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The Little Things

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Zoe’s cat, Leela, woke her that morning at 4:00. It was raining that night, and Leela did not like storms at all. After staring at the ceiling for ten minutes, she made the decision that there was no point in her trying to sleep in this thunderstorm. She bounced over to her computer, moved the mouse around a little to wake the computer, and turned her lights on.

Realizing that there was nothing to do on the computer this early in the morning, she stood up, and, ignoring the dangers of showering during a thunderstorm, picked up a fresh towel and clothes. She left the room, without any thoughts of turning anything in the room off.
Turning on the water for the tub, it started out way to hot, then way to cold, then just right, then she decided she was a little chilly, so it was moved back, and then it felt like her hand was being boiled alive. After what seemed to be forever (and what really was four minutes and thirty-eight seconds) and swishing gallons of water down the drain, she got in and turned on her iShower and finally started scrubbing to the first volume of Glee in its completeness.
Stepping out of the shower, she gazed into the dark, early morning sky and grabbed her hair dryer and blow-dried her hair to perfection.

“Hey,” Zoe marveled at her work, “I need to get up this early more often!”

Then she looked down, realizing she had been stepping on her choice of clothing for the day, which she had been planning on wearing forever. Deciding she had enough time, Zoe grabbed the outfit and ran it down to the dryer. Nothing was in there. Perfect.
Watching the outfit whirl around was without a doubt relaxing, but she was, indeed, running out of time. She hopped into the outfit and ran upstairs for a bite of breakfast.
Her fridge was stocked with mini cartons of the mini cartons of orange juice that she loved so much, so she grabbed one carton and a peanut butter chocolate granola bar. Gnawing on her food and staring at the microwave, this long morning was coming to a close. Her dad was in the living room, so Zoe asked him for a ride to school, quickly snatching an apple, a roughly made peanut butter sandwich, another granola bar, and a bottle of H2Go for her lunch.
The outside was wet and muddy, but Zoe and her father trudged through to the SUV, like they did every morning.
The ride was long, but Zoe got to think a lot as she watched passing buses, pedestrians, and bikers. She thought about her speech in Pathways to Future class today. The class was normally about planning her life out, like careers, houses, sales, taxes, etc. This speech, however, had to be about how the whole generation could save an issue with the world. Zoe was assigned to speak about turning the economy around.
*
Sixth period came and so did the speech. Her speech went fine; it got a couple of mindless stares, but no sneers that said, “You’re so stupid. How on earth are you a sophomore in high school?” Zoe closed her PowerPoint and threw her thick stack of note cards in the trash.

“Very nice, Miss Jefferson,” Mrs. Makintosh told Zoe. “Mr. Graham! You’re next.”

Naturally the one to follow her, what she thought, was a good speech would be the potential valedictorian for her class, Isaac Graham.
Isaac casually walked up to the Mrs. Makintosh’s desk, slid his flash drive into the USB, clicked through the files, and he was ready.

“Sooo…guys!” he started. “Has anyone heard of global warming?” This received a slight laugh from the class, seeing as the answer was obviously anyone that hasn’t been living under a rock for years and just came out for air today.

“That’s what I thought,” Isaac continued, “and there are obviously disagreements as to whether or not it is happening or not, and I’m not getting into that. What I am getting into is this.”

He flicked his remote for the projector, revealing his first slide, which was a large landfill.

“And this.”

The slide flipped, and a picture of a beach filled the eyes of the class. Although, not a pretty, fun-in-the-sun beach. An oily, garbage filled beach.

“Oh, and don’t forget this.”

A rainforest being wiped out.

“We live in our bedrooms, and it’s okay to have that messy sometimes. We live in our houses, but with families living in them, it’s totally acceptable to not have them look like they belong in a Martha Stewart magazine. With a few ‘ten-minute-tidies’, they’ll get clean. We live on the planet. Contrary to our homes, there are no ‘ten-minute-tidies’. We have got this beautiful earth for us to share, and as a team, we need to keep in clean.

“As Americans, we use 50 million tons of paper each year. That’s more than 850 million trees. Every day 50 to 100 species of plants and animals become extinct. Over half of the world's tropical forests are gone. The average person uses twice as much as fifty years prior to now. Did you know that for every one garbage can you put out, seventy cans were filled for all the processes needed to make it?

“How about that half of our nation's lakes and a third of our rivers are too polluted to be completely safe for swimming or fishing? We’re even losing our once perfect national beauties - the Everglades, Lake Superior, and the Columbia River System - to toxic pollution, chemical spills, development, and diversion of freshwater flows.”

These facts shook the class. By the last fact, Isaac was practically screaming at the class.

“However,” Isaac cooled down, “we can change this.”

The slide flipped to more happy images of volunteers cleaning up, clean looking landscapes, and common household devices like recycling bins.

“Watching what we are doing with our supplies is simple. You don’t have to be an environmental preacher or a biologist to help. For instance, try limiting your showers to five minutes. If you need to, set a timer. Plant your own fruits and veggies to reduce on the plastics from the produce or freezer section of the grocery store. Invest in a reusable water bottle instead of a case of bottled water.

“Don’t play around with energy like it’s free. Think of all the work and supplies that go into just keeping your home safe, comfortable, and entertained. Turn off your electronics at night. Unplug that GameBoy you’ve been charging for a week already! I’m sure it’s charged. Follow the three R’s.”

The words “reuse”, “reduce”, and “recycle” appeared on the screen.

“Reuse those cups, bottles, plates, and notebooks. Don’t throw away your kids books because you don’t read them anymore; there are plenty of little kids that would love them! Reduce on buying prepackaged items, as a lot of material goes into keeping them in those cute bags and packages, and a lot goes into the landfill once you are done with your peanut butter bar.”

“And of course,” he said as he was moving towards Mrs. Makintosh’s desk, “recycle! Recycling one aluminum can powers a TV for three hours or half a can of gasoline. You can recycle glass, bottles, cans,” he continued to move his hand into her trashcan, “and even,” he said, pulling out Zoe’s stack of note cards, “paper.”



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