Triay works to combat littering and pollution

Talya EriksenContributor

With COVID-19, comes the threat of pollution by Personal Protective Equipment, the rise of single-use plastics, and heavier human traffic in outdoor parks. Gabriela Triay has found ways to combat these issues in her everyday life.

Triay, who currently lives in Middletown, Conn. and is a graduate student studying environmental studies, recognizes how COVID-19 has impacted the environment in more ways than one.

She said she has seen a rise in littering, especially of masks and PPE. This rise, she said, can be linked to the heavier traffic flow on the hiking trails and in natural parks in the area, due to influx of people having nothing to do during the peak of COVID-19.

A way that Triay said she combats litterers and keeps trails clean is by making sure she “always has a bag with her” to clean up any litter. To reduce single-use plastics, she tells herself everyday “let me remember my water bottle” so she won’t have to use single-use plastic ones.

Despite the negative consequences Triay has seen since COVID-19 hit, there have been shown positive impacts from this global pandemic.

A good example has been the decrease in travel, which she said reduces the speed of warming in the atmosphere.

She said that travel will surely increase again, but people need to find ways to slow down the speed of the warming atmosphere by finding ways to make transportation cleaner.

She said she recently did a presentation on fuel-cell electric vehicles which reduces the use of gas and vehicles emitting CO2. She said that using fuel-cell electric vehicles will be a cleaner way of transportation.

Despite these challenges, Triay has big plans for herself in the future.

She said she “would love to one day move out of Connecticut to New Hampshire or Maine with her boyfriend and possibly live in a mobile, energy efficient home.”

She also said she would love to use the knowledge she has learned in her studies to help others on how to adapt to climate change and find new ways of living to be more sustainable.

“The world changes so quickly that I don’t even want to pinpoint a certain job because there’s so many different jobs I could do also,” said Triay.

She said some other personal ways she practices being sustainably conscious is by asking herself about how her choices, like how buying new products will impact the environment.

She said she enjoys educating her friends as well about sustainable lifestyle changes.

“Sustainability is a journey not a destination,” said Triay, quoting one of her professors Steven Axon. “We can’t all be perfect all the time, but we can at least make an effort to change little habits in our lives slowly.”

Photo credit: Gabriela Triay

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