Experts work to remove Potter Lake from dirty list

A red-eared slider sunbathes on a sunny spring day at Potter Lake. Near Memorial Stadium and the Campanile in Marvin's Grove, Potter Lake serves as home for biodiversity.

Opinion

Reusable straws, plastic straws, and "Please save the sea turtles." These are ways corporations have fooled us into thinking the average human is responsible for our polluted Earth. When you check the facts, more blame needs to be placed on the largest companies of the world. Large factories are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, dumping in oceans, the creation of "the Great Pacific Garbage Patch" and other countless polluted areas. There are more ways to do your part to help sustain the Earth for future generations than just using a reusable straw.

Plastic straws account for less than 1% of the world’s pollution. When you put that into perspective, plastic straws aren’t really that big of a concern. What you should be concerned about is that fishing nets left behind after use by large companies account for 46% of all ocean plastic. Why do they not reuse their nets? Why are there no advertisements for reusable fishing nets?

Mass fishing and other damage done by corporations are more responsible for environmental harm than your average consumer of plastic straws. These corporations skip out on paying taxes, underpay their employees and pollute the Earth with minimal regulations because they pay out politicians under the table with dirty money.

I still use a reusable cup, and I have never had a care for straws anyway. I still advise you to do your part. That includes recycling, buying used, having a reusable straw and attempting a zero-waste lifestyle. What might make a bigger difference, however, is engaging in political activism. It is easier than you think, and it doesn’t necessarily have to include traveling to D.C. or Topeka and holding up signs.

I advise you to check where politicians stand on key issues, particularly environmental ones. At OnTheIssues.org, you can check governors, mayors, candidates and Supreme Court justices. Use this site along with other resources to elect the best possible candidates who are committed to helping out the environment. With a quick Google search, you can find the contact information for your home state’s congressman or congresswoman. Email them, call them, or send them snail mail. You might make a difference or be the spark yourself.

Pollution has been an issue in the world for a long time now, yet little has been done to slow it. Corporations have been strangling citizens for decades now. I am done waiting on these giant companies to reverse the damages they’ve caused. As long as they keep profiting, they will keep polluting. It is up to the common people. 

Sustainability shouldn’t just be the United States' focus. This is a worldwide issue, and it needs to be addressed and attacked as such. I don’t agree with people who say it’s too late to save the Earth. Although, this isn’t an issue that we can keep procrastinating, or say, “We can just save the Earth later.” This is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed now. Keep using your reusable straws and cups. Keep recycling. Keep spreading good habits among others, but try to do more. Vote politicians out who don’t have a positive plan for the environment. Regulations on these companies will make a huge difference. Environmental issues are a bipartisan issue. These politicians are civil servants. Make sure their intentions for the environment are for the will of the common citizen.

Gannon Miller is a senior from Columbus, Kansas, studying history and business.