When I was in Secondary 2, the school took my cohort on a beach cleaning expedition to East Coast. Each class made a team, and teams competed to see who could collect the most trash. The bags of garbage were weighed at the end of the hour or so that we spent combing the shoreline. My class only won because we found a brick… The next most memorable observation from that day was that we collected more straws than I had ever seen in one place — they made up the bulk of all the trash we had gathered. It was then that my eyes were open to how mindlessly we lay waste our environment to selfish convenience. As I grow and learn more about my environment, I acquire a deepening consciousness about my own consumption and how I can be more considerate in these choices. For the first time in years, I own a refillable water bottle. I decline plastic bags at the supermarket and try as much as possible for whatever plastics I do use to recycle after. I don’t go through clothing as quickly as I used to — I’m wearing many pieces from my mother’s youth to avoid purchasing new items. Using takeout boxes and disposable beverage containers are bad habits I’m presently looking to change. It’s a work in progress, but the journey is very much eased by the knowledge that each effort will pay off, somewhere down the line.