Q & A with two middle school environmental enthusiasts
Two middle school environmental enthusiasts reflect on their contributions in saving the planet during the lockdown. These are a few of the pressing questions you may have for them if you, too, are hoping to combat climate change and global warming from the isolation of your home:
Q. Why is the environment and staying sustainable important to you?
Antonio Reis (’25) said environmental issues are the most prevalent in today’s society, and if everyone made an effort to become sustainable, we would be able to prevent further problems.
“While we have other pressing social issues, the one that will likely have the most effect on us, in the long run, is the problem with the environment,” he said. “Not to mention, as long as we commit to a slightly different lifestyle, this could be one of the easiest to fight.”
Nuria Álvarez Martin (’25) said climate change and global warming have a universal impact because we all need the same natural resources provided by the environment.
“I think that staying sustainable is essential in order to have healthy communities, around London and the whole world,” she said. “We all need clean air, clean water, and the earth's natural resources to keep everything running smoothly.”
Q. In what ways have you and/or your family adapted to a more eco-friendly lifestyle?
Reis has become more aware of what he puts in recycling, and also said that he and his family “are eating more healthily, and only use re-usable bags in supermarkets.”
Likewise, Álvarez Martin has been conscious about minimizing food waste and reducing the amount of plastic she and her family purchase.
“We cook just the right amount of food so we don't have to throw anything away, and when we do cook too much food, we make sure we pack it up in containers so we eat it some other time and not have to waste it,” she said. “We make sure that we don't use single-use plastic bottles and buy metal, hard plastic, or glass bottles.”
Q. Have these changes been difficult to make/what challenges have you faced?
Although adapting to change may be tough, Reis said that with some practice, new eco-friendly habits will form quickly.
“Some of the changes we've made, and the ones we're planning to make, such as switching to an eco-friendly car, are annoying and difficult, but, once you've gotten used to doing them enough, they become pretty trivial,” he said.
Q. What good aspects have come with the sustainable choices you make?
In addition to the environmental benefits, Álvarez Martin said reusable alternatives to plastic, such as fabric bags or metal water bottles, can be more cost-effective.
“When you don't use the single-use plastics, bottles or bags, you actually save more money,” she said. “Each of the bags cost around 5-20 pence, and the tote bags may cost a little more, but in the long run, you don't have to waste money for the [plastic] bags each time you shop. Same goes with the plastic bottles, if you carry one with you, you just have to refill it at a water stop; you don't have to waste £1 each day to buy a bottle.”
Q. How has the lockdown impacted your sustainable lifestyle? Have you made any additional changes?
Since the recent increase in governmental restrictions, Reis has noticed he travels by car less frequently. Further, he is more aware of the waste he generates due to certain food shortages in COVID-19.
“In lockdown, we drive less and walk more, which definitely helps,” he said. “We're also much more cautious with how much unnecessary food waste we create, given that it can be harder to easily get food.”
While trying to limit the number of physical interactions she has with others during the pandemic, Álvarez Martin said there is even more incentive to switch to reusable shopping bags right now.
“Having your own bags while shopping helps reduce the spread of the virus because your bag would only be handled by you, not other workers or people in the shops,” she said.
Q. What advice would you give to a family just starting to make eco-friendly choices?
Álvarez Martin recommended you take it step by step because if everyone were to pitch in just a little bit, the environment would see a noticeable change.
“Start with little things, because if everyone did little things, we can make a big difference,” she said. “Start off with buying more eco-friendly choices, like reusable bags and bottles.”
Q. Is there anything else you can tell me about staying sustainable that you think is important?
Lastly, Reis reminded both himself and us that there is always room for improvement, and continuing to find eco-friendly lifestyle changes will forever be important.
“I definitely have to work on staying sustainable myself,” he said. “It's important that, no matter how many changes I've made, I remember that I can always help in another way.”
After hearing from these two environmentalists, we hope you feel inspired to make some eco-friendly changes, too! Feel free to reach out and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or ideas about how to stay sustainable.