Summer vacation is the highlight of my year. It is a time to relax and a time to enjoy the sun. In my last vacation spot, my family visited Acadia National Park in Maine. What caught me off guard on the trip was how clear the water was at the beach. The crystal water radiated a clean satisfying energy. The sun reflected off the white sand below the water. The waves crashed over my hot feet like an icy cool massage. This is an experience worth living for. This is an experience worth sharing. What I experienced at Acadia gave me a new appreciation for preserving the natural beauty of nature. All over the internet, there are images of the horrors of humanity’s lack of care for its oceans. Could Acadia one day look like that? Instead of crystal clear water, could it be filled with plastic? Instead of seeing the sand from the sun’s reflection, could the sun be reflecting oil off the surface? If there is no preservation for the good we still have, the answer is yes, even the most beautiful beaches on planet earth could go to waste.
The issue here is that pollution is slowly filling our oceans. Where can all this plastic go? As our population grows, more and more of the land is being polluted. The sky is pretty much off limits unless we know of a way to make trash float. Space is also out of bounds based on the mere cost. The only option left for waste management is in the ocean. That is what much of the world has resorted to. What about recycling? It might help a little, but at the rate we are consuming products, there is almost no hope in a decline of pollution. What is wrong with our nation? It is not as simple as a lack of education. Nor is it a lack of recycling. Those are all problems, yes. But look at how many articles and videos there are about recycling. How many resources are out there, and yet still America can’t seem to do the right thing. We have not addressed the root problem. The root problem is our impulse to buy, our eating habits, our throwaway culture, and our need for instant gratification. Our problem can be described with one word: imbalance.
Some might be tempted to blame the large corporations for convincing the greater population to buy their products. They might blame large corporations for using materials that are not sustainable or recyclable. Yes, that is a part of the problem. But what can the individual do? Most individuals do not have influence in the supply chains of the biggest manufacturers. There is a simpler and more fundamental solution, namely living in modesty. Now, modesty is not living on scraps. It is not denying yourself joy in food and entertainment. It is the conscious decision to live a healthy and balanced life. Think about it. Where does most of the trash come from? Let’s start with consumer goods. Candy wrappers and chip bags are a major proponent of trash. An unbalanced life would look like impulsively grabbing a candy bar at the checkout line or snacking on a chip bag while waiting in line. Now imagine a modest life that has self-control over the impulses. You not only save yourself money and preserve your health, but you also keep thousands of candy wrappers and chip bags from filling landfills and oceans. The conscious effort to make a healthy choice has a direct impact on the earth itself. Now consider material goods. An unbalanced life would buy every next best thing, would fill their home with cheap conveniences, and would get rid of it within the month. That one kitchen gadget would find one use and be forgotten. Alternatively, a balanced life deliberately considers their needs and their wants and restrains themselves from buying off impulse. The landfills and oceans would be spared thousands of packaging material and useless junk. An individual who puts these principles in practice will find much more joy and satisfaction in their budget, health, and life while also saving the earth. Now, imagine a whole community or a whole county making these conscious decisions. Would that not be saving even more tons of trash? It would then impact bigger companies in their manufacturing. How can an individual make such an impact? How would it grow? Simply by example, word of mouth, and lifestyle. As your friends see you making good choices to save the earth, they will see how valuable it is, and they will be inspired by your efforts to follow suit.
The truth is keeping trash from filling the oceans is not just a matter of recycling or educating. It is a lifestyle deeply intertwined in a person’s financial situation, personal health, and fulfillment of life. As was seen, making the right decisions has effects on every part of one’s life and has a deep impact on maintaining the earth. This remains the forgotten truth: that all of life’s aspects are connected. Now, some might feel like it’s hopeless. Some might not have the self-control or the will power to succeed. If that’s the case, look for something that will inspire, encourage, and strengthen, because, without the combined efforts of every individual, every beach will look like those on the internet. The glory of Acadia national park, and others like it, will soon be a memory of the past. So, strive to impact the world through every aspect of your life.
Essay by: Jacob Wong