Hiking taught me to be more environmentally conscious
Opinions Editor and Marketing Editor
If there’s one thing that the pandemic taught me, it’s that I am not the kind of person who can be cooped up in a room all day.
When Governor Wolfe established the first set of quarantine restrictions, I eventually grew tired of staring at my bedroom walls, and it became apparent that I had to do something for my own sanity.
So what do you do when you have a strong desire to leave your bed and get off TikTok, but a pandemic is stopping you from doing so? For me, the answer was hiking.
I can proudly say that I walked nearly every trail in York County within the matter of one month. Quarantine wasn’t so bad because I was constantly moving and experiencing new places.
This newfound love of the outdoors came with a price, though. I now see the mistreatment of our environment as an increasingly important problem.
I first noticed how prominent litter is in the modern world when I was attempting to get a bird’s nest out of my dryer shaft. Apprehensive that I would see an innocent bird carcass, I peaked down the tube to find something far worse.
A weak-looking nest held together with a long green string of plastic stared right back at me.
Not only did human development force this bird to use a dryer shaft as a sanctuary, but the bird was also reduced to constructing a home made of litter.
At this moment, I realized that waste directly affects the animals living in our environment right now.
People are so desensitized to pollution because it does not immediately affect them. It’s easy to throw a paper bag on the ground and never see it again because ittering doesn’t instantly hurt litterers.
But it does directly influence this generation of mammals while leaving long term negative effects on the sanctity of our planet.
With a world that is covered in concrete, it’s easy to feel pretty isolated from the natural world. For this reason, littering and depletion of natural resources seem like distant problems that will never affect us.
Next time, you are on a walk around Red Lion, look around.
On my 0.125 mile walk from the parking lot into the school, I saw nine pieces of garbage. Of those nine pieces of garbage, five were disposable masks, one was a half-full Fanta bottle, there were two disposable forks, and a plastic bag entrapped by a tree’s grasp.
When you aren’t looking for it, a plastic bag trapped in a tree branch isn’t that incredible to look at. The sad thing is, it isn’t that unordinary either.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection, an estimated 502 million pieces of litter scatter Pennsylvania roads.
This explains why I am met with several new pieces of garbage on the ground each time I go outside.
Now that I’m an avid hiker, every time I see a piece of garbage on the ground, it feels like a personal attack.
Problems fill the world to the brink, but this one resonates with me because humans are doing it to themselves. We are knowingly depleting our natural resources and harming our environment but continue to make few efforts to fix the problem.
So what should we do? Boycotting big corporations or passing Congressional laws are all really great ideas, but they seem like radical solutions. The only way to improve this whopping environmental problem is if every single person sacrifices a little convenience in their lives.
This means carpooling to school, turning off unnecessary lights, throwing trash in the appropriate areas, conserving your water intake, recycling, and even going to thrift stores.
I recently made a vow to purchase all of my clothes from thrift stores in order to reduce the amount of clothing in landfills.
Many people don’t know that manufacturing new clothing uses a tremendous amount of energy and water. However, thrifting is a useful tool to conserve natural resources and reduce water intake. Not to mention, the clothes are super cute and cheap.
Not only do I enjoy thrifting, but I also started a garden in order to avoid pesticide-infested veggies. Making this environmentally conscious choice has helped me to stimulate growth in my backyard and create a sanctuary for snails, caterpillars, and other little creatures.
Everyday environmental actions allow me to reduce my carbon footprint. Making the decision to be environmentally conscious didn’t inconvenience me that much, but it will have lasting positive effects on the environment.
If everyone makes a small change in their life to be more environmentally conscious, then this giant environmental crisis will slowly diminish.
The thing is – I want to enjoy hiking throughout my adulthood. I want to go swimming in a lake that isn’t heavily polluted. I want to walk 0.125 miles without seeing a piece of garbage.
And it all starts by putting litter in its place.