BY ALICIA KRUEGER
Students hear phrases like “Amazon rainforest destruction” or “ocean acidification” or “melting glaciers” almost every day. Their generation is tasked with solving these seemingly impossible-to-solve problems. Facing these big problems, students are stuck asking themselves, “How will my actions alone solve worldwide issues?” or “Where do I even begin?” Many fail to realize that there are simple ways to contribute to healing the environment right at home.
- Use your voice! Students are right: they cannot solve this issue by themselves. They need the help of entire populations and, more specifically, the help of government officials. Protesting, teaching and spreading awareness starts movements and gets others on board to make change. Whether it’s engaging in Strikes for Climate or educating your peers, you are impacting and inspiring others.
- Eat organic, local produce! Salinas is known as the “Salad Bowl of America,” and it’s likely only 30 minutes from your door. When you eat food from out of the country or out of state, it requires an immense amount of fossil fuels because of aviation, car combustion and navigation. Checking the label on your packaging is easy, fast and can make a big difference. The Monterey Peninsula also hosts 15 farmer’s markets where you can get guaranteed fresh and local produce.
- Native plant restoration! Invasive species are occupying and covering our coastlines and inland areas. One organization called “Return of the Natives” hosts weekly educational and hands-on events on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at CSU Monterey Bay as well as monthly community events on the weekends.
- Support small businesses who are working to make a difference! It is really difficult and expensive to find ways to make businesses environmentally-friendly so when they do make an effort, businesses risk losing profit. Support these places and make a point of buying from them. Happy Girl Kitchen or Revival Ice Cream are just two which use both sustainable food and compostable packaging.
- Participate in local beach cleanups and plastic-free campaigns! Foundations like “Save Our Shores” or “The Surfrider Foundation,” or even Carmel High’s own Environmental Club put on events like these. Participation is easy, often free, and it makes for a fun afternoon.
- Use reusable containers! Not only do they save plastic, but buying them saves money. By investing once, you save the money that would’ve been spent on plastic goods. CHS Environmental Club co-president Quinn Nachbar encourages people to carry a reusable water bottle and bag with them anywhere they go, a reusable bag acts as a storage place for your water bottle, utensils, straws and other common reusables. Just pull them out and use the reusable ones instead!
- Carpool! The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that 28 percent of fossil fuels used in 2018 in America alone came from transportation. Students all go to the same place in the mornings, ask your neighbors if you can ride together, doubling as a way to save gas!
- Clean up! This one is easy, because trash cans are everywhere! Just pick it up. Because we live so close to the ocean, a gust of wind could easily take that small piece of garbage out to sea, and when the garbage is in the ocean, it won’t biodegrade for years. It is likely to end up inside a coastal animal or a part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Don’t eat meat, even if it’s for just one day a week! Cows produce methane and processing meat uses an enormous amount of fossil fuels, requiring 32.5 kWh to produce every pound of beef. Cutting it out of your diet also cuts out all the energy used to make it.
- Don’t support fast fashion! This emits overwhelming amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The World Resources Institutes approximates that for every cotton t-shirt created through fast fashion, about 2,700 liters of water is used—and that’s just a T-shirt! Thrift instead or be mindful of how your clothing is produced.