Jenny Zhong: Family Environmental Advocate, Educator, Translator
Since I was in elementary school, I have been recognized as the official environmental advocate in my family. I complained about my dad buying more soccer shoes than he needed; I suggested my mom put fewer skin-care products on her online shopping cart; and I asked my siblings to eat at nearby restaurants instead of ordering meal deliveries. And to my family’s surprise, I even refused to visit the brand new Ocean Park in my city that I had been dreaming of – simply after learning that the marine life there was being treated quite poorly.
My sustainability routines have stayed, reshaped, and renovated as I progress in life. I am currently pursuing a minimalist lifestyle. I buy stuff only when I think they are necessary, and the less stuff I buy, the more I realize that I don’t actually need many of those. Buying less also means less emissions emitted for production and transportation, less waste generated, less money wasted, and the cleaner my apartment would become. Less is more. Pursuing a minimalist lifestyle not only contributes to sustainability but also allows me to focus on the priorities in my life, enhancing productivity and overall well being at the same time.
Besides limiting consumption, I’ve been looking for ways to eat more sustainably. My sister and I now have consolidated our rule for meal deliveries in order to reduce emissions and support local, organic foods: we are only allowed to order one meal delivery every week, and we cook for the rest of the week and go to the nearest grocery store to buy fresh produce. Also, I try to limit my red meat consumption and, fortunately, with the help of my sister who is a clinical nutrition major, I’m now implementing a more plant-based, balanced, and sustainable diet.
I’ve been involved in delivering sustainable practices and empowering climate action through both local and international organizations. I was previously part of a non-profit organization working to offer sustainable and practical solutions for local businesses to create a positive societal change. And I’m currently promoting climate change awareness in China as a climate educator and translator for a Chinese organization. I’ve encountered people who reacted like “what are you talking about” on a regular basis when I brought up terms such as “climate change” and “sustainability.” However, challenges will always come with opportunities; my team and I are working on effective ways to convey the most accessible climate knowledge to the public. I feel hopeful about the difference I’m making as well as the future.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times when hearing about the climate crisis from the news and media. I had felt the same before and wondered if my effort was ever enough. However, I have come to realize that each step I take toward a more sustainable path, whether big or small, personal or professional, counts. Whether it’s through convincing family members to adopt more environmentally-friendly lifestyles or dedicating time and energy into a sustainability career, I am contributing to the overall climate action.
As Christiana Figueres once said, “the full story has not been written. We still hold the pen,” the future of climate change has yet to come. So everyone, including you, can do something about it. Today.
Read Jenny’s other stories
Jenny Zhong is our Cool Davis – UC Davis Writing Program intern this year. She is crafting sustainability story models and guidance to implement a community wide effort soon as well as some other fun projects.
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