In the past, I rarely gave much thought to climate change and environmental issues. There were times I felt environmentally conscious, but mostly I was doing things that were in no way environmentally friendly. I would frequently order takeaway food in styrofoam or plastic boxes and shop frivolously for clothes that ended up being untouched in my wardrobe. I would tell myself that one person would not make much of a difference and besides, everyone else is doing it. However, thinking back, it is definitely the wrong mentality to possess. If everyone thought this way, no one would do anything to save the Earth. There would be no Greta Thunberg, who would selflessly give up flying due to the carbon emissions from aviation, as well as go vegan to reduce carbon footprints.
A study by Thomson Reuters Foundation has also found that climate change has been linked to depression and anxiety, due to worries and fears about the catastrophic impacts of climate change. This causes difficulty in focusing during work, resulting in lowered productivity. Many people around the world are pledging not to have kids until “(they are) sure (their) government will ensure a safe future for them”, owing to the reason of “not wanting to bring a child into a world where they will not be safe”. This will adversely affect countries with an aging population and low replacement rate.
Thankfully, many governments are looking towards channelling more funds to tackle the issue of rising sea level and many brands are also pushing out their sustainable product line. Many countries around the world are charging consumers for plastic bags in stores, and some countries such as New Zealand have already banned the use of single-use plastics. Singapore currently does not have such a practice, although some supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice provides a 10cent discount when customers bring their own bag. However, only 15 percent of shoppers brought their own bag in 2018. This isn’t surprising, since the theory of loss aversion holds that people prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains, which in this case are the discounts given. Thus, in 2019, Fairprice began charging for plastic bags in seven outlets. Hopefully in the near future, Fairprice will enforce these charges at all their outlets.
On our part, simple acts such as reducing our consumption of meat or bringing our own bags when we go shopping will be tremendously helpful in the long run to combat climate change. Participating in “Meatless Mondays” does not equate to a 360-degree lifestyle change, while bringing our own bag probably takes less than 10 seconds of our time. If a 15-year-old girl is able to do so much more for the betterment of mankind and the Earth, imagine what all of us could do if we put our minds and heart to it.
As South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon once said, “This Earth is our only home. Together, we must protect and cherish it.” Even if astronomers are able to find new planets capable of supporting life, can you imagine how long it will take to move every single human being over? Will the new planet be as beautiful as the Earth we have now, with all its natural wonders and unique monuments? Let’s play our part to protect our Earth before it is too late.