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A Reflection on Earth Week & Why it Should Matter to You

I remember being an eight-year-old kid in elementary school and going outside to plant trees in honor of Earth Day. I remember hikes on beautiful mountain ranges and casual walks through the neighborhood with my family; a reality I hope my own children can one day experience during their lifetimes. As a child, I always appreciated the natural world around me, but never knew the significance of it until years later. 

As the 50th annual Earth Week comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the current state of our planet and what role we play in affecting the natural world around us. The very first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and continues to be celebrated all around the world. In my eyes, Earth Day is everyday, but this week is a good reminder of the efforts we need to be making in order to help our planet thrive. Many are aware of the climate crisis but don’t know how to take action or where to start. As I write this, I’m not claiming to be an expert on environmentalism (although I hope to be one day) or that I do everything I can to be helping the environment. There is always room for improvement and I know I could be doing more.

Correct me if I am wrong, but when it comes to taking care of the planet, a lot of people don’t know where to start, don’t feel educated on the subject or don’t believe they can have an impact as a single person. I know I have said this before, but believing that one person can’t make a change is far from the truth. All it takes is one person to start a movement. Take 17-year-old environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, for example. Originally from Sweden, Greta was selected as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019 for initiating the largest climate demonstration in human history. She represents the power of the youth; the power we have to make a necessary and urgent change for the future of our planet. Greta is not the first and will not be the last individual to raise awareness to the climate crisis, but it is our duty to listen and take action instead of sitting idly by waiting for the change to happen by itself. Among other reasons, she is such an inspiration to me because she knew she couldn’t turn a blind eye on the crisis and had to do something. I could go on, but I wanted to mention a few ways in which you can start to take action and make changes to ensure we have a future to look forward to. 

1. Get informed

Before taking any kind of action, make sure to get informed because the more you know, the better. In my opinion, the more I learn, the more I want to take action. Being knowledgeable of the cause allows you to have those important conversations with the right people. With the internet and expansive media outlets, there is no excuse not to know what is going on. Your words will mean so much more if you are confident in what you know and the message you are trying to spread. 

2. Communicate  

If you believe in a cause and want others to as well, then speak up! Speaking up is one of the most powerful things you can do to reverse this climate crisis. Whether you are talking to friends, family or your local representatives, make your cause known and state why it matters to you. Knowing your why is arguably one of the drivers of success for anything. If you don’t believe in your own fight, others won’t either. Find your purpose and show people why it matters. 

3. What Thunberg refers to as “Shop Stop”

After watching Greta Thunberg’s interview on Ellen, she mentioned one way she is doing her part for the planet is what she refers to as “stop shop.” She explained this meant she does not buy anything new unless she absolutely needs to. Alternatives to supporting big businesses and mass consumerism include shopping at local businesses, thrifting or only taking hand-me-downs. 

4. Reduce your carbon footprint 

Although it may sound redundant suggesting you walk or use public transportation instead of driving, take shorter showers or switch to clean energy, I say it because it is true and it works. The list could go on, but being conscious of your carbon footprint is a significant contributor to helping the state of the environment. Nobody is perfect all of the time, but what matters is that you are aware and trying. 

5. Sustainable living / Go Zero Waste

Making a complete lifestyle change can be quite off-putting for a lot of people because they don’t want to give up something they love or don’t like the idea of change. But if you don’t make that change, who will? What does that mean for generations to come? Imagine the impact you can have if you give up meat just a few times a week? Or reduce your use of single-use plastics? Like I said, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference; they add up. 

If you want to learn more about sustainable living, check out my articles on “Sustainable Fashion: 5 Ways You Can Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable,” “3 Sustainable Swaps and Doing Your Part For the Environment,” and “How to Make Your Skin/Beauty Routine More Sustainable.” You can also get involved with Thurnberg’s cause here.