Environmentalists: the good, the bad, the ugly

What is an environmentalist? A dictionary definition would state it is an advocate for environmental protection. But what does this ultimately come down to? The environmental field is becoming a more attractive option for the younger generation due to potential job opportunities. But while viewing this with a bit of cynicism, why do people choose to be an environmentalist as their occupation? For example, why would we want to clean up the bay if a dirty bay is what brings in our paycheck at the end of the week? Some individuals believe that people within the environmental field have no desire to really clean up the environment – just make it appear so in order to bring in a steady pay check. This may in fact be the case for certain people, however I feel this is not so for the majority.

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This cynicism can still be applied to environmentalists. We try to put our best foot forward, lessening our impact on the environment, educating ourselves on pertinent topics. Yet how informed are we? People strive to participate in activities such as recycling in order to reduce and reuse materials. We pat ourselves on the back for our good deed and are then detached from the process once the recycling leaves our sight. While I support recycling, and participate in it myself, this practice is not as perfect as some may think. Some sources disclose that certain types of materials are not dealt with domestically, and are taken to different countries on barges. Sadly, not all of the materials make it, as crates may fall overboard and are then lost at sea. In addition, non-recyclable plastics are mixed in with recyclables which slows down processing. Knowing this and not spreading the word would make you a poor environmentalist, which many of us are. We would pride ourselves on knowing this bit of information, and just choose to not think about it because hey, at least we know what we’re supposed to do, right?

Wrong.

If we do not take the initiative to spread the word about issues such as this, we will continue as mediocre environmentalists. Talking the talk but never walking the walk. Once we educate ourselves, spreading the word is simple, and imperative to do as a good steward of the environment. This is something I realize I must work on myself. I have become aware of many environmental issues over the past few years, with the help of my mother, and tend to forget that not everybody possesses a great understanding of the issues at hand. Therefore, I feel I am obligated to share these stories with individuals who have any prior knowledge on the subject. I hope to hone this skill throughout the rest of the semester as we delve into other topics, as we all share our wealth of knowledge with each other.

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