Editorial: We all need to do our part for the planet

Editorial Board

2516: the year that the plastic water bottle you threw away yesterday will have completed its decomposition process. That’s 500 years of 14 billion pounds of garbage being dumped into the world’s oceans, and 500 years of 3.4 million people dying each year as a result of water pollution. It’s also 500 years of a child dying every eight seconds because of contaminated water consumption.

Humans have already done enough damage to this planet. The next 500 years are not projected to be any better if the habits that have gotten us here continue.

The concept is relatively simple. Buy a reusable water bottle and coffee mug. Locate a recycling bin instead of using your trash can as a basketball hoop. 

Bike to class or work every now and again instead of driving. If you do drive, form a carpool so a few other people don’t contribute to gas emissions. Take a 10-minute shower instead of a 20-minute shower to save water.

On paper, these are all things that everyone can do to make the next 500 years appear less grim. Humans, however, are not only wasteful but quite unskilled when it comes to practicing what they preach.

Plastic bottles are purchased every day on campus, their contents are consumed and the bottle is thrown away. The fact that caffeine is a must for any self-respecting college student paired with the perpetually long line at Caribou and Starbucks indicates that the number of paper cups used every day is also sky high.

Those living with others know all too well just how long a shower can last, but the amount of water they use is never the top priority. The average American uses 17.2 gallons of water when they restrict their shower to 8.2 minutes, which usually doesn’t happen.

Now is the time to make a change, not tomorrow, or next week or after finals. Unless we want to force future generations 500 years from now to have to wear oxygen tanks because the air will be too polluted to breathe, we must all take into account what our actions mean at the end of the day.

It doesn’t matter if you want to dive into the deep end — just don’t get confused by the floating plastic bags like sea animals do and try to eat them thinking they’re harmless jellyfish because it won’t end well — and change the way you live your life or simply buy a refillable water bottle. No action is too small. This is our planet, and it’s our job to make it a safe place to live now and 500 years from now.