Our planet is our home, the place that sustains us; but are we living in harmony with nature? It seems like we humans have embraced a path of self-destruction, destroying the very home that shelters us. From rising carbon emissions, to deforestation and land degradation, anthropogenic activities are having detrimental effects on our ecosystems and environmental biodiversity. Not many are aware that the United Nations General Assembly had declared the period of 2011-2020, as the “Decade for Biodiversity”. We are in the final period of this crucial decade, and despite several strategic plans and initiatives to mobilize people at different levels, we are miles behind in achieving the stipulated targets. The negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems conservation, indicate that we need to do a lot more.
As teenagers, sometimes we feel helpless and powerless, unable to take action, or do things that really matter to us, since governments and large corporations are the ones taking vital decisions. While major changes are only possible if countries and corporations alter their policies and actions, we as individuals also have the potential to make a difference, whether through small actions, or larger initiatives. Let’s not forget that consumers dictate markets, and they can significantly impact the way goods are produced and traded if they decide to change their consumption habits.
Here are some ways in which you can take control of your future, and protect our environment and ecosystems:
1. Start Your Own Initiative or Volunteer With Environmental Organizations
Whether it’s something small like starting a community clean-up group, or building a large social organization with significant reach and impact, taking initiatives for environmental conservation can go a long way. There are many successful youth-led environmental organizations and NGO’s across the globe, that are leading by example today. However, if you’re not up to it, you can also make an impact on the environment by getting involved with local non-profits and assisting the environmental community groups. There are several ways in which you can get involved, from running online awareness campaigns, to offering practical help like beach clean-ups, and fundraising events.
2. Reduce/Recycle Paper
What do you do with your old textbooks and novels that are not in use? Why not donate them to juniors, or kids in your neighborhood, or send them across to countries where children have little to no access to educational resources. While books aren’t doing any harm sitting on a bookshelf, why not save resources by putting them to reuse?
Similarly recycling unwanted paper will reduce the raw material demand for paper production, thus conserving trees and forest ecosystems. From online assignments, to writing e-exams, thanks to the advent of technology, paper isn’t something that is necessary anymore. By making use of smart technologies that are available today, we can effortlessly shift away from paper-based activities, at all levels.
3. Recycle More Often
Recycling is a simple, yet effective way of conserving resources and reducing your individual carbon footprint. Rather than throwing everything in the trash, separate your plastic, paper, and metal waste, and deposit it in a recycling bin. Recycling helps reduce landfill pollution, raw materials and fossil fuel consumption, and generates a circular economy.
4. Save Resources
Did you know that only 0.03% of the 70% of water available to us is freshwater? That’s why, saving water is so important for freshwater ecosystems. By doing simple things like taking shorter showers, avoiding small clothes washes, and turning your taps off while brushing, you can save gallons of water! Similarly, it’s important to be mindful of your electricity consumption, and make adaptations so that you can reduce the demand for energy production and thereby preserve fossil fuel resources. While public and private entities plan the transition to sustainable alternatives, by doing our bit at homes and offices, we can reduce fossil fuel dependency.
5. Buy Sustainable Products
Plastic is one of the most significant contributors to soil and marine pollution, endangering both the land and marine life. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, and is often consumed by animals who mistake it as food. When buying a product, be aware of its environmental impact and disposal after use. Companies are now being questioned on their ecological footprint, and changing consumer habits are compelling them to become more sustainable. There are several sustainable brands available today, and it is easier to find out about the products origin, materials and recyclability. When you’re stocking up on school or office supplies like folders and pens, or buying toys and home accessories, try to look for more eco-friendly alternatives that can replace plastic. For example, some of us use so much plastic from buying bottled water every day, when buying your own reusable water bottle is not only cheaper, but also much better for the environment.
Also, buying local products and produce is a great way to minimize carbon footprint, as goods don’t have to travel longer distances and consume more fuel for transportation. Do some research and find out about the local eco-stores and farms in your area. Supporting small businesses is also great for the local economy because you’re sustaining the economic activity and job creation in your area.
