North Star Take: Let’s Make Green the New Norm [Editorial]

We all know what we can do to protect the environment, but we still don’t constantly practice these positive habits


Credit to Rebekah Myers

By On Behalf of the Editorial Staff

We have known this was an issue for a long time. Less than 12 years ago we were children sitting through elementary school lessons and assemblies aspiring to instill green habits into kids that weren’t even ten-years-old yet. We know the three R’s —reduce, reuse and recycle. We watched PSAs brought to us from Sesame Street, Bob the Builder and Disney Channel. Still, at the end of last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that pollution from greenhouse gasses needs to be reduced by 45 percent in just 12 short years. What happened to those childhood lessons?

The IPCC special report approximates that 1.0 degree Celsius of global warming since the Industrial Revolution results from human activity. We know what to do to stop things from getting worse. We just aren’t choosing doing them.

So why don’t we?

Students are the future of this planet. By 2050 —the year greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut down to 100 percent to avoid global warming’s effects becoming irreversible— we’ll still have much of our lives left to live. It’s a matter of our lives, our planet’s future and the condition of our home. It’s leaving the Earth better than we found it.

That change has to start now, with individual people before we can expect the Green Revolution this planet needs.

We need to be aware of the amount of resources we’re using. How often do you leave the lights on in an empty room? How much time do you spend just standing around in the shower? How often do you and a friend meet up somewhereinstead of carpooling together? For the 1,624 students that attend FHN, we had 445 student drivers commuting to school first semester, and that’s without including parents dropping off their kids. Students are coming from the same areas of the county commuting at, relatively, the same times. It takes a little extra effort on our part, and adjusting your busy schedule but keep in mind that it’s all for the sake of our planet.

We know it’s better to reuse products, so why don’t we avoid using disposable products? It’s greener and it’s cheaper to use tupperware and silverware when packing lunch instead of filling landfills with ziploc bags and plastic utensils. You can get more uses out of a stainless steel water bottle than you can out of plastic water bottles, all for a lighter carbon footprint. Once you consciously keep choosing reusable over disposable, it becomes a habit to last a lifetime, so that developing that habit now.

We just forget to do these simple things. We forget to prioritize our planet. Making going green a concerted effort requires each of us to do our part in contributing to spreading its awareness as well.

It takes educating kids to choose the cleaner habit over what’s convenient for them, and then reinforcing the idea throughout their educational career, even if it’s done subtly. We can use peer pressure to our advantage. Choose to walk an extra 30 steps to recycle in the Commons instead of settling for the trash can that’s seven steps away, and it might remind someone else to do the same. Subtle reminders indicating a norm where we prioritize our planet can help us cultivate an eco-friendly culture.

We’re the generation inheriting a world that —with our current habits— is projected to meet devastation soon. There’s still a chance to prevent this fate. It will require us to be aware of our actions and sacrifice our convenience for what’s best for our home. We’re the future of this planet, and we need to be working to make our lives a little greener. Starting to think in terms of sustainability and clean energy now, it will carry over to our adult lives. We already know the simpler solutions, it’s just a matter of putting it to action.