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Song of the Coquí

2008 April 23

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Lea la versión en español a continuación de esta entrada en inglés.

As we celebrate the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, I remember when I studied at the Academia San José in Puerto Rico and the events that inspired me to strive for greater environmental protection.

In the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, a beautiful Caribbean island, one enjoys good weather all year round. Beautiful beaches, a colorful scenery, the melodious nocturnal songs of the coquí* Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer, the Yunque Rainforest Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer, the Camuy Caverns Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer- these are some of the images and sounds that live in my memories of my island. In spite of these beautiful surroundings, Puerto Rico faces great environmental challenges-excess of solid waste, lack of landfills, trash along its beaches, problems with the quality of drinking water-these are only some of the factors that undermine its natural beauty.

Academia San JoséWhen I was the president of the ASJ Science Club more than three decades ago, we were decorating an enormous bulletin board for Earth Day. We also planted a tree, I think it was an oak, in the front garden of the school. Today, 34 years later, the tree still stands-a testimony of what some students interested in sciences did one beautiful spring afternoon.

That brings me back to today’s subject – my interest in environmental awareness. That is the seedling that I seek to plant for children and adults so that they may understand that our actions, be it at home, in school, in the community or our workplace, have an impact in our surroundings and above all in our environment. From putting aluminum cans in a recycling bin, buying green products or conserving energy, all these actions enable us to leave the world better for future generations.

Let’s celebrate Earth Day every day anywhere in the world!

*The coquí is a small frog that lives in the tropical trees and shrubs in Puerto Rico. It has been the inspiration for many songs and poetry on the Island.

Cantar del Coquí

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Mientras celebramos el 38vo aniversario del Día del Planeta Tierra, recuerdo cuando estudiaba en la Academia San José en Puerto Rico y los eventos que me inspiraron a dedicarme a la educación sobre la protección ambiental.

En el territorio estadounidense de Puerto Rico, una bella isla caribeña, se disfruta una temperatura cálida todo el año. Hermosas playas, bellos paisajes de vivos coloridos, el melodioso cantar nocturno del coquí* Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer el Bosque Nacional Pluvial del Yunque Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer y las Cuevas de Camuy Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer–son algunas de las imágenes y sonidos que viven en mis recuerdos de mi Isla. A pesar de esos bellos alrededores, Puerto Rico enfrenta grandes retos ambientales-exceso de desechos sólidos, escasez de vertederos, la basura en las playas, problemas de calidad del agua potable–son tan solo algunos de factores que minan esa belleza natural.

Academia San JoséCuando era la presidenta del Club de Ciencia en la Academia San José más de tres décadas atrás, estábamos preparando un enorme tablón de anuncios con carteles alusivos a la protección del Planeta Tierra. También sembramos un árbol, creo que era un roble, en el jardín al frente del colegio. Hoy, 34 años más tarde, el árbol sigue allí-un testimonio de lo que hicieron unas estudiantes interesadas en las ciencias una bella tarde de primavera.

Eso me lleva otra vez al tema de hoy-mi interés en crear consciencia a favor de la protección ambiental. Esa es la semilla que quisiera sembrar para que tanto niños como adultos puedan comprender que las acciones que nosotros tomamos, sea en el hogar, en la escuela, en la comunidad o nuestro lugar de trabajo, tienen un impacto en nuestros alrededores y sobre todo en nuestro ambiente. Desde echar las latas de aluminio en la cesta de reciclaje, comprar productos “verdes” o conservar energía, todas estas acciones nos permitirán dejar un mundo mejor para futuras generaciones.

¡Celebremos el Día del Planeta Tierra todos los días en cualquier parte del mundo!

*El coquí es una pequeña rana que vive en la arboleda y flora tropicales de Puerto Rico. El coquí ha sido inspiración para muchas canciones y poesía en la Isla.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Rolan O. Clark permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Dear all,

    1. I am trying to come up with a way to prove that recycling isn’t what we think as the wording implies.

    2. According to some testimony at a county WTE meeting with its citizens, one of the officials there made a comment that 70% of the east coast and 80% of the west coast paper goes to China.

