Takami Mekaeb Akitaya

DEK: A High School Student Contemplates the First Steps Toward Environmental Responsibility

By: Takami Mekaeb Akitaya

One thing I never do is litter. No matter how small or big the rubbish I have, I’ve never thrown it on the ground. I chew gum practically everywhere I go and the little tin-foil packaging for the gum stick is something I don’t just dispose improperly. If I’m unable to find a trash bin near me at the time, I usually insert the packaging inside my pocket. Sometimes I forget to get rid of it, but by the end of the day when I return home, I empty my pockets for my personal belongings and when I find that little rubbish, I throw it away in the trash.

I know it’s such a small action in comparison to a very huge problem, but I believe it can be a start for many people. I mean there’s about 7.5 billion people in this world; what if everyone were to chew a pack of gum a day and irresponsibly get rid of the packages? That’s seven billion more pieces littering our home to worry about.

Regarding environmental issues, I have recently found a passion in putting in the necessary extra work to maintain our home.

“We are all at fault in the issue of destroying our environment, our home.” This direct quotation from Mr. Henk Rogers was something I took to heart during the 2022 EcoSprint convening government, business, and civil society leaders in my home country of Palau this past April, which was intended to help Palau transition to 100% renewable energy.

To me, it was eye opening to actually hear that an environmental crisis is a very real issue, and I too am a part of it. Upon further reflection, this is what I’ve found that I myself have been doing to lessen my environmental impact.

I’m making more of a conscious effort. I’ve tried my very best to do my part in cleaning and maintaining my environment. Whenever I am out and I notice some sort of trash just lying around on the ground, I remind myself to pick it up and throw it away. I get that it’s not my trash but, like Mr. Rogers said, we really all play a part in this situation. Whatever little thing I can do to mitigate or at least lessen the negative impacts we have on our home, I’ll try to do it.

I also plan to help Blue Planet Alliance and our global goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 by starting small and then working my way to bigger things I can do. I believe I have to work on myself first before I reach out to the public. There’s a Palauan saying that goes, “Se el omtuobed er a blim e kobult e mesa blim a uchei er a omorael,” which literally translates to “Before you leave your house, turn around and see it before you leave.” To my understanding, this can imply that you need to work on yourself first before you begin to work on other people. This is why I like to put in subconscious and conscious efforts in order to do my part in this issue we have in our homes.

When I grow older and pursue further education, this is when I plan to do bigger things. To be honest, I think I still lack the needed experience and knowledge to do “big things,” like projects, taking charge of a program, or planning activities. I’m still in high school! However, I am a student of the game. I’ll do my best to observe and learn as much as I can so I can try to do bigger things. I hope that one day, when I’m older, I can take a part in leading and setting up some sort of program to raise awareness, or an actual activity like a beach cleanup. On the idea of a beach cleanup, let me add that we actually had a beach cleanup this past weekend on the 12th. This was one of my first activities as a global ambassador for the Blue Planet Alliance.

As a takeaway and parting note, I’d like to repeat that, in order to solve issues — in our case our environments — we must first start with working on ourselves. Never forget to first check yourself before going out to preach something. Anything’s possible if you believe it’s possible. You just have to put in the hard work required to make it happen. With this in mind, 2045 will be here in no time — and so will 100% renewable energy.

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