Environmental Education This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Last spring a study came out projecting that Americans would discard over 130 million cell phones - 65,000 pounds of trash - a year for the next three years (USA Today). Cell phones are filled with toxic materials such as lead, zinc and arsenic. There are, however, recycling programs for cell phones which reprogram them and give them to health-care workers and battered women. Unfortunately, most people don't know or care about these programs.

Sixty-five percent of all lead in our waste systems originates from lead-cell batteries. Again, there are programs to recycle these, but most people don't know or care.

The solution to these problems and all the others in our environment is not heavy regulations, but education. Currently, students barely learn about environmental problems or what to do about them. If people knew what was in their fertilizer, they would be inclined to use a more environmentally friendly one. If people

understood the ramifications of styrofoam cups and hairspray, they would switch to reusable cups and gel. American children have responded to education: after realizing the adverse affects of smoking, the first place people turned to was the schools. They educated kids about how smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases and will kill. Education is the key.

Also, with more education about the environment, more children would go into environmental professions. With more bright students researching the next big power source, we could make the transition from coal and gasoline to hydrogen or solar power much more quickly. Oceanography is a good example of a profession students know little about that is critical to preserving the environment. I don't know many kids who even know what oceanography is, but it and other disciplines are necessary.

A more educated populace will better understand environmental regulations. Education is the basis for any and all laws. Large companies that don't know the repercussions of dumping waste into the oceans are more likely to break the law for their convenience.

In the long run, educating people will make the environment more sustainable. Many scientists are predicting a bust in the fishing industry. If people knew the implications of over-fishing, they would be willing to slow down. To save and preserve our resources, people need to be educated.

Of course, this education does not have to be limited to a K-12 curriculum. Any museum can have exhibits on what you can do for the environment. Television commercials can inform about not just general issues but specific things people can do to help.

Education is the key to saving the environment, the concrete foundation needed to preserve it for our children. With more children learning about and entering into environmental professions and people of all ages learning about our complex surroundings, our environment will be saved. ^

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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