Today is Earth Day 2021 and our destruction of the planet is now becoming so obvious that the school children we meet and talk to via our zoom webinars are independently asking "What can I do to help?" and it is a very good question.
So what can they do? It seems that most of the information we receive about the environment focuses on governments slowly changing things, decarbonising, people not flying so much and changing to an electric car, but the timeline is years. For most children those aims might seem disconnected to them, so today we are excited to remind ourselves what Last Chance to Paint is all about and how we aim to really connect children in a meaningful way to all sorts of environmental issues. One of our amazing sponsors is Samson, who generously provide all the microphones for the project, and they have released for Earth Day a comprehensive blog by the acclaimed New York journalist Bradley Bambarger all about Last Chance to Paint and what we have done and our aims for the future. It's a great read so do check that out.
So back to some practical ways in which your children can help today and a lot comes down to consumption. If we can change our ways a little we reduce our impact a lot.
Eat less meat - that means less fish too - even if it's farmed.
Eat more plants and try to avoid palm oil if you can - if you learn to bake at home that would really help as palm oil is in so many manufactured biscuits, treats and cakes.
Shop carefully and only buy what you really need, buy quality (so it lasts) and use charity shops too. Cotton is a really polluting crop and uses vast amounts of water and chemicals in production so do avoid fast fashion.
Improve your local environment, add wildlife areas to the school grounds and leave areas unkempt so wildlife can thrive where you live.
All of these points make fantastic subjects to research for your class. It's actually a hugely exciting time we are going through in terms of technology and development and your children should find a lot of positives here. Get them looking at renewable energy like Vestas Wind, plant based 'meat' like Beyond Meat and electric vehicle companies like Tesla and the future starts to look very bright and engaging. It's even a future they can directly invest in when they are older or aim to be part of as a career.
Simple lifestyle changes now will make a bigger difference, when multiplied across populations, than just skipping a flight, and we hope if the children follow our project chapters they will want to avoid the cycle of rainforest destruction for beef and chicken production and that they have a reason to avoid, or at least be mindful of, palm oil production and the harm it is doing. Will they really want to see the Yawanawá tribe wiped out - or the orangutans become extinct in the wild? After delivering our expeditions to them we believe they will make a personal connection to the subject and will then have a reason to personally change their ways. It isn't all about the older generations getting it wrong, it is about us all collectively moving forward and learning.
I believe we all still have a lot of reasons to feel optimistic, but we must champion change, and with your help we can gently and positively change the ways of a generation.
Please keep your children being creative, learning, painting and let them bear witness, with their art on the World Gallery to what we all stand to lose.
Happy Earth Day 2021!