Big names share their one small acts for the environment

By Luchi de Guzman, CNN Philippines

Change can be scary, and climate change even scarier.

But don’t let fear stop you from striving for a better future, perhaps one that doesn’t involve a lot of plastic trash, dead sea life, and the rising sea levels of the West Pacific sweeping through city streets.

In CNN Philippines’ One Small Act forum, big names in environment protection came together to share what they’ve done for the environment.

Nobel Prize winner Father Jose Ramon Villarin and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines have done extensive research on the effect of climate change. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson Mark Timbal and International Organization of Migration Chief of Mission Kristin Dadey work with people in times of natural disasters. United Nations goodwill ambassador for the environment Antoinette Taus regularly joins shore cleanup drives. Ayala Corporation head of group risk management and sustainability Maria Victoria Tan makes sure that the corporation integrates taking care of the environment in its business plan.

Fortunately we don’t all have to be big to make big changes for the environment. Because one small change from everyone can lead to one big change for the environment.

Here’s how these big names in environment protection help change the world in their daily lives:

Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin

President of Ateneo de Manila University

As the President of one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines, Villarin said that sometimes things are as simple as encouraging students to walk. Better, cleaner sidewalks in the university can lead to less vehicle traffic, and less greenhouse gas emissions.

And there’s also doing his job as a teacher. “In a school we hopefully change more cultures, more mindset. I’m hoping we can create more Greta Thunbergs” Villarin said.

Joel Palma

President of WWF Philippines

“Finish your food,” the WWF President advised. Sparing two tablespoons a day can lead to less imports from other countries. “If we don’t waste rice, we will save 200 metric tonnes of rice that we have to import from IndoChina.”

Maria Victoria Tan

Head of Group Risk Management and Sustainability – Ayala Corporation

Aside from segregating household waste, for Tan her small act is to become the best that she could be.

“My one small act is to integrate the two disciplines and to help organizations to become more resilient and sustainable and live up to the value of improving lives,” Tan said.

She explained that businesses need to understand that they will not thrive if social inequity worsens or if the environment is destroyed. She cited this as a reason why she continues to work with big businesses like Ayala to integrate sustainability in their business models.

Antoinette Taus

UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador

Antoinette Taus said that she had a late start in becoming an advocate for the environment. She educated herself through the internet and started her activism by calling a few friends to ask them about what they can do about plastic wastes in the ocean together.

“We all have the power to make change,” Taus said. “(My small act is) telling everybody that we can work through partnerships together.”

Kristen Dadey

Chief of Mission – International Organization of Migration

For Kristen Dadey, listening to the youth is one of the small acts the older generation can perform for the environment. “It’s the youth that’s calling us accountable and we have to listen,” Dadey said.

She added that their office has also made a commitment to be plastic free in 2020.

Mark Timbal

Spokesperson – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council

Timbal gave two examples of small acts everyone can do for the environment. First, it’s to follow environmental laws.

“We have lots of laws. If we just comply, that’s at the basic level, there wouldn’t be any great problems when it comes to waste management,” Timbal said.

The second is to speak up. “We are a country of very creative people. We have to share the knowledge that we have, what we can do together,” he said.

What’s one small act that you do for the environment? And how will you make that one small act bigger?

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