Climate anxiety can be lifted by taking small action

The topic of the third Sustainable development x Corona discussion was young people’s perspective of the climate change. Our guest was Mara Konttila from OSYK upper secondary school. Here are the main points of the conversation.


What has this sustainable development team been up to?

Our actions can be divided to two categories: We have events and then we drive small changes to our surroundings. For example, we had this competition to gather as much garbage as one can. Also, we have been investigating, why are the lights on during the night in our building and how could we reduce the amount of food waste.


What kind of an effect has corona had these actions?

What has corona has not changed? Our actions mainly take place at the school building. Now we can’t access the building so there is not much to do. We have come up with things to do at home, like we shared tips in Instagram on how to grow plants and cook good food.


Have you been involved in some activity related to sustainable development before this group?

Before this I have not been involved in anything official. This has been a good way into this kind of activities.


How has everyday life with corona been like?

I’m graduating this year. I had my matriculation exams and getting into a university would be cool. I have been at home a lot like many others.


Corona anxiety has been paralleled to climate anxiety. Do you agree?

There is something similar. Corona anxiety was strongest when all this began. It all happened so fast. Nobody knew what is going to happen. Climate anxiety on the other hand is something you carry all the time and it rises when you watch news or go to the shops. The common thing in both is that the threat is invisible, and that makes the feeling harder to handle.


Has the common worry about climate moved on to corona pandemic?

The pandemic is what I’m worried about right now. It is so visible in the news that it is hard not to think about it. When people stay at home, emissions have been reduced and there is a sort of a pause.


What kind of opinions or perspectives young people have towards the climate change?

Everyone is worried in some way. There are people who are very active and fight against the climate change and then those who do not advocate it but are worried anyway. Others drive to change things and others do not believe we can achieve anything and become cynical.


Young people are really active in the climate matter. What has mobilized all these people?

Partly it is because of the phenomenon called Greta Thunberg. That there is someone in public that you can follow and admire. Fridays for Future is a big thing in OSYK as well. When people are given something to do, they will take part in the action.


Do you feel hopeful about the future?

With our current measures it is hard to do enough. Stopping climate change requires more. I’m involved in the sustainable development team, and it makes me feel more hopeful. It helps if you can do something about it. It helps if you can do even the smallest thing. Get recycling bins to your school or anything small.


What would you say to young people who want to do something but don’t know where to start?

If you are in OSYK, join us. We have room for more people if you have the time to attend even every other week. If you are not in our school gather a bunch of people around you and start doing things. Together it is much easier to get things done than alone.


What would you want to see happening next?

I would like this activity to spread to other schools as well. Then we could do broader cooperation with other schools and have bigger projects.

Last updated: 19.5.2020