We live in a world where some of the fiercest environmental activists are not even old enough to be in university. Children, who have answered the global call to shout out the environmental crisis that has been happening long before they were born. Across the globe, children like 17-year-old Greta Thunberg, climate and environmental activist, are raising their voices, leading organized strikes and urging global leaders to act. Back home in Africa, young people such as Ugandan Vanessa Nakate and Kenyan Gift Nyambura are fighting to keep leaders and members of the community informed, educated and accountable, with the hope of creating a better environment for the motherland’s future generations. These young people should be too young to have witnessed the brunt of climate change on the earth, but they are not. What has been happening the past twenty, thirty, fifty years? And why should we be concerned?

Gift Nyambura, 2019 TEDx Parklands speaker, thinks herself lucky to have been born in a country that has experienced environmental activism, led by one of the greats, Wangari Maathai. But, if a step towards changing how we treat the environment can be established as winning a battle, we are still well on our way to losing the war. Kenya recently banned plastic, with the hardest-hit companies being the packaging industry. We cheered as the industry provided reusable bags, touting them for their quick and innovative response. The flip side of this? Plastic bottles and cutlery were still in daily use, the harm to marine life was steadily increasing and increase in green emission gases? Still the same.

So, what does this mean for our health and environmental sustainability? A family that consumes a one-litre plastic bottle of water per day, for a year, could possibly consume up to 10,000 microplastics into their bodies while costing the earth six litres of water just to produce the one litre. Even worse, it takes the earth 450 years just to decompose. Yes, you read that right… 450 years to decompose a plastic bottle. In Kenya, illegal garbage landfills are the order of the day, shortcuts taken by garbage collection company owners, and protected by corruption. The direct effects on our health can be seen in the outbreak of diseases such as cholera and malaria in communities neighbouring the landfills.

How do we take a stand? How can we start fighting for a better environment on an individual and community level?

1.       By educating the communities on the impact of the environment around them and what this could mean for their children and future generations. In a world strife with false information, educating the masses on their right to a clean, healthy environment is vital to the cause.

2.       Responsible use and consumption- what you choose to buy can make a difference. Are the brands you support eco-friendly? What alternatives can you use to plastic? Are you leveraging on technology to promote the responsible use of paper?

3.       Take a stand! Say no to plastic, voice your opinion on responsible use, use your social platform to educate people within your networks. Hold your leaders accountable on your right to a clean healthy country. Small steps create ripple effects that could have a positive impact on the world around us, our environment and the future.

To watch Gift’s talk on taking an eco-stand:

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