6. Decrease Meat & Dairy Consumption
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming. With increasing demand for meat, the number of live-stock farms has gone up significantly over the last few decades. As livestock release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, excessive meat and dairy consumption has detrimental effects on our climate. Additionally, unsustainable dairy and cattle farming leads to the destruction of ecologically important areas such as wetlands and forests. Deforestation required to house animals like cows and chickens are damaging habitats and natural ecosystems, where hundreds of species depend on each other for survival. Thus, the only way we can prevent more damage is by being responsible, and eating less meat and dairy products.
7. Only Buy What You Need
Lastly, think about your purchasing habits. Do you buy too many products? Can you do without some of the things that you often buy? Are you being a responsible consumer? Simply buying more because of tempting offers or discounts will actually cost us and the environment more. Whether its groceries, clothes, accessories or home products, by purchasing only what you need, you reduce the amount of waste generated, and thus pollution. As natural resources are limited, our excessive consumption can be counter-productive, and undermine our planet’s biodiversity.
Where ATL meets NPR
By Emory Paul
After generations of lawmakers, government officials and corporate leaders have all played a role in creating our current climate crisis and done almost nothing to correct it, I believe it’s up to today’s youth to save our planet.
The impacts of climate change around the world — even in the United States — are already devastating. People are dying every day from the lack of access to clean water and food, and natural disasters like Category 4 or 5 hurricanes and the recent California wildfires have claimed thousands of lives and displaced many more.
It might seem like there isn’t much we, as teens, can do to fight the adverse effects of global warming, especially when public officials (who many of us aren’t old enough to vote for) continue to ignore or even deny climate change. But we have a voice, and we can use it.
The time for teens to take action against climate change is now.
Climate change is real, no matter what some skeptics might say. It’s caused by Earth’s rising surface temperature, which is also referred to as “global warming.”
When we release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they trap sunlight and radiation that heat the planet. And human activities like burning fossil fuels in factories, driving gas-fueled cars and wasting natural resources are the driving forces behind climate change.
The serious side effects of climate change are happening around us, but we’re not talking about them enough.
You might not even realize the impact it’s having on your own life.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.”
Over the past 35-plus years, the temperature in Atlanta has even risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, which may not seem like much, but can have a long-term impact.
We’re already experiencing extreme heat, like the 104-degree temperature that claimed the life of Miguel Angel Guzman Chavez, who was picking tomatoes in Georgia when he died.
We’re also likely to experience climate-induced droughts that can limit what our agricultural industry is able to produce, as well as dangerous wildfires like the ones we saw in California last year.
And elevated sea levels caused by melting glaciers and icebergs increase the risk of flooding in Georgia’s coastal cities.
So what can teens do?
Yes, we need our lawmakers and leaders to take action if we’re going to address the long-term effects of climate change, but there are things we can do to make a difference.
1. Drive Less
We can all find ways to help shrink our individual carbon footprint, and one of the biggest ways is by using our cars less.
So instead of driving or asking for a ride somewhere, you can walk, ride a bike or take advantage of MARTA.
Another way teens can have an impact is by eating less meat and dairy, which can help reduce the meatpacking industry’s carbon emissions.
2. Conserve Water
Access to clean water is starting to become scarce in many places around the world, so doing what we can to save water is important.
Try cutting back on how long you shower, and wash your clothes with cold water to conserve energy.
3. Use LED Bulbs
LED bulbs convert more energy into light than fluorescent and incandescent ones, so switch to LED bulbs to light up your room.
4. Vote Or Protest
If you’re old enough to vote, you should make sure you’re electing candidates who will work to help limit some of the adverse effects of climate change on our planet.
But if you can’t vote yet, raise your voice in protest.
Join a march that’s already happening, or start your own.
The point is that teens should come together to demand the change they want.
