The youngest member of the abitbetter.eu team tries to present today’s burning questions from a Gen Z perspective. This article is about one of the most pressing challenges: environmental protection. She tells why she feels like a victim, what she herself does for the Earth and what her peers seem to be doing. This is how a 21-century girl sees environmentalism. Written by Denissza Czire.
Nowadays, we, teenagers too can hear a lot about environmental protection. The topic is slowly permeating the media, and if nothing else, it will inform “young adults” like me. There’s basically no one among us who hasn’t heard of pollution, recycling and climate change. But are we doing something for the environment, knowing that we can become the victims of multiple generations if we don’t do anything?
What they teach
Fortunately, most schools pay great attention to environmental protection. It’s part of the early science curriculum; along with my peers, I learned the meaning of sustainability and the ecological footprint when I was in elementary school. We had many lectures about climate change, and we’ve been told how to become conscious consumers. We have teachers who lead by example with their lifestyle.
Simply put, if you’re a student, there’s no going around this issue. This is very good news, it’s good to be able to say something positive about education from time to time. Environmental protection, healthy eating and the dangers of drug use are top issues in schools. Furthermore, environmentalism is a common theme of applications aimed at the youth.
What we see
Social media plays an important role in our lives. Here we can learn about many things and see examples. Recently, foreign YouTuber MrBeast reached 20 million subscribers, creating the #TeamTrees challenge. The challenge is to “plant” 20 million trees, and anyone can help, as a tree only costs a single dollar. Currently we’re at 21 million trees. The first celebrity to offer a larger amount of money to the initiative was Allan Walker, who gave over $ 10,000, adding, “I want to plant one of the trees myself!” Currently, Tobias Lütke, CEO of Shopify, is the top donor. He planted a million plus one trees. The goal was met, but of course the #TeamTrees website still operates. The organizers are still accepting donations and they’ve already started planting the trees, and we can follow their work around the globe through videos.
Another of recent celebrities is Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl. “She’s one of the leaders of our time,” said Leonardo DiCaprio about her. She became famous for her speeches and for having a better understanding of the situation, despite her age, than adults. Her outspoken character and her moving, sometimes even seemingly theatrical behavior made her quite controversial. Regardless, Greta is a very captivating activist and no matter who she needs to face, she’s ready to say, “We must draw the line NOW. ” She already has several of her books published, most of them also available in Hungarian.
Of course, there are people in Hungary who use their reputation for the right cause. Three Hungarian meme site owners famous in Instagram decided that they do not only want to make people laugh, so they organized a litter picking event that anyone could join on Facebook. They encourage their followers to take matters into their own hands and organize friendly, welcoming litter picking events all over the country.
What we know and do
Sometimes the issue just pops us among us, sometimes we’re moved by a lecture and talk about it a lot afterwards. That’s how I exactly know how people of my age relate to this issue.
Of course, talk is cheap.
Everyone can tell you how to recycle your trash and how many years it takes for a nylon bag to degrade. But as always, few turn words into action. These few don’t ask for plastic bags in the morning at the greengrocer, do not drink bottled water and make conscious purchases. They know that the easiest way to contribute to the “clean planet project” is to reduce waste. Proponents of the environmentally conscious lifestyle believe that this isn’t a nuisance at all, and it’s cheaper too. They try to make people aware of the fact that every little bit helps. You don’t have to start ordering your vegan cold cuts wrapped in beeswax canvas right away, having one less plastic bottle end up in communal bins every day is already good.
Of course, some of us are more determined. For example, there are those who realize that a meat-free diet is more sustainable so they’ve given up eating meat. But it’s not only meat: many of us have given up on new, fashionable clothes too, so we buy second hand. I can say that I’m proud of the people around me. Getting certain topics through to teenagers is often hard, so it’s important that we encourage each other and set an example. But not only to each other, but to older and younger people too. I find that our parents’ generation is less open to an environmentally conscious lifestyle than ours, so we’re trying to involve them as well.
When was the last time you used your sled?
Perhaps it’s us who must take environmentalism the most seriously. Many of us have realized that what we’re doing now cannot go on forever. Either we achieve radical changes now or it will be too late. If not for us, then for our children. We’re the victims of environmental pollution, and not many people apart from us are ready to do something about it, as every newspaper and every politician seems to have topics at hand that are just juicier than planting trees. There aren’t many forest fires in Hungary yet, but there are visible signs of climate change. It’s important that people understand that this is a real thing, and even though they’ve not experienced it in their everyday life, it still exists and we need to act now.
Because we are the ones who can still do something about it.
Owner of featured image: Denissza Czire
Translation by Ádám Hittaller