Opinion: trash in the parking lot needs to stop

A+disposable+mask+lays+in+the+student+parking+lot.+Due+to+COVID-19%2C+masks+have+become+a+common+item+found+outside+the+campus.+In+addition+to+general+pollution%2C+mask+straps+have+ended+up+entangled+with+marine+animals+causing+both+physical+and+internal+harm.+

Photo by Andie San Luis

A disposable mask lays in the student parking lot. Due to COVID-19, masks have become a common item found outside the campus. In addition to general pollution, mask straps have ended up entangled with marine animals causing both physical and internal harm.

As a student driver, I navigate the ins and outs of the student parking lot daily. One thing I’ve noticed in the few weeks we’ve been back at school is the amount of trash constantly left in parking spots. Being an environmentalist, I always try my best to contribute to the environment in positive ways, no matter how small the action; this includes picking up trash in my path when walking to my car from the building and vice versa. From masks to entire Whataburger sandwiches, I have become less and less surprised with my daily finds. Whether we realize it or not, this litter is a major issue in the environment. 

As a generation who will greatly experience the consequences of climate change, we must educate ourselves and push lawmakers – who primarily belong to older generations- to help us create change. According to a 2019 United Nations meeting coverage, we only have around ten years before creating irreversible climate damage. This tight timeframe has raised many eyebrows and created a new sense of urgency for humans to change our habits. As a teen, this is beyond alarming. The fact that my generation’s future will be negatively impacted – or even abruptly ended- as the result of others’ past actions is unjust. Trying to plan out my future while living on a ticking time bomb is terrifying.

While the situation is unfair, there’s no denying that my generation has made our negative contributions as well. Even though littering isn’t the only way we contribute, it’s one of the most impactful- yet preventable- ways we contribute to climate change.  When plastic waste, such as water bottles, is exposed to sunlight or heated, it begins to release greenhouse gases. These gases play a major role in climate change as they allow the atmosphere to absorb more of the sun’s radiation and results in the rapid heating of the earth. As we continue to pollute our planet, starting in our own parking lots, the global climate will continue to skyrocket. 

The impact of climate change will become increasingly detrimental, and we’re already starting to see some of the impact now. Wildfires burning through multiple continents, rising sea levels, loss of glacial areas, intensified natural disasters: these are just a few of the consequences that we’ve begun to experience. Seeing that we’re only at the front end of potential catastrophe, we should be alarmed enough to need to make a change. 

We have the power to create change now, starting with our school. The simplest tasks such as grabbing trash we pass on the daily, or properly disposing of it in the first place, can make positive contributions in the long run. With a student body of roughly 3,000, each small action can help in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change. Together, not only can we help our school become greener, but it can also help secure our futures and the safety of our planet.