This August, we held a series of global events to mark International Youth Day. Co-designed by the UK’s National Youth Engagement Core Committee, who highlighted the climate crisis as one of the major issues facing our generation globally, the events harnessed the collective energy, innovation and skills of over 200 young people committed to tackling environmental issues.
Six inspiring climate activists from around the world were invited to speak in our first global solidarity call, and our amazing live scribe, Umisha Bhatia, captured it perfectly:
So many of you came together in solidarity to pledge to take action:
Throughout the series of events we were inspired by your energy, passion and ideas. It's clear that, given what you had to say, the environment is in safe hands when it comes to young people:
“I learned more strategic ways on how to campaign for climate change using social media platforms.”
“As a young person, it is my duty to ensure I take action in providing a climate that is favourable for me and the generations to come.”
“It was an opportunity to network with other like-minded young people and discover how they are taking action in their local communities.”
How you can join in
The scale of the challenges facing our planet can seem daunting, and we know a lot of the small changes we can make daily ourselves to help, such as:
- Cycle or walk instead of using the car
- Turn off electric appliances when they’re not being used
- Reduce consumption, reuse items, recycle (if you must discard)
But collectively there is so much more we can achieve when we organise, campaign, collaborate, raise our voices and challenge the structural causes of environmental degradation.
Here are six actions you could take to help reduce our impact on planet and encourage others to join in the fight against climate change:
1. Hold your local representatives to account
Do you have any upcoming elections in your local area? Make sure you take the time to research how invested in climate actions your local candidates are. If you get the opportunity to attend public hustings or debates, quiz your local or regional representatives on what they’re doing to combat climate change.
2. Work to improve your local area
With travel restrictions, you’ve probably been spending a lot of time in your home square mile. Why not work to ensure that your local area is clean and safe? You could organise a litter pick, campaign for better refuse collection or raise awareness of the need to reduce consumption.
3. Beware of companies 'greenwashing'
Be aware of and highlight ‘greenwashing’ when you see it. This is when companies present some aspect of their products or practices as environmentally friendly to distract attention from negative impacts they are having on the planet. Companies know that people are more environmentally conscious than ever and are adapting to consumer awareness of sustainability with clever marketing practices. Don’t accept claims a company is ‘green’ at face value – it's worth digging a little deeper and retaining a bit of scepticism. Avoid companies that do not practice what they preach about ‘saving the planet’ and instead support those that are putting real investment and effort into reducing their environmental impact.
4. Avoid fast fashion
Educate yourself and others and say no to ‘fast fashion’ – cheap clothing designed to encourage you to buy more than you need. Not only does fast fashion encourage over-consumption and generate excessive waste, often ‘cheap’ clothing comes at the cost of worker exploitation. Instead, why not swap clothes with friends, shop in second-hand and charity shops, and have a go at customising clothes you already have in your wardrobe.
5. Plant some trees
Organise tree planting in your local community. Planting trees across the world is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere to tackle the climate crisis. Research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that remain in the atmosphere today, so get planting!
6. Demand that governments take action
Demand governments take meaningful action to prevent catastrophic climate change: promote renewable energy, deliver more sustainable public transportation, enable widespread use of bicycles and other non-polluting transportation methods, and crack down on companies that produce excessive waste and pollution.
As a collective, we have more power than we realise: to campaign, act, and to demand measures from our governments to raise global awareness and take action on the global climate crisis.
We’d love to hear what actions you think we’ve missed, or what you’re doing yourself. Share them with us and comment below.