World Earth Day was yesterday, which meant that you stumbled across “save the planet” posts on social media more than once. Even companies like Nestle and Colgate-Palmolive bought into the trend, despite being some of the world’s largest plastic polluters. No matter how much these big companies want to act like they care about the environment, we all know it’s a lie. If they really cared then they would not be producing gallons of waste every year.
So far 2021 has been a big year for environmental activists. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement after former-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord on Nov. 4, 2020. Earth Day was also expected to call attention to growing carbon pollution, deforestation and oil spills which have been changing ecosystems for decades. But it’s going to take a lot more than that if we really want to see some environmental progress.
Although the Flint water crisis began in 2014, the city has not even finished changing all of its lead-infected pipes. How did that contamination start? General Motors infected the water in the 20th century with industrial chemicals that made their way into local children’s bodies. Government action in the area is slow to this day. But the Flint River is not the only isolated case of contaminated water. For 30 years General Electric dumped millions of pounds of PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, highly toxic industrial compounds, into the Hudson River, which ended a long-standing New York commercial fishing industry. In subsequent years, the Environmental Protection Agency decided, despite the dangers, there was no technology available to clean up the mess, and the Hudson has remained polluted since. Companies like these need to be pressured to take responsibility for their careless actions. Otherwise, we’ll keep seeing the same damages done to future generations.
The planet we live on should be respected every day. If you won’t protect the environment for yourself, then at least try to protect it for those after you. It’s also incredibly important to note that humankind isn’t the only reason to try and keep Earth clean. We aren’t the only animals that live here. The pollution our species has caused has killed wildlife and destroyed habitats. It isn’t fair for us to value our existence over another living creature’s. Over 100 million marine animals die every year as the ocean’s ecosystem decays. When land animals come in contact with plastic waste in forests, they may suffer overheating, suffocation, dehydration, starvation and eventually death. And don’t forget that polar bears are now vulnerable to extinction because of our carelessness.
While we go about our lives, working in corporations or traveling the globe, millions of animals are dying. We are the problem, but can also be the solution if we just take a little bit of time out of our day to care. Things don’t have to be this way. Those kids in Flint, Michigan don’t have to keep drinking infected water and hundreds of people don’t have to freak out over a girl jumping into the Hudson River. We should remember that every day is one step closer to dying from high temperatures, so let that alone be enough reason to make a change.