In the recent months I have had a sort of environmental awakening. It all started with my decluttering process (you can read all about it here) during which I watched way too many declutter-, KonMari- and organization videos. My YouTube lifestyle video watchlist soon continued to exploring from KonMari to minimalism, and then on to Zero Waste lifestyle videos, and documentaries on waste cycles, fast fashion and so forth.
YouTube isn’t the only source to blame for my sudden climate anxiety. Environmental issues have lately been one of the hottest conversation topics with me and my friends. And not just us. 16-year old Swede Greta Thunberg just inspired students worldwide to attend a climate strike, and just this Saturday people gathered in Helsinki to march for the climate. People are clearly calling policy-makers into action, and only recently the EU Parliament approved a law banning single-use plastics. In Finland, we have the parliamentary elections this week, and environmentalism is one of the main issues that decide our votes.
However, not all are on board with making all the environmental decisions. For example, though most political parties seem to be on board making changes, not all are fully committed into taking action. One of the main comments one can hear is “What can we do? Finland only has 5 million inhabitants, we are only a small country.”
Well, one of the reasons we need to take action now, is the fact that Finland has already by April 5th used it’s natural resources for the year. While the average World Overshoot Day usually lands in August, Finland along with other Nordic and European countries, as well as US, Canada, Australia and the United Arab Emirates (to name a few) are the biggest consumers of world resources and their overshoot day lands on the beginning of the year. And clearly the consumption is only speeding up. We really need to slow down!
Another good reason is, that while developing countries are still not in the same single-use consumption culture we have, they are rapidly moving towards similar habits that we are used to. Single-use plastics, fast travel and fast fashion are some luxuries we shouldn’t be able to afford. They are luxuries under-developed countries might be aiming for in the process of trying to mimic the idealistic western world. By taking action now, we could be preventing some environment-threatening development curves in the developing countries.
A third reason is the fact, that most western countries keep pushing their waste problems to other countries and not dealing with their trash themselves. China has already had to ban trash imports. Our used clothes that have been shipped off to Africa and who-knows-where are disturbing local fashion and textile industries. Those countries really don’t need our waste to deal with, and not taking care of it ourselves is just cowardly and irresponsible.
I’m not saying we all need to be “treehuggers”. I can’t really tell anyone how to live their life. But we should all be more mindful about how our choices affect the climate and the environment we live in, and whether or not we could make more sustainable choices in our consumption, and in our life, possibly building more sustainable habits. I’m still young and hoping to be on this Earth for many decades to come. I’d love it if I could count on having a healthy and resource-rich living environment in the future as well.