“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference.”

Great Thunberg, Environmental Activist, 17 years old

Around the world, youth are leading the charge in the arena of environmental activism. Aware of the environmental crisis around them, and fueled by a sense of urgency, youth’s voices and actions are critical in protecting our planet. Rather than letting the immensity of the issues surrounding climate change overwhelm and disengage us, we can focus on the small, actionable steps that affect us right now.

  1. Appreciate the green space around you, refuse single-use plastic items and encourage others to recycle and reduce waste. It can feel a bit embarrassing at times to decline a plastic item (bag, straw, take-away cup and plastic utensils) but, more often than not, shopkeepers and restaurant staff are happy to oblige once they understand the reasoning. Added to this, everything we own has its own carbon footprint, so buying fewer things, and rather sharing, exchanging, lending and borrowing items, reduces waste. Thrift purchase, anyone?
  2. Join a local clean-up and help beautify our beaches, rivers and green spaces. There are many organisations who run organised clean-ups but don’t let that stop you from picking up litter.
  3. Looking for a weekend project? Why not start a food garden? You don’t need a big piece of land; try planting a few seedlings in a small corner of a garden or into some planter boxes. To encourage local wildlife, like birds and bees, plant some flowers or let the wildflowers grow. Food gardens can also provide a source of income — you could sell your surplus produce or even share food amongst your neighbours.
  4. Start propagating succulents, which is the act of taking an element off a mature plant to grow a new plant. We’re lucky to live in South Africa, a country that is home to many succulents that are easy to propagate. All you need is a leaf from a succulent and some water and after a few weeks, you can have your own mini nursery! Read more about how to propagate succulents here.
  5. Use less water. South Africa is a water-scarce country; every drop counts.
  6. Use energy wisely. For example, when you leave a room, unplug your devices and turn off light switches. When plugs are left in, they use up electricity or battery power, which, in turn, uses up energy.
  7. Follow young environmental activists and learn from their journey. Here are five powerful young voices from Africa.
There are so many opportunities when it comes to ‘greening’ our lives, which one are you going to explore?