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Something New Under the Sun - What a Chinese high school student does for the environment

By Ginna Zhu 

Behold! Unknown objects on the balcony of the girl’s dorm! Are these some sort of Bauhaus artworks? Or some aliens queuing up for the sunshine? Not exactly. These are solar cells yearning for the warm sunlight, and they have probably become a part of our life. 

Since lamps are required in our dormitory to ensure that enough light is supplied when we are doing our homework, we consider it a good idea to choose solar-cell-powered ones. Why use the electricity produced by coal combustion if clean energy resources are available just around us?

Every morning, we put these sweet little cells onto the balcony. As the colorful array of solar cells is surrounded by the mild sunshine, we feel as if it is ourselves who have absorbed the energy.

Products powered by high technology have helped us carry out an environmental-friendly lifestyle. However, in most cases, the best ideas are the simple ones.

Although the car industry in China has witnessed a boom in the past decades, there seems to be a tide of returning to the basics among the young generation—most of us are fonder of bicycles than cars. 

Every Sunday, my father and I ride to the sports center several blocks away to play Ping-Pong. The journey itself offers a precious opportunity for strengthening our leg muscles. And more importantly, we won’t feel guilty about the carbon emission from the journey.

Actually, fully aware of the severe environmental problems nowadays, and the significance of a green lifestyle, my peers and I have made every effort to alleviate the negative influence of human activities on the nature. 

For instance, a recycling box is placed in the corner of the classroom in order to collect the used bottles. Every two or three weeks, the bottles are transported to the reclamation depot, where they will be disposed and given a new life. 

Perhaps it should be noted here that unlike the situation in the European countries, in China, bottles are simply sold to the customers with the drink inside, rather than be lent to them. I was once in Munich, Germany, where a plastic bottle accounts for 0.25 Euro in the total price of the beverage. In order to get the 0.25 Euro back, one must return the bottle to the supermarket. However, in China, the recycling of bottles depends on nothing but self-discipline. And what your get back from the recycling of a bottle is no more than 0.1 Yuan, which is about 0.02 USD or 0.01 Euro. So the recycling of a bottle yields little profit. 

Nevertheless, we consider it an obligation to make use of the non-renewable materials. What’s more, since the bottles used by everyone in the class are collected together, there is a considerable amount of return. These funds are later used for the class activities.

Since a low-carbon and environment-friendly society could be constructed only when everyone knows what to do, we start to spread the related knowledge to the other people. Just two weeks ago, one of my classmates and I went to a primary school in the suburbs. There we gave the children a lesson about global warming and what we could do to ease the situation. Most students in that school came from disadvantaged families and have little access to environmental knowledge. We hope that our efforts could make a difference to their ideology and awareness of environmental problems.

The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference has just been held. Although we are not able to participate in the drawing up of the acts, we show support for environmental protection in our own way. To carry out an environment-friendly lifestyle is more than a slogan. As long as we pay attention to every part of life, we could find out plenty of things to do, so as to the world better. Care more for the environment, and there will always be something new under the sun, apart from the solar cells!