Words by Caitriona Potter

April 22nd is the birthday of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970 and is now celebrated as World Earth Day. While aiming to increase funding, implement policies and transform human behavior around the environment, it can also be a daunting reminder of our current climate crisis. Many people around the world experience ‘climate anxiety’, or a sense of helplessness when it comes to protecting our planet. Individual efforts, however small, can create a difference, inspire others, and evoke change within our communities and society. Here are 5 ways you can make a difference this World Earth Day.

  • Slow Fashion

Slow fashion is a movement that advocates for environmental and social justice in the fashion industry. The fashion industry is well known to be a source of harm, not just to those in production, but equally to the environment. Fast fashion depends on rapid trends and mass consumerism, leading to immeasurable waste. Alternatively, we can make a greener choice from the moment we get dressed in the morning. Positively, many clothing brands are now advocating for sustainable production and eco- friendly materials. Even better, buying second-hand clothing from charity shops is a great way to slow down consumption and reduce waste. 

  • Take Action

Individual switches to an eco-friendlier lifestyle are meritable, but most of the damage being done is at the hands of big corporations. Contacting local representatives is one way of creating change. The concept of a ‘just transition’ is something you can urge local politicians and TDs to support. This means as we move away from using fossil fuels such as gas, the workers who work in these industries can transition into another job. Money can then be reinvested into reskilling these workers in renewable industries, such as solar or wind. 

  • Veganism

Veganism is defined as the abstinence from animal products and cruelty for human consumption. Veganism may appear to be a radical change in personal lifestyle, but its impact ripples outward into all living beings, including the environment. The herding of animals for consumption is one of the leading causes of deforestation, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity. By switching to a plant-based diet, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. It is one of the most impactful personal changes we can make, without relying on government policy. 

  • Reusables

Reusable packaging on everyday items such as water bottles, coffee cups and sandwich bags can go a long way in reducing our environmental impact. Reusable packaging reduces the need to recycle and remanufacture single use packaging and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60%. Many cafes also now offer a discount on your coffee if you bring your own cup- it’s a win-win!

  • Digital Waste

As we switch to a digital world, our physical waste such as documents and letters are reduced, but our digital waste can also be toxic to the environment. Studies have shown that the average person produces 40 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions through their email inbox alone. Clearing your inbox, unsubscribing from newsletters, and sending fewer emails is a good place to start in reducing our digital energy consumption. Also, when buying tech, look to refurbished devices which can eliminate waste and give items like phones, laptops and tablets a second life.