Guest post by Tamia Fowlkes and Tess Murphy.
In the wake of political, social, and economic turmoil it is not uncommon for a seventeen-year-old high school student to question the world’s prosperity; however, it is exceedingly difficult to consider any form of socioeconomic or political change when the world as we know it is not promised. Climate change, global warming, air pollution, and the depletion of marine life are just a few a factors of the environmental diminishment that further mount our concern every day, and I constantly question whether I am doing enough.
Growing up, the environment always seemed like a problem too big to solve. In middle school, we were always told to recycle, turn off the water when we were brushing our teeth, or the lights when we left a room. Surrounded by prepubescent boys and High School Musical sing-alongs, we spent our recesses in the school garden. But as our exposure to the world’s ecological issues grew, our classroom sustainability project seemed inconsequential, a blip in the journey towards environmental preservation. These daunting issues made their home in the back of my mind, where I preferred them. The environment needed saving, but I didn’t know how to save it.
The past year has brought forth an ignited passion for environmental justice, challenged me to redefine my role in the world’s ecological crisis, and called me to take action. As environmental legislation was primarily influenced by economic power rather than global prosperity, I realized how crucial it was for young people to speak out regarding these issues. We are the generation that will implement and experience the effects of our society’s actions; thus, we deserve to have a voice in this process.
Our first step in finding our voice was small: we joined our high school’s ecology club. Only eight members, the club promoted education around global warming and prompted us to take action in many ways. Along with learning new science puns (which were not BERRY good), we learned how to care for our environment. After a couple months of choosing paper over plastic, recycling all our English papers, and donating plastic bags, we realized how impactful these simple actions could be.
Volunteering at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist has opened our eyes to the power of disadvantaged communities to help sustain a world that often works against them. The women who continually come to Cathedral Squared Enterprises, or C²E, “build authentic relationships while creating functional art out of materials otherwise headed to the landfill. C²E challenges our throw-away culture by empowering people to create a world where no one and nothing is seen as disposable” (Cathedral Squared Enterprises).
Though our lives might be consumed by calculus tests and football games, there is no denying that the future lies in the hands of our generation. With the knowledge we have gained throughout our lives, we hope to do our part in conserving our environment, influencing legislation, and informing our local community. The Cathedral has shown us the benefits of uniting a hopeful community of changemakers. The world cannot be saved by one person, therefore the importance of community cannot be overstated in our fight for environmental justice. Your part, however small, contributes to this change. As Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.”
To see the effects of global warming and climate change (or if you feel like crying):
For more info on current environmental policies:
About the authors: Tamia and Tess are both seniors at Divine Savior Holy Angels high school. As part of their internship with us, we asked them to write a reflection on the environment and how they see what is going on. Both are interested in having careers somewhere in the political sphere.