Countries and governments around the world must start addressing climate change head–on and realize its severe and drastic impact, or else, in around 30 to 80 years, more than 4 million people will be displaced due to the increasing ocean levels, 5.3 million acres of land are expected to burn, and roughly twice the people killed in World War II will die due to air pollution
Countries must work together and fight climate change.
We need more plans like the Paris Climate Agreement, so countries can hold each other accountable for decreasing their carbon emissions.
It is virtually impossible to eradicate climate change as a whole, but we can limit its harmful effects and decrease its significance, and it starts with teens.
The greatest change that we, as teens, can make is reducing our carbon footprint and speaking out.
Students around the world are protesting the lack of action their governments are taking to reverse the effects of climate change, as we’ve seen with the student-run Global Climate Strike.
It is up to teens and students to influence change in this world, and everyone else should follow our lead.
Emory, 16, attends Walton High School.
Want to help your local community and environment? Then donate your time to a community service project.
Learn more about what service learning is and see sample projects below.
Healthy Watershed Projects in Your Area
Learn about what groups in your area are doing to protect watersheds, and find out how you can help.
GLOBE: Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment
This site is a worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists working together to study and understand the global environment.
Service-Learning Education Beyond the Classroom (2002) (PDF 934K, 32 pp)
Need ideas for activities? This on-line booklet highlights environmental projects done by students throughout the country. You’ll find ideas for students of all ages!
Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools (PDF, 44 pp)
EPA’s Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools helps your school and school district reduce the amount of waste you generate. You’ll learn how to start a waste reduction program or expand an existing one. The guide will show you how your program can benefit your school, your community, and the environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling your waste.
Volunteer for Change: A Guide for Environmental Community Service (PDF 567K, 24 pp)
This guide to environmental community service features the ABCs of volunteering plus projects on reuse, recycling, composting, and household hazardous waste.
Voluntarios para el Cambio: Una Guía para el Servicio Comunitario Ambiental (PDF 577K, 23 pp)
This guide to environmental community service features the ABCs of volunteering plus projects on reuse, recycling, composting, and household hazardous waste.
Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring
Find out how to start a water monitoring program in your area. Explore water quality monitoring methods as well as links to national water monitoring sites.
With environmental problems left and right, it’s easy to get desensitized by the news. Many think that these are the government’s and big organization’s duty to fix. However, this isn’t true. This thinking is even more dangerous. And as young as you are, you can help save the environment. Through simple and practical ways, you can help Earth. Just include them in your daily routine and they can even save you money. This is definitely good news for you as a student!
Environmental Facts You Should Know
We’ve grown accustomed to our nature’s state today. Is global warming real or not? Are we really endangering our health and destroying the only planet we call home? To help you know how serious these environmental issues are, we gathered these facts for you.
- Pollution is one of the most dangerous global killers. It affects over 100 million people, which can be compared to diseases such as HIV and malaria.
- Earth loses 30,000 species per year because of climate change and pollution.
- Two million tons of industrial, agricultural, and sewage waste enters Earth’s waters every day.
- Coastal ecosystems bigger than New York City are destroyed every year.
- Roughly around 14 billion pounds of trash (mostly plastic) is dumped in our oceans every year.
- Plastic doesn’t go away; it just gets smaller.
Saving the Earth Now is Important
It’s our moral obligation as humans to protect our home. Earth’s environmental issues have since worsened. However, what is being done to save the environment? Do you still use plastic bottles and straws? Or have you switched to owning your own water tumbler? Environmental damage poses extreme threats to our health, animals, and plants. So, we need to do our best we can to save it. Simply changing your daily lifestyle is already a great help!
Your actions can make a difference. Finding ways on how to save the environment at home? Simply disposing of your trash properly is already a big help on how to save the environment from pollution. As Helen Keller’s famous saying goes, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Now, how do we do this through the simplest ways? Heed these tips below.
