Recently, while sorting through what's left of my belongings which are still in England, my mom discovered a copy of the first published article I ever wrote. I wrote this a little over 13 years ago, at the age of 12. It was published by the Birmingham Evening Mail at the beginning of May 2006. After it published the editor called my mom to encourage me to keep writing and within a year I'd published 2 more newspaper articles within the same media group.
This one however, came from a place of passion. I did win a nice camera for this piece but I never wrote it to win the 'letter of the week' competition (I wasn't even aware of the prize). I just wanted someone to listen to me, someone who might make a difference.

The original article was written too passionately, without too much thought for backing up the points I was making. I was scared of global warming and wanted everyone to recycle,use solar panels and stop polluting the Earth before it was too late.

Here is the original article:

The article was heavily edited, it was originally longer.

The issue of global warming is now in the forefront of global issues. I decided that I wanted to rewrite the article as I would've written it today. Again, it isn't so long as it was originally intended for a newspaper, but I'm now able to properly vocalise what I wanted to say all of those years ago. So here is the second draft of that article.

Care For Our World - Take Two

 Nowadays in 2019, I'm delighted that the world finally seems to be taking global warming seriously. But it it already too late?

Social media is full of photos from around the world showing the devastating effects that single use plastic is having on our oceans. The news seems to show footage of natural disasters far more frequently than I remember as a child. Zero waste shops are popping up in cities all around the globe. Single use plastic bags and straws are being phased out in many countries, with many alternatives now readily available.
The public finally seems to care about our World.

Imagine what a difference we would've already made if we'd all cared 13 years ago.

I recently read this article on Vox which states that we have just 12 years left to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels if we are to prevent the global temperature increasing by an additional 0.5°C. The temperature has already increased 1.5°C since the industrial revolution. Reaching 2°C would have a catastrophic effect including risks to food supply, water supply and public health. We could've had 25 years if we'd thought about it in 2006.

We seriously need to reduce our carbon emissions if we want to avoid that extra half a degree. In fact, we actually need to remove some of the carbon that is already in the atmosphere. There are many things you can do to reduce your own carbon consumption. Here's just a few:
  • Walk or cycle instead of driving wherever possible. A short trip doesn't need a car. Failing that, carpool or use public transport.
  • Buy a fuel efficient vehicle.
  • Avoid flying where possible. Flights are sometimes unavoidable, but search for alternatives first. If you must travel by air, fly with an economy airline as there are more people to share the flight's emissions with.
  • Insulate your home properly. You'll spend less on heating as an added bonus.
  • Install solar panels - Solar energy is a great renewable source of energy. It's a large initial cost but you will reduce your electricity bill, you could even potentially earn money by selling excess energy back to the grid.
  • Use less water - It takes a lot of energy to supply your home with water, and more energy to heat the water that you use. Find ways to reduce the amount you consume. Wash your car when rain is in the forecast, spend a couple of minutes less than usual in the shower, collect rainwater to water plants. Be creative with it.

A quick Google search reveals that billions of plastic straws are used worldwide each year. The numbers are not consistent between websites but most estimate the amount to be well over 100 billion straws annually. I'm sure many people have seen a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in it's nostril, or of a washed up whale with a stomach full of discarded plastic. My original article didn't mention anything about single use plastics. I wasn't aware of how damaging they were at the time. I assumed everything that I put in the recycling bin was recycled, we now know that that isn't necessarily true. Not all plastics are recyclable. While plastic straws are technically recyclable, they often aren't accepted as they are too small and can fall through gaps in machinery.
Fortunately there are many alternatives available now. Metal, silicone, bamboo, glass and even reusable plastic are readily available inexpensively. They come in different shapes, and there's even flexible straws available for people who need movement in their straws. The initial outlay may be a little more costly than a pack of throwaway straws, but they will last a lifetime.

Straws are not the only single use plastic that needs to be eliminated but it's a start. Here's a list of other everyday disposable items that can be replaced by reusables:

  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Cotton ear buds
  • Shopping bags
  • Produce bags
  • Menstrual products
  • Takeaway cutlery and containers
  • Toothbrush
  • Disposable wipes
  • Nappies
  • Water bottles
  • Dish sponges
  • Tea bags
  • Shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, shower gel
One thing that we can all do to help reduce carbon emissions is simply to plant more trees. Plants not only give out oxygen, they also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. In the autumn, collect acorns and conkers and plant them somewhere they won't be disrupted. Give them plenty of space. It is also becoming more common to scatter wildflower seeds in urban areas to encourage flowers to grow in unused places. Research 'seed bombs' to find out more about this project. Only plant seeds that would be native to the area, we don't want to disrupt the local wildlife by introducing a new species!
If you are uncomfortable with planting something in public, use your own garden or space to grow something. A window box or a house plant is better than nothing at all.
Renting an allotment with a friend is an option for those with no space and low income. You could share the cost, the work and the produce. Growing your own veg will also help to reduce your plastic waste as your not buying plastic-wrapped vegetables from the supermarket! It's good for your wallet and your health too.

In another 13 years time, our world could look very different from the one we know today. That could be for the better, or the worse. The choice is up to you. We could have already reached that 2°C global temperature increase and seen an increase in natural disasters. We could have plastic free beaches and more trees. One person alone won't make a difference, but lots of individuals making a difference together can change the world.
Which side do you want to be on?

Loppy x