Spring is here in Upper Arlington, and the trees and flowers are flourishing in the many parks around the community. However, it’s not the flowers on the lawn junior Ellie Thien and others involved in the Environmental Club are worried about; it’s the garbage cans parked in front that have them concerned.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produced an average of 4.5 pounds of solid waste each day in 2008. That adds up to a total of 251 million tons of waste each year. To put that in perspective, the Titanic weighed 46,329 pounds, so this is the equivalent of 4,837 Titanics worth of waste.
In 1970, Earth Day was established to help create greater awareness of the impact people have on the environment and the need to cut down on the amount of waste produced. This year, countries all over the world are celebrating Earth Day on April 22, according to The Earth Day Network. Among those celebrating the day is Thien, who is president of the Environmental Club.
The club organizes several projects throughout the year and meets weekly to prepare for its upcoming events. These projects are focused not only on helping to clean the earth, but also to alert others to the importance of keeping it well maintained.
“Our main goals are to help our community, nation and Earth,” Thien said. “We try to vary our volunteering and projects so that they will reach different places and spread awareness as much as we can.”
In addition to these projects, the club also organizes events for Earth Day.
“We are really hoping to spread awareness of problems in the environment on Earth Day,” Thien said. “We’ll have a Bike-to-School Day, where everyone is invited to ride their bikes or walk to school and will be provided free breakfast foods.”
Senior Nate Smallwood also plans on celebrating Earth Day, though he makes an effort to do what he can for the environment even without a designated holiday.
“I always recycle,” Smallwood said. “When you can do something easy like that and help—why not?”
Thien believes that creating understanding of the importance of the environment is key to helping fix its problems.
“It has become obvious over the past few decades that our environment is having issues,” Thien said. “With pollution, deforestation and animal mistreatment, our Earth is heading down a very dangerous path. If we don’t start now, there’s a very good chance that we won’t be able to stop what’s happening.”
Smallwood also agrees that spreading the word is a crucial part of helping the environment.
“The world isn’t changing in such a drastic way that you can notice it day from day, but it’s important to make people aware of the problems we face and things we can do about it,” he said.
Helping the environment doesn’t have to mean a drastic shift in lifestyle. Thien points out that there are simple things that everyone can do, not only on Earth Day, but everyday. According to the EPA, simply taking it easy on the gas and brake pedals and avoiding sudden starts and stops can help save the environment as well as money.
“I think that when a lot of people think of ‘going green,’ they think you have to go all in,” Thien said. “But ‘going green’ doesn’t mean you have to start eating vegan and drive fuel efficient cars—although that’s awesome if you do—but you can do something as simple as replacing one incandescent light bulb or starting a small compost in your backyard.”