“Climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all.”
– Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General (United Nations)
Two months ago, I packed my bags and headed on a one-way ticket to Europe. I am still having a hard time finding the right words to describe this unbelievable adventure. I am filled with inspiration and motivation to push even further with my goals and towards sustainability.
Becoming an ambassador and educator for a European wide climate project was an eye-opening experience of the change I can make as an individual but also the impact we can have when we all work together towards a common goal. Together, eight other ambassadors and I travelled to 30 cities in 20 different countries across Europe, educating on the topics of climate change and sustainability, meanwhile capturing the opinions of over 3000 youth.
As we travelled, we had a mission to maintain a carbon neutral, positive impact. We achieved this through planting 2,000+ trees to become carbon positive. Meaning, not only did we offset our carbon emissions, but planted even more to create a greater source of carbon absorption.
You can also work towards a carbon neutral lifestyle! Paying a carbon tax, planting trees, taking land transit or pedestrian transportation when possible are all actions that can be taken.
One way to combat climate change is through discussion. Creating a space to educate each other is a vital source of awareness and allows us to work on solution-based approaches.
We had many plentiful discussions on a variety of issues, including the psychological aspects of climate change which poses one big question: With all the environmental awareness around the world, why are the majority of people still not taking steps to living a sustainable lifestyle? The conclusions we came up with deals with people not feeling the urgency for climate action, not seeing the impacts at hand, and perhaps not wanting to be put out of their comfort zone by changing their lifestyle. But how can we change this mindset? The solutions we came up with were to create more readily available educational sources, more awareness through social media, and more programs for climate actions. As well, there need to be more policies implemented towards an environmental lifestyle as to push the environmental movement at a quicker rate.
Along with workshops, I would show different environmental documentaries as a basis for discussion. Some of my favorites and highly recommended ones to watch are:
Before the Flood
Documentary collaboration from The National Geographic Society and Leonardo DiCaprio on the dangers on climate change and what we can do to work towards a sustainable future.
We can see climate change happening in different ways all around the world, some places more than others – such as glacial & sea-ice melt in arctic regions and flooding in coastal regions. We need to act now in order to protect the depleting ecosystems, species at risk, and future of our planet.
The True Cost
This documentary is about the ethical and environmental impacts of the ‘fast fashion’ industry which promotes mindfulness to reduce consumption and purchase ethically made eco products.
The fast fashion industry is one of the leading causes of waste in our world. People are buying low-quality products, which can only be worn a few times and ultimately end up in a landfill. From beginning to end, the fast fashion industry is promoting non-environmental and unethical habits – and by purchasing these products, the consumers are directly supporting this.
Generally, fast fashion brands such as Zara and Forever21, take the manufacturing process to third-world countries (like Bangladesh) where they can pay extremely low wages for unfair, long labor hours in buildings that may be hazardous working environments. Have you ever wondered why your new dress from Forever21 was so cheap? You need to look at the big picture and see that someone may be suffering unethical labor somewhere down the line. Instead, perhaps start looking for a fair trade, ethically sourced, environmentally-friendly fashion brands to fill your wardrobe. There are plenty of brands like this out there. Some of my favorites include Matt & Nat, Patagonia, Everlane, MetoWe, and People Tree.
A Plastic Ocean
An impactful documentary on plastic consumption by the world’s population – showing where it is ending up and how it is affecting the people, other species, ecosystems, and environment as a whole.
It can seem impossible to be environmental in a world with high reliance on plastic – but it is not impossible. We as consumers need to step away from plastic use in order to lower the demand. Simple steps can go a long way to lowering the plastic pollution in the world. Small steps such as refusing plastic straws, bringing along reusable bags wherever you go, investing in long-term mugs and water bottles – are just a few of countless ways we can lower our ecological footprints.
Although you may not see the impact, the plastic crisis is huge. Plastic is NOT biodegradable and only break down into smaller and smaller particles, ultimately ending up in our soil and water systems. This is a problem because plastics contain very harmful chemicals that pollute the natural environment and have major impacts on ecosystems and overall biodiversity – not to mention release great deals of carbon dioxide in the process.