Bring Environmental Education to Lynn
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If you've ever taken a walk in Lynn, MA before, you may have noticed the excessive amount of garbage throughout the city. Over the years, the improper disposal of waste has created an extremely apparent issue. Trash, human waste, and even hazardous materials can be found on our school grounds, parks, and ponds, affecting not only the natural wildlife but also the children of Lynn.
The issue of littering is deeper than simply appearance. The presence of mismanaged garbage can cause:
- hepatitis A
(Source) Coming into contact with garbage is putting the children of Lynn at serious risk for life-threatening diseases. But as this trash pollutes these children, it also pollutes the natural habitats that exist within Lynn such as Flax Pond and Lynn Woods. Plastic in particular is known for introducing toxins into the tissues of native organisms, effectively killing them.
Although trash is a problem in many cities, the idea of creating a "zero-waste" city no longer resides outside the realm of possibility as cities across the world and the US strive for this environmental goal. I believe it's time that Lynn also follows in their footsteps. But where would we begin? Obviously an issue of this magnitude could not be cured overnight and treating anything outside of the heart of the issue would prove far too costly.
I believe both the problem and the solution lie in the disregard and disrespect for the environment by the citizens of Lynn. However, respect can be taught through education. Studies have shown that the presence of environmental education for K-12 students not only increased the awareness of the students on environmental issues but also made them more active participants in reducing their environmental impact (Source). An environmental education produces an array of benefits beyond just the health of city grounds. It can:
- Improve science, math, reading, and writing skills
- Develop character, team work, and leadership
- Enhance critical thinking, analytical, and problem solving skills
- Provide motivation and enthusiasm for learning
Thus, I put forth these proposals:
- Mandatory environmental education for K-8 students including topics such as recycling, composting, littering, waste management and proper disposal, and the impacts of urban development on both the environment and humans
- Mandatory environmental volunteer hours from 4th-8th grade students involving activities such as clean-ups, trail maintenance on reservations, community gardening, or any work completed with an organization whose purpose is conservation
- The establishment of a first offense littering fine and an increase in fines for subsequent offenses
- Environmental community service as the option against jail sentence (in the cases which volunteer work was offered originally)
- The formation of an Environmental Committee which connects all existing environmentally active groups in Lynn (such as Keeping Lynn Clean, Friends of Flax Pond, Friends of Lynn Woods, etc.), provides assistance in their efforts, pursues the general betterment of the entire city including the health of the water, land, and natural habitats, and seeks to eliminate any hazards to the environment and humans that may arise.
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