As a Millenial, I always thought my generation would be the one to save the earth. I always thought my generation would be the one to engage in all of the environmental causes and push for real change, defy the big companies, revolution the economy and change all of the concepts.
Now everyone seems to be saying Generation Z will be the one to carry this weight. And I keep asking myself why haven’t we done it. And if we did not, why should they.
Why should Millenials had been the generation to save the environment?
I am not going to discuss which generation cares most about environmental causes.
But take a quick look at us.
We are the generation that grew up with environmental education.
We had it in school. We learned about the concept of environment, about its importance, about the need to take action, its objectives. We prepared to take jobs in a sustainable world. It’s been as important as math and literature in our curriculum, or even more, because environmental education was interdisciplinary.
We saw the big conferences take place in Rio and Johannesburg, we got the Kyoto Protocol, we cheered, we dreamed, we thought we had it figured out.
The environment was in the news, in comic books and cartoons. We watched Captain Planet and the Planeteers, for god’s sake.
We are the generation that grew up talking about recycling.
Again it was on Tv, on the news, in school, in our science class projects. We have all the information about it, we know the benefits, the types, we know how to do it and why it is so important.
But look at the facts. We only recycled 9% of all the plastic we produced. We did not set up an international recycling system that works. We didn’t make it economically viable. Instead, we kept producing and buying plastic and sending it to the landfills or shipping it to China or to other less-regulated countries who would do the dirty work for us.
Now the world’s recycling system is collapsing and we watch it numbed as we walk through rows of plastic in the supermarkets and just keep on living.
We are the generation that saw the Earth as a pale blue dot.
We grew up after men had set foot on the moon. We arrived after the Apollo 11, and we saw those pictures before we could walk.
We heard Carl Sagan give his unforgettable speech as the Voyager left the Solar System and took a last picture of the Earth: nothing but a pale blue dot floating in the dark vastness of outer space.
He showed us that was the only home we had. The only planet with the condition to allow life as we know it. The only home could have. We grew up knowing there would be nowhere to run.
We are the generation who did not need to look in Wikipedia for a definition of environment
We know what it is. We know it by heart. Its a word as common for us as smartphone or internet, or democracy, or astronaut.
We saw the Environmental movement organize and grow. We watched Greenpeace seize petrol ships – and we cheered! We voted green – at least some times. We took it into consideration.
But we did not take action.
We knew what we had to do, but we never had a plan.
We left it for someone else. Looking back I realize I was always environmentally conscious, but it never translated into action. I somehow thought it was going to happen one way or another. I thought the governments had it figured out. I thought the NGOs, the movements, the organized civil society had it figured out. What I never thought was that I had to be a part of it.
So I went on consuming without giving it much thought. Me and billions of other Millenials who probably thought they were environmentally conscious as well.
So how come we knew what to do and never did it. What numbed us? And more importantly, if not us, then who?