Living in California I’m lucky to have sunshine and beaches all year round, but that also gives me a front row seat to worsening drought conditions and polluted oceans. Every day I witness the beauty of nature as well as the pitfalls of consumerism and wastefulness. It’s ironic that the people I see enjoying the beaches and the great outdoors (including myself) are the ones contributing to the planet’s continued deterioration. However, this also makes me hopeful because that means those same people can be the ones to save it.
Our population of 7 billion is projected to reach 9 billion in 2050.
For myself and most of my friends, our children and grandchildren will be part of those 2 billion extra people expected to inhabit the Earth. Their future is truly in our hands. Our actions today will determine whether they have access to even the most basic of resources such as water, food, energy and land. If we start shifting our priorities now, one day instead of explaining to them why our society didn’t do something when we had the chance, we’ll be able to tell them about how the 7 billion people on Earth worked together to make it a better place.
So, where do we start?
By simply being conscious. In our society and culture, it is not practical to expect everyone to stop consuming at the drop of a hat. In fact, sustainability is not necessarily about consuming less, but it’s about consuming better.1 We need to make better choices, be aware of what we’re consuming and how we can minimize our environmental impact.
There is not 1 solution, but 7 billion solutions.
Everyone is different and depending where you are in the world your environmental needs and concerns could vary greatly. For this reason, each individual needs to figure out how sustainability fits into their lives. When people make the conscious choice to change, the effects are longer lasting because it becomes a part of who we are. By providing people with easy, realistic solutions and helping them form new habits, we will be able to engrain sustainable values and beliefs into our culture for generations to come.
The first step is never easy.
When I started using reusable bags, I would often forget and get frustrated with myself. Then I started keeping a bag in my car, in my purse and by the front door. Soon it became second nature. I still forget occasionally, but it’s important that instead of judging myself, I’m staying aware. As I’ve started incorporating more eco-friendly choices into my life, the easier it has become. You just need to take the first step. If even a portion of the population on Earth made a few small changes, it can make a world of difference.
So to the people enjoying the beaches and the great outdoors, as well as my friends, family and neighbors across the world, let’s take those first steps toward a more sustainable future.
1 Sustainable Consumption and Production and the SDGs – http://www.unep.org/post2015/Portals/50240/Documents/UNEP%20Publications/UNEPBriefingNote2.pdf
This blog post was submitted into the 2015 World Environment Day blogging competition. For more information, visit http://unep.org/wed0