Do not let the ozone become a doily

Posted on: April 17th, 2013
“I can’t feel my face … or my fingers,” I murmured, barely moving my near-frozen lips.  It is halfway through April, but instead of the flowers and warm spring breeze you would expect, we were being pelted by snow.  The biting cold and wind that threatened to blow me away were enough for me to wish I was back in bed, all cozy, reading a book.  Instead, I — along with two other girls in my group — was traipsing down alleyways looking for recycling bins, all in the name of Earth Day.
Monday, April 22 will mark the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day — a product of the 1970s environmental movement.  Our modern green movement can be attributed to Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring was the true catalyst behind public awareness for societal and environmental health.  However, Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. senator, is celebrated as being the founder of Earth Day.
Earth Day has since spurred countless transformative campaigns and organizations: the Clean Air and Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Agency, climate rallies and A Billion Acts of Green campaign.  The environmental movement has become a global initiative, as society is beginning to fully comprehend the meaning of climate change and what portentous consequences to expect in the near future.
Earth Day 2013 is fast approaching, and students have plenty of options to get involved in and around campus to complete their own acts of green.  Loyola Student Community Clean-up has three neighborhood projects on April 20 for students to get involved.  Chicago’s Morton Arboretum is holding a weeklong string of events throughout Chicago starting  April 21.  And LUC’s Center for International Business is sponsoring a lecture given by Dr. Narasimha Rao entitled “Water and Energy Nexus in Industrial Plants.”  For a complete listing of events, visit Loyola’s Office of Sustainability’s online calendar.
Through Loyola Student Community Clean-up’s first event on April 13, hosted by LUC’s Community Relations organization, I was able to engage in my own act of green.  There were about 30 students who showed up, as I am sure many more were dispirited by the snow and 8 a.m. wake-up call.  Our small band was then broken up into three broad groups; one group was headed to Loyola Park for dune restoration, a second was participating in an e-waste recycling project at the 49th ward office and then the final group, my group, was percolated throughout northern Rogers Park. Our semi-exasperating trek did have a purpose: We were collecting data on which apartment buildings in the 49th Ward had recycle bins, as part of a greater project related to a new recycling ordinance for that ward. Yes, it was freezing cold and my group was on the verge of a mutiny, but as Emily Rymer, a junior majoring in history, said to keep us going, “A green community is a happy community!”
With Meghan Maloy, a senior and student assistant for LUC’s Community Relations, as our team leader, we pushed through our mutinous feelings and continued our data collecting.  We serpentined among the apartment complexes, toting our clipboard, marking each building number, waste management company and checking off whether there was a recycle bin or not.  By the end, we had visited over 80 different buildings — not including the single residences — and I could proudly tell someone which waste companies were green and which couldn’t seem to figure out the simplicity of labeling one of their many bins “recyclables only.”
Recycling is one of the most basic ways for students to take part in their own acts of green, and it is easy to do at Loyola.  Each on-campus dorm room is given a recycling bin, and recycling-only receptacles are disseminated all over campus.  All students have to do is reach effortlessly past the trashcan to the recycle bin and drop in their plastic, glass, aluminum or paper.
Through my own experiences and reading of our current environmental situation, I have started to become more environmentally savvy.  In fact, I am that girl who recycles everything and chides her roommates for throwing away a scrap of paper.  For those of you who think this is ridiculous and are skeptical about global warming, I’m sorry to write that scientists have flooded journals, newspapers and conferences with evidence that humans have indeed adversely affected the climate and overall health of the planet and all its species, and we dispassionately continue to do so.  My own personal response to you skeptics is that I think of my environmental actions as helping the prevention of our ozone from becoming a doily and the WALL-E movie from becoming a real-life scenario.
So, maybe you will now think twice before you throw away your math papers (that you secretly want to burn), or use a Styrofoam cup, even though you know it will never degrade, but are just too lazy to wash a glass cup.  And, if you need further encouragement to participate in your own acts of green, remember: “A green community is a happy community!”
Elizabeth Romanski is a contributing columnist
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