"I know that a green lifestyle is something I have not wholly cultivated within myself, but is a lifelong process and now I hope to invest myself further in sustainability initiatives at Kenyon. After all, it has become my home."
"As I was not raised in a particularly 'green' household, only after the ushering of my teacher did I begin to attend Green School club meetings at my high school, Walden III. There, I was able to work with my peers to help run the recycling program, organize rallies with 350.org, help create an outdoor classroom, do an intersection repair project, as well as organize a vigil for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and other community activities. I spent the first half of my junior year at Conserve School, a semester school that focuses on environmental stewardship. In my senior year, I became the president of Green School, and began working with the Root River Watershed Americorps program in Racine.
"Before coming to Kenyon College, I spent about eleven months in Chiang Mai, Thailand through the Rotary International Youth Exchange program. While I had often experienced push back from peers in the United States when attempting to enact environmental change, Thailand was an entirely separate can of worms. While many Americans will agree to recycle and avoid littering, a large number still refuse to accept man-made global warming as a valid concept. Whereas in Thailand, most people that I met understood the consequences of man-made effects on climate change, but would still contribute to pollution in other ways. Thailand produces less than 1 percent of the world's CO2 emissions with a comparatively lower per capita emission rate as well. Yet, plastic bags were used incessantly, visible smoke from tuk tuks, or small three-wheeled taxis, clouded the streets, and come burning season, the mountain itself could disappear behind the smoke from the neighboring countryside's slash and burn farming. I felt overwhelmed, feeling as though I was only able to offer meager attempts to start conversations about these effects and possible solutions.
"Since I have come back to the United States, it has taken some time to regain confidence in expressing my passion for the environment, but I am getting there. I try to remind myself everyday that I can start small when I feel overwhelmed. I try to take showers that last only a song's length (3-5 minutes). I make a serious point of avoiding to use plastic bags, or at least reusing them if I cannot. I try to be conscious of much waste I create, and remember that it never truly disappears. This semester I have been eating less meat after learning of the negative affects the meat industry has on our global carbon footprint in my environmental studies class. While these may have small effects, I think it is important to understand that this is not an excuse to attempt change. Of course, I am eager to make more structural change as well. This summer I will be lobbying Congress to pass a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend with the bipartisan organization Citizen's Climate Lobby. I plan to create a synoptic major in sustainability, with both humanities and science components."