By Liza Buys
We have all already heard the term “climate crisis”, which is accompanied by frightening warnings, such as: “If the earth warms by 2°C, a great catharsis will follow”. These warnings cause tremendous uncertainty and even anxiety. It is every politician’s favorite campaign theme and marketing mechanism and we read something similar to “organic” or “biodegradable” on every second product in the shops’ packaging.
Beware of “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is a brainwashing process during which consumers are misled by slogans and words such as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly”. Many large companies such as Nestlé, BP and CocaCola have already been caught making inaccurate statements that are not supported by evidence or research.
When I read these slogans on items in shops, my head moves in the following direction: Does the slogan make sense or does it say something like “10% less plastic” on a plastic bottle? I also research the product and company to find out if it is being used as a marketing tactic or not.
It is our responsibility as consumers not to believe everything we see on packaging and posters! And sometimes also paying attention to what is not there…
There are many scientists who support the climate crisis theory, but there are also many scientists who deny the fact that we are in a state of crisis. That there is change in climate is a given – but a crisis? Who should we listen to then? Should we go green to prevent the crisis or not? This uncertainty and division is, in my opinion, the reason why many people decide to sit back, watch the news, and not react.
So my question is important: What is your motivation to go green?
It’s actually simple. When you buy or do something that causes some form of damage, regardless of the size of the damage, research better options that you can apply in a realistic way to reduce or remove the damage. Your motivation should therefore lie in the fact that you want to contribute to the preservation of the environment, rather than the fact that you want to prevent a global climate crisis!
Here are a few ways I go greener.
I try to use as few single use plastic items as possible such as balloons, polystyrene containers, plastic water bottles and so on. I try to buy as few imported food products as possible, but rather locally produced and in-season.
It is also becoming easier for me to buy locally produced clothes thanks to, for example, Pick n Pay Clothing’s efforts to produce locally. SHEIN, the online “fast fashion” dealer, is absolutely out. Under no circumstances will I ever order anything from SHEIN. Why not? SHEIN’s products are dirt cheap and therefore definitely not ethically produced, which cannot be proven wrong due to lack of transparency. SHEIN’s global success illustrates that people don’t think before they buy, don’t research manufacturers and their methods, and aren’t responsible consumers.
Before you buy a ridiculously cheap product, think first: it costs little, but at what cost?
So on this year’s Mother Earth Day, don’t let the media and campaigns overwhelm you, instead be eager to live greener as a consumer in ways that are practical and realistic for you personally!
- Liza Buys is a first-year student in BSc Environmental Sciences at the NWU and an environmental enthusiast.
#JongStemme is a project by Rhewal and Solidarity Youth that wants to emphasize the youth’s voice in the public domain. Visit Solidarity Youth’s website at www.jeug.co.za for help and advice with your career.
If you are between 18 and 26 years old and want to write an opinion piece, send an email to [email protected] and we are happy to contact you.
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