Should We Care?

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It is no secret that the preservation of our environment often faces irrefutable danger.  Pollution, negligence, and a lack of respect all harm our world's natural inhabitants.  Although new efforts and organizations are continuously joining the "green" movement to protect the natural world, there are still many people who ignore the damages or refuse to change their destructive ways.  Since our current lives are not in as much detrimental jeopardy as the future human, plant, and animals who will one day exist on this earth, some may feel that environmental issues are not as vital as other problems that we currently face.

So if we are still capable of breathing air, drinking water, growing foods straight from the earth, freely using natural resources to build, and visiting breathtaking scenic spots on relaxing vacations, why should we care? 

First of all, every single one of us must realize that environmental change is not as gradual as some may make it out to be.  According to the EPA, just from the 1980s, the amount of land damaged by wildfires has increased due to rising climate temperatures that have led to drier areas.  Sea levels have been steadily rising since the 1880s, with an even greater short-term rate from 1993, causing threats to those living in coastal areas and the ecosystems that encompass them.  The world's leading global environmental authority, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), reports that 13 million hectares of forests, or a land area about the size of Portugal, is destroyed each year.  Statistics show that the environment is constantly changing.  Every greenhouse gas emitted and every act of negligence committed against this earth directly impacts the earth's status, thus causing some sort of change.  If too many negative changes occur before we are able to reverse negative side effects, we may lose the very comforts of living that we are blessed with now. 

Every single living organism on this earth is connected in some way, whether directly or indirectly.  Animals, plants, and humans - we are all thriving from and responsible for the same living earth.  If one of these elements shifts in some sort of way, both of the other elements shift along with it.  Because of how all of these elements interact, we are able to benefit from the transportation we take, the foods that we eat, and the houses we live in designed with the furniture and material possessions that we so proudly display. Our natural resources shape our entire lives, and the way we treat and interact with these natural resources shape the way we will live our future.  The environment is probably our biggest blessing, since it is because of it that we can take every breath among all of the other privileges we have from living.  The greatest way to show our gratitude and appreciation for this ultimate gift is to acknowledge our connections with the living world and care for them. 
Just as all things present rely on one another, every impression we leave will somehow affect the future.  Our future descendants will one day walk this earth.  Just as our past ancestors have impacted the lives that we currently live, it is up to us to set the foundation for how our future generations will survive.  If we deplete our world's natural environment of its beautiful, giving resources, we leave our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all other potential offspring with a land that is not survivable or a life that is not as robust as it is today.   
Although excuses should not be made, I understand that it is hard and sometimes unrealistic and inconvenient to completely change the way that we live, especially since we must be able to exist in the societies built today.  But each effort we make to preserve our earth, no matter how small, will have a more beneficial impact on nature's conservation than doing nothing at all. 
If you have the time to volunteer for conservation efforts or the means to donate to organizations dedicated to saving the earth, I encourage your participation.  However, I will leave you with some simple, manageable changes that each and every one of us can do.  Merely being more conscious about your lifestyle can help you alter some ways that will serve the greater good. 
So if you still question why we should care about saving the world's natural environment, I tell you that it is because our hands, your hands, create a lasting imprint.  It is up to you to decide how deep you want to leave yours. 

Simple Ways You Can Help the Environment
  1. When letting water run to change temperature, save that water in a bowl or cup, and use it to water plants around your house. 
  2. In nice weather, dry your clothes and blankets outside.  The smell of laundry that has been hanging in the fresh air is unbeatable!
  3. Don't grab an unnecessary amount of napkins from a fast-food restaurant only to throw them away.  Either save all unused ones in your car for later, or just take one or two. 
  4. Fill up your own water bottle instead of buying cases of plastic ones.  With all the water that you do not drink, don't spill it out.  Use it for watering.
  5. Think about how much food you waste.  If you find that your family throws out a lot of leftovers or purchased produce, scale back on how much you prepare or buy.
  6. Keep reusable cloth shopping bags in your car.  This way, you'll always have them when you go grocery shopping and you won't have an excuse to use plastic ones. 
  7. Don't ask for extras if you never use them.  If you don't use plastic utensils from restaurants when you order for home or you freely say "why not" when asked "do you want ... ?",  even if the extras just go to waste, remember that "more" is useless if they just go to waste.
  8. If the weather is nice and you have the ability to walk, just park in the back of a parking lot instead of driving back and forth until a space opens up.
  9. Use prepackaged food containers as storage once you are finished with them.  Cut cereal boxes to create organizational boxes inside your pencil drawer or use oatmeal canisters for storing toys or craft supplies.  Be creative with your containers; give them new purpose!
  10. Use the front AND back sides of Post-Its or other note sheets when you just need to write a phone number or other small note down. 
  11. When you take pamphlets or other paper advertisements when exploring a new place, save them until you can recycle them.  Stick them in your purse or pocket until you find a recycling bin.  You can always ask a store or business that you are visiting if they could recycle them for you!
  12. If you have a yard, plant trees, fruits and vegetables, or flowers to help clean the air, feed your family, and provide a home for the insects and animals. 
  13. Commit at least one night to playing games, reading books, painting, or any other non-electrical hobbies instead of wasting energy watching TV or sitting on your computer.
  14. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.  Instead of letting it run, only turn it on when you are ready to rinse.
  15. When cooking or baking, try to use the same kitchen tools as much as you can so you are not creating more dishes to wash.   
  16. Dress for the weather, not the ideal temperature in your house.  If you find yourself sitting in t-shirts inside the house with the heat blasting on cold days, or putting on sweaters when your air conditioning is set too high, lessen the amount of heating and cooling you use by dressing more appropriately for the real temperatures.  Put on a sweatshirt instead of letting the heat blast for hours on end. 
  17. Be sure to cut plastic rings, holey onion bags, and other netting-type food packaging materials before throwing them out or recycling them.  This way, animals will be less likely to get caught in them. 
  18. Consider swapping magazine issues with family and friends instead of subscribing to multiple subscriptions.  More paper will be saved in the long run.
  19. Turn off plugged-in electronics when they are not in use.  Lights, TVs, radios, computers - if you are not using them, there is no reason to keep them running on electricity.
  20. Make use of local parks and nature preserves and visit them often.  The more you expose both you and your families to these natural areas, the more you will all appreciate nature.  This appreciation can lead to more willingness to take care of the earth.

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