    3. I have several articles that say when paper is recycled at least 20% is lost to fiber damage and what is lost is made into other products or burned or disposed of in some way.

    4. I have several articles that imply that 90% or so of recycled plastic is baled or made into pellets and sent overseas.

    5. I have several articles that say most recycled plastic is made into fibers for rugs or clothes, and the technology is just now being approved to make grade 1 plastics back into bottles as it was originally manufactured from virgin products.

    Referring to the above, if its true, its hard to find actual data to prove how much plastic, paper and wood is actually returned as a product and in what form. If all this stuff is sent over seas and, say, 50% comes back in some form other than what it was originally, or doesn’t come back at all, then to say recycling saves virgin products is grossly misleading.

    Do you know anyone in the science field that may be interested in what is really happening to these supposed ‘recycle’ products?

    My ‘blue box theory’, just because someone picks up my recycle stuff from my blue box does not mean it is going to be recycled, whatever that means.

    Let me know if I didn’t make my point, I think I did but I don’t know how this reads to others. Science should be blind to everything but science and the worst science is undocumented data or doing science to ‘prove my point’ rather than science to find out all I can regardless of where it leads me.

    I really would like to know if anyone is interested in what I call ‘truth in trash’ because I think all the ‘recycling’ talk is implying that everything we put in our blue boxes is somehow diverting 100% from using virgin products when I think in reality it may be closer to or less than 50% but I don’t have any data or studies to prove it.

    I really don’t care what the real answer is, I would just like to know so taxpayers can get an honest accounting of their dollars spent and become aware of the complex world of recycling.

    I am concerned that ‘recycling’ markets are a very fragile market and can be overloaded very easily then there will be less market demand for solid waste that is now eligible for recycling but I can find no studies done to predict the future of recycling markets if recycling nation wide is greatly expanded. I see all kinds of articles stating that the demand for recycling is very high and if that is the case then why isn’t somebody hounding our County officials and giving competitive bidding and fighting over our recycled pick ups. Something isn’t squaring up.

    I strongly feel the above is important to determine the future of diverted solid waste, which we call recycled, and what I would like to see more closely defined such as:

    1. RECYCLE – only if the product comes back in it original form/use and what is the loss of the original product during the recycling process and how are these losses disposed of(such as soft drink bottles and newsprint/paper) and what percentage of the recycled products will have to be replaced by using virgin products and what health issues are addressed in the processes, especially other countries.

    2. REMANUFACTURED – all products that are made into other than the original product and what is the loss of the original product during the recycling process and how are these losses disposed of and now, apparently, most plastics now go to make fibers for rugs, clothing and decking and what percentage of the ‘recycled’ products will have to be replaced by using virgin products to satisfy the demand for the original product and what health issues are addressed in the processes, especially other countries.

  2. August 15, 2008
  3. ZipBox Media permalink
    April 24, 2010

    I’m so glad that we have days like “Earth Day” which remind us of the importance of changing our habits and do further harm to the Earth.

    Johanna Lasserton

  4. wayne shemwell permalink
    December 11, 2010

    Great post, it is the youth who are driving the green movement. I take some pride in my own daughter who has made our home a more green place.

  5. Mr Ken permalink
    June 17, 2011

    Is it really green or is it really foolish goverment spending. Do risk be taken or is this just a blinded effort of being manipulated. Pwerlines are still above ground and tree are still cut down. Jobs arent generated . But the goverment sells green. Buloney.

  6. Doris permalink
    June 26, 2014

    Coquíes are in danger of extinction in Puerto Rico and actually two of them are already extinct – the Coquí Dorado and the Coquí Palmeado. Hawaiians don’t have to kill the Coquí frog, send all the Coquí frogs to Puerto Rico, please, we love that frog.

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