GOD. Let’s start off this semester with a touchy a subject that can be polarizing and tends to make people uncomfortable. Hooray! Great, some of you might be thinking. We’re assigned to write about our attempts at being environmentally conscious and here I am bringing God into the mix. Yes, I do believe in God but please don’t be alarmed. I am by no means trying to shove religion down your throats or trying to convert you––The purpose of this piece is to explain how my personal belief of God creating the world and my experience this weekend resulted in my elevated awareness to be more environmentally conscious.
This Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Young Adults Retreat in a small, secluded retreat center in the quaint county of Lancaster, PA. I remember the scenic drive from urban New York City, transitioning into the endless highways that slice right through New Jersey, culminating in the fertile, green farmland that is Lancaster during this time of year. I had made several mental notes that morning of my departure to remember to pack a refillable water bottle. I knew there wasn’t going to be a pharmacy or grocery store a short walk away from where we were staying, so forgetting my water bottle was not an option.
Having this assignment in mind while I was in this super rural part of Pennsylvania definitely affected my actions as I constantly reminded myself to think more about the environment than I did of myself and what was convenient for me. I made it my responsibility to bring my water bottle wherever I was going because I didn’t have the luxury buying bottled water. I thought deeply on the idea that plastic bottles are not the best for the well-being of the earth, especially the actions we take of discarding it after its use if fulfilled. I realized not only the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated in such hot weather, but I was also fortunate enough to physically see the clean and lush environment that made up the campgrounds. Living in a city like New York it can be very easy to accept and become accustomed to the filth and grime we are all daily witnesses of. Litter, particularly items made of plastic, seem to make up a large percentage of the garbage that infects not only a multitude of ecosystems such as forest and marine life, but it also affects our daily lives such as trashed filled neighborhoods and delays in our transportation.
On my way back to the city today we made a stop at a pharmacy where I admit to buying bottles of water. At this point, after trying so hard to stick to filling up my water bottle, I realized that I’m not always going to be able to take my refillable water bottle everywhere I go, and that’s completely fine. What I do with those plastic water bottles after I’m done using them is what matters. If you have a refillable water bottle, great! If you happen to buy a plastic water bottle, recycle it! We need to be conscious that our decisions matter, even when it comes to something as simple as recycling. More often than not do we underestimate the amount of change we can create by just taking small gradual steps. It may seem difficult to achieve anything on our own because it feels like we are on our own but a greater change will be the product if a larger community works toward the same goal.
I believe that God created us all. Whether you believe in God or not is not the focus of this topic. We may all be different in our cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs, but we are all people who share this Earth. None of us created it so we shouldn’t abuse it; we should care for it and do all we can to help it flourish. As cliché as it may seem, we as human beings of this earth need to recognize that we are all responsible for our environment, not only for ourselves but for our posterity. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.