8 Simple Ways a Student Like You Can Save the Environment
Building Awareness for a Better World with CIIT Philippines
To stir others into action and save the environment altogether, you need to have a powerful tool to tell your story. Media is the answer. Videos, pictures, and art are your best options to communicate your cause. With these, you’ll have greater potential to reach more people. Good news: CIIT Philippines offers Media and Visual Arts course and Multimedia Arts course to further equip you into making more effective and compelling materials that’ll help you change the world for the better. Check out CIIT short courses, too!
CIIT Student Culture Toward a Greener World
It’s actually easy to go green. In fact, CIIT Philippines students strictly practice “Clean as You Go” wherever they go. True to their word as active “green Earth” enthusiasts, CIIT also held a tree planting activity recently. CIIT hopes to inspire the youth and the world to help save the Earth. We believe that by working together, we can once again enjoy a cleaner home, free from pollution, climate change, and destructive storms.
Do you have the heart to save the environment like us? Enroll at CIIT Philippines now! Contact CIIT to know more!
Play games and find other activities to do online, including crossword puzzles and word searches.
Generate: The Game of Energy Choices
Generate is an interactive game that allows students to explore energy choices and teaches the considerations and costs in deciding what type of energy generation to build.
Reducing Food Waste Activity Book
Help Apple and her friends learn how to reduce food waste and help protect the environment.
Interactive Tour of the Indoor Air Quality Demo House
Get a quick glimpse of some of the most important ways to protect the air in your home by touring the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) House. Room-by-room, you’ll learn about the key pollutants and how to address them.
Air Quality Index
What should you do when the Air Quality Index is orange? Let the chameleons K.C., Koko, and Kool, show you how EPA measures pollution in the air.
Climate Kids: NASA’s Eyes on the Earth
Geared toward students, the multimedia-rich Climate Kids site uses games, humorous illustrations and animations to help break down the important issue of climate change.
What is energy? Challenge yourself to riddles, puzzles, and science experiments.
Go with the Flow
Let NASA teach you all about the flow of water.
Do you know where the red-eyed tree frog calls home? Play this game based on animal habitats to learn! Explore the desert, coral reef, jungle, and marsh to discover where many animals live by matching each animal to its correct habitat!
Join the Lorax
Have you met the Lorax? Play games and solve puzzles with some familiar friends.
National Institute of Environmental Health Science Kids’ Page
Games, puzzles, art, and more — all about science, the environment, and environmental careers.
Ozone Crossword Puzzle
If you’re good with words, and think you know all about the ozone layer (or want to learn more), then you’re sure to enjoy this crossword puzzle.
Particulate Matter (PM) Air Sensor Kits
Particle pollution known as particulate matter (PM) is one of the major air pollutants regulated by EPA to protect public health and the environment. Build your own air sensor kit to investigate particulate pollution.
Explore Recycle City to see how the people of the town reduce waste, use less energy, and even save money by doing simple things at home, at work, and in their neighborhoods.
Making pictures of the sea floor is the science of hydrography; learn more about this amazing task.
Smokey for Kids
Explore the different sections of the website to learn all sorts of ways you can help prevent wildfires. You’ll find activities, games, and learn a lot about protecting the forest. Have fun!
The Migration Game
Help Wanda the Wood Thrush travel from her winter home in Costa Rica to her summer home in Maryland. All you need to do is answer some questions about migratory birds. Each correct answer will bring her closer to her favorite forest where she’ll be able to find a mate, build a nest, and lay her eggs!
Think you know everything there is to know about water? Move the water-efficiency hero Flo through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters.
Yellowstone Park – For Kids!
Explore Yellowstone National Park online games and activities. Then look for kids’ activities at other National Parks.
Looking for videos about EPA’s work or about environmental issues? Find all of our videos on YouTube. See highlights from recent events with the EPA Administrator, view profiles of scientists working at EPA, and learn more about environmental issues like climate change.
Teenagers‘ minds work in mysterious ways. Because they are always flooded with ideas, in most cases they drive parents to silent insanity. However in the occasions when enthusiasm is coupled with creativity and feel for science and concerns for the environment, the youngsters are capable of inventing the most incredible technologies.
