I have a few things to say. It’s sort of why I’m writing a blog. And as I change, the blog changes. It’s a personal blog, I write about my experiences, my opinions, and things that matter to me.
And bear with me now, there’s actually a story coming further down.
Me saying “I can’t buy anything new with a clear conscience anymore” doesn’t mean we should all stop buying anything. Millions of people would lose their jobs, I don’t want that. What I mean is, we should think what, why and from whom we buy. Do we support the company’s ethics, their values? Do we think the price is fair? Do we think the person who actually made the thing gets most of the money, or are we mainly paying for the retailer and the packaging? And to me, other things may be important than to you.
Besides, let’s be honest, we’re not all gonna stop shopping.
I want to encourage you to think about your values and ethics and then act accordingly. And your values can differ from mine.
I, personally, don’t want to support the meat and dairy industry, so I’m vegan. I’ve talked about my many reasons in the past blogposts. I also don’t want to support the fashion industry anymore, but others would rather support ethical brands where the people behind it actually profit.
And then, of course, you might say, how can I claim to live a sustainable lifestyle but fly around the world on planes?
Trust me, I don’t think that I am sustainable. Flying is incredibly bad for our Mother Earth, and I’m aware of that. And I know, that offsetting that carbon footprint by having companies like atmosfair plant trees doesn’t make the problem go away. But I try to make it better. It’s a journey, and as you follow me through Estonia, Sweden, Germany, Myanmar and Thailand, I would love for you to follow me on this one, too. And let’s make it a discussion! Comment, write to me, correct me, ask questions, be critical!
So about these big issues we have in this world.
|photo credit: Chanin Te Homdee|
You must have heard about the Fridays for Future, all these kids protesting every week to make politicians act on climate change, but also to raise more awareness that our everyday behaviors have an impact – and can make a change.
I’ve heard people say that climate change is not our biggest problem, and we shouldn’t forget the other issues.
But this movement #fridaysforfuture is not just a high school kid’s thing anymore, people of all ages have joined, teachers, parents, scientists. And it’s not just about the climate anymore. It all comes down to the fact that we, humans, are destroying the planet. Our home, and everyone else’s. Habitat loss, species extinction, desertification, polluted oceans, global warming. It’s all caused by us.
We need to change something.
|photo credit: Chanin Te Homdee|
Young people all over the world have had enough of politicians meeting and talking about it. Every week, students are striking and protesting: we all need to change if we want to keep the planet, but most importantly, laws need to be made.
The people who “climatestrike” don’t want politicians and media to discuss school skipping, how a 16-year-old expresses herself on Facebook and how many students were out this week protesting.
They, we, want them to read the banners and listen and act. Hear our message: make laws that will enable us to keep our goals and save our planet. As citizens, we can only do so much. But the governments have the power.
By looking at the signs the students make all over the world, and hearing what the kid with the megaphone says you’ll also notice: every city, every country, has their own focus. In Estonia it may be the rising sea and global warming. In Indonesia deforestation, species loss and plastic pollution. In Germany, it may be climate change, coal energy and bad air (although, I have to say, the legal limits for particulate dust in Germany are so low that when there, we start panicking, in Thailand, nobody wears a mask anymore and air quality is considered “Good” with such a small amount of PM 2.5.) In Thailand, it’s polluted air, plastic waste and contaminated water.
It all started with a sixteen year old girl in Stockholm, who thought: If climate change is real, then we should be panicking – so why isn’t anyone doing anything?
By now, everybody had heard of Greta Thunberg, who is Sweden’s woman of the year and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, as her school strike for the climate has become a global movement – #FridaysForFuture.
|Lynn, Bangkok activist|
Then there was a second girl who thought that the situation in Thailand was already unbearable: the air is not safe to breathe, the water not safe to drink, 70 billion plastic bags are being handed out to consumers each year, and in the past 30 years only one new park has been built in Bangkok.
I don’t even remember how exactly how I found her, but either I actively searched the internet for an event on that March 15 that was supposed to become a global strike for the climate, or it just popped up in my Facebook feed. Either way, with all the skipping I had done due to my visa issues, I didn’t really feel too comfortable missing another day at the animal hospital.
