I was among one of the thousands of students who skipped school a few Fridays ago to attend the Youth Climate Strike. While I learned a lot from the inspiring speakers and micropolitical organizations, ironically I took away the most from what failed to happen.
First, I was disappointed at the lack of participation from students in my own school. Out of the 1600 students at my school, there were no more than ten who striked. Sure, strict parents were a barrier to attending, but most students I know did not even want to consider striking. While this instance of apathy might have been small and insignificant in the long run, I increasingly realize that the apathetic nature of my generation is a dangerous characteristic. Who else will clean up the mess that older generations have left us, before it is too late?
Second, after I had gotten home, the hypocrisies became jarringly obvious. Yes, I had skipped school because I wanted to make a statement about the lack of government action regarding climate change. Yet, I still drive myself to and from school everyday. I still fly several times a year, use plastic products, and eat meat. Thus, unless I changed my habits, I am still complicit in climate change. Recognizing climate change is real–that is not too difficult. But taking action is an entirely different story.
However, I am beginning to transition to sustainable habits, and I urge you to do the same. One step at a time, our small actions can have a butterfly effect and make a substantive impact on the environment.
- Decrease meat consumption, especially limiting/eliminating beef products from diet
- Avoiding flying is difficult. Instead, “offset” flights by planting trees or doing other sustainable activities every time you fly on a plane
- Transition to electric stoves and cars, if possible
- Limit gasoline car usage: bike, walk, or carpool
- Use reusable water bottles and bags
- Sustainable shopping: thrift / purchase used clothing, or purchase from sustainable brands
- Vote for policymakers who have historically voted for Green policies and against deregulation of the environment
While there are obviously systemic structures that is difficult for youth to change, the above steps are mostly accessible, achievable, and still a great first step in improving our relationship toward the environment. Moving on forward, there is no room for lack of action.