By Valentina Plata
Editor’s note: This column will be published periodically and is written by Environmental Studies students of Idyllwild Arts Academy team teachers Gary Gray and Chris Wegemer.
A paradise can be defined as a magical, snowy forest or maybe a peaceful beach.
I grew up in Cancun living near the clear blue waters and the marine animals. Throughout my childhood, my parents showed me how to protect the environment by picking up trash from the beaches, especially plastic bags. Those actions coming from the people I love the most inspired me to inform myself about the environment and humans’ consequences from consumerism.
I’m currently a senior songwriter at Idyllwild Arts, and last year I decided to start an Environmental Club, thanks to magnificent people who care and want change by acting local and thinking global.
Artists like us are constantly inspired by the wonders of nature. Hiking in search for bright, colorful sunsets along with little squirrels made me fall in love with Idyllwild, gaining a special place in my heart. Yet, I saw plastic bags on trees, buried in the dirt and flying in the air, so I decided to start this project. But I need your help.
Imagine Idyllwild without a single plastic bag? One of the most wonderful qualities about Idyllwild is the sense of awareness and happiness people carry. My goal is to encourage our local businesses to stop handing out plastic bags and for us consumers to increase the use of cloth/canvas bags.
A 2014 Huffington Post story estimated that more than 10 billion plastic bags are used each year in California, and the majority end up as litter in landfills, streets, the ocean and almost anywhere else they don’t belong and affect the lives of innocent animals. Today, more than 100 California communities are trying to ban plastic bags. I am positive that Idyllwild could be, in the future, a leader of towns in California who support this “Plastic Reduction Movement.”
Plastic bags take as long as 1,000 years to decompose, while recycled paper bags decompose in as little two months. If we use a cloth bag, we can save at least six bags a week. That’s 24 or more bags a month. That’s at least 300 bags per year. That could be more than 23,000 bags in an average lifetime.
I would like to ask you all to stop consuming plastic bags and start asking for paper bags or carry a cloth bag in your car. Throughout my three years here, Idyllwild empowered a passion to start environmental awareness anywhere I go. Before I graduate, I would love to see the Environmental Club continuing new projects, and, hopefully, my plastic bag project will be one to keep pushing forward.
So spread the word. Use cloth/paper bags. Let’s keep Idyllwild plastic-bag free.