You may not be Greta Thunburg (yet!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t care passionately about the climate crisis. Young people all over the world are fighting climate change in their own lives and advocating for wide-scale change nationally and internationally. Even if active protesting or in-person campaigning isn’t a possibility right now, there are still a ton of small activities that can make a big difference. Here are just a few ways to get started on fighting for a better, greener world.
Vote for Change
Wide-scale change will start at the top, with appropriate laws to control emissions and waste. Unfortunately, there are politicians that don’t advocate for this—which is why it’s so important to go and vote for those who take the climate crisis seriously and have a plan of action. Representatives who speak for you matter just as much at the local and state level—sometimes even more so, actually, when you’re talking about daily life.
Think you can’t make a difference just because you’re not of voting age? Think again: You can still be deeply involved, like by volunteering at a sustainability-focused nonprofit. Google “sustainability nonprofit,” or “environmental nonprofit” with your zip code. If no such local entity exists, volunteer somewhere with a national presence, such as Greenpeace. Right now your work might be volunteering online and remotely, but that doesn’t diminish the impact one bit.
Talk to Family and Friends
Sometimes people make the mistake of assuming that just because their social network is small (a few hundred people, perhaps), they can’t possibly change people’s minds like a celebrity might. But it can actually be more effective to hear a message about changing for the better from a close friend or family member. People are more incentivized to be different when they have a positive role model, and that person doesn’t have to be older. You can still impact people’s behavior, so keep trying.
Embrace Slow Travel
If you’ve never heard of “slow” travel, it’s exactly how it sounds: Travel less by car and plane, travel more by foot, bike, and train. (This can also apply to public transport including buses, but consider which forms of transportation use gasoline and diesel. An electric car is more sustainable than a gas-powered one.). Instead of taking multiple flights, take a direct flight. Instead of using a vehicle to get to a destination faster, take a slower, more leisurely form of transportation; this is also great for sightseeing when you’re on vacation. Here’s one idea: Load up your eco-friendly Big Student and go hiking instead of taking a road trip by car.
Buy Only What You Need—and Buy Smart
The three Rs you probably learned in elementary school—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—are still very relevant when it comes to smart purchases. Reduce unnecessary purchases: Ask yourself: Do I really need this? If so, can I buy it used? Reuse what you, your siblings, friends, or parents already have available. Recycle or donate your old stuff, and if you must buy new, try to purchase something made out of recycled material. Our Recycled SuperBreak uses 100 percent recycled polyester fabric and is designed specifically to eliminate unnecessary waste. You can read more about the bag’s story and JanSport’s commitment to preserving the environment.
Embrace an Eco-Friendly Diet
Your fashion and shopping choices aren’t the only places where you can make sustainable decisions. Migrating away from a meat-based diet and towards fish and vegetables is better for the planet; even if you don’t go fully vegan, being “flexitarian” (eating meat only occasionally) is a step in the right direction. There are now much better non-meat substitutes for ground beef, milk, and chicken. (Hint: If you’re eating on the go, it’s much easier to control your food choices when you pack your own lunch, rather than relying on takeout or a school or company lunch room.)
Use Less Plastic and Disposable Things
A lot of waste comes from items that get used every day: plastic bags, containers, packaging, and other disposable items like flossers and razors. Replacing plastic bags with a cloth tote, a plastic razor with a metal one, and plastic flossers with biodegradable alternatives all help. JanSport puts thought into this, too. Our SuperBreak Plus, for example, is durably made with recycled fabric—and it comes in a wide variety of colors so you can find the one that works for you and not have to replace it for a long time.
Want to make your closet more sustainable next? Here’s what to do.
By: Katherine J. Igoe