The life of a teenager in Cayman can result in a lot of unwanted things: empty wallets, junk email, sunburns and global warming.
Budgeting, the delete button and Aloe Vera are easy solutions to the first three unpleasantries, but what about the last?
As a 15-year-old, I can’t buy or drive a hybrid car and I can’t replace my household appliances either. But there are a lot of things that teens can do to be more environmentally-friendly.
As soon as people realise the connection they have with nature, and what a necessary relationship it is, helping to protect and preserve it becomes a lot easier.
Gloria Bordon, the environmentally-minded John Gray High School president, says people can always find a way to help the environment.
‘If everyone took the time just to look around them, to look at nature… They would find a way to help.’
After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Reducing energy, water
My first stop was the Energy Library on the Caribbean Utilities Company website. There, viewers can find information on how to make almost every aspect of their household more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.
Though some of their tips were beyond my capabilities, others were well within reach.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, turning off lights and appliances when not in use and turning down the water temperature were simple steps that reduced my family’s carbon footprint and energy bills.
Water can also be conserved just as easily as electricity.
Thousands of gallons a month could be saved if people cut their showers to less than five minutes and used washing machines/dishwashers only when full.
My next thought was how I could decrease the amount of household waste I produce. The answer came in the three R’s that most teens learn in school: reduce, reuse and recycle.
To reduce the amount of garbage that finds its way into people’s trash, there are a lot of things which we can do.
Buying as many local products as possible drastically reduces wasteful food-packaging and energy needed to transport them. Local food doesn’t need to be vacuum-sealed, frozen and transported thousands of miles in gas-guzzling trucks.
With last weekend’s reopening of the farmer’s market, eating local produce will be even easier.
The next step is to reuse. Instead of throwing away plastic grocery bags, for example, my family uses them as garbage bin liners throughout the rest of the house.
Clothes and toys that are still in good shape, but that aren’t used anymore, can be donated to local charities so that they aren’t thrown out either.
The final step is to recycle. Cayman may be behind other countries in terms of recycling, however cans, plastic six-pack rings, car batteries, used oil and scrap metal can be sent for recycling, according to Kenisha Morgan of Government Information Services.
Recycling bins for aluminium cans may be found at various locations around the island, including the Foster’s Food Fair airport location, Hurley’s Supermarket at Grand Harbour and Kirk Supermarket on Eastern Avenue. Meanwhile, the plastic six-pack rings can be returned directly to Bodden Beverages.
Joining a programme or campaign, whether in school or in the wider community, is another great way to learn and affect change.
The John Gray Recyclers Club is an excellent example of a school-based environment programme.
By starting or joining a school programme such as JGRC, teens can work together to help improve their environment.
Another programme in the wider community is Recycle Cayman. This volunteer-run organisation is looking to assist local government’s recycling efforts, says Director Jenny Murphy.
Participating in global initiatives, such as Earth Day and projects being scheduled for the October Beautification Month are just some of the many government-sanctioned opportunities for teens to help the planet.
There is no end to the ways in which teenagers can help the environment. They may not always seem like front page news, but every little bit adds up to make quite an impact.