Through our NWCCI and Residence Life Green Living Program Haris Chaudhry has been recycling, buying eco-friendly products, reducing his heating bill, and trying to be more environmentally conscious overall. In this post Haris, a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) student from Pakistan who is studying at Whatcom Community College, reflects on the differences in environmentalism in his country and in the U.S. and how he can implement positive change when he returns home.
Out of many new and odd things I observed in the U.S., the most unusual was the colorful trash baskets in the college hallway with different labels on them. I stopped and looked at them carefully and came to know that every basket was meant for different stuff like food leftovers, paper, plastic, and cans. Those baskets were for “recycling”, a terminology that I heard in my home country but never found anyone doing something practical about it.
I really liked the practice that everyone is playing their part for a safe environment even with no requirement to do so. I then researched on other practices and found many: emissions control, infrared radiations, carbon footprints and so on. Even my first class presentation was on climate change. Later, I talked to my advisor about climate change. She astonished me with her statement that she avoids driving her car and prefers travelling by bicycle or bus as she doesn’t want to contribute to environmental pollution. I believe not many people would think this way. Another thing that she told was that these recycling practices are carried out by individuals, families and organizations on their own (no obligation from government) and they have to pay to have their stuff recycled.
I thought that each and every citizen in the U.S. must also recycle. But I realized that I was wrong while I was travelling to the Maryland over the winter holidays. I asked my uncle if they practice recycling but the answer was no. I found that even the stores in Baltimore, MD offer plastic bags to their shoppers instead of paper bags.
In Pakistan, we do have recycling messages printed on the stuff we purchase, but I think that is just to make sure government requirements are fulfilled. There are no recycling projects carried out in my country, neither by state nor by private companies. The government is shifting most of the electricity production from hydro to solar energy, but as far as individual efforts are concerned, we lack them.
I wondered why there is a huge difference in the application of these environment friendly practices. The answer is living standards. People in developed countries like the U.S. have all the basic necessities in their lives and have the awareness about global warming and its effects. But in developing countries how can I expect the people to think about recycling and other stuff when they are seeking clean water and sufficient food to survive on? On the other hand, I also strongly believe that the U.S. practices recycling and prefers eco-friendly products because they recognize that they are one of the main contributors to climate change.
When I get back to Pakistan, I want to make my people aware of environmental pollution and its harmful effects. I wish to initiate recycling practices in my community starting with my family, relatives and friends. I would love to establish a recycling program in my area with the help of local community members, because giving back to community is one of the valuable experiences that I am taking away with me from the U.S.
To conclude, I strongly support the recycling and eco-friendly practices. Every individual should play his or her part because we are all responsible for the irreparable damage that has been caused to our planet. It’s the time that we all shall join hands to save the earth and make it safe, peaceful, healthy and worth living in for our future generations, because it’s ‘better late, than never’.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.