I describe myself as an environmental activist, but I didn’t march in the protest on campus a few weeks ago. I’m not one to wear my beliefs on my sleeve, particularly because I still consider myself to be a journalist.
I prefer to influence those close to me to be better about recycling, reusing and reducing. I gift my friends reusable grocery bags, I encourage my family to refill reusable water bottles instead of one-time use bottles and I’m a big advocate of making sure people recycle.
It’s difficult to change the world for most of us, that’s why I prefer to change the world I live in. Yet, even on a college campus with young people who supposedly care about the environment, I see lots of waste.
At least one or two students come to class with Starbucks plastic cups each day. I see cans and empty plastic bottles in the trash, even though a blue recycling can sits right next to it. Don’t even get me started about the red party cups that I see all over town after the weekend.
In the Oxford Observer, one of my students wrote about how bars in Oxford now use paper straws or no straws in the plastic cups. But they can do better. They still pour booze out of glass bottles that they don’t recycle.
The bars and several of the apartment complexes in Oxford still don’t recycle because it costs more.
We can conserve in our everyday life in many ways.
Every time I hit print on something, I think twice of whether I really need that paper copy. I’ve also tried grading online, but I don’t think I can give the same kind of feedback there. But I no longer hand out an eight-page syllabus to the students in my classes. They prefer to look things up online any way.
So can us small folks get the bigwigs at the United Nations or in the United States to make changes?
It’s hard to do.
But I know we can make small changes in our lives: Take fewer trips in the car; Use reusable grocery bags (I cringe every time I hear anyone ask for their milk to be double bagged — you don’t need any bag!); Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups. And most of all, encourage others around us to do the same.
Act locally, think globally.