Right now, a massive climate catastrophe is happening in Australia. The fires, which have been burning since September, are causing extensive damage to Australian citizens and wildlife. More than 15.6 million acres of land have been burned, with 136 active fires burning as of January 6 and only half being contained. These fires have become the signifier to show that 2020 is the year we must start taking serious action to fight climate change.
The numbers speak for themselves. What is happening in Australia is a crisis, with the consequences of these fires being deadly. The region of New South Wales has been hit the hardest, with more than 1300 houses being burned to the ground and thousands of residents forced to evacuate the area. Over 20 people have died, with many more reported missing as the fires continue to rage. Air quality has been reported as being 11 times higher than the hazardous level – the equivalent of smoking 37 cigarettes a day. Nearly half a billion animals have died as a result of the fires.
When I read these numbers and saw the coverage of the fires; I felt defeated and terrified. I personally have found struggle in coping with eco-anxiety, so I can understand seeing and reading these kinds of stories isn’t easy - it shouldn’t be.
When climate change became a more popular topic in the news, my initial reaction was to keep myself uninformed. Ignorance was bliss in my case and not knowing the extent of what was happening in the world became my way of feeling safe. Real change, I learned, needs to come from understanding the issue at stake and letting that fear become a driving force for taking action. By zooming in and focusing on my personal efforts, rather than the larger, seemingly unmanageable problems, I was able to feel comfort in the fact some difference was being made. This is why in 2020, my resolution is to make sustainability my top priority, and I encourage others to do the same.
There are two areas within my life where I want to make a change. Firstly, I want to reduce all fast-fashion purchases, and instead focus on repurposing old clothes, borrowing from friends or joining clothing exchange websites. The fashion industry is one of the major polluting industries of the world, using immense amounts of water to create their clothing and contributing to air, water and soil damage. By repurposing old clothes, rather than buying new ones, I hope to reduce my clothing waste in landfills this year.
Secondly, I will be continuing my eating habits of being pescatarian, but want to transition to vegetarian three times a week. Even by slowly reducing the consumption of meat and fish by excluding it from your diet one day a week, it makes significant environmental impacts. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, livestock production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, as well as being a massive contributor to deforestation. To put it into perspective, One Green Planet wrote an article outlining the benefits to the world if just one person was to cut out meat and chicken from their diet.
The most important part about including sustainability changes into your new year’s resolution is to accept it is okay to make mistakes. Celebrate the small successes you incorporate into your routine and don’t beat yourself up about any mistakes. The quote I will be living by in 2020 is from Jane Goodall, stating “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
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Author Instagram: @meg_farrell3