Sustainability for youth means enabling them to envision a better future. If we know where we want to go then hopefully the ones who are inheriting our world can get there on the backs of those who have set the precedent to act sustainably. Yet, our current education systems stamps out divergent thinking (generating creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions) with its rigid teaching styles and myopic focuses. The classrooms of tomorrow need not bore and aggravate but empower to participate in decision-making and genuinely care by virtue of being informed. This is a tall task but the more that genuine interest inspires their hearts not only to know but to act on knowledge, there is hope. Galvanizing cross-cultural bonding on the issue of sustainability in the information age is easier than ever but fights the drag of apathy. The only way dreams get airborne is by crafting those small, day to day habits into signs of our authenticity and gratitude for the world. Continued economic growth must be challenged as a tenet of the neoliberal mentality that disenfranchises those who already have little control. It is up to those that already have more means to fight against the doctrine that runaway growth is good. We pervasively delude ourselves into thinking that because everyone is acting unsustainably, its ok that I am too. But this will only exacerbate the tragedy of the commons: Putting yet another piece of plastic into the ocean, polluting the sky by spewing a toxic fume that depletes our ozone layer and fuels global warming. We trigger ecological disasters, ignorant of the delicate balance of interconnected ecosystems. With are already absurd carbon-footprint, the least we can do is mitigate our damage and teach younger generations how to reverse the processes that got us here.
One answer lies in putting down the guns and picking up the ploughs. The institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) believes that the U.S. and China must continue to work closely together to promote climate change activism. The two countries have significant experience, technologies and services that can complement each other’s efforts to address energy and environmental challenges to promote low carbon development by taking advantage of expertise from a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations!
Founded in 1999, Shanghai Roots & Shoots has carried out many successful programs for the environment, animals, and community involving youth. Past notable programs include YP Recycling 2004, Save the Siberian Tiger Program, and the Chimp Habitat Renovation Program.
Jazz quartet connects with Chinese youth: The cultural diplomacy program has partnered with New York City’s Jazz program at the Lincoln Center to send jazz musicians through seven Chinese cities as part of the ‘Rhythm Road’ to promote more sustainable relations and cultural bonding. Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz performed at Guizhou Normal University in Guiyang, Guizhou province.
Greenovate Environmental Challenge for Kids Outreach has empowered 50,000 Chinese youth ‘green ambassadors.’ It offers hands-on activities so students can use their creativity to learn about waste. They are encouraged to come up with concepts for crafts while learning how harmful plastic can be for the environment.