• Junto HKIS

Our Environment Needs Our Involvement

Jaeryung Park

January 9, 2020

During the short transition time between classes, most students visit the Dragon Shop and get a piece of candy. It takes at most five seconds to unwrap the packaging and throw it away. Daily, students can casually buy a bottle of Gatorade or a refreshing drink from Starbucks. Thus, it is effortless to produce trash.

Every day, every minute and every second, environmental issues are becoming increasingly severe, so immediate solutions are imperative if we are to prevent further irreversible damage. Some might say that they simply do not care about the climate crisis or should not be held accountable because big brands and companies are the ones at fault. While it may be true that large corporations have a stronger impact, we too can contribute towards preserving our planet.

One of the easiest ways to do so is via recycling, which HKIS is already trying to promote by encouraging more students to join the everyday recycling sessions afterschool. Led by Mr. and Mrs. Nolasco, middle school and high school volunteers collect recyclables to be washed, separated and finally sent to the recycling center.

It is a simple but effective way to help with the environmental issues we all created. It may seem hard to reduce the amount of plastic used because it is everywhere. Since plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. Additionally, of that plastic waste, only 9% gets recycled. However, carrying tumblers, using metal straws and carrying eco- bags are ways to help.

If participating in the afterschool recycling session from 3:10 to 4:10 collides with your schedule, you can also help by making the recycling process more manageable. In Hong Kong, recycling plants can only process plastics with the numbers 1, 2, or 5 printed on the item. If there is a different number, it should be included as general waste. Moreover, when throwing away cans, it is constructive if you empty or even clean out the liquid.

Previously, I was one of those people who was angry at others for their complacency, but never actually addressed the issues myself. One day, for the first time, I went to the recycling session with my friend. While doing so, I noticed that helping the environment was quite simple. It only took about an hour because there were many volunteers at the session.

Afterward, I felt proud of how I was helping the environment and also felt that I was making a change. I also felt outraged at times. It was smelly, and more than once, I was furious due to how arrogant some people were with throwing waste away. On the bottom of the bins, there was a 4-inch pond of sticky Coke and Gatorade juice — it was embarrassing.

While collecting the recyclables, I frequently hear things like "you're doing a good thing" or "thank you for your help.” It's clear most people care about our planet. However, it always came to my mind that getting an extra hand would be even more supportive. If you are one of those people, I would strongly encourage stepping out of your comfort zone and coming to a recycling session. Even recycling at home would be effective beyond what you might think.