In recent years, climate change and environmentalism have grown in popularity among Generation Z. While some feel discouraged and anxious about the future of the planet, others have taken it upon themselves to be the change. Many see trying to be environmentally conscious as a daunting task, as changing your habits to be more eco-friendly […]
In recent years, climate change and environmentalism have grown in popularity among Generation Z. While some feel discouraged and anxious about the future of the planet, others have taken it upon themselves to be the change. Many see trying to be environmentally conscious as a daunting task, as changing your habits to be more eco-friendly takes a lot of research and hard work. However, the Christian Brothers Environmental Club wants to tell you changing your ways is really not as difficult as it appears. Whether your journey to saving the environment has just begun or you have been drinking out of metal straws long before the VSCO girls made it cool, follow their advice to help make it easy to have green thumb.
Ms. Kelly Safford, the club’s moderator, has been noticing an influx of young people who are passionate about environmental issues, and she wants to advise them to remain positive, “Don’t feel completely hopeless — we can do a lot of little things to help, and at some point, we are going to have to,” she says.
The first tip that the club’s Vice President Sydney Schumaker (’22) shared is to always keep yourself informed.
“Being aware is an important thing, just knowing how much you’re doing and kind of avoiding the small things that can easily be changed” she states. Because researching is probably the last thing any student wants to do on top of their schoolwork, the Environmental Club plans to help solve this issue by sharing and making information about environmental topics easily accessible for the CB community.
There is a common misconception that in order to live an environmentally friendly life, one must change a lot of their habits and lose out on some of the more desirable aspects of their everyday lives.
“People need to realize we can still do so much of what we do in an environmentally friendly way,” Ms. Safford says. “Many people think it’s this major drastic change, and it’s not.”
The club’s President Dylan Julia Cooper (’21) also has an abundance of tips for easy changes anyone can make in their life. “It sounds so cliche. but reduce, reuse, recycle. Look at what you’re consuming. You will realize you really don’t have to consume all of those things.”
Dylan explains that one of the best ways to reduce your plastic intake is to use bar shampoo, bar conditioner, and bar soap because the packaging has significantly less plastic. Similarly, she recommends considering buying food in bulk opposed to single packages because there is less packaging.
One of the easiest ways to be more environmentally conscious though is to use recycled paper for your schoolwork.
“At CB we use MLA format, which means you only use one side of the paper. Whenever you print out an essay for peer editing or after you get your essay graded and handed back, you can use the other side of the paper for homework” Dylan shares.
Another tip for students is to take notes on your iPad or consider investing in a reusable notebook, such as a Rocketbook that allows you to take notes “on paper”, scan the QR code to save your notes to a device, and then wash away the ink with water.
Other ways to help the environment at school include using a reusable water bottle or packing your lunch in reusable containers to reduce your plastic use. When driving to school an easy way to reduce pollution and carpool, try biking whenever possible.
The club hopes to encourage environmentally friendly practices on campus by reducing plastic use and motivating students to compete in composting competitions.
In addition to all of the advice the club has given, they also have a lot of plans for the year to help improve the CB community’s impact on the earth. The club hopes to decrease plastic use on campus throughout the year and engage the community in competitions such as a composting competition.
Dylan warns against the dangers of consumerism trying to convince you of their false environmentally conscious practices, “Stores will sell shirts claiming they are made of recycled material and that’s what it says on the tag, but the only recycled part is the tag because it is made of 1% paper so they can call it recycled material.”
A global pandemic poses a myriad of issues, but one that many do not consider is how to protect yourself while also protecting the environment. Dylan suggests investing in a suitable reusable mask to protect yourself from the virus, and when you are in a bind and absolutely must use a disposable mask, make sure to cut the strings off to prevent harm to wildlife that may come in contact with your mask after you have disposed of it.
Dylan wants to remind all of you that environmentalism can be an elitist practice, so always keep in mind that “everyone is going to make different size impacts, so it’s important to focus on moving in the right direction to the best of your ability.”
Dylan also notes the impacts of fast fashion, the inexpensive, fast, and mass-production of clothes that requires a lot of energy and resources, and how that plays a role in environmental elitism.
“Fast fashion is really detrimental to the environment — it creates so much waste. It’s the opposite of reducing, so we try to steer away from fast fashion. But at the same time, it is much cheaper to subscribe to fast fashion than it is to buy $200 pants that are environmentally friendly.”
Sydney shares that the most common problem people face on their journey to helping the environment is that they feel overwhelmed by all the things they have to do.
“I think it’s important to remember you don’t have to do everything at once,” she says.
“I think a lot of the environmental stuff is really just habit and I think people just don’t always think about stuff but we all need little reminders,” Ms. Safford adds
All of these practices fall in line with the Environmental Club’s overall goal of finding “avenues to help the environment, establish environmentally positive habits, as well as raise awareness for environmental issues,” Dylan shares.
“You don’t have to do everything at once,” Sydney says. “I think we get overwhelmed by the fact that you want to do everything. I do this too, I just want to make the biggest difference, but sometimes within your own family or with school, it’s hard. So just small steps.”
Ms. Safford also advises everyone to “try and do your best and realize nobody is perfect.”
Anyone interested in hearing more about environmental issues or in joining the club make sure to contact Ms. Safford to get involved.