December 6, 2023

Climate change affects our health, so does a polluted environment, depleted natural resources, and contaminated water or lack of it. It is most fitting that the theme of the International World Youth Day which is celebrated every year on Aug. 12 is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World”.
So-called green skills are competencies, values, abilities, and attitudes that are needed to create a sustainable environment. In a sustainable world our own needs as the current generation are met, and we aspire to have good health in a safe environment. We take good care of this environment and sustain it so that we can pass it to the next generations to come – their own needs to also be safely met.
The United Nations defines “youth” as those persons between the ages of 15 to 24 years old. Sustainable skills to protect the environment begin when a young child is taught simple and basic procedures of water preservation, proper waste disposal and segregation, conservation of energy like switching off lights when not in use; and reusing, repurposing and recycling old toys, school or household items.
The skills that the child learns will be applied in more complex activities as he grows older but he is taught the main concepts of environmental protection.
Observance of the International Youth Day and other similar activities reinforces the youth’s skills and these will collectively have a great impact in protecting and preserving our environment.
Below are a few of oft-repeated suggestions that we baby boomers share with the youth as we celebrate with them the International Youth Day.
Take care of your clothes so that they will last longer. Use mild soap, and handwash if you may. Avoid hanging clothes under direct sunlight to protect the color. Repair or repurpose rather than ditch damaged clothes – find a good tailor or dressmaker for needed repairs. Opt for organic cotton and other sustainable materials. Buying new clothes translates to increased production and use of resources. More waste is generated too.
Be friendly, gain friends. This is good not only for mental health but can also lead to savings. With friends there can be sharing or borrowing of books, school and other items and this means reduction of carbon footprint because you do not have to buy new ones. Ideas on reusing, repurposing, and recycling are shared among friends too.
It is cool to use a school or public library and all the facilities and services that it offers. It is a quieter place where one can read or study for exams or presentations with focus – and away from the temptation of sugar-laden cookies and designer coffee or drink in a designer coffee shop.
For snacks or baon, water in a reusable container and a healthy home-prepared food are best. And fruits too. Nowadays we can easily access from the Internet recipes and ideas on healthy food preparation. It is simpler and less costly to cook food at home.
Occasionally it is great to order food for pick-up or delivery, but routinely ordering food for daily consumption leads to the use of more disposable containers (most often plastic) – big ones for the big items, and miniature ones for a few milliliters of vinegar, some alamang or bagoong, one or two pieces of sili or calamansi, and other condiments.
Your supply of reusable sando bags and paper bags will also increase so with disposable plastic knives, spoons, and forks. The delivery crew uses gas for his motorcycle to pick up and deliver your food items, and emits smoke as he travels.
To our youth, your health and green skills matter because you are the most important natural resource that can protect the earth. Our national hero Jose Rizal said, “The youth is the hope of the fatherland”. This applies not only in political leadership but also in terms of green skills – much depends on you.