Student responses to environmental issues must prioritize individual action

Earth Day – Monday, April 22 – is a perfect opportunity for us students at William and Mary College to rethink our treatment of the environment. In March, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, well known for her Green New Deal and urgent climate rhetoric, has openly admitted that she will often get 10 plastic bags at the grocery store and then have to throw away [them] …because the recycling program in the area is difficult. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, responded by calling the behavior hypocritical; Ocasio-Cortez defended herself by saying she was ‘living in the world as it is’ – for example, she also steals, uses air conditioning and, oh yes, listed more than a thousand Uber transactions during of his congressional campaign despite the subway station. 03 miles from his office.

News flash: the climate is important. Instead of sitting ruminating on the end of the world in 12 years if we don’t tackle climate change, wouldn’t it be cool if our politicians did something about it in their personal lives? I’m not talking about ambitious legislation; Climate action starts with the individual. A politician exemplifying a truly sustainable way of life is far more powerful than mere speech. On an even smaller level, a person taking individual steps towards an eco-friendly life has significant effects.

Do you do everything you want our government to enforce? Maybe not. If you want our government to ban gas or plastic vehicles, do you ever get in cars or use a fork in Marketplace? You probably do. As the co-founder of Greenpeace would tell you, that’s hypocritical.

This is what we need to focus on at the College. Before talking politics, we need to make realistic choices that we believe will benefit our environment. More than that, we all have talents and abilities that we can use to cultivate an eco-friendly school and country as a whole.

To drive this change, let’s talk about the people who are developing innovative and sustainable solutions to environmental problems. In 2018, the reusable water bottle market was valued at over $8 billion; hundreds of companies are responding to consumer demands for this eco-friendly option. MAC Cosmetics allows customers to trade in their empty lipstick tubes for new ones, which encourages recycling. The other day I saw an ad on Snapchat for recycled plastic shoes. Companies like WINIT have created things like silicone airtight bags and unbleached paper tea bags. Lush makes shampoo and conditioner bars to reduce single-use plastics. You can take used Nespresso capsules to convenient recycling collection points. Reusable straws are now the norm. Seventh Generation is a company that sells eco-friendly cleaning products, from plant-based laundry detergent to recycled toilet paper. Pilot makes pens from recycled water bottles. There are literally shower heads that were created for the sole purpose of saving water and energy.

I could go on. There are people and companies actively responding to the seriousness of the climate movement.

As students who care deeply about the environment, we should come up with brilliant ideas like these. At the very least, we must resolve as individuals to take action for a cleaner, better Earth – whether that’s being mindful of the waste we produce or replacing everything we own with the greener option. sustainable, which, as I think I have demonstrated, does exist.

If we don’t do everything we can to play our role in protecting the environment, we don’t really have the right to anxiety or judgmental outrage.

Email Chloé Folmar at

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