Image of Person Gardening

By Sabastian Lambert

Originally published in West Hawai‘i Today on April 21, 2020 and reprinted here with permission (https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/04/21/opinion/my-turn-a-call-to-action/).

The raised bed is finished. It is time for planting. My mentor and I dig our hands into the soil, transplanting many flats of beautiful healthy vegetables, with rich humus compost. I feel happy. I feel peaceful. I feel connected to the Earth. We talk about how people in Hawaii don’t grow enough food anymore; how we have the majority of our food imported to feed the local population. We also discuss how there are not enough farmers to feed the world’s population. We talk about things like this a lot, about the environment, globalization, sustainability and other topics.

The present condition of our environment, indeed the planet, is very concerning to me. And even more so is the future. A warming climate, a polluted atmosphere, waste management, energy production, a significant loss of biodiversity and better management of our water resources are only a few of the many growing environmental issues that we currently face and with which my generation will need to address. I believe that if we want a more secure and healthy future, we need to put forth our efforts to help the environment and make a difference. In various ways people around the world are already doing this. We are beginning to wake up.

This was clearly seen on April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans, 10% of the U.S. population at the time, protested for a cleaner and healthier environment. This day is known as Earth Day and is recognized as a day of environmental action.

Over the last 50 years I feel we have done many things to help the environment. This includes composting, growing organic, non-GMO food, recycling waste, the use of renewable energy, and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats. These sustainable practices decrease greenhouse emissions, mitigate climate change, nurture the soil, and replenish ecosystems.

Despite all this, I feel strongly that we are not doing enough. Problems continue to worsen by the day. Humanity continues to destroy natural habitats, practice environmentally catastrophic mining operations, dispose of our waste in the Earth’s landfills, waterways, and oceans, and produce dangerous levels of greenhouse gases.

I think it is time for action. My generation is in a position to have a more positive impact on the environment. Why must we wait? We may not feel like we are in a powerful enough position to make a difference, however considering that every single individual on the planet influences the environment in a certain way, we can understand that we can have a more positive impact right now.

There are countless things that my generation can be doing. This includes growing our own food organically in our backyards, establishing compost piles and/or worm bins to incorporate plant waste into the soil, cleaning up and recycling our waste, and doing such simple things as turning off the lights or the faucet when they are not needed to conserve energy and water. Doing all this provides you with healthy produce, enriches the soil, and protects the environment. 

I feel that it would be very important to include these skills in our education. My generation needs to make different choices than the generations that came before us. How can we do this if we do not understand the consequences of our actions? However, whether it be my generation or the current generation, wouldn’t it be important to allow, to enable, those that come after us, to inherit a planet that is healthier and in greater balance than that which came before?

April 22 is recognized as a day of environmental action. Why only Earth Day? Every day should be a day of environmental action.

Sabastian Lambert is a 15-year-old resident of Honaunau, South Kona on Hawai‘i Island. He is a homeschooled student passionate about sustainability, regenerative agriculture, and environmentalism. Sabastian is a co-founder of the youth-led seed saving and sharing initiative, www.seedsofhonua.org.