Shandilynne Holley's Sample Writing

The Solution to Pollution is in Our Hands

By: Shandilynne Holley

Photo: dreamstime.com
Photo: dreamstime.com

A man sits at the breakfast table with his morning coffee and decides to get the newspaper from the front porch. He opens the door and garbage falls into the house as he stoops down to pick up the paper. He takes a glance across his yard and sees piles and piles of garbage spread over his yard. All his neighbors’ yards are the same. Does this seem like a far-fetched scenario? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this scenario is coming closer and closer to fruition. A single person in the United States produces 4.4 pounds of garbage each day. This means that the average family of four generates 17.6 pounds per day. This waste includes clothes, food scraps, bottles, packaging, and grass clippings. The EPA estimates that in 2010, Americans created 250 million tons of garbage. Of this amount, only about 34 percent is recycled with 56 percent going into landfills. This number is a sad representation of a people who claim to be concerned about the environment.

What is Pollution?

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These materials are called pollutants and are mostly caused by human activities. Pollution affects air, water, and land quality. Pollution is a problem that affects the entire planet. It is one of the largest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. This number is comparable with HIV and Malaria patients. Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” This quotation is a powerful reminder to all humans that one action, even as simple of throwing one piece of garbage on the ground, affects the entire population.

Air Pollution

Don’t you love walking outside and taking a nice, big breath of fresh air? We take that clean air for granted most days, while there are cities, states, and countries where the struggle for clean air is a constant reminder of how bad the planet is being treated. Most of the air we breathe is nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor. Most air pollution comes from burning fuels which releases deadly gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors. Research has proven that carbon dioxide emissions are lowering the pH of oceans, making them more acidic. This does not seem like a large problem to some, but all sea life, plant and animal, depend on a stable pH balance for growth and reproduction. This could eventually lead to empty oceans, which would have a severe impact on human lives.

Water Pollution

In addition to land and air pollution, there is water pollution. Most people can remember spending their summers going swimming in a river, lake, or ocean. Hours of each day were spent in the water. No fear of garbage, contaminants, or other harmful materials. Those days seem to be over.  The United Nations has stated in recent interviews that 783 million people around the world do not have access to clean water. The EPA estimates that 64 percent of lakes, 30 percent of bays, and 44 percent of streams are no longer clean enough for swimming or fishing. Our waterways are contaminated with bacteria, mercury, phosphorus, nitrogen and garbage. Pesticides have runoff into groundwater sources and are an issue because they can cause birth defects, gene mutations, and cancer.

What Can We Do?

If you are interested in ways to help prevent and reduce pollution, then you are in luck. There are several websites that list ways to help, but here are a few simple things you can do. The first thing you can do is walk or ride a bike to work or school. You could also try commuting with other people who want to reduce pollution. This will mean less vehicles on the road creating carbon dioxide emissions. When choosing vehicles, try to choose vehicles that are fuel-efficient. In your home, turn off lights and the television when they are not in use and use energy-efficient appliances. Remember, less energy used means less fossil fuels burned. Another way you can help is to recycle paper, plastics, glass, steel/aluminum metals, and try composting. This will mean less garbage going into landfills. Finally, try to organize community clean-ups. Having a group of people working together to achieve a clean community will have an amazing impact on our planet. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, said it best when he said, “the ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

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