sociology & sustainability

Before I got to UIC, I never gave much regard to sustainability or general manners. My inability to know the difference between following expected social norms and impacting physical surroundings led me to carelessly litter and use resources as if they would never run out or it wasn’t my responsibility to sustain them. If everywhere you go, you notice an omnipresence of waste and wastefulness, it becomes something that is generally accepted until you are questioned or question it. Since I’ve gotten older, I learned to separate cultural standards and environmental necessities; I’ve picked up the habit of recycling and throwing away litter, unplugging unused electronics and appliances, and traveling by train, bike, and usually on foot because I cannot afford a car nor can I afford to increase the size of my own carbon footprint. I am working on new habits such as properly disposing of cigarette butts every time and reducing my meat intake.
My passion for sociology and solving social issues is expanding rapidly to the issue of sustainability as well as forging a link between the two. The way I started applying what I learn in sociology to reality I am beginning to do with environmental and climate-based issues. For example, when trying to better understand the social and cultural conditions of different classes, environmental conditions (the citizens’ access to clean water, fresh food, and clean air – which is a scarcity on Chicago’s industrial southeast side) matter and should be considered when evaluating social settings. Now, being on campus walking near buildings that I know have the A/C blasting 24 hours a day makes me wonder if hot days are really as hot as they are or if I am feeling some of those 100 million tons of carbon dioxide that is released annually by air conditioners. The first step towards making a difference is truly thinking about what is going on while everything goes on.

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