No one is too small to make a difference

Anna Schoenwald

Already in 1970, when Earth Day was celebrated for the first time on April 22nd it was known that the environment was suffering because of human actions. And while we can report many positive achievements regarding environmental protection and climate policies in the last 50 years, Mother Earth is asking us now more than ever to take appropriate climate and environmental actions to protect her.

It has to be emphasized, that the greatest urgency for action needs to be directed towards the following three actors: 1. Big corporations, that continue to extract natural resources from the ground, 2. The richest 10% of the population, that causes over 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 3. The world‘s governments, that are failing us year after year, climate conference after climate conference with their empty promises. Most of us don’t have the immediate power to change politics, tax systems, environmental policies of governments and corporations, but we need to try our best to hold them accountable and influence them with our votes.

We can still use this Earth Day as a reference point in the year to reflect on our own behavior and action. As Greta Thunberg said, “No one is too small to make a difference”. In this article on Helping the Planet from Home we already gathered several aspects of how to integrate a sustainable lifestyle in everyday personal life. Today we want to introduce the “6R” that can serve as a base for taking decisions in many situations, to reduce our personal environmental footprint and lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Rethink literally means to think again and can help to interrupt certain habits to take a more conscious and environmentally friendly decision. Try to rethink when ordering lunch and maybe choose the vegan meal instead of the meat plate to reduce your personal emissions.
  2. Refuse things that are not essential to you and harmful to the planet. You could start with refusing a straw when ordering your smoothie or bringing your own bag to the market to refuse the single use plastic bags.
  3. Reduce your impact and try to decrease the use of electricity, gas and water in your house by taking shorter showers and by switching off the lights and devices when not needed.
  4. Reuse what you already have. The most sustainable thing is the one you already own and probably not the stylish “eco” product you see online. Reuse your glass jars or plastic containers to store dried goods or to bring your lunch to work or school. You can also repurpose things and give them a new life, like using the detergent container as a plant pot.
  5. Repair or let someone repair your possessions instead of replacing them immediately. This counts for your cellphone just as much as for your clothes.
  1. Recycling is the last attempt to reduce waste and recover some of the resources, but should be considered as the last step, if all the others are not feasible anymore and the waste cannot be avoided. If you have the possibility, separate your waste (See article on the challenge of reducing garbage) so that some of the resources can be recovered and waste in landfills can be reduced. (This of course requires proper waste management organized by communities and governments).

These are all actions we can integrate in our everyday life, but if you want to learn more about Earth Day and participate in or create a local event, you can do so on the official Earth Day website to unite yourself with other people from your community in the fight for environmental and climate justice. Make every day Earth Day and join in on environmental action!