What’s green about this month? Of course, it’s Earth Month (at time of writing)! April 22, that’s Earth Day – a special day of the year that millions if not billions participate in to practice conserving resources. Ever thought to yourself why you are more conservative or conscious on that single day or month as opposed to every other day throughout the year? Think about it. It’s all about the mentality we set ourselves in.
Fact Check: According to NYU, in 1970, Earth Day was initiated to encourage education and actions towards addressing global environmental degradation. That means this year is the 50th year that Earth Day has become official!
Moment of Reflection:
What flicks on in our head to flick off the switch at home? Is it because everyone else is doing it so you have to do it? If that’s how you currently think, you can find other excuses to be more environmentally conscious too. To bring this into perspective, I’m a big animal person, are you? Think about those gory photos of baby turtles caught in those 6-can plastic rings – yeah those things that keep together a 6-pack of drinks. If you can’t imagine that, think about if it were your pet – dog, cat or fish – started choking on a plastic bottle or a plastic bag. How would you feel? Devastated.
Most of the time, to bring everything into perspective, we have to think about how it would directly impact us. Then, and only then will we realize what is truly going on and look towards committing actions for the better. Now, your pet is safe with you at home, but think about how much you can help out even as an individual if you would be able to commit to being even slightly more sustainable every single day of the year instead of saving an hour or two of energy every year. There doesn’t need to be a massive change in order for individual action; the individual action can create the massive change.
One of the co-founders of PickWaste, Dillon Mendes, shared his story on how he wanted to create a huge impact on the environment and how we treat it through a Tedx Talk. If you’re asking, nope, he’s not a politician, nor a major public figure, but he is a student with a dream and a goal. Alongside Sam Demma, they both committed to weekly ‘Meet Up and Clean Up’ sessions. Their actions were not large, but they were able to set an attainable goal and keep it consistent in their lives. After completing these small consistent actions, they knew that they could create a large impact one step at a time, so they set additional goals. Goals that were much larger and impactful.
After nearly 3 years of founding PickWaste, they have managed to collect 1200 bags of litter through 125 cleanups in 4 cities. Would you say that their small goal of weekly clean-ups went to waste? I don’t think so, because in the process they were able to impact the lives of over 8000 students. They didn’t think that only grabbing the attention of passerbyers or the media was enough. Their mission was to dig deeper into the root cause of the issue. They noticed that people their age were often known to litter or be more careless with the environment, so they took it upon themselves remove the lack of environmental education; a new goal that they set was to educate the youth and young adults about this matter on a consistent basis.
No matter what age you are, do you want to be known as someone who is as careless as to toss a plastic water bottle, cigarette butt, or coffee cup on the ground without thinking twice? Think about the consequences.
No. Instead, be the one who does the opposite. Maybe not pick up every plastic bottle or coffee cup you see laying around but at least take this 50th year of Earth Day as an opportunity to make a pivot. Don’t just use a singular day to live more sustainably. As Dillon mentions in his Tedx Talk, our mentality is the problem. We think that to save the environment, we need to create massive changes like pull all the trash out of the ocean or stop using plastic altogether, but the solution is much more simple than that.
Dillon’s Tedx Talk:
The answer is to simply take baby steps, but take those steps consistently. Without taking that first step, we can’t take any steps, and without taking steps after that, we can’t move forward. Pick any one item in your life, it could be single-use plastic straws. Instead of reaching for a plastic straw at your local restaurant or at home, pull out a reusable straw. This is an easy enough step where you can slip it in your bag, jacket or pocket for convenience sake. Next, you could move towards removing single-use plastic bags. Before you know it, you will be living a lot more sustainably than you every thought you could. The key is to reorganize your thoughts, change your mentality, and ensure that you commit these actions consistently.
Snippet: From a podcast that I heard, the co-host said, “there is no quick way of being slow” and this was geared towards human patience. What I want you to focus on is that although you may not see immediate impact from your actions on living sustainably, collectively through a long-term basis of those small consistent actions you will see just how powerful they can be. Keep track of it, you might surprise yourself.
In Dillon’s talk, he also mentions, “the vitality of humanity is the reflection of the condition of the environment.” This focuses on our quality of life. What we put out there in our daily lives whether it be our polluting or sustainable habits, they will all come back to us later on. Let’s change the angle: do you remember ‘what you eat is what you are,’ well think about the pollution in the air, in the oceans, and on our land. All of that then goes back into our Earth and water to be re-ingested by us. Think twice, so you don’t have to regret later.
Now is the time to flick that switch on in our heads and seize the opportunity to create a green footprint through living a more sustainable life. In order to create the change that we desire, we need to change the mentality in which we approach the situation. “I can create a change”, “I will live more sustainably”, and “I am able to develop small consistent actions for massive change.” Don’t worry. You don’t need to flick this switch off.