THE Journal/PC Mall Green Light Essay Contest: Travis Finch

In the beginning stages of mankind, when human first began to leave their footprints upon the earth, humans had to work continually to survive, let alone to live comfortably. As the human population then was miniscule compare to the population in modern times, and had none of the devastatingly powerful instruments that we do today, our early ancestors left only a sight mark that showed their impact upon their environment. Today, however, the descendants of these ancient peoples are facing tough problems.

Times have changed, and we as Americans are realizing our new role in this global society. No longer can we exhaust the world’s resources, such as oil and coal, and expect no consequence. The resources of the world as we know it are very finite and the only way to ensure survival is to adopt more sustainable practices. However, total sustainability is out of the question for most Americans: our lifestyles would change too drastically. Even so with the help of the technology that has helped create this situation, there is a workable solution. “Green Technology,” an emerging movement that is gaining velocity with public support, has the potential to bridge our consumer desires with our environmental requirements.

As a high school student, one might wonder what could be done to educate the public and the major upcoming workers and consumers of our economy about “green technology.” Being a part of the trend-setting youth gives me a unique opportunity not only to educate myself but also to influence others to educate themselves as well. My idea to incorporate “green technology” is very complex and intricate but has the possibility to have a great impact and pay high dividends to those it reaches. In schools, students get plenty of education on how to be “green”. The only problem is that these students have little effect overall on the environment. Although the students recognizes the benefits of CFC bulbs versus regular incandescent bulbs, the adult who make the household decision do not. The initial thought is not to purposefully impact the environment negatively, but these parents are just simply uninformed about the products and their effects on the environment. To bring out a “green” change in our nation, one must go after the largest and most influential group, the American consumer.

To educate American consumers, one must first capture their attention. My project would accomplish both. To start off, my project would require the acquisition of a school bus. Being at school district with one of the largest bus fleets in the state, I would be able to obtain a bus with little opposition. Next would be the renovation of the bus. All of the seats would be removed, and carpeting and desk-like shelves would be built around the walls. Next would be the wiring. The bus would need to be wired for 10-15 computer workstations, all powered by a bio-diesel generator, which would allow the computers to be powered without wasting the energy of the bus engine. In addition to the electrical wiring, cat-5, cabling would need to be installed in order to network an Internet connection through a cell network. This mobile “green lab” would be an impressive sight in a custom-painted, air-conditioned, bio-diesel powered school bus. Such a lab would have enormous application potential.

In the school setting, the mobile lab would be beneficial to educate our youth, the future of America. To have the greatest impact, education, especially about the environment, must start as early as possible. Computers would allow the children to have fun and explore while promoting the conversation of our environment. Simple games and activities could teach children about positive habits, such as turning off all lights that are not being used and turning off water when they brush their teeth. As they get old enough o drive, the mobile lab could be used to stimulate driving experience and teach teenagers fuel efficient driving practices. As these teenagers acquire jobs and become more independent, education about their actions becomes more important. A visual showing the amount of waste they can save each year by limiting their use of plastics (such as straws and lids) whenever they visit a restaurant would have a tremendous impact to their environmental education. Not only this mobile lab educate school children about the environment and our impact on it, but it would also educate American consumers about what kind of an impact their purchases and decisions have on our planet. For example, the ordinary Styrofoam plates may be cheaper, but wouldn’t it be wiser to spend the few extra cents per plates for an alternative that is biodegradable and wouldn’t take up so much of our precious landfill space? An even more in depth example would be to take the lab to a local appliance store such as Lowe’s and to teach consumers what the energy star ratings mean and what the real environmental and sustainable cost of that new washer and dryer will be. Today, that standard top-loading washer looks to be the best purchase because it is cheapest, but ten years from now, the consumer could have easily saved the difference in energy costs by buying the washer with a new steam cleaning technology that uses less water and energy. A little sacrifice on the front end could pay huge dividends for not only the consumer, but the environment also.

This mobile “green technology” lab is a perfect and very feasible way of incorporating “green technology,” not only into our K-12 educational system, but also into our nation’s educational system as a whole. The first step to correct any problem is proper education. If people don’t realize there is a problem or don’t see any solution, then how can we expect the problem to be solved? Education is our key to a more sustainable and “green” future.