Ballenas students and staff are all well aware of the global crisis. Many students from all over the world have walked out on various occasions protesting the government to take action. But getting the government to do something does take a lot of time. Who knows if they will do anything? Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, which means that there are a lot of people out there who don’t care about climate change. That is why we need to start making changes ourselves, and not just by protesting.
Now, everyone who is reading this is probably going to roll their eyes thinking that I will lecture about recycling bottles and to walk to school rather than drive. They are going to say to themselves: “What can I, one 13-18 year old do to save the planet?” Well, that is where statistics and new facts come in.
There are many little things that anyone can do that will make a huge difference, if one does it correctly. Firstly, there are roughly 900 students at Ballenas Secondary School. 900 people is enough to make some sort of difference. Numerous studies have concluded that in the USA alone, 500 million straws are used every day! That means that the average person uses 1.6 straws everyday, may it be from Starbucks, a juicebox, or a movie theater. So, 900 multiplied by 1.6 equals 1440 straws used by just Ballenas students everyday! Well, if everyone in Ballenas gave up straws for just a school week, we would save 7200 plastic straws from landfills and the ocean! You don’t even have to not use straws! Glass and paper straws are becoming more popular and available. They are even selling them here in Parksville! Thrifty's sells them for a lower price than you'll usually find online.
But still, you may say, straws are tiny. What else can we do? There are a lot of surprises to be found by asking that question. One that I found really surprising, were how many shampoo and conditioner bottles were being thrown away every year. I didn’t even think of those. But there is a solution! LUSH, among other companies, have introduced bars of shampoo and conditioner that are package free. They last longer than bottles of shampoo and conditioner and aren’t as expensive as you might think. They work for some people and not for others, but I tested them and found that they work really well, at least for me. These bars of shampoo and conditioner have saved 15 million plastic bottles from landfills and can be found at the LUSH store in Woodgrove, Nanaimo.
The last base I want to touch on to reduce your impact is to shop second-hand. There are two main choices for clothing, polyester and cotton. Though cotton is biodegradable, is takes a lot of energy to make. Polyester doesn’t take up so much resources, but it is not biodegradable. Also, to make these clothing in the masses, many people in developing countries work in unsafe conditions just to make the shirt you are wearing right now. So, kill two birds with one stone! Buy second hand! It is much cheaper, great for the environment, saves people from unsafe conditions, and you look different from everyone else! Parksville has an SOS store with tons of cool stuff!
We don’t have to cut all plastic out of our lives right away, but just doing these three things can make a difference. There are 900 students at Ballenas, 12 000 residents of Parksville, 800 000 Vancouver Islanders, and 37 million Canadians. Just think of what we could accomplish if we all just made these very simple and affordable choices! But if we all think that we can’t make a difference then nothing will ever get done!
I am not saying to stop protesting. We need to take action by lowering our carbon emissions, and fast. But we also need to take personal responsibility and fight to redeem ourselves.