The truth, like plastic bags to a turtle, can be hard to swallow; but the fact remains that sweet demonstrations won’t change anything locally. It’s also good to note that while sleepless nights and trays of tequila may have aged me, under UN and EU standards, I’m still considered a youth, so everything said here is directed at me too.
Cover Photo: Albert Camilleri
Young millenials and Gen Z kids don’t always see eye to eye, but one thought unites both generations through mutual disdain; the fact that Baby Boomers fucked everything up for us. Apart from us not being able to afford our own place or needing 15 years work experience to get an entry-level job, the biggest kick in the pants (that now even women can wear, shocker) is the fact that in 50-ish years we may not even have a habitable planet.
If that’s not a good enough reason to rally some friends and go marching outside during school hours, I don’t know what is. If for no other reason it’s a good way to see the skies before they’re more toxic than Britney Spears dressed as an air stewardess.
But if you take a look at the first few rows, you’ll see, and since it’s Malta, recognise, a bunch of lads and ladettes (? is there a faux-cool grouping for women) who were out “marching for the environment” last Friday, were downing and dumping endless plastic cups of beer throughout St. Patrick’s day.
Malta’s skies c. 2050
The power of protest is real, and it works, there’s no denying that. But a lot of what we saw in the walk was slacktivism goes Zumba. Instead of sharing a post about animal cruelty on Facebook while munching on a sausage roll, we drove to Msida, parked and marched to talk about how polluted our planet has become.
The issue here isn’t with the thousands of people who went to the protest – that’s exciting and encouraging to see. The problem remains that without follow up, without pressure continually applied by these thousands nothing will change.
Just like hungry Tom & Jerry would see everyone as walking drumsticks, politicians see people as ballots on legs. The idea of one vote wandering away to be picked off by green vultures doesn’t scare them – but when a herd of votes is rushing to a cliff edge all together, then there’s suddenly cause for concern. A single, neatly planned protest can be countered by a good speech (probably promising change that will never come) the following day. Spontaneous and consistent calls for change are far more likely to rattle the status quo.
But while the way forward is more and more protests just like this, you can’t demand environmental reforms while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with your Honda Civic’s AC blasting so cold it’s providing shelter for the polar bears losing their homes.
Our planet’s piss-poor state can probably be blamed on those with legislative or big-business powers, and for the most part they do get called out, just without any real ramifications. While disheartening, that shouldn’t be seen as a reason to stop trying; the more voices join in the call, the louder the message gets. But just because these individuals are more selectively-blind to the issues than fans of Michael Jackson, that doesn’t mean we can just relax and hope our annual walk will be enough.
An island as small as Malta can serve as an example to bigger countries about how quickly change can happen. Let’s add one more “l-aqwa fl-Ewropa” to our belt and make it all about sustainability. With the right funding and legislation, our tiny island can evolve from trash-loving Oscar, to Europe’s sparkly Kermit.
But how can we actually help? There’s so many things our generation can do that will have a huge impact, and here’s a list sorted by ease.
- Find out who lives close to you and carpool
- Get a Tallinja card and enjoy the freedom of being able to read, email or just chill while getting to your destination
- Cut out meat from one-three meals a week
- Write to your local council/elected MPs about your concerns
- Attend marches for the environment
- Refuse straws
- Attend a clean-up
- Speak to your school or work-place about going more environmentally-friendly
- Go vegan or vegetarian
- Ease out non-reusable plastics from your life
- Confine car-use to emergencies or weekend use only
- Organise a clean up
- Organise consistent pressure for governing bodies to take action
- Create a plan to revamp your school/work’s environmental policies
There’s loads more suggestions online, but these seem like a quick and easy way to get the ball rolling. We’d all love to see snow in Malta, but a borrinu is not worth needing to relocate to Mars for survival.