Defending the Environment Even When It Isn’t Cool

Erin - Statesboro, Georgia
Entered on January 25, 2009

I believe in reducing, reusing, and recycling. Clothes, water, metal, plastics, energy, anything possible. I believe that every time someone puts a Coca-Cola bottle in a recycling bin, Mother Earth smiles.

Whenever I see a person throw a fast food bag out their car window, an enormous sense of guilt and anger rushes through me. I sense the hatred coming from the plants and animals, the flora and fauna, of the world which must deal with the devastation we so abundantly provide. We have one earth, one planet, one limited life within this magnificent ecosystem-why desecrate the sanctity of a beautiful green meadow or crystal blue ocean simply because a trash can isn’t within reach?

In middle school, my best friend Melanie was dating this entirely too old for her guy-Nelson. He was exactly what every parent didn’t want their daughter to date- he had poor grades, a sketchy permanent record, and he made Melanie madly dedicated to him. He donned baggy shorts that he was constantly pulling up, a large baseball cap, and offensive t-shirts. And, he had all the qualities to break asunder a strong friendship as wide as anyone can imagine.

This happened due to my dedication to the Earth, and I will never be able to regret an ounce of it. We three, as middle schoolers, were at a high school football game. Nelson ordered a large Coke which he and Melanie shared while cuddling up on the hard, metal stands. While we were walking to the exit after the game, Nelson simply dropped his cup onto the ground and kept walking- as if it was a learned action. I could not comprehend his actions, so I said “Nelson! You dropped your cup!” He turned around; looking through me with vengeful eyes- I was interfering with his “cool”. “Girl, I know I dropped it. And it’s staying there,” he succinctly stated. I couldn’t believe it. I chose to argue in the best way a middle school student knows how, “Nelson, you are such a loser. Why won’t you just pick it up? You know you’re littering.” He looked back, put his arm around Melanie and walked slowly away in silent defiance. “I’m not going anywhere until he decides to stop being lazy and take the cup to a trash can. It’s right over there!” I stated with a sense of plea in my voice. I pointed to the trash can; it was less than ten feet away. He chose to articulate his profound thoughts, “Girl, you too crazy. No way you’re getting me to pick up this goddamn cup.” I gave in. Not only was this imbecile refusing to pick up his cup, but he had such a stronghold over my presumed best friend that she wouldn’t even do anything.

And, there it was. The bright red cup was lying on the dark grey concrete with ice pouring out of its opening. It was asking me, begging for me to use it as a persuasive device for the greater good. Nelson and Melanie walked away, hand in hand. The little mass in my chest dropped into oblivion. My best friend didn’t even care.

I walked over in a huff, picked up the cup, and slung it at Nelson’s back. Nelson froze and snatched his hand away from Melanie while ice and watered-down Coke drip-drip-dripped down his too-long red shirt. Melanie turned back in disbelief as I then grabbed the cup and chunked it in the trash can with contempt. Maybe my sense of urgency was because Melanie chose her brand new boyfriend over her lifelong best friend. Maybe.