How To Save The Planet
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Politics and Activism

Reusable Straws And Shampoo Bars Are Great, But Neither Will Fix The Environment

You need to be involved, and make your vote count.

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Reusable Straws

I've seen so much progress lately. In high school being environmentally conscious was kind of a joke. Whenever it was brought up assholes in my class would find some way to make fun of it. Generally, growing up I did not feel that my community was at all focused on saving the planet.

Fast forward a few years. I'm in college. Yeah, I still catch some flack every now and then, but for the most part, everyone I know is not only down with recycling—but encouraging others to do it as well. This to me is an outstanding feat of progress, before my very eyes. But, it is not enough.

From reusable straws to no straws (shout out to Starbucks on their new no straw initiative), to electric cars, to reusable grocery bags, to bottle-less shampoo, to whatever else you can think of. There has, in my humble opinion, been an enormous shift towards more environmentally friendly options as of late. And "I am HERE for it"—Jonathan Van Ness. But regardless of how wonderful all of these things are, they are not the most important effort we can make towards saving our beautiful Mother Earth.

To make the impact we need—you cannot just be environmentally conscious, you need to be socially conscious of all the policies in our government that need to be changed in order to make our efforts worthwhile.

Someone brought up an interesting point to me recently. We were talking about energy efficient cars versus standard gas consuming cars. I was of the opinion that, without a question, energy efficient cars were way better for the environment and was confused why this was even up for discussion. Although within a matter of minutes, I started to question myself. He made the point that if you're recharging your car with the same energy you use to power your house, and that energy comes from an unsustainable power plant, energy efficient cars aren't actually making the impact we all hoped they would.

What does this mean? It means that in order for all of our outstanding efforts to help the earth to have the impact we need them to have, there must be a change in policy. A widespread shift to solar energy. An elimination of plastic bags. A serious effort to improve our public transportation system. And most importantly, a monumental increase in the education about what is being done to our earth, and what we can do to fix this. It is widespread efforts such as these that will make the difference we need.

To achieve this, you, as a citizen, need to take action.

You need to be involved, and make your vote count. Even in the small, local elections. You need to advocate for the candidates who you believe in to support environmentally conscious tendencies and make people aware of those who are not.

So this is my call to action. If you want to save the planet, don't just start bringing reusable grocery bags everytime you go to Trader Joe's, tell your friends and family about these issues and how they can help. Educate your peers. Call your local representative—202-224-3121.

As the famous saying goes, "Give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime."

We can't just make these small individual efforts. While they are enormously important, we need bigger, monumental changes if we want to have any hope of preserving this beautiful land we are so privileged to inhabit.

While becoming a more active citizen is a must, there is always a need for an individual effort to become more environmentally conscious.

Here's a short list of things you can change in your life to be more environmentally conscious:

Wash out to-go plastic food boxes you get from restaurants and recycle if they have the appropriate number (can be found on the bottom of the packaging surrounded by a triangle)!

Carpool—I know many of us live in the suburbs and need cars to go about normal life, but there are always opportunities to save gas and save money!

No more straws. Unless you have a disability in which you require a straw to drink, stop using them! Bring a reusable coffee cup to Starbucks and they'll be happy to make whatever your drink is in that container for 10 cents less than normal price!

Try using shampoo bars. While I'm not sure this is true, there are claims that they last up to three times as long as normal shampoo bottles and create no waste in the process!

Turn those lights off, sister. In addition to saving a huge amount on your monthly energy/electricity bill, turning off lights when you leave a room conserves much more energy than one would imagine. And conservation is key!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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