Many students, teachers alike find environment worth preserving

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By: Stephanie Hodgin <shodgin@hilite.org>

For Kelli Rogers, math teacher and eco-friendly advocate, helping the environment has become a way of life. She and her husband do not buy water bottles, CDs or books, and even own their own grocery bags just to help out the environment any way they can. She said that a trip to Japan in June opened up her eyes to the condition that the United States is in.

“When I went to Japan, I was amazed at how eco-friendly they were. Even the McDonalds were (eco-friendly). There was a separate place for your straws, a place for your lid and a place for trash, and everyone carried their own bags to the grocery store. That is when I asked myself, ‘What can I do?’” Rogers said.
Rogers also said that even small changes, like bringing a reusable water bottle to school, can make a big difference in the long run. According to money.msn.com, every year there are 89 billion liters of water bottled, which ends up using 1.5 million tons of plastic.

According to George Ohmer, The Healthy Environment (T.H.E.) Club sponsor and AP Environmental Science teacher, it is important for people to be eco-friendly to lessen the impact that students have on the earth.

“For a species that has been self-proclaimed ‘wise mankind’ we certainly have a long way to go to show our intelligence regarding the effects that we are having on the earth,” he said via e-mail.

Bethany Stewart, member of T.H.E. Club and senior, said via e-mail that she has been raised to be an environmentally-friendly person.

“I grew up in a household where protecting the environment was important. Even as an elementary school student, my dad would take me around my neighborhood and I would help clean up trash. I have simply grown up with the attitude of taking care of the earth,” Stewart said. Rogers said that she believes that being environmentally friendly is important and that “we are doing a lot of harm to our environment with our carelessness.”

While Rogers traveled out of the country to realize the importance of being environmentally friendly, Stewart said she started learning about it in school.

“In school I learned about the cutting down of rainforests and baby seals being killed by oil spills. These things had serious impacts on me and I wanted to do everything I could to prevent them from happening. The earth provides so much for people: food, water, forms of shelter and so much beauty to behold. Since I have been given so much, I feel like it’s my place to take care of what I have,” Stewart said.

There are many types of movies, Web sites, books and television shows devoted to informing people of the environment and teaching ways to “go green.” Rogers said she was influenced by books such as The Green Book and movies like “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“‘An Inconvenient Truth’ by Al Gore really opened my eyes to what is happening in the world. Also, once I watched the ‘Planet Earth’ series, it changed my perspective; I can’t imagine not wanting to help the environment,” she said. Rogers also said that books like The Green Book offer ways to be environmentally friendly at work, at school and more.

While at school, Rogers said that she recycles all of the paper and makes sure to turn off the lights when not in her room. She also brings her own water bottle to school with her to reduce the amount of plastic she uses. Stewart says she also takes her recycling habits to school with her.

“At school, I buy notebooks and paper that are printed from already recycled paper. Many times I also take home my plastic water bottles so I can recycle them at home, along with recycling paper, plastic and aluminum,” Stewart said. She also said that, along with recycling, she cuts down on shower time and does not leave the water on while brushing her teeth.

“I also use the windows for light as much as possible instead of those fake lamps. I like sunshine better anyway,” Stewart said.

Recently, T.H.E. Club started taking over the paper-recycling program that the Recycling Club initiated a few years ago, according to Ohmer. He encourages everyone to place all paper in the paper recycling containers in their classrooms.

Stewart said, “As humans, I believe that part of our purpose on the earth is to take care of it. Everything will simply continue to get worse if people don’t take a stand and change.”

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