When I was three, my parents told me about the Halloween Pumpkin. I could keep as many pieces of candy as my age and if I put my the rest of my candy on the door step before I went to bed, the Halloween Pumpkin would come during the night and leave me a toy. They made sure to tell me that he would only come if you gave him a couple days notice and only my parents could deliver my wish to the Halloween Pumpkin. At least a week before October 31st, I would contemplate for hours (or at least what felt like hours to a young child) about what types of candy I would keep and what amazing toy I would receive the morning after Halloween.
Last night, my friend and I went to go to a haunted house. The house was closed, so they gave us a bunch of candy. I figured, I’m really not going to eat this because of carbs, sugar, and the amount of calories. When I got home, I went up to my parents’ room.”Bey, remember the halloween pumpkin,” I asked. “If I put this on the door step, will it magically turn in to twenty bucks by tomorrow morning? Tell ya what, I won’t even keep fifteen pieces”
“Nice try,” my parents said. “But, no.”
When I was younger, I remember going trick or treating every year. I would count down the minutes until I could knock on doors and hold out my spookily-decorated candy basket. My friends would start counting down the days until the magical holiday as soon as October 1st rolled around.
Nowadays, it seems my Halloweens consist of hours of homework with the occasional annoying interruption of happy children knocking on the door.
Sometimes, I wish I could just put my Halloween candy on the front porch and the Halloween Pumpkin would come during the night and give me what I wished for: the chance to be kid again.
I saw this tweet a few days ago and I think it is something we all need to be more concerned with.
And, it’s not just about climate change, it’s about everything involving the environment. We’ve done a lot of damage. When it comes to bettering our environment, it’s too late for preventative measures. We’re just playing catch up now.
Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. We’re so used to living the way that we do, it’s not always easy to put the planet first.
If you want to reduce your impact or help the planet but don’t know how, here are a few things you can try implementing into your routine:
Say no to plastic. The next time you eat out, tell your server you don’t need straws. Especially, if it’s fast food. There is no reason for you to take a lid and a straw for your drink. Buy glass bottles instead of plastic ones – they’re easier to recycle. If you’re planning on eating out, bring reusable containers to take left overs home.
Be mindful of product packaging. For example, buy bar soap instead of liquid soap. This can include shampoos and conditioners; there are plenty of eco-friendly options that don’t use plastic packaging. Don’t buy anything with excessive packaging. Cardboard or paper packages are the best options. Buy in bulk as much as you can.
Buy second hand. I understand that, from time to time, it’s nice to treat yourself to a new item and that’s fine. But, for the most part, you can find everything you need at thrift stores and you’ll save money too. There are also plenty of websites where you can buy used items (for those of you who like online shopping).
Keep it local. Shop at farmer’s markets and support local businesses. Buy produce that is in season. This reduces the distances that items need to be transported and causes less fuel emissions.
Don’t waste food. Shop for groceries using a list and only buy what you need. Don’t cook more food than you can eat. It is better to have no leftovers at all, but, if you do, try to actually eat them later.
If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your impact, do some research. There is so much information out there that can help us be better.
I’m not perfect. I try my best to be conscious of everything I do and the impact it will have, but I still have a lot of ways in which I could be better.
To some people, conservation might seem like a hopeless cause. But as long as we’re trying, if each day we do one more thing that reduces our impact, then, there is still hope.
Everything’s been a little different since the fire.
The drive back home is darker now. The trees seem angrier, defeated.
Even now, when the breeze picks up it stirs around the ashes that had settled into the dirt, the ashes that first arrived over six months ago.
I can still remember it so vividly. I can still smell the smoke, I can feel the ashes burning my eyes. I remember how hard it was to breathe. The air was thick and the world was sluggish and grey. For awhile I forgot that the sky wasn’t normally orange. The wind was hot. Everything felt dirty.
I can still picture seeing what was left of my uncle’s house for the first time. The home and business that he had spent so long building was reduced to a pile of black dust and scrap metal and crumbling rocks. I wonder how long it took.
