12 Jul July Member of the Month: Hallie McManus
Written by Hallie McManus |
Growing up I had always been aware of environmental issues. I was brought up in a household that regularly recycled and in school was educated about climate change as a known fact. Although I spent my young years saying “I cared about the environment” and “was making a difference”, I never fully felt that way inside. I was taught that caring about the environment was the right thing to do, so I said I did. I was doing these inane things like turning off the tap while I was brushing my teeth and taking shorter showers, yet none of it registered with me. Because of this I found it easy to slack on daily things like recycling every so often. I didn’t believe that throwing my plastic bottle in the trash for one day would count, because in my mind I said I cared, and wasn’t that enough? For a long time, like many other people, I made excuses for myself. A large reason for this was because I didn’t feel the connection between my actions and what was happening around the world. To me there was something much larger that had to be done, I just couldn’t figure out what.
While the reefs were beautiful, they were also notably deteriorating. Bright oranges and pinks had faded into a murky gray. Our tour guide, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, talked about how by 2030 most of the reef will be gone.
The first time the reality of environmental issues registered with me was in 5th grade. My dad had taken us on a trip to Australia and we had gone out to the Great Barrier Reef for a day to go snorkeling. Until then I had only read about the impacts of climate change on the environment, but never really saw it first hand. While the reefs were beautiful, they were also notably deteriorating. Bright oranges and pinks had faded into a murky gray. Our tour guide, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, talked about how by 2030 most of the reef will be gone. The gravity of this registered with me, when I realized that not only will the next generation, my children, not experience this beauty, but that if I ever had the opportunity to come back, most of the reef would be gone. I felt lucky to have this opportunity, yet frustrated that we wouldn’t be able to share this beauty with our next generation. This was the first time that I felt angered by the issue of climate change, and a spark was lit inside of me.
After this trip I felt personally hurt by climate change, and motivated to make a change. I started to realize that my everyday actions can have an impact, because if everybody around the world makes small changes to their everyday life, a big difference can be made. I started incorporating more climate conscious rituals into my daily routine. Rather than having to make the choice between recycling my plastic bottle at lunch and throwing it out, I stopped buying plastic bottles all together and opted to carry a reusable one around the clock. Then I started walking places, instead of driving there. First it was just around the corner to my summer swim practices. Then before I knew it I was planning my days so that I could take the train one way to a destination and then run back, avoiding cars at all. I became invested in environmental issues on a personal level. When I became vegetarian and later on vegan, I became increasingly aware that what I put into my body could alter not only the lives of animals, but the entire environment around me. I experimented with raw foods and learned that by eating raw I could have a much smaller impact on the environment. It was through doing these small things that I became motivated to take part in larger events, like climate protests, seminars, clean ups and petitions.
Ultimately the reason I came to care about climate change, was not because I had to. It was because by not caring I was acting as a bystander in my own life, allowing horrible things to happen to my environment that in the end would not only negatively affect the my life but the lives of others around me.