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GUEST COLUMN: It's Earth Week. Stand up for our environment.

As upcoming physicians, scientists, news anchors, lawyers and more, we are provided with endless opportunities at Central Michigan University to establish our future and plan the rest of our lives without necessarily having to consider our basic needs.

A five-star education program trains thousands of prospective teachers in our EHS Building to enlighten generations to come. These young minds will have access to the sleekest gadgets with supersonic WiFi. However, it won't matter if there is no fresh water, no clean air and no land to reside on.

How can we have such passion for what lies ahead if we have no environment to sustain us?

Call me a hippie, a tree-hugger or even crazy. I call it human. I want nothing more than to live a long, healthy life and leave the same opportunities for those after me; to experience what I have. I’ve seen the compassion in our volunteer center, the determination in our classrooms and the innovation in our laboratories. CMU students have what it takes to take a stand and make a change on our campus, in our community and in our beautiful state.

When BP spilled more than 1,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan less than one month ago, we should have been outraged. It did not make national news. When Enbridge coated the Kalamazoo River in tar sands in 2010, we should have been livid. It’s still not cleaned up. Numerous fish, plants, birds and mammals that we’ve never seen are gone. Dozens more are on their way out the door.

I urge you to utilize any and all of the resources our campus has available for you to get involved in caring for our precious surroundings. Registered student organizations such as Student Environmental Alliance, Take Back the Tap, Campus Grow and Student Government Association are excited to welcome new members ready to make a change.

This week, to celebrate Earth Day, a specialized committee brings several programs and activities to campus Monday through Friday to get students and staff excited about Mother Nature. Recycling, terracycling, volunteer opportunities and a variety of campaigns also exist year-round to help us in our efforts.

My wish is that we can extend our Earth Week celebration to a lifetime of sustainability. We can’t let the excitement go. As individuals, our daily choices matter. Sharing a Facebook status or recycling your Gatorade bottle aren’t going to stop companies from polluting our water or exploiting us for profit. We need to make permanent lifestyle changes and be loud enough to defeat corrupt systems.

I’m a consumer. I don’t have the most efficient energy solutions and sometimes I forget to unplug my lamp when I leave. But the compassion and love I have for this earth and its’ inhabitants drives me to try my best each day to preserve the resources and beauty we still have left.

This isn’t a lecture. This isn’t an advertisement. This is a call to action. Let’s turn our baby steps into conscious footprints and lead the way.

Krista Testolin

SGA, Student Environmental Alliance