Last year, i listed some things I wanted to accomplish in my life as of then. To see that list, click here. To learn of some of my new dreams of things I want to accomplish in my life, keeeeeeeeep on goin.... I've decided that I will only feel fulfilled / productive / like I've actually done something worthwhile if I really make a difference in the world in the areas of sustainability or poverty. Here are some of my ideas on how I want to make a significant impact in these two areas.
1. Get Chain Restaurants to Use More Recycled and Compostable Plasticware
This year, I volunteered with Washington and Lee's Student Environmental Action League (seal) and sorted food waste from an alumni luncheon. It was great because there wasn't any sorting we had to do. All the plastic utensils, plates, and napkins were compostable, so we just told people to throw everything into the same can. Can you imagine how much we could keep out of the landfill if fast food places like Cookout (I actually got chills when i was told by the employee that yes, everything is served in Styrofoam, and no, none of it goes into a recycling bin) used plasticware made from recycled materials and then shoved it into an industrial composter after it's been used? We HAVE to figure out a way to make it cost and time efficient for this to be a reality. I'm sure the composted remains of the food could be sold and re-purposed for something. Also, I'm sure there's a graphic design team somewhere that could design cool forks and what not that match a restaurant's vibe but are also made of environmentally friendly recycled plastic. I want to work on the marketing team for a company that sells compostable plasticware made from recycled materials to restaurants. I'm going to research this, but if anyone knows of a company like this, please pleaaaaaaaaaase tell me.
2. Create a Poverty Studies Curriculum Designed to Open the Minds of Sheltered Kids at Private Schools
I barely have any bones to pick with my childhood/high school years, but a significant one is that i was completely unaware of what it's like to not go to private school and to not to exist in a society where everyone is privileged. That was my life, which matched that of pretty much everyone i knew/know. I came into college and went on W&L's Volunteer Venture Trip where I was exposed to the way our society systematically disenfranchises poor people and then says that it's their fault for not getting a job. .....but wait..... how can you fill out a job application when you don't have regular access to a computer or the skills to know how to operate it ????
I want to create a curriculum that exposes privileged children in private high schools to issues like this. I want them to realize that impoverished people aren't lazy. If students in high school take a course like this, it would motivate them to go out in their communities and meaningfully volunteer with organizations that help serve the less fortunate. Believe me, it angers me to this day that I got my 250+ service hours i used to pad my college app resume by teaching the little white kids from my k-12 prep school how to play tennis in the summer when i could've been working with some organization south of town that is fighting to do something about the fact that Leon County has one of the biggest wealth discrepancies in the state. I didn't even know that Tallahassee FL has an IRC (refugee resettlement agency) Branch downtown. I bet you my peers who worked at lacrosse camp, or baseball camp, or soccer camp, or football camp would've rather had a more eyeopening/enlightening/view-shifting experience then staring at their phones while the kids played in the pool in lily Pulitzer bathing suits. Taking a course (like POV 101, which I have in my schedule for this coming fall) would wake impressionable high schoolers up to the fact that other people live very different lives than they do, and that there are ways to help impoverished people in their own communities.
One of my biggest goals in life is to just make people more conscious of their habitual financial decisions.
I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone has a right to live her own life the way she wants to. I buy all of my clothes for an average price of $3 at the local church ministry thrift store, and I think spending $8 on a sandwhich when going out to lunch is completely ridiculous and unneccessary (read my article about that here) . But I definitely don't think that my existence as an anal cheapskate is the only/best way to live, because that's relative with respect to all people.
I would like to somehow articulate in the least offensive way possible that I think it is extremely problematic that many people in my life habitually spend copious amounts of money on stuff they don't really need. In many cases, a cheaper substitute, or a mild personal sacrifice could save a reasonable amount of money ($50 or so), but so many people in my life just don't even contemplate this and just go with the more expensive or name brand option out of habit. IT. MAKES. ME. SO. AGGRAVATED. Just the brand Lulu Lemon is an example of exactly what I'm talking about here. I'm not going to say anything else because I don't want to make any enemies.
ALL IN ALL,
It's really just a personal thing. Day by day, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that other people spend money differently than I do because other people have different habits and values. And i shouldn't be judgemental of / perturbed by this. But, I do think that a course on poverty issues in America geared towards educating privileged private school kids would be a great asset for our society as a whole. It would open the minds of the youth, the future leaders of America, to the idea that we are all human with potential and a work ethic, regardless of our socioeconomic status. It would inspire affluent children to be more conscious of their swiping of their parents' credit cards on the $200 pair of Tories, because the course would make them aware that people living fifteen minutes down the road can barely afford dinner tonight because their car unexpectedly needs a repair. Finally, it would inspire the privileged youth in our community to meaningfully give back by seeking out volunteering organizations that help the impoverished.