Environment Holidays Illustrations New Year's

New year brings dreams of a green Earth

Dreaming of a green planet .(Joanna Koter/YJI)

Scarborough, ENGLAND – When offered the chance to write about my dreams and hopes for 2018, I thought “there is no way I am writing it.” I was sick of making resolutions and getting disappointed every time when the reality turned out to be not what I imagined at all.

I have also experienced that even when your dreams come true, they can turn into the worst thing that actually ever happened to you when you are not expecting it at all.

Somehow, though, I was convinced to try. I decided not to focus on my personal desires but my dreams for the broader community – for our planet, to be specific. This year, I am dreaming about the Green Planet.

You say, “But our planet IS green.” Green Planet, Blue Planet, call it what you want. We all know that the reality is far from these nicknames. The state of the Earth is deteriorating at a high speed, and though some governments have brought environmental concerns to wider recognition, more has to change if we want to breathe fresh air in the future.

The power lies in taking small steps – perhaps one day at a time.

If I am to use broad slogans, I would say coal divestment (hello, Poland), banning plastic bottles (and Styrofoam cups), local sourcing, and an extra: guaranteed minimum income. Now, let’s talk more details.

Coal divestment is self explanatory – it’s low-quality coal and low-stack emissions that make air in Eastern Europe unbreathable. Efficient Poland Initiative puts it straight, “Polish air is bad for human’s health.”

I would recommend the Polish government stop fearing nuclear power plants and do what it takes to generate more environmentally neutral energy, preferably from renewable resources.

On to plastic bottles and Styrofoam. I lived for more than two years on the North Sea coast, and each time I went down to the beach it surprised me that seaside businesses are not more aware of environmental problems caused by plastic pollution.

Human-generated plastic trash is fatal to marine life, and if it does not kill, it contributes to the spread of invasive species throughout the world. What each individual can do to combat this problem is to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce and spread the awareness of the issue.

Local sourcing is obvious – it reduces the food mileage of our diets and strengthens local economies, which means more money circulates within our community and increases the food security of the area. I know everybody loves strawberries and pineapple, but buying them out of season kind of makes them less special, doesn’t it?

Eating seasonal products from farms in your country is the most sustainable way of feeding yourself, and allows you to get more creative when preparing your meals. You might even discover new foods that you have never heard about.

Guaranteed minimum income may not directly connect to the environment, yet it helps reduce poverty and increase satisfaction with life. Besides, when people aren’t so poor they have more choices, and they are more likely to make more environmentally friendly choices.

The idea of a guaranteed minimum income has been around since the 16th century, when Thomas More, the author of Utopia, argued it would fight thefts more efficiently than death sentences, and possibly reduce crime rates. It would allow every citizen to afford basic life necessities, which improves overall health and, in a way, makes it possible for one to earn a living doing what they like to do.

Of course, introducing the scheme is more complicated than just chanting “do what you love,” but it is something worth consideration by governments that don’t yet have the system in place.

Each year, each month, each week and each day gives each one of us an opportunity to change something in our behavior that helps steer the whole world towards a better future.

Let 2018 be the year of change, even the tiniest change, but do not stick to status quo. As a Polish saying goes: Only dead fish swim with the current.

Joanna Koter is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.