Over the last year I have become more and more aware of my impact on the world around me. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to help other people. Growing up whenever anyone would ask why I wanted to do when I grow up I would always say I wanted to be a doctor. When I was asked why, my answer was always that I wanted to help other people. In my very narrow view of the world, I thought the best way to help others was to be a doctor. A profession that I idolized and looked up to.
I have grown just a bit since then and learned that there are other ways to help people. I also decided being a doctor was not for me for many a reason. But my adolescence self still sticks with me. When I am feeling down or questioning things, I remind myself of that. I think that adolescent ideology is initially what drew me to education as a career path. Education is an equalizer and an institution that provides support for so many. When boiled down, working within that system could help people.
Everything that has been going on has made me think about this concept of helping other people. What does it really mean to help others? How can this be done when under very specific restrictions? Can one person really make an impact in the world?
Then I saw a post by Greta Thunberg. It was her weekly “Skolstrejk för klimatet” post and it got me thinking. This intelligent, caring girl is seventeen years old and has impacted the world in ways that most people can only dream of. If she can cause such a huge impact at such a young age, surely we can all make a much smaller impact by changing our lives in minuscule ways. Surely we can put the greater good above our own self interests at least some of the time.
I am embarrassed to say that I did not put much thought into the environment until I was in college. I had grown up in a small, conservative town, where conservation was not necessarily at the top of mind. I had never sat in class, a church pew or at the dinner table and learned about conservation. I understood the general concept, but didn’t truly understand the specifics or why it was so important. It wasn’t until I went to college that I really started learning about this concept.
I eventually moved to the Bay Area in California, which I lovingly refer to as the crunchy Bay Area, and my life changed in many ways. One of which was having a greater understanding of the environment and out impact as humans on the environment.
I moved to the Bay Area in 2011 and soon started working as a personal assistant for a family that lived in the Santa Cruz mountains in the town of Los Gatos. They had a certain affinity toward finding ways in their lives to make positive changes. Always use reusable bags when going to the grocery store. Compost anything that qualifies. Drive a hybrid car. Use cleaners that don’t include harsh chemicals. It was such a weird world for me to entire into so closely after my move. It was a world I didn’t fully understand, but one that I are to love and look up to. Many of the things I learned then, are things that I have brought into my life now. It is crazy to think that something that felt so foreign at one point, is now something that feels so common.
I started thinking that there has to be more that I can do. While the simple and easy things that I already do probably help, there has to be a way I can make a greater impact. It was hard for me to figure out where the balance would be. How do I make an impact, while maintaining a sense of normalcy. Especially in such trying times.
I realized, with the help of research and watching many a YouTube video, that there are ways to make an impact. I can reduce my meat consumption. I can start composting. I can make sure lights are turned off in rooms that aren’t being used (a weird weakness of mine, dating back to being scared of monsters on the second floor of our house as a child). I can walk to places close to my house, rather than drive. I can reduce food waste. I can grow my own vegetables. there are countless ways that I can reduce my carbon footprint.
I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be a better global citizen, primarily by focusing on conservation efforts. I have been trying to not use single use plastic, compost, grow my own vegetables and a few more items. I can’t help but think, what else could I be doing? How can I have a greater positive impact on our environment? How can I ultimately help others?
Helping out planet takes a village… A village of 7.8 billion people. What are you doing to help better our planet? Until next time, friends… CML