Op-Ed submission: “An Earth-Friendly Reminder” (4/22 Earth Day reflection, so hopefully it can be squeezed into this week’s paper!)

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An Earth-Friendly ReminderJessica Hartzell

Did you count your blessings yesterday? I sure did. For me, Earth Day (April 22) is a reminder to be thankful for all that we take for granted in life. And yes, quite prominently on my appreciation list is the big E: the Earth, that which sustains us and to which we owe absolute, undying gratitude and respect. In fact, if you believe in reciprocity, you should all drop to your knees and kiss the ground you walk on at least twice a day. We have so much to thank the Earth for: most clearly for our food, clothes, shelter, our pleasures and luxuries, the beauty of the natural world and its creatures, our lives. Yet we take the Earth and all its wonders for granted; we use it and abuse it, milk it for all it’s worth. We trash it, bash it, and since it doesn’t weep, we tend to overlook its mistreatment. But the earth does cry in its own way, and we should feel guilty.

Yesterday my Environmental Science class presented posters on various eco-friendly topics in Connelly for Earth Day. My group, team Styrofoam, voiced our message for Villanova students to be more conservative diners and reduce their personal impact on the environment through an awareness of sustainable practices. All those “to go” disposable products we use day after day only to throw out minutes later translate into yet another mound of un-recycled, non-reusable waste. This creates both a nonrenewable resource problem and a giant waste problem, and is a highly unsustainable practice. What exactly are sustainable practices? They are those which meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, emphasizing not using resources and our natural capital faster than they can be replaced. As a conservative diner you should realize that Villanova’s disposable dining products (Styrofoam, plastic, and plastic-coated paper) cannot be reused or recycled. Sustainable alternatives to disposables for future practical implementation include starch-based products, eco-foam, paper products (not plastic-coated) combined with a large-scale recycling and composting project. And just for you to keep in mind, it is always better to choose flatware and cloth napkins-or anything reusable-over disposables when you can.

Another easy way you can reduce your personal impact on the environment is by investing in a Nalgene bottle to bring with you to class. Yesterday at Earth Day we gave away ten colorful Villanova University Nalgene bottles to students donated by the University Shop. No more purchasing wasteful individual (and highly overpriced) bottled waters!

So what is the true essence of my words, and of this “Earth-friendly reminder”? I say: continue to live it up, but always remember to do your best to take nothing for granted, and show a reciprocal respect to your benefactors-counting the Earth-along the way.