This post was written by Melanie S. in response to the Day 17 Challenge: Go Green. Be vigilant about limiting your ecological footprint.
In this day and age, attention to the environment is critical; however, many people fail to think about their ecological impact. Carelessly throwing away excess food, plastic, and paper products, the accumulating landfill has certainly taken a toll on the world around us. Many do not realize that recycling, buying fewer consumer products, or even using washable containers in lieu of plastic bags can drastically reduce our ecological footprint on the planet. Let me backtrack a little so you may understand the concept of an ecological footprint. This concept is the amount of human impact on the planet, which is measured individually or as a community. The more eco-friendly an individual is, the smaller footprint that individual has on the environment.
On March 17, St. Paddy’s Day, the challenge action was to go green and be vigilant about your ecological footprint. Burlington High School students were encouraged to be aware of their impact on the environment and research environmental scientists who examined the ecological footprint. This day was a more difficult day for me because I already recycle plastic and paper products so I had to think of new and innovative ways to reduce my ecological footprint. I looked up an ecological footprint calculator and began my exploration. As the website asked me questions, I began to realize how simple it was to reduce my impact. For example, buying locally grown foods, eating lower on the food chain, and even starting a compost in my backyard can lower Carbon Dioxide emissions from transporting the products, reduce excess waste from bones and fat, and adding nutrients back into the soil. Other things such as making fresh squeezed fruit instead of buying juice (throwing out the container) and turning off the lights when certain rooms are not in use greatly reduces your environmental impact.
This challenge encouraged thinking outside of the box and being aware of yourself and everything around you, which is something that we learned when reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Though this novel does not address environmental issues at all, it does highlight the importance of awareness, of being conscious of your beliefs and behavior, of understanding your impact on the people and places around you. The novel - one that addresses issues of class; echoes Gatsby in its presentation of the dangers of nostalgia; and provides a critical view of racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and patriotism - really helped to open our eyes. Thinking about how we develop our beliefs, as well as our habits and behaviors extends beyond the thematic topics of the book. What we do as individuals impacts others. Our actions can make a difference.
The Go Green challenge action was interesting, informative, and beneficial. It served as an important gateway to making the world a better, safer place. More importantly, it prompted thought about how we live and how our decisions affect others.