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There’s no denying that our population boom will bring new developments and expansion, but I believe that we can do so without compromising our natural ecosystem. We must preserve the integrity of our natural environments without harming the human population. My current view of nature is that it’s an essential part of our lives; it offers a sanctuary to forget our worries and our problems, and a place to improve our physical health. Not only is nature a place of self-improvement for us, but it’s also home to diverse organisms and natural resources that the majority of our existence depends upon. If we are to expand, which we inevitably will, we need to keep our natural ecosystem in mind; we have to remember that nothing is definite and that includes the existence of natural ecosystems. We must expand with all living organisms in mind, which means that we have to form a mutually beneficial relationship with nature rather than the parasitic one that we are on the path towards right now. This includes decreasing our current impact on the environment by finding more efficient ways or alternatives to our current lifestyle and turning towards more eco-friendly resources to power our daily life.
Because I am currently attending university, much of the food that I consume and goods that I need require online purchases and shipping. Every week I complete around one online purchase that comes from outside of California or if not, definitely a different city. This means that every month I require shipping and transportation services about four times. The food that the majority of my diet is based upon is processed and prepackaged, which means that I also have to take the negative effects of factories where the food is produced into account. I don’t travel, with the exception of winter and summer break, because of time restraints and heavy course loads, so gasoline is only a part of my consumption twice a year. But resources like water and electricity are a vital part of my daily life. I typically drink about three cups of water and shower at least once every day. Because of inadequate natural light even during the day, I require electricity to power three light fixtures for about twelve hours a day. In terms of land, I live in a fairly large apartment complex that is four stories tall, but my personal room is about three hundred fifty square feet. However the university that I do attend takes up the majority of the land that makes up the town and big lecture rooms and other university facilities require a huge amount of electricity and water to be functional almost three hundred and sixty five days a year.
I would have to say that my negative impact on the environment is the amount of products that I throw away and purchase, specifically my dependence on ordering items online rather than going to the store in person. I hardly repurpose items and the appeal that advertisements show of a new product model is often times impossible to avoid for me. Although I am living in a small town where it is very easy to get around with public transit and local farmer markets happen every week, I personally find it more convenient to stay in my apartment and have the goods be delivered to me. The amount of fossil fuels needed in transporting the goods is much more than someone who doesn’t rely on online purchases for daily items. However a positive impact that I have made is my complete independence from driving a gas guzzling vehicle. Not only do I personally prefer public transit and walking, but my current living environment is very much geared towards pedestrians more than cars. And even when I am home from college, I rarely drive on my own and instead, I try to align my schedule with my family’s so that we can carpool. This means that my consumption of fossil fuels in terms of driving is significantly less than someone who does need a car to get around. A neutral effect that I’ve had on the environment are visits to the national parks near my house. When I go to these parks, I never wander off the designated path and I don’t touch or move any of the natural forms (i.e. rocks, seashells, plants, etc.); I am merely an observer. Although the path that I walk on had to be made and the cement that my car sits on had to be paved, they were done without compromising the integrity of the national ecosystem; they were made with the nature set as the priority. Not only did these activities occur quite a while ago, but new developments in national parks are nonexistent or very rarely happen.
The amount of water and electricity I use increase the impact that I have locally. In general, the presence and growth in popularity of my university take up the majority of the town’s resources. With the growth came an increase in attendance at the local farmer’s market, as well as the expansion of new stores in the downtown area; meaning more dependence on electricity and water resources. Personally, because I purchase all of my food and daily items online, I indirectly introduce more air pollution and more fossil fuel consumption into my local area to get my items to my doorstep. Globally speaking, the fossil fuels and gasoline that I burn through with my online purchases play a part in the global warming crisis; every drop of gas that is used for my deliveries contributes to the cloud of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. My heavy dependence on processed and prepackaged food also fuels the growth of factories in developing nations, which produces dangerous health risks for people who live around them. The wage of factory workers in impoverished nations is extremely low, sending them into a continuous cycle of poverty, and when I don’t utilize the local products that are at my fingertips I’m contributing to their forced lifestyle.
I plan on minimizing my consumer habits, hopefully adopting a minimalistic lifestyle in the future, which not only will benefit me financially, but also decrease the effects of transporting goods on the environment. I also hope to hone in on my artistic side and use it to upcycle products that I would usually throw out. This plan would decrease both the amount of waste that I produce and the amount of toxins that are put out into the atmosphere while transporting the goods. Another one of my goals is to switch out my current family vehicle for an electric car by next year; we have already put in a deposit for the new tesla model that was made to be more affordable to the public, but whether or not the car will arrive by next year is uncertain. When the car does arrive, our dependence on gasoline will be almost completely eliminated because the other vehicle that we use is a hybrid. To show my support for a bigger change on a local scale, I plan on using the new BART station in Milpitas, CA once it opens rather than driving there, which I frequently do; this is a part of the move to expand BART into Silicon Valley and increase the number of stations. I think that it’s important to show government officials that they did make the right decision to expand the transit system and although I cannot attend official meetings about this topic, simply by using the new station is a good way to show the need for even more expansion. I am planning on transferring schools by fall 2017 to be closer to home and because the location of the school is close to the lightrail station, and goes directly to the suburb that I live in, I plan on completely eliminating my need for a car by using public transit and physically walking to get to my destinations.
My timeline for this plan will span across three years, starting from 2017. Although my spending habits are going to be hard to change, the first step which I hope to complete in one month is to go through what I have right now and only keep what I absolutely need. Once this is complete I’ll gradually limit my purchases only to what I need and when I need it over the course of a few months. The new Tesla that my family is planning on using in place of our current car is set to begin production in 2017, which means that we most likely won’t receive the car until one year from 2017 at the least. And the completion of BART’s expansion into Silicon Valley is set to be completed by fall 2017. The expansion of BART’s system could also propel the establishment of new bus lines and other transportation systems over the next couple of years, and because I plan on transferring schools to be closer to home, this expansion of the transit system will be my main mode of transport from fall 2017 onwards.
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