Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, inspiring young women from across the UK have been using lockdown to fight climate change from home. Here's what they have to say...
'Lockdown shouldn't stop us caring about the climate crisis. It should make us more active about pushing for change - there is no time to waste', says Ayla, a 13 year old environmental activist from London.
Far from wasting time over lockdown, Ayla has used it as an opportunity to reduce food waste in her local area - by creating a community larder.
'I’ve learnt so much about the impact of consumerism on the natural world over lockdown. It has really inspired me and my family to rethink some of our consumerist habits and research sustainable alternatives', says Ayla.
And Ayla is far from alone. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, inspiring women from across the UK have been using lockdown to tackle climate change from home.
Their actions have been inspired by youth environmental charity Action for Conservation, who last month launched an interactive digital programme called WildWEB to equip young activists with the tools they need to take action: wherever they are and with the resources at their disposal.
The initiative, accessible from home and for free, inspired 16 year old Riya from Plymouth to undertake a garden restoration project. She wanted to improve biodiversity in her back garden and introduce new wildlife to the space. For Riya, being able to take action in lockdown has made it a positive experience.
'Lockdown has been a good time for [young people] to participate in conservation efforts, as even small actions at home can make a big difference. In a period of uncertainty, it’s nice to feel empowered in this way. It has also been reassuring to learn about ways we can help the environment from home.'
Lily, 16 and from Cambridge, has also been involved in the initiative. Speaking about activism in the age of COVID, she recognises how difficult it can be to have your voice heard.
'If it weren’t for COVID, over the past few months I would have arranged activities as part of my school eco-committee and attended campaigning events such as school strikes. During lockdown, movements that were previously really gaining momentum - such as Extinction Rebellion and School Strike for Climate - have been put on hold almost entirely.'
But hope is far from lost, with programmes like WildWEB keeping these young activists engaged with the important issues from home. 'The WildWEB programme provides young people with an opportunity to take action in other ways to save nature on a local and global level,' Lily added. 'It’s a fun, engaging and super informative alternative'.
Running online between June and September, WildWEB aims to deliver over 8,000 hours of original content to support and inspire teen activists, with plans to continue after this pilot. Hosting expert-led sessions, it covers topics such as wildlife and nature, overconsumption, environmental justice, throwaway culture and the politics of food.
Despite recognising the need for change - and fast - each of these young women remains hopeful about the future and the fact that lockdown has helped.
'During lockdown we were able to see emissions and pollution cut hugely for a few months, and nature was able to rebound', says Lily. 'Coming out of lockdown we need to hold the government accountable for building back better, and implementing legislation to help British biodiversity and global emissions.'
These young conservationists are clearly a force to be reckoned with, and an inspiration to us all in more ways than one.
To learn more about Action for Conservation and the WildWEB programme, please visit https://www.actionforconservation.org/
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Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.
Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.
Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.
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