“Liberalist, Tree-hugging Hippy”

Apparently that’s what you’re called when you feel strongly about the environment?

The discussions one can get into in an honors english class in college are some that typically won’t relate to English at all. I feel like the class is more a world cultures/philosophy/debate/society-satirizing type course. My professor and my class and I somehow drift off into rants in every class, and it makes it so much better. I’ve never been more entertained and excited to go to any class before.

Being an English comp class, we do a lot of reading and responding. The latest work we read dealt primarily with how polluted our oceans are, and the environment in general. Naturally, this provided a perfect opportunity for us to go on about society and how nobody gives a damn about the environment, and the differences between Pittsburgh, and all the places that other people are from in the class. I mean we are only 3 to 4 hours away from Erie, PA, but two girls in my class were saying that it’s kind of scary how different it is here and how nobody cares about it. We have everything from smokers air, to stained building walls, to polluted rivers that could turn you into the Toxic Avenger if you dare take a dip. Pittsburgh has never really been “clean” though. I mean, we are the Steel City. Yet, we are voted one of the best places to live. I do love it here, but I don’t know if we are worthy of that title. However, I’ve never lived anywhere else, so I can’t say. Our water is some of the cleanest, but that’s because of the purifying systems we have in place. The amount of garbage that gets thrown everywhere, the fumes from all of the buses and construction trucks, it gets pretty depressing.

Now, I don’t mind rainy days in the city, such as it is today. But there is always a certain extra gray and crappy quality that the city gets when it rains. We do have beautiful days down here though; when the weather is good, of course.

As we were talking about the pollution here in the burgh, somebody had mentioned she thinks it’s regional/national. Like, when you travel the country and go to other beaches, you don’t seem to care whether you leave your beer bottles sitting in the sand or not. But if you go to beaches like Mexico, it’s almost like you care twice as much as to whether or not you gather up your stuff when you leave. Like if you didn’t protect they’re beaches, you would be committing a crime of some sort. It makes sense, really. I feel people that have been to beaches both in the country and out can testify to this, whether by personal experience, or observation.

And then we began to wonder what it was like for natives of other countries with beaches. I brought up how I wonder if Mediterranean countries cared more about their beaches because their culture more or less revolves around it. For instance, Greece has lots of fish markets and their beaches are beautiful. So in their culture, is it normal to take care of their beaches? Or do they care just as little as we do? And why do they? What measures do they take to keep their beaches clean and nice?

Another point was: Do we treat rivers and lakes differently than oceans? Is it like, the bigger the body of water, the more acceptable it is to not give a damn? “Oh, it’s not gonna wash up on my shore, it won’t matter where we toss it.” I sure hope that’s not the case. I just wonder why people seem to think that these bodies of water are some kind of natural waste plant that will take care of everything, when in the back of their minds, they know it all just gathers together and makes large piles of trash that ruin our ecosystems.

http://5gyres.org/

And then Ashley, a girl in my class, made a point to dawn on all of us. I reworded it her point to the way I saw it: The earth is made up of about 70% of water. As are humans. So, the way I see it, because we are so okay with destroying our bodies with things like smoking and drinking and junk food and everything else, we must find it acceptable to do the same thing to the earth. I know that’s a slightly outrageous thing to consider, but at the same time, it’s an uncanny coincidence.

I’m a strong advocate of environmental protection and preservation, and it’s the only thing that ever makes me consider going into politics. I told my roommates this year that they MUST recycle the plastic bottles we use. I will make sure my kids understand the reality of the state of our environment, and make sure they do the little things they can to help just to make a difference. Recycling and picking up trash, and just being weary of your actions, are all things that anybody can do to help. The more people that take that 5 seconds out of their day, the bigger the change and difference made.

We’re living on this earth, we might as well take care of it.

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