Keeping Up The Hope


Emily Sirtak crouches down as she helps replant one of the trees near the FHC parking lot.

After a long day of social interactions, school, work and everything in between, I go on to my phone to relax and take a step back from the stress of the world, but as soon as I click onto any platform, I’m buried deep in information about losing environmental battles, increasing carbon footprints, and how long we have left to live on this planet. My hopes of relaxing are pointless. As I sink deeper down the rabbit hole, buried in the guilt of single use plastic, carbon outputs and unstable government policies, I become discouraged from my efforts of being eco-conscious as one small person against the mega corporations and policies that allow companies to get away with environmental destruction.

 Going through day-to-day life as someone who identifies as eco-conscious, it’s important to focus on environmental positives, the feel good things that give you hope for the future of the planet and just enough motivation to continue a sustainable lifestyle.

Emily Sirtak embraces a tree as she stands outside on a nice day. (Kyly Jacobs)

Starting with simple joys of the day is the key to building a foundation for a positive environmental attitude. Seeing people using reusable bags at the grocery store, noticing the number of saved plastic water bottles go up as I refill my reusable water bottle, seeing more vegetarian options at restaurants, a stranger at a coffee shop using a metal straw, seeing electric cars on the road, keeping up with my compost bin and adjusting my rain barrels keeps up my motivation through the day. Simple acts of environmentalism help me see the peaks of good in humanity at a personal level.

To have hope at a wide-scale level is a little more difficult since most of the news about our environment tends to be positive. While it’s important to see the many problems wrong with our systems to protect the environment, it’s also important to have hope and comfort that there’s a planet worth saving. It makes my day when I see a country advancing further to environmental stability and gives me the determination to continue my sustainable practices. Though it’s a rare occurrence, when I see news about Ikea selling solar panels in the US, France banning single use plastics, Spain forcing tobacco companies to pick cigarette butts off the streets, Alaska using kelp farming to support the economy and environment and Ukraine building wind farms in the middle of a war, I’m almost in awe with how far we’ve come and where we could be if we continue on the paths our world is on.

As another Earth Day rolls around and our world gets hotter and hotter, it’s important to remember that feeling hopeless to change won’t fix any issues. Even though it may seem that you’re one small person, think of the 7.89 billion people who also think they’re “one small person.” Focusing on the positive environmental wins helps keep me determined to continue my sustainable lifestyle, follow an environmental science path and to simply have hope for the Earth’s future.