Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Arielle Oliver | Everyday heroes

Published:Tuesday | December 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM
It is time we become heroes for the earth
Arielle Oliver, environmentalist

I feel helpless when I watch the news. Chaos seems to be the new norm, as each day another situation spirals out of control. Yet, in the midst of this, there are people intent on making the world a better place – from firefighters risking their lives to save another, to neighbours embodying traits of the Good Samaritan. If we observe more keenly, there are heroes among us.

Heroic deeds are not limited to grand gestures of goodness celebrated in headlines or on social media. We should also consider those acts birthed out of duty, morale, service or commitment; because these are the habits that reveal the essence of heroism – the courage to consistently do what is right for selfless benefit, and sometimes even inspire positive change.

I always had a love for geography and was conscious of the relationship between humans and the natural environment. I found myself getting more deeply affected by negative news stories concerning environmentalism because I felt powerless. However, this became my motivation to improve the situation, no matter how small a contribution it was.

With all that our planet faces – rapid glacial melting, burning of the Amazon Rainforest, increased carbon emissions and water usage, as well as widespread deforestation – it is clear that man’s villainous acts, branded ‘human activities’, are catching up with us. Now more than ever, the world needs heroes to champion sustainability. However, it is not one heroic gesture that will remedy these problems immediately. Rather, collectively deciding to effect change on an individual level is more likely to convert those values into tangible actions.


In realising my personal vision, I chose to be more mindful of the space I occupy. Learning about the negative environmental effects of animal farming was one of my deciding factors to adopt a plant-based diet. I encouraged my household to separate the plastic waste from our garbage, and now we recycle regularly. My friends and I carpool when we go out (whether we share a chartered taxi or appoint designated drivers) because we want to reduce air pollution. I also have conversations about climate change with my friends and colleagues in hopes of raising awareness. If more citizens made more eco-friendly decisions daily, imagine the benefits our planet could reap!

Environmental stewardship is the imperative we must take to rescue Earth now. This would require us making wiser choices to achieve large-scale sustainability. While legislation has forced us to make some changes, including the use of reusable shopping bags, we must still challenge ourselves by asking, “What more can I do?”

Our homes provide an opportunity to employ environmentally friendly techniques. Simple steps such as repairing a dripping pipe, or using water-saving devices, such as low-flush toilets and sensor taps, will help to improve water efficiency. Breaking bad habits, like leaving the faucet on when washing dishes or brushing your teeth will also lead you in the right direction. Using energy-efficient appliances will not only help to prevent wastage, it will also be economically beneficial.

Another target of focus is consumerism, which is arguably now at an all-time high. The danger of this, however, is that it can easily lead to increased waste which strains our disposal management systems. It is incumbent on consumers to become smarter shoppers.

You can lead the charge of promoting sustainable living in your community. Creating more green spaces in neighbourhoods will help to foster unity among residents, beautify the surroundings, and also aid in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the area. Implementing a recycling system will also help in managing waste and reducing landfill levels.

More research will reveal other ways to cultivate eco-friendly habits. Instead of waiting until our situation gets more dire, we should use personal responsibility as the fundamental tool to conserve and preserve what we have today. It is time we sever the environmentally antagonistic practices that have helped to exacerbate climate change from our daily lives. It is time we become heroes for the earth.

Arielle Oliver is an environmentalist. Email feedback to