Follow That Green Path!

By Erica Arnold

In high school, we learn how to study on our own, flirt with that cutie two desks down, and balance school with family, sports, and a social life.  These skills helped me during the past three years.  I have, however, been fortunate to take from  high school something that I think is even more important than a good looking prom date or even a high grade point average.  I have found both a passion and a career path: environmental science.

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by our planet and have always enjoyed spending time outdoors.   Now, I consider myself a true environmentalist.

What made the difference?  Taking AP Environmental Science in my junior year.  My teacher, Mr. Jensen, lives what he teaches. From the first day of class, his enthusiasm and belief that each of us can make a difference captivated us. We learned about the dangers of pollution, global climate change, the crucial role each ecosystem plays in Earth’s cycles and why we should protect biodiversity.  Trips to a waste water treatment center and nature conservatories further inspired us to become environmentally active in our communities.

In recent years, my high school has also taken steps to “go green”.  We have our own battery recycling system, encourage resource conservation, installed water bottle fillers in our drinking fountains and sell reusable mugs and cups. Our recycling club collects and sorts recyclable materials from each classroom.

If we ALL decide to make SMALL changes throughout the year, together we can start making a BIG difference!  What can you do?

  • Take a reusable bag while shopping for school supplies or groceries
  • Use both sides of the page when taking notes
  • Bring lunch or snacks in reusable containers
  • Drink from reusable bottles
  • Use a flash drive instead of printing and toting assignments to and from school
  • Save gas and make friends by carpooling
  • Use a desk lamp for late night studying; don’t light up a whole room

When I go back to school as a senior, I’ll use that environmental inspiration and knowledge to initiate more sustainable practices in our school and community.  Where will this passion for the environment take me? I plan to go to college, study environmental engineering and, someday, solve some of our issues with pollution and waste.

About the author:  Erica Arnold is a senior at Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois and plans to study environmental engineering in college next fall.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.