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Everybody, not just young people, should understand that "less is more". We need a world charaterized by less waste and more awareness. We need to buy less and reuse more. Most of the staff we buy could be made at home. The consumerism has gone too far and in the big cities the young child doesn't even know the difference between a fennel and an eggplant. That is so sad, we must slow down and rethink the current occidental's values. For instance we could start teaching in the schools that "simple" is beautiful, that homemade is not for poor people but is precious. We could introduce new subjects as gardening, botany or nutrition to restore a deeper contact with nature and really understand what is healthy or not.
Young people have forgotten/never learned the value of the do-it-yourself life. Nowadays, everything can be bought and trashed in a world of abundance. If we have a look at the old generations, they lived a modest life where handicrafts and popular knowledge was the means of support for daily life. Organizing handicrafts meetings only for young people will allow people with same worries in life helping each other and learning how to be a more independent person in this consumerism world. What is more, the growing tendency of urban living doesn’t help young people to understand which the goals of current society are and become alienated as human beings. A deeper contact with nature, agriculture and rural life will help us to maintain responsible consumption habits and be happier.
Environmental education is central and I think this can be best achieved through practical experiences. One idea I have was to transform old buildings, flat rooftops, and other urban empty spaces into community gardens. Such gardens can be used to engage people with activities that bring about a sense of togetherness in a community and can also be relaxing. A community garden can be used for educational purposes like school visits, teaching youth about food production, helping them feel closer to nature, and in general educating them about ecosystems and climate change. A space like this can also be used for art projects and other gatherings. Gardens could potentially help with air pollution issues and increase food sovereignty, giving a community a healthy source of fruit and vegetables. This will engage not only young people but also entire communities, educating them and helping them lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
This is a question of social norms and role models. We should stop demonstrate to children that possessions define who they are. If children grow up with the perception that it is necessary to buy a new smart phone every year, drive a big car and that secondhand clothes are only for the poor kids, they will believe that and act accordingly. But if we teach in schools as well as in our communities the value of nature and that we ultimately depend on ecosystem services we will educate a generation of caring and responsible individuals. To achieve this, we could promote community gardening, garbage collection, etc.
Give the opportunity in every step of education (pre school, schools, high schools, universities, trainings...) to spend 1 week in nature in total autonomy, facilitated by professionals. I mean living with nothing : go take food from nature, water, build a shelter.. to understand the comfort we live in and learn that nature is fragile. This should be professionnaly framed to help people to live together and learn from one another.
By far the biggest impact humans have is in how our food is produced and how we consume. Encouraging and supporting more ecological small scale farming would not only reduce the pollution associated with agriculture it would also allow more young people to make a living in rural areas.
Help them dissociate the idea of possessions and status. The most ecological lifestyle is always the most modest one: small flat, no car, second hand everything, eat vegetarian, local holidays etc. That lifestyle, writ large, will do more to save the planet than anything else one can do, and by very far. The problem, of course, is that such an ecological lifestyle is also a lifestyle of modesty - and modesty, when one is young and the competition for access to reproductive resources at its peak (yes, I'm a biologist), is social death. Thus, anyone who can solve this conundrum will, in my book, be as transformative as Haber, Pasteur or Einstein and deserving of the similar honours.
Help them dissociate the idea of possessions and status. The most ecological lifestyle is always the most modest one: small flat, no car, second hand everything, eat vegetarian, local holidays etc. That lifestyle, writ large, will do more to save the planet than anything else one can do, and by very far. The problem, of course, is that such an ecological lifestyle is also a lifestyle of modesty - and modesty, when one is young and the competition for access to reproductive resources at its peak (yes, I'm a biologist), is social death. Thus, anyone who can solve this conundrum will, in my book, be as transformative as Haber, Pasteur or Einstein and deserving of the similar honours.
Offering a reward in the short term. Today young people are accustomed to immediacy (instant messaging, high-speed internet, 24h post-mailings, etc.). There could be offer money or something for X plastic bottles, etc. I know that in some countries there are already such policies, but not in all of the EU (in Spain not, for example). And trying to fashion the fact of caring for the environment, making it a lifestyle and not something that is an effort / boring work.
Set benefits for such lifestyle: discounts at shops, free entrances for entertainments.

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