Foreword: Nature = You

Irita Raismaa

I am a linguist and a humanitarian by formal education, as well as by nature. I have, therefore, spent quite a lot of time in various universities and countries. My goal has always been to integrate my academic knowledge into my “real-world” values, action and professional endeavours. Fortunately, combining my passions – language, culture and humanitarian action – has been quite possible. For example, I draw on each of them to make my lectures and my written works on global education (in which environmental education is essential!) more impactful.

After engaging into development and volunteer work for years (in Estonia, Central and South America as well as in West Africa), I joined a group of Estonians with an ambitious idea to clean up the entire world’s illegal garbage. The group was called Let’s Do It! and they had already initiated a huge clean-up action in Estonia – on May 3, 2008, over 50,000 people had come out of their homes and cleaned up the entire country, collecting over 10,000 tons of garbage from our forests and streets. Estonia was cleared of waste in just five hours and everybody was doing it voluntarily! (Take a look at a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKGwtqQHZE0).

In 2012, Let’s Do It! World was launched as a global civic movement, where my role was to initiate a similar network in West Africa. In just one year, Let’s Do It! became the fastest growing civic movement in the world and now has members in 112 countries, having engaged over 11 million participants into massive clean-ups. The objective is to clean up this planet, and keep it clean. Our new goal is to involve 350 million people by 2018. This is representing nearly 5% of the world’s population and a group of this size is estimated to have the power to create a permanent positive change.

However, caring for the environment doesn’t just mean picking up trash. It is about cleaning up our minds as well: that means taking responsibility and noticing what is going on around us. In my opinion, environmental education is an efficient way to make young people realise how everything in the world is connected and how our every action has a consequence. Once you realise how everything is interconnected, the world becomes a more valuable and interesting place to live in. It becomes our home, where everybody has a share of duty and care. If educated about the environment, young people can create a strong basis for much healthier planet than it is now. Environmental knowledge is invaluable, especially when more and more people start to apply it.

If you still wonder why you should care for nature and engage or if it is worth it to involve in the environmental education, look for the answer in your language. Languages reflect the wisdom and experience of centuries, so it is not a coincidence that in many languages our land is figuratively called the Mother (en Mother Earth, es Madre Tierra, et Emake Maa, fr la Terre-Mère, port mãe Terra, nl moeder Aarde, ru Мать-Земля, sv Moder Jord). Perhaps we should take this into account and embrace the environment as dearly we embrace our mothers. After all, they are the ones who nurture us, unconditionally.

EDC

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