My brother found a metal garden sign buried in the rubble. It read one word. Simplify.
How ironic can the world be? The fire had already taken everything from my uncle, so why, at the last second, did it feel the need to cough up a message telling him to simplify?
I was angry for a long time. I was sad. Our little town doesn’t deserve this, I thought.
But slowly, I’m starting to think maybe there are some good things that have come out of this, scattered all around.
The hills were black for a long time. And then it finally rained. So the grass started to grow, and trees that I’d assumed to be dead starting sprouting leaves again.
And now, there are hundreds of wildflowers blooming all over the ground. I’ve never seen some of these flowers before in my fifteen years of living here.
Before the fire the hills were dark green and brown, earthy. During the fire they were red. After, they were black, scorched. But now, they’re speckled with blues, yellows, purples, light greens, and covered with orange California poppies.
The only way that they are able to bloom is because the brush above them was burned away.
Maybe there’s some irony in that too. But I think it’s also very beautiful in a way.
And it’s the little things like these that we have to be thankful for.
It’s strange how people can change without even being aware of it.
Take me, for example.
I used to have so much more to say but now I just have so much more to think.
There was never a conscious decision.
I never told myself, “Today’s the day I’m gonna grow up!”
I think it just happens gradually, it takes lots of time.
I think part of getting older is becoming more self-aware and learning new things about yourself.
I started to notice that things were changing when I discovered that my parents opinions aren’t always the same as mine; when I realized that even though it’s difficult sometimes, I am allowed to think for myself.
I started to see that someone’s bad decision shouldn’t define who they are as a person.
My friends tell me that I’m different than I used to be.
“It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing. It’s just a thing, you know?”
But I believe there is a lot of good that can come from change. I think that being different than I was before means that I’ve learned a lot and that I’ve started to become who I’m supposed to be – who I want to be.
I’m a sophomore, far enough away from college, but ever since I was in the seventh grade, all anyone’s been asking me during family reunions or Christmas is college questions.
When you’re younger you feel like you have no weight on your shoulders and have your whole life to figure these things out, but now as I’m sitting in the Journalism room, staring at the college counseling books stacked on the brown shelf in front of me, varying in different sizes, holding the futures of so many students, I realize that I have no idea what I want to do. I then turn to my left and see the wheel of felt college banners shaped in a circle which are where many students go and will continue to go.
My family has all these big life plans for me, which sound great and all, but I’m not sure that’s what I want.
And everything matters now, these are the final years before adulthood, where every mistake you make, every bad test grade you receive, every thing you say and write matters; your whole life is being documented.
This begins to make me think.
As I’m sitting in my living room staring at the French doors which open to my courtyard, filling out applications for college summer programs all over the country, I’m trying to write about myself as a student and about my life, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
This makes me realize how much I haven’t done in life; I’m finally transferring out of my childhood, out of my adolescence, leaving my past behind as I take on the next chapter in my life.
I watch all the movies where life seems to fall into place for so many people, and their whole life is figured out. They go on a date with their dream boy, and lie beneath the stars staring up into the heavens picturing what their life could be together, but I haven’t had that, and who knows if I ever will.
You never realize how much is passing you by, and how many opportunities you’re missing.
It feels like just yesterday when my childhood friends and I were placing graham crackers in our kindergarten cubbies for our Thumbelina dolls to eat, or sitting under the big, protective oak tree, hiding acorns from the boys in our class.
Flash-forward ten years and here we are today, possibly closer than ever, but yet there is a division between us, and secrets hiding underneath the smiles flashed to each other.
We sit down at the plastic lunch tables, and pretend to laugh at jokes we don’t get. We then walk away, our group separates, and we don’t see each other until the next class.
It’s weird to think we would hide anything from each other but maybe I did something that changed that. It’s hard to not always blame yourself, for things you know aren’t your fault, but maybe someone else thinks they are.
You try to confide in people who you once would, but things are uncomfortable, so you tuck your feelings away. And at last, your childhood friends are falling into different groups, and, finally, your group is divided.