All the small things

WAGGGS COP17 delegate Tiffany Dick from South Africa writes on people's attitudes toward taking personal responsibility for halting climate change.

Tiffany DickI applied to be part of the WAGGGS delegation at COP17 because I have always been interested in the environment and I try to do all I can to make even the smallest change.

In my home recycling, composting, using energy saving light bulbs and reusing water are part of my everyday life. I am an avid recycler, sometimes annoying most of my friends of family with my famous lines, “did you know you can recycle that?”

When I speak to people about recycling and using energy-saving lightbulbs, and doing other things such as car-pooling to lower their carbon footprint, most say they put so much time and effort into making a change, but when they see others are not doing the same they lose interest and feel like their efforts are going to waste.

Setting a bad example

On a recent television show, two local musicians were interviewed on their opinions about climate change and what they were personally doing in their own homes to combat it. I was disgusted by their answers – one had said that he was spreading the word by being at an awareness-raising concert and that was all he could do, but he was planning on installing solar panels in his home. He also mentioned that he did not recycle.

The other said that “you can’t [save the planet] with carrots”. The message that I received from these two public figures was that the average person cannot make a difference by recycling or growing their own food gardens. It saddened me that these influential people who should be setting an example for their many devoted fans were communicating such a mindset to the masses.

Educate and create change

The statement about the carrots upset me the most because the project I am working on after COP17 is to educate and have people create their own food gardens so that they are not fully dependent on grocery stores that – most times – source produce from outside the country which contributes heavily to climate change – but that’s another essay on its own!

One thing that Guiding and COP17 have taught me is that every little bit matters – it all starts with your mind and how you choose to make a difference. It frustrates me when people give up on good habits such as recycling just because their neighbour is not doing the same.

My goal is to continue doing the small things, and therefore setting an example for my family, peers, and community because WE can save our planet!


WAGGGS COP17 youth delegate Beatrice Omweri has written a report on the delegation's activity. Click below to read it.

Working together: Saving tomorrow today by Beatrice Omweri