Sustainable Self-Empowerment

Lucy Hudson, Maroon-News Staff

Like most people on campus, I have a daily routine. Depending on how many times I press the snooze button on my alarm, my day will typically start at 8:00 or 8:15 a.m. I make my daily trip up to Frank for my morning coffee. After classes, I usually head to either the library or the gym, while procrastinating somewhere in between. To be honest, the most exciting part of my daily routine is the occasional email from Mail Services about a package arriving. 

For me, September 23 was like any other variation of my typical Monday routine. However, for Greta Thunberg, it was far from ordinary. Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist. She bravely stood in front of representatives from over 110 United Nations member states at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City and gave an incredible speech from the perspective of a young person growing up in a world in which the environment is further deteriorating every day. Demanding more from the public, Thurnberg shows her unstoppable tenacity and determination as she states that cutting emissions by 50 percent will not be enough to save our environment. Her speech serves as a cry for help to those in authority to reduce carbon emissions in attempts to prevent setting off irreversible chain reactions that would severely impact our generation. 

After listening to Thunberg’s speech, I was left with a feeling of empowerment and excitement. As a fellow 2000s baby, it was inspiring to hear a girl of such a young age wholeheartedly defend our generation’s future environment. 

Not only does Thurnberg strive to expose human carbon emissions as a pressing issue, but she also sets an impressive example. Before leaving Sweden to give this speech in New York City on September 23, Thurnberg contemplated how she was going to cross the Atlantic without contributing immensely to her carbon footprint. It still amazes me that while I was sitting in my room packing for Colgate, contemplating which sweater to bring or if I had enough T-shirts, a girl two years younger than me was sitting in her room halfway across the ocean, contemplating how to get to America in the most environmentally friendly way. Eventually Thurnberg decided she would make the voyage on a racing yacht. The boat was equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines that produced electricity on board. The trans-Atlantic trip took about two weeks.

Greta’s dedication to the environment is astounding. She avoids any sort of hypocrisy by speaking out for environmental change, while also making the necessary changes in her own life. 

While I, too, am a nature lover and strive to be green, I can’t say that my dedication to the cause matches Thunberg’s efforts and accomplishments. However, there are things to be done on a smaller scale that don’t necessarily involve using a high-speed yacht to cross the Atlantic.

If we all, myself included, shifted our morning routines just a little and decided not to use the plastic cup and straw in Frank for that morning iced coffee, we could reduce plastic consumption significantly. Even if we made a greater effort to carpool on breaks with the people who live nearby to save several car trips to the same area that would help. If a 16-year-old can put in the work, so can we. No effort is too small or too big to save Gen Z’s environmental future.