As I write this, I'm on my way home from attending the Student Strike for Climate Change march in Melbourne's CBD. My Grade 7 daughter wanted to go and I'm so pleased I took her to express herself and meet 20,000 like minded peers. The energy was so electrifying from this up coming generation that it gave me a sense of hope for the first time in a long time. It made me feel ashamed of the legacy our generation are leaving behind. But what struck me more than anything else was the need to take this energy and harness it before it gets lost in the humdrum of everyday adult life. We all had the fire in our belly when we were young, but life has the habit of squeezing it out of us. There are so many other ways they can create positive change with their youthful enthusiasm, while we push for the dinosaur government to get with the program. If you have a teen or tween, then read on and even share this with them.
I saw many great signs, my favourite being “Old Fossil Fools are Destroying My Future”. I saw others suggesting that students are voiceless in the world of politics, which made me think. Being under 18 and unable to vote, I guess that's correct. But we've seen how apathetic politicians are anyway. I actually think there are other ways to create change as an individual and I urge young people to both lobby the government and demand more from the business world. Under 18 and unable to vote you maybe, but as future or current consumer you have power to vote with your feet and your dollars.
Every single action, decision and purchase you make during the day, not only effects the environment, but is essentially “your voice”. To be heard, you need to exercise those choices. You do this by actively choosing wisely. We're so fortunate in Melbourne to have so many choices on practically every product and service imaginable. There's plenty of opportunity to use that choice voice.
Don’t like investment into fossil fuels then bank with an ethical bank.
Worry about local air quality, then use public transport over lifts from Uber mum.
Concerned about plastic in the sea, then stop using single use plastics as a first step.
Hate the thought of animals being butchered for meat, then go vegetarian.
Concerned about pesticide use then choose organically grown products.
Don’t like the thought of child labour, then buy fair trade or buy locally made.
Fed up with crap quality clothes, then stop buying them.
Worried you're going to get diabetes, then stop eating processed sugary food.
The list is endless. Which is great, because each one is an opportunity for you to exercise your will. Although the statements above focus on different topics or interests they all link back to living with integrity, respect and responsibility as a living being on a living planet. Your choices have an impact, choose responsibly.
I know for many price is a big hurdle, because the 'better' choice is often more expensive. But key to this is switching your ideals to "buying less, buying well". Or how I put it in the world of interiors "buy quality, buy once". This topic, the whole consumption treadmill, is a blog in itself. I'll leave that one there. But will just say that your personal consumption of products contributes to climate change, because every thing you own or use embodies energy, water and materials. The more jeans you buy, the bigger your negative impact, the more devices you have, the bigger your negative impact. The more slurpies you drink the bigger your impact. As young people setting out into the world this is one area in which you can really make a difference by being the change you want to see. Choose differently.
The other key is to use your voice in both positive and negative feedback. Tell businesses why you bought their product over others and congratulate them on their efforts in providing better choices. Conversely tell businesses why you haven’t used their service or bought their product providing ideas for improvement. This is a different type of activism, but one that is often over looked. Your voicing your opinion on an personal level. And as a young person you are indicating what future consumers will be expecting and wanting. And businesses are all ears when it comes to adapting to a changing market. Share your choices.
So voiceless to the politicians you maybe. But from what I've seen, your voiceless to the useless. I admire your passion and your activist voice whole heartedly, but I just hope you can find the energy in your everyday to use your choice voice. By doing both, you're pushing systematic change from both ends. You could start with talking about your experience today at the dinner table tonight. You can’t vote but your parents can. It's your choice.