Earth Day: The Green Generation Talks Environment
While yes-and-no questions potentially lead to similar black-and-white answers, interviews with a number of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students show that they actually have some diverse opinions on the present state of our environment and the efficacy of Earth Day.
"The environment wouldn't need protection if people didn't abuse it. The Earth takes care of itself," said 21-year-old Dan Bisson of Lowell, who confessed, "I've thrown cigarettes on the ground because I know the street sweeper is coming. I know there is someone is cleaning up after me."
Some said the deteriorating state of today's environment is definitely not getting as much attention as it needs, others that there is plenty of light being shed upon the situation but not much being done.
Some students were not even aware of Earth Day, a worldwide holiday created in 1970 to call for action against pollution and advocate for cleaner air and water. The day is meant to educate people on the present state of the environment and illustrate ways in which they can take action to save and preserve it.
Not all the students were sure that local efforts would make much of an impact on the environment. Tom Coppola, another MCLA student from Richmond, felt that "about as much attention that can be given is being presented. In certain areas, it's great ... but how much impact is 'MCLA Going Green' really going to happen?"
While some of MCLA's students thought the day might be useful as a steppingstone to save the environment, others just don't notice any progress through events like this. One remembered the "holiday" as a popular thing during the '90s and would recycle then, but does not notice as much attention given to these issues today.
"I think Earth Day is just an American holiday. It is useful, and it is needed, but I don't think the title 'Earth Day' reflects what it really is," said Coppola. "To me, it just sounds like a day when you should go out and enjoy sunshine. It should be called something like 'Save Earth Day' or "Earth Alive Day," something that says 'HEY ... WAKE UP!! We're killing things here!'"
But sophomore Danielle Gismondi of Long Island, N.Y., said, "I'm seeing a bigger movement to treat the environment in the right way. I think it is becoming more popular, but knowledge is being brought through marketing and advertising. I don't think the way we are being educated today is doing its job to make people care more. It has a point, but people aren't getting it."
Most students interviewed have family members and friends who generally feel the same way about the environmental issues as they do, but not always. "I have definitely heard my cousins say they don't believe in global warming," said Gismondi.
Coppola said that instead of taking action, people are just sitting back and blaming each other while the environment slips away more quickly than ever. And if it keeps up, we won't have an environment.
What people can do to start actively — and easily — caring for the environment are small things, such as picking up after themselves, recycling and riding a bike to work. We could conserve energy simply by closing doors, turning off lights, shutting off the TV, and so on. And stop using synthetic materials that cost energy to produce and aren't biodegradable.
"We should use what we already have," said Gismondi.
Another way to begin protecting the environment is just to become educated.
Many believe that if only things were simplified, people would contribute more to the safe-keeping of our Earth. For example, people would recycle if there were more recycling bins around. As Coppola put it, "It's an accessibility thing."
The students were also worried about future generations if we fail to take of the environment. Junior Adam Carmichael of Bellingham speculated that at this rate, "everyone is going to live in a bubble because breathing air will be like swallowing fire ants."
All in all, their responses were that we should try to take note to become active in our communities to help clean up the environment.
What better day to begin than on Tuesday, April 22, this year's Earth Day. It's time to smarten up and simplify!