Individual Actions Can Save the Planet

Photo courtesy of Craig Bisacre/Mason Creative Services


In early October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that we have 12 years until the global temperature of our planet will be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer. Even a half degree increase will lead to higher risk of droughts, floods, extreme heat, wildfires, hurricanes, hunger and poverty— affecting hundreds of millions of people.

In short, we have until 2030 to reverse the damages of climate change. Hearing statistics that doom our planet to a lifetime of degradation simultaneously terrifies me and energizes me. I’m scared that people won’t change their ways, but I am hopeful in my ability to change my own.

Climate change does not discriminate. It affects all—rich and poor, young and old, men and women. As college students with limited money and the feeling that our voice often goes unheard, it is understandable that many feel hopeless in the face of destructive climate change. However, there are many different actions and commitments we can take to mitigate this phenomenon. The clocking is ticking, and it is due time to channel our fear into action.

While many changes to stop the causes of climate change need to be structural and on the corporate level, individual effort is crucial to succeed. America is an individualistic society, and individualistic societies rely on the action of the single person to make any real impact on our changes in policy and social norms. It is here that I urge you reading this to take action in two ways.

The first is that as consumers, we must limit individual waste by prioritizing our efforts to buy locally sourced, secondhand or fair-trade products, composting or recycling, and cutting out single-use products wherever possible. Environmentally friendly products can be found anywhere, but it takes research and environmental consciousness to find products made by companies that support the environment.

Second, I ask you to demand more from those who are in charge of making the rules and legislation that lead to an unsustainable lifestyle.

Mason’s green community is a wonderful tool on campus to utilize and accomplish both strategies. With organizations like Green Patriots, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), Alpha Kappa Chi, Green Organic Gardening Association (GOGA), the Vegan Society and many more, there are endless opportunities to hit the ground running to living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Each organization, with the same goal in mind, takes different approaches to creating momentum in the sustainability revolution. A resource that often goes forgotten in the fight for a sustainable campus is Student Government. I joined Student Government because I deeply care for the sustainability of the world, and I believe that with my position in organization I can help in the effort to facilitate change on our own campus.

I am using my position to lobby and implement structural changes on campus to the way we produce products, use products and dispose them, as well a multitude of other problems the environmental community advocates for. But I need you to do the same. Reach out to me and other organizations on campus to guarantee that your voice is heard so that we, as a community, can combat climate change together.