People have always known about the Environmental Crisis. Teachers taught us about it as early as primary school. I knew about the importance of Trash Segregation and Tree Planting, the danger of Climate Change, and all those Science a long time ago, but I’ve never really cared about it before. Maybe because nobody really cared about it. Not my parents. Not my teachers. Not my friends. Nobody.
It was 2010 when I reached college. The age Social Media has begun. People started sharing photos on Facebook about plastic pollution and about animals being extinct. I saw reality as to what it really is through those heartbreaking photos. I then proclaimed myself an Environmentalist. I realized that people lack awareness so I started sharing those photos on social media as well.
I thought I was doing enough. I didn’t throw my trash anywhere. I organized and joined Clean-up Drives. I volunteered for Tree Planting activities. I learned about Eco-tourism. I did more. I also saw many people doing more. But I didn’t understand because I still keep hearing news that the environmental problems are still worsening; deforestation, ballooning solid wastes, global warming, and many more.
In 2017, I learned about how much our individual consumption and wastes contribute to environmental problems. Because of that, last 2018, I took up the challenge of eliminating my individual wastes by doing the Zero Waste Lifestyle. When my Zero Waste Lifestyle journey got viral last June 2018, I actually thought that nothing is going to stop this movement. But shortly after that, I moved to Japan for work. Unfortunately, it was Japan that taught me the most bitter reality: the system is broken.
The system is broken because businesses, governments, and the people choose cost and convenience over sustainability. All establishments force the public to buy packaged commodities. I usually go to McDonald’s, and I always beg them to not provide me packaging, but they never allowed. No establishment offers package-free shopping at all. Because businesses and governments only offer unsustainable options, people are forced to also only avail unsustainable options. There was no escape. I couldn’t do my Zero Waste Lifestyle anymore. I felt helpless and hopeless because I couldn’t do anything about it.
I thought of giving up, but when you start putting the Environmental Crisis to heart, there is no going back. Every time I buy plastic and every time I ride coal-fired transportation, I just feel so bad about it. I just feel that I am compromising my future and the future of the next generation so that I can live now. So, I picked myself up and I convinced myself that I can still influence change, no matter how small it is. And so I did.
I decided to just ride my bicycle every time I travel around the city.
I decided to start going Vegan, which is still on the process for now.
I decided to limit my trash to 3 trash bags every month.
I decided to create an online Awareness Drive.
I decided to create online petitions against unsustainable companies.
Lastly and most importantly, to help solve the broken system, I decided to create an Eco Store, which I called Sustainability Hero.
Why create another Eco Store?
Because businesses should prioritize sustainability, and that can only be realized if one single business leads by example.
Because all products need to be ethically produced.
Because there should be a business that should push for the use of local products.
Because there should be a business that should push for sustainable product shipping.
Because sustainable products need to be accessible not just to individuals, but to households and businesses as well.
Most importantly, because there is a need to make EVERYONE sustainability heroes.
Sometimes, we are lured into the illusion that we are still okay, but we’re not anymore. Many countries have warmed over 50 degrees or froze 50 degrees below zero. More or less a million of species are getting extinct, hence tagged as the 6th mass extinction. Annual solid wastes of 2.01 billion tonnes may double by the year 2050. Our air, water, and lands are polluted. All of these if not stopped, will probably cause human extinction in the next centuries to come.
What I learned from all of this is that, we do not need billions of inspired people. We need billions of people that will take this fight to the finish line. Because that’s what we really need. We need to take this fight to the finish line. So, let us not wait for huge corporations to wake up, because they never will. Let’s not wait for government officials to stop talking, because that’s all what they can afford to give us; their talk. If our supposed heroes never turned out to be heroes at all, let’s not make it a hindrance for us to continue fighting.
As for me, I’m going to keep fighting, especially now using Social Entrepreneurship. What about you? You don’t need to create a big wave, you just need to create a wave. You. Me. All of us. We deserve a future. So this I urge you. Rise up and keep fighting. Become a sustainability hero.