Catch Them Young: Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles Early
“Catch them young and watch them grow…….”
Catch Them Young (CTY), an axiom popularized in our learning institutions, is a tradition of excellence built on the foundation of nurturing, guiding, and training new students on cultures, principles, and fundamentals imbibed for easy acclimatization into the new world of study. Like a miracle, the Catch Them Young mantra has proven instrumental in shaping and building the generations of leaders and social transformers for various organizations and associations in learning institutions and has become the mantra leaving no stone unturned.
With the transformational effect of the CTY mantra, it will not be inappropriate to adopt the Catch Them Young approach in the sustainability and development space. We need to utlilize the CTY approach in impacting, imparting, and imbibing sustainable lifestyles among students, with our Gen Zs and Millennials, translating this culture and infect the sustainability bug to effect change in the world through sustainable lifestyles.
Here’s the thing- A “sustainable lifestyle” is a cluster of habits and patterns of behavior embedded in society and facilitated by institutions, norms, and infrastructures that frame individual choice in order to minimize the use of natural resources and generation of wastes while supporting fairness and prosperity for all.” — United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP, 2016)
“Our lives are shaped by our everyday actions and inactions…….”
From the comprehensive definition of sustainable lifestyles, we can deduce that our everyday actions and inactions have consequential effects on shaping our lives. Thus, leaving bare the great importance of imbibing sustainable lifestyles among students to grow with such lifestyles and positively change our world, thereby promoting sustainability and good life among people, cultures, and communities.
Like the Biblical annotation, “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he grows old he will not abandon it…”, it is high time promoted sustainability lifestyles by taking the concept to the younger ones at a very early stage. Let’s remember that we owe future generations the responsibility to live sustainably to ensure a better planet and sustainable communities.
“Surely, we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species” — Sir David Attenborough.
To make this a reality, we need to encourage these amongst the Gen Zs and Millennials:
Walk, Run, and Cycle: When going on a short distance to classes, hostels, or theaters, instead of using automobiles that contribute to carbon emissions, you can decide to walk, run, or cycle. These options are sustainable, but they serve as activities beneficial to our health and environment.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (3Rs): We often dispose of materials and resources we are not using again as students. We can adopt better options of reducing the usage of such materials (if they can only be disposed of after use), reuse the product (such as nylon bags, bottles), and dispose of them properly to be recycled.
Use Alternative Sources of Energy: Apart from the combustible engines and generator sets, there are other sources of energy that we can adapt to power our rooms and hostels during a power outage. We can use renewable energy sources such as solar panels. These energy sources are convenient and sustainable, and it saves you costs, as you are spared the recurring expense of purchasing petrol to power your generator set.
Pay detailed attention to pollution reduction, animal protection, natural resources conservation, and other activities to mitigate climate change.
Say No to Improper Waste Disposal, make use of Waste Bins: In every spot on campuses, there are waste bins and outlets for proper disposal of your unused products. So as of today, look out for waste bins around your campus and dispose of your bottles, nylons, sachets, papers, and other materials properly.
Afforestation Always, fewer Papers and prints, more online resources and materials for study: When printing a large volume of a textbook, think of the number of harvested trees to produce the paper. As such, opt for online resources and materials. With this lifestyle, you are helping to discourage deforestation and promoting afforestation and green life.
Please do not walk on the lawn; maintain the greens: We students are often guilty of crossing the lawns. We must understand that the lawns are not for aesthetic purposes only, but they significantly improve lives and sustainability. So next time you are going around the campus, you see a lawn, do not cross it, maintain green life and contribute to sustainability.
How can we then promote sustainable lifestyles among students? When catching them young, what approaches should we adopt to promote sustainable lifestyles among students?
“In order to create a sustainable world, we need to: educate people, educate people, and still educate people, for every person left uneducated about the system of this sphere, nature will make us all pay for it. Sustainability can only start in the mind…” ― A. Togay Koraltur.
One approach we can adopt to catch students young is through Sensitization, Orientation, and Education. We can achieve this by organizing campaigns, webinars, and talk shows to intimate them on the importance of sustainability and developing the sustainability mindset — orientation on reducing carbon footprint through our collective actions.
Walk the talk and not talk only: Students and Gen Zs love seeing things and putting them into action rather than just talking. To catch them young, walk the talk and involve them in tree planting activities and environmental sanitation activities. By applying them, we make them understand our collective responsibility to the environment and build sustainability consciousness.
Utilize the Social Media for Engagements: Students enjoy a bunch of social media sprees and rave, engaging them through social media to join sustainability organizations, and involve in the United Nations SDGs, UN Sustainable Days, getting involved by sharing, liking, tweeting, gramming and letting the world know.
We are GEN Zs, we are students, and whatever actions we take today go a long way in shaping our future. We are imperative in shaping the future and ensuring a safer planet for future generations to come. We are taking a collective responsibility by being informed, conscious and action-oriented. And this does not in any way exclude the older generations.
We are to ‘catch them young’ to be part of the solution and not the pollution.
Catch them young to take collective actions to minimize footprints and maximize impacts through sustainable lifestyles, impact them to live their lives in the lens of sustainability, being conscious of our environment.
The revolution begins with you and me. As we live sustainable lifestyles and encourage our friends to do the same with love, we continue the sustainable lifestyle cycle. Remember the 21/90 rule- what you do for 21 days becomes a habit; what you do for 90 days becomes a lifestyle.
Author: Nehemiah Eremiye