It is no accident that the theme for this year’s Civility day is “Go Green.” It is also not a mistake that the United Nations named the decade of 2005-2014 the Education for Sustainable Development of the earth’s’ resources. The term “green” which has made its way into American vernacular over the last decade has collected both positive and negative reactions. Going green is a reaction to our most endangered asset: the earth. Although some people may not have ditched the comfortable and familiar urban lifestyle and adapted a Thoreau-esque one, the topic of “going green” has permeated every aspect of the media from global warming to what our illustrious presidential candidates are going to do about it. Even so, we have to turn the mirror on ourselves and ask what exactly going green means to us, and more importantly, do we intend to do anything about it?A lot of us may not think we live lavishly. Being college students, professors and staff members our income and other obligations at home may stifle our frivolous tendencies. But compared to the rest of the world, we in fact are living the life. Our ecological footprint-the measurement of how much of the earth we have consumed -is beyond our biocapacity-the resources the country actually has. According to Ecofoot.org, in 2005 the United States was reported within the Footprints of Nations to have a biocapacity of 20.37, taking into account the amount of forests, croplands, energy, built space, fisheries and pastures we have. Our footprint generated 108.5. Obviously, the amount of resources we are using barely compares with the amount we actually have. So, does this affect us? Indeed, our own means of conserving can allow the movement of going green to not only expand, but it can take back something of our own.
The University has taken its initiatives in going green. Its Geothermal energy production elicits heat from the earth, and therefore, severely minimizes the amount of toxins released. Additionally, one-year old SOMPAC (New Swope) maintains its reputation of being a paradigm of an environmentally friendly building on campus; for example, the floors are made out of bamboo. Now, however, it’s our turn.
Recycling cans, paper and glass of course is essential. This will significantly reduce the industrial production of items which yieldshorrible pollutants into the atmosphere. In conjunction with this, we have to be mindful of the amount of time we spend driving. Could we carpool instead? With the fluctuating gas prices these days, taking other means of transportation may be wiser. Next, the New American Dream states that we should be cognizant of the utilities we use to maintain our body temperature. In the winter, turn down your heater. Use more layers instead. The earth is comprised of 71% water-only about 25% of which is usable. Take “navy showers”. Turn the water off when you are cleansing, and only turn the water on to rinse.
There is the argument that one person cannot make a difference. But by changing our habits, we are becoming better citizens, and from that point on, more advanced than we have ever been.
The most important thing we can do is to continue to stay informed. There are several outlets on campus that produce environmentally sound tips in addition to reading on your own. By staying notified, you have made the intelligent decision: realizing there is a pressing problem and knowing that now is the time to change it.