The other day, Inhabitat made a small compilation of the greatest green inventions by teenagers that can transform our planet to a much better and greener place – we took it and linked each of them to a story we wrote at the time, so you can read more about each. Enjoy!
19-year-old Boyan Slat designed a cleanup array, which can remove all garbage from the world’s oceans in 5 years.
16-year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad found a catalyst, which could turn waste plastic into biofuel worth $78 million.
Four 14- and 15-year old girls from Nigeria created a renewable energy generator, which could provide energy for six hours using 1 liter of urine.
19-year-old Aisha Mustafa created the system, which could send a rocket in space using only a drop of fuel.
13-year-old Aidan Dwyer utilized Fibonacci sequence to produce a solar tree design, which generates up to 50% more power than an equivalent flat solar array.
16-year-old Elif Bilgin from Turkey managed to turn waste banana peel into non-decaying bioplastic through a self-developed chemical process.
18-year-old Eesha Khare developed an energy storage device that can last for 100,000 charge cycles and fit within a cell phone battery.
14-year-old Deepika Kurup invented a purification system powered by solar energy in her own backyard. The idea for the invention was triggered by seeing Indian children drinking from a pool of stagnant water.
16-year-old Conrad Farnsworth built a nuclear fusion reactor in his garage, making him one of the only 60 people in the world, who were able to build a successful nuclear fusion reactor.
19-year-old Taylor Wilson designed a cheap and safe modular fission reactor with a 30-year fuel life and very low usage cost.
Find out how you can give back to Mother Earth by volunteering for the eco causes closest to your heart.
Volunteers donate their time to cleaning up the planet. (Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com)
Whether you consider yourself a treehugger, planet saver or just someone who cares about the environment, a wonderful way to keep the earth healthy and green is to give back and volunteer. There are a myriad of different eco causes that need attention, so we have created this quick list of potential environmental volunteer opportunities and organizations who are looking for you to help out. Get ready to hike up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and lend a helping hand to Mother Nature.
1. CLEAN WATER
Water is quickly becoming the most precious resource in the world, and making sure everyone has access to potable water is top on your agenda.
LET US INTRODUCE: Charity:water
START VOLUNTEERING: The innovative nonprofit brings drinking water to people in developing countries. Qualified volunteers can conduct site visits to charity:water’s projects, assessing the implementation of the clean water technologies by taking photos and sending progress reports.
WHERE: 22 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America
(Riccardo Mayer / Shutterstock.com)
Be the one that speaks for the trees by ensuring that they thrive, using your own two hands to plant seedlings and care for them.
LET US INTRODUCE: Tree People
START VOLUNTEERING: The nonprofit offers individuals and groups the chance to plant trees in local parks and city streets as well as take care of existing trees by watering, weeding and pruning.
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Trees provide shade and oxygen. (vovan / Shutterstock,com)
3. OCEAN AND MARINE LIFE
If you are a water person, play your part in keeping the world’s bodies of water clean and free of debris along with protecting marine life.
LET US INTRODUCE: Marine Conservation Society [MCS]
START VOLUNTEERING: The veteran nonprofit has a new program specifically for volunteers called Sea Champions. MSC is enlisting people with a love for the sea to organize beach clean ups, fundraise and promote sustainable seafood choices in local communities.
A thriving world exists under the sea. (Solarisys / Shutterstock.com)
4. ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE
Give a voice to all the creatures of the earth by donating your time to ensuring their safety and longevity.
LET US INTRODUCE: African Conservation Experience
START VOLUNTEERING: The volunteering abroad program offers a variety of tracks from protecting rhinos to rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife.
WHERE: Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius and Zimbabwe
(U. Eisenlohr / Shutterstock.com)
5. CLIMATE CHANGE
Have you noticed that the yearly seasons have become unpredictable with intense winters and an increase in natural disasters? If climate change is top on your agenda, there are ways to help curb global warming.
