Eye of the Tiger

TRAN: Trash indicative of apathy

(JORDAN DEL VALLE TONOIAN / EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JORDAN DEL VALLE TONOIAN / EYE OF THE TIGER)

CAITLIN TRAN

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The air is crisp, the leaves crunch under your steps, and the energy of the new fall season is effervescent. Walking along our aged and beautiful campus, it is difficult to understand why there is any trash at all scattered across the ground.

Aluminum takes 80-100 years to decompose, plastic over 450 years and styrofoam 500 to eternity. With this knowledge, making the split decision to walk to the nearest trash can to dispose of your waste should be easy, reflexive,  the rationale simple: choosing to respect the complex ecosystem we are a part of for the greater good of the earth and its inhabitants is far more valuable than granting yourself a moment’s convenience.

Alas, this logic is greatly ignored by the students of RHS – evident in the translucent Smuckers peanut butter and jelly sandwich wrappers that flutter forlornly in the wind, 2 oz styrofoam cups of ranch strewn across the grey cement, and brightly colored chip bags lined with aluminum that polka dot the grass.

Is it due to the fact that we know at the end of the day, there are custodial staff that graciously pick up the garbage we leave behind? That, someone else will be accountable for our mess – and even if we were to cease our environmentally harmful behavior,  surely there are plenty more individuals that won’t—so why even bother?

I really do try to think about this perspective before verbally assaulting another freshman boy for not picking up a plastic water bottle they unsuccessfully attempted to bank into the trash can from 15 feet away – but it does little to acquiesce me.

Besides the obvious error found in this logic being intentional blindness to the fact that if there are fewer people littering, there will be less litter, it also begs to be criticized for the lack of forethought in believing that individual action cannot effect change in a large population.

If an area is immaculate, we tend to want to keep it that way.

If an area is dirty, we tend to loosen our standards on our treatment of the area.

One’s decision to discard of their trash appropriately or pick up another’s on the ground makes all the difference in keeping the appearance of our campus clean and pleasing to the eye – a simple solution to avoiding further waste buildup.

I abhor the aforementioned reasoning not only because it’s selfish, it’s harmful to ourselves. Look, we all know the harm of littering. We all know the guilt we feel when we pass by a piece of trash we can’t be bothered to pick up. So what service do we do ourselves when we ignore the regret in choosing to be a bystander in the course of our own destruction, refusing to grant ourselves the joy of empowering our beliefs through our actions?

With the overload of negativity surrounding the state of our environment, I understand the feelings of hopelessness for the future of our planet and world; it’s easy to turn apathetic and bury away those thoughts in order to escape the anxiety that comes with feeling unable to help the world we live in.

But these feelings of powerlessness change as soon as we step out of our comfort zone, the anxiousness eases as we start working toward a common goal: and it starts with confidence. The changes we wish to see will never be accomplished if we continue to believe we  do not hold the power to do so.

     

     

     

    

About the Writer
CAITLIN TRAN, REPORTER

I am a senior and this is my first year in EOT. I plan on pursuing a career in environmental sustainability, and I work part time at a boba tea shop. I...

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  • TRAN: Trash indicative of apathy

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