Grant writes about how he first became interested in helping the environment and some of the lessons he’s learned doing so.
My mother, in all her infinite wisdom, used to tell me her view on dating, “Whoever you go out with, see how they treat the server. If they’re respectful to the server then they’re a keeper.”
Now I must admit, I haven’t based my personal life on this motto, but it has made me think about how we treat other people. How do we treat someone if there is nothing in it for us? The server has a job to do, so hopefully they’ll treat customers respectfully. But what about the customer? What is the incentive aside from not having someone spit in your food? It is easy to disregard those that might not have any direct value to us, but how someone treats others that don’t offer any incentive can tell you a lot about a person.
So how do we treat our environment?
As a human race, we grow accustomed to taking and using resources without thinking twice, and we don’t treat all species with the same (or any) respect. That might be because we think they have no value to us, but does it matter either way? All life has value and plays a role in its respective ecosystem. If we want to continue to inhabit this planet, we must change the way we treat all life.
In environmental work it is easy to think about it as protecting the environment. I was raised with the idea that we have to be stewards of our earth; that we have the knowledge, superiority and responsibility to protect our earth, and to an extent, I think this can be applied. But it isn’t the correct way to think of our surroundings.
We need to protect our planet because we have contributed to its destruction, and so we have that responsibility. I believe we exist to live in harmony with our environment. The human race can’t separate itself from nature and try to box it up and protect it. We need to realize that we all play a part in this world and we must help to build a safe planet.
But before that happens, we must realize that all life has value. We can’t take things for granted because we don’t see how it helps us.
Rather than dictating the well being of the environment, we need to evaluate how we use resources in our every-day life. A few starting points can be recycling, water usage, energy use and what you eat. Simply put, everyone needs to monitor how he or she treats the environment.
For students, you can contribute by monitoring what you pick up at a dining hall. Don’t overload your trays with food. For those without a meal plan, make a point of checking where your food is coming from. Farmer’s markets and locally grown sources tend to sell food grown in an environmentally safe way.
So if you meet someone new and want to know if they are worth your time, think about how they treat their surroundings. Are they concerned with the state of our environment, or could they not care less? Not caring means they’re not only taking for granted the beautiful environment, but also their own safety. Hopefully they’re at least nice to their server.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English, a member of the Environmental Committee on Student Senate and a member of the Sierra Coalition at Ohio University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter at @grant_stover.