What happens when people don’t live environmentally responsibly?

Environmental degradation; the “disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets” and the “destruction of environments and the eradication of wildlife.” It occurs when natural resources are depleted and environment is “compromised in the form of extinction of species, pollution in air, water and soil, and rapid growth in population.” (“What is Environmental Degradation?” 2016)

What can we do to help stop the negative effects of environmental degradation?

Greener living; the action of living sustainably by being green on the road, throwing away less, choosing greener products, greening industrial and business processes, and making cleaner energy decisions. It also involves being an advocate to save the planet. Green living may be thought of as tedious and more costly than traditional options. However, it actually helps make processes more efficient and saves money and creates jobs.

How can we remember to live green?

Remember the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Reducing the amount of resources used, reusing items and materials when possible, and recycling what is necessary are the overall steps that should be taken to help save the environment by living green.

What is recyclable?

Metals, paper and cardboard, glass, plastics, batteries and bulbs, as well as e-waste are all recyclable.

How can we apply green living to our lives?

At home:

  • Reduce the amount of paper used
  • Reuse items such as silverware, cups and plates
  • Use reusable towels instead of paper towels
  • Recycle mail, magazines, newspapers
  • Reduce e-waste by giving products to the correct recycler and not putting it in the landfills because some forms are potentially hazardous, and others can be scrapped in order to find materials that can be reused
  • Use compost as fertilizer in gardens, or install rain barrels to use the water for watering

At school and work:

  • Taking a reusable lunch bag, silverware, and water bottle are very helpful because they reduce the amount of plastic (for example from the plastic bags, plastic cutlery, or water bottles) used.
  • Reuse paper, print double sided, and use more technology and less resources such as paper.
  • Repurpose items such as bottles for crafts
  • Support eco-friendly companies and products in order to promote environmental awareness and green living.

As a Community:

  • Send flyers and newspapers electronically, and requiring those who choose paper copies to pay a higher price
  • Having community recycling drives or tree planting drives in order to reach a target goal
  • Creating fundraisers to help fund research to discover ways to produce products which decrease environmental degradation
  • Raise environmental degradation awareness and education by bringing in speakers

Why is it financially or economically profitable to live green?

There are lower costs because of reduced waste, reused resources, and recycled products and materials. Additionally, there will be more jobs because recycling plants require many workers to stay in business. “A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors says the “green economy” could create 4.2 million jobs in the next 30 years. More than 3 million would come from a switch to renewable power and alternative fuels.” (“Can Going Green Create Jobs?” 2013). “Statistics show that for every 1 job in waste management there are 4 jobs in the recycling industry,” and the recycling industry also provide jobs in order to create new products from the recycled ones. A society leaning towards waste management rather than recycling loses the potential growth of millions of new jobs. (“4 Advantages to Recycling That Benefit the Economy and Environment”)

In order to bring awareness to environmental degradation, I have done three educational presentations in order to create a bigger community that knows and practices greener living.

  1. Educational presentations given to people of the Brookfield Zoo for a total of 12 days for five hours each time (60 hours). More than 220 people were reached.The audience was the people who were interested in going to the zoo and learning more about animals, conservation, and general science. I chose this audience because I knew this would be a good way to reach the community because the Brookfield Zoo has many signs and events dedicated to conservation and helping the environment so the people there would be more receptive to the presentations than others. I reached people from all walks of life, informing children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. It was important to inform anyone I was able to because the more knowledge that people have, the more they can do.

2. Educational flyers were put up around Prospect High School. The total amount of people reached could not be counted, but 20 flyers were put up around Prospect High School, which has a community of around 2000 students and 200 staff. 87 people personally contacted me about learning more and viewed websites which had information about greener living and environmental degradation. The flyers were put around Prospect High School because more than two thousand people pass through the halls each day. This audience was chosen because both the students and staff are interested in learning more every day, and they have traditionally been very receptive to posters, announcements, and other public outreaches. In addition to that, the new generations are the future of the world, and it is very important to educate them in order to start or pass changes for a better world.

Note: This graphic says that glass and metal cannot be recycled but that is referring to what can be recycled in most recycling bins because glass, metal, batteries and bulbs, e-waste can all be recycled but have to go to specific recycling centers.

3. An educational presentation was given to FCCLA chapter members and other students and staff who wanted to learn more about the environment and greener living. This 10 minute educational presentation reached 22 people directly, but even more indirectly as those who attended helped to inform those who did not. When duplicating this project, give the background research that describes environmental degradation and green living information like from the beginning of this article. The audience was the Prospect Knights FCCLA Chapter Members and other Prospect teachers and students who wanted to learn more about the environment and greener living. They were chosen to be presented to because all of the FCCLA members are passionate about bringing change to the world and those who actively seeked out more information would pass that information along to family and friends. They became very interested and started small discussions among themselves about how to live greener personally and as a community. The surveys helped give insight to see what most people knew about the environment and what a simple presentation could do to inform many people about a very important topic.

The pre-survey and post-survey are the same questions. If you are duplicating this project, make sure to give the pre-survey before the presentation and the post-survey after the presentation.

How is this project related to the family and consumer sciences?

Family and consumer sciences are applicable to everyday life, just like green living. The environmental problem of environmental degradation is a problem that can start to be remedied by educating the public about green living techniques and processes. In addition to being applicable every day, the family and consumer sciences advocate healthy living and the learning of skills to live in a diverse and changing society. Jobs that are available in the environmental sector of family and consumer science include but are not limited to environmental advocacy, environmental campaign representatives, planning specialists, and restoration specialists. With society becoming more and more interested in saving the environment, more of these jobs will be created and people will can start to fill these openings by learning about the environment and family and consumer sciences. There are also many programs relating to these sciences, two being the food and child development programs. These both use many materials and create an extremely large amount of waste. The good news is that more than half of this waste can be recycled, the amount of materials used can be reduced, and other materials can be reused.

Why should you care?

As Terri Swearingen, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1997, rightfully stated, “We are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to-”. This was true when it was said, true right now and true for the foreseeable future. We need to take care of this planet because if it goes to complete ruin, there will be nothing possible to fix it. If nobody makes an effort to live green and sustainably, the world will definitely look a lot different than it does right now. However, if every home, school, work, and community across America and the entire world tries to live sustainably, the negative effects of environmental degradation will unbelievably be countered. So join me, and thousands across the globe, and take a step for and to the future; small actions create big effects so start small and make a difference in the world, and then move on to bigger changes and even bigger effects.

Let every nation be the land of the trees, and home of the green