By Saranya Anantapantula
When I was in third grade, I learned about how much water we wasted at school. Naturally, I stuck a 5-minute hourglass shower timer to the wall to make myself use less water. My family began to use it as well, exclaiming about how they began spending less time in the shower. They were so happy that they could save money and time using a bright pink, polka-dotted shower timer.
As a student, writer, podcaster, researcher, and founder of the non-profit 4AGreenEnvironment, I find that education is the best way to help someone discern their connection with the environment and strive to protect it.
One of the best ways to give essential knowledge to a new generation is by teaching young students about earth systems and why the earth functions the way it does. This knowledge can provide context for the science behind the laws we are fighting for. We can promote critical thinking and guide ourselves to innovative solutions to environmental issues.
For example, while some homeowners try to perfect their neatly trimmed, green lawn by using large amounts of fertilizers, the nutrients runoff into ponds and lakes which creates algal blooms that can cause depleted oxygen in the ecosystem and can kill off fish populations. Understanding the interconnected nature of our ecosystems allows homeowners to make educated and environmentally friendly choices.
I have also found that children can influence their parents (guardians, caretakers, etc.); Jonah Berger did a general study on how someone’s behavior can influence others.
With the knowledge that students obtain, they can genuinely make the world a better place. Families can learn how to refuse, reduce, and reuse everyday materials, like plastic and styrofoam.
In Pennsylvania, you can participate in several education programs offered throughout the state. One example is the Penn State Master Watershed Stewards course where you can learn about methods to educate other people on improving the health of the watershed in their backyard. The Master Watershed Stewards course provides opportunities for you to clean-up the streams that have faced detrimental events, including algal blooms.
You can learn how to keep your local park areas clean by volunteering through the Park Friend Network. There are many ways to connect to the environment in your community, you just need to take some time to educate yourself.
Education is the answer. Ecosystems can fall apart when people lack knowledge of the issue that caused the disaster. Over the last few years, scientists have been trying to communicate with the general public, teaching scientific discoveries through science communication. We can begin educating the world about the environment while listening to other people’s perspectives through volunteering and science communication.
With knowledge, you can really change the world.