Earth Day in Rogers Park: A Time To Reflect On Our Impact

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The beauty of the trees growing in Rogers Park during this time. But can it really stay beautiful with so much trash in the way?

By: Kimberly Valle, Sullivan Freshman

With Earth Day happening last week, I took some time to appreciate our beautiful blue planet. I also considered what our future may look like, more specifically, how our future may turn out to be if we don’t take care of our planet. 

With the help of Ms. Kiriazopoulos and Ms. Kordek, science teachers at Sullivan High School, I sought to get an overview of today’s current world. 

As we know now, we’ve developed a frequent use of plastic, and at times we may forget to recycle. Not recycling from time to time because you forget can be forgivable, however,

time is running out. Both Ms. Kiriazopoulos and Ms. Kordek have seen trash when they’ve

On the beautiful green grass, there is an empty gum container in the way.

walked outside, along with many of us individuals as well. This not only sets an unpleasant setting for a simple walk, but sometimes it can cause harm to animals, not just the environment. 

“I’ve been very concerned about them stepping on broken glass,” Ms. Kiriazopoulos notes when asked if she gets concerned when she takes her pets out. For many pet owners, having trash on the floor or simply food can cause great concern for their furry friends. 

Ms. Kordek emphasizes that by saying, “I do fear for the pets in my neighborhood being affected by trash. If they don’t eat it, they may be infected in other ways, such as bacteria or other contaminants in the trash.” This can be a big issue in the community because taking care of pets is difficult enough, but having to care for them if they “mysteriously” get sick is much worse. 

With that being said, what can we do to solve this problem? “There are barely any garbage cans in this neighborhood!” Ms. Kiriazopoulous says. “We need better placed garbage/recycling receptacles so that there is actually a place for people to put their garbage!” This starting point would need the pitch of many fellow Rogers Park neighbors. It’s a small start for such a big issue, but even just a little at a time can better help our community, lovely pets, and our earth.

“What will tomorrow look like without change?”

It’s a question with a complicated answer, but one well worth looking into. 

“Plastic is made using oils and fossil fuels. Each time we use plastics, we are depleting

While walking, there was a q-tip on the floor, and multiple pieces of napkins around.

resources that are finite and cannot be reproduced or replaced readily,” Ms. Kordek said. Oils, which are dangerous when spilled in the ocean, are part of the plastic making process. Chemicals found in fossil fuels help produce plastic as well. Although most people wouldn’t expect plastic to harm you directly, if there is a miscalculation in the plastic making process, it can harm you. Toxins could be released.

She said, “Plastic can litter the oceans and impact other sea animals in many ways. When plastics break apart into tiny pieces called microplastics. That’s when it is most harmful. Many times the animals die from over eating these plastics or possibly from chemicals in the plastics leaching into their bodies.”

With the community being so close to Lake Michigan, this is definitely something to consider. Microplastic is most commonly found in bodies of water, and of course, marine life in those bodies of water are affected as well. 

A great way for the Rogers Park area to help reduce plastic is using a “zero-waste” method. Advice given by Ms. Kordek mentions that “people try to limit plastic and reuse jars and containers to buy bulk from stores that allow it. There currently is only one zero-waste store in Chicago that allows people to bring in their own containers and purchase food from bulk bins.”

While recycling is very important, there are some things that can’t be recycled. At the bottom of certain items, yes, there are the recycling symbols, but what do the numbers mean?

“Most of the time numbers 5 and 6 are on take out food containers. They cannot be recycled by most city recycling plants.” The numbers on the bottom show what type of plastic they are. 1 is usually found on soft drink bottles, mineral water bottles, etc. 2 is usually found on laundry detergent containers, milk bottles, and so on. Number 5 is usually found on toys and such, which may be harder to recycle. 6 is usually found on CD cases, hard packing (ex. foam), and so on. Just like 5, it can be more difficult to recycle. 

You should not let this stop you from recycling what you can. It isn’t that hard to look at the numbers on the bottom and identify whether or not they can be recycled. As long as effort is made into saving our future and we educate ourselves to create the best possible environment, that’s the best we can do. 

“We need to advocate for the large companies to contribute to saving the planet!”

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