Upon entering this class, I knew I would learn more about environmental issues, but I had no idea how in-depth we would actually get. I am thankful to say that I am leaving this class immensely more aware of the environmental problems we as a world face today and feel better equipped to make changes in my own life in hopes of lessening those negative effects. Here are some images I took (I thought we had to take the photos) that represent different concepts we have covered in class that I was not as aware of prior.
This storm drain represents the idea that during heavy rainfall in the city one should abstain from using the shower or running the dishwasher. Heavy rainfall makes it more likely that our sewer systems will back up and contaminate our clean water supply. I am glad that there are so many storm drains around to act as a friendly reminder of this important detail. It also acts as a reminder of other towns in our nation that are still without clean water and how essential that is to a healthy life.
I did not know much about littering before taking this class. I had thought that yes, it was bad, but I did not know exactly why or how it is governed by our law. According to a presentation from one of our classmates, throwing anything at all on the ground is considered littering, under the eye of the law. While this may be true, I have never once seen this law be enforced, except maybe in movies. Items that are commonly littered, like cigarette butts for example, contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate our water supply as well as our soil. I would hate to see our few parks lose beautiful foliage due to careless littering. Thankfully there are many effective cleanup teams employed by our city.
The most prominent thing I have not been able to “unsee” since taking this class is most definitely the issue of idling. There are countless amounts of statistics and studies claiming that our poor air quality is in large part due to the amount of car and machine activity in New York City. One of the only ways to combat this effect is by discouraging people from idling their cars. This pointless release of harmful chemicals into our air can be easily avoided by simply shutting your car off while waiting for someone or texting like the man pictured above. There are many people bringing this issue into the public eye and I hope that it becomes a law more aggressively enforced in the near future. I think it is safe to say that I’ll never idle again.
I recycle all the time, but one thing I did not know about recycling before taking this class is that liquid present in a shipment of recyclable material overseas can ruin a large part of the entire load. It is essential that you dump out whatever contents you have in your coffee cup or bottle before recycling because mold can form during shipment which sends the tons of recyclable material back overseas to a landfill, unnecessarily. I have made sure to tell each person I am with this important detail in hope that more of our recyclable material will actually get used in its intended way.
Garbage bags constantly line the sidewalks of our city and this image puts into perspective how much waste we contribute to landfills on an almost daily basis. There are many steps one can take to reduce their contribution to this pile, like using reusable bags when going grocery shopping or carrying around a reusable water bottle. I’ve implemented these changes and many more since taking this class and hope to continue this trend until I am as waste-free as my lifestyle allows.