September 5, 2016

Growing up in Norway, nature has always been a key part of my life. I spent my summers splashing around in the ocean and wandering through the forest with my cousins. Fall included picking berries and apples with my Grandma and taking Sunday walks by the various lakes and trails outside Oslo. Winter brought cross-country skiing, the temperature being far below freezing and the sun reflecting on the snow. We would only stop skiing in order to eat the apples we had collected in the fall. Skiing in that weather always gave us pink, freezing cheeks, but according to my Mom, (and old indigenous medicinal practices) it was healthy for you to get so-called ‘eple-kinn’ (rosy cheeks). Spring meant swimming in the tarn at the top of the big hill next to our house and picking Akeleie flowers in our garden. These experiences are the reason I care as much for the environment. I want other people to have the chance to see nature in the way I have. But if our forests and oceans get filled with trash how will people be able to enjoy them? If the earth's temperature rises too much, how will anyone ski through the woods on a cold day?  Earth has given me everything I hold dear to me, so I must sustain it in all the ways possible.

One way I embody this value of sustainability is by practicing vegetarianism. I am not vegetarian necessarily because of animal cruelty or health reasons, but mainly because of the terrible effects raising animals has on the environment. Raising livestock for food takes extreme amounts of water, fossil fuels, and land.We would be a lot less wasteful if we either stopped eating meat or only ate wild animals. At home, my family enjoys eating meat and I know they will continue doing so no matter what I tell them. I am not going to impose my values on to anyone, but rather try to make people see why these issues matter to me. After explaining to my family why I have chosen to not eat meat, they understand the serious negative environmental impacts of factory farms, and now only eat wild meat.

I also try to reduce my carbon footprint by limiting my waste. I only buy products with recyclable packaging, if unavailable, I don’t buy it. I don’t like throwing things away. Whenever I’m cleaning my room and find something I don’t use, I always assess ways I can avoid putting it in the trashcan. First I try to think if there is anyway I could reuse it myself. If I realize I have no use for it, I try to give it away. If the object is broken, I recycle all the parts of it that I can, and only after I’ve gone through all of that, I throw the remainders away.

My upbringing is why I care for the environment. I want my children to have the opportunity to swim in a tarn free of oil and trash, pick apples and berries without worrying that they’re contaminated with filth, and to get rose-cheeks on ski trips with their mother on a perfect day.