Twenty years ago in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, over 178 countries came together and adopted Agenda 21—a global plan of action to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. I was barely over a year old at the time (Did I just make you feel old?). This June, member states will meet again in Rio de Janeiro to report on progress and reassess strategies towards reaching the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during World Environment Day.
- This year’s topic is Green Economy: Does it Include You?
Last year during World Environment Day 2011 in India, there was a lot of talk about the “Green Economy” and how to make a shift towards sustainable economic development. They discussed how to increase the confidence of the private sector to invest in clean energy after witnessing the mess that ensued after Solyndra infamously filed for bankruptcy. What they didn’t talk much about was how to attract the attention and support of consumers for a green economy and who would replace the aging workforce of the energy and technology sector.
The answer to both of those questions is Generation Y.
Who is Generation Y? Technically speaking, its those of us born between the early 80s and the early 90s; figuratively speaking, it’s those of us that grew up with technology, armed with smart phones, laptops, and other gadgets, plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are the tech-savy generation of emails, texts, eBooks, and YouTube; where breaking news is in the palm of our hands and communication is faster than ever. We are entrepreneurs, visionaries, activists, and innovators confident in our abilities to tackle real-world problems, unafraid to challenge authority, and mobilize support against autocrats and unjust acts on society with a click of a mouse.
Does the green economy include us? Heck yes, it does!
Since when did we wait for permission to change the world? It’s been twenty years since Agenda 21. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of of American college graduates aspired to “go out and change the world.” Today, 40% of Generation Y strive to be change-makers.
We’re all about instant gratification, and twenty years is way too long for our collective attention span to wait on the world to change. It’s time to take matters into our own hands and put the rookies in the game with the veterans. We’re not going to “pave” the way for a green economy—we’re going to trail blaze through that sucker and do it with style.
Well, my fellow millennials, it’s time to show the world what we’ve got.
This is what every single one of us can do RIGHT NOW, at this very moment, to storm our way to a green economy in 2012. Better yet, this is what I challenge all of you to do this year.
Ride your bike / Use public transportation
Riding my bike and taking the Metro rail in Miami to school was not only relaxing since I avoided the morning traffic, but it saved me $$$ on gas. I drive a two-door hatchback, but I still saved at least a whopping $70 a month ($70 is a whopping amount on a college student budget). It also gave me free time to read on the train, catch up on my LOLcats, or listen to NPR on my iPhone.
I buy my vintage clothes the old school way at local thrift shops, but for those of you short on time, there’s plenty of wonderful sites to choose from the find your original, one-of-a-kind, (and green economy!) outfit online » Personal favorite site to find the coolest vintage + handmade stuff is hands down Etsy. And don’t just look for clothes—my entire record collection and a good portion of my library came from thrift stores. $1.00 per book? WINNING.
Master the art of turning leftovers into Food-Network worth meals
I’m Peruvian and a lot of our plates are actually ways of sprucing up leftovers. Lomo saltado, tacu tacu—all leftovers. The average American family of four throws out an average of $150 worth of spoiled food per month, which is 50 times more than it was 40 years ago. If it’s past the “Sell-by” or “Use-by” dates, it does NOT mean its spoiled! Fun fact: The only federally regulated expiration date is for infant formula. The best thing to do is use your judgement and take a whiff. When’s the last time you heard someone say they got sick from bad milk? You can also check out the Love Food Hate Waste site for more tips on using up those last bits of food in your fridge instead of throwing them out.
Key concept = exhaust your resources. Shopping isn’t such a terrible thing if you’re smart about it.
In the midst of a global financial and environmental crisis, decisions must be made, and as the rising Generation, we need to make our voices heard and do it NOW. Decisions made today and in Rio for World Environment Day ultimately become our responsibility in the future. It’s time get inspired and fight for the future we want.