Saving the Earth ‘step by step’: Environmentalist offers timely advice for everyday people

Simone Ganpat, an environmental scientist based in Trinidad and Tobago
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By Orville Williams

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Arresting the climate change crisis is a monumental task that requires intense collaboration and significant investment, but one environmental scientist is reminding that no matter the size of the contribution, everyone can help.

While the world paused to celebrate Earth Day last Friday, countless non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments and private citizens executed new projects or highlighted existing ones aimed at raising awareness of the disaster we’re all facing and encouraging others to take action.

Many of those projects – like PopUP Forest’s pop-up forest in New York’s Times Square, back in 2016 – grab a lot of attention due to their grandeur, but often leave people who are not directly involved in environmentalism feeling that saving the Earth is ‘bigger than them’, or that their actions are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

That is definitely not the case, according to environmental scientist Simone Ganpat, who insists that every single action by every single person on the planet contributes in some way to the state of the environment.

She acknowledged that events like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have only worsened the feeling of nonchalance for some persons, but reminded that even a little can go a long way. 

“With everything that’s happening in the world today, it’s really easy not to care…[but] doing something in a way that is mindful of the environment does not have to be anything grand.

“It’s really not hard to do. It doesn’t have to be anything convoluted, you don’t have to go up on a stage, you don’t have to go out and protest.

“It can be as simple as deciding to read up on something [environment-related] that you’ve never heard about before, or reading more about something that you already know about. It could [also] be sharing that information with others,” she said.

Another bit of timely Earth-saving advice that Ganpat shared is eating less meat.

That issue has become rather polarising over the years, especially as veganism and vegetarianism become more commercialised, but she told Observer that reducing one’s consumption of meat is more than just restricting what goes into the body.

“Eating less meat is one of those very generic things that you’ll hear people [encourage], but these actions can effectively change the way you think about what you’re doing.

“If I know why I’m eating less meat, why I’m shopping local, why I’m deciding to re-use my shopping bags and I practice [those things] daily, they become habits and also become inspiration for others.

“So, us just doing simple things like being mindful and spending more time outside connecting with nature, that does something better for us and for the Earth. I believe that,” she explained.

The self-professed nature lover also urged persons to reflect on past actions that have brought us to where we are now – with respect to the impact of climate change – and ensure that we do not replicate those actions to our own detriment.

“The issues that we have today in the environment are because people before us did not do these things; they did not care about the things they were doing that were affecting the environment.

“We have a responsibility to take care of the environment in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future; that’s a responsibility that everybody has,” Ganpat concluded.

Earth Day 2022 was celebrated under the theme, “Invest in Our Planet”, with governments, businesses and citizens urged to work together to solve the climate crisis.

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