Environmental Justice & Sustainability

Every Action Has a Reaction



This semester I am choosing to try my best to bring my reusable water bottle with me when I go out as opposed to buying a bottle of water. This will be hard for me because I am constantly on the go and have so many things running through my mind. The last thing on my mind is preparing and packing my water bottle. Growing up I received a moderate amount of education on environmental sustainability. As a child I was enrolled in the Fresh Air Fund program which took city kids like me away for a week or more in the Summer to stay with host families in suburban neighborhoods. The family I was placed with happened to be a family that was environmentally conscious in every aspect of their lives, even their jobs. Every year, since I was nine, I was exposed to and was practicing their way of life. They taught me about water conservation, solar energy, composting, and other environmental and human injustices around the world. Their integrity on the matter was, and still is, inspiring and I learned a lot of ways to care for the environment, much of which I still do today.

Since I have this background knowledge, I was trying hard to think about what else I could practically do to sustain the earth that I could complete with integrity. Using a reusable water bottle was the most relevant and practical for my life right now. Choosing something that is personally practical is important because it is not easy to keep up being environmentally conscious. I think the fact that I was forced to follow their rules in their house played a big part in what trained me to remember to do things like turn off the water while I brushed my teeth or turn the light off when I left the room. Knowing how much it impacted the earth also helped me to remember to be environmentally conscious. This family was great at providing concrete information to show why what they’re doing is so important. They showed me that it is important to question things and educate yourself when you don’t have the answer.

I did some research on how using a reusable water bottle will positively impact the earth. I found an article by Melissa Aguayo, Heal the Bay’s Speakers Bureau Manager, titled “Reusable Water Bottles = Triple Bonus” which simply, yet persuasively, outlines the truth about the risks and cost of water bottle usage in America. Aguayo claims that “in 2009 Americans spent $10.6 billion on bottled water and almost half of that bottled water came from public tap water supplies.” It’s interesting to see that we think bottled water is purified from some far away spring when in fact most of it comes from the sink that we try to avoid for “health” reasons or “convenience”. If people claim to be being health conscious when choosing bottled water in America, Aguayo states that “our tap water is safe and highly regulated by the federal government. On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration has much less stringent rules and only regulates the 30-40% of bottled water sold across state lines.” Finally, Aguayo completes her argument by explaining that transporting these water bottles to stores and then landfills or recycling areas “consumes energy and releases pollutants”. We seldom think about the process and just focus on the beginning and/or the end. The whole process is important and germane to environmental consciousness. One must think about every step that is involved because everything has a cause and effect.


3 thoughts on “Every Action Has a Reaction

  1. Lena, I think your choice of something you could do practically and “complete with integrity” is really important. It can be really discouraging to take on too much at once, and you’re more likely to turn something into a sustainable habit if you set for yourself an attainable goal.

    The Fresh Air Fund program sounds really interesting–are there any others in the class who took part in this? And have you noticed a difference in air quality inside and outside of the city?

    Your summary of Aguayo’s article is very useful. I wonder if you could connect your experience this semester to water access and usage practices in early America.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I decided to comment on people who posted on the same topic as me that is saying no to plastic bottles. It’s amazing how we’re all guilty of using them but even though we feel guilty we don’t always stick to the change for good. The section about the article really interested me. The research discussed gives so many answers to so many questions that people have and I wish everybody read that article so they would understand what we know that plastic bottles hurt us and if we all just chipped in and did our part by using reusable containers that we would be doing so much. Even recycling has its downfalls and a solution to saving energy is doing away with plastic forever. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like that you chose a simple choice that has an impactful meaning and is part of your past learning experience and memories that have to do with environmental justice. I think that you choosing to share your knowledge and story is very important for someone like me. I was never aware of these programs or even had an awareness of environmental justice. Hearing that you have background knowledge and experience makes me happy and also expands the scope of what I have to think about as for my own efforts at environmental justice. I know you will do great job remembering to bring your reusable water bottle.

    Liked by 1 person

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