But Lynn Ocharoenchai had thought of that: she organized a second strike on Saturday, March 16. So while reading the regular updates she posted on social media, in between patients, I prepared my own sign. Of course, I would like to shout at my own politicians, but while I’m here, I can just as well help the Bangkok strikers get their message out – and it’s a global message anyway:
Planet Earth first.
By the time I had clicked on “attending event”, there were only about ten more people who had pressed that button. On Greta’s map of the places that would strike, Bangkok was marked as “unsure”. Now, the Facebook page of the Climate Strike Thailand has 360 likes and counting.
So that Saturday, I put on my face mask, and take the skytrain to the meeting point.
Unlike in so many European cities, this is a small event, and we all introduce ourselves. Soon, we are a group of maybe thirty people, expats, exchange students, locals. High school students, college students, two very small kids, and lots of adults. And as we pick signs from the huge stack Lynn has brought (somebody else has the one I made) and start showing them to the passing traffic, more people join us.
It’s a friendly and peaceful protest. We stand on the pedestrian crossings when the cars have red lights, and Lynn shouts: “We are not here as enemies! We are not here for the elections! We are here to tell our politicians what we want: Air we can breathe, water we can drink, less plastic and more trees!”
The traffic light changes, we get off the road. Standing by the side of the road, Lynn reminds us not to block the way for pedestrians. Or to show the sings on the skytrain stations, as these are private property. On the train, though, we hold them high. No shouting in here.
People watch us from the bridges, a woman in a car puts on her glasses to read the signs. Some takes pictures, some stop to ask questions – and many join us. We have enough sings for everyone. And everything is both in English and in Thai.
In the end, we are around 50 people, walking the streets, showing the sings to traffic, telling the people on the street why we’re doing this and letting them take pictures. Of course, we ask them to use the hashtags that we put on the banners: #climatestrike, #fridaysforfuture, #youth4climate.
Social media is this generation’s most powerful tool. It’s mouth-to-mouth on a global level.
|photo credit: Chanin Te Homdee|
The kids also bring with them ideas: ban single-use completely. If we can’t get it in the supermarkets, we won’t go and ask for it, the companies just need to find more sustainable alternatives – and as long as they don’t need to by law, why would they change anything now?
Include CO2 offset in the prices for plane tickets. If flying is more expensive, less people would do it (yep, that’s me here). And the money could be used to …
…expand public transportation. My nearest metro-stop is a half hour cab-ride away from my dorm. If it’s easier to just take their car, why would people use the train? But if the train is accessible everywhere and by everyone, because it’s cheap, there would be no reason not to use it. Also bike lanes.
…plant more trees. They use CO2, thus taking it away from us. The produce O2 for us to breathe instead. They give us shadow on sunny days. The have fruits on them. They give structure to the ground and provide a home for insects, birds, and other animals. They look beautiful. Need more reasons?
End coal, support renewable energies instead.
Require restaurants and bars to only hand out reusable straws. People are lazy. The staff will only give them out upon request, because cleaning them is extra work. And people won’t send the waiter back to get one, unless they really need it.
Put the true cost on things. Paying a Bangladeshi sewer double the wage she gets now, it will make our H&M or Primark T-shirt about 3 cents more expensive. It will make milk more expensive and the average consumer will automatically drink less of lot, thinking about oat drink instead maybe, which is in reality cheaper (just not now in the supermarket shelves), can be grown in Europe, is healthier and better for the planet.
This movement is not against anything. It is for our future, it is for all people, animals and plants. For our oceans and forests. Four our blue planet. And because of that, it is respectful and peaceful. It doesn’t exclude anyone. Nobody breaks anything (except the rule that you should go to school five days a week).
And we will be heard.
If you want to read Lynn’s story in her own words, check out her article: greenpeace.org/seasia
The Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/climatestrikethailand/
I want to thank Lynn for organizing the Bangkok climatestrike, Chanin Te for the great pictures and Joe for long, late night discussions about solutions that will actually work (I still hope that the world’s population will stop eating meat next week…), and of course all the students around the world fighting for our future.