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Happy Earth Day

From the age of 15 to 19, I went to a school in the mountains that promoted sustainability and a closeness to nature. Every April, we would celebrate Earth Day by turning off the hot water and electricity at the school and spend the day celebrating outside, playing sports, games, and barbeque under the starry night sky. Saving the earth was fun!

Very recently, saving the earth has been the topic of public debate on a major scale again, mostly and thankfully due to the #FridaysForFuture activists. But the debate does not sound nearly as much fun as Earth Day was at my school. For me, above anything else, the debate surrounding the demonstrations has been deeply inspiring. I was very much reminded about my own contributions to climate change and my lack of care in the past. Within the scope of one extremely competent interview, I was convinced that I, as an individual, had to start doing more again, and the topic has not left me ever since.

All of a sudden, I dived into the Instagram bubble of #consciousconsumers, #vegans, #recyclers, #ethicalbrands, #sustainability and so on. And wow, that world is intensely inspiring yet extremely terrifying because there are so many things one should do and pay attention to.

However, every time I put my phone down, there was a different atmosphere surrounding me. A world where people said 'the plane flies no matter if I sit in it or not' instead of 'you vote with your wallet'. Or 'I just flew to Spain for 20€' instead of 'I try to take the bike instead of the car whenever I can'. It was a little bit of a clash that I did not know how to bring together in my head.

And I believe that the underlying issue here is that of consumption and comfort. We as a society have grown accustomed to always wanting the newest items, the trendiest clothes, the latest electronic devices. We have grown accustomed to fast fashion: buying clothes for a season, not a lifetime; and getting a new phone for the better features, not because our old one is broken. And I believe a big part of living more sustainably (and celebrating our earth) is by taking a few (or many) steps back from that mindset.

There are a growing amount of voices on social media and in the real world that have tried to bring awareness to this. I am so inspired by all these amazing initiatives out there and all these seemingly small life-hacks:

  • bring your own grocery bag

  • cycle to work

  • pack your own lunch

  • limit and recycle your waste

  • buy second hand

  • etc.

Supposedly small steps that can make such a difference if the majority of people would jump on the bandwagon of sustainability. Because so far, it is not enough. So far, not enough people care!

I have to question our society (myself included). At what point did we turn into a 'throwaway-society' instead of a recycling society. Why is it that we were taught that new is always better? Why do we feel that our lifestyle and/or comfort is threatened if we drive a different, maybe fuel-saving car, if we fly less frequent and if we eat local and seasonal products? And how come that now, when we clearly know that our behavior and consumerism is harming the planet immensely, we are so hesitant to change even minor steps to contribute to saving our planet? We have so much more to lose if we don't act.

There is only so much one can do to convince others, but one can always lead by example. I, for myself, am trying to implement a lot of these changes into my lifestyle. To question how my consumption is impacting the planet and the climate. To change some of my behaviors drastically, and others gradually, with the aim to positively impact how humankind treats this planet. And I hope that somehow, my actions inspire others to do the same. To open up the conversation further.

Happy Earth Day.



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