Since I can remember, I have felt a deep connection with nature. Most of my childhood was spent outdoors, navigating the woods around my house and climbing just about any rock or tree I could find. I became mesmerized by the beauty and balance of each ecosystem and devastated by the pollution and deforestation humans had caused. But as I grew, I discovered that I could protect the environment through advocacy and mindful consumption. Every choice, no matter how small, has an effect, and just by keeping this fact in mind, I began my continual journey on the path to sustainability.
Today, I consider new factors besides my desire to have a product: if it is of quality, if I could buy something similar second-hand, if its lifespan will justify the impact of its production, and if it is an absolute necessity. Although I cannot say I make the sustainable choice every time, these considerations help me improve with each decision.
Besides assessing my personal consumption, I aim to take and inspire initiative, since the best way to protect the environment is to speak up for it. This advocacy can take many forms: working to pass legislation; asking a business about their practices; writing or publically speaking. As the founder and co-leader of Eco Club at York High School, I, of course, want to help students develop sustainable habits, but I especially want to show them their own capabilities to inspire environmental progress. The beginning of change is often just an email, phone call, or conversation away.
I strongly believe that the combination of hope and meaningful action will allow us to move forward. We find ourselves in a precarious situation, with the many fragile systems of the planet resting in our hands. If we understand our own power and stop waiting to make change, we can restore our planet’s beautiful equilibrium.