Last weekend, over 300,000 people took to the streets of New York City to call for greater action against climate change. The march was prompted by the U.N. Climate Summit beginning Sept. 23.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked business, government, finance and civil leaders from around the world to present ideas to “reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will,” according to the U.N.’s website.
The New York City protest was one of the largest climate change protests to ever take place. Similar marches also took place in cities such as London and Paris and as far away as countries such as Papua New Guinea.
With such a diversity of concerned activists flocking to the streets to demand change, it seems that we as a people have finally discovered a passion for the world in which we live.
A comment on a New York Times article from a protest participant painted a different picture. “I’m both heartened and disheartened by what I saw. It was bolstering to see such a mass of people from all over the world come together and demand action. However, I would need more hands than I have to count how many people I saw clutching name-brand bottled water while participating in the march.”
Environmentalists have disparaged bottled water as a product that exploits both the consumer and the environment.
It isn’t just bottled water that has slipped into the hands of those demanding change.
In the few short days following its release, the iPhone 6 has already reached sales of 10 million. This is a new record for Apple, a tech company that already dominates the market on smartphones.
While the new iPhone 6 has some minor upgrades, consumers need to ask themselves if it’s really worth it to support a company that is infamous for poor working conditions and environmental degradation. The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing released a 46-page document in 2011 accusing Apple of inappropriately disposing of hazardous waste.
Of all the pictures taken and shared on social media at this past weekend’s march on climate change, how many of those were done with an iPhone?
The failure to see a connection between an iPhone and environmental degradation is just as dangerous as reckless environmental legislation.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average U.S. citizen produces more than four pounds of trash every day. That’s more than 1,400 pounds of trash annually for one person in a country with more than 313 million people.
To see real change, we must stop reckless consumption. Recycling may be a great way to slightly reduce waste, but recycling plants still produce harmful, polluting byproducts.
Not everyone may be able to travel to the Arctic to research conservation, but we can all make small, powerful differences in our lives.
The most influential and wealthy members of society may be the ones making the most crucial decisions during the U.N. Climate Summit, but we shouldn’t ignore our responsibility as consumers.
We simply have to be more conscious of our habits.
It’s not always easy to carry a reusable water bottle all day, and sometimes carpooling can be inconvenient. But these are the small sacrifices that need to be considered. The plan to save the Earth must start with the people, but as Ki-moon stated, there is no Planet B.