Sustainability— A Reality America Needs To Accept


Hadi Alim, Editor-in-Chief


In recent years, it had almost seemed as though environmental policies were leading to a more green and sustainable future. However, that reality has now backfired as the current administration is taking a step back and dismissing previous environmental policies, such as the Paris Climate Accords and many other environmental policies. That begs to question, is the world still facing a Climate Change epidemic? The answer to that is yes, as more and more carbon emissions are being released into the atmosphere, the Climate of the planet is being heated up and polar ice caps have seen major meltings since then. So what should America do? Well, American habits must change immediately. If everyone lived like an American, we would need about 5 planets to sustain our population. That wouldn’t be a very viable solution since we’ve only known one habitable planet in our vicinity and we are using all of its resources up too quick. So the only way to fix the situation is to change. Using different models on how countries across the world have limited their environmental impact on the planet, let’s see how America can change as well.

First of all, Americans must become better at recycling. Although in the country most people have recycling and trash bins, many people do not understand what goes in which. Recycling plants across the country tend to be underfunded and do not have the resources to process different types of plastic, glass, and other items usually deemed as recyclables. In Kamikatsu, Japan, the citizens produce zero waste. How, you might ask? Well, they have 32 categories of waste management, each clearly labeled with text and images, instead of 2, like America waste management, and local laws enforcing mandatory recycling practices require citizens to do recycle. This lead to the incineration plant previously used to burn waste to be abandoned and torn down. Citizens also saw an increase in their health and improvements in the environment around them.

Another city that has been revolutionizing their waste management is Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda might bring back thoughts about genocide, but the capital city has revolutionized itself since then and become the cleanest city in Africa. However, Kigali had a different approach to this than Kamikatsu. Instead of having different waste management categories, the country had criminalized plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda. Keeping up with government action, there is a mandatory cleanup day in Kigali once a month in which every citizen must contribute to cleaning up the city together. This keeps citizens engaged in cleanup and reduces the chance for them to produce waste in the first place. This principle was based on Japanese school kids who have to clean up after themselves at school instead of custodians and janitors doing so. Neighboring Kenya has also taken up the plastic bag ban, but only criminalized single-use plastics. The punishment for having a single-use plastic bag is 6 years in prison time. This has drastically reduced the number of single-use plastics in the country as well.

In conclusion, America needs to have more laws to enforce environmental standards set. If human beings want to continue to inhabit the planet, we must change the ways we use resources to keep from abusing them. Government policy is the only way to get people from harming the planet even more. Without these policies in place, may God have mercy on us all.