Turn Off The Lights!

By Ameshia Cross

I can still hear my mother screaming at the top of her lungs, “Turn out the lights and unplug that radio!” I couldn’t make it through the day without switching on every light in the house. I had to have my radio playing at all times and went to bed with the TV on. When my mom bought me a computer, I was so excited and showed my elation by never turning it off. My mom was always harping about saving energy. She would reuse grocery bags before it was fashionable to do. As a kid, I thought my mom was crazy for being this way!

Everything changed when I met a man I now call an “Energy Star.” During my sophomore year of high school, a man came to speak at our annual Earth Day assembly. I thought he was a little weird (don’t all adults seem weird to teenagers!) but the passion he had drew me to his message. “Turn out the lights and unplug that radio!” Those words were of course familiar to me but now they were coming from someone who wasn’t my mom, so they carried a greater weight. “Energy Star” went on to talk about the effects that behavior like mine can have on the environment. He even spoke of people who do not have reliable sources of energy at all and how conservation is key in moving forward. It made me appreciate energy so much more and how I take it for granted.

I took a hold of that message and have been changed ever since. Since interning at EPA, I learned about the Energy Star Kids program. This program highlights what young people can do to protect their environment and how a little energy conservation goes a long way. If I’d known about this program as a kid I would have saved both my mom and the environment a lot of trouble.

I also learned that saving energy can be fun and easy. Some examples of how to do it can be found.  Granted I still slip up at times! This morning I probably left a light on before leaving the house, but I have set a goal for myself that includes leading a life of energy conservation and awareness and I am glad I did.

About the author:  Ameshia Cross joined the EPA in December as a STEP intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago. She has worked for numerous community organizations, holds seats on youth education boards, and is active in politics. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy and legislation.

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