Connect Hackney

Protecting our planet
by Margaret Smith

Over the past decade environmental awareness has increased significantly. If we don’t look after planet Earth, environmental problems will accumulate – for example the air, rivers and oceans will become increasingly polluted and more plants and animals will become extinct. 

Climate change will have a greater negative impact and global warming will intensify. Environmental awareness is often viewed as a young person’s crusade – 17 year old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has achieved global fame following her work on climate change and we often see school children going on strike in protest at government responses to global warming. 

But what about older people? Research shows that older people are now getting involved and active in taking steps to care for the planet. Protecting the environment is something people of all ages can become engaged in. I would really like to inspire over 50s to take part in helping the environmental cause. 

Whatever you do, whether it is something small or something big it can make a difference. Maybe you already do a bit of recycling or maybe you give your old clothes and bric a brac to charity shops and buy goods from them too. In a recent Youtube video the veteran broadcaster David Attenborough was in discussion with Greta Thunberg.

When asked how people can help individually in their personal lives to help save the planet, Sir David Attenborough answers: “I think in a sentence I would say don’t waste in your personal life, don’t waste electricity, don’t waste gas, don’t waste power in any form, don’t waste food. We are surrounded by luxury, anything you want, we are encouraged to indulge ourselves. …We are encouraged to want things, we should want less and less and less, above all don’t waste time, let’s get on with this particular problem”.

I would like to add to this list.

  •  If you’re going on a short journey, why not leave the car at home and walk. Use public transport and cycle whenever you can. 
  • Support companies who place great importance on caring for the environment. Check out whether they have an eco friendly company policy.
  • Take holidays close to home so you don’t fly so often. Use trains to travel across Europe instead of planes to reduce your carbon footprint. • Can you buy Fairtrade or organic?
  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper. 

With older people living increasingly longer, more and more of the Earth’s resources are being used up and it is important to protect the planet. I think that older people as well as wanting a healthy planet would want to do their best to help improve the environment for their children, grandchildren and for future generations. My mum told me a few days ago that she wanted to grow more vegetables. 

This would reduce the amount of veg she buys at the supermarket – making a reduction in the use of plastic packaging and transportation of produce to the shops. Helping the environment is also an opportunity for older people to give something back. 

Have you considered volunteering for a wildlife or environmental organisation like Friends of the Earth or Royal Society of Birds? It is important to educate ourselves on green issues. Help save planet Earth and create a better future. Let’s all try and do what we can. The time to act is now.



This article first appeared in Hackney Senior, Connect Hackney’s quarterly magazine. 

View online version here