What Do You See? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Looking out my bedroom window, I smile. I am ecstatic to see grass and trees. I can’t imagine not having a huge lawn to run around on and miles of forest to explore. I can look up at the clear blue sky without a thick layer of smog. I am one of the lucky ones. Growing up in rural New Hampshire, I have gained a great appreciation of nature and I think it’s critical to protect our world.

I am content in my own little corner of the world. My dad and I work hard to keep our dirt road free of trash (a surprisingly daunting task), yet it seems that cities and suburbs are growing, even coming into our part of the world. People are building their huge vacation homes on our hill to “get away from it all.” Are they aware that they are bringing “it all” with them?

I get it, the population of the world is growing, and growing, and growing. I fully comprehend that people need a place to live. Everyone also needs to make a living; buildings and commerce are entirely necessary. The way things are going, though, I’m starting to get worried. Shouldn’t we be nicer to our planet?

For starters, the government needs stronger laws and regulations when it comes to protecting the environment - and it needs to enforce them. More nature preserves would be a great start. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which sustains life. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s worth saving. It is also vital to protect wildlife. We live in a fragile ecosystem where the extinction of one species could result in the end of others. Humans are part of this interdependent chain; we are not immune to extinction.

The government also needs to crack down on pollution. Stricter laws need to be established for factories and corporations that dump their waste into the water and send smoke into the air. The government needs to create incentives for companies that are creating cars and energy to use clean, renewable resources. This way, these products can be sold at prices the consumer can afford.

And finally, though this sounds like a cliché, there are things we can do on an individual level. We can plant trees and gardens to make cleaner air, we can recycle paper, plastics and metals instead of filling landfills. We can conserve energy in our houses and cars. Carpooling not only saves money, but helps to reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed, which in turn reduces air pollution.

If we work together, we can make a cleaner earth. We can ensure a brighter future for our grandchildren. Maybe one day, people in cities and suburbs as well as in rural areas will have clean air to breathe. In a perfect world, every child will run barefoot through the grass without worrying about being cut by a broken bottle. I dream of a world where one day, everyone will look out their window and smile at the earth.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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