Time to Create Change
My high school economics teacher loved to tell students how much tax we would have to pay once we became adults; that we would have to pay massive sums to compensate for the mistakes of our elders that have resulted in $22.5 trillion of debt (at least at the time of this publication). It wasn’t until I served my town government as a paid intern on the sustainability committee that I realized how much my generation would have to undertake due to the actions of our predecessors.
I believe that this planet has been taken for granted for too long. Corporations and citizens alike have acted irresponsibly and without consideration of the cost of their ecological footprint. Although the exact implications for the future is not known, there is plenty of evidence supporting the conclusion that temperatures are rising, our resources are becoming scarce, our water and air are becoming contaminated, and we are losing a diversity of species. The studies predicting these outcomes vary, but one thing is certain: it is our job – the job of our generation – to save this Earth.
I realize that not all adults are to blame. I can name plenty of baby-boomers and Generation Xers who have done their part, and perhaps far more, to turn the tide; but it is not enough. Meaningful change is the result of serious investment, both financial and emotional. There is still too much apathy and indifference. Our progress toward the goal of a healthy planet is still stymied by a system that allows some to reap the rewards of a scorched Earth. The majority of people do not use their voice; and as they say, “silence is compliance.”
I observed this phenomenon at the onset of my experience in municipal government. The town committee I worked for consisted of a small group of residents, many of whom had full-time jobs elsewhere but who volunteered to work tirelessly to implement effective strategies for positive ecological change. They hosted educational events, drafted ordinances to protect our community, and formed a coalition with organizations of similar purpose. But there was limited support for their efforts.
In 2019, the committee resolved to obtain a certification to acknowledge the town’s sustainability initiatives from the Sustainable CT organization, but unfortunately there was no funding for the project. That is when I learned of the mission of the Global Preservation Society (GPS), a nonprofit organization started by a local high school student that garnered international support. GPS offered a grant to the town specifically to hire student interns to assist with the certification initiative. I, along with another classmate and a student from a local college, joined forces to research various improvements and town efforts toward sustainability. I worked with town officials to complete an environmental planner which was a prerequisite to state certification. One of the more impressive accomplishments featured in the planner included the CT Green Leaf certification at my high school that resulted in a Green Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education, a project in which I was also intimately involved. In my high school of roughly one thousand students, almost everyone cares for the environment. Littering is taboo, recycling is a must, and people are happy to devote their time for the greater good of the planet. The Green Team, a student environmental club which unites the student leaders of all eco-initiatives in our high school, has taken significant steps toward sustainability. Reflecting on the example set by our high school, I realized that my generation represents the best chance to successfully navigate the current environmental crisis. I decided to elaborate on my experience by posting this blog, to encourage others – particularly students – to get involved before it is too late.
In order to create change, we must first act. “We” means you and me. It means everyone reading this post. The Global Preservation Society is an incredible resource for our generation to communicate ideas, to get involved, and to join like-minded people in pursuit of a higher purpose to save the planet. We must seize this opportunity because we have the power to drive progress. It is time to create change!