Transcript: How deleting emails ignited a climate movement
TEDxLondon Climate Curious
We need more imperfect environmentalists, says Ava Langridge. Joining Climate Curious to share her journey from The Zero Waste Teen to founder of climate education organisation, Our Youth 4 The Climate, Ava explains how inviting people to delete their emails ignited the next generation of imperfect environmentalists.
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In this week’s Climate Quickie, we hear from Ava Langridge, the founder of Our Youth For The Climate and ex-Zero Waste Teen, on how inviting her 40,000 followers to delete their emails ignited a climate movement way bigger than just clearing out her inbox!
Tune in to learn about the journey she’s been on from individual action to systems thinking, and why need more imperfect environmentalists, not just a few perfect ones.
Let’s learn more with Ava.
Hello, thank you so much for having me today.
Um, my name is Ava Langridge. I use she, her pronouns. And I am a uni student at the University College of London. I am a climate activist and the founder of Our Youth for the Climate.
So it has been a journey, to say the least. It has shifted a lot from the start. Um, but at the age of 12, I came across a YouTube video
, done by Lauren Singer, who kept three years of waste in a 16 ounce jar, and that just fascinated me.
And so I, being the person I am, I jumped right in. I got my family on board, which was a little difficult at first, but once we got into it, within the span of three months, we cut down our waste that we were sending to landfills from three trash bags a week, this is a fur family of five, to about half a trash bag a week, in only the span of three weeks, which only empowered me to want to take more action because as a 12 year old, that’s really exciting.
And so it was just helping people navigate that space and understand it. It has since shifted,
um, in the last couple of years. While I do still believe individual actions are very important and they were very much the foundation to all of my climate activism and resilience, I have since learned that Individual action may not necessarily have the biggest impact.
We need to be more imperfect environmentalist because it’s the most sustainable and realistic way to change systems. I realized I kind of had to, I had to revisit my approach and take everything in time and build the habits over time rather than diving right in and trying to get all of it done.
And so this concept of how We need everyone doing climate activism and sustainable living imperfectly, rather than just a couple people doing it perfectly,
If we have everyone involved, It’s a lot easier to change the collective in the systems rather than having a few pinpoints and people that are very specific and perfect change the system.
Okay, so the bit of content that I received the most attraction to, or received the most positive reaction, was a really short reel and a couple of following… feed posts about how deleting emails can reduce the carbon emissions individuals have. Because of data storage and all of that. Um, and so this was new information for most of my audience because it’s not something that’s often spoken about.
And yet it’s also something that’s quite accessible because people can do it on a daily basis. Just delete your emails, as they come in. And so this was a small action that my audience felt like they could do. And so that built a lot of awareness around the idea that small actions do matter. And a lot of conversations started happening in the comment section.
That led to people asking, Oh, What more can I do? This is great. I want to do more. So it essentially empowered my audience and the people engaging with that content to want to do more. Then, as I shifted and changed my approach to environmentalism, I started intertwining, um, content about the all or nothing approach.
To clarify what that is, it’s basically How environmentalism, again, doesn’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to go in doing everything 100% perfectly to even achieve anything. And so that felt like an entry point for a lot of these people engaging. Um, and then further empowered them to take bigger, more systemic changing action, which I suggested is like voting or calling your policy makers, taking pledges, things like that, that are more, again, systemic changing. Conversations and questions kept showing up. I had quite an influx of DMs of people asking me, Okay, great. Again, I can do this. I can delete these emails. That’s reasonable. That’s a daily thing I can do. But what is something that’s truly gonna have an impact? And so… The response just overall from this one piece of content that didn’t take me that much time to make was incredible and exponential. And it just also showed how my mindset shift and my, how my approach to environmentalism changed also showed up in how my audience and my community, felt the same way and had a very similar, journey.
I believe systemic change is the approach now.
And still yet taking individual action within our collective group. My Instagram account has also shifted. I focus more on climate optimism and dismantling the all or nothing approach to environmentalism. It’s less so individual action, so zero waste, less so zero waste swaps, um, and tips and things like that, and more so just climate activism.
We have a website, https://ouryouth4theclimate.org/ on which you can find a lot of resources.
On our Instagram, our Youth with a Climate, and on our TikTok, you can receive daily educational content that’s super easy to digest and is a, again, interdisciplinary. Um, approach to climate education and so it gives you a well rounded, um, it gives you well rounded information.
If you want to learn more about my personal sustainable journey and in climate activism and just how I do it as a university student, my Instagram is Ava Langridge. And then if you would like to hear from climate experts in a relaxed setting, listen to Let’s Talk Climate,
Thank you so much for having me today. I really appreciate this opportunity to speak.