Environmentalism for Seniors
Earth Day 2022 may have already come and gone, but caring for the environment and being responsible stewards of our planet and resources is a year round job. The first Earth Day was celebrated over 50 years ago, in 1970. The holiday was, at the time, created to bring attention to the dangers of the far too common smog that was choking our major cities at the time. Since then, it has evolved into a much larger movement, one meant to bring forth the most pressing issues facing us and our environment, raising consciousness of them and what can be done.
There are probably very few people alive who haven’t heard the term “climate change” at least once, and developed some familiarity with its meaning and effects. To find someone who hasn’t I would imagine you would have to venture out and interview the uncontacted tribes living deep in the Amazon or on remote islands. From forest fires, droughts, rising sea levels, and catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes or typhoons, very few people haven’t been affected one way or another by these changes. While solutions are numerous and the discourse around how to take action is both heated and colorful, one thing we can agree on is that it is of utmost importance for people to work together, cross-generationally, to mitigate and prevent further damage, and protect our planet and environment.
There is an adage that states “A wise man plants a tree, knowing he will never enjoy the shade”. While the parable is a general statement on the importance of planning ahead and considering the world we leave others, it can also be taken in a literal sense. While the platonic ideal of an environmental activist is a young adult with sandals and a bullhorn, it is a misconception that older people don’t believe in climate change, or have nothing to contribute themselves. The reality is that older people are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the effects of climate change. Poor air quality caused by wildfires, elevated summer temperatures, and natural disasters that require immediate and speedy evacuation all pose particularly difficult challenges to older adults.
While none of us alone can tackle and defeat climate change, by working together there are many helpful things we can start doing.
- Start composting: One easy way to reduce waste, while simultaneously helping others, is to set up a compost bin. Repurposing your food and organic waste into compost will not only keep waste from going to landfills, but it provides a nutritious boost to gardens.
- Reusable bags: Investing in reusable bags for your groceries and other items from shops will keep disposable bags from entering the waste cycle. Many states and cities have passed ordinances requiring stores to charge for bags as well, meaning reusable bags will save money over time
- Reduce plastics: Water bottles, cutlery, and straws are all frequently encountered in plastic form when out and about. Unnecessary plastic use builds up out of control over time, and by switching to glass or metal reusable bottles, wood or metal cutlery, and paper, silicone, or metal straws, you can make your day a little more environmentally friendly.