Protect the Parks: Personal Responsibility

Blaming the government does not justify all immoral actions

By Jane Park

During the shelter in place, I have been thinking a lot about my ecological footprint and the impact of my actions. Throughout this year, I have talked to many people who care about the environment. Most cannot make changes to their lives because it is inconvenient or too difficult, and they expect the government to take action instead.  

For the most part, I agree with them. After all, the actions of our incompotent government cannot be blamed on citizens. However, when we blame the government or large corporations for issues that we can make a difference in, we lose all personal responsibility. 

My refrigerator, like many others, is cluttered with plastic wrapped foods. (Photo illustration by Jane Park)

I realized firsthand just how much I was wasting once the lockdown began. I watched as my family’s freezer became more and more crowded with frozen food smothered in single-use, wasteful and unnecessary plastic packaging. 

Even if food isn’t individually packaged, we still use plastic to preserve it. Plastic wrap is useful, I’m not denying that. It clings to bowls and plates and allows us to save food and eat it days later.

However, 5.3 million Americans used at least 10 rolls of plastic wrap in 2018, according to National Geographic. After plastic wrap is used, it loses its purpose and is discarded. 

This isn’t limited to food, either. Medicine bottles, paint tubes and school supplies are disposable once used. As someone who uses all of these, it hurts to have to destroy the environment by throwing away so many things that I cannot replace or stop using. 

Regardless, we can all do our part to save the earth through simple and easy actions. First off, buy food locally and avoid any foods that are not available in bulk or without packaging. Most foods in supermarkets are wrapped in plastic, and with the panic of germs, many grocery stores will not allow you to bring your own reusable bag. 

Bring your cart to your car so you can unload your groceries in your reusable bags. Additionally, buy fresh foods that are not in packaging. Many times, grocery stores sell fruits and vegetables that have been packaged individually for no real reason other than for so-called “convenience.” 

Plastic wrap can easily be replaced by the very inexpensive alternative: silicone lids, which  my family now uses to cover bowls and plates, in place of plastic wrap. 

As for my medicine bottles, some pharmacies have a bin for patients to recycle their used pill bottles. If not, you can also reuse them by crafting new items, storing sewing materials in them or making other projects. 

As an artist, I have used a lot of paint over the years. Instead of buying smaller tubes of paint, I started buying my paint in bulk at Blick Art Materials. While materials may be more expensive, I can not only use the paint bottle for other purposes, because it is sturdier and larger, I am also saving both money and resources in the long run.

We all know that the government has more control over us than we know. But we can still make a difference through lifestyle changes and bringing more awareness to our environment.