Not In My Backyard?!

Before taking this class, I had never really taken an interest in my environment and the land around me. But it’s funny, because every time people at school ask me where I’m from, the first thing I mention LI is how great it is to live on the water. The water is right in my backyard and I am fully guilty of taking advantage of it’s value. As a result of this class I can safely say that I value the purity of the water I drink and the water I swim in and will become more involved in promoting cleaner, more sustainable efforts.


This is a water view from a local dock in my hometown, Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Since the beginning of this course, my thoughts about the land and my level awareness on the land have completely changed. I am proud to say that now I am much more aware about the land around me and have even felt I’ve made my own connection with the land. I’ve never really thought about the land or considered the way it impacts my life prior to this course because it’s something I feel I’ve taken advantage of. Unfortunately, I am guilty of providing snide comments towards Dickinson’s sustainability efforts and ignored recycling initiatives. Even a place such as the SNAR that has the proper bin disposal labeled right in front of you, I’ve caught myself ignoring it.

It’s ironic that I’ve taken advantage of something that is so prevalent in my life and everywhere around me, the water is literally in my backyard! I am embarrassed to admit that I have officially been found guilty of contributing towards environmental pollution in my own backyard. And to think, I became so interested in NIMBYISM efforts when we discussed causes and effects of pollution on communities and society and I was acting against them, yikes!

When Julie from ALLARM came to speak to our class, my thoughts about the land truly changed. As a Long Island Native, I’ve been surrounded by water my entire life. When I first came to Dickinson College I can honestly say I felt land locked and was nostalgic about my experiences living on the water. Clearly I was not educated on Pennsylvania, being that I recently learned PA is the most water rich state in the U.S. I was really taken back by Julie’s discussion on alkalinity and Ph levels in PA streams and how the toxins that dissolve in these streams from illegal dumping, pollution and acid rain affect the fish living in these streams, which then in turn affect us when we eat.

Before listening to Julie, I had never heard of ALLARM but I am thankful that I got the opportunity to listen to what the organization was about and the work they do to better the environment. I now care more about recycling and have become more attentive to sustainability efforts. It’s ironic that I am attending school in the most water rich state in the United States, yet because of my specific location at Dickinson, I received that land locked feeling my freshman year. I’ve been around water my entire life and have never once thought on how clean it is, what do I do in my everyday life to affect it and why is it so special. I’ve never been particularly interested in learning about the environment, but after hearing Julie speak, I have the urge to become involved in organizations such as ALLARM, being that I now realize I do have a significant interest in our local water and water systems around us. Growing up on the water and an avid boater and water sports lover, I now see that I need to become more aware about my surroundings and take the initiative to lessen pollution. I can no longer afford to ignore my environment because it is a part of my lifestyle. It is a part of me and the way I interact with other people and carry on my every day life. For those who do not live in Cold Spring Harbor, there have always been jokes on how “filthy” the Long Island Sound is. I’ve always turned the other way and defended my homeland, blinded by the effects of pollution simply from gorgeous orange sunsets. However, after thinking about it, I can recall several times seeing empty beer cans and other trash floating in the water. I even caught a couch cushion while fishing with my brothers once which was quite comical. But joking aside, after the things we’ve considered in this course I now see how pollution in the air and on our land feeds into our local water which feeds into organisms inhabiting those waterways which then ends up on our dinner plates.

After our class discussion on ALLARM I researched ways I could get involved at home to help protect the Long Island Sound (LIS).  Below is a step by step plan on how to prevent pollution in the LIS. After searching on the LIS study site I found ways I could become involved in protecting my the Long Island Sound, starting with proper recycling in my home and proper pet waste disposal.

I came across this brief history on the sound when searching the website which really caught my attention: “Long Island Sound is an estuary, a place where saltwater from the ocean mixes with fresh water from rivers draining from the land. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. They serve as feeding, breeding, and nursery areas for many species that spend most of their adult lives in the ocean. Our estuary is home to more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds live at least part of the year” (Long Island Sound Study). The Long Island Sound is truly a unique and special place being that it is the home to so many different types of species and is made up of both fresh and salt water. I had no idea that my actions in my own kitchen affected all of these species, all the homes of the fish and organisms underneath the water and even people that live near and use the sound as frequently as I do. It may sound silly, but just like my mom has us take our shoes off before we walk into the house to help keep it clean, I’m sure schools of fish are not pleased with floating Natty Light cans or plastic sandwich bags. It is trash in their home. We seem to take care of our homes so well but why do we ignore those around us? You wouldn’t throw trash as a guest in someones home, so why would you throw it in the Long Island Sound?

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