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Personal or Narrative Essay: My Environmental Practices


Now its your turn to write a personal or narrative essay.

For this kind of personal writing, you are using the first person perspective. Keep your writing informal. You can make connections to your readings, referring to specific relevant details from the Ten Things article, or anything else you have read on how to reduce your negative impact on the environment. In your composition, feel free to share how you feel now about your own environmental practices, any insights you have gained, and ideas you have for the future.

Write a five paragraph personal essay or narrative about the connection between your lifestyle choices and how they impact the broader environment. There are three steps to this assignment:

Step A:

In the first hour after waking up in the morning, make note of everything you use, and the country where it was made. Makes notes also on your connection to these places, and the people in these places, through the things you use.

Step B:

Make notes on what your best environmental practice might look like, related to the use of these items. In your opinion, is what you are doing right now enough? How might you do more? What is stopping you? For ideas on what else you could be doing to improve your own environmental practices, refer to your answers from Lesson A: Activity 1: Ten Things You Can Do.

Step C:

Choose to write either a personal essay, or a narrative. Note that personal essays almost always involve some form of narrative, while narrative essays, often written in first person, tell a story from beginning to end; though this does not mean they merely entertainthey explain something to the reader as well.

Recall the following characteristics of the narrative and personal essay:

Narrative Essay:

A narrative essay is a story that describes a sequence of events, in this case, nonfiction. Remember the following elements of narrative essays:

makes a point, introduced in the first paragraph

has a beginning, middle, and end

events are chosen to support the essays point

includes the devices of story: plot, character, setting, climax,
and ending

has a consistent point of view (the authors i.e. yours!)

includes feelings about events

starts as close to the inciting incident (the event that begins the story) as possible

includes only what is necessary to advance the action

Personal Essay:

The personal essay constitutes a struggle for emotional and intellectual honesty. In writing a personal essay, you show a vulnerability and the courage to admit self-contradictions in the search for truth. Remember the following elements of the personal essay:

almost always written in first person

makes a point, introduced in the first paragraph, expressed in a thesis statement

almost always some autobiographical content or component

constructed of personal opinions, hopes, beliefs, doubts, confusions

intimate, personal toneadmit the reader into your inner thoughts, musingsas if your reader is eavesdropping on a mind in solitude

voice is conversational in style and tone, as though you are addressing a small audience

approach is contemplative, but can be humourous, not of very strong emotions, such as rage or bitterness

returns to the point in the concluding paragraph with a new perspective

Personal/Narrative Essay Checklist:

1. Have you chosen a topic you can be sincere about? Manufactured sincerity doesnt fly in a personal essay or first person narrative.

2. Have you included some autobiographical component?

3. Are you seeking out a truth in your essay?

4. Do you contemplate more than one answer? This is useful in a personal essay.

5. Did you write in the first person, with a conversational tone?

6. Is your essay of sufficient length to pursue your question? For the purposes of this assignment, you need to include:

an introductory paragraph

at least three supporting paragraphs

one concluding paragraph


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