greenny : start here

The general gallery guide to basic environmental action

By: Nehemie

Do you want to be an active conservationist but don’t know how to start? Or have you already started the journey but are stuck in the middle of it? Then we have something in common. 

I want to build a fulfilling career in the environment sector. However, I don’t know yet where to start and don’t know what I specifically want. But I know that I want to move people to positive action, plus a few things about conservation that if applied will probably lead me to the answers of my numerous questions. 

To make it simple, I have compiled and shared a collection of my photos that I took few years and months ago. When I look at them, I see a step by step guide to becoming a successful conservationist. I took each of them with passion and purpose, and voila! They mean something real, after all. 

So, if you want to journey with me, let’s go tour the following gallery together and see if it answers any of our questions. When you look at the photo, focus on the meaning of it, not the person’s image in it. When you’re done touring, I’ll ask you 2 follow up questions and a short exercise. 

Inform to Persuade 

When you talk about conservation don’t just inform people. Ask them to do something specific and persuade them to do so with clear examples such as “stop using plastic package” or “wash your hands with clean water and soap” Do this even when you want to persuade yourself. Persuasion is key to everything else you’ll need to do in the future of your conservation career.  

Encourage the Beginning 

Right after people are persuaded, engage them directly. Don’t wait for tomorrow or for resources you don’t have. Involve them even in the creation of those resources. It always looks impossible or tiresome or discouraging, but when people are persuaded, they can do anything. Give them tree seeds to go plant in their community. If you don’t have those trees, ask  them to build a seedbed instead. Always, be mindful of priorities. 

Show Proof 


Give your audience a reason to protect or restore the environment. Show them real examples of drought effects to land, erosion massacring of crops, or pollution impacts to respiration. Or do a landscape experiment with them and show how beautiful their place could look like if they created gardens. Give them proofs that they can see, touch and feel.

Go

Easier said than done! How many times do we talk about and invest in environmental protection but fail to just do that? It’s a shame to accuse others of not caring when we’re also seated in stinking garbage that needs recycling. Why do we know what we’re suppose to do but don’t do it? Release the chain. Break the record. Stand up and clean your ocean. Get your hands dirty and plant [only] 1 tree. Maybe in your backyard. But make sure you do something tangible. This one action step will power your next moves. 

Go Further 


Conservation is exploration. Often times, people get excited by persuasion and first action but fail to dedicate themselves to conservation. The reason is simple: conservation tends to ask us give up what we enjoy [such as timber logging or poaching] and to adopt hard practices [such as regular environmental impact assessments]. Tell and teach people to focus on the hard part because it’s rewarding. Dig dipper. Conservation is a broad sector with infinite challenges and opportunities. 

You’ve got to keep up 

You will surely get tired and upset. You plant and they cut. You protect, they poach. You want to do it again, but you no longer have means. Conservation is an endless battle between humans and nature. But you’ve got to keep up. Remind your audience your initial green reasons, reencourage them with a smarter beginning, show them more convincing proofs, and influence their determination. They will get back up and continue the conservation struggle with you, with happiness. 

Don’t complain. Find Solutions 

“Me saving the planet? Well, I’m not superman” says a lazy person. Show them this Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. They will automatically understand and act. Even if their solutions will be minor, they’ll be real solutions. As it happens in peace maintenance processes, people have many reasons to not protect the environment. But we must be past that and do what is right, even if it’s hard.  

Disconnect 

One of the best ways to prove progress is to compare achievements. Take your audience to places far different from theirs and challenge them with comparison questions. If they’re better off in their location due to the work you have engaged them in, they’ll be convinced to A: value what they built and protect it; and to B: make a change in this place they have just visited. Demos like these are great for conservation efforts in different localities but you need to be outside the bubble to have a clear view. 

Enjoy Success 

I said this in an event that I recently had with young people in Kigali. One of the things conservationists don’t do often is to throw parties. We’re stressed by the infinite pressure of species intinction, upcoming typhoon, poachers, and the like. We’re satisfied by green landscapes and cool air. That’s it. Seeing us in a hotel gathered for a drink or dance [not sharing our conservation experiences] is rare. Why not annual celebrations [not Summits]? The fun aspect, among others, needs creativity and innovation. 

Share Opportunities 

A week ago, I came across this wonderful internet browser: Ecosia. Check it out and see how it can help you plant trees while you’re seated or lying in your bed. Technology has brought amazing tools to help protect the environment but a few of us know them while a fraction of us uses them. With your audience, share your stories but also practical opportunities that help everyone keep going while attracting new environment players. 

Sigh! That was a long one. But how do you feel now? Ready to start your career today as a new environmentalist? Stronger to keep up with your already good work? I wish you said yes. But if it’s no, not yet, or maybe, that’s fine. Look at the gallery again and see if anything changes.