Ed. Note: We are happy to share this reader response, which is part of a series developed by environmental science students at Loyola University Chicago from the course Environmental Sustainability.
It seems as if humans and nature have been in a constant battle with each other. Nature is the key to human survival, yet humans harm their own environment every day. It’s important to realize what’s around you and learn how you can contribute to the health of your own environment as well as your living habits. All humans are different therefore we are entitled to holding different opinions. The topic of a healthy environment I think should never be questioned. It’s critical for humans to realize to some extent how damaging they are to nature and hear about the significant long-term effects that their own habits can have. When we see ourselves separate from nature we tend to ignore bad tendencies. On the other hand, if we see ourselves as part of nature, we care more about our actions and take initiative to try and fix it.
Thinking back to ancient times, where humans came into existence, we have seen ourselves as something other than nature. Humans and nature are two distinct worlds, which make it difficult for there to be a relationship. I personally think that humans and nature have a deeply rooted history of being separated. For example, the primary source for food when humans began to evolve, other than plants, was meat from animals. Thus, causing more people to become ignorant of their actions, such as hunting. This small beginning created the divide between humans and nature because humans used nature for there own benefits. This divide has continued to get bigger as the world advances. Technology has played a prominent role in modern day society because people generally don’t look anywhere beyond their screens. I notice this in young children too because many are more entertained by the fun phone apps and computers rather than playing outside. The damage technology has done to the environment has exacerbated major issues. For example, pollution is a current issue that has been addressed but not too much as been done to help the climate. Technology is essentially brand new to the earth based on how long there has been life on earth. Also, the earth has been at its hottest point for four years, since 120,000 years ago; the distractions humans have from modern entities is causing climate change. Many people think that what they do in this world doesn’t matter, but it does. Making little changes or being more sustainable in your daily life has a bigger impact than you think. They are so caught up in their own life that they don’t stop to think about their actions.
A question I have been thinking about is, how do we stop this “battle” between humans and nature? I think many factors come into play, but one important aspect is commitment. In order to be engaged in helping to build a better sustainable environment, you have to be committed. In my own life, I personally didn’t think much about my own actions before taking an environmental science class. It’s eye-opening to me to learn about sustainability and how to get involved. I have recently been transitioning into becoming vegan which I never thought I would do. This caused me to shift my own perspective about the world and what ways I can help stop the abuse of animals and the environment. As soon as I started researching veganism, I realized that everyone who is vegan has a mind and body connection with nature. Reflecting back on myself and my own eating habits, I have begun to realize when I’m having a meal, I don’t think much about where it came from. As a college student, it’s easy to slip away from those healthy habits that you strive to have, but in the end, it depends on the commitment and effort that you are willing to put in.
I think another critical issue is the importance of educating people on current topics and how their lifestyle is affecting worldwide issues. I attended a vegan convention in Chicago, Illinois and I learned a lot about veganism and how significant this change can have on the environment. Seeing ourselves as part of nature requires that we be kind and engage in acts that benefit our environment around us instead of harming it. Human consumption of clothes, food, and other resources are essential aspects of modern society and contribute to the harmful behavior caused by humans. For example, at a young age, I personally don’t recall anyone discussing major environmental issues. Even though my elementary school highly enforced a successful recycling and waste cycle, we never were told why. Then, as we get older we become busier and forget about our own actions. Educating children and people of all ages is crucial for the health of our own environment and nature, which is difficult to enforce but having everyone make small or big changes in their own lifestyles is a major step.
Usually what happens within human habits is that they ignore the harm they are causing and move on which separates us even more from nature. When we care about our actions, it leads us to learn more about the environment and how humans harm it which causes us to participate in healthier lifestyles. The commitment which people show in order to be sustainable comes from receiving education on the issues. Commitment to a healthier lifestyle is crucial for future generations because of the increase in technology. Showing love and support towards a healthy environment on earth creates a positive environment that can be safe for both humans and nature.