LET US INTRODUCE: Global Power Shift
START VOLUNTEERING: Advocacy is the name of the game and the ability to mobilize and organize is what will make the difference. The movement is looking for people from all across the world to come together to campaign for climate change awareness.
Our latest two Environmental Lessons for ESL Students: Environmental Law and Environmental Activism round out the series that tackles our planet’s most urgent issues.
Environmental Lessons for ESL students are increasingly important in any curriculum. We know that every forward-thinking ESL educator includes content about environmental issues in their curriculum.
Below, please find a overview of each of our Environmental Lessons for ESL students that help you guide students around our century’s most pressing problems.
S510 – Global-Warming
Just how real are the threats posed by global warming? Is there even such a thing? Are rich countries again determining how everyone should act? Why are we not worried about something that scientists believe will radically alter civilization for our children?
S528 – Environmental-Issues
This lesson is a general introduction to major environmental issues. It looks briefly at the language around cause and effect. A lesson to get your students thinking!
S529 – Population-Growth
According to projections, the planet’s population will peak mid-century at 9 billion. Clearly, there are problems ahead. Will advancements in agricultural technology allow us to feed an increasingly large population?
S530 – Urbanization
As we cut down more and more trees to cover more and more landscape with concrete, metal, glass, and asphalt, are we providing urban environments in which people can still flourish? Many cities are now mega-cities and contain more than 10 million inhabitants. Can such an enormous urban environment be good for anyone?
S531 – Intensive-Farming
In the 20th century, farming underwent radical changes that allowed us to double our agricultural output. But at what cost? Hundreds of millions of pounds of chemical pesticides are sprayed each year onto crops. We don’t really know if they are safe.
S532 – Habitat-Destruction
Species are disappearing as we destroy their habitats. As we construct roads and buildings and ever-larger developments, we degrade the living areas of countless species. And while you cannot stop progress, what are we going to lose forever?
S533 – Air Pollution
In some major cities, air quality has been a major issue for almost two centuries. The infamous smog that used to cover London became a health crisis in 1952, when thousands of people died from respiratory tract infections. Today, the same situation unfolds in Delhi, India, where millions of people are at risk of permanent lung damage. What can be done?
S534 – Water Pollution
According to the World Health Organization, almost 850 million people remained without access to safe drinking water in 2015. Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
S535 – Land Degradation
As the world’s land quality becomes degraded, there is less land to farm. However, Earth’s population continues to increase, placing more and more strain on the soil. Soil becomes contaminated through use of chemicals and toxic materials, yet we are using more, not less, of harmful pesticides.
S536 – Deforestation
When the forest disappears, countless animals and humans also suffer. In South America, millions of indigenous people have been displaced in order to develop the forest. Deforestation destroys livelihoods.
S537 – Plastic Pollution
Today, one of the most common types of plastic is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. It is used to make billions of bottles and containers each year. It is estimated that a plastic bag or bottle could take between 500 to 1,000 years to biodegrade. The oceans are being choked to death by plastic.
S538 – Biodiversity Loss
When a species goes extinct, the ecosystem starts to suffer. For example, an extinct animal or plant can cause a hole in a food chain, which will have repercussions both above and below that food chain.
S539 – Invasive Species
Invasive species move around the globe as humans do, causing destruction to natural environments. Invasive species are now causing billions of dollars in damage each year, as well as driving native species to extinction.
S540 – Waste Disposal and Recycling
Whether we call it trash, rubbish, waste, or garbage, we are producing more and more of it. Today, governments are focusing on ways to reduce what we use instead of just recycling. Our rampant consumerism must change if we want to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
S541 – Environmental Law
Like laws that protect children’s rights and animal rights, the environment needs laws and regulations to ensure that it has a voice. This lesson provides opportunities for students to examine and discuss the environmental impact of a project.
S542 – Environmental Activism
Do we need to save the environment or can it look after itself? Would you join a protest? How do you feel about the organizations that exist to conserve and preserve our planet?