It was the year 2012 and I was still a student at Obafemi Awolowo University. As a student journalist, I was interested in innovative projects and happenings on campus. This was the reason, why, at around 8 in the morning, I was out of Akintola Hall and at Students Union Building, ready to report on the beatification project by i360. The i360 group, made up of youth who were passionate and committed to making a change in their environment wanted to plant flowers around campus, to beautify it. I thought it fascinating and worth reporting.
It is now 5 years from that time and working with an environmental organization with little resources but a big passion to communicating environmental literacy and working to promote eco best practices, it is indeed true that everyone can make a change, if they use what they have. Change is after all made up of seemingly little things and I firmly believe that it is important to share the work that is being done in the environmental space, as well as pitch in my quota, joining to do the work.
For too long, we have talked about problems, highlighting quickly, all that is broken in our communities. But that’s not the whole story. Maybe you have heard that the most polluted city in the world is in Nigeria, heard about how we are going to lose all our forests soon if we don’t stop tree cutting, and you’re worried about Nigeria’s energy sector, but have you heard about Climate Smart Nigeria, Recycle Points, Sustainable Vibes, FABE Nigeria, EcoNigeria, etc.? These are not just names, but rather some individuals and organizations working to provide solutions to environmental problems in Nigeria.
Are there indeed solutions? Yes. Do they come easy? No, change never comes easy. Can you do anything, be part of the solutions in any way? Yes. And here are few things you can do;
1. Take a personal stand against environmental vices.
You know the not-in-my-backyard syndrome? It’s the one that says, “I don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect me”. Nigerians have been known to take this stance, especially when there’s a cause to defend. But don’t be that person who looks on when a neighbor throws trash around. Don’t be the one whose car is polluting the air via the exhaust pipe. Be the man or woman who says, “No! Not on my watch,” and help people do what is right; the person who also leads by example and says no to pollution
2. If you think it’s not right, it probably isn’t. Don’t do it.
How many times have you tried to dish food and you feel you you’ve dished enough but you kept on scooping more unto your plate and couldn’t finish the food then had to throw it away? What about ignoring how you truly feel and burning trash directly in front of your house, or pouring it into the drainage beside your house? You shouldn’t do it, really.
3. Don’t Join the Bad Gang
Everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t you? It’s just a sachet of water you want to drop on the floor, and everywhere else is already littered, so why can’t you, right? Why can’t you throw things on the floor in the park when everywhere is already dirty? The reason is simple: everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should.
Often times, the things we consider trash are useful materials which can be recycled to make other materials. Pet bottles, bottle caps, sachet water nylons, old t-shirts and jeans, etc. are some of these things. If you have lots of these around you, don’t throw them away. Don’t turn them to rags. Recycle them with the help of organizations like M.A.D Initiative – they are doing great work via their Kraft Village – or Recycle Points – they give you gifts for items you turn in for recycling (check them out to see items they work with).
5. Spend time with nature.
If you’ve ever gone on a picnic or took a walk on the beach, or did something so simple like sitting outside in the evening and feeling the air on your face, you’ll understand the importance of spending time with nature. As someone who enjoys being alone, I find that spending time with nature by doing simple things like taking walks and sitting on a beach just looking at the water helps me connect with myself more and with nature. I have been inspired and gotten mind-blowing ideas through this and I have come to appreciate nature too. There’s no way you’ll spend ten minutes alone on the beach and not want to protect it the ocean from people who would like to throw in bottles or other trash. You cannot go mountain climbing, visit waterfalls or even sit among flowers and not want to protect the environment. Spending time with nature is rewarding, for yourself, and for the environment.
6. Become a Green Ambassador.
Does the tag ‘Green Ambassador’, sound fancy or complicated? Maybe but try to get past the tag. Becoming a green ambassador is to do all that has been stated above. It is to care enough about the environment that you take a stand to protect and preserve it. It is to also help others do this noble work. It is to take a course on Solar Energy technology or seek internship opportunities with a green organization like Consistent Energy and Green Energy Biofuels to be equipped with the knowledge on environmental issues, it is to join the Carbon Credit Network and own a Green business with them spreading awareness about energy conserving products and be rewarded economically while doing so. It is to organize and host programs for the public, educating and enlightening them about the environment, it is to volunteer and support green organizations like Climate Smart Nigeria, Climate Kids Club, EcoNigeria etc.
7. Seal it with a Green Pledge.
As we wrap up the 7days campaign on caring for the environment, and with all you have read so far, why don’t you take a stand for the environment, pledge to protect and defend it? It’s really easy. Simply determine to care for it and then sign the Green Pledge.
This was first published on Glow Initiative as part of the Green Week and Climate Literacy campaign for World Environment Day 2017.