The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Ignorance isn’t a justification for careless environmental inaction

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Yarrow Hogan
Photo illustration by Yarrow Hogan.

When you sit down and ask yourself, “what trait do I admire most in people?” A lot of answers start with clichés like trust, humor, or respect. For me, it’s game over when somebody says “I don’t shop on Amazon,” or “oh actually, that’s compostable.”

A common misconception in our society is that our individual actions won’t affect our whole environment. In the grand scheme of things, sure, the banana peel that gets thrown into the compost rather than trashcan may not completely alleviate the miles and miles of overflowing landfills. However, if everybody takes the easy way out, slipping into unsustainable habits, the problems will keep multiplying. The most important thing is to have some things within your control and just care about them… a lot.

I don’t think you’re a bad person if you can’t identify soft plastics versus hard. All of my aggravation lies in the simple fact that our society uses ignorance and laziness as a crutch to justify complacency.

Growing up, I don’t remember being taught in school about the massive destruction that human beings leave in the wake of just existing. We live in a world of corruption and ignorance and a lot of people—it seems-–just don’t really care.

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I have seen with my own eyes time and time again how privilege permits ignorance. It is the principle of “it doesn’t affect my life personally” that is responsible for poisoning our world. 

The ignorance lies in the fact that people aren’t aware, or just plainly don’t care, how their actions have an impact.

Students at Georgetown University curated an extensive list of facts to bring awareness to sustainability.

According to the article, the U.S. makes up only 5% of the world population, but it throws away enough plastic bottles in a week to encircle the Earth 5 times.” Additionally, on average, a college student will produce at least 640 pounds of solid waste every year.

Infograph displaying five facts about the earth from multiple different sources. By Yarrow Hogan.
Infograph displaying five facts about the earth from multiple different sources. By Yarrow Hogan. (Yarrow Hogan)

Though I am fully aware that my single being cannot change the state of the world, in my life, I would rather be fulfilled knowing that I separated my trash and recycling that day so I can sleep at night. Even though I know deep down that we are so far gone that it may not even matter, the only thing that brings me solace is that I do my best to live my individual life with sustainable efforts, and most of all with care and purpose.

When I first decided to live my life a bit more thoughtfully, the piece of advice I always followed was simply “don’t do it.” If I find myself in a situation where buying something on Amazon would save me both time and money… I don’t do it. If I need a quick cup of coffee and Starbucks is the closest place around… I won’t go. Delete the Amazon app. Just go to a local coffee shop.

Once I changed my mindset, there was no going back.

It may be me and my inherently stubborn nature, but once I get passionate about something, I will not change my mind. Once my heart was set on never stepping foot into a Starbucks again, I never stepped into a Starbucks again.

I shifted my mentality. Of course nobody is capable of living a completely and perfectly sustainable life. We are practically set up for failure. Try going to a grocery store and not buying any plastic; the odds are really not in your favor. 

The impossibility of a perfect world is not an excuse not to try.

Once you start learning disgusting facts about everything our society ignores, it will become abundantly clear how easy it should be to just avoid certain things.

There is so much hypocrisy when discussing the topic of leading a sustainable life. I don’t support fast fashion but I drive my car to school everyday and I eat meat. My point is that I care about certain things that I have control over and I want to surround myself with people who also care.

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